Other Tongue


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Rat snake at Pazhakulam, Kerala                               Pic: Reena Prasad

Other Tongue


From being hissed at too much, we have become venom

gliding glibly over your bristles, our skin speaking a new language
you cannot decipher without a forked tongue

Feeding you your poison, remaining untouched at the core
Strengthened by the knowledge you lack
Mimicking your insecurities
but also mocking them while being subdued by the weight of your bones

The chains have shifted from soft bodies to minds mired in myths
pampered by obedience and shrunk from disuse
The knots are no longer where they were once put
The fabric has changed and the woman in it has ridden off

Liberty now moves like a breast drummed upon by the rain
and no longer wears heels, fishnet or your name
What you still clutch at is clay of your making
How little you read of what we write on our skins!

©Reena Prasad
Published in the mini anthology on 19th August 2016
An Anthology of Poems Dedicated to World Humanitarian Day

Jasmine-Scented


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Pazhakulam, Kerala                                                              pic :ReenaPrasad

Jasmine-Scented


She waits impatiently for the deep pits can swallow no more

He comes drawn by the lure of quick money. At sunset, the deal is struck.
Three bars of Lux soap, two large bottles of kerosene and coconut oil,
a floor cleaning lotion, jasmine-scented (he insists on it) and 4000 rupees
change hands but no handshakes are expected or given. They vanish into opposite dusks.

She into the house to fasten every window and spray fragrant Oud.
He to the shop to binge on stuff that will quell reason and preserve his sanity.
The night soil stream gallops through sleeping backyards as a well-oiled drunk works diligently,
scooping up and surrendering all his rights, laughing and retching in turn at court orders
spraying kerosene over each load of shit he pulls up till the slabs are cemented back

A moonlight bath with the floor cleaner and a bar of soap
then dinner on a banana leaf left for him outside the locked up house
He opens the last two bottles of toddy dousing the stink of memories
taking home the scent of jasmine, two bars of Lux for his wife and 4000 rupees for his child
which the hospital takes from him once a clean day dawns.
©Reena Prasad

Published in the mini anthology on 19th August 2016
An Anthology of Poems Dedicated to World Humanitarian Day

An Anthology of Poems Dedicated to World Humanitarian Day | Different Truths


Happy to be be among the 48 poets who wrote their hearts out for this compelling collection from Different Truths and The Significant League on FB.
‘Jasmine-Scented’ & ‘Other Tongue’ feature at the 4th and 5th slots.
Kashmir, Syria, Patriarchy, Inequity, LGBT rights, Human trafficking, Rohingyas and many other sensitive issues are brought out in these poems.
The anthology is edited by eminent poets, Dr. Koshy A. V.,Sana Rose, Niladri(Neel Kamal) and Urooj Murtaza. Thanks are due to Arindam Roy and Anumita Chatterjee Roy of Different Truths for this stupendous collection.

The Significant League (TSL) and Different Truths (DT) together offer an Anthology on World Humanitarian Day (WHD), the sixth tie-up between the two. Seventy four poems, by 48 poets, showcase the h…

Source: An Anthology of Poems Dedicated to World Humanitarian Day | Different Truths

An Anthology of World Refugee Day Poems | Different Truths


Read on what it means to not have a home to return to.
Read on for “We live in the age of the refugee, the age of the exile”
-Ariel Dorfman

The Significant League (TSL) and Different Truths (DT) together offer an Anthology on World Refugee Day (WED), the fifth tie-up between the two.  Sixty nine poems, one be each poet, showcase the hu…

Source: An Anthology of World Refugee Day Poems | Different Truths

Ostraka ( at number 3)
In a massive urn, shards welter with scratched out names
We leave today for siding with life, for making a noise
about the smoke from a pyre lit under us

Out over the ocean
where the sharks have no check posts, no countries
just the seamlessness of hunger and life

I throw my children out of the inferno
They giggle and tumble over dead laps, clutching at nothing

I clutch at everything
from paper money to memories but my hands, once great
at scooping up babies are now giant sieves

I lose them all finally
The lie fluttering over the land
The identity that singes my lips when I plead
Scrap-proofs of my existence- all consigned
to earth as I run, run, run

We step over bodies,
ignore dying pleas and hug the remainders
to make it to another dawn
under the same sun and sky
The choking smoke of yesterday
repackaged as a gulp of oxygen

Over the barbs, into another lying boundary
that creases rapidly, tearing us into scraps
Shaken out like dust from a map
till the world pressing in from all sides
narrows its vision to a pin point
surrounded by a dancing debris of outcasts

Only underwater or in the skies
does life thrive limitlessly. The rest have to flee.
© Reena Prasad
Thank you Ampat Koshy, Gauri Dixit, Deepti Singh (Editors) Arindam Roy and Anumita Roy Chatterjee (of DT) for this collection of 73 heart felt poems.

