Pooja Mittal was born in Nigeria in 1983 and has lived in various
countries including India and New Zealand. She is now a
postgraduate student at Monash University in Melbourne,
Australia, where she is completing a Masters degree in English
Literature under an Australian Postgraduate Award.


night the slurring stranger you meet
moon's pale coin jangling
in his throat, his wide black mouth

painter, here I meet your
apples by the window:
the night in them, glistening,
tired glow of your mind
a quiet lantern lit.

you lover of dusk,
night your only friend.
a lone bird you walk
back & forth, brush feathering
in your hands. the solitude
of your canvas stretched
a white night before you,
what moon what eye

you open onto the east.


one can forget
how to write a poem:
the awkwardness of time
spent away from a lover,
love-letter, littering
love on the pavement
generously. who left
these leaves for me?

I alone know
the numbers of these
red-brown things,
thin letters the wind
has left to me, paint
in dappled grey along
the walls, the sidewalk,
your shadow.

at the place I waited
for you the numbers
still linger, the dates,
hanging on twigs.
so delicate the dance of this

tell me, wind,
the words you kissed
onto the pavement, the leaf-wet
mouth you pressed to me.

a long, long dance
has passed me by. open
your answers. wait
for me.


whalers with gentle eyes
swab the red off their decks.
you of the night, black as the night,
glistening -- I watch your large flanks
heave, curling my toes
into the wet wood.

laughter and sake. my cup
so small. where is your truth, gone
because I asked, because
you said so? your tongue
as rich as loam, soft beneath
the old sheen of your eyes.

talk to me like the others do.
open your belly to the night
that is yourself. answer
my question. I'll wait
with aching haunches
while the sun-shadowed wind
dries the deck beneath my feet.


not about names. night, the learned gorilla,
condescends. furred fists of hills curl in the dark.
in here the shelves with their square black mouths,
each bottle a glitter of small, black eyes...

the dream-gatherer left early. net in hand,
keys jangling. wind's soft wheat harvested
in his palm, stars gathered, white bees. his
folded fingers hold the smell of money. late fees.

bone statuettes by the dresser: gates of ivory,
gates of horn. the sooner these wallets leave
on bat-black wings, the better. don't
ask him to stay. it's not about names.

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