Rochelle Potkar

Rochelle Potkar Poems

At the time of my birth, my small town Kalyan, did not have a library.

It had no road rage, few beggars, one defunct traffic signal at Murbad Road,
and fewer cars.

Memory is… images of a prepubescent boy cycling home,
Parag milk packets in one of his arms,
feeding biscuits to a stray gaggle of brown dogs, wagging their shins.

Goa is a leitmotif of childhood May holidays
A quartet of perspiring aunts cirlicuing their liquid syllables

Small washed rooms opening to orchestras of husk and coir

Not remembering sleep or the winter of her skin
she dozes and wakes, taking away your burning
with the single-most thought of
salt-water towels on your back and forehead

Light over sea, beach light, window light, moonlight,
jaguar-eyed moments,
cloud-bitten biscuit suns,
large white bed sheets…

His father's shadow rises every night with the silhouettes of knives, blades, sickles, belts, and whips, growing and looming over his mother's face.

These rise into his dreams too with Amar Chitra Katha, Super Commando Dhruva, Superman, Batman, Bone, The Dark Knight Returns, Sandman, X-Men, and Watchman. They rise into his mother's screams in voice bubbles from Robot, Final Fantasy, Star Wars, and Avtaar.

Life after death is not about soul-recycling, incarnations. Before the soul pulls away to ether through 10 dimensions, the realms of knowledge to the feet of light, it leaves behind its old coat, jacket, garment in dirt, mud, grit. Glove slips from finger, rings from toe, tongue from cheek, energy from promises, love from hope, hope from memory.

In this dark abyss, cells emit CO2 in a stream like steam from a train, smoke from a chimney. It turns into glue what was once your beauty. Bacteria, fungi, microbes melt your nationality, color of skin. Sulphur, freon, benzine, carbon tetrachloride evaporate your caste, creed, religion. Maggots, beetles eat your Easter flesh, identity. Bones divide protein into dust and your once-ago body breeds trees. Then, the soul sings in a mynah bird, a parakeet, a guava fruit seed, a Newton's apple.

Rochelle Potkar Biography

An alumna of Iowa’s International Writing Program (2015) , and Charles Wallace Writer’s fellowship (2017) , Rochelle Potkar is the author of The Arithmetic of breasts and other stories, Four Degrees of Separation, Paper Asylum. Her poems The girl from Lal Bazaar was shortlisted for the Gregory O' Donoghue International Poetry Prize,2018; Place won an honorable mention at Asian Cha’s Auditory Cortex; Skirt was made into a poetry film by Philippa Collie Cousins for the Visible Poetry Project; To Daraza won the 2018 Norton Girault Literary Prize in poetry; War Specials won 1st Runner up at The Great Indian Poetry Contest 2018; Amber won a place in Hongkong's Proverse Poetry Prize 2018 Anthology. Her reviews have appeared in Wasafiri, Sahitya Akademi’s Indian Literature, Asian Cha, and Chandrabhaga. She has read her poetry in India, Bali, Iowa, Stirling, Glasgow, Hongkong, Ukraine, Hungary, and the Gold Coast. Her upcoming book The Inglorious Coins of the Counting House is longlisted at the Eyewear Publishing, Beverly Prize UK. Winner of the 2016 Open Road Review contest for The leaves of the deodar, her story Chit Mahal (The Enclave) appeared in The Best of Asian Short Stories, Kitaab International, and ‘Parfum’ was a notable entry at the DISQUIET International Literary prize, Lisbon. Rochelle is working on her first screenplay, selected by the NFDC Screenwriters Lab 2018 for development. She has been invited as a mentor at Iowa’s Summer Institute 2019. She blogs at: https: //

The Best Poem Of Rochelle Potkar

Knotted Inside Me

At the time of my birth, my small town Kalyan, did not have a library.

It had no road rage, few beggars, one defunct traffic signal at Murbad Road,
and fewer cars.

Horizontal buildings silhouetting the sun in shanties, chawls and cottages
Its outline gianted and dwarfed
with self-sustaining jobs of: kiranawalas, primary school teachers, factory workers, dentists, general practitioners, cycle repair shops,
and a small bank (let's not forget) on Rambaugh lane.

It was tone deaf to career ladders, six sigma, hierarchies,
MNCs, pecking orders.

Filled with pavwallas, mohmeddans, hindus, bavas,
north Indians, south Indians, non-catholics,
non-hindus, non-muslims, non-dalits, and non-brahmins.

The ice-factory owner, the mayor, a smuggler, a customs officer
were The Rich -
their bungalow gardens, terraces, compound walls
sprinted over by well-fed dogs

pressing against our imagination (mostly) during new year resolutions.

The Sindhis lived in a neighbour town
with plenty of gold and goods.

In the year of my sister's birth
some of their buildings collapsed
like crumbling cake in blood and crust.

There was one gang-war in Kalyan
one Anglo-Indian killed,
by a Goan goon, on a night road
a gunshot running through his race, history, legacy.

And a schoolboy murdered
in cold gang-boy rage.

I, with the other girls were bottom-felt,
walking through the college corridors.

That was all we had,
before I left for the City.

But the town I had left behind -
like shoes outside a temple -
multiplied around me a thousand times.

Rochelle Potkar Comments

Rochelle Potkar Quotes

If a day is a life, a word is a story.

relationships die before a person. relationships outlive a person.

If you don't go for their book launches, they won't come to yours. If you don't go to their funerals, they won't come to yours.

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