Radio Girl

Radio Girl

many thanks to Anjoli Roy, our very own It's Lit with PhDJ at KTUH. Jan 8, 2017

Click on title "Radio Girl" and listen to my poems "Unanswered, Untranslatable" and "Stellar Evolution"

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HANDSHAKE AGREEMENT

by Devi S. Laskar

(Published in the 2014 Squaw Valley Review

 

You discuss burial, inheritance,

though I know our bodies will burn,

our ashes scattered to the fish

 

of a holy river we haven't seen since

high school; our monies alms

for children whose laughter we won't hear.

 

We argue over science, space,

though we know the stars hold nothing,

dead relics that glint in the rearview

 

mirror of god's light; all that we are

and all that we will be was pressed

into the creases of our palms before birth.

 

Blue lights on the far shore sparkle

and beckon, mermaids dressed as women

invite you to swim, trade hands for fins.

 

I hunger, and your thirst is infinite,

though you know how to cook artichokes,

where to draw well water, how to bargain

 

with the butchers, when to harvest grapes;

I revive dead languages to translate

my grandmothers' recipes we must not forget.

 

We kiss and taste each others' secrets

on our exhausted tongues, we are one world

but separate continents adrift

 

in an electric sea. You're betting

on forgiveness. Consider this as you study

maps, dream escape: I will not wait forever.

PERSEPHONE'S DATE

by Devi S. Laskar 

(Published in the Hawaii Pacific Review

Give me back that moment when you rubbed rouge off my cheeks,
one hand rattling the wheel of your Olds as it began
to sink on the red clay roads, your thumb growing brighter
and brighter as the bloom in my face dissipated
and crows resting atop the telephone wires,
watching, always watching us; your hands shaking
as you counted the change at the toll booth, the sun in front
of us; a highway patrolman’s glaring flashlight
appearing to demand your identification,
the state’s permission that allows someone like you to drive.

Give me back that moment when we stood under the arched
entrance to the zoo, the man with the collapsing chair
and stack of folding maps that went askew, some sprawled
into large paper cranes and flew away while my angry
mother fumed nearby, an old street sister in disguise.
I’m definitely the girl you thought you’d marry
and stow away, a palace among the ruins,
enjoying the high blue of summer behind tinted
windows. I’m glinting through copper-polished skin, wanting more.

Give me back that moment when you popped the glove
box, offered me pomegranate candy, hard
as your resolve and just as difficult to explain.
You dream of me, and the rain lathers hot and rusts
all that it touches. Autumn has become a very
serious matter, and my mother is not far
behind as you take the tunnel instead of the bridge.
I will become a relic among the beard grasses,
a shadow in the sallow light of the moon, one story
forgotten among the constellations, crows feet
already beginning to hop about my eyes.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

by Devi S. Laskar

(Published in the 2012 Tule Review) 

“I know sirens are especially bad news when they come for you.” – Terrance Hayes

Everybody, and I mean everybody on the interstate

sitting through the aftermath of that 40-car pileup, replete

with helicopters and jaws of life, candy-red fire

engines and highway patrol clad in ash-colored uniforms

and giant holstered guns, heard them. At first, it sounded like bees

swarming just before the mind alerts you that bees hum in groups

when gunning for you, then it switched to a children’s choir,

well, a choir from an all-girls school, girls who were still at a distance.

As it got closer, it seemed like angels but not the kind we think

of at Christmas; and closer still, the temperature skied high,

the ground trembled and even the trees on the other side of the sound

barriers swayed to this music; everyone got out of their cars

and the women looked up and saw feathered bodies looming

as the men all dropped to their knees and screamed. I thought at first

they were the furies but saw their childish faces, beauty

and terror, and knew they were the sirens coming for us all.


OVEREATERS

The All-Saints, GA, Overeaters Support Group (meeting #18)                                                         Finalist for the James Hearst Prize

by Devi S. Laskar

(Published in the North American Review

First we talk about watermelons -

a modern, American reference

to family picnics, seed-spitting contests,

abating a thirst for summer love

by eating weightless pink flesh.


