Deepika Arwind, 23, is a poet, writer and journalist based out of Bangalore, India. Her poems have appeared in Indian poetry anthologies and poetry journals. She has also read poetry at festivals like the Poetry with Prakriti Festival in Chennai, and won several poetry prizes. She is currently working on short fiction.



The heart is a child

sings the man with the voice of

a sinking boat. Hear, how water

ruptures him.

On the lake-fringe, between us,I am bored –

even with my foot on your crotch and your

lips syncing lullabies of romance. 

Our hearts are expanses, not organs

like the Indian railways are an experience,

not a network of trains? you say.

But I’d rather eat up the city’s old charms – than your

clever metaphor –its barrage of baraats, the sound

of tomorrow’s kites in the wind. I’m so bored.

And you, between stomach and thigh are limp.

You begin: But to love is to be –

I listen (as if) unaware of the mild


backlash of our love.



(baraat: marriage procession)


The Studio (I)


Where the riot began


The man I will remember –


dull turban, pleated eyebrows,

black spectacle frames, the eyes that spit 

the Bhagat Singh variety of courage, that look – 

he ousted the topper of the class

the look that says: I will be alive at 69, because

I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, and I will only cry when 

Saira Banu dies. 

Scanty beard of pubescent modesty

with it – the fear of being reckless

the heart through the thin polyester shirt

and pocket-tucked ink pen

the heart through the polyester

shirt, narrow chest, its inevitable broadness

the heart through the shirt

the boyish arm, slim kada,

the heart that knows these are the 60s,

his belly burning with fireflies –

that taut heart ablaze in his eyes.


The man I will remember is agog in 

a clear day’s monochrome.   


But the man will remember the studio, 

much later a cycle garage.


(kada: a religious bangle worn by Sikhs, Saira Banu: a famous Hindi film actress of the 1960s, 70s, 80s.)





It may be Bilaspur. But we may never know.


She sits before a flattened tin of odd things –

safety pins and bottle lids –

in which chocolates were brought to her from Denmark.

(from a member of her feudal family, now dissolving into 

the modern-moneyed world.)


Behind her, the ornate wallpaper, 

from which she can dress a thousand dolls.


It must be early evening.

Before the jalebis are fried outside the studio.

Before she moves her darting eyes lined with kohl,

     she lights up the street for Amma, with the

     light of every mosque and sweet shop in this small town,

before she says to Amma,  I want to go, but you can’t see,

      she is told to run along

      she lifts her ferozy frock to avoid

      soiling its frayed crocheted piping,

Before Amma screams a murder of crows in high-pitched chorus:

“Firdaus, bhaaaag!”


Before the mob sweeps her in a swift moment

leaving behind a small round of ochre and the flies around it.


But we may never know.



(Amma: mother, Jalebis: An fried fried sweet, ferozy: turquoise, “bhaaag!: ruuun!”)



After the torso


comes longing. The odd rocket of desire

that picks up and loses orbit, but not at will.

Do you remember –

how aroused you were when you brought your feet

home, bleeding from hanging too long on bus footboards?

Then we pressed like jigsaw.

(After that we would never be pre-torso.)


is a gentle road. The universe of

the lower limb, the use in desperation to leave to run to come

back fill full circles stretch in love and sun to sweep with slippers

on filth to snake through sand and water.


There must always be afternoon after the torso and the creak

of a bone, sighing, like a novel at its end.


is a deluge of carnivals in the sea, swaying to the

sound of a slow fuck. A tireless hole of cum, its drip,

enunciated by your hips.

After the torso is defiance, a very brief

critique of authority.