Poetry: Rajnesh Chakrapani


Read More: A brief interview with Rajnesh Chakrapani

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“In “Mississippi Freedom Marcher,” for example, even the whites of the shirts have been pulled down, into a range of soft, dreamy grays, so that the tonalities of the photograph agree with the young woman’s strong, quiet expression. This exploration of the possibilities of dark gray would be interesting in any photographer, but Roy DeCarava did it time and again specifically as a photographer of black skin. Instead of trying to brighten blackness, he went against expectation and darkened it further. What is dark is neither blank nor empty. It is in fact full of wise light which, with patient seeing, can open out into glories.” – Teju Cole

When we are beaten we experience no lightness no ecstasy
just the hormone produced when we watch TV
a ported material of the present.
No criticism of the edits, they come from a lesser time
no primary marks, response to boxes,
scraps of millimeters.
Magic lanterns mask        trains of thought
struck by another lab
flip an almanac of scratches.
You bring me across the plains
which is all we need once we are buoyant
ate a death from an egg
from an end stop to upbringing
not burn but capture of a hue
an eye, not upwards and backwards
just pulled through your hands.





More Indian soldiers served in the World Wars than from any other nation. Uncle Balasubramanyam served in World War 2 on the Burmese front. I never got a chance to ask him how he felt when he fought for the English at the same time the English were looting his country. Like thug, the word loot has its origins in Hindi and the experience of English in India. Soldiers picked it up for ‘valuables plundered from an enemy’ from their Hindi-speaking counterparts—it goes back to a word meaning ‘to rob’ in Sanskrit.

Pleasant life spans of sir yes sirs yes sirs. Issues no issues in goondas faced with first class. Laws of unpaved timber cons of what’s next what’s next. Reuse momentum of mechanical Turk for low end advance. Shampoo in the bamboo grunt of I saw you I saw you. Chitorama effects and insistence of pickled tap water. Being up being up of pens that sleep with Tartar pens. Thuggish thatchers in catamarans of khaki, railway bandicoots squeezed in board up board up typhoons. Verandas felt the chubby lag of smooth everywhere. Blue misspellings of We do this We do this so We do this in daylight.

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Symmetry of Gosseddes

When I say our tribe, a keen smell
for those who aim to remove my fear.
Colors are faded in my part of the world.
Vagabonds adore my garish discoveries.
Lullabies like space flight, paper cups
with milk and turmeric. Different stories
like body parts thrown around a world. […]

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Raj Chakrapani grew up on American breakfast cereal and balavihar. He studied Indian Classical Violin and worked as a journalist before joining Peace Corps where he served in Romania and Liberia. As a teacher for the U.S. Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar he started writing poetry inspired by the political consciousness and distinguished history of Burmese poetry. He was a semi finalist in the Beechers Poetry Prize and his poems have been published in the Des Moines Register. He is a second year MFA candidate in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.