Poetry Showcase from Jayanti Biswal Behuria (translated by Pitambar Naik)

The Farmer’s Daughter

Till yesterday I was thinking your body was 
too hard; your intelligence was solid as the soil
shedding the blood and sweat where you can
grow plants, bear fruits and bloom flowers
but then you never possess the tactics of 
hoarding the grains in the barn, never 
your pain oozes like the water 
your eyes never know the dishonest sun. 

When the darkness is encompassed 
in the cleave of the mountain and you hang 
yourself one day in the bough of a tree
without letting someone know 
I’m a daughter of this country, the daughter of 
a farmer, I burst out for you when you are
thrashed by the rain, but why
the lights are expelled from your ways 
potholes are dug in your way, the four 
directions are surrounded by barbed wire.

When the entire country sleeps in the fear of 
the virus you awake in pain for reaching rice 
to every mouth, you remain steadfast and say
if you die, die but not because of hunger 
when you become so strong like the floor 
making all the trickery futile, you stand up raising 
your shoulder, I smile even from the periphery 
of death as I’m the daughter of a farmer.


Hunger blazes on the edge of the train lines
hunger blazes on the premises of the temple 
and in the shanties below the darkened slum
in the corner of the hearth place hunger blazes.
There’s no sleep in the eyes to extinguish 
this hunger; nothing can be availed for free here
not even a word; to compensate I can give only 
the fragile body, if you want to take it, 
I’ll pour it out into your hands—-oh, hunter. 

How can you understand the torture of hunger?
Can a dog understand?
When my child spread his hands in uncombed 
shagged hair or soiled clothes in wriggling pain 
in hunger, you take back your legs frowning your
eyebrows and the same feet spend sleepless 
nights in my shanty; I can’t see anything in front 
of hunger, as it snatches food from the mouth of 
my child; and can sell me—-to the enemy. 

If it goes, let my body go, if I watch over the 
body, my death is apparent and then my body 
will be eaten up by the vultures and crows
in the whirlpool of hunger, I’m just a small twig—-
quite helpless; hunger forces me into the 
darkness away from the light; my stomach 
doesn’t understand anything—-caste, religion 
or morality which I should refrain from! 

The Faces Resemble God are not of God's

If someday, you are asked to leave the house
no matter who the person is
spitting a lump of phlegm, come out, no issues
purify the tears in the fire holding in your palms
make your fist strong, time is very cruel. 
I’ve not become a shoulder for anyone
wherever the daybreaks, he lives there 
the mild darkness is no less enigmatic than 
this street alleyway, I threw a fist of moonlight
set your feet seeing the speed of the wind
your activeness is the thorn in someone’s throat 
if you are a silly girl, your road goes to hell
for sure. Whether you’re a class 9th girl 
or a girl  who has never gone to school
whether your age is fifteen or fifty, it doesn’t 
matter to them; no matter how thick is your cloth
the unsatiated tongue can pierce up to the 
lower abdomen, wherever you go disguised 
people are watching your way, once you fall in 
their hands they’d just swallow you; the 
faces resemble god's are not of god's, just 
construe soon and return back towards life.

War of Life

Let the head go off or the chest crack
let the last drop of blood drip from the heart 
every thoughtful war, taking the larger 
responsibility to descend on a resilient shoulder
a war can begin in a house and can go 
to set the highest mountain peak on earth on fire
and can wipe out the lights from all the roads
with blooming trees. 

The outrage goes on flag marching 
barefoot in silence too, nevertheless, 
the unwavering courage and a chest 
like the blood-pooled floor, both are needed 
if you have to fight then learn how to prolong 
the war first and the disciplines for it.

Whether he takes or gives the head, the knight
fights from the front, in his dying and killing 
he proves heroism, war is not fought from the 
back nor does it seek a mask or the darkness
war lives in the light all the time 
war is life and life searches for war. 

*Translated from the Odia by Pitambar Naik*

Jiyanti Biswal Behuria: is a poet from Baleswar, Odisha in India. She studied for her BA at Utkal University. Mun Mo Sahita is her debut book of poetry and she has her second book of poetry forthcoming.

 Pitambar Naik is an advertising professional. His work appears or is forthcoming in The McNeese Review, The Notre Dame Review, Packingtown Review, Rise Up Review, Ghost City Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Indian Quarterly, and The World That Belongs To Us HarperCollins India among others. The Anatomy of Solitude (Hawakal) is his debut book of poetry. He grew up in Odisha and lives in Bangalore India.