Poetry: Selections from Azari Mistry

family gathering but you’re bad at gathering 

this time it’s one heart two heartbeats two

worlds pulsing twofold sliding

corrugated aluminium sheets


ignore the sound-

you’re coughing up a bodyfull of water


fabric saltslick shivering down your elbows,

no one’s seeing it you’re fine

make sure you smile wave nod

handshake sidestep pirouette

this is what survival looks like make sure you

look like what survival looks like

don’t forget to say the dark under your eyes

has always been there

don’t forget to say the dark in your eyes


is a mistake-

stop coughing kid stop coughing


everyone is looking because there is a flood coming

yes there is a flood coming

the barriers are not high enough ever

christ worry about it later- feel the sand

it is soft and spiderlegged wedged between your toes

speckled on your shins look

there’s a fish on the sand washedup thrownout

like you; a silver sprat gleaming like a time bomb

seconds glittering towards implosion


kid why are you trying to pick it up stop-

your hands are shaking.

on silence 

you must not communicate with 

ask for help from, or give help to 

any other candidate during this examination 

but listen, silence tells you it is everything but quiet 

comprising of caffeine & judgement 

wringed hands tensely uncreasing 

your own, so loud you wouldn’t hear the pin drop 

between scattered heartbeat or bloodrush permeating the hall 

that deadly silent way a virus spreads, settling in 

so far you lose sight of the distance 

it’s 9:02 and you may begin 

running your childhood into an open busy road, 

silence hurtling down it so soon 

avert your eyes 

your lifeline the hardly-legible-mess between the 

end stopped lines, thin as a tightrope, never even knowing 

which causes the final slip 

the entire world listening to your every move.

Azari (real name Anjali) is an eighteen-year-old poet studying Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. They were highly commended in the Emagazine Creative Critics Poetry Competition in 2021 & 2022, longlisted in the Oxford Tower Poetry Competition in 2022 & 2023, runner-up in the Storytown Corsham Poetry Competition in 2021 and shortlisted in the About Us Poetry Competition in 2022. They write under @azaripoetry on Tumblr.


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