Poetry Month Reprise

Sujash Purna
National Poetry Month


Sujash Purna was the Brain Mill Press National Poetry Month Contest winner in 2023 with his poem cycle “You Poor.” Read it here.

For his reprise, Sujash offers three poems, “Einaan See Eight” (previously published in Watershed Review, Spring 2020), “Yellow Wallpaper Resident Alien” (previously published in Zocalo Public Square, 2021) and “only the waters” (previously published in Miracle Monocle, Issue 20).

Einaan See Eight


Probably all my encounters
are existential jambalaya

—Terrance Hayes


long gasps of smokes
…………………….filtered through a grilled window
………….into the dark,
I was sitting at the desk, writing
stolen verses from dead writers,
when you came to my mind,
a gravel road at the end of a highway
I am proud of my weaknesses,
losing you through roiling sediments
………………………………………………..of last night.
There is always an enervating
talk of the town. Every time you and I
walk inside the door, hand in hand,
there is a man accused and arrested
for the sole crime of existing.
We took the exit early trying to avoid
the rush, faces of men and women
new to this land, walking in pilgrimage,
the green junipers in awe let them
clear their heads one at a time.
I am amazed by their patience
with a time already stolen by their
colonizers, and here I am avoiding
making eye contact. A no-man
coming from a no-man’s-land:
you say shoes’ shoe and Joshua’s
It’s that simple.
I don’t correct them sometimes.
Sometimes I am one of them.

Yellow Wallpaper Resident Alien


Tie my shoes, my self-portrait running for fun
in the deep woods, poisoned with the soot
of another forest fire in the distance, another Oregon

I didn’t know how to spell the states in this country
but I reached out to join your name with mine:
they learned to divide us with hyphenated schemes

Just as you are, I know how your face looked in the golden
days when our palms were covered with glue from sticking
posters of the future inside a school building with broken gate

How do you believe there is a hunger in the blissfully unaware?
The dark times don’t darken our hearts, we become just
more distant in the most oblong parallels ever visible

only the waters


Forecast is gloomy despite the sun breaking out in pillars of light inside this one-bedroom apartment.

I walked about two miles to get home. The guy over the counter told me I can’t have an ID until my green card application gets processed. So I am a nobody until then.

Inside the bedroom, she is in tears. HelloFresh charged her sixty-five bucks without her knowing. She was enjoying the meals and making them. It gave her a sense of power. But now it’s all radiant red spots on her face as she feels guilty, crumpled up like an open half bag of Doritos she loves so much. Red spots like red dust specked across the bagged dioramas.

So much life has been sucked out of us.

We keep giving, giving, and giving, but for some reason it’s never been enough. I close the door on her as she wants some space. I think I guess it’s all over. July 15th. My parents’ marriage anniversary, and I am losing our marriage to HelloFresh. Is it a cliche phrase? Losing a marriage? English is not my first language. But I pretend.

Isn’t everything cliched when it comes to maintaining a marriage?

We got married out of love, out of fear of losing each other. The US government wants to see how on earth it is possible to love somebody from a different land, a different language and decide to do taxes with them until death do them apart. I can see Uncle Sam’s hand inside a bag of Doritos as he watches our marriages crumble down like individual Dorito chips inside his salivating mouth.

Two point three per one thousand. From those who actually report. Imagine the number that never reports, or estrangement, or slowly falling out of love trying so hard to stick together.

We break apart but still remain close inside the mouth of our giant swallower. We lose everything. We disintegrate.

Clouds outside are coming down on us in the sweltering burst of sunburned slaps across our skin. A pandemic never ends. We welcome another earth-ender inside our ecosystem and call it quits at the dinner table. My wife keeps weeping in the bedroom. I can hear her over the sink water running aimlessly into the upturned pots and pans, as I wash them in the kitchen.

My parents stay awake hoping to see a glimpse of us together on the other side of the world. From their bent and broken bodies to a tiny screen, I get to delegate two countries, two cultures that float together like oil on water. I get agitated when I cannot explain things to them. Why are we so close but so apart at the same time? Why do these relics of crusty old societal values scare us? Can’t we too defy them as they’ve done, as their ancestors did for centuries and pretend it’s all okay?

I scrape off the leftover curry stains from a non-stick pan and rinse them with water. One crusty flake at a time. Wish it was that simple doing so when it came to our inane family values that desperately try to hold us despite resentment, despite bitterness that grows over time, unwashable, insoluble. Two cultures don’t blend in. They either exist side by side. Or one has to go.

It starts to rain finally. I can no longer hear her weeping from the bedroom. Only the waters.

About the Poet


Sujash Purna is a Bangladeshi-American poet and photographer, pursuing a PhD in English— Composition and Rhetoric at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of Epidemic of Nostalgia,’ Simple Fantasies (Finishing Line Press), In Love with the Broken (Bottlecap Press), and Azans for the Infidel (Mouthfeel Press). His photography can be found on Instagram @poeticnomadic

National Poetry Month
National Poetry Month

BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month

Happy National Poetry Month! For poets and poetry lovers—and perhaps for those who love poets—this is a special time. At Brain Mill Press, we like to celebrate all month long by sharing featured poets. This year, we’re reprising award-winning poets from prior years’ contest, introducing new poets we admire, and inviting submissions to a joint chapbook contest with the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets to celebrate the work of a Wisconsin poet with publication.

Top photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash