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Devjani Bodepudi



the poet

Devjani is a writer and teacher of Indian origin currently living in Rugby, UK. Her poetry has been published in several international anthologies, journals and magazines, including Stanchion Zine, Sunday Mornings at the River Poetry Press and Cephalo Press. Her debut poetry pamphlet is For the daughters carried here on the hips of their mothers. Devjani is currently working on her second novel, as well as studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.

the poems

Swans and Chariots /
A Prayer

00:00 / 01:50

            You watch over her sleep like you have done countless nights

            before you let sleep come over you.

            You take her warm hand soft like down and kiss it once

            whispering a prayer

            Never depend on another

            like I do now.

            Never love without a reason to love

            Because reason will spare you pain

            you begin.

            You stop.

            You open the window

            draw the curtain tighter

            let in the air

            block out the light.


            You remember your own mother’s words

            she demanded you hear so you would be spared 

            something like humiliation if you spoke up.

            She told you to keep the peace, let the men be.

            But ideas like humiliation, submission, like peace

            are flipped like a fish that has browned too deeply on one side.

            So your prayer is not your mother’s as you clasp your baby’s hand

            to your mouth to her ear, her eyes closed as you near.


            Be angry – whenever the moment demands

            be a gale, the sightless storm that fells the calm 

            stoic trees

            which stand silent in reprise 

            before the rains

            be the queen of all rage 

            and reason

            Because it will carry you away like a chariot

            pulled by a thousand silver swans into the air

            into the night

            up into the stars

            where the men cannot follow

            where the air is too thin to swallow

            anything but love.

            And she sleeps with those words hung like firefly in the dark of her room 

            and you are tired. 

            You turn to turn off the lights,

            check the window one last time,

            and you glimpse the stars beyond the rooftops

            waiting for your swans and your chariot that may still come. 

You’re in the kitchen

00:00 / 01:02

You're in the kitchen

radio news on

implore me awake from

dreaming eyes

of witness screaming

against falcons and peacocks

unicorns and lions.

Wild myths and accusations like crows

carrying cloth bundles of

discarded rags, dried with the browning of

her blood in their beaks.

Drowning with the smoke in her lungs.

She’s gasping.

There’s something obscene about the cutting of one’s own hair

in public

you say, but so is the slicing of her tongue and

the paring of her fingers, dividing each

one into two, four, eight, twenty on each hand.

More fingers to cut, to mutilate

and sew a button on her lips that humiliate

you with their open-mouthed seductive innocence.

Dance then, fan your tail, mock-bow and roll your eyes

like a kathakali dancer behind your mask.

Smile, hand me the coffee cup.

I am wide awake.

Aubade 2307

00:00 / 01:02

                        Dying suns cool 

                        rise northwards.

                        Fading sallow light shines 

                        upon your face 

                        you look ahead.

                        In profile

                        you are sculpted

                        marble monument to what we were

                        before we scatter

                        to distant, painted orbs.

                        The curse of the explorer

                        you say to me

                        haven’t we said goodbye before?

                        But this is more urgent 

                        than simple seeking.

                        An escape to safer shores.

                        Distorted reflections swim on the ship’s hull

                        which will bear you unconditionally. 

                        It beckons open-mouthed, expectant,

                        swallowing you whole.

                        My own vessel awaits me – 

                        a different quay.

                        We travel in parallel lines

                        meeting never, perhaps.


                        Because I will hope

                        for the impossibility 

                        of an alternate truth. 

Publishing credits

Swans and Chariots/A Prayer: For the Daughters Carried Here

  on the Hips of their Mothers (Fawn Press)

You're in the kitchen / Aubade 2307: exclusive first

  publication by iamb


S h a r e

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