Saradha Koirala

Category: Poems

Bio

Mostly it’s easy, the days I mean

text book teaching senior biology

free periods in the staffroom. It’s a good life

I state as fact, not like saying, ‘she’s lovely…’

an epigraph to the gossip I write.

 

Suspicious of superlatives, endlessly

but hard-wired for romance

tell me I’m capable, resourceful, reliable

adore the way I follow through with things I say I’ll do

let my eyes be an after-thought.

 

And I’m probably on the brink again

because what else is there to do with this

flesh-covered universe we call body?

System of lungs and blood and gravity

tugging at us to love.

 

Anyway, turn to p80 that picture of the genome

looking to you like Dante’s hell

long-limbed chromosomes

tumbling headless towards a fiery cell

because you’re still sixteen

and haven’t understood any of this.

 

 

Vitamins

(hello) apparently there’s only so much

the body can absorb

excess passes through the system

pointless, flushed

 

I overdo it anyway, hedging my bets as always

conversation plates spinning across platforms

waiting for someone to fall

for me, me for them

 

now here I am living in the cadence

of your poetry

like a blush of tulips brought to my door

when I thought I just needed tissues

 

soft & gentle steeped in aloe vera, but still

just tissues I thought.

 

So I’ll learn to accept chocolate bunnies

perhaps even eat them – and the deeper meaning of emojis

(am I really so awkward, so unused to sweetness?)

 

Run through thunder to hear you read

make plans to catch trains irl platforms

irl smiles, trade a giggle for the view across your pillows.

 

Paterson.

red-wheelbarrow

Did we depend on you too much, old red? / The rain water soaked through / And the chickens / Where are they now?

Things you probably already know about me:

  1. I like poetry – not just the words, but the poetry of circumstance, scenery, synchronicity, people
  2. I like to make reference to William Carlos Williams poems, especially in my Instagram feed
  3. I value gentleness and am on a quiet crusade to revolutionise the world thusly.

this-is-just-to-saySo you’ll not be surprised to learn that Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson is my new favourite movie.

It’s a poem in itself structured with stanzas like days of the week, repetition that imbues deeper meaning with each encounter, a homage to the poetry of lives being lived without judgement or drama. There’s ambiguity, subtlety and I’m sure it would reward re-watching, just as there’s always more to be gleaned from re-visiting a good poem.

Paterson drives the bus in Paterson, New Jersey – the home of WCW and Allen Ginsberg. Lines of poetry pace through his head as he walks to work and he writes them in his notebook sitting at the wheel in the morning.  It’s a quietly persistent art form that exists in his every day – the conversations he overhears, the familiar scenes of his home town – contrasted perhaps by his quirky and lovely Laura who expresses her artistry by staying home painting the curtains, the walls, decorating cupcakes and buying a “Harlequin” guitar to match her aesthetic. The bold black and white is hard to miss, but she’s just as gentle and poetic as Paterson and the sweetness of their relationship is one of the most heartening aspects of this film.

I totally believe poetry is the antidote to a high-conflict society, where everything makes us mad and nothing is ever good enough. The calm world of Paterson reminds us, but doesn’t indulge that we have been conditioned to expect drama and conflict in movies and in life; secrets being kept, relationships falling apart, tempers flaring (spoiler: the bus doesn’t burst into flames). Life doesn’t have to be like that. Instead we can simply do our jobs, be kind to each other, walk the dog and look at the world through a poet’s eyes. How lucky is that?

Tuesday’s Poem

Those waterproof pants
haven’t seen much use
bought on another whirlwind trip
ferrying towards family surprises
old friends and the waves
rolled through us.

I roll myself through Royal Park
cross the tram tracks
follow the train
cycle past pale trees
reflecting back morning light, faint
eucalyptus smell of Here Now.

Warmth spreads
to gloved extremities
my angled reflection
in the Red Rooster window
turns to habit and blossom
blows gently over the schoolyard fence.

Yard Duty

I’m teaching again. Students smile at me and say hi as we pass in the corridor. Sometimes they ask how I am. When we’re practising writing they might ask me the name of that feeling like butterflies in your stomach, but not excitement. It’s anxiety I tell them. Oh, anxiousness, they say.

On Monday and Wednesday lunchtimes I’m on yard duty. I have to shoo all the students out of the corridors and I have a walky-talky that I assume works, but have never used, except to pretend to call for back-up when someone’s trying to ask too many questions of me. I hold it near my mouth and make a fake static noise. Kkkkkk. They get the idea and move on.

Today a bird was trapped inside. There was a warm breeze and the sun was out, but that bird was obsessed with the unopenable window at the top of the stairs; wouldn’t move from the windowsill. It fluttered its wings like the butterflies in our stomachs, oblivious to the door we’d opened at the end of the empty corridor.

Road trip

Service station coffee and codral
I’ll always come for the ride
join your scathe at Australian drivers
Hammock in the dark of morning
Led Zeppelin as the sun
rises over the M1.

