Fluid Forgiveness

art with alcohol ink on yupo paper

by Jhilam Chattaraj

Beyond the fallen permanence 
of fresco and egg tempera,

yupo claims a soft-handed slumber;
the misty sweep of “Leonardo’s smoke.”

Synthetic ink spreads between edges,
curves bleed passions of a porcelain mind.

Marbled hypnosis, a pink sun fall, 
seep into the fluid spines 

of parched beginnings.
Brushless beauty on insoluble paper;

yupo holds the syllable of aliens
like an octopus in swirls. 

It is the return of flesh-songs 
on a night without certainty. 

Spirits trace the serpent’s disorder 
in the eyes of a child-bird.

A foggy rebel from the womb 
of washed memories. 

This art cannot write mad letters 
to your beloved; 

only design the scheme of longing,
invoke the dim curls of Poseidon, 

release the murmur 
of ancient shadows
sleeping in your palms
like a floating post office. 

Alcohol fumes do not 
lead to God’s chamber of arches. 

They urge our breath 
to steal light from Dido’s pyre.

Driftwood smoke, green gasoline, stygian pools or a tilt Lethe-wards,

yet, in the most beautifully forgiving way,
yupo comes clean; 

consumed by the coloured appetite 
of molten dreams.

The poem is inspired by my experiments with fluid art/ alcohol art on yupo paper. Just like the human mind, fluid art does not confirm to any kind of linearity or fixity. The art piece is created when synthetic ink is poured on the alcohol that has been spread across the yupo sheets. The alcohol and the water-proof nature of the sheets make it possible to clean the sheets and make a new artwork on the same sheet again; the most forgiving of all art forms.

The skill lies in the control of the swirls and expertise in handling a stream of colours whose flow is unpredictable.

Our mind is conditioned to interpret emotions as per the cognition of our family and larger society. 

What if the mind was free from such fixed beginnings? 

Alcohol art shows the beauty of non-conformism, the ability to experience a true and compassionate sense of freedom by simply letting ourselves be.   

Jhilam Chattaraj is an academic and poet based in India. She has authored the books, Corporate Fiction: Popular Culture and the New Writers (2018) and the poetry collection When Lovers Leave and Poetry Stays (2018). Her works have been published at Room, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Colorado Review, World Literature Today and Asian Cha among others. She received the CTI excellence award in “Literature and Soft Skills Development,” 2019 from the Council for Transforming India and the Department of Language and Culture, Government of Telangana, India. 

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