Poems: Umang Kalra

I don’t know how to say it in english & so I kiss you instead

—a vastness hanging that we don’t name, learning silence
in different languages, teaching the quiet
how to bend. This is our tongue of common ground, our
earth of crumpled sheets & I breathe what I say
I don’t have words for. I bite my lip to stifle
accusation—it is not your fault that I have learnt what I lack
to be what you deserve. I shake at the blue of your eyes, you exist
somewhere my words don’t go, you bury
your dead in a different soil. You bury
your dead.

Careful with this ocean, it could swallow
all we choose to leave unsaid. When you are sleeping
I say prayers I don’t believe in, crawling in whispers
up your spine, perhaps this vastness
we have forgiven will forgive us back.
Perhaps our skin has more to say.
Perhaps I taste enough
like home, perhaps someday you will learn to tell
what the silence is aching to be.


peach fuzz

I tasted a peach last week for the first time and got the juice
all over my hands and wondered how everyone else always
managed to do it so cleanly. Instead I decided I must relish
in what felt supposedly untamed about the mess:
fan spinning in a heat more luxurious than what I had
been allowed, sunkiss glistening onto my skin red like
the peach my friend had helped me choose. I liked the smell
of foreign summer, the sinking flesh spreading into
waves against my tongue and I wondered if you would
taste it on me later. I wondered if I am desirable lying
in bed this way with peach dripping off of my hands onto
the floor where I will pretend not to notice it dry and I taste
it brighter with my eyes closed as if that would make me
something you would want to make a mess of on the floor
with. I wondered if you love my run on sentences the way
I love your tongue flowering inside me.


In my room for when

I return: creeping vine-leaf sinking

all over everything, surely

we could get lost inside of this, flowers


and more growing things, (I remember

Greece when you said you’d give me

fairy lights and all the wanting


in the world), and wine for us and

more to read than we could dream,

perhaps a sunset that skins our shadows


alive like a scorching gift of glitter. I wonder

if you will be waiting still and if all

the books will be enough. Postcard photographs


from when we were too busy loving to notice

the earth turning, we can piece

all of the memories together when my blank notebook pages


are finished looking. You can kiss all of the absences

away with water on my bedside—more

to write down than we know. I wonder


if this is what it is meant to feel like. A while ago

it became real that the world is breaking

apart and when I am aching in the shape of you


I am breaking apart also—

it is a pleasure to love myself anyway. I want

to rest in this indulgence with you and pretend


these poems are enough to matter. I want

this secret world, this quiet watering hole, this

unending place of breathing filled


with your hand in mine and nothing else,

glistening in the colour of the sky from that night

we forgot to love with kindness. I want more


nights of every kind, your forgiveness swells

into me like unwelcome medicine and I can

learn to breathe you again. Someday if we save this all


and learn to keep our plants alive I want

to go back to all the postcard places, I want to learn

the stars from scratch, I want to steal your covers again.



Umang Kalra is a queer Indian poet. She is a Best of the Net anthology finalist, and is the Poetry Editor at the Brown Orient Literary Journal. Her work has previously appeared in the RECLAIM/RESIST Anthology, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Cotton Xenomorph, Vagabond City, and others. She tweets at @earthflwrs and writes at theanatomyletter.tumblr.com.


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