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Joie Bose's Poems

Joie Bose is a corporate professional in the ITES industry, a former professor of Jadavpur University. She is the India Community Leader of The WIT Network. She has won Bharat Nirman Award for Literature, Nissim International Prize for Poetry, Women par Excellence Award for Literature amongst others. She has authored Corazon Roto and Sixty Nine Other Treasons (2015) and Amour (2020). She is the General Secretary of Poetry Paradigm and Mrs. India (East) 2018.


The lanes unfurl like the fingers
Of a lovers palm and I want to grasp
Every inch of my city;
My heart, throbs
With its bobbing people
And just when the dusk falls
I smell nostalgia...

Roots run deeper with time,
And I've been a sapling here,
Once upon a time in Calcutta...


From my Rympei in Sohra

It's raining a little here in Cherrapunji now and the first moon was in the sky last night,
"'Don Bok' it is, good luck," Daisy Kong says, crouched before the wood fire- rice and meat is boiling in a pot, 
"The Shamans grow less and it doesn't always rain when it should,
The times are changing and the sun shines more, it is Mary's day today and I will go to the Church."

The mild hills wear a calm green Jinsem, like Daisy and years shrivel near her eyes
She sings praises to the Lord in strange tunes- Khasi or Christian, I don't know
She married a Christian who now rests in a grave, her sons are settled all in New York and Australia. 

There is a rooster that crows at odd times and has a black chicken for its mate
Dogs drift in and out as people here and have names I can't pronounce 
Daisy's name is Bohunlang Lyndoh Mawphlang but she won't tell me that, like she will not tell me many things
The villages have many secrets which they won't tell the cities as the hills will hide their secrets from the plains.

Denny will bring a guitar and light a bonfire, it grows cold as fog covers the night
At fifteen he quit school and he stays in Daisy's hut, he won't go to stay at Elli's, nor will he marry
He can live like a man as they do in the plains he thinks, but Daisy will get him married too, this winter,
"Big boys don't stay back at home!" Daisy says,
The pork is tender now and Tenny will do the rest she promises; "Khublei" she says before she goes.

The rains here don't tell me their names, I am as strange to them as they are to me
I sit on a stone chair, to watch them fall, I watch them beat the ground,
The mild hills are the holy priests, they can read minds and they can hold secrets- I confess with my tears
Tomorrow I will be gone, and their green Jinsem will be clean for another DLSR's memory stick.


My lover is dead

I have heard that my lover is dead now, 
My other self told me that. 
My eyes can see my lover,
But my heart can't feel the warm love. 
When I go close to my lover,
It turns winter and I become a hedgehog.
It's a cold prikly forest with no life 
Near my lover and I say, my lover is dead. 

This is why I don't fear death
For I have seen how you can breathe
And still be dead or how like the Poets lover
Be rotting in the grave but thriving 
In the hearts and lips of ages and ages hence...


Crows and crows pass by my window from dawn to dusk,
I watch them as I watch the second hand tick
So hard at work, all the time - no time to rest
Never on top, at most - second best.

Crows have no permanent souls I hear,
On judgement day then, they will have no fear,
I saw a crow once mutilate a dead rat with its beak,
Even murderous crows don't call me a freak. 

Everytime I walk out of this door, I hope,
Today I'll be a bobbing head in the crowd,
Today I'll be an ant on an anthill,
Today I'll make everyone proud. 

But a million strong gazes scrutinize me,
I just want to be a drone but they make me the queen bee,
I'm too hideous for the sun to see,
I run back into my room, I run back to me. 

Crows comfort me, they make up the masses,
One day too I will belong somewhere,
I fly out with them, I hunt for carcasses
I am a human, I have many layers.

Bengali women

perhaps it is how we were raised
always asked to keep our spine straight
to hold our heads high
and not feel daunted or ashamed to walk
as if our high heads were flags
that our families wear with pride.

we were taught to question 
to seek, to test, to try and then believe 
I admit, I've been taught to never quit
never to submit to anything wrong 
for in Bengal, we worship the mother
She creates, nurtures and destroys with conviction.

we are magic - black and white 
you still want to stereotype?


there is blood on your soil
and on your hands
for centuries dear Ayodhya,
do you cry at night
when your children sleep?

Butterflies and fireflies

How you have grown up to be a man
and I a lady! 

I find it funny that there are girls who look at you
and I often want to tell you
that there are men, 
like you
who think I am a woman
and who look at me
longingly, but 
I am scared
you will laugh...

I wear heels and paint my nails now
and in my sleep you 
become all those men,
but, if I tell you
I am scared
you will laugh...

How you have grown up to remain the shy boy
who is scared of butterflies
and I remain the girl
who collects fireflies in jars
so that when 
it's dark, the jar will glow...

We could grow real old like this
but we have to make babies and have weddings like stories
so I know you will go to one of those girls
who look at you longingly
and I, to another man
and neither that girl and nor than man will know 
our secret.

I know when we grow real old
we will meet only in memories
and perhaps in heaven 
after we die
for in the world of grownups, 
they are never scared of butterflies
and they don't have time for fireflies.

Were I not scared
of you laughing at me,
I would have asked you
if you noticed my painted nails,
and then perhaps there could be a different story
but I'm a lady now, not the brave girl I used to be
who could ride wild horses
so I'm scared of some little things, like this. 

I see the stubbles on your cheeks and wonder,
How you have grown up to be a man
and I, a lady!


every day it's a fight 
and every day someone is trying to shame you

yesterday I said I'm from that stable where English is the language I dream in and a lady,
God bless her, couldn't take it how unashamed I was in accepting this

today I said I can't wear a sari and am more comfortable in my denims and a man, God bless him, couldn't take it how unashamed I was in accepting this

tomorrow I will say I believe in God and a pseudo-communist, God bless him as well, will call me an extremist, for it (perhaps gender roles are unpalatable as well) won't be able to take how unashamed I will be (despite my education) in accepting this

and in days to come I will be lynched and raped and defamed and what not, just in hope that this unashamed existence of mine where I am unafraid to live, love and speak doesn't become the light that illuminates the darkness on which the Others feed...

they are the Others for they are not me and I will tattoo my freedom on every bit of my skin and write of it in every poem that I give birth to, for I am not ashamed to be who I am, a little dark, a little fat, a little short, a little too brave to just shut up and be ashamed of my reality 

everyday it's a fight and I will fight for what it's worth for to me, if not the world, I'm worth every atom that I'm made of
and I'm not ashamed to be me


Poet said…
Loved your poems! Especially Calcutta, From my Rympei in Sohra & Crows. Calcutta read as nostalgia. The second was exotic and visual. Crows came across as the eternal love of poetry, a tribute to Poe.
Wonderful poems. I loved the tenderness of Catcutta and the vividness of From my Rympei in Sohra. But I loved Butterflies and fireflies the most: never read such an amazing poem on childhood friendship.
Unknown said…
Oh My God! Such a small but powerful poem on Ayodhya!

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