Three by Debasis Mukhopadhyay, author of “kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context”
“I walk slowly, like one who comes from so far away he doesn’t expect to arrive.” Jorge Luis Borges in Boast of quietness
I am pleased and honored to introduce DEBASIS MUKHOPADHYAY (between ink and inkblot) here today, though I suspect there are many who already know his work.
Debasis is the author of the chapbook “kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context” (Finishing Line Press, 2017). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals & anthologies, including Posit, Words Dance, The Curly Mind (UK), Erbacce (UK), Strange Poetry (UK), Yellow Chair Review, I Am Not A Silent Poet (UK), The New Verse News, Rat’s Ass Review : Love & Ensuing Madness, Writers Against Prejudice (UK), Manneqüin.Haüs, Algebra of Owls (UK), The Skinny Poetry Journal, Of/With : Journal of Immanent Renditions, Anapest Journal, Communicators League (Nigeria), No Tribal Dance (UK), Quatrain.Fish, Duane’s Poe Tree, Walking Is Still Honest, Leaving My Shadow : A Tribute to Anna Akhmatova, Thirteen Myna Birds, Whale Road Review, The Apache Poetry Blog (Sweden), Scarlet Leaf Review, Silver Birch Press, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Foliate Oak, Eunoia Review, Revolution John, Fragments of Chiaroscuro, Down in the Dirt, With Painted Words (UK), The Wagon Magazine, Snapping Twig, Words Surfacing, Praxis, Apple Fruits of an Old Oak, and Voice of Monarch Butterflies. His work has been nominated for the Best of the Net.
He was born in India & spent many years of his life in Kolkata (Calcutta), where he began writing poems. A fair number of poems in pora gach o megh oré, his debut collection of poetry in Bengali (Art Publishing, 2005), date back to this time of his life in India. Debasis holds a PhD in literary studies from Université Laval, Québec, Canada. His doctoral thesis constitutes an instance of multidisciplinary approach, exploring the linkage between two broad themes of social epistemology : travel and spatiality. The work is focused on the analysis of the Occidental subjectivity’s search for self and its perception of spatiality through Third World travel. The thesis can be found here :
Voyage à la Rencontre de la misère et pouvoir d’attraction de l’espace de l’Autre. Calcutta dans l’imaginaire occidental contemporain – étude de cas: Le chant de Kali et La Cité de la joie (Travel to Meet With The Poor and The Power Of Attraction of The Space of the Other. Calcutta in the Contemporary Western Imagination – A Case Study of Song of Kali and La Cité De La Joie).
Debases now lives in Montreal with his wife and his son. When his hand turns poetry, he just walks up to Monnet’s poppy field against the wall & bends down to swaying flowers thinking of the words gone in blood. When he is not writing, his best inspiration turns out to be what Xu Schen wrote (58 CE ̶ ca. 147 CE) : “Ink, whose semantic component is ‘earth‘, is black.”
Connect with Debasis at firstname.lastname@example.org or @dbasis_m on Twitter.
New Delhi : to get more than the dawn
a red tulle body flaring up.
the mosquito net
white & whooshing at times
& this foundry of wings of mosquitoes
now ready for the spilled over blood.
somewhere birds crack the sky
dawn what I fear has never been so late
kid’s head buried in my chest.
do I know
what’s to cry like a bleating sheep
broken lines unfurls K’s poems in my thoughts
obliterating the bleeding sun dissolving into now a distant hum
very soon a cacophonous mix
what’s K to make of it in his poems
I think of the young poet of Kolkata.
somewhere the oblique overpasses ask for boundless love
slogging through memories
snuffing out the first azan of the day & the litanies of the stray dogs
kid’s skull rolls on my chest
his eyes waking to dawn
what’s that poet to make of it
kid’s eyes etched on his notebook page
which is perhaps whiter than the mosquito net now emptied like times
when I used to live in this land
& never had to step inside.
tomorrow I would be again in Kolkata
brushing dust from a palimpsest
today I would just pass the day
Kipling Sahib gazing hatefully on New Delhi
the breeze stirring a tattered liana of madhabilata
high up among the colonial columns
dust on dust
to creep through
Kolkata : the waterboarding
K’s poems are now bowing lower than this plane
bleeding off its speed
the cinnamon colored brick kilns look plastered by a green
that feels so unwanted in a blood brick telecast on BBC
years of rising smoke have gnawed the moulded bricks but the green
green green so green that I turn to Lorca’s ballad
& cry like a fool unheeded
for the girl of bitterness
until the touchdown when I hear K whispering
I leave you alone for the eve
now you would be too blind to trust my poems
begin me only when you end your quick days & nights in Kolkata
when you are left again to think that
you are still stuck like an albino bone in its craw made of loose scoria
these long years
these long years
were not so imminent in my mother’s dream of me becoming a Caliph one fine day
seven thousand miles away.
these long years were not a life book that rustles inside memories dying in the throat.
for a crown of light
she has been counting a thousand & one nights.
kneeling to the earth she tries to find me again amongst the sprouts.
ha the world has to pass
mutters my father
sparrows cluster in the back of his throat.
