LitSoc Creative Writing(Solo) – Poetry 2017-18

As the fight for the LitSoc Shield (and hostel glory) draws to an end for the semester, T5E presents all the top five winning entries under the Poetry and Prose categories of Creative Writing(Solo).

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First Position

Prompt: It was like a vivisection.

By Zainab Ummer – Sharav

An Anatomy of a Star-crossed Lover’s Heart

 

It lives. Observe,

then,

the first faulty

scales of Justice

fist-sized,

rusting away

in cobwebbed corners

of forgotten knowledge. No ledgers

tally here: yearning

is always mired in red –

 

observe, now, the deep vivid warm red

in this antechamber

of churning dreams, flushed

with furious lust

fire raging in its belly

as it scampers up the trunk

of the tree of life

 

seeking out

every last leaf, every farthest

branch, every lurking bract

 

mapped on this body

mapped on this fragile, fierce body

 

quivering with a hunger

willing to shatter

all known laws of the universe

 

merely to meet another deep vivid warm red

 

if only at the fingertips.

Just the fingertips.

 

What the first faulty scales of Justice

doesn’t know

is that even faulty scales tip over

 

and sometimes

a thirsting aching dreaming yearning

body

 

is a weight the universe cannot bear,

will not bear, for fear

of learning

its laws to be empty words.

 

The universe writes new laws then:

to dream is to love disaster, to yearn is

to court aching, to ache is to ache more.

 

Now see how your red falters. See how

it retreats from cheek and lips

and loins and breasts, see

its fire and joy and promise

ring

 

hollow, veined with the blues

of a world

built on stardust and dream-ash

from charred bodies

of lovers

who dared defy stars and planets

and names

engraved upon once newly-clean

foreheads

ready to bear out new destinies

treading the same old trajectories:

 

the stars are indeed at fault, and what’s

in a name but the entire universe

sitting in judgment

 

seeking a blood price

for scripture and stricture

wounded?

 

And so life-blood pounds, lifeless, against

bloodless walls, seeking life –

wandering

from right atrium to ventricle to lungs

torn asunder in two

 

where blood meets breath meets hope

 

new futures pulsing and flaring

across

well-worn paths buried beneath scar

and skin

 

and it is written, and it is so:

lub dub lub dub lub dub

vivere, vivo, vivus

Tapping out, in non-code, against

remorseless rib cage

the song of bone and blood, muscle

and sinew:

I live. I live. I live.

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Second Position

Prompt: Begin with “Did you all just feel that?”.

By Soham Sarkar – Alak

The painting of Diana

 

“Did you all just feel that?” I whispered,

Eagerly looking towards my fair weather allies

Who sipped on a watery tea and made small talk,

Wrapped in their own world of fitful pretences

And blinding diamond jewellery.

I felt sad that none of them noticed

The painting of Diana on the opposite wall sway slightly,

For a good five seconds,

Just like it did every single day

For the past five months, two weeks and two days.

I sat mesmerised staring at the painting on the wall,

Willing for yet another instance,

Stronger than the previous one,

Which will make my guests sit up and finally notice

What made me feel alive

In the midst of endless despair.

 

I saw one of them from the corner of my eye,

Admiring the painting of Diana on the opposite wall

And I suddenly felt guilty

As I unassumingly revealed the secret gateway

To my new found goddess

Whose presence made me cling

To my own non-descript existence,

And made me dare to dream

About things I didn’t know existed.

I never met her my idol in flesh

Even though she lived next door.

I heard the deep hunger during the chilly nights

And the soul stirring whimper at the early dawn,

The faded wall shook with ferocity

That I had not known till then.

It stopped as abruptly as it started

And I saw Diana

Part her lips to inhale the moment

Which made my mind go hunting for raw emotions.

 

I often rewind back to the day

When he brought the painting of Diana

And a bouquet of violet lilies

To redeem for his infidelity.

Diana stared dispassionately at us

As the room reverberated with a creaking sound,

Filled with guilt and desperation.

I thought I saw Diana smirk

And I swore to revenge the insult.

Though I didn’t had to wait long

For the first tremor came the very next day.

Diana looked queer within the titled frame.

I felt a grim satisfaction.

And then came the tornado.

 

I was snapped out of my reverie

As I heard the faded walls come to life

I rushed out of the kitchen just in time

To witness Diana

Part her lips and sing the lustful song

That made my forget my helplessness

To make my man happy

And transformed me into a rightful woman,

Capable of yielding boundless powers.

But today, the song sounded unnatural

Fraught with terror instead of wistful sighs.

I was confused and looked at Diana.

My goddess was reduced to a mere mannequin,

Who screamed like a wretched soul

Begging to be rescued from hell,

While the wall kept up its relentless crusade.

I ran back to the kitchen and shut myself in.

I heard a loud thud a moment later

And wept a silent prayer.

 

They found the body the next day.

