• In the Name of Others

    and other poems

    December 19, 2016

    Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee 

    Pablo Picasso, 'estudio para Guernica' / via twitter.com


    In the Name of Others

    For Jo Cox, Orlando's queers, others

    I'm looking for you
    On this desert
    I wasn't wrong
    you are my people
    my neighbours

    – Tadeusz Różewicz, Conversation with a Prince, 1998

    Each passing day, the clock turns its back on us.
    Time hangs on a murderer’s face, a no-face,

    No-eyes, blind to what we see; we never know
    How he sees the world, how his heart beats.

    Our words are soaked in blood, our blood
    Soaked in love and fear no cardiograph will show.

    We hear the turning of time, on radio, on TV,
    Read of Yeats’ rough beast, hiding his claws in the moon,

    His fur kept in the drawer, casually, like a gun.
    No one ever looked there; people aren’t sniffer dogs.

    All that the man loves is a country, and a god;
    Secretly, like a lone wolf prowling the streets, hungry

    For enemies, those who utter the wrong word,
    Look, act, eat, make love differently, they irritate his soul.

    He will avenge the crime of their presence,
    They who needle his blindness, his cactus dreams.

    If love is a language of open-fruits, of
    Open-wounds resembling poetry, hate is a series

    Of formulas, a coded language more difficult
    To diagnose than faeces, darker than night,

    Hate, a pair of no-eyes, asleep or awake, hiding
    In its own forest, seeing what we don’t see;

    Not that the heart blinds us; it makes us see
    What our eyes were made for, to receive the stranger,

    The one who brings a new name, a new smell, a new prejudice,
    A word for desire, tells us of another time, another

    Horizon; time isn’t ours alone we learn, it also belongs to others,
    Those unlike us, who pray and reason differently,

    Yet they weep like us; the wars forced us to mourn
    Separately, and since then, phantoms are gunning for our soul.



    Kill, there is no better way;
    Have a grievance? Kill,
    Tell the world how you feel.
    If you don't kill no one will listen;
    The world is deaf
    Unless it hears bombs and guns.
    You are all kind souls,
    Wouldn't hurt a fly,
    But you can kill people like flies.
    You have no option,
    The world gives you none,
    Except kill.

    Your grief has been
    Piling up the last few months;
    Your cupboard
    Full of fuming skeletons,
    You hatch a plot, kill
    People in the marketplace,
    Show great humour,
    Turn people into the
    Things they came to buy.

    People will know
    You never left the scene;
    You were around,
    Serves them right to forget
    You exist.

    People say, don't kill;
    Try other ways?
    Maybe, but killing is easier,
    Also in fashion.
    To talk, argue, carry flags,
    Old fashioned; they fit
    Another century, dates have
    Expired, they are of no use.

    Kill, kill, kill, goes your song.
    No past or future,
    Time designed to kill, choose
    A moment, bang, bang.
    Kill and die together;
    Follow your enemy to death.



    (c) Mark Rothko, 'Black on Maroon' / Tate



    A Short Battle of the Gazes*

    To the raised fist of Tess Asplund

    She's black, she knows,
    So dared to stare,
    Raise the alarm for all
    If the Nazis came
    With flags and slogans;
    Then no migrant
    Of today or tomorrow,
    Of Syria or Africa,
    Can eat, drink or walk
    Without any fear

    They will seek out all –  
    Asian, Black,
    Left, Liberal, Muslim –  
    To settle scores
    Simmering in history,
    Or so we fear,
    Till the lists are out
    Of who stays,
    And who leaves  

    What else do you
    Think fascism does?
    Create a new

     * By the photographer, David Lagerlof, who clicked Afro-Swedish activist, Tess Asplund’s eye-to-eye moment with the Nazis marching in Central Sweden.


    Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee‘s poems have appeared in The London MagazineNew Welsh Review, Rattle, The Fortnightly ReviewElohi Gadugi JournalMudlarkMetamorphosesModern Poetry in TranslationThe Postcolonialist, and The Indian Quarterly. His first collection of poetry, Ghalib’s Tomb and Other Poems (2013), was published by The London Magazine. He teaches in the School of Culture and Creative Expressions at Ambedkar University, New Delhi.

    These poems are part of our unfolding Citizens against War series of literature and art, initiated in the spirit of listening: to our poets, artists, writers, fellow citizens, against war and war mongering.


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