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Barnali Ray Shukla

Nothing Blue

Unopened Letters

Nothing Blue

Sepia summer morning in my eyes, shorn of make-up,
grains of sand scatter with a sigh

I hear that you went last night with my name on your lips
now indigo, as they left you to die

Jibes of scribes grow colder, they chew pencils to try and box us
in a name and a surname, that mocks us

I stare harder at myself in the mirror, wear war paint--
slide past acid tongues.

What grows in me is a war, I can take the shelling
I will keep the baby—

and for you my love, a bunker is ready, nothing’s blue –
just a dash of grey. What seems grey was once sacred.

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Unopened Letters

I wanted her to arrive
like your first letter--
that aerogramme with
edges of red and blue
post-marks of your hometown,
the smell of your eyelids
as you stare at the lines.

Cursive text in long hand,
smudged ink more blue
than loss of words
in a language
that once felt safe
in an amnion
that tore early.

She now plays with the slugs,
no air in her lungs
in that grave by the sea.

She broke her promise
and kicked me hard
tore open unlettered
pages written in blood.

I hate these millennials,
their scores of denials.
Why can’t they arrive
in snail mail or stork--
in long-hand, cursive
in no rush to arrive.

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Barnali Ray Shukla is an Indian writer, filmmaker and a poet. Her creative writing has featured in journals and anthologies, including: Indian Ruminations, Sunflower Collective, OutOfPrint,, OUTCAST,, Vayavya, Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry II, indianculturalforum.inand A Portrait in Blues (UK). 

She was the India-winner of the R L Poetry Award 2016 that resulted in her debut poetry volume, Apostrophe (2018).  Her debut feature-film as a writer-director, Kucch Luv Jaisaa, released in May 2011, is now streaming on Amazon. Her documentary film, Liquid Borders (2015), has been screened at film festivals across India, North America and Europe. 

She is editing her next documentary film. When she is not doing any of the above she is found trekking in the Himalayas.

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