Jai Chakrabarti is a writer of poetry, fiction, and algorithms. Born in Kolkata, India, his work has appeared in Barrow Street, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Parse:Alchemy, Rattapallax, Spindle, Symposium, as well as, from India, The Statesman and Festival. Jai has featured at readings in SUNY Buffalo, the Indian Institute for Advanced Study, Nuyorican Poet’s Café, the Bowery Poetry Club, Bar 13, and many other poetry and performance venues in the tri-state area. He lives in Brooklyn.
The first time you met my mother
she wore a conch shell around her face,
spoke through the ocean’s mouth.
On her hip, the eyes of Kali clanked
like bedroom keys.
All evening I drooled for you
the secrets of war. I needed you
armed in the face of my mother’s
How little I knew your own
magic. You carried a Shango
wand blessed one hair at a time,
blew through the tender inside
of the Shango body: a woman
balancing lightning on upraised
I huddled while you talked,
stroked inside my jacket,
felt the hot breath of another
hidden dove. Each time
mother asked you a question,
something so simple—
your favorite song, or how dearly
a needle passed close
to the lungs of my dove,
and as tightly as I held her
was it ever enough to stop
the thousand murders of you?
Tell me of the chariot
you rode to meet her. The rocks
that starved you along the way.
Each night I peel the feathers
of the dead. So many
I uncover not for pleasure
but to see what pierced
the skin, to kiss each open wound.
There a sculpture in the bones,
a story to send to hell.
Precipice: a story of growing
or the echo of a woman falling.
A maze with a boy clacking
his knees in fear, his school tie
heavy like a tongue in a nervous
kiss as two divinities burn
sleep from his eyes and whisper
two versions for one beginning.