Presented by KAURAB

Subhro Bandopadhyay

Subhro Bandopadhyay(b 1978) is a polyglotic young poet who speaks four languages including English and Spanish and writes in two. Closely connected with a whole generation of contemporary Spanish and Chilean poets, Subhro is also a prolific translator of poetry. He edits Podyacharcha, a Bengali poetry magazine, and is an associate editor of Kaurab. He has published several books of poetry in Bengali and Spanish and a short biography of Pablo Neruda. Subhro was awarded I Beca Internacional Antonio Machado de creación poética (2008) by Fundación Antonio Machado and Ministry of culture, Govt. of Spain. He regularly publishes in leading literary journals in India and Spain. He received Diploma Superior de español como lengua extranjera from Instituto Cervantes, Spain in 2010 and the Indian National Youth Literary Award (Sahitya Academy) in 2013. Subhro teaches Spanish language & literature at Instituto Cervantes in New Delhi.



from  Glass Pronouns



Metal  Poem



I tell myself to aggravate ferocity

with those I had chosen to be worse with last year

those I had toiled more to be hostile with this year

Who put tongue against blade?  

Everyday feet entwined by sun

not submissive mornings but sparkling afternoons

arranged my books before orderly rows of insecticides

unwritten absences of buddies on the pages

Would you traverse elsewhere?

Effortless stops of choice descending from the bus

alleys proximate, early arrival of stray-dog-catcher vans

that howled by

You watch the dreaded tremors

                                  of saved animals


Everyday, do you think about dad?

hate the compulsion of going to work

before mirror, by not looking at

what is aging by habit training    



Translated by Aryanil Mukherjee





Of Returning



I have constructed my movements

Electronic music amidst apathy

                                                abrupt parrots

Are winds ever clear and non-sporadic?

Does any dust ever point to a direction?

You can’t walk on these streets to ponder

a descensus sticks, to your legs  

and with a sharp turn around, you realize

the games have disappeared

boats deserted on the bank

and so what finally remains?

A stream of words offer decaying testimony

Do I know these streets?

Home is an easy metaphor

yet the fly in the train concerns me

will it be able to find its filth-house?

Who can? With a little arbitrary dusting

the bag of my return is ready,

Soil and seedlessness ready

To return to the bow-string this yellow universal flower

in polite collision,

but before that sleepy head writes in the train

and it rains as it gets off



Translated by Aryanil Mukherjee 




Towards absence


(for father)


Our rains strengthen

But we speak away from seed-wetting

about resting the language instead

On the days growing towards you, I try to get out

I want to say this clear and present living

is like a commercial break

This is the present that shocks the city

no feathers anymore  

a metal ball rolls on grass

I speak with you

I end up poisoning your suave evening.

But your only response is silence

I ruin your songs

broken long-playings ground-cover the evening

a wronged shell of melody has rolled inside of me

Paltry notes, however, silence stretches out with you.

Well, are chats just meant to be generational?

Unshackling one’s own time?

Certain evening in a friend’s house, some stale joke fading in the spine?                                                                    

Why a book flies towards your time, I don’t get

neither the drenched birds encircling my home returns

a series of undone roads or diphthongs

violence trees and violent inns  


I ponder over your listening

whisper about your page-marking of social texts

with ripped slices of waste paper

You nodded as you read

and the note-box filled with pages of music

Days fragmenting away towards abandoned melody

What did you acquire from those time stained pages?

What was on your mind?


Like this, I come in through the gourd-green fields

keeping the word Upaneeto*1 farther away from

“consummation of the sacred thread”

Humble songs from a lost EP record, or maybe some

beggar singing with a Dotara*2


Winter has spread out in this afternoon

my soul on polite constructs

Clad in a snuff-colored shawl, father waited for his 3 PM tea

How much effusion did Gita Dutt*3 bring?


I don’t look for it anymore.  Foreign summers stole those shivers.

Only a greed for socialization keeps its fluorescent tape

who sends back home at night, keeps words of vigilance

with casual carelessness

this going, this quietly sliced patience , are at most vegetables

as the monsoon arrives, will prolong  panting for a decade

the color or stamp of syllables before they compound

this afternoon complexioned like your cassette tape

on this shapeless terrace

                                                                                                                          (in part)



[Translation Notes:   1. Upaneeto -  ceremoniously presented the  sacred thread, an ancient practice among  traditional Hindu Brahmins.

