New Grammar and Other Poems — Anjora Khatri


Bear With The Fish Out

At the centre of the earth

The two hands cup together 

to hold a beating heart

The bear of the night 

with its fur standing out 

for the fish that dare pass 

the stream at night

But do the fish have a given time to swim?

Do they always go with the flow?

Or do they go home at some point 

And curl up into smaller figures 

Because the stream takes a toll on them

Does the bear sharpen its claws in the wait? 

And holds himself thinking of a bait?

How does a bear sharpen its claw?

How do the claws grow out from a little cub’s toes?

Does the innocence of these animals too get stripped at some point in their life?

They surely aren't born with a predator prey life but do they learn?

Are they taught?

The way our dearly beloved 

teach us to be afraid of the men 

that lurk the streets after dark.


They become the bears and we are the fish



Rain has always been my favourite weather.
The thunder, 
Like my father; 
Loud and ground shaking. 
The lightning, 
Like my mother; 
Quick and bright. 
Always together, 
a step ahead of another. 
And I, 
rising from the raindrops 
collecting in puddles,
their love child, 
follows them around.

To some he sounds like war and weary things. 
To some she looks scary and scared things.
Together they seem so destructive and I, 
was what lay in their path. 
Never has anyone seen something, 
so destructively preserved, 
in a cocoon of hailstones, 
away from the world.

Rain also reminds me of my first love, 
how we shared a small intimacy in the slight drizzle of rain.
The memory where I knew tranquillity

and alas it was in the middle of a thunderstorm. 
Rain is what I was born in, 
to bring a clear sky. 
Rain is what I sleep in, 
under my starless night.
It soothed me, 
when everything was a storm inside. 
It cradled me in its muddy arms. 
Brushed my hair with gentle winds, 
leaving wet kisses on my cheeks. 
It taught me how to dance, 
without anyone watching.

It taught me that it's okay to get wet once in a while, to slip, to mess up, to nurture, to love, to give, to show your try nature without hesitation

It gave to me.


Women & Women

Sisters and daughters, even mothers

Are hurled into daily abuses and jokes


Trapped in muscular gaze

Frozen as soft targets in epics

dolls in cinema
Excuses for duals

Cause for battle in the past

And the present too

Possessed as furniture
Items of jewellery
Kept in vaults
In the royal cellars of history

While Sita greets Savitri
Singing songs of captivity

Shedding tears of loss and regret


The two women on the motorbike

Lal Ded and Akka Mahadevi

Whizz pass through centuries

Multiplying in numbers

As also in Shakti


Each one searching

for her own path

Her own tune



When the Snakes Came for Shelter


(Dedicated to Freedom Nyamubaya)


Fighting the war of independence

My soldier friend, Sunungukai,

Lay sleeping alongside

Snakes who

Came for shelter, into her tent

In the black rainy nights


Unable to find their holes

In the marshes of the forests

0f Zimbabwe


Her long dark limbs


And entwined in the coiling


As darkness slithered

Towards the break of dawn

Haunting Salvador Dali


During such nights

As if in peacetimes

Sunungukai found herself secure

In deep tunnels

Rolled back

Into the womb of her mother

Or in the arms

Of the lover she never found


Standing stiff on their ends

Her hair did not split when

still silent snakes

hissed in sleep,


Theirs and her own instinct

She knew, told the truth


She smelt no danger

Nor did they,

there’d be no holding the venom

if they did





 In the same war

As male soldiers entered her tent,

She trusted her instinct

When she felt the chill

Slide down her spine,

on the same marshes

of the dark forests,



“But I am on your side”, her lips uttered

“The war is over, don’t you know”

-announced their male glee.


Enemies again,

They came upon her

One by one, and then all together,

In celebration.


The war continued for




 This time

He told me a different tale

The tale of…

 as if,




“As if you are the only one”

“Although you are the only one”


Language of conditions,

of conjunctions