Categories
Chile Mexico poetry public art Social Justice violence against women women's rights

A Rapist in Your Way

Today’s piece pays homage– and it must– to the brave women of Chile and around the world who are standing up for their right to be free from sexual and gender-based violence. Currently, Mexico leads the world in murder of women and other forms of sexual violence. The United Nations, whose research wing may be the only thing it has going for it these days, has this to say:

  • Approximately 15 million adolescent girls (aged 15 to 19) worldwide have experienced forced sex (forced sexual intercourse or other sexual acts) at some point in their life. In the vast majority of countries, adolescent girls are most at risk of forced sex by a current/former husband, partner or boyfriend. Based on data from 30 countries, only one per cent ever sought professional help . 
  • Globally, one out of three students (aged 11 and 13 to 15 years) have been bullied by their peers at school at least on one day in the past month, with girls and boys equally likely to experience bullying. However, boys are more likely to experience physical bullying than girls, and girls are more likely to experience psychological bullying, particularly being ignored or left out or subject to nasty rumours. Girls also report being made fun of because of how their face or body looks more frequently than boys. School-related gender-based violence is a major obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls .
  • Twenty-three per cent of female undergraduate university students reported having experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct in a survey across 27 universities in the United States in 2015. Rates of reporting to campus officials, law enforcement or others ranged from five to 28 per cent, depending on the specific type of behavior.
  • It is estimated that of the 87,000 women who were intentionally killed in 2017 globally, more than half (50,000- 58 per cent) were killed by intimate partners or family members, meaning that 137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day. More than a third (30,000) of the women intentionally killed in 2017 were killed by their current or former intimate partner.

In Chile the deployment of sexual violence as a tactic condoned by the regime of Pinera, has left hundreds of women brutally assaulted, raped and treated with sexual violence. Disappearances and sexual torture that characterized the Pinochet regime and then “Dirty War” in Argentina under the generals, have made a very real come-back. In Spain, as the courts collude with rapists to let gang-bangers go free, women have also had enough. In Italy and France, sexual violence is endemic and routinely dismissed as a crime “of passion”. Solidarity with women all over the world is so important, because for us, sexual violence, is not an issue, but rather the framework within which our lives are conducted, on the streets, at school, at work, at a party, at a protest, at places of worship, in jail, on-line, or in the bedroom.

Femicide, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

A Rapist in Your Way

The patriarchy is a judge

that judges us for being born

and our punishment

is the violence you don’t see.

The patriarchy is a judge

that judges us for being born

and our punishment

is the violence  that you’ve seen.

It’s femicide.

Impunity for my killer.

It’s disapperance.

It’s rape. 

And I ‘m not guilty, not because of where I was or how I dressed

And I ‘m not guilty, not because of where I was or how I dressed

And I ‘m not guilty, not because of where I was or how I dressed

And I ‘m not guilty, not because of where I was or how I dressed

The rapist is you.

The rapist is you.

It’s the cops,

the judges,

the state,

the president. 

The oppresive state is a rapist.

The oppresive state is a rapist.

The rapist is you

The rapist is you

“Slumber gently, innocent girl

without worrying about the riff-raff,

in your sweetly smiling dreams,

will be revealed your loving lieutenant”*

the rapist is you

The rapist is you

The rapist is you

The rapist is you

*(fragment of the Policeman’s Hymn of Chile)

Original Performance, Collective LasTesis, Santiago, Chile, November 25, 2019 where The Pinera Regime has been deploying sexual violence, torture and disappearances in response to recent anti-austerity protests
Performances from Latin America and Europe in Solidarity with Female Victims of Violence, November 2019
Performance from Mexico City, Zocalo, currently the country with the highest rates of femicide

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/06/chilean-anti-rape-anthem-becomes-international-feminist-phenomenon?fbclid=IwAR0qy4PvkMWX11h7EtYz-cuQe0Hlw_nwGF0jQm7JqQ6w722QYypJ31-0Qqo

Categories
Art cuba Indigenous Justice Indigenous people latin america peru poetry racism Santeria

Pachacutec

This is a seven part poem I have been working on since my work, studies, and travels have taken me to South America and Cuba. I have long been fascinated and moved by the strength of peoples who manage to hold on to their cosmologies in the face of terrible odds such as kidnapping, enslavement, auction blocks, trade-sanctioned rape, forced labour, soul-searing racism, and unimaginable poverty, and social and political exclusion, even state-sanctioned annihilation.