I stood by my door undecided,

Whether to pay my obeisance in person

Or let the memory disappear into oblivion.

Suddenly I found myself hastening towards my idol

To behold Diana for one last time.

Her pale face stood out, pure and serene

Without the slight hint of a blemish.

As if death was indeed her last wish.

My eyes rested on her white neck

And found the marks I craved for myself all this long,

Raw and venereal, the scars looked unflinchingly familiar.

I felt a kick in my gut

And turned around to find him standing by the door

With a bunch of red carnations

And a brand new painting of Helen.

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Third Position

Prompt: Such a queer box this is.

By Tejas S – Cauvery

Old Man and the Bomb

 

Such a queer box this is,

This house of brick,

Cut off from the street,

The lawn yellow and brown

In a row of dewy green,

Windows papered and boarded.

 

Behind a heavy red door

That looked as if it were metal

I knew a man lived,

With hair a dirty grey, and clothes torn

And ridden with holes ringed by black

Where welding work had burnt through them.

 

The windows were laden with lead

And the room Spartan,

War-ready and simple.

A bunk bed, one for the man

Another for an unmet friend.

 

News reports on the wall,

Those faded and outdated

Stuck underneath the updates.

New ones altogether getting closer

To a relative centre on the wall;

Bulls-eye.

 

No data charts, no distance measurements,

Neither scientific evidence, nor predictions.

Only a mounting fear, invisible

On the wall,

Rising like a bloody cough

Up the old man’s throat.

 

When asked what

He was afraid of

He told them of

The inevitable explosion.

The wait for the umbrella

To defeat all umbrellas.

 

A closer inspection of the wall

Depicted

To the east, the wayward Young ‘Un

To the west, the Israeli Yahoo,

Above, the macho man who never Putin his papers.

Further west, the unpredictable Don,

Near home, the Paks packing them.

At home, an irrational paranoia

Whether his own would burn him

Nero Moda.

 

His mother visited him, doddering, toothless

And told him that the bombs would not come.

His sister too.

And once an old friend.

Lastly his old boss.

He was indisposed

To heed their entreaties.

 

They critiqued his lack of data,

Of diagrams

(Falsely) showed him the inevitability

Of him being in range of the warheads.

Yet he said he knew that they would fall

Crash into each other like the missiles

In arcade games

Fall thick and fast like his hair

And leave the land bare and smoking;

His shining scalp.

 

Data swam in front of eyes

Data for, data against.

A social scientist told him

About Mutually Assured Destruction

But he thought him to be mad.

 

His throat felt more and more constricted

And he knew the bombs would fall

Because his heart told him so,

Fluttering and growing older.

And when a shot was fired

By a vagrant in the neighbourhood

He thought the bomb had come

And his heart stopped

Momentarily.

He waited.

The cries of dogs

And cats

And other unheard beasts assaulted him.

He sat straight

In his chair, struggling for breath.

 

The news reports watched

From the wall,

The old ones craning unsuccessfully.

Over time the termites

Ate away the wooden barricade

And rust the iron

On the windows.

Softly past the lead lining

And under the kink in the tablecloth,

Swishing over the stench of decomposition,

A breeze caressing the cutouts,

Taunting the Winter.

 

Behind another door,

Disregarding data, disregarding news,

Believing in himself,

Another waited for the fall

And winters came and went

But never a nuclear winter.

 

 

 

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Fourth Position

Prompt: Such a queer box this is.

By Anshuman Karthik – Tapti

 

An odd confinement indeed,

Being here, the best of the best.

Climbing ladders without a top,

Not knowing what it is to rest.

 

We start so young and beautiful,

Gentle, warm and pure.

Typically, as I understand it,

The opposite of mature.

 

They say we have options,

Mountains and roads galore,

But every ascent, every peak,

Leaves us wanting just a little more.

 

For success is a queer box,

A fractal of longing and hate,

Devoid of all catharsis,

A most deplorable trait.

 

They understand us you see,

Make us run far and wide,

Ebbs, a foreign word,

To this maniacal tide.

 

Trapped we are, indeed.

It’s a game of lock and key.

Boxes within boxes,

Of forms completely alien to me.

 

We think we derive meaning,

From this entire race,

But what’s the point in fighting,

If to only not lose face?

 

A simple story, perhaps,

To better make it clear,

Of how ambition and talent

Turns to resentment and fear.

 

A tiny sapling, asked his mother,

Is it only upwards that I have to grow?

Yes my love, she replied,

For how else will you bear the weight of snow?

 

So upwards he grew,

For he knew of nothing else,

Until it became the only thing,

That remained of himself.

 

Broad and tall he stood,

Beaming at all those who looked upon.

Until, with the force of a typhoon,

He realized his mother’s con.

 

His leaves weren’t green,

His branches not strong!

His roots not thick,

And most definitely not long.

 

The sapling’s height,

his glorious trophy,

Was now all but indemnity!

