Five Poems//Rachana Hegde

language of smoke



every poem i’ve ever written is hungry in a

slow-wheeze way, as if foxes were tearing


apart a rabbit as i spoke. they huddled near the

underbelly of something prehistorical and now,


a pitted coconut or a plum heaving from its perch,

remind me of how shiva spoke to me in the


language of smoke. as a tinderbox blushes red,

birch trees eulogized, an almond is clenched in


my tongue. (shiva asks about the glut of silk.)

and fishmongers haggle for tin hooves.


i sift through birdseed and the murky remains

of driftwood. a cathedral lies jaundiced between


(shiva summons ganga.) i dither in the shallows,

blasphemy knotting into hysteria. with the river


swelling lazily, (shiva smites mandir), i am nothing but

a nomadic dilettante stabbing a bloodclotted lamb.


(shiva waits, bristling, primed for hibernation.) i wait,

goosehollowed, and stung. callused appetite returning.


a foamrinsed persimmon slides past. (shiva tilts his

head back.) and the rain erases our footprints.

















Aubade to the Rattling Sky



I hum to the rattle of glass doors & smirk at the

lipsticked teeth stooping in my bookcase.


by the bathroom, a man is rifling through

the medicine cabinet. my brother threads a needle


through the overcast sky & our housecat looms over

his gaunt hands. clouds clot, veins rippling with


the promise of rain. I scoop out an aubade

to the rattling sky and the icecream flattens


against the granite floors. there’s a bushfire

on the first floor and papa is wrangling the flames


into bolts of silk, yellow-red and slick to

the touch, & a gift to us three children


dutifully setting out buckets

to catch the birds wheeling overhead.


















that night I pull down the smokescreen and trick an orchard into existing in my living room. / somehow, I am teaching God card games and winning. / paper trickles through my fingers and spills into a brook. / a mouth filled with fish warns me about sadness steeped in coconut oil. / papa is flipping coins and a boy begs for luck on our doorstep, singing lullabies about burnt sugar. / ajji translates his anguish into light. / I rush to stir lentils, ghosting into a skeletal house. / it showcases scabs sticky with spit. / spindly epiphanies come here to collapse. satin is bred here, charcoaled walls succumbing to nature’s tang. / & ajji deconstructs the wind’s keening. / lays it out neatly with the spices: cardamom here, cloves there. / but I am saudade. / displaced with overripe fruits for breasts. / here, god flinches.














Creation Myth


After Emily Zhang / After Mathias Svalina




The beginning is quicksilver: snowmelt cascading &

a flimsy shoreline emerging alongside blistering rocks.

A slab of quartz smirks at a mountain wrangling

fistfuls of pebbles. The river gushes through split

rocks & digests sallow fish. First creator is terrified,

she is God in the way of streams percolating &

floodplains burning. And yet, the Earth is bracing

itself like a body unwilling to say yes.

She wipes the ground clean with residual dust.

She is God & leaves to loot wishbones and crabs,

thrashing barren fields into a golden blur.

First offspring are volatile, preying on those

that scuttle past at night. Temples erected for God,

foam & welter, filigreed altars laden with offerings.

Hands guzzle rainwater & God ignores

the stacks of questions. Eventually, the earth will

open at her touch & cling to the swells of her breasts.

















a frog is lying beneath the pool chair.

safa watches it croak at water puddling

in the crook of her arm. the moon is

apathetic, molting thumb-sized orange

peels. safa folds them backwards into

rusting photo frames. pinprick light peppers

her hair. she wonders about relapsing, of

bright-eyed chaos. this will not be another

day of pressing her teeth flat against the

door knob, letting the bell singe her tongue.

but nightfall comes with hair splayed like

torn curtains. a mouse is gnawing at

the broken window. it sounds like feet

padding down the staircase,

across the lawn, running hard – 

away from the gardener & his stripped roses.

Rachana Hegde collects words and other oddities. Her poetry has been published in Alexandria Quarterly, Moonsick Magazine, and Hypertrophic Literary. You can find her reading, drowsy-eyed, or at