Things No One Knows

LAGNAJITA MUKHOPADHYAY

after Wanda Coleman

overcome by the stink of mildewed water in the sink from another dead thing i cannot bear to compost, i have been out of place for seventeen years / my countrymen do not love me / like no place even exists as loud dissonance / we are getting by in a city where more homes are built at the same rate as more people lose theirs / i have less spare time and i spend it flicking flies like thoughts / and wondering where to park in the cemetery / and forgetting how to talk.

burdened by the cuttings you left, they each die one by one / i cannot tend to them / others are still growing when you have stopped / my smell has worn off months ago and i have no desire to water myself / do i like you or your smell / my clothes are the same size as they always were, some worn more than others / once you see yourself, you can’t go back / it’s not about being sure / but about losing all my money to someone who was supposed to share.

i do not care if those plants live or die / i walk and the leaves walk with me too, scratching the concrete / the wind pushes them from the tree / water rising through the trunk / the ascent of sap if all you want is glittering enough to obscure the dirt underneath / we did not survive this together / no one will / these roads are a life sentence / my movement funds the bombs being dropped on people that look like me / my freedom pays for itself in the forced migration of others.

i planted a mango in a tire tread / it was the only place that would not get mowed over / i want to go home / if i could go back in time, i would / i get an evil pleasure from the storm, to know you cannot be outside / to know that i do not have to see you / to want that in the face of power lines down and trees smashed into houses / everything you have planted has led to death / the water fountains were all shut off and the sinks too shallow / nothing is for free but disowned or sold

like mealybugs


LAGNAJITA MUKHOPADHYAY is the author of the books this is our war (Penmanship Press, Brooklyn, 2016) and everything is always leaving (M.C. Sarkar & Sons, Kolkata, 2019), along with her latest poetry album release i don’t know anyone here in 2020. An Indian-born poet raised in Nashville, she is a recent graduate of English at Belmont University. She was the first Nashville Youth Poet Laureate and a finalist for the first National Youth Poet Laureate. Find her work in Poetry Society of America, Nashville Arts Magazine, and Connecticut River Review, among others. As a recent Pushcart Prize nominee, she is epic poem collage stranger and break-up with America tour—on self-imposed exile from New Nashville; she doesn’t know anyone here.

Commute

CAMILLE NEWSOM

Another dark morning I feel less than ready

to teach adolescents about how their dying world works—

no sex or sea levels, with evolution I should expect

seven AM arguments with moms and dads.

There’re the smoke stacks again, orange in the sunrise

and the cantina sign, what power to always emit

the brightest neon. Clutch in, 2nd gear, whoops—

a stale yellow.

I wish I could write like I’m from the Midwest,

find metaphors for broken porch swings in August,

aromas of meatloaf and manure,

or to see the water tower in the distance,

to hear the windchimes and watch old women

in periwinkle nightgowns, walking dogs at dusk.

I should have called grandma back.

She could be dead any day now.

I guess that’s true for us all.

Amber leaves are still on the ground.

Nothing changed since fall passed

away one month ago. The moon faints

from exhaustion, the children wait for the

bell, and I’ve left today’s purpose

on my bedroom nightstand.


CAMILLE NEWSOM is a middle school science teacher in Colorado Springs, CO. She finds inspiration for her creative work in the joys and challenges of teaching adolescents about the odd mechanics of the world.

letters

KATARZYNA STEFANICKA

once they were touched 

hand-crafted

squeezed in the margins

rubbed into the folds

in the middle

spaced with silence

dressed-up at tails-end

withstanding

pressures of life on paper


KATARZYNA STEFANICKA is a psychologist with an interest in psychoanalysis and writing. Most recently she published with Rue Scribe. She lives, works and writes in London.

Case History of Pain

KINSHUK GUPTA

You should be able to pinpoint it: abdomen, upper half,

left side, a hand’s breadth from the last floating rib.

Compare it with ballpoint’s prick or knife’s stab—

we were taught in medical school. That winter when the sun

bleached, and roads jacketed in snow, I saw a grainy green

chameleon on a branch, his beaded eyes peeling away

excuses that kept me spooning Plath’s tulips. Leaving me

hungry for whistling Malabar thrush. Hungry for donuts

dunked in sugar syrup—sweet at first, then tart on tongue.

Hungry for wind saturated with salt. Your bent knees were peaks, and

my body moored into your valley; borrowed the orchestra of your breaths—

in and out, in and out,                              long and loud gasp.            

That winter I feared greasy, five-toed depression. Its coiled tail.

Its pale, flaking skin. That winter when I asked my father to

drive me to the therapist, he told me: Bear, Bear like a man.

That winter, dread spread in mom’s eyes, when I rode shotgun in the car.

Friends wishing—Go to God. Begging in scented temples,

my prayers hissing in ears like clumsy bells. That winter I fell upon

dreams, changing colours—gunmetal sky, burgundy bruises,

pea-soup fog. That winter the psychiatrist said: Your disease is fictional.

Depression is alive only in black and white. That winter I kept

searching for lithe silhouettes as reptile’s eyes scanned my body.

