International Poetry

War in Ukraine

***

today the garden has turned into a kindergarten

a sea of boys playing with soldiers

children scream and cry

there are no adults

 

 

***

strange war

strange life

strange death

 

dead doves kiss

Mykyta Ryzhykh, from Ukraine (Nova Kakhovka Citу), has had work published Dzvin, Ring A, Polutona, Rechport, Topos, Articulation, Formaslov, Colon, Literature Factory, Literary Chernihiv, on the portals Literary Center and Soloneba, in the Ukrainian literary newspaper, and in the almanac Syaivo.

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Elemental Ugliness

I remember a regular scene in a rural background —

the mother cow munching a heap of dry paddy straw

while the calf suckles busily at the swollen udder.

The cow stops to tongue every part of the calf's neck.

A perfect portrayal of happiness. The truth is it

didn’t last long. The calf was separated from

the cow minutes later. The cow is for milk. It must

go on chewing to live another day. Reality is not

what we love to see but what happens moments later.

We do not live in the world on beauty but on truth

that bites relentlessly. The ugly realization

of the harshness. The helpless deer running hard

for its life. The tiger, biting tender flesh

after days of going hungry. The misfits missing out

on the race for survival of the fittest. We cry

naively for others when we are pure. The truth is

we gather impurity as we grow, stealing joy

from others. But yes, it is happiness that still

lasts in my memory. Even if it didn’t last long.

The ugly truth is what we live on, what does last long.

Debasis Tripathy was born in Odisha, India. His recent poems appear in Decomp, UCity Review, Rogue Agent, Leon Lit, Vayavya, and elsewhere. He lives in Bangalore.

Fugue

Tarry clots leach out of clicking nerve cogs

The sempiternal melody of a deadly solitude

Wafts up the crematorium tower

Sulphurous smoke and molten mirrors

Seep down my frescoed walls of insanity

In the nival necropolis

At frozen dawn

No entry no

Exit.

Mona Jafari is a PhD candidate and lecturer in English Literature at the University of Tehran in Iran. Her poems have appeared in Parsagon and Wax Poetry and Art Magazine. Her poem “Fugue” won the Wax International Poetry Contest in 2020.

My Mother & I (do not) Talk About Our Dead Brothers

Both are in heaven, of course. One, a still-child.

The other, with the brain of a child.

 

One gets to eat almonds and cashews,

the other loves to slurp milk & honey

 

straight from the stream. They exchange

kisses & laughs. Often mock us together

 

when they think we are asleep (although

we are never asleep). One whispers my

 

baby name in my ear. The other uncovers

mother’s right leg slightly. We welcome

 

the non-interruption. We thank them

into the powdered morning. At breakfast,

 

mother hard-boils two eggs, I pack rice

for lunch — pretending it is the food that kins us.

Javeria Hasnain is a Pakistani poet and an incoming MFA student at The New School on a Fulbright scholarship. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AAWW's The Margins, Gutter Magazine, Superstition Review, Substantially Unlimited, and elsewhere.

The divided world and the river

Come the sundry differences with the saws.

Looks the clock at the sky.

What is the time now?

Is it high time to be a butcher?

They think

And start the operation.

Time passes.

The table stained with blood

And here are

The divided

World,

River,

Devotee,

And the chorus

And a boatman with shaking hands

And the boat has to go across the divided river

And there is nothing but the fossil of the silence.

 

The swimming club

Forgets the date of returning

When it is in the trance of being

Washed away.

Partha Sarkar writes poems to protest against social injustice and crimes against nature and does not know what to do but dreams of revolution . . . of course in vain.

The Mongolian Patch

They told me our blood was Spanish.

Castilian as can be.

Abuelito was born in La Rioja before he crossed the sea.

Abuelita’s father a Spaniard, her mother from Chile.

 

Tío Ricardo was a caricature of red and yellow

chasing jamón serrano with Rioja merlot.

He’d drunkenly bash natives and Jews

while raving about Spain’s many virtues.

 

Then that blue blotch on my firstborn’s back,

that millennial native marker — the Mongolian patch.

The revelation ignited a quest for my ancestry,

to celebrate rather than decry our diversity.

 

Then that letter from the Spanish Embassy came,

offering citizenship for our Sephardic last name.

Centuries-late retribution for forced conversion.

Amends for deported diasporic dispersion.

 

But a history unknown is hard to lament.

My last name still masks my descent.

My pale skin is an unwitting disguise.

My accent mild, so few can surmise.

 

And those blue birthmarks have since faded.

But at least I know what roots have made us.

The lineage my family can no longer deny.

The peace we found in knowing our lie.

Jen Ross is a Chilean-Canadian journalist with hundreds of published articles who also spent 10 years with the UN before moving to Aruba to write fiction and poetry.

Names

I pour water for my plants and think,

how easily kattarvazha became kathaazhai here

as a potted aloe vera plant crossed the boundaries of Kerala to Tamil Nadu,

the last syllables making all the difference with their unique enunciation

and nothing more said, as if it was simple like the rains changing their course of heart,

marking an invisible border; the change of names.

Did my mother too, feel the same ease?

As she drowned her old self and rose to her newly baptized name,

into its foreign pronunciation, removing her vermilion bindi and plaiting those locks

as she walked with father into a christened marriage;

letting her brown name float into the empty skies, while being pinned with long nails

to an immigrant religion’s moon.

Or did she wear it like a mermaid’s water gown remaining herself throughout,

carrying her changed name and living her old one inside the ocean dome.

Maybe it’s only the tender tulsi leaves on her otherwise wet hair she misses;

constantly inquiring about the rains in this persistent summer valley.

And maybe it is this absence of dampness;

she clutches the eternal changes of crossed boundaries.

Joanna George (she/her) writes from Pondicherry, India. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Cordite Poetry Review, Isele Magazine, Honey Literary, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, West Trestle Review, Lumiere Review, Paddler Press, and others. She tweets at j_leaseofhope.

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