Poems by Aryanil Mukherjee

Isolated System
farther from where the crop-mattress ends
a space isolated
in tremors i see i saw
in tremors on the see and saw
which breaks equilibrium. that is pre-condition
number one
when the woods breathe in isolation
and breathe out green made from a
free tension, pure energy.
to make work in an isolated system
several objects must create their own heat
and their own innate pressures
in the tremors i see i saw.
from see to saw when balance strikes
there’s no more work in isolation.
it can find its grave, remembers the species
of insects that fill the yard, its intrinsic flowers.
let aerial pressure pushes the piston’s life
a little gentle further into the cylinder
into a thermal equilibrium
a fine tremor then registers as see moves to saw
devoid of a pulsation
plunging into the invincible weight of an equilibrium
there’s no work left in melancholia anymore
no breeze
no tremor between see and saw.
Some would advice a change of place, of woods
where the air works
moving into a different contraction of reality
ask the blood its atomic militia
it’s not work, a thermal rhyme
that breaks away from the antique joints
renewed mudras of the palm beating on a new drum
percussion that’s partly sound, born pressure, felt heat.
how far must the roots run so its not rooted enough
forget the conjoints in favor of its syllables
earth stone and water
a fundamentalism
that upsets balance to make work isolated
in tremors i see i saw
in tremors on the see and saw
a desolation stands firm and fenced
amidst a shade and garden untouched by the sun
when heat is spoken it doesn’t necessarily work
maybe fruits are plucked from a variety of elevations
or in a mild wave runs through the blades of grass
an animal fruit in a lightening instant
in a moment that’s itself unstill
transforming into what is still unclear duality
no work records at this time in the lightening woods
observe their changing levels   keep eyes on the glass
its consciousness is borning remember
heat makes energy and they aren’t duals.
if you could remember that there is a state
where the fluid, dense and ether can co-function
informing us about the colorscents that occupy nature
you would recall all the other forests
that need to be touched upon as part of the
transition plan
you would remember the siblings of our nature
their huts, roots, floral hairs
their suckling touch
how much of yourself do you reflect in this wood
how many mirrors have you seen
the apple under sky was expected to be blue
wasn’t it?
is blue liberty? what does the atom say?
it is the causal element on the surface
of all the twists and phantasms
that could alter the length of a wave
to make horizon red
and the apple will now look brown
or applied red
its boughs would blossom roses
before the fruit arrives
watch the levels of freedom in the other woods
measure them and the tremors we need
in the tremors we see and saw
to work in isolation work
that needs to be.   



Until our husbands return we will mourn their absence.
We are the pseudo-widow. The ritual is our ancestor.
inquisition saliva percolates into woodense
it trains the spider
tiger comes out from a corner webcell
or a belljar in where the lily blooms
and we do not hear but the
commentator of despotic state machine
acknowledges the being’s endangered crisis
it spins around us as news
which needs a media no wonder noise does
in order to carry itself to us
sauce thickens with the spin and the loop
on the top’s surface is invisible
Official honey collection season began in the Sunderbans
last Monday. Tiger attacks are more likely this year.
Untraceable changes in the process of collecting honey
from deep inside the forests. Nor have the bees changed.
As expected, they’re vacationing.

abrupt thought is sharpened by the uncertainties
of commodity
in the maneater’s blood
unwritten entropy
prepares a leap at this end
and compression at another
a quarter on the left pan
a nickel on the right
language fence crushed and royal white
it is in the patio                            it roars
and rules the republic of words
in a sign system of one equals one
Most men of these islands live either as lumberjacks,
honey-collectors or hunt crabs in afforested rivulets. The
tiger is a regular royal — royal and endangered.
Prevention rules. Guns or weapons are not allowed in the
woods. Occasionally, the forest department uses shotguns
with sleeping bullets.

