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Three Poems by Prabhsharandeep Singh

Born in Punjab, Prabhsharandeep Singh is currently a DPhil candidate in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford. He is fluent in Punjabi, English, Urdu, Braj, Hindi, and familiar with Farsi. While in Punjab, he lived through an intense religio-political conflict between the Sikhs and the Indian State, which included multiple cycles of genocide of the Sikhs. Later on, he moved to California where he lived for eleven years before he started his studies in the UK. His poems explore traumatic memories of violence and displacement. He is interested in (re)creating the images of violence in order to deconstruct the narratives that not only legitimize and perpetuate the acts of violence, but also coerce the victims of violence to vindicate it. His poems reveal what is beneath the violent inscriptions over the memory of a suppressed and dehumanized community.


The village outskirts

the convoy-crushed highway,

unending body of the snake

creeping along my green hands,

which saluted the snake into my nerves.

Now, with a burning forehead-edge,

in the dirt under my feet,

I wash my hands.

My hands, the flying rocks, the firm feet.

Along Death

My Pinings,

Your eyes —

Dear escape,

That irked the lofty wafts.

Torn loams

Ebbing shrubs

Stray dogs

Calls for annihilation

Death-whistling thunders

Sputtering tanks in the empty streets

Silence of the locked doors.

Obliterated in the heartbeat

of the gun-cluttered streets

My voice rests in your eyes

The life to come

Brightening the silhouettes of death

A life-affirming extinction

Spreading slate

Over the living forgiveness

Pardoning every gaze

Illegible inscriptions

Obscured azure in the sky,

The blood-ridden land, vermillion sunset

Hankering to gush it all out in a hug;

Hope swings out of lush leaves in my heart.

Bull-carts, buffaloes, farmers —

Works that never stop

Days that hold the rhythm.

Warrior hermit declaimed:


And keep your eyes

Where they belong.”

The Breathing Space

Compassionate shadows burnt to ashes,

covering the yogi’s body,

blocking the desirous pores,

lead-filled ears refusing to burn,

the ongoing smoldering,

rekindled sacrificial fire,

residual from the centuries.

My neck, the tyre, the thick smoke ⎯

India breathes out of my throat.


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