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abeer y. hoque & mahmud rahman

Abeer-Hoque-I-Heard-The-Bonmorag-This-MoAbeer Hoque
00:00 / 03:03

I heard the bon morog this morning
as the mangrove forest appeared out of the darkness
a photograph developing
I'm wearing a yellow kurta
for Pohela Falgun, the first day of
spring in the Sunderbans
Modontak, the lesser adjutant,
takes flight from the broken beach

away from the battered piers
I'm studying the map
my skin, ash brown and covered in goosebumps
it's cold at dawn in the Bay of Bengal
LaThimara River, Kotka Tower, Kochikhali
Khulna, Mongla Port, Harbaria, Supati
Rupsha River, Passur River, Supati Khal
Tiger tracks evanesce in wet black clay
mudskippers flick along the bank of the bay
coconuts hang like eggs in the fronds
I climb to the top of the boat
spread my arms, play eagle
under the taal gach, the white gold sun
The forestry guard reminisces about 15 taka rice
when the Awami League was in power
the BNP passengers walk away
I walk through Jaamtola
which is actually full of jaam trees
and Badamtola Beach, which is not
my patent leather shoes crush
the spiked-up roots of the mangrove trees
mottor mottor mottor
Kalu and Mintu, the wild black boars
so named by the guards

snuffle around in the tiger fern and shundori
Scrabble on the deck
caption, whore, mafia, quell, ruined, error, woven
teeth, oaf, cook, sex, gaped, elite, lave, ague, just
I take a glass of fizzy Sprite
down the narrow stairs
into my cramped cozy cabin
I take a glass of extra fizzy Sprite
up the narrow stairs
large clear drops spilling onto my notebook
The boy with one earring and pink fur trim coat
brings me rice and daal
as we drift among the golpata
Orange boat, green water, blue rope, white sky
the crocodile thrashes at the bank
metal boat, slow water, wet rope, wide sky
my phone beeps startlingly
I check into my other life: two bars, one bar, nothing
I check out


abeer y. hoque

is a Nigerian born Bangladeshi American writer and photographer. She has published a book of travel photographs and poems called The Long Way Home (Ogro Dhaka 2013), and a book of linked stories, photographs and poems called The Lovers and the Leavers (Bengal Lights Books 2014, HarperCollins Publishers India 2015). She is a Fulbright Scholar and has received several other fellowships and grants. Her writing and photography have been published in Guernica, Outlook Traveller, Elle, Wasafiri, ZYZZYVA, India Today, Catapult, Vogue India, and The Daily Star. She has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco. For more information, visit

Hoque Bio.jpg

mahmud rahman

is a writer and translator, originally from Bangladesh, now resident in California. His fiction, nonfiction, and translations have been published in such magazines and anthologies as Papercuts, Oakland Noir, Brooklyn Magazine, Scroll India, Dhaka Tribune, Words Without Borders, Himal Southasian, World Literature Today, and Wasafiri His first book, Killing the Water: Stories, was published in 2010 by Penguin Books India and includes stories of migrants and dislocated people, in Bengal, Boston, Detroit, Providence, and imagined territories. His second book, a translation of Bangladeshi writer Mahmudul Haque’s Partition-centered novel Black Ice, was published in 2012 by HarperCollins India. He has completed a novel The Fiction Factory, set in contemporary Bangladesh and centered around themes of ‘fake news’ and police murders. For more on Mahmud’s writing, visit


         This poem originally appeared in The Daily Star of Bangladesh on March 15, 2008.




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