Songs of the Earth: An Anthology of World Environment Day Poems | Different Truths


‘Songs of The Earth’, the poetic anthology for World Environment Day at Different Truths today. Another great collaboration effort between TSL-DT ably edited by four eminent poets Dr. Ampat Koshy, Niladri Ranjit Chakraborty Ritamvara Bhattacharya and Gowri Suresh. Thank you Editors! Thanks DT team esp. Arindam Roy Da.
Wonderfully apt artwork by Michele Baron!
My poem is at N0.12.

12. Earth Poem

Poems are unearthed when the soil is moved
Some sun, happy sweat and a lot of grime
A bird chirruping away to itself
The scent of a banana flower, freshly watered greens
A few nodding buds, mud under nails, bare feet
Straggling vines, a sprightly sapling new
The comfort of my back against the stout trunk
of a grandfather tree
Ants on their march, snails housed in pots
Choosy, spoilt butterflies
and a profusion of defiant weeds
There is nothing here
that doesn’t hold me captive
The moss covers every crack
Even the faint breeze heals


I wish to lie here, in a flower bed
or under the thick canopy
dotted with yellow allamandas
hearing a golden oriole flute its song
watching the trees explode with spring
feeling the power, the invincibility of the infinite blue
feeding the first rain drops to my skin


To die in this earth garden
and have only the bees buzz about it
Now that would be poetry
©Reena Prasad

The Significant League (TSL) and Different Truths (DT) together offer an Anthology on World Environment Day (WED), 59 poems, one be each poet, showcasing deep concern against degradation of our env…

Source: Songs of the Earth: An Anthology of World Environment Day Poems | Different Truths

Anthology on Bonded Labour | Different Truths


“Willingly no one chooses the yoke of slavery”
— Aeschylus

Reminding us of this grim truth is this excellent and poignant collection of poems from The Significant League with its outstanding crop of poets and excellent editors at the helm- Dr Ampat Koshy, Urooj Murtaza and Ipsita Ganguly. Thank you dear Editors and the Different Truths Team of Arindam Roy and Anumita Chatterjee Roy for giving us an opportunity to write and read such beautiful poems and that too as a service to mankind. Poetry at its best. Happy May Day!

The Significant League (TSL) and Different Truths (DT) together offer an Anthology on Bonded Labour, 60 poems, one be each poet, full of pathos and pain.

Source: Anthology on Bonded Labour | Different Truths

The first poem in this collection is mine titled ‘Paro’s Girl’

Paro’s Girl
She was the sound of a pot being scrubbed
And drummed upon, a visual rooster call
Framed through a red iron grill, in the grey dawn
Was her bowed squat, the permanent sniff,
Wispy thin arms and unkempt plait
Yet she was invisible
A rag bundle among the crows
The sleeves of her frock stopped where my gaze too did
Not wanting to add five burnt fingers scarred into a claw
To the discomfiture of being clothed in privilege.

She was Paro’s girl.
Paro, dirt exterminator by day
And physiotherapist by night.
From a hidden perch, I watched in awe
As soot black feet stamped on the prone
Rickshaw puller’s flesh and bones.
Houses trembled when her tongue lashed.
Yet her absence was a natural disaster
An infant hung from her black breasts,
But the girl was a contract forgotten
A loan obtained when she had none of her own.

‘Maa’ an attempt to bond with another bonded one
Whose voice and swagger were defense mechanisms,
But who couldn’t bring herself to call the labour-sharer
A daughter, but then these were all written indelibly in stone.
I believed with all the wisdom of being eight,
An unknown bond they had somehow signed
One I couldn’t read.
Paro’s girl scrubbed on with her mesh of heirloom scars
No one remembered that she had never been named.

©Reena Prasad