2. Dotara – a two-stringed folk instrument popular in Bengal.

3. Gita Dutt – mid-twentieth century Indian songstress (of modern Bengali and Hindi film  songs)]




Translated by Aryanil Mukherjee


For Mother



That was one cloudy unpresence

The sun had brought along these

streets leading nowhere

the sweet, soft hue of Neem on the water

after rain ceased on day four


You went up to the terrace        bucket full of washed clothes

sun reflecting on soap water

the fast cooling frying pan leaning against your kitchen wall


These afternoons become towers

nonstop boy playing pretend-cricket with his marbles

layers and layers of the showers’ white cotton

and radio station zooming in and out


But your kitchen gas flame is bluer

sending a metal disc in to my head

circular mouth of the wok

the doused yellow of sun, will it reveal soon


Brown shades of tiny fried fish and aubergines

absorb the hour, afternoon 1:30

Your steady hands

dust off ash from the boy’s head






We had so much ashes in the wind?

This rain following prolonged depression makes

the world feel like a naked foot cut from beach shells

the slight fever from flu-shot


This is how I digest the notion of country

When had the unfinished part of the house

become strange continent to the boy

skipping school every Monday during

the Chandicharan years, breathing troubles

In the bamboo woods, unexplored now for a while,

                                                   some snakes move

You could tell the dull days, animals never scared you

everything that naturally grew around, turned into your afternoons

No street-peddlers but did the clouds call?

Your back was against the wall              white






Lets assume I am unaware of the visitors

gradually my resistance shredding to reveal

its purpose

                                wet minarets

but I retreat under the umbrella

opened out since yesterday to a kind of living

I defend myself with content

Metal branches cloud over me

What infinite distance and the interrupting colour schemes!

Flowers and forest                     the escape stories

faces of dead pets vining up as

those growing on the terrace of low access

There is exiting though

to a room full of uncomprehended sentences

on my watch

Leaves fade out in the rain and colourful grammar

weaves my hair






Suppose the field’s empty

Afternoon Junish

on the steps of tidy dust, Babur and his army

live dense like self-defense


I didn’t tell you the vessel

departed under cover

thick water left its ghee stains

on papery mast-light


Seasons and theirs markings likewise

you tamed the ends in the whiteness of flour

like TV programs in unknown languages

you seasoned in black and white


A shade later hands will crave for touch

tame hunger through the night

and will place hoof beats on hair



[Translation Notes: Babur – First emperor of the Moghul dynasty ]


Translated by Aryanil Mukherjee





Joaquim Mondal’s Poetry

These poems could have belonged to any illegal immigrant. In Europe. Someone who left his country on a fortnight’s visa. And years rolled by. He is unlisted in the government records of either country. If he can remain missing in his ghetto for a few more years like this, he will be declared dead. Joaquim Mondal is an ex-painter. Some middleman put him into Europe for a fee, where he works petite jobs. We met by chance, when I came to know of his poetry. These are his poems, taken not after, but from him.


You better speak, since you have come this far
like the empty sigh on a bum’s manuscript or
the whispers about someone’s failed marriage, as far as you’ve
piled up passive resistance : look no culture they have, just cash, fast cash
look they drink liquor with rice with those ill-dressed damsels
I copy in the language of the tongue
in the neurones of a tape recorder, is there a buddhist shaman inside sodium?
his violet robe has worn off, right after immigration check
a temple had asked for some donation
large empty canvas, I first apply some discolored white acrylic on the panel
then from the thick brush with a sudden gush of monastic air
rolls an empty street’s mid-day preparation

April in the flesh


To Romania’s Jenica or any of those prostitutes from Eastern Europe

I didn’t ask which country
As the conversation elongates I get a sense of the artery’s bruises.
It hurts you to see any road, any cloth or paper turn red
As pigeons push through soft October in the park, I can see
in the breeze black patches
in the seat of eyes attuned to unsleeping
Our riverine mother coast.

Characters from the book have turned into statues
that this steel rain wets
A secret journal tells me that.
As the silhouette of nakedness wets
a wing pulsed by touch
Salty and ashen air.

Stepping out of the house to see the hackneyed foam-wrapped stores
float, continuous two-way traffic into the root cellar, I return
a side-turned flight touches huddling boobs
Fluorescence from the sex-shop angling across the window
A bird made from a plain knife
On the bedside table


What do we write with
in these naked neuron receptors       acid
camera and x-rays!
1 or 2 letters from apparently engrossed cities
The narrative or uninformation
muted with eyes closed
in the crevices between rusty iron piles and the imaginary line
divorcing suicide from a rose
The man who tore away from the teeming Saturday crossstreets
hand in hand with a hooker -
I call him writing.

A summer mid-day prepares itself
as it slowly turns pages of a yellowed book, a dog cooling off in the swamp
A new couple moaning behind holidaying closed doors
Opium color on a shalik’s plume, darkness dense wet walls

Where does he go in this otherland of no-identity ?

