Poetry

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curated by Rony Alfandary

The winter 2021-22 poetry section of C.20 hosts some new voices as well as revisits from familiar ones. We are all still coping with the new plights Covid-19 is hoisting upon us as well as the old existential issues we are doomed, and perhaps blessed, to be dealing with: everlasting themes of love, life, beauty and death. Ben Keatinge from Ireland and Sumantra Nag from India join David Green from the other side of the globe in Australia in sharing their distinct voices.

Please send us your responses and poems to be included in the next issue of C.20

Rony Alfandary

Poetry Editor

September 2021

Sumantra Nag

HOUSE WINDOWS

The windows of my childhood

Look down at me

A counterpart to the living memory

With which I look up at the house.

They are like eyes the glass squares

On painted white wooden frames

Staring down from their fixed immobility.

Do they remember me on the other side

In my indoor life sixty years ago

On the polished maroon floor?

At the lassitude of sunset

With the three windows open

While we shuffled inside

A family growing up into a life.

Singing songs in the gathering darkness

To the clouds edged with a gilded mist

Looking out to the scene of a fort standing

Four centuries old and steeped in myth.

The full unhindered view for two decades.

But they have taken from me

And I have unknowingly

Endowed them with my memory

Willing them to relive those years

While the dull gold of old sunsets

Is ingrained again in my sight

As I look up from the street

Into which I once looked down.

Sumantra Nag lives in New Delhi. He was a student at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University where he won an annual prize for his poetry. He later took a degree from Cambridge University. He has published his poems in The Journal of The Poetry Society (India) and in Indian Literature.

Ben Keatinge

Reading John Berryman in Corfu

Here, truly, blue begins

Hellenic ministrations

caiques coming in

harbour air, the sun

Henry and Bones within

mistrustful, overblown.

The isle is full of noise

the whiskey years roll past

a bootless wager,

Henry staggers down the beach

towel in hand

swaying, proclaiming.

Yet hundreds of swifts

have raced without singing

all week, they sleep in flight,

your poems, this constancy

are like siphon and glass

unsteady, overflowing.

The Christmas Card

In neat black ink

it comes each year

with parish dues,

and waits, alone,

unclaimed, for somebody

once here, a woman

now elsewhere. This card

will surely come again

next Christmas, its arrival

tolls my year

a distant bell

postmarked, sealed.

Children’s Graveyard, Letterfrack

Below a hill, a wood

behind a church, a gate

through the gate are stones

on the stones, names

beside the names, toys

above these stones

the innocence of clouds.

Ben Keatinge is a Visiting Research Fellow at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. He is editor of Making Integral: Critical Essays on Richard Murphy (Cork UP, 2019) and his poems have been published, most recently, in The Dalhousie Review, Cyphers, Irish Pages, Orbis and Agenda. He is one of ten Irish poets currently being mentored under the Dedalus Press Poetry Mentorship Programme.

David Green

After Night Rain

Rain drops instil silence,

The soft patter demands reflection.

Mist obscures the distance,

No need to look further,

The frog is happy in his pond.

After night rain,

The sun seeks to break

Through a maze of branches

Where leaves glisten

And droplets fall.

Day brightens

As with a brush stroke

Clouds shift and branches sway

Uplifted in the early breeze;

Birds call, unseen and moving,

The frog silent now,

The dark pond still.

In the Service of Clouds

In the service of clouds

The mountains sit and draw

Thoughts not possible

On the teaming plains.

Mist and last year’s leaves

Speak of another world,

A different way of being,

A softer breeze.

Under grey skies I walk

On damp paths over trodden

By those seeking healing

In mountain air.

They breathe something

Rain-clear and rare above

The humid valleys below

Overrun with suburbs.

I sit in the mountains

Droplets forming on sill and rail,

The fluorescent green overwhelms;

Last year fires burned this way.

Renewal

Under dull skies, out walking,

The rain-rinsed air unmoving,

I hear the stream sigh

In hidden gorges.

Under lush trees the grass

Is as thick and green as England,

Last summer’s fire blackened trunks

Reborn with fresh sprigs.

Native grasses thrive and shrubs bloom

Where ash soil lay a few months ago.

My stick prods the earth as my steps

Pass the familiar made new each time.

By the post and rail fence mansions grow

Where pines used to be.

David Green is a part-time educator, poet and freelance writer with a keen interest in Lawrence Durrell’s Mediterranean world. In 2012 he made a radio documentary on Durrell and Henry Miller inspired by their wartime correspondence. David lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, Denise and two sons.

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