Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee
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
– 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,
Your grief has been
Piling up the last few months;
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
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.
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 –
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 Magazine, New Welsh Review, Rattle, The Fortnightly Review, Elohi Gadugi Journal, Mudlark, Metamorphoses, Modern Poetry in Translation, The 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.