The Blog of Cafe Dissensus Magazine – we DISSENT

Four Poems

Painting: Shahzeb Kazmi

By Kashiana Singh 

Re-calibrating Kashmir

strangely she rests empty, our Dal1
tilted, untethered on her wild lilies
her tears silent, a vacant silhouette
emptied guns, bullets abandoned
within her emerald womb, ropes
knotting grief in dreadlocks, her
paddles whisper to waves, piercing
silence into an opaque sunset azaan2
the coal in her kangri3 wonders why
chinars4 once stately, now watch over
a dead summer, a desolate cemetery
weary her prayer flutters, collecting pain
underneath her shikaras5, words abandoned
in fissures of her boats as she stays afloat
gathering kahwa6 stains, unflinching
a withered hand lifts the poems from
the gaping wounds of her heart
placing them into rancid blooms
marigolds, lotus, orchids, apple blossoms
and orchids, her songs stay unspoken
under a vaporized
moon, it crawls over
her latticed walnut screens
as an unlit lantern flickers
a poet is a gatherer, words scribbled
Kashmiriyat7 is a poem, dribbled
in its own carcass, memorialized
tethered to a waterbed, stationary
moored, adrift under stolen skies
empty and unable to sing her song
8gur Firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast

1dal – the famous lake is called dal lake in Kashmir
2azan – call for prayer
3kangri – basket with coal embers for heat under woollen kimono gowns
4chinars – tall trees – Platanus orientalis
5shikaras – wooden canoes
6kahwa – Kashmiri healing herb tea
7 Kashmiriyat is the ethno-national and social consciousness and cultural values of the Kashmiri people. Emerging around the 16th century, it is characterised by religious and cultural harmony, patriotism and pride for their mountainous homeland of Kashmir.
8“gur Firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast” – If there is a heaven on earth it is here it is here it is here said Mughal Emperor Jehangir when he visited Kashmir in the 17th Century 


To the efficient women of Shaheen Bagh

The orange sky fissures with a frantic lotus
You bloom backward like a raging calypso
in sweaty marshlands of the feeling restless

The dead keep coming in stages of grief
You gather your lungs in wailing dupattas
in invocations crawling out of your mouths

The arrows of your eyes pierce into a fog
You conquer hysteria with textured words
in flags of fingers festooned into poems

The finale of our kingdom has been undecided
You scribble its coastline with a kohl eyed song
in immaculate clarity you chant a homecoming

You trample, across all Lakshman Rekhas1 into
a sea of Sultana, Ameena, Devaki, Bilkis, Aishi2


vande mataram3
vande mataram
vande mataram 

1Lakshman Rekha – Lakshmana Rekha, is referred to in the story of Ramayana as the line drawn by Lakshman around the dwelling meant to protect Sita, while he is away searching for Rama.  in modern Indian parlance, refers to a strict convention or a rule, never to be broken. It often refers to the ethical limits of an action, traversing which may lead to undesirable consequences.
2Sultana, Ameena, Devaki, Bilkis, Aishi – Common Muslim and Hindu female names
3vande matram – An ode to the Motherland, it means “I praise thee, Mother” or “I praise to thee, Mother”.
It is a hymn to Goddess Durga, identified as the national personification of India.
Vande Mataram is a Bengali poem written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in 1870s. The poem was first sung by Rabindranath Tagore in 1896 and the first two verses of the song were adopted as the National Song of India.


everyday you play 


sunlight shines bright
girl peeps into bakery
strings a lovely sunset


following lover
bridal store sparkles bright
naked mannequin


at engraver’s shop
my grandfather’s pocket watch
will never carry


bonnie lass blushes
solitaire ring sits careless
in pawnshop window


holiday sales
a winter morning snowflake
departing shoppers


carved window frame
painted temple deities adorn
voiceless man plays flute


blistered sky
facing the orbiting moon
everyday you play


everyday you play
with deboned blood and skulls
a nation pleads


The Indian Pantheon of Gods

Kashiana Singh is a management professional by job classification and a work practitioner by personal preference. Kashiana’s TEDx talk was dedicated to Work as Worship. Her poetry collection, Shelling Peanuts and Stringing Words presents her voice as a participant and an observer. Her poems have been published on various platforms including Poets Reading the News, Visual Verse, Oddball Magazine, TurnPike Magazine, Dissident Voice, Feminine Collective, Spillwords, Poetry Super Highway. You can listen to her reciting her work on Rattle Open Mic sessions, Songs of Selah podcast and Poetry Super Highway episodes. Kashiana lives in Chicago and carries her various geographical homes within her poetry.


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Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City and India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.


Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “On the Table: Pathways between Food Studies and Food Writing”, edited by Somrita Urni Ganguly, Fulbright Scholar, Brown University, USA.

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