Poetry: Selections from Tejaswinee Roychowdhury

Becoming Gregor Samsa

I pity Gregor Samsa.
Hiding in shame-fear-shame,
Until there is none left,
Fading into an exoskeleton—
A thing of nightmares.
In the eye of cyclones
Searching for a voice in my head.
I want to eat ash and disappear
Under the bed in the attic
And grow ugly wings.

Caught in Traffic

My top hair is soaked in monsoon drizzle
The apartment is a paper dump
I see floating eggplants when I squint
A pair of grey socks are still missing
A stranger baby wants my faulty glasses
I need butter for the fruitcake
The bus conductor drools in his seat
The neighbour has my Amazon package
Rains are heavier when car horns screech
The cactus won’t need water tomorrow, but
I want to release balloons made of silk—
because monkeys ride ponies on waterlogged streets

Douglas Says

Douglas says,
last night, he was a boy
on the cusp of manhood,
running across a field of wild grass
to the old coal factory facing Texas
—on a gliding eagle’s watch.
Douglas says,
last night, he was a teen
in an apron after hours,
wiping down tables, shouting
at his uncle’s trembling mustache
—I want out, I want out.
Douglas says,
last night, he was a man
by an open casket and his lady,
he saw auntie’s teardrop turn to dust,
pour down a cheek on her only lapel pin
—a desert flower made of rust.
Douglas says,
last night, he was in NYC,
reeking of whiskey, covered in cuts,
muttering in fragmented sleep
on the bench in a holding cell
—not a soul to bail him out.
I am on a bus with Douglas,
from Denver to Albuquerque.
I do not know this Douglas,
though one I did in London city
in Mr. Yen’s cello class.
Douglas says,
he is fine.

Tejaswinee Roychowdhury is a writer, poet, and artist from West Bengal, India. Her fiction and poetry have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2023, and her work has been or is scheduled to be widely published in Dreich MagazineMuse IndiaPaddler PressAmity (Hawakal, 2022), The Unconventional CourierRoi FainéantTaco Bell QuarterlyKitaab, and more. Founder of The Hooghly Review, Tejaswinee is also a lawyer and can be found tweeting at @TejaswineeRC