Dawn on Arunachala
Neera Kashyap has authored a book for young adults, 'Daring to Dream', and contributed to several prize-winning anthologies for children. Her poetry has been featured in Indian anthologies such as 'Hibiscus & Shimmer Spring', 'Freedom Raga & New Normal', 'The Shape of a Poem' and 'The Brown Critique Anthology'. International poetry anthologies that have featured her work are 'The Poet’s Seasons', 'Poetica' (1& 2), 'The Kali Project', 'Voices from Within' and 'Hunger Anthology'. Her work has also been featured in various journals such as 'Verse Virtual', 'Life & Legends', 'Failed Haiku & Setu Magazine' , 'RIC Journal' (Indo-French); 'Bloo Outlier', 'Kitaab', 'The Punch Magazine', 'Kritya', 'The Literary Yard' and Narrow Road etc.
In the pre-dawn darkness the hill is not visible.
The tarred road tinged blue by foggy lights stretches straight ahead.
Saffron-clad figures lie on pavements; sit crouched, blue and foggy.
A clatter of coins from a bowl, an indifferent call for alms is the fullness of detachment.
Neither this nor the odd temple bell breaks the solemnity of this long circumambulation
of the hill.
Pilgrims walk in silence - singly, in pairs, in groups, breaking pace
only to enter wayside temples, shrines, ashrams, sacred groves…
to offer money, flowers, incense, prayers, chants;
to sit on dark rocks, faces turned to a dawn awaited
till it comes, revealing the holy hill in a rugged outline of light
its humps, its god-like shapes, its union of many forms,
green and barren, rock and forest, beacon and promise
till all is visible – pink sky, green fields, black panels of
wayside deities, already marked by the vermilion of worship.
The aroma of filter coffee vents steamily from copper barrels.
The straight road now curves into the bustling bristling town,
to the litter of streets, the smell of frying snacks,
the hangover of a stale unswept night.
I turn to look at the hill.
It looks the same - on silent road, in bristling market.
Holding the same promise to both….
A silent, aloof, resplendent indifference to it all.
Joanna George, is a student at Pondicherry University, India. Her poems have been published in literary journals such as 'Cordite Poetry Review', 'Parentheses Journal', 'Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review' and others. She says, 'Though I spent most of my time over tea and the glovebox wondering about solar cells, I find a lease of hope in writing poems.'
There is a brutal urge for homecoming in my constant complaints
about the complete lack of Indianness in my name.
This feeling of foreignness, not truly belonging, do you understand, papa?
To be named after my mother’s maiden name could have made proper sense,
I am her relic blood after all.
‘Sudharma’- in all languages I know translates to good morals,
a noun with global meaning,
simple name of anyone celebrating the way of life.
But then you wanted it suited to style, and there
mummy dropped her name to the baptism sink and you picked
her a shattered piece of moon, from the Bible – and named her heavenly.
Yet the way papa, your hands swing like a wiper
washing away the rain drops from heavens;
on mother’s side of the bed after she wakes, now tells me, differently;
A story of your search for the maiden you loved once,
before losing her to the wrinkled divine nuptial sheets,
and resurrecting her out of her Indian way of life, in the name of love.
The irony of it all, in your name, mummy I say it aloud for no one to hear,
now that I too am named after the stars, for the world to believe I am one.
Kathleen Chamberlin is a retired educator living in Albany, New York with her husband and two rescue dogs. She began devoting time to writing creatively during the pandemic quarantine and has been writing ever since. Her work has appeared in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Open Door Magazine, The World of Myth Magazine and the anthologies The Book of Black, Breath of Love, and Snowdrifts. In addition to writing creatively, she enjoys gardening, genealogy and grandchildren.
Like a high priestess of old,
I come to worship at your shrine
Bare chested, nipples rouged and erect,
Eyes smoldering, arms outstretched
Thinking to capture your soul,
I form each letter
With reverence and awe,
The force is palpable
I murmur my incantation
With charcoal , I invoke your name
A Pocketful of Borrowed Beads
Alison Jennings is a Seattle-based poet who taught in public schools before returning to poetry. More than 60 of her poems have been published internationally in numerous journals, including The Bangalore Review, Burningword, Cathexis Northwest Press, Meat for Tea, Mslexia, Poetic Sun, and The Raw Art Review. She has also won 3rd Place/Honorable Mention or been a semi-finalist in several contests.
Underneath woven nests of secrecy, grief is posing
as a wounded animal, sheltering in place throughout
the brutal winter, awaiting spring’s transcendence.
Within the temple, mourners grapple with karmic
emergencies, as elected lawbreakers intensify their
clawhammers on the chances of collective healing.
We must sharpen our shapes against these sinners,
find a saintly severity of expression, to fill sunken
traps of steady scrutiny which ruin our enthusiasm.
Somehow, in search of the seven chakras, shamans
come bless us in holy water, baptizing with sacred
spells from the ancient Country of the Righteous
People, as they calmly strike brass singing bowls.
Forming an accumulated weather, a furious aura
of edgy energies beads together mythical fragments
into a rosary, while a pyramid of angels, intoning
Gregorian chants, calls us again to listen and to trust.
Sooner or later, we shall discover what speaks to us.