Chris Hardy reviews ‘Patina’ by Kavita A. Jindal

 

Patina

 

‘It was just lying here

the poem, the dream

by the window sill’

 

These verses, from ‘After The Recital’, illustrate ‘Patina’s’ atmosphere: life is contingent, magical. Poetry tries to catch that, but is itself strange and hard to find. The poet must be ready –

 

‘if we don’t write it this minute

we will never write it’ (‘Ellipsing, Elapsing’).

 

The poems address a core of concerns, expressed in concise language, using what we can see and feel to suggest what may be impossible to state. In, ‘It was in May ..’, a narrative of loss and sorrow is contained in two lines:

 

‘The day the gutters overflowed

I left Kotapuram Port’.

 

Employing images to express emotion the poem indicates what happened, (‘The long brown train awaited the flutter/ of the guard’s green flag’) and ends by accepting that our needs will not be noticed by time and change:

 

‘It was in May. The sky poured. The gutters overflowed.

I left Kotapuram behind. The trains ran on time.’

 

This shows why Kavita is a prize-winning author of short fiction as well as a poet. Reflections on leaving and departure are also the subject of other poems: in ‘Kabariwala’  a young man, who makes a living collecting materials for recycling says he is, ‘Going foreign’, where there is, ‘free love .. probably England’. He is happy to escape, but in ‘Where Home Was’ another aspect of emigration is considered: a ceiling fan becomes a metaphor for how leaving home and community is an irrevocable separation, ‘nomads have freedom, if no home .. because the voyage is endless’:

 

‘In the whirring blades of this fan

My future was glimpsed; sliced ..

 

.. I saw clearly that I would leave

The past would be segmented; diced’

 

Elsewhere it is not only the émigré who has no home: all of us are only here briefly, something we must defy and embrace –

 

‘ .. our world will drown you

burn you, bury you ..

 

.. when you bow your head the earth

won’t grant you forgiveness ..

 

.. The nomads of the desert remember

 

and they kiss the ground ..

before stamping hard on it to dance.’

(From ‘Such a thing as a cloud ..’)

 

And ‘Capilano Bridge’ describes the terrifying, exciting experience of crossing a swaying suspension bridge, showing we must face the chasm of death, ‘The wintry canyon below waited for us to fall’ .

 

Several poems consider women’s experience. The poet uses wry observation in ‘Beach Apparel’, and in ‘Piccadilly Line Salon’ three women doing their make-up on the tube, ‘ .. peer, pout, slick, flick/ they are good; they are quick’, prompt the narrator to worry about her own, post-breakfast appearance. ‘Faucet’ also starts humorously, ‘A woman/ may buy a tool-kit and know how to use it’, but is then indignant at how women are treated in Saudi Arabia and the Punjab. (See also, ‘For You Who Wave ‘Women For Trump’ Placards’!)

 

The tone in ‘Faucet’ remains ironic and cynical but becomes enraged in ‘Katra’, about two sisters murdered by being hung ‘from the mango tree’.

 

‘My sisters

don’t forgive

bequeath your souls to the breeze

so the perpetrators hear you

carrying with them always

your unforgiveness.’

 

There is something of Shelley and Plath here  – vengeful, righteous fury.

 

Great care is taken over structure: a variety of stanza forms, using blank space, rhyme and half-rhyme and as few and precise words as possible, make a fine collection of elegant, forceful lyrics.

 

One of the most moving poems is ‘My Birth Telegram’, in which the writer’s father learns about his daughter’s birth, expressed in a code agreed with his wife:

 

 

‘If it’s a girl she’ll be a poem, a white bloom ..

At sea, he received the news on board.

 

THE WHITE ROSE ARRIVES STOP
POETRY THRIVES STOP’

 

A note explains, ‘Kavita’ means ‘Poem’ in several Indian languages’. And poetry does arrive in the world with ‘Patina’.

 

 

Chris Hardy‘s poems have been published widely, some have won prizes. His fourth collection is ‘Sunshine at the end of the world’ (Indigo Dreams). He is in LiTTLe MACHiNe. “A guitarist as well as a poet Chris Hardy consistently hits the right note”. Roger McGough.

Order your copy of Patina by Kavita A. Jindal (the wind in the trees, 2019) here: http://www.thewindinthetrees.com/

 

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Jean Riley

 

 

 

Hitting Home

Jets scream into the valley.  I bend
to cover you with whispers,
spread finger-shields of bone

but you stiffen and that I can’t
erase harm on waves of sound,
assails me, trails us.

