Excerpt: The World That Belongs to Us: An Anthology of Queer Poetry from South Asia Edited by Aditi Angiras and Akhil Katyal
Trishna Senapaty is a queer poet and anthropologist from Delhi. She was short listed for the TFA award for creative writing in 2016. She is currently working on her PhD and is based in Ithaca, New York.
So much we’ve ever felt
is in the kitchen
between the cracking of egg shells against greasy surfaces
and the thousand crumbs of burnt toast on your shirt
You move noisily
from toaster to pan
back to refrigerator
I stir silently, dreamily
engrossed in the battering of shapes
You speak to your self
sometimes to me
I forgive that you steal my morning newspaper before inviting me in for tea
You don’t mind
I’m only pretending to help
I feed the cat
stretched on the ledge above your head
Between us we have
no hobbies, no people, no work
no secrets, no enemies
But for the warmth of cooking ﬁre
and chance music drifting in
through the broken window
in the corner, what have we?
I gave you timelessness
You taught me the unpredictability
of green chillies.
Chandini was ‘born in a Dalit family as a boy but was yearning to be a woman’. Founding member of Payana and a longstanding activist in the ﬁeld of human rights and HIV health, she is an award-winning poet and her work is taught at several universities. Working in the corporate sector for a decade now, in Three Wheels United, she is currently writing her autobiography.
Ajji’s Death and Mahadevappa
When Ajji died
unable to answer those around,
Appa made a big ruckus
disowning his daughter who wasn’t a son,
Banning me from participating in the death ceremony. My hues and cries failed to knock the door to his heart. It was all about the pride of his family lineage.
At Appa’s death ritual, when I the daughter
decided to sacriﬁce my beautiful long hair
and shave my head
the family stopped me
by opening their arms of acceptance.
As Appa wished, for a family with no lineage; I became a mother, then
a support to my mother.
Translated from the Kannada by Mamta Sagar
Chanchal Kumar is from Jharkhand and currently lives in Delhi. His poems have previously appeared in The Sunflower Collective, Hamilton Stone Review, Welter Journal and Young Poets Network and forthcoming from Fulcrum: A Journal of Arts and Aesthetics.
I try to interpret the messages from when we ﬁrst met
to predict where it is that we’ll ﬁnd ourselves in at the beginning of
I don’t discover many conceits except that maybe
you are the clay bird-bath my old landlord once
placed at the corner of the terrace wall & forgot all about it
(for pigeons to cool themselves and drink from).
I guess someone created you to watch over dilapidated medieval
The queerest patron saint of K-pop and chai-points in the nooks of
Sometimes we walk till we reach the edge of our worlds and there’s nowhere left to go.
Each person must either be a prison or an island. Always there exists a casus belli
the slightest hint of a century-old rain.
Blue ﬂowers have sprouted quietly from the spots where our bodies have accidentally touched.
You can’t talk about poverty/poetry, you can only live it. I draw concentric circles to mark my possessions
you point out areas of sleep apnea,
never admitting to being in places other than your home.
Excerpted with permission from HarperCollins.