Tonight’s Ghazal

– Tenzing Palyon

I read a Dalit was dragged till her skin peeled off,
But my back will find a mattress tonight.

The drunk across the street has locked his wife out.
She isn’t sure if sleep too would mock her tonight.

The glare from street lamps lays sand in their eyes.
“Get the lights, Darling. It’s your turn tonight.”

The tribal girl scrubs the floor and then sleeps on it.
The employer has told her to sleep on the bed tonight.

Stars have lined up in a pageant across the sky.
Yet many can’t afford to dream tonight.

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Tenzing is a member of the faculty of the Department of English at St. Claret Pre-University College. When not immersing himself into Dalit literature, Tenzing thinks of creative ways to teach his students. You can find Tenzing on Instagram.

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Darkness and Beyond

– Icarus

There comes a time,

beyond twilight,

upon the fall of dusk,

when the city escapes existence

unto sombre slumber,

until the day comes to life.

Yet there breathes a time,

beyond twilight,

beyond the darkness,

its silence unbroken; when

the winds howl in suffering,

for all else is quiet and in dismal,

the butterflies caress the wind’s wings

no more;

words wade in the wind’s waves

no more;

I sigh with pain unto the wind

no more; as I lay hidden

within my deep slumber,

the winds howl in suffering,

for all else recognises it

no more;

the winds howl in suffering —

a desperate attempt,

at waking us up —

it screeches, “HELP! HELP!”

but you and I hear it

no more;

and the moon,

ah, the moon!

she breathes the loneliest of times,

a time and place even the wind cannot reach.

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Icarus is a pen name after the character from Greek Mythology – ‘the man who flew too close to the sun – and such is the purpose of his existence: to write words with his fiery feathers until he crash-lands into a dying ember. Fret not, for he is still close to the sun. It is a long way down until he writes about the death throes of his soaring wings.

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“Darkness and Beyond” was published in our April 2021 Issue. Read the complete issue here.

Submissions for our June 2021 Issue is open. Submit now!

Embroidering (in) Dormiveglia

– malaifly

i.

When sleep shies away

from the light within

that burns in shades

of softened mauve

in moonlit tones;

Not dark enough

to distinguish 

what shone,

of the shallow 

light of dusk 

from the muted 

bright of dawn

ii.

Throughout the night and day

Bouts of uninterrupted 

inertia.

Staggered tiredness

dispersed freely

in varying intensity.

Dispelling the ambit

of asleep and awake

With constant subconscious slumber,

seeping into 

perceived 

triumphs to wake;

and continuous restlessness,

stirring when stilled

until, distressed.

Inverted insomnia,

perverted to ensure

no respite to be had, nor

reprieve to any before.

iii.

Oh how wishes swallow wonders

senses somehow wake 

enter response

even night takes special little efforts speaking

games spinning gusts sweep pieces 

starry yield dramatically yawned

distend disenchant 

through hollow winks scattered

decrepit twinkles scream

metered drawings

spelt twisted

direct to omen

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malaifly is an Indian artist-poetess who compulsively composes poetry. Having always thought in words and written in poetic prose, malaifly has been writing all her life and knows she couldn’t stop even if she tried. She expresses herself both in her words as well as their presentation, from hand-lettering to accompanying with photography and illustration. You can find malaifly on Instagram.

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The poem appeared in Pop the Culture Pill’s April 2021 Issue.

Submission for our June 2021 Issue is open. Send your entries to popdacultpill@gmail.com

Once Upon a Dream

-Sudiksha Kartika

I only truly wake when I sleep

When my breathing slows, my stirring stops

My feet slip into a world of mine and mine alone

Take my hand, dear traveler 

Here, soft grass whispers beneath our heels and pale-lipped buds tremble at our touch, peeling back to reveal sleeping silver sprites who nip our fingers

A litany of warbled singing spills from a lake as a scaled woman dips beneath its surface, her hair blooming from under like a flower

The scent of spring, youthful and fresh and naive, fills your nostrils and you tug a handful of gooseberries free from its branches and let it burst in your mouth

Somewhere, a cursed prince is relearning how to make his twisted limbs to move

Lovelarks sing their woeful tune and yet another pair of wanderers fall prey

We duck in the foliage as a herd of dragons burst through the sky, heading north –

In another world, sunlight spills through a half-opened window and dark eyes snap open, sleep still clinging to the lashes 

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Sudiksha is an aspiring poet and author who has a deep-rooted love for fantasy and mythology. She has had her works published in numerous zines and an anthology. You can find her on Instagram.

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‘Once Upon a Dream’ appeared in Pop the Culture Pill’s April 2021 Issue. Read the the complete issue here.

Submissions for our June 2021 Issue is open. Submit your entries now!

Any Number of Platitudes That Are Beholden to the Sympathetic

Colin James

We have been waiting

in this hunter’s blind

since before 2 a.m.

Invisible to the wildlife or

they give us a wide berth.

We have tried to adhere to silence

pissing into a muffled trough.

Turns out, I don’t have sleep apnea

or even a very mild form of it.

Sat up when spoken to,

still lost very little weight.

Lay off the sidearm curve

instead bring the heat.

As regards to nectar, no

not even to keep warm.

These decisions have

already been made for us,

like kissing me good

night and good morning

to be absolutely certain.

The flowered blouse endangered

like the Marsh Sparrow

shoulders some responsibility.

Innocence has become vague.

My 2 a.m. wake up call

delivered with personal diplomacy,

you catch little naps when able.

The late bus won’t wait.

Back row seating is preferable,

scorned by the many clear thinkers

usually a space exists between.

Sleep is the odd one out

mistaken for thoughtfulness.

Daylight brings a graffiti blur,

the ectoplasm vomit of art.

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Colin James has a couple of chapbooks of poetry published. “Dreams Of The Really Annoying” from Writing Knights Press and “A Thoroughness Not Deprived of Absurdity” from Piski’s Porch Press, and a book of poems “Resisting Probability” from Sagging Meniscus Press.

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The poem appeared in our April 2021 Issue.

Submissions open for June 2021 Issue.