Praniti Gulyani

Praniti is a young writerfrom India.

The Ballad of Silence 

emerging from the greasy greyness - 
between what was said and 
what was meant, thread-by-thread 
you morph into a tapestry that clothes 
every word that tip-toes down 
the ever-winding platform of 
the mortal tongue 

like a nimble-footed lamb 
you tenderly tread onto 
windowpanes, unnerved by 
the claustrophobia of their glassiness 
after all, for you – 
a windowpane is ‘a legacy of time’ 

with an assortment of stars 
on your shoulders, you slide in 
through key-holes, embracing the mustiness 
of a home, that has just been brushed
with the icy fingertips of time, which the mortal mouth 
calls ‘death’, more often than not 

you are a shape-shifter
metamorphing into an illusion – 
and then a hallucination 
and possibly, with the elegance 
of a pendulum, you navigate aptly 
alternating between the two 

you slide into the gallant attire 
of a young man, and usher away 
the slender, feminine curves 
of tears, that sit on sharp-edged cheekbones
and then you somersault into a ‘whisper’
who runs away with a ‘sob’, arm-in-arm 
reminiscent of the way 
‘the dish ran away with the spoon’

and when it is time for you, to recline - 
you cautiously choose platforms of tongues 
that are tired of praying, yet hold onto 
misty vapours of leftover verse and fragments 
of metal-like poetry, thrust between a set 
of young, youthful teeth – you consider sprawling 
on dewy lips that have been cut 
with steely stanzas and wiry verses

finally, you distribute your legacy – 
amidst the fragments of my world

you leave, a layer of mist on tombstones 
                      a yellowing veil of time on poem-books 

a thimble-full of sunshine on a poet’s whitening fingers 
                          

                     a fistful of season, in a heart that 
                                 has long discarded, the eskimo-furs of emotion

a heart that has receded into the caverns 
                   of critical cardiac contemplation
      and is barely held together 
                       by strands of whispering and whimpering


and then, finally, you run a point-sized quill
across the papery-thin sky, and somewhere 
a sky-gazing mother, whispers to her child 

‘the stars are poems that Silence stopped 
and wrote on the sky’ 

A Literary Interpretation Class

he begins the class – 
with a poem on hate 
and asks us to “underline the similes”
pointing out the places where 
hate has been called as an intriguing labyrinth 
a maze and a flickering shadow 
of the human heart that extends
beyond biology, tenderly receding 
into the faintly-lit caverns
of the metaphor 


he then instructs us, to 
take out our green highlighter 
and “mark the alliteration” 
somehow, his fists clench and 
he whips the pages with his ruler 
especially the places where the poet has
heartlessly spoken about 
“mortified motherhood”, “petrified paternity”
and as he hits the pages
again, and again and again, these pages
seem to whisper, wail, whimper 

moving on, he tells us – 
to encircle the repetition, and asks us 
about the impact it has 
on the tone and the rhythm and when 
we raise our brows at these jargons 
he tells us, he to look
at the poem in general

and, with dry flakes 
of thick, grey chalk, he asks us 
to capture, in ovals – 
the fluttering bits of stanza
that reach out, into the poem 
with long, scaly fingers 
and leave their fingerprints 
just about everywhere 

and, with quivering movements 
I encase the moaning and the screaming
the sobbing and the weeping– 



with my bland, salty-grey pencil 
I struggle to cage 
the vaporizing, shape-shifting
unuttered cries 
of a newborn, that linger around
 his lips that have long discarded
 their dewy-moistness 
and turned a subtle blue 
 
finally, he asks us – 
to pick up our crayon which must be 
deeper than the deepest scarlet 
so much so, that it must hurt 
to look at it 

and with that, he insists 
that we must color in all the words that 
 hold personification upon their shoulders 

the places where 
the wounds embrace each other 
with little, purple arms 
and quest for a mother 
amidst this landmass of skin 

he asks us, to color so hard 
that our color-stubs form 
holes in the poem 

and with our simply-rounded color stubs 
charged with this sense of ferociousness 

while we tear through blood-stains that call out
and bullets that laugh and giggles 

and as our crayon tarries a while 
to straighten itself

it storms through the battlefield 
of verse and stanza, all set to conquer 

 guns that smirk 

All The Things I’ve Learnt From A Shooting Star

to emerge from bits of night 
that wrap themselves around breaths of cloud 
to glaze bedroom windows, and fill in light 
in the ambiguous shape of a lingering wish 
to touch outstretched fingers – slowly, cautiously 
and settle in the centre of palms 
lending only a speck of light – deliberately, comfortably 

to fold myself between pages, that hold 
unsteady, uncertain, unknown poetry 
and despite knowing, that poetry is uncertain 
to still cling onto every word 
to rise, and tower over those watching me 
to fall and drop like dew on velvety leaves 
and when I fall, to see if those who watched me when I rose 
are still watching 

to mount bits of yellowing breeze 
the residue of summer, sewn into the sky 
and linger outside a soldier’s barrack 
pressing my being against a widow
that bears footprints of teardrops, that are yet to be shed 
by the white, cloud-crusted eyelids 
of the sky 

to weave in and out – 
of a mother’s prayer, to punctuate 
a song, sung in a slow, scratchy voice 
to be talked about, and written on 
and maybe, if I am lucky, to be argued about 

to be looked at, to be wished on 
but, most importantly 
to be wished for 

A Headache Holder

to say the very least – 
I have a heavy head, and 
with the stone that held Medusa, I will
carve a six-shelved
 headache-holder and sprinkle 
some starlight onto it, perhaps 

I will pick my headaches off 
my teenage-girl eyebrows, and place them 
in the headache-holder

the meticulous bits of mother 
in my heart, make me 
arrange my headaches according to 
shape and size and perhaps smell 

I put the bigger ones 
at the back, those coated 
with perspiring layers of patience, picked 
from that place between the eyebrows 
and scraped off pillow-covers
with broken, yellowing nails 

and then, I move – 
onto the uncertain ones 
those, that linger
between big and small 

they squirm between 
my fingers, as I scatter them around 
the headache-holder putting some 
at the back, some in the front 
as they emit 
short, sharp jerks 
of bittersweet odor, picked 
from the crest of my forehead 
with quivering, unsure fingers

finally, I advance towards – 
the smallest ones, that slither 
like slippery, angry eels 
and, as I struggle to tighten 
my fists around them and place them 
in the front, they slash my palms 
with agonized, metallic tails 


for they must be tucked into 
frock-pockets, and threaded into 
the underlying silences of a moment

they must not be put 
on outstretched palms that face 
even the sky 

for they are pungent with football fields 
and upturned socks and shoe polish
and ironed shirts and cigarette ends 
and moldy sandwiches and shadows;
shadows that are lifted and slammed
against the frosty tiles of bedroom walls

shadows that are slammed and pushed 
and slapped and stamped 
and hurled 

soundlessly 

they are vibrant with the shades
of every thread, that embroiders 
the extrinsic layers 
of this tapestry called silence 

carefully 
concealing
what lies 

inside 

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