Shabdaguchha: Logo_top edited by: Hassanal Abdullah issue: 63/64


Poetry and Essays:

Anisur Rahman Apu
Ariful Islam
Basudhara Roy
Bill Wolak
Bishnupada Ray
BZ Niditch
Derek Walcott
Hassanal Abdullah
Jahanara Parveen
Jyotirmoy Datta
Louisa Calio
Maria Bennett
Masudol Hassan Rony
Michael Graves
Naoshi Koriyama
Naser Hossain
Naznin Seamon
Nicholas Birns
Octavio Paz
Pallav Bandyopadhayay
Sonali Begum
Stephanie McMillan
Swapan Majhi

Shabda News:
Bhuiyan Ahasan Habib

Letters to the Editor:
Azad Kashmir Zaman 
Belal Beg
Bill Wolak
Leigh Harrison 
Lidia Chiarelli
Louisa Calio
Michael Graves
mike graves
mike graves
Rudranath Banerjee 
Saidur Rahman Milon 
Tahmidul Islam
Zakir Sayed 

Cover Art:

Mia Barkan Clarke

Shabdaguchha Title: Issue 64

Poetry in English

Jyotirmoy Datta

Lines on a Hanger-on of the Ruling Party

Why be amazed that our poet comes to fulsome life
Only when his patron wins a seat in the government?
Sure at other times he is one of the silent majority
He finds his voice only when his patron is in the chair,
Louder and more emphatic than his principal.
He is not at all a freak, nature abounds in creatures like him
Think of the tardigrade, also described as a moss piglet,
Which lies inert for years when conditions are adverse
Then start wiggling all its eight legs after the first shower.

It is reported that NASA sends out tardigrades to outer space
A tardigrade is described in Wikipedia as being short and plump
Which exactly matches the description of our sycophantic poet
How wonderful it would be if NASA sent him to Jupiter!

New Jersey

Bill Wolak

The Generosity of Beggars

Along this road you’ll meet 
all kinds of strangers.
Some will share their stories,
others are silenced 
by fear and despair.
But you can’t quench
this thirst with wine,
you can’t satisfy
this hunger with banquets.
Until you risk 
everything fearlessly 
as a lover’s smile,
you’ll never understand
the generosity of beggars.

New Jersey

Louisa Calio

( in memory of the 250,000 dead )

My Buddhist teacher sounds
just like my grandfather when he says:
Observe and always remember to make nature your friend.

When the blue waters of Bali receded 
many of the local people, like tourists
watched with fascination 
as the seawater moved out towards the horizon
exposing new reefs and seabed 
for the first time.
Mesmerized at the shoreline 
like children, they stayed and watched
while the water gathered its enormous force
into huge, monstrous waves and swells.  
Returning as a roaring river of regurgitation 
the sea filled and refilled
roads, shops, homes and buildings
with humans, objects, dwellings, trees
clothing, trains, pots, and cars.
Anything in its path was swept away
All modern life, floating. 

A few, like the Swedish boy I read about
thought he was dreaming when the waters
carried him safely to a Temple.
Some mysteriously walked away
while others clung to trees or roofs  to survive,   
leaving behind their beloveds, families, friends, 
countrymen and homes
stolen by the blood red tide. 

Only dogs, pigs, horses, elephants and their riders 
were taken to higher ground 
saved by a primal memory
as was one Indonesian tribe 
on a  distant island
who remembered the ancient story,
when the waters recedes go swiftly to higher ground.

We, the Grown Ups
(For BJ and all his initiates)

How marvelous to be among you
grown ups, adults
such an unpopular word in our day.
This has little to do with age
people who relish leaving the ego’s stage
willing to leave the children in the nursery
the adolescent with his peers
and the rebel with rebelliousness
to join me here.

A flush of joy overcomes me like a wave 
when we dare to be brave 
and go below the surface
leave the banter, petty wit and competition
distractions and obsessions 
for the deep silence and its lessons 
A ritual of heart,
the gifts of high play
true art
allowing the divine to enter
tumbling through the air
into each
a soul aware 
willing to let go
trust to explore the caverns below, dark ridges  
build bridges, walk labyrinths, scale mountains
go in counterclockwise direction
round the Himalayas
and come home to know 
the wonders of the world within.

New York

Maria Bennett

Poem for Ella Fitzgerald

april 25, 1917
voice born
to hit a high c
as clear
as a muezzin’s
call to prayer

sure to make you change
your definition of religion
and possibly
the motherless child
dressed in hand-me-downs
reform school runaway
chases a train
to the apollo theater
wants to dance before the crowd
but the competition is too stiff
and so sings to win the prize
twenty five dollars

i know how to sing by listening to the horns
she said
don’t look at her
just listen to the voice
said chick webb
who did not catch
the alchemical gold present
within the package

when he died
she took the band with her
miss ella
life held together
with safety pins and spit
found the melody
in each missed moment
knowing all we love
can be taken from us
in an instant
and everything starts
with a broken heart

wrapping the mess of life
around her shoulders
like a chiffon scarf

billie holliday said
good morning heartache
ella said
get the hell out
and take your cardboard suitcase
filled with pain
with you

when they finally met
ella at twenty
too shy to speak
held out an autograph book

today she holds out her arms
standing like an oak
in bronze
feet firmly planted
facing the hudson
saying stay with me a while
and listen

blocks from where her home
is now a bodega
in downtown yonkers
selling meat pies
she would have loved

looking out at the river
in a fancy crinoline hoop skirt
with a grin as wide and all-knowing as louis armstrong’s
he her twin in nostalgia for a lost childhood
mal du pays inconnu
settling for grits and gravy
and a winning hand 
at the card table

when she died
the obit in the times said
she was a black woman singing songs written by jewish men
to a white audience
the paper of record
should have paid
more attention

ella with an understanding of phrase and light
which defied the laws of physics

here is the true god particle
she said
finding the song
in everything
when the only gift left us
is this voice
that dances
with the wisdom
of glass

