home Arts & Literature, Poetry Three poems from Prerna Bakshi’s Burnt rotis, with love

Three poems from Prerna Bakshi’s Burnt rotis, with love

Indian poet Prerna Bakshi writes searing, stark, powerful political poetry and in her collection Burnt rotis, with loveshe tackles a huge range of social, political, and personal issues. Her explorations of colonialism, identity, and struggle are already receiving worldwide praise and this text is a necessary addition to any poetry library.

The cover of Prerna Bakshi's Burnt rotis with love

Sexism doesn’t exist

(First published in The Harpoon Review)

Next time someone says
sexism doesn’t exist,

ask them to pay close attention to
their inner voice when

a woman pilot onboard
makes this announcement:

“This is your Captain speaking.”

I can hear you

(First published in Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature)

I can hear you
when you say the first time.
I can hear you
when you assume how I might have missed it.
I can hear you
when you say the second time.
I can hear you
when you start to speak loud at the top of your lungs.
I can hear you
when you start to move your lips super slowly.
I can hear you
when you begin to get irritated.
I can hear you
when you take a deep breath,
shake your head in frustration.
I can hear you
when you start to say something,
leave off midway.
I can hear you
when you say it would require too much effort.
I can hear you
when you do not speak to me directly,
but in third person,
with others, even when I’m around.

I can hear you
more often than you think.
Even without
my hearing aid.
I can hear you well
better than you would expect.

Coming Out

(First published in Sick Lit Magazine)

12 years old.

Come here, he said. Look what I’ve got for you, he said. I wanted it to be a surprise, he said. I’ve been planning to show you for days, he said. I’ve made sure it pops out as soon as you unwrap it, he said. I bet you’ll open your mouth as soon as you see it, he said. You might scream, he said. You might cry, he said. You might say I shouldn’t have, he said. But I know you wanted it, he said. So don’t be shy, he said. Come here, he said. Come and lie down with me, he said. It’s under these sheets, he said. Get your head under there, he said. Start looking, he said. Don’t come out until you find it, he said.

I hadn’t come out
until now.

Image: Cherrie Mio Rhodes/Creative Commons


Prerna Bakshi

Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist of Indian origin, currently based in Macao. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of the recently released full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK, which is available to order from Lulu. Her work has been published widely, most recently in Red Wedge Magazine, Off the Coast, Kabul Press, TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism and Peril magazine: Asian-Australian Arts & Culture, as well as anthologized in several collections.