As a woman of colour, the racisms I have witnessed and experienced throughout my time in Peru, Colombia, Chile, Cuba and Mexico have raised huge questions about the role of anti-racism in “progressive” sectors of development and education, culture, and, even political parties, in those countries. While these issues need to be hashed out in terms of policies, financing, and social restructuring as a whole–especially in those countries where colonized peoples of colour are a majority in certain under-remunerated occupations such as manual and domestic service, agricultural labour, entertainment, and the informal sector– the role of culture in accompanying such changes is essential.

As a citizen of colour in the Americas, I have chosen to seek inspiration and meaning in the beliefs and cosmologies of those of us bound together by European colonization, rather than those of dominant hegemonic religions. As the child of a colonized migrant, I belong in the Americas, as do those who have belonged here before me, and who belonged, before the words “African” and “Indian” had any meaning. The absurdity of this world turned upside down, where the poor fight each other tooth and claw for a pittance for survival, cannot destroy the connection between the gods of Santeria and those of the Quechua and Aymara peoples, especially in countries like Peru, where indigenous and afro-descended communities are integral to the country’s development and self-image, although the apartheid between European Peruvians and indigenous Peruvians is deeply entrenched and the official story of Peru may not highlight their presence except as beasts of burden or unruly mobs needing to be subdued.

That is why this following piece takes as its title the Quechua (Kichwa) word, “pachacutec” meaning “Earth Shaker” or the “world turned upside down.” I was struck by this word as it resonated with not only the the social disparagement of the indigenous people I witnessed in the Andean nations, but also the facile commodification of black religion as entertainment. An entertainment, I might add, that was almost wholly consumed by white tourists both national and international. I saw this wherever Afro music was played, whether in Cuba at the Callejon de Hamel or watching Peru Negro perform in reified contexts with velvet seats and expensive tickets. This is contrasted in the way that such religions are actually practised outside the gaze of the tourist or the anthropologist, where the deities may be termed in Arundhoti Ray’s words, the “gods of small things”, accompanying as they do the risks of everyday life under unequal social circumstances. In using the word Pachacutec I signal the “upside-downiness” of this late-capitalist world where we float through the sky and bury our crimes against humanity– for surely, colonial subjugations are just that– in the blood-stained earth from which huge profits are made at all our expense.

Pachacutec 

(Quechua word meaning Earth Shaker/World Turned Upside Down)

I.

Someone has opened

my path

brought me to these gray

and frantic streets

I count seventy firearms

on my way to work

seventy ways to say no

to life

I count twenty three banks

each with their security and arms

protecting us from our need

that they have created

I count teeming busses

crammed with morning 

hopes and remnants of nightmares

I see checkpoints and soldiers

offerings of coca cola, money

I see my stop draw near

an old man in a red and black jacket

helps me dodge the cars

at the cross-roads

Rainy street, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

II

The politcal economy of Obatala:

Sunlight dapples wall

lying on the unrepentant bed

listening to digitally mastered

Obatala’s name

dissonance dream and discord

cable wire

plastic parts

hydro stations

Japan, Korea, Africa

via Cuba

contradict each other

in mid ear

Obatala

and Bata drums

the old kind

before they abolished that 

second hand slavery

Batista, Business,

U.S Army Base, 

where Obatala cannot enter

in this,

his land.

Pititi, /Afro-Peru, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

III

Aching water

the queen of waves

is drowning

Cliffs split

gray veins open

garbage fills crevices

Yemaya is drowning

5:30 a.m

dawn is still future

drizzle and damp

enter their salvaged bones

as the maids

Wait 

for the crowded desperate buses

to bring them closer

to the daily dollar

They pass

the screaming sea

clutching vinyl purses

Only

a blind musician 

singing for alms

in his imprisoned voice

whispers

ashe

Yemaya, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

IV

Shango trapped 

in the cajon

rushes out into his fingers

syncopation cries

his name over

and over and over

White faces 

cannot glimpse him

in half empty Rum glasses

Shango trapped 

in black thighs

majesty and mourning

bisect his myth

feet invoke

his sacred thundering name

domesticated by dollars

they grow weary

After the show

young black men

rub hands and feet

away from that

bright hot light

that makes them sweat whirl

faster faster faster

same bitter enslaved scent

as the sweat that irrigates

poisonous cane

Shango’s name

just the same

echoes

on sleeping wooden boards.

