POOJA NANSI


Pooja Nansi is an educator and poet who believes in the power that speech
and performance can lend to the written word. Her first collection of poetry
Stiletto Scars was published in 2007 during the Singapore Writer's Festival.
She has performed and conducted workshops in several educational
institutes both locally and abroad such as Kuala Lumpur and London,
with individuals of different ages to try and make poetry relevant to their
lives. She has participated in poetry projects such as "Speechless" with
the British Council, where she worked in conjunction with poets from
London, Ireland, Taiwan, Phillipines, Malaysia and Vietnam and engaged in
a month long tour of the UK, exploring issues regarding freedom of speech.






John Legend is stalking us

His voice like sandpapered chocolate
seems to blare out of speakers, surround sound systems, my car radio.
In shopping malls, the petrol pump, your ex girlfriend's wedding.
Our own private serenader, the man runs fingers up and down bars
while we run tabs of whiskey and dirty talk
of your tongue raising goose bumps from behind my earlobe,
slide to neck, collarbone, detour at bellybutton and down...
into puddles of molten mocha love.
In between soft sugar spicy sweet musicman kisses
I barely have time to ask how come
John Legend finds us everywhere we go
before you start playing me like a hot heavy piano.






listening to mukesh

Driving to your block,
I slide in my father's cassette
of old Hindi songs and
I am humming in twilight
to the legendary
playback singer's baritone
releasing those sounds in that
language that makes me feel like I am
home. In the back of my throat,
I can taste my grandmother's
translucent thin chappatis
that as children we would
hold up
to the light,
the dough so evenly rolled out
by her hands that not
one lump would show.
I never appreciated them till her hands
shook so much,
she could no longer grip
the rolling pin.

I hear the children from the slum
that emerged behind my grandparents small
two-storey apartment block.
They are swearing
in that deliciously punctuated rhythm
only the born-and-bred tongue
can dance to.

I am home for a while.
I can smell dust and kerosene
in the air and hear
high-pitched devotions to the gods
blending without objection
into the stone thud bass
of the latest film song.

Jamming my brakes at a traffic light,
I realise home is supposed to be these
dustless streets and the smells
are alien culinary concoctions,
like pigs' knuckles and chicken anatomy,
that my migrant tastebuds
cannot migrate towards.
I have taught my tongue
to like the garlic sting
of Hainanese chili paste
and form some Hokkien curse words.
It even enjoys the harsh bite of it,
but it is not
a taste, a language
that makes my heart sing
like these notes on my
car stereo.

Jaoon kaha batayen dil,
Duniya badi hain sangdil
Chandini Aiyen Ghar Jalane
Sujhe Na Koyi Manzil.

Tell me where I should go
in a world filled with indifference.
The moonlight filters into my house,
But I do not belong,
neither can I think of a destination.






how to be a stiletto

Give the gift of power.

Not just by rising up to heights, but by knowing
that pain can be overcome
with stubborn audacity.

Show that appearances are more important than reality.

The blistered, chafed parts of you
must at all times
be covered in sequins,
so that even if you feel battered,
you look invincible in all your glory.

Expose the seduction, spunk, spirit that's been
quashed by the lazy wandering of easy flat planes.

Remind everyone that safe
is not wondrous.

Gratification
is not the same as contentment,

and that gracefulness
has nothing to do with
ease.

Recognise that red is your best colour,
that you are a tool and a weapon all at once.

Harness your ability to keep someone
under your heel and grant freedom
from the same point
of your existence.

Walk sufferers of low self-esteem
enlightened into the night.
Make sure they wince
only once the music dies,
when they are safe
from the public eye.

Lead hearts onto dance floors.
Lift them into the promise
of the music to the understanding that

a life lived afraid,
and in comfort,
is no life
at all.






Why I needed to get on a plane yesterday

Our life is a copper line of laughter and light.
Our time has been the continuation
of cadence on this telephone wire,
the rise and fall of syllables and consonants,
the modulation of magic and the mundane,
the intonation of interest and indifference
in our everyday.

It could be enough
this exchange of secrets and anecdotes,
it could be enough to get us by.
If not for the fact that the way
my name slips through your lips
makes me want to be the flesh of your tongue.

It could be enough if not for the fact
that your silences make me want touch
with an impossible immediacy.

You don't know it but your voice
makes me fantasize about adventures in white sheets
and hilarity about trivia nights and comic relief
in the middle of blood boiling arguments...

You always say my name
at the start of each phone call like it is a question
and I want the answer,
through this copper line that is humming
and strained with the weight of our words,
I want the answer.



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