Season of Verses

I haven’t been on the blog for quite a while. 2021 is proving to be a year of elusive concentration, spiralling exhaustion, sadness, and intense physical pain. I have re-acquainted myself with some drawing, although I have been reading about the state of the world and am often disturbed by what I see our little planet coming to. But visually, October, and the autumn in general, is a beautiful time– as in this part of the Americas, foliage puts on a show as beautiful and awe-inspiring as the northern lights. Thousands of stock photographs and painters can attest to the power of fall’s colours in the northern hemisphere.

Poets like the U.S’ Mary Oliver, whose primary inspirations were self and nature, give us an idea of the feelings evoked in this season of impermanence and darkness. Cultures all over the world celebrate the vanquishing of the long bleak night of winter and pay homage to those we love who are journeying beyond this life. In Mexico, the Day of the Dead on November 1st is a time to remember and celebrate the lives of those who have gone– their favourite foods and music, flowers and marigolds to adorn their visit between the worlds. Offerings and altars, graveyards and candles, photos and colours, not for nothing are Mexicans famed for being detallistas! And the lived-in voice of Chavela Vargas reminds us that the passion and drama of artists live on in all of us who hear and read the works of those who have gone before.

Black Velvet Autumn, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2021


the black oaks fling
their bronze fruit
into all the pockets of the earth
pock pock

they knock against the thresholds
the roof the sidewalk
fill the eaves
the bottom line

of the old gold song
of the almost finished year
what is spring all that tender
green stuff

compared to this
falling of tiny oak trees
out of the oak trees
then the clouds

gathering thick along the west
then advancing
then closing over
breaking open

the silence
then the rain
dashing its silver seeds
against the house

Mary Oliver (1935 – 2019)

A Neighbourly Appearance, Halloween 2021, Kaushalya Bannerji
Chavela Vargas, La Llorona
You were leaving a temple one day, Weeping Woman,and I saw you passing by.You were leaving a temple one day, Weeping Woman,and I saw you passing by. You wore a beautiful huipil, Weeping Woman, I even thought you were the Virgin.You wore a beautiful huipil, Weeping Woman,I even thought you were the Virgin. 

Woe is me, Weeping Woman,Weeping Woman from a field of irises.Woe is me, Weeping Woman.Weeping Woman from a field of irises. 
He who doesn't know about love,won't know what is agony.He who doesn't know about love,won't know what is agony. 

I don't know what's with the flowers, Weeping Woman,the flowers from a cemetery.I don't know what's with the flowers, Weeping Woman,the flowers from a cemetery. When the wind moves them, Weeping Woman,they look like they're crying.When the wind moves them, Weeping Woman,they look like they're crying. 

Woe is me, Weeping Woman,Weeping Woman, take me to the river.Woe is me, Weeping Woman,Weeping Woman, take me to the river. Cover me with your shawl, Weeping Woman, because I'm freezing to death.Cover me with your shawl, Weeping Woman,because I'm freezing to death. (Trans DaphneKarina PG)
Autumn Leaves, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2021

Drop in the Ocean: A Picture Gallery

Rumi says: You are not a drop in the ocean. You are an ocean in one drop. Here I offer my drop of awe and respect for water, life giving and taking. I hope you enjoy them!

Series: You Are an Ocean, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2021
Series: You Are an Ocean, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2021
Series: You Are an Ocean, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2021
Series: You Are an Ocean, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2021

Citizen Heart

there have been
so many armies
so many hungers
food, land, water,
the naming and naming of ourselves,
chanting out in slogans
the red, brown, black of us
the “not-you” of us.

there have been
so many citizens
so many subjects
kidnappings, rapes
buyings and sellings at auction blocks.
since then

ships and trains hurtling, planes gleaming
so many travellers
trading home for outsidership
trading belonging for hope
there have been so many.

there have been
so many hands
sowing, tilling, building, digging
so many feet
walking, standing till they drop, marching, running
so many hearts
holding so many.

Citizen Heart, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020

Haiku: Words and Worlds!

It’s my third attempt with The challenge is real, hahaha. Word prompts remind me of slam poetry, and the adrenalin of having to “come up with something”. And the more I delve into the haiku form, the more I see its possibilities. It’s spare and contained syllables contain worlds! This week’s words are “curl” and “paw”.

Portrait, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020

seems like a paw, soft
curling nails that tear through flesh
but the words echo.

young shoots of grass green
like cats’ eyes. striped tiger prowling
her spring paws uncurl.

Tongue, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020

Curled and lonely, we
are not cats that lie heaped. paws,
whiskers akimbo.

Nightfall, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020

The Colours of Autumn

This year the colours of autumn are as beautiful as ever. But the rhythm of the year seems so disrupted by the coronavirus and climate crisis in so many places. This year the colours of fall seem to invite one in. I return, like the seasons, to drawing parks, morning glories, evening skies, and of course, the little mews/muse! Like so many artists of colour in Canada and the USA, I join a commitment to witness both the beauty and hard times we are all going through. Resistance does not always have to be confrontation, though that too has its moments. In daily life, taking the time to feel and see the world–both inner and outer– has joined the weekly practice of the continuing semi-isolation of the coronavirus. I share some recent pieces below.