Paid for his negligence,

Masquerading as assiduity.

 

A burning hatred spawned,

One that seemed logical, almost profane.

For climbing up one ladder,

On others, kept him enchained.

 

The queer box he was trapped in,

The one that only moved up.

Trapped him even further,

Now what was he, a shrub?

 

Try not to be the sapling,

Try not to be the resentful tree,

Try not to get caught in

This stew of incongruity.

 

(Ah, but for what it’s worth,

I claim my sad hypocrisy,

For the reason I wrote this poem,

Is to win LitSoc points for Tapti.)

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Fifth Position

Prompt: Begin with “Did you all just feel that?”.

By Reganathan – Saras

“Did you all just feel that?”

My voice echoed weary and matt.

Did anyone have a clue?

What that comment would brew.

That another dreary day

Would take the awry way?

That an observation so slight

Will mark an onset so blight?

 

In my cubicle, I was

When this gave me a pause.

A tremor, a shudder, a paltry fright

And followed it, an eerie quiet.

Time froze, viscous, timid to flow

Leery of what the next second would show.

And then it hit, pandemonium acute

Screams, shrieks, anarchy’s hoot

‘Fear, chaos and terror’ it spat.

“Did you all just feel that?”

 

From up it came – the source to deafen

As if a gift, a blessing from heaven.

From up it came – the undulating sway

In its clutches the neighbouring building a prey.

From up it came – the paralyzing dread

Unprecedented fear, sweat beads filled my head.

From up it came – rapid illumination

Danger, terror, paving a survival inclination.

A voice, a notice, the drill came to mind

‘Evacuate, no lifts’ and to it I did bind.

Down I went – for up meant fear

Many did follow, the course ahead unclear

With humanity, the stairs did swell.

The air charged with a forlorn spell

For we knew, we knew the threat

The root cause of all this fret.

But I would survive, prevail the combat

“Did you all just feel that?”

 

But soon the going got slower, exhaustion set in

Phones were out consoling perturbed kin.

But then the worst was at rest

Tranquillity, we began to ingest.

Our sombre hearts went out

To our neighbours, their futures a doubt.

But we were fortunate and gratefully intact

140 feet had saved us from the impact.

A shimmer of hope, my mind begat

“Did you all just feel that?”

 

But again, it struck –this time so close

And utter consternation arose.

Now that we knew what fate had brought

Life was nothing but dismay, distraught.

The first man tripped and sparked it did

The heightening of chaos

The engulfment of dire pathos

Ruckus broke in, dissension soared

And the first heavenly voice roared.

‘To your right. Keep moving. Don’t stop.’

A much-needed boost, I began to dart

Adrenaline pumping, all fear did depart

Faster and faster my body did scat

“Did you all just feel that?”

 

The guardian angels were all around

Their gallantry evoking pure astound

For up were they flying, not below

Into the damned raging inferno.

They were all akin with a heavenly glow

Armoured in black and golden yellow

With heavy divine weapons did they soar

Their resolve, their grit, Oh! I did adore.

“We were saved”, with euphoria I sat

“Did you all just feel that?”

 

But from above did it come

A screech filling my eardrum.

But from above did it come

The iron and concrete phantom.

But from above did it come

From the man-made wonder, a mere crumb.

But from above did it come

The terminator of my heart’s blithesome.

But from above did it come

The instigator of my body’s journey to numb.

But from above did it come

The architect of pristine bedlam.

But from above did it come

The end I never did fathom.

But from above did it come

The sad truth of what I would become.

The end to all man’s problem

The closure’s pre-signed pactum

The end to the drama I did enact

“Did you all just feel that?”

 

I struggled to move, to live

But I was the iron monster’s captive.

The guardian angels did try hard

But their efforts, the monster did disregard.

I was left to the best of my fate

All efforts to save me did abate

Others needed saving, I was a lost soul

A number in the day’s rising toll.

Humanity swarmed over me tight

But in panic’s grip, I wasn’t worth their sight.

I was let alone to die

To say to the world my goodbye.

Oh, had I known that another dreary day

Would take such an awful way?

I would have chosen thousand dreary days to combat

“Did you all just feel that?”

 

When all was lost and death was close

A page from a calendar fluttered loose.

The last sight of my short existence

This cruelty’s souvenir of credence

A sombre mark on human history

An everlasting sign of blistery

The indicator of my journey to heaven

The macabre date 9/11…

Terror at its highest manifestation

An intense outlet of human frustration

Innocent lives, a count to gauge vengeance.

The world needs a new path of repentance

Peace and tolerance made a universal pact

“Did you all just feel that?”

 

This is an imagined account of a victim of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre. He is a person working in the South Tower, which was hit after the North Tower. The South Tower however crumbled first. The guardian angels in black and yellow are US firefighters. The 140 ft is the separation between the towers and the iron and concrete monster, a beam which crashed.

 

 

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