Then our study of the Greek myths

seeps through our tongues as pomegranates

are hurled onto our invisible

table, pungent olives, golden

apples, blood oranges, Medea.


Someone comments on sorrow

as an appetite suppressant –

death provokes fasting, in some cases

a strict diet of bitter remembrance

until the taste for life returns.


Others blurt out hors d’oeuvres stories

at the theatre, cocktail parties, movies.

And at weddings, how the cake is too sweet,

the toasting champagne always falls flat

by the time the waiter reaches their glasses.


We discuss the reluctant meals we swallow

when there is no money leftover after rent:

white bread that’s three days old, noodles,

peanut butter without the jelly,

lentil soups with rice, bags of popcorn.


No one mentions why we come here,

the way we slide into our chairs, batter

stealing home, without notice, without

admitting that we want to soufflé

our bodies from landfills to temples.

LONGITUDE

by Devi S. Laskar 

(Published in the Squaw Valley Review)

Cast-iron castaway facing the latitude

of separation, of light; the heat it takes to cook

 

the blue in blueprints, the evanescent bliss

of marriage, how chocolate stains the soul,

 

the percentage error of sextants, how

archeological digs miss ruins by inches,

 

the moment eucalyptus trees bleach themselves

in sun-worship, and your ugly tendency to divest

 

everything you see; the mating calls of peacocks

and water buffalo; post-doctoral binges

 

when bourbon is synonymous with air and days

are spent naming muddy drinks after a tropical

 

depression; tambourines flashing onstage, deus

ex machina, elegy for the ex-lover;

 

the usury of astrology, my grandfather’s

kitchen superstitions; borrowed patience, borrowed

 

time, royal blue, everything’s old, nothing’s new;

the sea as witch hazel, round as a cat’s eye,

 

rusting sand in which we buried ourselves to the neck,

pirating cowrie shells, flirting with the ocean

 

foam; the migration of flamingos and orange

pickers and monarch butterflies; how we begin

 

to choose the moment of our emancipation

the first time we ride without training wheels,

 

without a daddy’s hand or a whistle-happy coach

nearby, when all that stands before us are oak-lined

 

roads, passing cars and sweet meadows, a valley

that dips its shoulder into a sea, windblown

hair and our bravado.

RAGA

by Devi S. Laskar

(Published in the 2000 Atlanta Review)

Forget the red dust-swept avenues, the drumbeat of your heart, the taxis jiggling over cobbled stones; dodging opposing buses and rickshaws, the naked street men bathing at public pumps, their street wives squatting at every busy corner. Forget them all begging for charity and spare change. Forget the decay of dead palaces of the Raj; the ordinary people who cleverly squat there, now; and that they hang their laundry like a lynching mob. Forget hawkers peddling mustard seed oil and green bananas, the congested sewers: urchins and rats now fight for the trash and spittle you pitch out the window; the narrow alleys and closed minds, the buildings stacked and pushed against each other like gaily dressed children in a queue. Forget the little blue and red awnings of skinny tin-thatched stalls, the leering smiles of vendors whose eyes you catch and meet, the diesel perfume coming through your open window, the winter sun shining through your windshield, the clamor of commercial planes overhead. Forget the bellow of buses as they stream past you, angry as a stampede of mechanical bulls; your insomnia as the moon casts ghosts behind you, the ashen taste of the Ganges holy water under your tongue. Forget the roar of men and women everywhere as they feud, and that they brawl over everything and nothing and you. Forget you're visiting red fire ants, in a bay colony. Forget it all, the sounds of crows feeding and mating, mating and feeding; your appetite, which you lost weeks ago at an open market. Remember to watch a street boy bring a bag of stolen oranges to his ailing mother in that neglected grotto. Remember to empty your pockets into the hundred open palms praying for change at every corner. Remember there’s no substitute for love or hunger, nor for fever or thirst. Remember me always when I leave here. Where do you think you're going?