The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Jonaki Ray

Time Is both a Wave and a Line


It engulfs father as he lands in New York
His brown suit, new and worn for the flight, blends
the brown-ness of his skin.
“We don’t rent to Indians”
counter points seeing Kennedy on campus.
A second-class citizen—never more, no matter his degrees—
He still hoards Life Magazine’s special editions.
Camelot is gone.
Thirty years later, with a legacy
of the rosy cheeks and wrinkled eyes of Jack and Jackie,
the dreams of Martin, the brave and free American ideals,
I reverse the trajectory.
The past is like dough twirling in a sizzling pan
the strands circling and closing.
“You have no roots. No blood relatives. You are not a citizen.”
The “Brown nigger, go home” taunts for father
haunt my life spent on fairness creams
that do not whiten my skin.




JONAKI RAY was educated in India (IIT Kanpur) and the USA (UIUC), and is a poet, writer, and editor now based in India. Honors for her poetry include being shortlisted for the 2016 Oxford Brookes University International Poetry Contest, and longlisted in the 2016 RL Poetry Award. Her poetry has appeared in So to Speak, The Matador Review, The Lake, Kitaab, The Four Quarters Magazine, Indian Literature, Coldnoon, and elsewhere. 



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