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In The New Land and Two Other Poems

by Jit Bhattacharya
(Kolkata, Idia)

In The New Land
By Jit Bhattacharya

My friend Eddie from Ghana
with a state scholarship moved
to study in Moscow, Russia
he learnt the language, fell in love
with a local brunette, Yelena
she taught him ways of the land,
was devoted, protected him
from occasional taunts on his color

Eddie was street-smart, a hustler
he made short trips to Europe
to smuggle clothes, belts, bandanas
wearing 5-6 layers of shirts and trousers
each time he came in from the border

But what he really wanted was
to make a life in America
so, rather than go home after college
he promised he would bring her
to him in a few years
and bought a ticket to Philadelphia

Eddie and I worked parking lots downtown
ten to twelve of us valets toiled
running cars up and down
Younus, the manager, was an Afghan
who had fled with coming of the Taliban
Saye, from the Ivory Coast, worked nights
as a security guard in the suburbs

Mathew from Ethiopia had been
a guerrilla for Eritrean freedom
Yakov was quiet, kept to himself
he was a teacher from St. Petersburg
Genene drove a cab nights in New York
Joe was a school janitor in Germantown

Famata from Liberia, Eunice from South Africa
All nose-to-the-ground, hardworking people,
kept honest with no time to stray or idle
rebuilding their lives one day at a time
letting time bury what they had left behind

It took Eddie four years of saving,
paying a few bribes and some fretting,
before he could bring his girl Yelena
from half way around the world
to a new beginning.

Manhattan, 5 Months
By Jit Bhattacharya

If I must...
I'd rather be sad
in New York
The dark, the grays
and tall shooting up...
closing the sky
in angles and lines
sides of granite glass
climb to spires, gargoyles
shadows in dark suits
and dresses glide
behind yellow cabs
crowds against me
at the subway turnstile
Dominican girls
dressed fine in furs
on broadway looking up
laughing under neon lights

The homeless man nods
as he bums a cigarette and
concedes with his eyes
sour smells waft by
a delivery van parked
beside an Italian restaurant
A sea of faces emerge
from the lexington subway
early morning cold bites
in seconds you stand alone
the falun gong man
protests in silence
on the sidewalk

I am looking at the woman
in the apartment across
pacing in some thought
Yes I can feel snug lonely,
feel sad with many
in this crowded town
of islands lost...
Of crowded ghosts reaching out.

By Jit Bhattacharya

I was thinking of Huffington's
guttural sweet voice
explaining deprivation of sleep
many years ago
and how for many, many years now,
I haven't had sleep...
that deep deep,
eight-hour straight,
state of temporary death
and back to sense

Nowadays, it creeps in,
powders in my forehead and eyelids,
but then disappears
in a few hours I am clear-eyed
It flummoxes, oscillates,
like Heisenberg's principle
it teases,
comes and goes in waves
it leaves my head heavy in half light,
a weight I carry like a curse
through day and night

Do you remember the sleep
you had as a boy
no REM, no dreams to cloud,
just an instant, drop dead
passage... natural in its rebound
and when you awoke
lifted yourself up sprightly with
arms stretched back and grounded in support,
muscles bunched around shoulders, looking out
you felt the light through you
so fresh, so pure
crystal clear and strong,
so that you could move mountains
or easily take a leap to the sun?


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