Uprising, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

V

Oshun

They tell me 

glances at you from a woman’s eyes

or hips or

the faces of five o’clock

Dreaming of the moon’s hands

in night’s dark river

curved around earth

where Oshun

honours you

or

so they tell me

by calling your secret name:

the free one.

Oshun, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

VI

how easy to find the hills

and stranger as i am

i come home

amid the stormy red roofs

limewashed walls

spattered with last night’s mud

here in this peaked valley

grey green blue ochre

stone sky water earth

recombine

peaceful mountains

pure light

horrific

iron smell of blood haunts

stones and crucifixes

in the war of the worlds

all is imbalance

precarious

neither end nor beginning

Hills, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

XII

I love the soneras

women whose spirits

cut air like butter

whose rhythm improvises

soundwaves

whose vibrations 

dance sorrow to her lonely home

among the unwashed dishes

and dirty clothes tossed about

like newspapers in the plaza

I love too, the soneros

men whose music

was wood and horsehair

hide and yellowed ivory

in bars on streetcorners

where customers rehearse

for Dante’s infernos

Seven sins cleansed

by Seven powers.

Sonerxs, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Categories
Art climate crisis poetry war

We Lived Happily during the War

One tries to hang on to hope, in spite of the onslaught. Poetry, art, music, dance, theatre, and even sometimes film, can offer us someting in that direction, give us a glimpse of that blue star.

This year has been filled with changes in our political landscapes, fear and trauma among many who have been scapegoated as migrants/racialized/ colonized peoples, and more and more signs of irreversible destruction to the planet and its most vulnerable inhabitants— humans.

I swear if I see one more ad about the extinction of such and such a species, it will need to be matched by a thousand more pleading for help to save the human race. 

This year seven million people were directly displaced and lost everything due to climate disaster. The excessive droughts and wildfires of some zones are being met by flooding and crop and home destruction in other areas. These seven million people have one thing in common— they are economically vulnerable.  Without savings, and networks of people with access to goods like cars and services like credit cards,  shelters, etc. emergency planning appears ad-hoc for the majority of low income, and especially disabled, people. For those flooded during hurricane Katrina and those flooded during typhoon season in Bangladesh, the problem only grows with the evacuation. Lives are uprooted after all, not only mangroves.

<https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/reference/hurricane-katrina/#close>

<https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/18/the-sundarbans-crab-farmers-battling-climate-crisis-and-pirates-bangladesh>

<https://theintercept.com/2019/09/20/climate-strike-puerto-rico-hurricane-maria/>

The other issues that involve resettling have grave problems. Remediating damaged land as in Katrina, has left thousands outside their home state since 2005. Hurricane Maria saw an outflux of Puerto Ricans as water, electricty, building, and infrastructure issues continue to plague the island since 2017. Bangladeshi coastal dwellers are retreating against the ocean on one hand and the steadily deforested jungles and mangroves on the other. Generational livelihoods in fishing are being lost at rapid rates. 

In Mexico, frequent tropical storms and hurricanes are creating flash flooding, landslides, and other chaos while toxic runoff from agriculture has killed coastal waters attractive to tourists and fishermen through massive blooms of toxic blue-green algae.

<https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/rotting-seaweed-beaches-sargassum-mexico-carribbean-cancun-playa-del-carmen-tulum-a8978756.html>

 In Puerto Vallarta, the red tide season is more frequent and more intense. Growth without development has resulted in massive and unaffordable housing booms completely ignoring aging and inadequate municipal sanitation and electrical infrastructure. The dispossession of indigenous communities and fisherfolk to make room for ex-pat condos and winter homes for Mexican millionaires is proceeding with gusto, while landslides and flash flooding have become ever more frequent.

