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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Introducing Selected Poems, by JC Mehta -- Winner of the 2020 Birdy Poetry Prize

Each Wednesday we share an excerpt from a Meadowlark book. Use the "Follow our website" form on the right to receive Meadowlark updates by email. 

This week we present poems by the winner of the 2020 Birdy Poetry Prize, JC Mehta. This title is now available to order, and we expect to begin shipping by early February. Stay tuned for news regarding the 2021 Birdy Poetry Prize announcement and an opportunity to hear JC Mehta and our previous winner and finalists read. 

Selected Poems: 2000-2020
JC Mehta, winner of the 2020 Birdy Poetry Prize
ISBN: 978-1-7342477-5-6
Coming February 2021


The morning I turned thirty-five,
I asked the women orbiting my life
to meet me in the forest at dawn. It meant
getting up at four-thirty, being the first
car on the glittering asphalt, boyfriends
and lovers who wouldn’t understand. Slipping
out before toddlers unclenched
their dream fists. Which of you would come
after all these years? It was stupid,
it was childish, all Prove that you cares
and Show me you love mes. I know that,
but I wanted, I needed, I was desperate
to see who would be there
before the birds, in the hours when rabbits
felt safe over human footprints. And it was nobody
I would have imagined, the quietest of sisters
who came, walked beside me, shot
fast as homemade bottle rockets
through the darkest morning hours.

Selected Poems: 2000-2020
©2020 JC Mehta

Ingredients of Love

If food is love, what does it mean
for those who starve ourselves? Eat this,
says Maa, gajar halwa she shredded
all morning till her fingers burned orange.
I’m full, I say, pushing
her love off my plate, feeding
her sacrifice to the bin, to the birds,
to the raccoons that forage
at dusk. Taste this, you tell me,
fingers pinching palak paneer
gone limp. I’m fasting, I tell you,
scooting the bowl of our vows
back into your space. Over and over,
year following year, the love
is ladled and forked, plated
and whisked again and again
toward my clamped-shut mouth.
Maybe tomorrow, I keep saying,
the words by now stale
and crumbling out, an explosion
of yesterday’s confections.

Selected Poems: 2000-2020
©2020 JC Mehta

When to Stay

They say I don’t know when to leave. I say
they don’t know
when to stay. What good comes
after the bars shut down, past the window
of these shoes could go all night? Knowing
when to stay is what brought me to you.
Knowing how to stay shot us
through the affairs, the culture battles, the year
I ran away to another land with another man
and yet you played stowaway
in my organs. When you know
when to stay, how to close down
the party and watch the lights come on,
you see everything. The way the floors
are caked in syrup and the booths
are worn to threads. How the dancers
wear their stretch marks and the barbacks’
fingernails are chewed. We stayed through
the last song, the final bathroom checks,
when the last dish was scraped of tots
and plopped into the machine—through the ugly
and into the empty morning streets
where New and Hope trudge soft
and amble on bare feet into the next.

Selected Poems: 2000-2020
©2020 JC Mehta

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