Saradha Koirala


I am

I am the smell of the unshaken rug
dust warmed by the shifting shapes of sunlight
this long afternoon.

Blossom that once lined streets
russets in gutters like pine needles
its crimson now blooming in bruises above school socks
burns on the backs of our hands.

I am the expected next beat of your raggedy heart
never this beat or the beat just been
I cling in the chill of the pre-rain air.

Talking to boys

Remember when those boys from high school finally grew tall
came back for summer holidays with stories
mostly about drinking, but often about girls
or older women, brazen
emboldened by experience, confessing teenage-long crushes
on you and your friends
using phrases like ‘out of my league’ and ‘punching above my weight’
sporting metaphors incongruous with their still-spindly arms
and narrow shoulders
your own awkward laugh?

Remember when you wanted to start a band, but everyone you knew
was a bass player, like you
and you’d given away your amp anyway after it proved to be
the heaviest thing you owned?

Remember, too, when the sun seemed to beam down on your life
for several days in a row
bright warm views and long evenings
of an active mind ticking off the last of things
last classes, last weeks, last pair of stockings, last days of boots
last time you let yourself dwell in a situation
that keeps you up at night, eyes open, you’d tell yourself, but still in the dark
last days of low-fog on morning hills
a hazy view diffusing street lamp glow
haunting hoot of morepork
last time your pen or mouth runs dry?

Home World

Wake to the sound of birds sun urging at the curtain
mundanities of an incomplete (whole-wide) world
thick clouds lower as the sun does
old windows rattle but no more than most nights
no more than they usually do with the momentum of life time tunes wine
ink paper brain (both sides) darkening
and cooling room (keep pace keep up)
chest both hollow and bursting heightened heart beat
sun back next day connecting
one by one by one
bringing it out from behind lingering clouds
wispy clouds long low clouds that cling to the horizon
too much and just enough all at once
this life
keeps happening
heart beat rattles too full too empty – let it
make itself heard felt known
heat words input output output output
heart (flesh) beat skip
frightening – out of control
but beat beat on
it’s keeping you alive
this world
this (fuck it) beautiful
this things work out things fall apart world
this moving on and staying upright world
this yours to own have live in it world
this hot and cold
this tears of joy sorrow and mediocrity world
this laughter of joy sorrow and awkwardness world
this heart leaping heart break
this moving on and moving on world
this all yours
this departure lounge arrivals gate
this stay away until you’re filthy exhausted until all you want is
this sweet smelling silence of home
this you know when it’s time to come home
this heat sweat and heart beat world
this life
meet connect move on move on come home
come home come home come home (move on).


She unpacks an endless suitcase
in a room she shouldn’t be in
the woman on the bed cries, “This situation,
you don’t understand,” the woman on the bed is her.

She pulls out clean clothes, dirty clothes
old clothes neatly folded
unfamiliar clothes
that she somehow knows are hers.

A crowd gathers to watch
hovering over her as she removes
evidence of life, receipts, used tissues
the debris of getting on with each day.

“The trick,” she tells herself
lotus-legged and wise
from her position on the bed
“is not to unpack too much at once

not to pour out your heart
when there’s nowhere to pour it
no one’s cupped hands for it to trickle into
be held gently in for a moment

before it’s handed back
more than just neatly intact.”

On Being Solo

Some days it seems all the couples
are the perfect couple.
Old people hold hands in the street and you know
those hands have found each other so easily
every day for years
upon years.

Or young couples smile with possibility
amazed to have found someone who looks at them
that way when they look at them
that way.

And on these days your own edges
tingle in their extremity
your fingers dangle
into the cool space around them.

One could run a knife around you on these days
a baker’s trick to loose a cake from its tin
or pass a hoop over the length of your hovering body
as a magician might
to prove there are no strings attached
the illusion will be real.

Other days the couples walk
with thickening space between them
faces set with contradiction
or even anger

justified in their tones of voice and sharp opinions
an argument that could go on for days or
even more disconcertingly
be forgotten in an instant.

On these days too the air
can touch every surface of your own self
lift and let loose your hair
you smile knowing everyone
and no one cares how you feel
not enough to haul you up on it at the traffic lights

but enough to let you own it
let it float past you in whatever city
whatever street you desire to be in.

Tuesday Poem – Words (to be spoken)

When I was a kid we had a retort
– it was a lie –
but a reply we could use to respond to any verbal taunt
we said, “sticks and stones
may break my bones
but words
will never hurt me.”
It made us strong
but we’ve always known
that words cause harm in other ways.

Those bones you broke in fights
or falling off the jungle gym
were set in cast and sling
A plaster cast
Graffitied with good wishes from your standard four class
and those bones healed.
But souls and spirits and a small person’s sense of self worth
can be worn away by unkind words.

And it’s not that we were wrong
to use an adage to feel strong
untrue, perhaps
but the comeback
brought power.
A force field of our own words
to repel attacks.

Words have always been my tool
but a tool can be turned around
its handle used as a weapon
or even the end designed to fix, create
to join two things together
with a different motion
and in different hands
can be deadly.

But then, your words can’t hurt me
because I’ve learnt of strength
not in muscle or size
not in an intense stare from dull eyes
not through volume, curse, anger
I’m not strong because I stride through life fists clenched
ready for a fight at the first sign of danger!

Strength is integrity.
The way things hold together.
You might be tough with battle scars
lines on your face that show me your life’s been hard
you may be hard
but be strong.
Use words with gentle intent
speak calmly and know yourself
again through your own words
your own way to discover truth.

Choose words carefully
Don’t shout me down
firing off a poisonous round.
Then I will speak to you with respect.
and I’ll hand you my tools
handle towards your open hand
so you can use words too
not like sticks and stones
but as sling and cast to healing bones.

That autumn

Miles out of town down
gravel driveway, dog-
greetings at the gate, incidentally
alone but for smooth jazz
volume 2, log burner I’m yet to light
cups of tea, books. So far
away from the stresses that keep me
awake each night of the week
keep me weak, in a trance as the
working day ticks by, shaking
thin, anxious prone to injury
far from the thoughts, advice
demands. Miles out of town a valley
lined with leaves that dangle, cling
refuse to fall just yet.


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