power is an abstraction best portrayed by a mix
of clay and salt
that makes Banbibi state machine in wood-goddess role
she’s the protector
nature mother
the beast is her mount
in the soft grip of power
in the ease of elite control
even some hyper days
turn overcast in minutes
handing ice-cream to robustious selves
a little attention
mud subsides and the water calms
deity atop the sad tiger
this honeyseason she accepts
Hardship of local data. Challenged dichotomies of
commerce and economy. Faced with such lives, they
choose to ignore the animal. The tiger remains a destiny
as thunder fells cinchona. Uncertainty pawprints as
a mouli, the honey collector, goes into the forest. The wife
knows. How unsure is his return. She has learned to
accept it. The practice. Imagined widow.

noya opened    free       barefeet           mouli-wife
artist’s compatriot
the strength of temporary widowship to which it adds birds
on the flyleaf of Art ’n Life
or the widow in the henhouse
picking up the shreds
and knowledge
and knowledge knows best            where the bird-catchers are
in the backdrop                                              & where the quack
Last Monday was the official commencement of the honey
collection season. Mouli-wives have begun offering
prayers to Banbibi — sacred the wood goddess. A
thousand families. Temporary widowship until the
husbands return. The women turn vegetarian. Refrain
from using soap, oil, vermillion; take off their wedding
bangles, stay barefeet and milk-clad (wear white saris

artist       connoisseur of life       though helpless submitter to one’s
propensities                                  family starving
yet benevolence drawn from wooden material
climbs up the cinchona to break the hive
while cohorts wait below
for more honey
dropping dripping
a strange hollow noise at the root of dire
brings a woodpecker out of
the broken boat
“Twice a day we would pretend to be widow but continue
to offer water and honey to the sacred Banbibi. We pray
for the safekeeping of our men.” Tarubala Mondal, a
hexagenarian from Jamespur, said, “We have had more
tiger attacks this year. Quite often the tiger has entered
the village. Now our folks have invaded its den. Mother
Banbibi will protect them.”

even the brave hunter is oppressor
poetry blinds the bee’s nature
in continuous cycles of aesthetic birth
the moulis work differently
153 Mouli groups, according to the state department,
have entered the forest in the Tiger Project Area. In small
groups of 5–7, 1,120 men. Men of the green and dense.
Men as prey. Hunted hunters with a mission. Of
collecting honey from deserted hives. They are allowed
up to two weeks for collection. All honey and wax will be
purchased from the Moulis by the State at government
stipulated rates.

culture of workplace is above all
where bees swarm over the tiger
mouli-wives      milk-clad      vermillionless
don’t touch fish                        just wait
free & cloistered            penchant for hybridtext
and cloned arts
the hunter comes full circle and gets hunted
circles overlap               as in a Venn diagram
One’s own ways to beat the dread. Some believe in
superstitions, voodoos, some in the Banbibi, some in
clairvoyants and jungle magic. But most importantly we
give protective masks to the Moulis. Masks with carefully
painted bloody faces that’ll scare away the tiger. They
must use it at all times. Mask is nakedest weapon.

forest department knows it all
observes            measures
we accept the proprietor’s law as just
moulimask is a bloody face
meant to scare away the tiger
it’s the carnivore’s social psychology that triumphs
in our favor
and the maskmaker                        evermore[1]


For an essay by
Mesbah Alam Arghya and Sukanta Ghosh on this poem, click here.



the tower of silence
feather-float at the end of tower crest 
disjunct released spirit
in mid-air drift      blue soul abiota     as it understands
and quits iniquity’s illusory word power 
at the peak           of silence
a popular Parsi myth describes how a tribehead approached an Indian
king and introduced sugar, insisted that the white powder, an emblem of
purity, be thrown into a glass of milk, the Parsis, or the Zoroastrians of
India waited while the King was enchanted by the taste of the treated milk
which neither changed color nor composition, they moved in from ancient
Persia around 10th century AD, the Parsi leader remarked — like it
(sugar), we will blend into the body and soul of this country ….

a complete absence of sound courtesy bird o’ bird
has the sky lost another living metaphor?
the remnant biodegradable this residual waste
an abandoned home designs destiny’s vice
pierced by a cruel economy
a mind produced that doesn’t ring streets empty of peddlers
like of silence of what they are
the innermost circle holds children, at the Parsi practise of sky-burial atop
a tall cylindrical structure following Zoroastrian tradition that considers a
corpse to be “nasu” or unclean and the dead are displayed to the sun in
three concentric annular areas, the first annular area following the core is
designated for women and the outer annulus holds bodies of men….

