‘The Man in the House’ – Basudhara Roy’s Poems

I am Everything You Lost, 2016, Nalini Malani ACA

The Man in the House

Your self-sufficiency hurts his gaze.

The man in the house has eyes.

Your confidence scrapes against his tympanum.

The man in the house has ears. 

Your space makes him shrink.

The man in the house has skin.

Your focus upsets his calm.

The man in the house has a mood.

Your abandon pierces his sanity.

The man in the house has a limit to his patience.


In the house

the man in the house

belongs neither to himself nor the house. 

His houses have all been left behind.

He is forever lost in the chicanery of time

that shows him houses and selves in dreams.

All day long he is looking for the myth that made him.

All night he fights the house till just before dawn

he is subdued to become house himself in sleep.

Only to be awakened by the sun to become man.


You cannot live with the man in the house.

You can choose

to live in the house without the man.

Or with the man without the house.

You can be courageous to refuse both.

Before the Flood

Hour by hour day wanes into night.

I am quiet by these shores

letting the aftermath of battle

come to me like revenge foretold.

There is a stir in the stars they say.

I see them winking at play

a Ring o’ Roses as they rise and fall.

But I have already hearkened to the call

of the disaster whose neck I will wring 

while all portents sing to me from the dark.

There will be a flood they say

and I have pitched my gopher wood ark 

unto which I shall bring two of all I have.

I am sorry, dearest, you will be left behind. 

You who took my all but were never won.

You who insisted you were the sun

while I some planet mean, by body and spirit

destined to circumambulate your glory. 

My proprietor, my master, my feudal lord

You who taped me to the clock

and made me serve you by its light

accounting for every second of my days and nights

You chauvinist, the only one of your kind

I am not sorry to leave you behind.

Had you let yourself been dyed by me

there would, you see, have been no fuss

For clearly there would then be two of us

and the love hoarded and this law upheld. 

But now, man, I pair with someone else

who hems the anklet of me with silver bells.

And righteous you who breaks not one law

how, dearest, I beseech,

would you turn this around

and permit a breach only to be found

on safe land?

My godly fear fails totally to understand.

Keep your laws straight and perish by them

the way I have died all these years. 

And yes, you needn’t even pity your tears.

The flood swears to swallow them to the last drop.

Basudhara Roy teaches English at Karim City College, Kolhan University, Chaibasa. Looking forward to her fourth collection of poems, she writes to urgently test/taste words on her tongue, pulse, moods, agitation, abstraction and satire. Her recent poetry is featured in Chandrabhaga, The Punch Magazine, Yearbook of Indian Poetry in EnglishHelter Skelter Anthology of New Writing, and RIC Journal among others. When not overthinking, she reviews and sporadically curates and translates poetry from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand.