When you read many modern poems, you feel, ‘Okay, I have to say something about it if asked, but god help me, I don’t have a clue what the poet is rambling on!’ Worse, when the poet keeps snaking from one image into another, jam-packed, with no room for any reflection, creating a collage and no immediate sense! So you ask again, ‘Do I need a degree to understand a poem? Give me a poem any day that gently lifts me and delivers me in a marvel; I mean poems from the heart.’
Ever since I stumbled on Sonnet Mondal’s poems, I have been captivated by their stunning simplicity and words evoking a magical experience. That he achieves this consistently is breath-taking.
In this occasional series, our aim is to connect you with some of these exceptional beauties I come across. These are rare, as they don’t need any awards.
Two poems by Sonnet Mondal
Sonnet Mondal is an Indian poet, literary curator, editor, and author of Karmic Chanting (Copper Coin 2018) and Ink and Line (Dhauli Books 2018). He has read at literary festivals in Macedonia, Ireland, Turkey, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Hungary, and Slovakia. His writings have appeared in publications across Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia. Founder-director of Chair Poetry Evenings – Kolkata’s International Poetry Festival, Mondal edits the Indian section of Lyrikline (Haus für Poesie, Berlin) and serves as editor-in-chief of Verseville. He has been a guest editor for Words Without Borders, New York, Poetry at Sangam, India, and was one of the directors of the Odisha Art and Literature Festival in 2018. His works have been translated into Hindi, Bengali, Italian, Chinese, Turkish, Slovak, Macedonian, French, Russian, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, and Arabic.
Sometimes we run into someone
just for once in our lives
and our bones refuse
to fit inside the skin
the same way.
Plans proceed as waves
and recede as doubts.
A fleeting joy
with gnawing pangs
the stretch between
experience and fear
seems like the time taken by a fish
to reveal and conceal itself
in front of a fishhook.
An afternoon in my mind
I don’t remember much about waiting
for the bus to my maternal village
or how we made summer tolerable
while waiting for trains to the cities.
They were like the ignited wick of a cracker
stripping me of my patience.
But like a clogging bunch of thaw
in the flowing canal of my memories–
I have this photo of catching fish
with my maternal uncle, cousin
and grandpa—the stoutest one there
holding the fly rod.
The ecstasy still lies in the frame
but uncle and grandpa have passed away.
The fishes we caught that day
are still fluttering in my mind.
The pond must be
having our reflections safe–
somewhere in its water
caught by the late afternoon light.