as destiny rules     as it had to happen     it is accepted
like the value of ∏
3.14159265358979323846 ….
people think a circle’s area can be measured with
burgeoning confidence
split into three societal parts
children in the inner core
the bodies of their dead mothers herding the mantle
and male corpses devoid of significant density
float in the outer crust
the sun first decomposes the body of the dead human, vultures strip it of its
meat and the bones are later collected and burned all this done i
n order to
protect against the short supply of clean wood, water, earth and air in the
region, they consider the dead body to be contaminative, not however at
ethereal heights as they are offered to the sun and the birds in what might
be one of the
greenest of disposition options ….
there is silence             there is the toiling sun     and decomposition
just the missing non-migratory
its like how the wolf is a janitor of wilderness    like the fox
in a small wood            of symbols
of ornamental city with its hidden waste        here is the janitor-bird
swooping low to snatch
as the sun does       to strip soul off the body
but it latches on      a raincoat does
and one needs to scrub the paint before one can begin
needs that vulture-pull so the meat-coat can snap
and it can rain
eaten by the same birds the custom can be considered to be an extension
of the faith’s egalitarian ethics, as everyone, rich or poor, fair unfair,
right wrong are cremated in the same tower, within the same circles
drawn as if on a tree’s ageing journal and under the same sun ….

extinct cause lurks in the name of disabled work
extinct work suspends the cause
we say ritual shapes collective identity
there is no art in a spotless sky
in the recent years the funeral system almost became dysfunctional as the
vultures vanished in Mumbai, the home of the largest concentration of
Parsis, hundreds of vultures once circled above the tower of silence, those
numbers had dropped to teens in one of the richest suburbs, the area of
the dead ….

and always a sad river next to development
next to any focused task
and forgotten scenes of a line of Hargiles waiting
on the Ganga bank at dusk           familiar janitors all
extinct and abandoned from memory
so many of the city’s rooms locked up     unused
so many trees behind the placards
with their keys thrown into the river
oh! the holy cow! the indeed holy Indian cattle, used primarily for farming
— agricultural and dairy, predominantly Hindu, few consume cattle meat
and most
cattle living fuller lives, requiring treatment when they’re infirm
are adminstered Diclofenac — a non-steroidal painkiller and anti-
inflammatory drug, proven to be extremely safe on humans and other
animals, but not the birds as Diclofenac strangely and fatally affected the
vulture kidney; the birds almost instantly dropping dead as they feed on
the large volumes of cattle carcass dumped in designated areas ….

our selfish milk       cow so close to the heart     lovely animal
and Diclofenac       our scientific gem
anti-inflammatory         crunching overbearing emotion from
the play’s spirit             from cattle gland     it’s a job    an important one
to tuck in a morsel of termitic mood in the fabric of all construction
we understand that
vultures collapse in dozens  in the cattle-pit
the word “corpse” holds a strange literary stillness
and pretending not to understand its cause-effect
holding up the head high against the sun
to a get a feel for its height
to know why a tower is in love with silence
to know why does it lack vultures
when a biodegradable creation runs out of subscribers
you really don’t need to know
in a recent interview with a Parsi scholar that focussed on this crisis, he
said, “Our last act of charity was with the vulture, with tradition under
threat and that’s what we have grown up to follow, look at most cultures,
they are scavengers seen in a very negative light, to us the vulture
is a religious bird it performs a religious duty. ...”[2]



Transcreations of original Bengali poems.



1. Translation notes: Banbibi: the goddess of the forest worshipped by the moulis, an idol mounted on a tiger. Noya: a wedding-bangle (iron) worn by married women. Mouli: a honey collector.

2. Translation notes: Hargile: local name for scavenger cranes of Kolkata that cleaned parts of the crowded city’s nook unreachable to the janitors of the municipal corporation, now extinct due to the real estate boom. Ganga: Indian name for the colonial word “Ganges.”