Fall at the Park, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020
The Feather, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020
Fall Kitten, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020
Autumn Glory, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020
Night Sky, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020
Dream, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020


Taking a break from the mental ethos of quarantine and isolation. Escaping into colour, which can feel like another dimension, away from the uncertainties of these days. Boredom, hunger, homelessness, and fear have gone viral, depending on one’s social location. And in the midst of so much callous disregard for the plight of the world’s vulnerable populations, spring is fighting to be born in the northern hemisphere. Climate conditions predict an active summer for storms and hurricanes, but the colours of spring flowers, a May twilight, birds and animals are still here to be enjoyed while we can. I was rereading old poetry to take some time out of the news and more “weighty” topics. I came across a poem, I seem to remember reading in primary school…Fitting, for an intermission from all things exploitative and cruel, like public policies that put profit before people!

What is pink? a rose is pink
By a fountain’s brink.
What is red? a poppy’s red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? the sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro’.
What is white? a swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? the grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!

Asleep, May 2020, Kaushalya Bannerji
At the Window/Spring, May 2020, Kaushalya Bannerji
Flight, Not Fright, May 2020 Kaushalya Bannerji
May Twilight, May 2020 Kaushalya Bannerji
Oranges, March 2020, Kaushalya Bannerji

Dream of a Common Language

While the Coronavirus, Covid 19, lays bare all our inequities and fears, spring is still springing in the Northern hemisphere. Bit by bit, crocuses and bulbs are beginning their annual preening, though this year, it seems they have less admiring audiences as the streets are more empty than I’ve ever seen them. Ever so gradually, the tiniest of brown and green fuzz sprouting on tree branches and bushes will uncurl to show the little green of newly born leaves.

Like the poet Adrienne Rich exhorted us so many years ago, we must “dream of a common language” in the face of this pandemic. A pandemic whose elite narratives exclude and disregard the vast plight of world humanity. Our common language must include compassion, humanity, mercy, and kindness for the most vulnerable during these terrible times. Unemployment, food insecurity, lack of housing, the loss of loved ones, lack of access to widespread testing, the uncertainty of various social messages about how to best protect ourselves; these are truly sad and sometimes, enraging, times.

And yet, in spite of all that naked greed has done to devastate our surroundings, the earth is still here, beneath my feet when I go for my solitary walk. Birds and urban mammals are rejoicing. Bird song is louder than it’s been in the city! This is a visual piece, a homage to our planet, whose beauty can give us something to strive for, when the social order seems senseless…

Dream of a Common Language 2020, Kaushalya Bannerji
Dream of a Common Language 2020, Kaushalya Bannerji
Dream of a Common Language 2020, Kaushalya Bannerji
Dream of a Common Language 2020, Kaushalya Bannerji
Dream of a Common Language 2020, Kaushalya Bannerji

The Weight/ Solo Quarantine

Waiting for the one who never comes

or might come forever. The ground shattered

beneath our feet, the sky splintered above us.

Mitigating their barbarism or choosing our love?

That is the weight of this wait .

All the roads are empty, and do not only lead to


Grief and fear sweep through China,

Iran, Italy, Spain, France, the United States,

Gaza, Canada, the countries and cities are endless.

That is the weight of this wait.

They want to make us feel we have a world

and yet are uprooted. Anomie! say the old ghosts,

and I listen.

Waiting for the one who never comes or comes forever.

The Wait, Series 1, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020
The Wait Series 2 ( walk of solitude) , Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020
The Wait, Series 3 , Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020
The Wait, Series 4, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020
The Wait Series 5, The Amulet, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020
The Wait, Series 6, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020

An Animal ABC! by Kaushalya Bannerji

A is for Armadillo with stripes on her shell

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

B is for Bunny with Cotton for a tail

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

C is for Cat as curious as can be

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

D is for Dodo who’s extinct now, you see

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

E is for Elephant, having a bath!

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

F is for Fox so beautiful in the grass

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

G is for Giraffe hidden among the trees

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

H is for Hippo in the mud if you please

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

I is for Ibis with such a pointy beak

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

J is for Jaguar, beautiful and sleek

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

K is for Kanga, from her pouch, Roo peeks

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

L is for Lion, having a rest

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

M is for little Mice doing their best

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

N is a Northern Cardinal dreaming in the sun

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

O is for Octopus, playing with everyone

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

P is for Penguins, friendly and frozen

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

Q is for Quetzal, there’s hardly a dozen

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

R is for Rooster, crowing with glee

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

S is for Seahorse, racing in the sea

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

T is for Tiger, so bright and so bold

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

U is for Unicorn, from the legends of old!

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2109

V is for Vicuna, so hairy and high

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

W is for whale, enormous and spry

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

X is for Xenarthra Sloth,sleeping life by

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

Y is for Yak, giant and furry

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019

Z is for Zebra, off in a hurry!

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright 2019