A poem by Pitambar Naik

Whereas Their Songs Are Not Theirs
Whereas their epistemology is fat and fair
whereas their darkness ensues in moonlight’s eyelashes
whereas they don’t believe life is far away from Ampani village
and is equal to just a sack full of charcoals or a pint of mahua beer
whereas spring is squeezed in autumn’s sun
whereas the only hope — the river in the backyard of Pakur
gasps heavily like a dream living below the poverty line
Simon Marandi’s two acres of land whines like a rattlesnake
whereas their story is not theirs
whereas their songs are not theirs, whereas their history is not theirs
whereas their thirst is not theirs, they relish on vinegar
whereas their hunger is not theirs, they live on salty death
whereas they can’t have sex daytime
whereas they can’t raise their voice
whereas the media is truly called presstitute
whereas their rights are just like sheared straws
whereas their land is not theirs; whereas their sky is not theirs
it’s packed like a sachet of shampoo; whereas the rainbow is not theirs
whereas the sunray is not theirs
whereas the window to their heaven is not theirs
whereas they can’t fuck their landlord’s wife
whereas they can’t be in a relationship of their heart
whereas they can’t have their own God
whereas they can’t call their father, father
whereas they can’t become owners of their owners           
life is an abandoned uninhabited solitary glitch
a lonely lambent wick, still refusing to be put out
life is an unsung, untagged dead body
the greater pockets of fertility, the mythical blessings
hides its face, body, and beauty in a void      
whereas life is not even like a packet of smoke
whereas it’s absolutely a wound and angst
whereas life is an age-old taboo
whereas its a byproduct spins between void and velocity


Pitambar Naik has a book of poetry: The Anatomy of Solitude (Hawakal). He’s a poetry/fiction reader for Remington Review and poetry editor for Minute Magazine. His work appears or forthcoming in Packingtown Review, The Indian Quarterly, New Contrast, The Ekphrastic Review, Ghost City Review, Eunoia Review, Glass Poetry, Cha Literary Journal, Vayavya, Charge Magazine, The World Belongs To Us HarperCollins India, among others. He grew up in Odisha, India.    

“Whereas Their Songs are not Theirs” originally appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, August 2019.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic

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