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This world needs poetry more than it needs prayers — Three poems by Shruti Sonal

Shruti Sonal

A Father's Advice

There you go again,

My father says,

Writing about things, people, places

Far far away

Not connected to you in any way

You've never visited these hills

Or met the child with the scar before

You've never been chased by fire

Threatening to consume your memories

You have a home,

You have parents

You have limbs

You have peace

You have a future

The only sound that pierces your ears is the music from your earphone

The only blood trickling out of your skin is due to a paper cut

The only time you leave behind home

Is when you go on a vacation

The only guns you know of were in the

Video games you played as a child

So why do you write?

Write about things, people, places

Far far away

Not connected to you in any way.

Go on, leave behind these worries

That give you sleepless nights

And swollen eyes

Worry about the next exam

Worry about your future

Worry about money

Worry about heartbreak

And remember,

Worry about blood

And guns

And lost homes

And broken limbs

Only, only when the disaster

Strikes home.

Walk silently on broken roads.

Keep your head low

And don't,

Don't help a lost soul

Run, run away

Hide behind dark corridors

When a sword emerges

To cut off a stranger's head

Stay inside, stay inside

If a curfew descends on your city


No words

No screams


Not until it is your head

They put the sword to.

To A Turkish Migrant

Looking over the Bosphorus

Watching a city steeped in history

Walking on tiptoes, silently,

Too afraid to wake up the past in slumber

Too afraid to face the dawn of tomorrow

Watching a city, where every road

Branches off in two directions-

Left and Right

Where every signpost asks you-

Where do you belong?

Did you cheer when Ataturk was crowned?

Did you celebrate his funeral procession?

Did you play with fire

In the revolution that promised

Too much and changed too little?

Where were you

When leaders were toppled

By men in uniform

And people held up for being Communist?

Were you hiding behind religion

Were you practising an apology

For the lives destined to be martyred

At the hands of extremists?

Where were you,

When the streets that once held

An entire empire in their lap

Collapsed under the weight of

European imperialists?

Were you too busy, too drunk

On too many rounds of raki?

Were you waiting for the boza-seller

To come for another round of sale?

Where were you,

When the Bosphorous needed a friend?

It still stands, as still as a lake,

Waiting for you to return.

My Poetry is A Battle Cry

I have been told countless number of times,

That my poetry doesn't rhyme anymore

It doesn't have any fixed metre or rhythm

It cannot be neatly classified

Into stanzas of four lines each.

I have been told

That my poetry doesn't rhyme anymore

It lacks the punctuation at the right places

It is not perfect, complete or cohesive

It fails to provide comfort or solace

It has lost the naivety

That comes with belief in happy endings.

I offer no apology, justification or excuse

You see, I salvaged my poetry

From the debris of a world

Pulling itself apart at the seams.

I saw it burn in a furnace of

Bones of fathers, who died

Waiting for their sons

To rise from unnamed graves,

Like refugees in wait for asylum.

I saw it pick up the syllables

Uttered by hollow-eyed kids

Who were robbed of their

Tongue, before even learning

To pronounce the twenty-six letters

Of the alphabet.

I saw it gather from the ashes

The hopes left charred

By countless UN resolutions

That promised too much

And delivered too little.

I saw it break out

From the cocoon of a melodious hymn

And turn into a battle cry

And I cannot, would not, must not

Alter it in any way

For this world needs poetry

More than it needs prayers.


About the poet:

Shruti Sonal is a Delhi-based poet and journalist. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies, including Penguin India's ‘Ninety-Seven Poems’, HarperCollins' ‘The World That Belongs To Us’, and Alipore Post's ‘Memories On A Plate’. Her debut poetry collection 'In Which Language Do I Remember You?' was published by Writers Workshop.

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