The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Minal Hajratwala’s “Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment”


2-00 The Professionals 
                                               TAGS: SUGAR, PASTRY, RULES, SKY

At the end of the world the pastry chefs are using blowtorches.

The They walk by strung to containers of white air.

Beggars stand in the long rain dripping words.

Storefronts gather over the sea: turbulence.

I arch my back. I arch my back. Lying on my back I arch my back.

Home is such a distant word. Are you trying to offend me?

Don’t push me away, she says, not noticing the fishline cutting her ankles, how he is reeling her in.

Heterosexuality Rules!

The welders eat muffins from tiffins, puffin’ out their nothings.

One of these things is not like the Other    One of these things is not like the    One of

Schizophrenics are discharged to write headlines. Under medical supervision, children hear voices.

Plastic surgeons construct designer vaginas, carve their initials into bellies. All genitalia are confiscated, then rented out by the hour. NGOs struggle valiantly to ensure the principle of equal access. Immigrants make fortunes. Sweatshop workers sing as they sort: One o’ dese tings … Dominatrices find their calling: foremen. Consensual & nonconsensual slaves lick the floors.

The They grin. Everything is going according to plan. Someone shouts Enough! but her voice is too high. Only the dogs hear. Barking. Barking.

Conservateurs fill museums with corpses of failed species.

At the end of the world the fiberglass sky.

This selection comes from Minal Hajratwala’s book Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment, available now from The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective. Purchase your copy here!

Minal Hajratwala ( is author of the award-winning epic Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents (2009), which was called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by the Washington Post, and editor of Out! Stories from the New Queer India (2013). Her latest book is Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment, published by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, a collective of which she is a co-founder. She graduated from Stanford University, was a fellow at Columbia University, and was a 2011 Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar. As a writing coach, she loves helping people give voice to untold stories.

Ben McClendon is a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Tennessee. He previously studied poetry at Northern Arizona University after teaching high school English for several years. His poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Yemassee, Chautauqua, Redivider, Rattle, Word Riot, and elsewhere. Ben lives with his husband in Knoxville.


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