<https://www.vallartadaily.com/cuale-river-floods-puerto-vallarta-as-tropical-depression-narda-passes/>

The famous Blue Flag beach certification is implicated in new imperialisms as fisher people and local residents are pushed out of coastal homes to make way for tourist beaches.

https://thewire.in/environment/blue-flag-beaches-environment-ministry-fishing-communities-coastal-regulation

In the Siberian arctic, climate crisis has brought the adaptation of new economic survival strategies, as the melting of the permafrost and the shifting of the ground has already forced evacuations and retreats from areas inhabited for hundreds if not thousands of years. 

<https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/10/04/report-shows-stunning-and-dramatic-scenes-thawing-permafrost-siberia-leaves-millions>

In Canada, where I live, the effects of climate crisis are proceeding apace. Years ago I remember reading that animals’ breeding seasons were being disrupted by low-level military testing over Labrador and now, glacial melt, and the thawing of the permafrost. The salmon are fewer and feed fewer bears and birds, leading to the trickle-down of death,  that specialty of capitalism.

In short, the intersection between capitalism, fossil fuel reliance, overfishing, multinational cattle ranching and tourism is crucial. The reliance on war and nuclear power bolstered by an arms race whose impact on the biosphere cannot be underestimated as well. 

<https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/06/whats-the-environmental-impact-of-modern-war>

When I met Cuban doctors and nurses who had served hospitals during the the first and second Gulf wars, they told me of the effects of depleted uranium and and other bio-hazards used in war, on children and infants. Many worked in pediatrics, and the horror stories were legion. I think some of those health care professionals were traumatized by what they saw during those postings. 

<https://www.globalresearch.ca/depleted-uranium-weapons-dead-babies-in-iraq-and-afghanistan-are-no-joke/15744>

It is surprising that not as much is written about the ways in which war  degrades the environment. But as governments unleash chemicals and bullets on their peoples, the natural world that sustains us is also affected. I end with a poem that reminds us how we are all interconnected, even when we look away.

We Lived Happily During the War, Ilya Kaminsky

And when they bombed other people’s houses, we

protested

but not enough, we opposed them but not

enough. I was

in my bed, around my bed America

was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house.

I took a chair outside and watched the sun.

In the sixth month

of a disastrous reign in the house of money

in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,

our great country of money, we (forgive us)

lived happily during the war.

“We Lived Happily During the War” from the Poetry International website. Copyright © 2013 by Ilya Kaminsky. 

Categories
Art LGBT Migrants poetry

Journey

nothing but the need for friendship
reduced, quest now stripped of myth
how difficult not to remember
the colour of eyes

how we ran to and from such passions
there was a time i thought i must not know you
but outside the rain howled your name
could not forget, would not, how could i?

was it this then?
all the aches leading
up to my own liberation
the essence of a touch
that carries its own
meaning, the wound that heals
in spite of who i am?

everyplace i go i see the new underclass. the ones who slink
by unnoticed and unnoticing, or the one who robs you of your place as he makes his own, leaving you behind in this arrogant male race war

i sought to remake myself
while in the air
questions hung suspended above endeavour
hard to shape the mouths just so
pronounce the squareness
of my new stiff vowels
hands loosed now by unwelcoming bone

in the dream you appeared as if back from the sunday in the country.
in the city your languid manner seemed out of place while the window framd the moving twilight street. it could have been any woman really, that stood watchng the sun set somwhere beyond the hard gray lake,
the seagulls venturing past the construction on the waterfront

did i tell you
i always wanted to meet Malinche?
she fascinated me
she who had a country to sell
a land to betray
which had betrayed her

those were the days before i discovered
you make your own country
wear your skin like a flag
your breasts like battle scars.

