Sekhar Banerjee (India) is a Pushcart Award and Best of the Net nominated poet.  The Fern-gatherers’ Association (Red River, 2021) is his latest collection of poems. He has been published in Stand, Indian Literature, The Bitter Oleander, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Lake, Better Than Starbucks and elsewhere. He has a monograph of an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. He lives in Kolkata, India.




November would never cross

the dark pine forest alone

till the Bhutanese monastery on the hill top is prepared

for the extra rituals of arrival, repair

and medication


Much work needs to be done

in autumn:

straightening up the long flag-poles,

block-printing white prayer flags

with wind and charcoal,

watering the fragile nasturtium beds with sun-flakes

and a sigh.

We also need to ensure

enough firewood supplies


The work does not end here. It never does.

We need to survey the total volume

of northern wind and fear

in the pine forest and arrange a bigger cot

with warm blankets,

some hot water bags and decide on the names

for new butter lamps. Everything requires to be fixed up 

in the guest room

for the young Buddha to sleep, grow and rest

like any other child, innocent,


before we conceive enough depth

in our ears                                                                                                                                                                                               to listen to the echo of his silence         




My great grandfather did not know much

about God in 1880; he was a clerk in a forest office

beside a tea garden

in the damp Eastern Himalayan foothills

where botany was a God

though the hills in the background still look

much like an ECG of an unwell heart 

He migrated there from the Bengal plains

where rivers were serpents and most of the fish

talked to him in the rainy season


It still rains a lot

in the Eastern Himalayan foothills

and some kind of dampness follows me

wherever I go

But no fish ever talked to me in my dream

I thought about it quite sentimentally,

listening to the rain,

muttering something I don’t know


Train lines were laid, people were brought in;

churches rose like solid shade-trees

New names were given to everything: trees, people, rivers

All thrived on theories

of profit and an unknown amount of loss

The train engines, sex, botany and Christianity

coexisted with the mystery

of boulders with eyes, fish with a sigh,

the soggy weather and the myths

about suicidal elephants jumping off

the mountain cliffs with tea labourers on their backs


It rained a lot in those nights

when the elephants committed suicide with human beings

from the cliffs

It was God’s tears, everybody told

That was later reported in the district gazetteers

in the colony of Bengal


My great grandfather, sad, went to the local

Roman Catholic Church

and told the native Jesus, Hold me tight.

Can you see me, Mr. Jesus?

He said- Yes, I can.

Look at my eyes and look at my hand,

look at my confusion

I am also a wet piece of clay in some other

God’s land.


Grief in One Line


You remain still like an old sculpture

of an opera conductor



by all wrong musical notes

in the middle of a messy town-square



with Tibetan momo shops, idle cars,

barking dogs,

tourists and scarlet monks


in Sikkim west in spring

when you suddenly find the hills,

nature’s ultimate egotists,


stand in a row, head bent in sorrow,

while the clouds slowly deck up

the extra-large shoulders


of spring’s heart-broken hills     

with black mourning veils, long and fine,  

to hide their monumental grief


to remain rooted in a place

for long

where they sometimes don’t belong