February 28, 2019 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

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Anukampa Sharma




Ways to put a child to sleep: Kashmir Edition



Tell stories

of fairies, of heroes

on voyages, of warriors

in battles,

but don’t mention: death.

Keep the word clenched

between the teeth

till it

sprouts into a sanguine red.

Call it a bloom.

Pluck it.

Whisk it

into the wind.

Knit stories

of yellow summer,

of the resplendent sheen

that makes the frozen Dal


of the abundance that puts

to shame your dingy kitchen lights,

the shine in your toddler’s eyes.

Sing over and over

the poem of spring,

till it becomes a prayer.

till the child learns

how to conjure blossoms

in a withered winter,

till he too masters the art

of keeping a word clenched

between the teeth

so long,

it sprouts

into a sanguine red.



don’t sing of the white hope alone,

of the sunshine

that doesn’t wake the skin up.

of rains that wash away nothing,


Rub his back and

tell him about the wilderness

out there,

the big boots that trample

daisy thickets,

as he slowly slips into sleep.

Gently put

your hand on his heart,

as you swallow bullets

rising in your throat,


tell him about that river of fire.

About the invisible shards

that pierce, cut, gash, injure, kill.

About the scorched azaleas,

when he’s already dreaming,

no longer there to hear the shrills.








The poems are running

down the drain.

Somewhere a miscarriage

has occurred

and ink floods

the lap

of a quicksilver earth.

Dig, dig, dig below

the sand and gravel!

-fecund fingers

bloodying the dazed mute.

It is a cold wind

filling the streets

and houses,

filling the mosques

and temples.

Its stench-a putrid death of poems,

prayers stuck in throats.

Like confessions, its smoke

is beginning to rise,

hungry tongues licking

the sky grey.


Stripped off poems,

the orchards shiver naked,

the branches cowering in shame.

Holy verses diluted in

tongues salted with fear,

a eulogy clanks in

temple bells,

the prayer call is a silent theatre,

a slapstick

of descending grief.

I used to find God

in this mishmash

of clamoring euphemisms,

where do I find God,


I look above-

the heart believes

what it can’t gauge.

I look above and

fold hands to a flock

of warblers


hurrying to the lands

that are safe.






Anukampa Sharma

Anukampa Sharma is a Computer Engineering Graduate and an ardent lover of literature and poetry. Taciturn in speech, she considers writing as her medium of release; a tool to let off the unsaid. Her support for human rights is unfaltering and her utopia is a world hungry for only more books and more poetry. 
When not reading or writing, she can be found admiring a fallen leaf or a tiny bud. She has been published in the Visual Verse and a couple of regional newspapers. She lives in Punjab, India.

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