(1993-2019, Copyright Kaushalya Bannerji, from A New Remembrance, TSAR Books, Toronto, 1993)

Categories
Art environment poetry

2 O’Clock

a yellow butterfly flew past
brushing bougainvillias with dreams
of rain
now the grass is solemn
does not dance
a shadow grows longer
upon the limewashed wall
somwhere near by, children
ae singing
to capture even half this beauty
in the palm of the heart

from A New Remembrance, 1993, Copyright Kaushalya Bannerji

Categories
Art Autumn, fall environment nature poetry Rainer Maria Rilke

A Walk in the Park

We went to the park the other day. Storing up the sunshine of these beautiful days while we can, like squirrels with their nuts. The ups and downs of the meadows and trees, the glint of the sun on the tiny river and all around, little inhabitants of our world, scurrying to save stores for a cold winter. The park was full of scampering feet and half-glimpsed little chipmunks and squirrels, a few late monarchs enjoying the flowers and sunshine of early October and some ducks intent on sharing the loot of a solitary fisherman. Fall’s beauty is fleeting.

I found a poem I really liked, about autumn, from poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). The translation is from the German by Scott Stewart, 2017. I’ve accompanied it with my drawings of our park visit.

Autumn at the Park, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Autumn Day

It is time, Lord. Summer was grand.

Now lay your shadow on the day,

and bathe your fields in the wind.

Let the late harvest linger.

Give it two more southern days.

Make it full and bring her

final sweetness into those heavy vines.

If you have no house now, you never will have one.

If you are alone now, you will always live alone,

Reading late in the fading light. Writing letters with no end.

Wandering dark alleys.

Restless and uneasy. A leaf on the wind.

Feast, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Autumn Snail, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Sunflowers (variation), Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Autumn at the Park, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Willow by the River, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Sunset Through the Trees, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
A Rainy Twilight, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Categories
Art Autumn, fall music poetry

Autumn

Today’s piece is sharing some poems which have been part of our English poetry canon for centuries and decades. Some I had to study in school, and thus happily rediscovered in adulthood. My mother suggested me a beautiful poem by John Keats, Ode to Autumn. I share it below. A beautiful cadence of the English language and evocative images. Here it is

Ode To Autumn, John Keats

season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; 
Conspiring with him how to load and bless 
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; 
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, 
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; 
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells 
   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, 
And still more, later flowers for the bees, 
Until they think warm days will never cease, 
      For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells. 

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? 
   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find 
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, 
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep, 
   Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook 
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers: 
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep 
   Steady thy laden head across a brook; 
   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look, 
      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours. 

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they? 
   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— 
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, 
   And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; 
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn 
   Among the river sallows, borne aloft 
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; 
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 
   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft 
   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; 
      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Falling, no glasses! Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Day in Autumn, Rainer Marie Rilke/ trans. Mary Kinzie

After the summer’s yield, Lord, it is time
to let your shadow lengthen on the sundials
and in the pastures let the rough winds fly.

As for the final fruits, coax them to roundness.
Direct on them two days of warmer light
to hale them golden toward their term, and harry
the last few drops of sweetness through the wine.

Whoever’s homeless now, will build no shelter;
who lives alone will live indefinitely so,
waking up to read a little, draft long letters,
and, along the city’s avenues,
fitfully wander, when the wild leaves loosen.

Chinese lanterns, fall bloom, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Musici di San Marco, Alberto Lizzio
Leaving, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Autumn Song, W.H. Auden , 1936

Now the leaves are falling fast,
Nurse’s flowers will not last,
Nurses to their graves are gone,
But the prams go rolling on.

Whispering neighbours left and right
Daunt us from our true delight,
Able hands are forced to freeze
Derelict on lonely knees.

Close behind us on our track,
Dead in hundreds cry Alack,
Arms raised stiffly to reprove
In false attitudes of love.

Scrawny through a plundered wood,
Trolls run scolding for their food,
Owl and nightingale are dumb,
And the angel will not come.

Clear, unscaleable, ahead
Rise the Mountains of Instead,
From whose cold cascading streams
None may drink except in dreams.

