Two Poems

By Aekta Khubchandani

I’m the slowest smoker

that I know of. I’ve watched
a squirrel eat a groundnut from shell

to nut, three pigeons bob their heads
and chase patches of sun on a cobblestone

pathway around me. I wonder if
the sparrow flaps its wings faster than

the speed of light. There’s a black pigeon
—-charcoal and burnt sawdust—-

with a teal green neck, a spotted bird with
a yellow beak, whose name I don’t know.

A dog stops to gawk at tulips
and two more squirrels play

a game of catch-and-cook. Sunlight
is determined to draw new markings

on the basketball court. The sycamore
trees are so bountiful that I miss them.

A red bird, its colours flaming
like fresh paint on canvas,

is stealing glimpses of me. It has feathers
as bright as the burn of my cigarette

and there’s light drizzle,
the clouds taking time to empty themselves.

My heart is an oak tree

It’s big and branching,
it must be a hundred
years old. Or my heart
is a wine barrel.
I’ve had much to drink.
There are flowers growing,
facing the mud and soil.
Blooming is a small, sad thing.
Meanwhile, the birdsong
is more melodious.
Then bad things happen
alongside good things
like crying and breaking
into laughter. Funny things
happen too like I ate lemon seeds
after reading a poem, or I saw
a squirrel nibble on an acorn
and imitated it. I wonder
about vegetables, how they
soften when they’re spoilt
and that we cook them on low
flame to soften them.
These matters of the heart
must be left to take their course,
that is if my heart is an oak tree
or I’ve just had much to drink.

Aekta Khubchandani is matriculating her dual MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry & Nonfiction) from The New School in NY. She is the founder of Poetry Plant Project, where she conducts month-long workshops. She is the winner of most recently, Epiphany?s Breakout Prize 2022 in Poetry among others. Her film, ?New Normal? won the Best Microfilm award at the Los Angeles International Film Festival. Her work is nominated for Best American Short Fiction, Best Microfiction, Best of Net (Poetry), and others. She?s working on two hybrid books.

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