Rhymes, wind-chimes,
a blackbird and, slowed
to a lullaby,

I’m fixing a hole
where the rain gets in –
sweet as milk.

Till owl-song, a warning; clash
of crowded woodland Ash;
late footsteps, the door

shouldered open, my ‘hello’ lost
in the shudder, reverberation.
Here’s my struck-dumb alarm, again,

at rage that puts jets in the shade
and I can’t reach back far enough
to rock that cradle.

 

 

Jean Riley moved in 2018, Year of the Sea, to Pembrokeshire from Gloucestershire from where she draws poets to read at her local Museum, and runs poetry workshops.  She has read at Cheltenham Poetry Festival and work appears in Aldeburgh Poetry Trust’s ‘Stuff’, Envoi, The Rialto, Obsessed with Pipework and Under the Radar.

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Harry Owen

 

 

 

Prodigal

How could we fail to embrace you? Yearning
so much, so long, for your presence, it was
your arid absence that became the norm,
though of course it isn’t, could never be.

To be truthful, you crept up last night with
that frisky, seductive tapping of yours,
leaves scraping the tin roof, but we’d been mocked
so often, we took little notice of it,

had frankly forgotten how to believe –
another cruel tease, no more, no less.
Yet this morning here you are barging up,
rough, wet, desperate, the whole sky in tow

and I’m sitting here, dry, dry, and laughing
aloud beneath your sacred drench of liquor.
The rain gods are singing at last. Where have
you been wasting yourself? Welcome home.

 

 

Originally from Liverpool, Harry Owen now lives in Grahamstown, South Africa. He is the author of seven poetry collections and editor of three anthologies, including For Rhino in a Shrinking World: an international anthology (2013).

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Charles Thompson

 

 

 

Geese now

Geese now
racketing themselves to the south
like a surprise storm and far
to the south

and thus now – from the painting – thirty
bustling along with their quick
hot goose looks forward
or to the right or left
or dipping their necks
for a munch of green stuff
or a slurp of water – with the goose boy
still soft like a bit of dark tree behind
them

Feathers whitened
their dark
eyes intent –
tug on food slup of drink

now

now they are past – a gaggle – and
through the stream
and on

 

 

Charles Thompson has been writing poems since youth; he has had poems published in Poetry Monthly and Poetry Scotland. He has run the Lansdown Poets since 2006; they  include many poets published in magazines and in their own books. He also runs the Berkeley Square Poetry Revue.
 

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Ariel Dawn

 

 

 

All Time Runs into this Holiday

Inside the bottles are leaves, ribbons, letters I wrote while Rhys slept through morning. A grey cat leaps onto the glowing terrace and circles the table, the ancestors. The lady, regal gypsy of the song and the storm and the sea, is our guest in the tower. She gives me a blue apothecary bottle: foxglove, rose petals, gold-green ribbon around a fragile scroll. Inkwell, flask, crystal perfume: holding my letters, the unknown answers. The lady cuts the Tarot, right to left, books of shadows, diaries, pages airy and spiralling in lantern light, dealt: men, castles, rivers, woodlands. The Moon, two Pages, she whispers of my children and my love, reveals cards as keys to the places where they wait. All time runs into this holiday. Breathe, she says, from the other side. We rise beyond the lines, the papers, the storm, all the stars in theatre.

 

 

Ariel Dawn lives in Victoria, British Columbia with her son and daughter. She spends her time writing, reading, studying Tarot, and working on her first collection of prose poems. Recent work appears in Guest, Train, and Litro.

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Naomi Wood

 

 

 

Objects

I carry these objects with me
From place to place.
Fewer each time,
I’m pairing back the dead weight.
I’m losing layers of threadbare tropes.

But each time I pack up
What’s left of me
I know I can’t let everything go
And it touches a piece in the darkness

That remembers
Midnight fleeing,
Five year old fingers
Clutching at straws

And philanthropic neighbours
Who sent their children
Out into the night to carry

Our belongings across the road
Piece by tender piece
A blighted benediction

You knew one more time
Would be too many and you
Packed up your heart, Mother,
In a suitcase meant for holidays
And we fled into the inky darkness

And we lived on shoestrings
Cos it was better than bottle tops
And we lived in so many
Makeshift situations
Cos anything is better
Than building bridges on a fracture

I carry a tiny box of defiance
That
Seizes small things
In the face of having none

And every object is a tool
With which to build
Your own freedom
If you hold it the right way.

 

 

Naomi Wood is a performance artist based in East Sussex creating pieces that incite riotous acts of joyful disobedience, celebrating empowerment and rebellion. She explores vulnerability and strength across a mythical natural landscape

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