That winter I wished for wicker coracle of sleep. Dreamt of eyes

hidden in whopping cyclones. Woke up to eyes beaded in jet-black sky,

craving sleep again. Like a prisoner pardoned for a crime

he didn’t commit. That winter before the chameleon cracked

whip of tongue, I learnt that pain is only pain with a name;

searched for sounds in the language sheltered in my bones.

It is unholy to think that the war is over when guns

stop shooting. When he rolled back his tongue to swallow me,

I kept running and running and running

                                                                from the pistol of his eyes.


KINSHUK GUPTA uses the scalpel of his pen to write about his experiences as an undergraduate medical student. He was longlisted for the People Need Change Poetry Contest (2020), The Poetry Society, UK. His haiku have been nominated for the Touchstone Awards and the Red Moon Anthology. His work can be read or forthcoming in The Hindu, The Hindu Business Line, Modern Haiku, Haiku Foundation, Contemporary Haibun Online, among others. He currently works as the Poetry Editor at Jaggery Lit and an Associate Editor at Usawa Literary Review.

Tacking Up

Emerson Kurdi

Bow under the crosstie ropes securing your horse

to the ground. Bend over your grooming bag,

finger over the warm, bruised apple,

the harsh seamed plastic hoof pick,

prickly sugar crystals from jostled cubes,

the bumpy-bottomed curry comb – to agitate dust

from his back – and select the horsehair brush,

wood worn by drops.

Stroke the dust, hay, and sleep

from where they have settled on his curves,

sweep from the withers, with the grain, quick-wristed

towards his rump. Careful, the leather and shit

scented dust congeals in your snot and tears –

I remember once,

asking politely for his foot

by squeezing his fetlock bump

and lifting – wielding the pick against my hand

like tugging a nail with a hammer claw,

coaxing mush and rock from his shoe

to free him of pain and the potential to slip, accidentally

hacking at his frog, sending his pointed toe towards mine

in protest, like a spade piercing soft loam.

Despite his repeated abuse – you’ll blame yourself –

heave the pad and saddle over his shoulder,

horse-left, your right, echoing cavalry tradition:

mounting left to protect him from the sword.

Wiggle the horn to kiss the smallest hairs

of his coarse mane, clip girth and pull deep

upward – Once, I forgot to watch 

the glint in his eye while squeezing

his barrel and buckling, unaware

of how fast his thick neck could carry

his teeth to my arm – he never breaks skin, though.

In the final act of this tenuous dance, unravel the bridle

strings, flick reigns over neck and split his bite

at the tooth-gap with your thumb, funnel the bit

between his velveteen lips. Listen to him crunch,

watch his round jaw muscle pulse, urge perked ears

and forelock through the browband, eye-to-eye.


EMERSON KURDI is a graduate student at Texas Tech University, concentrating in Creative Writing. If he has a weekend to spare, you could find him hiking in the New Mexican wilderness with his wife and dogs, or pretending to like craft beer with his friends on a restaurant patio. You can find other poems written by Emerson at The Dillydoun Review.

Genesis

Amy Liu

On a Queens balcony, grandmother makes a woman of me: she

unbraids my hair and presses my hands into a pot of loess;

from this, we come forth. Nüwa molded men from this yellow

earth; she held up the heavens         and I turn to      the pale clouds,

searching for meaning. I daydream not of Nüwa’s

            smelted stones and sculptor’s fingers but of        the pale boy

at the corner store          who taught me his disjointed tale of women

and painted in black and blue,           of the way his

hands carved into me                 and wrote their own chapter.

Grandmother says that all stories of men and boys begin with

the cleavage of their rough bodies from iron mud that runs red

the moment they are born,

that we write the endings to the tragedies they mistakenly

begin. Nüwa drained the surging floods and

quilted back together an azure sky; it is

us women who heal these earthen wounds, granddaughter.

I let loess fall from my fingertips beneath

the afternoon sun and wonder if

an epilogue awaits me;                                       I close my eyes

            and behind the raven lashes inherited from         grandmother

is Nüwa,           marked in beautiful lines,           forging strength.

That night, I ink my own womanhood onto yellowed paper,

press it to my steadfast heart, and exhale into Nüwa’s reborn sky.


AMY LIU is a high school student and an aspiring writer. She has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, among others. She is an editor at her school newspaper and enjoys playing the piano and baking in her spare time.

Inklette Magazine X NYC Poetry Festival Reading

Inklette Magazine hosted a reading at the 2021 NYC Poetry Festival‘s on July 25 at Colonel’s Row, Governors Island. The NYC Poetry Festival is a project of the Poetry Society of New York and is hosted every year during the last weekend of July on Governors Island. After being cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival was held this year and brought together poets, artists, journals, presses, literary and arts organizations.

The poetry readings on behalf of Inklette Magazine were delivered by Devanshi Khetarpal (Founder and Editor-in-Chief) and Maria Prudente (former contributor and Prose Editor).

The video below was recorded by Ian Gittler.

We would like to extend a special thanks to the audience, participants, Maria Prudente, Ian Gittler, Poetry Society of New York and the NYC Poetry Festival, and Matthew Baker.