& here we are home, kid
I say opening the gates of shadows of the crows
aloft & aground.
the long-spiked coconut tree leaves dance across K’s sun-blazed notebook page
capturing kid’s fingers making a ghost with a lump of earth
mine tearing the sword-shaped leaves only to reminisce all afternoon
upon a palm frond hat from my schooldays
maybe everything might have been…
everything like your face in my hands
dark eyes glistening in the folds
like malaria now & then
those love vomit & rum stained clothes moving under the coal iron in the neighborhood
coming back laundered the following afternoon
only to redeem truth
& to rehearse a hundred summers of solitude…
to think I’m going to see you again tonight
a conjurer had his time
on earth this is the place
where I can sing I am your man
a place that has no place in time
or maybe it’s always just half passed
like this late afternoon sun on water in K’s notebook page
like this fish put out to crawl through a hologram
never failing kid
fish eyes always give him thrills
the foreheads of the deceased pressed against the cobwebbed evening
feel the reference point that had rattled so hard in life
now the queue in the burning ghats
souls reassured once oxidized flake after flake
& then beguiled by the creeping waters.
placid slumbers the Ganges like the night at the bottom of the root
this is the country
where cicadas chase every evening the crackling stars of each cast & class.
my friend sings taking my breath away
the dead to become boats floating downward the rim of the dark skies
drifting anew in the city alleys
in search of hearts that had no refuge from any versions of hearts.
shouts drawling a tribute to dawn
poppy red flags
a street full of scars
you ask me how I feel now with my eyes peeled
K’s poems stopped to bleed into the evening
so wet & claiming
now again mouth into mouth
we keep frisking & gamboling round the night
we come & coming on
like a hemorrhage
like Fidel Castro floating belly up dying of his own death
I need not watch for the moon
I close my eyes to get more than the dawn
more than its billow & spray
more than K’s love poems glittering like war
their curl of waves that come rolling in
& I say
my tin soldier
November 9, Kristallnacht
a throwback steed
for a headlong rush
apprised of sledgehammers
the vanity of a crystal night
raising its head
are said dropped things
like a mirror
sticking a gimlet to
with what you can scavenge
on this day in History
the bludgeoned frogs
live through the November moon
crawling in the pit somewhere
ha you ain’t got nothing to recall
the disgusting god
in our vain skulls
has never felt
sky rustling in & out
of those millions awaiting
First published in Yellow Chair Review November 13, 2016
© 2016, Debasis Mukhopadhyay
Notice to rebroadcast
O Sultan mine, I just read your poem Notice to recast where looking on your flowerpot sky you feel the smudge of my absence on your skin. You hear the train behind the fence, you hear the rain in the kitchen and you are reminded of the necessity of touch. Several lines down you say, “I heard it and I heard it again. A song that stayed unopened in my throat.” Honestly, I am never very sure how your poetry works on me. You could hear everything : the rainstorms behind the kites, the pantomime in the trammels, the trampoline behind the rampages, the songbirds in the pantechnicons… everything across your roughcast of solitude. And everything reminds you of everything, from windpipe sonata to wingspan of a pansy. I wish I could understand how you napalm me while I sleep. As if just like my body my mind also can’t shake you and always awaiting you in bed unopened. True that poetry never sucks and the blancmange sloughing in the overdone ruts between my thighs. Sultan dear one, my husband, my boyfriend, my needleman of tournament, my winger right to left, my slaloming tramline behind my fertility, my panegyric of fucking superintendent, why can’t I understand your poems? Or why can’t I just write a poem that is what when my handgun trades the simile of blankness? But that won’t make it all right. No point in blitzkrieging to unbalance the brain. Let’s think about honeyed baklavas and listen to balalaikas. If you are my bloody bastard, I remain your bloodied bitch.
First published in Posit issue 14, June 2017
© 2017, Debasis Mukhopadhyay
Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded. I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.
My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, Second Light, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.