Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Sunday Poet: Ravi Yelamanchili

Ravi Yelamanchili

Ravi is currently working at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education as a Business Analyst. His writing has previously been published in the Somerville Times, Sahitya Akademi's Indian Literature, Muse India, and several other journals. He also won the Boston Mayor's Poetry Program Contest, University of Pittsburgh Undergraduate Poetry Contest, and Chelmsford High School Poetry Contest.

"Atma Tu Radhika Tasya"  
(“Radha You Are His [Krishna’s] Soul”)

Part I. Savikalpa Samadhi

Of you these days
I hear only in murmurs
and, my eyes see
everything in two’s
like the moons
my drunken husband
sang his life away to.

Then when we were—
still young, too foolish,
to realize the heavens:
to be nothing
more than the space
between the arch
of your foot

and the Earth:  the impressions
of your thieving footfall: we,

hung our earthen pots of butter
as high as we could in our
lowly mud brick homes.

We complained to Yashoda,
and shooed you away, as if you
were a nuisance:
the old crow—

flies with ease today,
its caws make no mention
of when Dhumavati,
and the nine others will come,

or of when the hundred eight
smoky faced sons of daylight
and shadow will leave; but, instead
only brings back gossip of you.

Squinting, I try to trace
the motions of its beak
with my fingers,
but these five rickety
timeworn gates
refuse to budge—
Part II. Asampraj├▒ata Samadhi
Lately, the cows have been
giving only water; and, Yama
has grown so fat, he looks
eight months pregnant.

Back then you stole my sari
while I bathed in the Yamuna,
when it was—more beautiful
than the hide of Maricha,

disguised as a golden deer.
But, now after many years
of wearing, has become
discolored and wrinkled:
the strings and muscle fibers
barely holding together,

I lay on my last bed,
breathing death—
brushing my hands
through piles of shards
and dust, of the pots
you broke and left behind;

I try to rebuild
memories of you
out of bone and ash—
but, Indra hurls his boulders
and crushes my every attempt.

I give up, exhausted
of forgetfulness, I weep,
and call out to you—
but, this time you
don’t raise any mountains.

Indra mocks me and asks,
why I think you would
want to meet an ugly old
illiterate beggar like me,
and laughs when I tell him
that we are lovers,
that I am Lakshmi,
that— I am  that I am,
                “Ehyeh Aser Ehyeh”,
that you are—that you are,
                “Tat Tvam Asi”.

gave you flattened rice,
                but, Krishna I will give you your soul—
Part III. Nirvikalpa Samadhi

From the isolated corridors and chambers
of my mind you come adorned in a robe
of golden smoke, but this time your hair
isn’t dressed with its usual peacock feathers.

I rejoice after seeing you again
and, become young once more.
As I reach out to embrace you again,
and dance with you once more,
you slip from my arms again,
but instead this time you
press your red lips against

my forehead, and play my chakras,
as a cowherd plays a seven holed flute:
Through the inhalation of breath you
plant the seed from which
Brahma, the prime mover was born,
through  its sustaining you water and weed 
, the source field,
and, through its exhalation you
lift me up onto your shoulders and  bring
the fruit of your labor,
the destroyer of time, and all that was born
within its bounds, within my arms reach.

Breaking silence with silence,
you play the Saptarishis,
your seven swaras
in an infinite series of combinations,
 and give rise to the four Vedas.
Milking the Vedas
into the Upanishads,
you churn the Upanishads
into the Mahavakyas,
molding life out of clay;
you fill empty pots,
smash them, and drain
their contents into your mouth.

As the space within and outside
the pot merge together: I
finally understand what you
meant to show me all along.
I realize, Brahman, and Atman,
and you, and I—
as always having been,
as always becoming,
and as always being

Sunday, May 06, 2018

The Sunday Poet: Kimberly Michele Rhoten

Kimberly Michele Rhoten 

Kimberly Michele Rhoten is the author of “Color Outside the Lines” appearing in At My Pace: Twenty Somethings Finding Their Way as well as numerous academic works on LGBTI rights and health policy appearing in Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, World Medical & Health Policy, Economic & Political Weekly, and others. She has a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and a Juris Doctorate from The University of Chicago Law School. Rhoten is the Assistant Director of the Public Health and Tobacco Policy Center at Northeastern Law School, and spends her spare time abstract painting and wishing she had known Anne Sexton. 

"In Here, I'm Not"

I don't miss anyone more than me
Turns out, the closet isn't locked,
It's just shut, and It's not that I'm running out of air,
but Its getting awfully difficult to breathe.
And, no. You can't let me out.
My hand is the knob.
And, no. You can't come in.
It's mine.

I don't miss anyone more than me.
Turns out, the light switch
Isn't broken, it's just off, and
It's not that I don't know me, but
It's getting impossible to recognize myself.
And, yes.
In the dark, we all look the same,
And, yes. 

In the shadows, difference hides.

I don't miss anyone more than me.
Turns out, in here, there's always a vacancy;
It's not that no-one's there, but
"What ifs" aren't paying guests.
And, yes, you can come out,
But never really leave
And, yes, you are Out, there,
In here, I'm not.