Smash open this city’s bones with your own two
hands—depleted as the autumn-night palash.
Smash open its stopped clocks, secret alleyways,
cul-de-sacs. This city of unfailing memories,
this city of over-abundance of wagging tongues
and languages: make them your own, read them apart.
Smash open all the foretellings, retellings
and untellings that this city can boast.
Smash open its red cement floors, rain-glittering
cobblestones, the balsam saplings on the highrise balconies.
This has nothing to do with how the walls
of these homes have sopped up the blood: blood
stains on the bed-sheets, blood stains on the pillow-cases,
the severed tongues buried inside the rice-pots.
Smash open its bronze martyrs on horseback,
its courthouses, police-stations.
Smash open its movie theaters, serpentine
lines blocking traffic, the gurgling-coughing trucks.
In this city that unfolds itself within
the folds of a thousand rupee bill,
a pencil thin girl is learning to redraw the silhouettes
of oceans in the architecture of sweetmeats.
Smash open its eucalyptus ribs, its putrescent
dog carcass, the Brittania jingle at dawn.
Smash open its tombstones, its abandoned
graveyards, the hollowness of its cicada-shells.
Smash them open. Spit them out. Then, rhyme them back again.
~ Nandini Dhar
Nandini Dhar is the author of the chapbook ‘Lullabies Are Barbed Wire Nations’ (Two of Cups Press, 2014). Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Potomac Review, PANK, Los Angeles Review, Whiskey Island, Bitter Oleander, Cream City Review and elsewhere. She is the co-editor of the journal Elsewhere. Nandini hails from Kolkata, India, and divides her time between her hometown and Miami, Florida, where she works as an Assistant Professor of English at Florida International University.