[Translation notes:: shalik – (Beng.) Indian blackbird with a yellow beak]


How much can these troubled hands mean to earthly body ?
Winter strangulates marmoreal youth
I would never wish that its meat slacken
eyes from sweatdrops turn salty
In this wronged jungle the city tightens
around throat and nerve, vomitting blood
If language dies, to absent thoughts and poets
will imagery drift
to the temporary park      an empty bench

Is not for any of us


I am not going to write about sunyata. I have hidden intimate hollers in my torn creases. Then I’ll place the rebel secrets in a terrorized season. Even the walks in the garden hide weaponry. In the dawn of evenings, a darkness cannot sleep, densifying raindrops feel like rice grains, and is that why this harvest-fair is a kind of hunger ?

[Translation notes:: sunyata – a sanskrit word used in both hindu and buddhist ancient texts. It could be used to mean “emptiness” in general but the connotations are deeper, multiple and diverse. It implies a “lessness”. The word has been extensively used by Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Octavio Paz and others.]


Let someone else speak of time, of patience and apprehension from mired rhyme scrape out these burnt bright nights. Whose nest fills your head ? Of the mail pile ? Who would you like to read where ? Your language has snapped. Burdened with history. Devoid of fiction, of intersections. In this pure winterless jatismar country dark fields open, hidden thorns and the cards of fog, and from this unfriendly wet who is it that has deserted us leaving unsealed the pout of past century, some ambitious comrade, a detached photo lyrical, suddenly a piano vines up to my ear a four quartet

[Translation notes:: jatismar – has no English equivalent. It hints at reincarnation and means someone or something who/that has the ability to remember past life.]


Those words, I’d like to sit beside. Critters from inside the grave-pit. Botched phrases make the salt of a silent tongue. It needs more scribbling. But why me ? Where did I error ? In my abdominal fat ? On the fogged street? In the broken line of the river ? In exchange these transformers, structuralist dreamers stand up amongst my angst-ridden and in order to fiercely grapple on to some hard thing, this metal pen I found, with clenched teeth and a pressured palm some firm writing calls upon


There is a jungle inside. A walker’s path and its clutter of broken picnic bottles. I don’t ask you to come barefeet, neither to clean out this trash, not an effort nor participation no acceptance or rejection, no sad sigh trends suspended in a philosophical paradox, just a proposition for a quiet pause leaning against these errored signs


If one could hide wound and incompetence behind these lines and letters. I put my hand on the bleak throb and pray for more strength. I say you need to know antiquity better of words to put them to proper use, since the evolution of the metal age, men haven’t forgotten it. Wound or incompetence is actually an animal kind. Have all signs of life. And dying ?


I have arrived on the bright shore of an island. Noise didn’t let me feel the un-depths of its affection. Call these processions an act of crying. I know how faces sink and how around the rough edges of our community-skin spreads a chromium of fear.

[Translation notes:: chromium – Despondency and melancholia in oriental literature have often been called “gray” (connotations – feeble, lightheaded). Chromium, a gray but tough metal, is used here to disconnote that label. Chromium is an essential component of stainless steel, something that makes steel “stainless”, i.e. corrosion resistant and hard.]


Not static flaccidity, but a womanly walk along the fruit-market. As the last sabado metro leaves, the discotheque/shelter - from these options I pick my old neighborhood. The way I step into is never homeward bound. Little homes arrested in language's temporary cauldron. Roads unrivaled, stonewashed with no asphalt. Floats in the one across the museum, music of a lesser taste, luring men into video parlors. Painting, music, letters italicized, all gravitate towards their country of origin. But what is country ? Old songs ? Eyes moist from the hearings ? Our headcount of realities never taut with that. Who keeps the count ? Wet feelings, vapor and coffin in front of dark chocolate doors. A different road rebounds from each one. Wetness hangs in the air.


Grace in our words,
but I suffer to celebrate
At the blunt end of feelings, this country
We move towards languagelessness
Writers on the bench trying to better best best your outdated narrative
Here is mercy
For how long can life live box-bound ?

Poems translated by Aryanil Mukherjee

Page last updated Apr, 2020



Subhro Bandopadhyay


Jadupaharer Gaan (2006)

(Magic Mountain Music)

Chitaabaagh Shahar(2010)

(Leopard City)                      La Ciudad Leopardo (2010)         Bouddha Lekhamala (2012)  (Buddhist Musings)   Poemas metálicos (2013) Kacher Sarbanaam (2014)     (Glass Pronouns)              Ritu Dwiprohor (2017) (Afternoon Seasons)   Sumar Sal (2018)


Swadesh Sen

Kamal Chakraborty

Barin Ghosal

Shankar Chakraborty

Shankar Lahiri

Aryanil Mukherjee

Abhijit Mitra

Sabyasachi Sanyal

Subhro Bandopadhyay

Somnath Sen




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