New Jersey

Michael Graves

Boast of the Sun

I lend the sterile, dusty rock my light.
Come dawn, I lay my hands upon the night,
Banish it from sight.

I make the meteors blaze fast and bright.
I heat all living from my height,
Expose the hidden to light.

To the Imprisoned

In your folly and freedom,
When will you learn
Your strength is your captor,
Your power your prison?

The threads of a spider
Confine to a web
And chains on a beast
Shackle its tread.

The greater the power
The greater the load
Piled on its back
To trudge a road.

All captives are equal
And cannot escape
The work they must do,
Driven by fate.

By the blindness of heaven
Labor and leisure,
Sorrow and joy 
Appear to be given,
But under the surface
Deceiving the sight
The prisons within
Justly apportioned are right.

Believe in the prison,
Imagine its nature
Discern with compassion
The selves of the trapped.
Slips unintended,
Revelations outright,
Hints that are slight
Keys to the hidden from sight.

From knowledge of self
Locked in your heart
Imagine all others.
Be not apart.

	Imperfect Human
	(for Anthony F.)
	You attend in struggle
	To some who are broken
	And offer the solace 
	We crave in the world.
	Imperfect human,
	I call you illumined,
	Who care and detach.		
	You find in the vedas and gospels
	Wisdom and science mirror each other.
	Poet, whose lines are unwritten,
	But spoken in service,
	You are a knower of justice and love
	And moments of sweetness
	In a cosmos of anguish.
	New York

Bishnupada Ray

Rock Cut

under the starlit sky
and the phosphorescence
of the tropic of cancer
somewhere in this plateau
I have lost something
of my being
a multitude of fireflies
is seen searching for it
near the rocks of waterfalls

from the darkness of my rocks
I see their hectic search
my heart writhes in the dark
and pines for the lost part
of my being
without it I cannot be
one with myself

at this petrified forest
I can see the static motion
and through the rupture
my days and nights go to fragments
for an anatomy of alienation.


I feel therefore I am
this pain is my time and space
a butterfly pinned against the last notice
summons the quasi-autonomous memory
to a call of duty
my emotional investments
do not show great returns
on the critical balance sheet
at this terminal stage
so we stand with two keys in hand end to end

this locker is a ‘my things’ ‘your things’ game
in the joint account
till the last chromosomes
as I try to preserve some togetherness
in a failing bank

a new sense breaks out
senseless like a sleepless night
and my head pressed between the pillows.

Udaigiri Caves, Vidisha

these caves were the home
of those who sought divine peace
leaving their caves in Bhimbetka
they dispersed in every direction
and hundred of years ago
they journeyed to Mada and Udaigiri
to meditate in peace of seclusion
and they made these hills habitable
by carving rocks into caves

now far from the madding crowd
bats and similar unlovely creatures
can find safety of a deserted place
and unseen lizards rustle quickly
into the bush by the stony path
unbearably hot under the June sun
alerted by the incoming footsteps

and right over the Udaigiri hill
distant planes are seen flying past
across the boundless sky
leaving along their flight path
streak of white smoke to create
a veritable tropic of cancer.


BZ Niditch

Vision of San Francisco

In low rise San Francisco
at five PM
among smooth jazz enthusiasts
the dish still repeats
with no one watching
behind withdrawn blinds
but everyone speaking
or chewing on gossip 
pasta on pork
trying to sleep off
war or death
chilled out
by every Dear John or Jane
letter, not willing
to surrender
the happy hour
even the remote possibility
of going off line
or losing control
of a poor reception
yet you still keep on
playing the blues
here in October
on the sidewalks’ cafe
no one sleeps
except on music sheets
in harmony on brass beds
with my newly haired bow
of my violin’s rosin
I’m floating in a morning shine
gazing at the Bay.

Brookline, MA

Basudhara Roy

The Alien

We are fated to be sisters, we three.
To share this same roof over our heads,
Our parents and some same blood.

My sisters cower
Under the shrill imperialism of my wholeness,
My sanctioned identity, my normative parentage.

They see me scraping their splits,
Mocking their disfigured lives and the
Patched selfhoods that they bravely bear.

I shamelessly represent what they strive to deny.
The discrepancy between their past and present and
The echoing rumble of the years in between.

Feared, served, hated, spurned, my congenial power
Unnerves me. Pathetically, I validate a family within families.
A spiteful blot of ochre on bleached grey canvas.

True siblings in loss, they turn their backs upon me, my older sisters.
While schizophrenically inscribe my loss on cold, pale flesh
Immaculately covered in garish, parental-love-flushed finery.

Jamshedpur, India

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Shabdaguchha, an International Bilingual Poetry Journal, edited by Hassanal Abdullah