Poems for Everyday Use

Cover Art

I have been working on a really fun project this month and I am so excited to finally share it!

Poems for Everyday Use is a series of poems about ordinary, everyday life. The project traces the course of one day, from morning to midnight, with poems about home, food, flowers and other simple memories. I don’t write enough poetry anymore, so this is an effort to create more of it. I have collaborated with some beautiful artists and I am very excited to share their work with mine!

I’ll be sharing the series on my Instagram, come read and spread the love:

https://www.instagram.com/nikitabiswal/

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House

Today on the train, I saw a girl showing pictures of her house to her friends.
One in the snow and one in the rain. And I’ve been thinking if homes change with season. Do they look different as they grow old with time? Do they get cold in the winter when ice settles in their pipework? Does the rain make them drowsy too? And when spring arrives, do gulmohar trees spiral out of the kitchen window, orange leaves bursting through the cracks in the chimney? 

Atlas

I think we learned to name cities
before we had actually seen them,
Small French and English towns
states in other continents
islands peppered along the seas,
We learnt to hold them on our tongues
before we could be there
smell their air
hear the chatter in cheap street-side cafes
with red and white checkered tablecloths,
Walk their cobblestoned roads
and feel the sun shine
in a hundred different ways,
We once had the map
a hodgepodge of words in our mind
like the mush on a party plate
and that was enough.   

My Swimsuit

I am wearing my swimsuit
but my skin gathers
like fat jelly under my arms
My hair’s dry
in this coastal air
and you can see the fish-skin
scaling my winter legs
I look at them and check
do I have frog-webbed feet?
My back is speckled
with spots from a coral bed
So I run into the sea
and swim,
A brown wave
In the blue waves, waves, waves.   

Birthday Cake

You remember when ma
Walked from behind the curtains
A cake frosted with pink flowers
Placed delicately
On a black tray?
A knife tied with a ribbon
And all the children
Gathering in a small circle
Their potato-chips-and-chowmein-filled plates
Making way
for a slice of cake

Something about the memory
Pastel wax candles
in between cherries
Is hardwired into my brain.
I stand in my kitchenette
Midnight in a foreign city
Hands flour-coated, sugar-dusted
And wait
for a thin float
Of the old vanilla birthday cake
To rise in the oven

Other kinds of green

1. the green of leaves just after rain
2. the green of a muddy pond where lotuses bloom at night
3. the fading green of mangoes that make the best sour candy, pickles, chutney
4. the colour of sky on a road with no street lights
5. seaweed deep under water, curling around your toes where sand mixes with water, only to be found later in a hotel bathtub