Mostly tradies on the road
shiny utes and toolboxes
vans with ladders strapped to rooves
small business logos branded on the side
high-vis life, Princes Freeway
Yarragon, Trafalgar, Traralgon, Moe.

Morwell, Gippsland, heart of coal
in the small town’s mall
there’s a small town shuffle
slipper-shod or uggs
and an unexpected queue
at the movie theatre.

Across the tracks a rose garden
art gallery, I’m drawn
to Peter Upward’s Orange Accent II
his optimistic name rises
like abstracted flames in the corner
of a white-washed room.

Upward_1960_Orange_Accent_II.jpg

Peter Upward – Orange Accent 2

http://www.cbusartcollection.com.au/works/?id=285

Shift

I’ve become a carrier of borrowed backpacks
stacked with stolen paperbacks
people ask me the same thing twice
offer advice as I shift further into shady corners
push my belongings under the bed.

Or they decide not to tell me in case I react
the way they say I am sure to react
another shove and it’s out of sight
nothing dappled about this kind of light

an empty bottle, door left ajar
fear of change in a palpable pile
of coins on the dusty dresser’s edge.

 

I wrote this poem a week ago and realise I’ve been grappling with these feelings since. Moving to a new country has been harder than I’ve let myself admit and despite my constant optimism and persistent positive action to carve out a space for myself here, I’ve had a week of feeling a bit insignificant in this big city that beguiled me here with such promise.

However, there is much to love about my new home and I can feel glad I was lured into making the change by my high expectations, even if the reality has proved tougher.

Today I feel grateful for love, plans, a growing sense of purpose and a growing ability to trust – in myself, the future and others.

This, Time

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” ― Oscar Wilde

In the spirit of just getting on with it, I’ve started writing a poem a day. It doesn’t have to be great, I don’t need to spend all day on it, I may not even share it with anyone – and somehow those facts have liberated me. Okay, so this is only day two of the project, but I have a good feeling about it.

I always learn something about myself when I write a poem. Yesterday’s poem had these lines in it:

A future exists again and again I say:
This time is a gift.

My ability to think about the future comes and goes and it’s hugely reassuring when I can see those first rays of light above the horizon again, as I can now.

But the slippery nature of the future means it’s always renewing itself and therefore can exist “again and again.” Also, I need to remind myself that having time to write is a gift, so writing a poem a day is really the least I should be doing with that time, something I remind myself of over and over: “and again I say…”

Seeing the future can also help alleviate my anxiety and hold me in the present – enjoying now with a feeling that the future is going to be okay. “This time” is the present; right here and now is a gift.

Having explained my intention with those lines, I do acknowledge that “This time is a gift” is completely cheesy and the kind of memefied nonsense I’ve railed against in the past. So today I changed it to:

A future exists again and again I say:
This time, it’s a gift.

I hope the same levels of meaning remain: A view of the future exists again and again; the two separate thoughts, one of a future existing again after it had disappeared and one of me again telling myself to enjoy the present; and also the acknowledgement of the gift of free time – but I’m learning something else too. The comma changes “this time” so that the future I now see is a gift, something good, implying I’ve seen it before and it looked unappealing or possibly frightening (a classic role for Future to play).

These altered lines reassure me because the slippery nature of a future (note indefinite article still) is grounded slightly with “this time” – perhaps it won’t elude me this time. There’s something different (probably better) about the nature of the future I see…this time.

There’s a feeling of trust too if a future is being gifted to me and I can relax a little from worrying and straining to see or create it myself.

“This time, it’s a gift” also seems to lend more weight to the nature of time when there’s a pause just after the word and it’s reiterated through the pronoun. It expands beyond the present, which we know we must value and into that future – whatever it is this time – time itself is a gift.

But I’m still left trying to reassure myself “again I say: This time…” as if, naively, I’ve believed in this idea every time with as much conviction as I do now.

 

see snippets of my daily poems on instagram

 

The Full Spectrum

In the season of rainbows and tough decisions
I take photos of the sky while driving

easily bamboozled by others
and their desire for me to be okay. I’m not.

I make lists headed Joy and Frustration
feel my body shrink…

and e x p a n d again with determination.

In the season of sun showers and changing rooms
I am the light that reflects and refracts

ride a lazy arc from ex-haustion
to some stifling form of relaxation

and just as I’m bored of the same three chords

this storm turns out to be the perfect combination
of light dispersal in cool precipitation

so I chase it down the back streets home.

(sub)Liminal

I’m a little bit in love with the world again today.
Not just the bright courtyard outside my bedroom door
that eases me into another morning here

or the sea-beyond-rooftops view as I walk down the hill
to this quiet city I know too well

this afternoon city of doors pushed closed
alleyways blocked by bins

streets swept clean by a northerly at least
– it’s the world outside this that fills me with light.

Sent words map out wherever it is you are
snippets of your day in exchange for my evening

a little bit in love and a gallery of images
on trains, at stations: forever moving
or waiting to be moved again.