Exile by Manash Bhattacharjee



“I rested my mouth on your memory”
~ Yannis Ritsos, from Diaries of Exile

[In the event of Greece saying a resounding “No” against the West’s capitalists, I remember the great communist poet of the Greek Resistance, in the twenty-fifth year of his death]

Night arrives like a cart
You push it with motionless hands
There is darkness
But no star
When you whistle
There is no bird that hears you
Ritsos the poet of Greece
Is locked up in a cell
He is forced to pay homage
To Plato’s decree
Those who dream perfect societies
Are poetry’s enemies
Perfect societies are perfect cells
Guarded by rifles
Ritsos writes in cigarette packs
Of time’s backwardness
Nothing moves in the dark
Except memory
Once there was a mouth
Before his mouth
Now his exiled mouth kisses
Only cold floors

Manash Bhattacharjee is a poet, writer and translator. His poems have appeared in The London Magazine, New Welsh Review, The Fortnightly Review, Elohi Gadugi Journal, First Proof: The Penguin Books of New Writing from India (Volume 5), The Missing Slate, etc. His first collection, Ghalib’s Tomb and Other Poems (2013), was published by The London Magazine.