Leaves, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

The Time of Year thou Mays’t in me Behold ,William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Autumn, cat, salt lamp, aloe, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Categories
nature poetry Uncategorized winter

Snowscape

SNOWSCAPE

The landscape is still-born

Birth  of winter brings blood

to the snow

someone is not walking

but standing

awkward space

the corner of December

Fox turns the corner, Kaushalya Bannerji

Breaths are frozen

leaving the pale orifices of mouths 

as though they were not inanimate 

Moving  away

fleeing the refuge of bodies

Swans, Mill pond. Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Crow in winter , Kaushalya Bannerji, 2018

And someone wanting the comfort 

of another

thinks

how people like trees

are never fully reborn

Night blizzard, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Snowscape, Kaushalya Bannerji , Copyright 1993

English Chamber Orchestra; Leonard Slatkin; José Luis Garcia

Categories
Art LGBT Mexico Migrants poetry Social Justice

They Didn’t Know We Were Seeds

Ever since I saw the phrase, “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds”, I have been so moved.  I am a part of so many communities that have survived burial, in the manner of the phoenix. 

We are resilient and resourceful like seeds that are nourished by hope instead of fear, possibility, instead of prisons, new and green ways of being. It is powerful to be able to turn what seems like unrelenting loss and sacrifice— both voluntary and involuntary—of our humanity in these banally brutal times, where death is just a click away. 

I first saw this expression in Spanish, in the context of the Ayotzinapa massacre in Mexico 2014, where 43 student teachers from a rural teacher training college were massacred and their bodies further dehumanized. The case has rocked Mexico, where violence has become a commonplace element of both the economy and the political environment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Iguala_mass_kidnapping

I wanted to find the atrribution of this powerful phrase and see that it is originally attributed to Dinos Christianopoulos (1931) of Thessaloniki, Greece. As a gay poet, he said, “ what didn’t you do to bury me / but you forgot i was a seed”.  Since 1978 when he penned it, the couplet has travelled on the wind, in the manner of seeds, and taken root wherever the marginalized cry for social inclusion and justice. Most recently, the migrant rights movement in the U.S. has also adopted this as one of it’s slogans. 

https://www.newsanctuarynyc.org

Series, Seeds…, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Series, Seeds…, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Series, Seeds…, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Series, Seeds…, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Series, Seeds…, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Series, Seeds…, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Series, Seeds…, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Series, Seeds…, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Categories
Art poetry

The Harvest Moon

Last night, I glimpsed the harvest moon, red and full. This is the time of the year when the days grow shorter, the wheat and vegetables, apples, and stone fruit are harvested. Soon the nights of pumpkins and souls will be upon us. Autumn also brings the delight of jumping on crinkly fallen leaves, and the comfort of baked and roasted foods which warm the belly and the heart. While chronic illness and fatigue often prevent me from enjoying autumn to the fullest, with its damp and gale-like winds affecting my body and turning it into a rubber band–sometimes stretched too tight, other times, limp and weak– autumn is a beautiful season, full of stark contrasts and the last of colour we may see for months. Thus, autumn gives us the majesty of fall leaves in the northern hemisphere, leaves which crown the fading summer, soon to become memory. Many years ago, English poet Ted Hughes, penned these lines. As we witness the climate crisis that characterizes our times, celebrating the harvest becomes not only essential, but poignant.

The Harvest Moon, Ted Hughes

The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.

So people can’t sleep,
So they go out where elms and oak trees keep
A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come!

And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep
Stare up at her petrified, while she swells
Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing
Closer and closer like the end of the world.

Till the gold fields of stiff wheat
Cry `We are ripe, reap us!’ and the rivers
Sweat from the melting hills.

Harvest, Copyright Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Tomatoes, Copyright Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Zucchini, Copyright Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Morning Glory, Copyright Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Harvest Moon, Copyright Kaushalya Bannerji

Categories
Art haiku poetry

The Haiku Way

Is that your face I
see? Or an old map of travels
we took, each alone?

Bussing the Sierra Madre,
two travellers homeless,
dreaming of return.

Sierra Madre, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

River beside us
sand beneath our flip-flopped feet
men we did not know

A River runs through it, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2017

All haiku and artwork, Copyright Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Categories
Art poetry

Signs of Disorder

the new season
eats us
with raw uncertainty
even this weather
has us guessing
night’s frost a riddle

chancing upon a newspaper
a little bit of history
intrigues
between the fullstops
lives collapse and transform
nations turn upon themselves
jobs are lost
wars won
and all our dreams made homeless

everywhere there are signs
of disorder
the streets are no longer clean
we cannot permit oursleves
a fleeting yearning
or despair in this winter
of our politics
but tell me
how do they expect us to forget?