Meena Kandasamy

Meena Kandasamy (b.1984) is a Chennai-based writer and activist. Her
debut poetry collection Touch, with a foreword by Kamala Das was
published in 2006 (Peacock Books, Mumbai). Two of her poems have won
first prizes in pan-Indian poetry contests. Her poetry has appeared in
several online and print magazines including The Little Magazine,
Indian Literature, Kavya Bharati, Carapace, QLRS
. Her work has also
been featured in the Poetry International Web, and Other Voices
Poetry. She is presently writing her first novel titled, Gypsy Goddess.
On the most poetic days, she is a Dalit activist and translator. She blogs at


Straight Talk
adanga marupom, aththu meeruvom
thimiri ezhuvom, thirippi adippom
Everyone speaks of him.
Hands dancing in air
they gush about the power
of his words his flourishes
of rhetoric his direct approach
adanga marupom, aththu meeruvom
his raw reproach his felicity in
ferocious Tamil his three hours in
the sweltering heat rousing
angry young man rally speeches
that make men out of mice and
marauding wildcats out of men
fiery speeches that subvert and
overturn and unseat and revolt
thimiri ezhuvom, thirippi adippom
spontaneous speeches that unsettle
states and strongmen and sinister
systems of caste and speeches that
seek to settle scores delivered in
his voice that makes skyscrapers
fall to their knees
adanga marupom, aththu meeruvom
thimiri ezhuvom, thirippi adippom
He is the greatest orator
in our language today, they say.
I wonder how easily led people are.
Even I loved his speeches best,
until, one day, seven years ago,
I fell in love with the many registers of his silences.


Mrs. Sunshine
She left him without warning.
She left him because she didn’t fancy
the way he flaunted his fire, his fist
and his million blistering fingers
that were always in heat.
So, she left him with her shadow
as acting spouse, for keeping house.
He went wild.
He went looking for his absconding
angel of tears and caustic tongue, his
angel of bleeding bare bones, his angel
of monthly mood swings. He went
looking over salt seas that shunned
his shine, over cities with skyscrapers
that stared into his eyes and over
obscure lands that chose to look away. 
Lovesick, he lost his fiery temper,
his high temperature, his feverish fondness
for flames and furnaces and he became
a man of moderation. Running behind
a woman on the run, he became
a master of masquerade.
He turned romantic. He longed 
for the soiled scents of rain
for the solitary shade of trees
for mist that hung heavy like his heart.
He squandered his insufferable splendor.
He turned black. He turned dark.
She returned in a twilight drizzle
and offered a truce before he made
the final offering of himself. She said:
     When the world has closed its eyes
     And as we become the one beast
     With two backs, you can
     Lay your lights in me.
She also whispered:
     For old times sake,
     I will hallucinate
     your halos, your holiness.