Usha Akella

Usha Akella has authored two books of poetry. She is the founder of the Poetry Car­a­van, an orga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides free read­ings and work­shops to the dis­ad­van­taged. She has read at var­i­ous inter­na­tional fes­ti­vals and her work is upcom­ing in the Harper­Collins Anthol­ogy of Indian Eng­lish Poetry. She lives in Austin, Texas, USA.


Hymn To Shiva

Here take this bitterness

Hold it in the cup of your throat

For all the lives I may live

Call your­self  Neelkant

So I may be sweet as a lyre.


Take these desires

Wreathe them on your body

That I may be a temple

Empty as eternity.


Here take the sight of this world

So I might close my eyes in ecstasy.


Take this, my anger

Seat your­self on it

Your own compassion

whirling white as the milky way

Froth­ing in your mat­ted locks.


Let it overflow

Drench me.


Tomorrow’s poem

I want to begin a poem
with­out say­ing “I want,”
Wait like a page or
          undone but­ton in the dust,
A poem that comes like
a blighted ovum,
fad­ing as a body fades into a shroud.
inside, demons are per­sis­tent like
worker bees, it is not the unwillingness

to sur­ren­der
            to the divine but
            the unwill­ing­ness to
            give up on the human,


I want the one as the many.
All that is good is in small quan­ti­ties,
                Like the hid­den flames in flow­ers,
                    Like eyes which are magic lamps
                      hold­ing the uni­verse,
All that ties us is invis­i­ble,
                                     trail­ing umbil­i­cal chords unsev­ered.
They tell me prophets are miss­ing from caves,
their words float­ing in bot­tles in old seas,
and old cities sur­face like prophe­cies,
and some­one is a silent incar­na­tion work­ing like yeast,
for some this is enough,
here, I don’t know that face in the mir­ror,
a ship afar, the sails down.




Botero’s Doves


Can there be a dove of peace,

And a dove of war?

Can a coun­try stick out two tongues?

Its wounds bloom like roses

Or explode as rifle fire,

Can there be two dawns?

A dawn of the sun,

A dawn of the night.

Humans, we have two hearts,

One black and one white,

But to see it so exposed…



Botero’s doves are installed in the plaza  of church of St. Anto­nio. Botero donated the dove of peace to the city of Medellin which was sub­se­quently bombed. He donated another on con­di­tion that the for­mer dove remain as it is. The two doves stand next to each other, a chill­ing  sym­bol of Medellin’s history.