One of the most enriching, forward-thinking, fastest-growing online creative communities flourishing right now is the Poetry community, especially in those scenes that center on marginalized voices — Women, POC, Neurodivergent, and LGBTQ. Poetry Spotlight is a feature aiming to showcase the work of some of the most talented creators we’ve discovered making waves on the Internet literary circles, inside or outside the mainstream. Our fifteenth installment is dedicated to the poetry of Tanya Singh.
Tanya is a non-binary writer, poet & editor from Chandigarh, India. They are the author of Heaven is Only a Part of Our Body Where All the Sickness Resides (Ghost City Press, 2018). Their writing appears/is forthcoming in Rust+Moth, Polyphony H.S., Eunoia Review, Black Napkin Press, and elsewhere. Their work has also been recognized by the Times of India, The Great Indian Literary Festival, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, among other places. They are the founder & editor-in-chief of The Cerurove, a progressive literary magazine. They also serve as the editor for Half Mystic and The Brown Orient. They would love to be your friend!
what anonymous & homeless ghosts look like?
but being a ghost is an uncomfortable thing. maybe if
we learn to chew or speak with our mouths open, we
might let the ghost become a tongue. and even call it
evo-lution from non-existent & non-binary.
and when it is 2100 hours, & everyone is going back
to a lake house, i realise i should return to a certain
grave. where graves have names and i don’t. and that
is when i learn to breathe with my toenails standing
under fading purple lights, searching for my identity
on wiki-pedia, before looking up my antiques on
sometimes i put a sugar cube in my mouth to see if it
will dissolve. and then i realised i’m a ghost with a ghost
voice suffering from ghastliness of my own apparition.
and all that i would do
to become some shadow under the lamppost.
and being a ghost
but the hardest part
about being a ghost is that
ghosts don’t exist.
[Previously published in The Ginger Collect’s Issue 3]
i wish my father could see the left of my face, burning
when my mother asked me to offer my neck as a sacrifice,
our mother tells me, that’s how you hold your head high.
i open my hands and lay them above fire,
& pray that my hands are a hearth before they’re blue.
fire gives life to legends and dead. & i can almost hear
my cheeks speak to me in tongue of three birds.
the first bird only died when i had spoken of a dark room,
these windows made of dust and grandma.
the only way out is through sounds that run through
ashes, soft pattering, golden- rising and musk,
over this house that casts a shabby room built inside
elegies of our grandchildren. must guns be obituaries.
that is when i want to hold your hand & overflow
with translations for a children’s story we’ll never get
to read. i tell you & father, i love this shadow that dances in
ocean and opens its mouth in my mouth for a bird to leave.
i whisk hands in blue, above my head sacrificed,
as if baking a cake in thin air, for a bird we both chew,
and this is my arm & this is my head, an extension of sorts.
i know this because when i held my head last night,
the horse told me how it was at the barn, but i was not
listening. i fear i came down the nest without wings, hastened,
and my spine is too bent to understand, when my
neck almost gave away. someday, i’ll learn to love
myself, till then i’ll wait. i know the ocean between my
legs is singing my childhood wrapped inside an earthen
[Previously published in The Rising Phoenix Review]
Most Days We Are an Enterprise of an Excavated Archaeological Site
after the fourth wife’s only husband
most days we are an enterprise of an excavated archaeological site,
and some days we are politics of identity, who are better at being headless.
every now and then gestalt psychologists fall prey to the unmercenary
doctrines of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
i’ve heard that some parts don’t make a sum as big as the whole.
and if you put a kettle on the stove, that’s where the kettle stays,
unlike birds whom you may place adjacent to grey ribbons in sky,
and later find them vicariously hidden between its folds of cellulite,
i asked for another day after tomorrow when I am finally home,
still to contemplate the prospects of a start-up that builds start-ups,
the bird doesn’t find itself back in the sky after displacing itself,
over generations of snake charmers. even when mumtaz called out to them,
they are brainless creatures with tiny brains, the size of a leprechaun’s
uniform, and simper lankily between whites of purdah and chick peas,
and when we fall among the gallery of ruins, our pits covered with feathers
of some ostrich’s dreams, the size of its egg, there will be quietist bodies
vibrating to a persian bebop siren. say we want to be alive when we grow
up. how impotent is being potent. you mean ‘important’?
mumtaz was not taught english in the mughal era, she only married
a bewitching misogynist who hides his contempt in the ivory walls
of the seventh wonder of the world, among others such as patriarchy,
see birds are closest to kings after drainage systems named in their honour.
and from what i’ve heard i know birds don’t build their graves in the sky.
[Previously published in Indolent Books’ What Rough Beast Series ]
in history, we study that the institution of kingship was
based on human choice. that we wanted to be ruled.
maybe they didn’t have a choice, she says. give our king
a proportion of our rice, in turn for protecting subjects.
sutta pitaka, one basket of sutta, contains the essence of buddha.
that ours was an idyllic state; if a man needed soup for meal,
the nature gave him soup for meal, she says. that was easy.
we turn our heads over to the black board, rise to the sound of
chalk squeaking against. the chalk doesn’t wish to give up a
proportion of its rice. we were silent. we were landscape board.
see recognition of human agency in creating reality.
when a dog eats dog, do we mourn the dog who died, or
the dog who learnt to kill?
no, you build a pedestal for your ancestors.
brick by brick, we leave lines on our hands, and call it fate.
[Previously published in The Slag Review’s Issue 5]
i am mona lisa
i learnt a method of madness in never speaking. when
they ask me, how are you. i smile. i am slow flower.
people will listen to you, if you are silence tied to
thousand stories. you keep them to yourself at time.
there is certain sigh in silence. i learnt to drink mine,
when the curiosity killed their cat. i am slow bird.
uncertain times in summer, the body is a vacuum.
we are water above the room temperature. i am lakes
that burn hands. some fishes don’t even run deep.
when people ask me, how are you. i tell them i sell
smiles, if they’ll sell a painting to me.
there is fire if you build a hearth. some people were
terribly vexed. i am elevator that stops at ninth floor,
when you wanted out at second.
there is quiet in madness. it will never speak to you
again, if you try and sell it mona lisa.
da vinci painted some madness, some softness at
tongue. so soft, no voice ever speaks.
[Previously published in Gone Lawn’s Issue 26]