Crimson Skins (Poetry & Prose) by Devika Mathur: A Review

Crimson Skins by Devika Mathur, Kindle Version available via Amazon

Firstly, I would be amiss if I did not state how honored I was to be asked to review this wondrous work by Devika Mathur. From what I have come to know of the writer, she is steadfast in her talent, dives into the raw and gritty surfaces of her feelings, and has no trouble sharing them with the world. With a style not akin to many writers I have read, Devika expresses herself with poetically sound language and a definite strength in her prose.

The aptly titled debut book, Crimson Skins, begins with “Olive Skin” which is a surefire opener, with power-packed phrases such as “My mother has a concave slippery mouth, untouchable with the slick tunes of time” and “She stitches her concrete bun as a belt of Ganges.”

The first section of poetry gets even better as the writer continues to deeply express herself using a style I like to call “raw surrealism.” “A fixation” is a good example of this. Two lines I found myself reading multiple times because I loved them that much are: “I have seen the postcards of vintage ink our lotus bodies sinking like air” and “You step on to my body, peeling layers of SCARS.” She is no stranger to poignant line breaks and metaphorical stanzas. Many of her poems, from what I have learned, are meant to be absorbed slowly–savored. It would not be wise to rush through them. And really, why would you want to?

“A swan of longing” is another favorite poem of mine. Devika uses a few nature images in this piece, however, the raw and gritty feel is still alive. “Climb up my knuckles, rest on the mount of flaky skin” says so much while not using many words. It’s succinct and compact yet still sends a punch straight to the gut. Another line that held my attention is, “Sew and move up. Climb to my cheekbones, now”–the imagery is intense and active. Reading it took me to another place, one where I would not mind venturing to more often.

Crimson Skins has a variety of work any reader will enjoy. The book isn’t basic and will be able to go the extra mile for years to come. I will be so bold as to say many of the pieces featured in it has the staying power of words by a few greats such as Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, and Virginia Woolf. It ends just as it began, with an intense piece of writing showcasing the writer’s talent.

“The art of silence” is placed exactly where it needs to be–the best for last. “Quietness, comes to me like sex, wild hum in the lost arid air” caught me off guard and I doubled-back to make sure I read the opening line correctly. I did and it is perfect in every way. The ending lines are as follows: “Cities often collapse while searching another one, and here is my tombstone, polished gold grave, beneath twigs of moth.” I read those lines and I know what poetry is. I feel what poetry is. I will remember what poetry is.

Crimson Skins comes as no shocker to me with its high caliber of writing and a plethora of poems and prose to choose from on which to connect. Devika Mathur shows that she is no novice to the world of writing. I look forward to its debut in June of 2020 and will be one of the first to purchase my copy. If you are a lover of poetry and writing that seeps into your skin and rattles your bones, then you should too.

I will be purchasing the Kindle version before the weekend is out, however, I also am going to purchase the paperback version when it is available too. I had the grand opportunity of diving into this work of art prior to its publication and I assure you, it’s worth every accolade it will amass within the first few weeks. Let’s support a fellow WordPress writer, shall we?

Damned by the Dreams of a Lost Love

Prose Poem

Image for post
Photo Source: Pinterest

Love’s Recovery, 101.

You have moved on. You did so effortlessly and I am still steering a wretched ship that has no sense of direction without its captain. Throw out the life rafts. Man the exit points. I was bound to hit a few rocks along the way, but I am still out to sea.

Battered and unmanned.

I stare at my phone. I want to take a chance on sending you a text message but every alarm within me is set and red flags pop up whenever my fingers go searching through my contacts. Leave well enough alone.


Featured Poem of the Week

Abdullah I. Shawaf emailed me recently to be added to A Cornered Gurl. I had read a few pieces of his via Medium and enjoyed each of them. To receive that email, struck a chord in me, one that was happy to be awakened. His first contribution to ACG is a heartfelt piece personifying love and how love would react if we as humans asked it how it truly felt about its role in life–about its role as something we chase, yet handle so carelessly at times. I was happy to receive this piece in the ACG queue, review it, edit only a few areas, and get it published. I am honored to share this poetry-prose piece and Abdullah I. Shawaf with each of you.


When We Asked Love, Who Are You and Where Do You Exist?

As he was eager to be asked, he told us about the place where everything seems darkened and hopeless.

Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

The greatest combat in history happened between love and hatred in a neutral heart — when both of the armies held a sign: “A winner takes what he puts his hands on, and the loser loses his right to vote.”

There we asked Love, one of the survivors, who are you?
And as he was eager to be asked, he answered:

I’m a flower shining in the dark, trying to forget that flowers need light to survive.

I’m a leashed power that stayed on the war line for a complete life, willing to change but not having the green light.

I am the survivor of the cold war, where survivors tell the story before they are gone.

Where soldiers’ powers are made of life events, and their colors are either darkened or blank.

Where the two sides fighting who will be the part who takes over and drives.

And from there, the events were to decide whether the heart leans to the good or the bad side.

Then I realized that no one controls his life, as his events shaped his mind.

No one was born violent, but what changed him is his environment.

I’m convinced the first call to racism was a joke that made everyone laugh, but the victim, he cried and got more soldiers on the hatred side.

He was upset by how people throw their words like daggers, and they don’t care about how much it hurts. And soon, racism was no longer a joke; it became a thought.

But one thing is sure; no one completely changes.

No matter how much hatred is there, there will be love somewhere.

You will find love in the strangest places where you never expected, it exists there.

It’s hidden, deep and covered under the ashes, waiting for the chance to be unleashed.

And soon it will be.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Young Minds of Medium Featured Writer: Nour

Nour is an exceptional young one whom I have had the pleasure of watching grow on Medium. Over the last eight months, this young one has broken out of her shell and is sharing her life and experiences with us.

She answered the Young Minds of Medium “How Do You Sing The Blues” challenge for A Cornered Gurl with the following prose-poem:


Just keep breathin’

Young Minds of Medium “Blues Call”

Hasty outlets of yours truly over the years.

Tainted blue creeps in,
An armed looming shadow that threatens,
Look fiercely into its eyes, impassive
Let the ink embrace your heart, squeeze the venom out on paper,
Chase down freedom with your words.


It’s disarming.

How the story unfolds sometimes. So many lies embedded in between the lines and I foolishly believe. Destruction calling my bones for release of its pent up anger. Seeping its sorrow on my pages, adding lines. And my brain does nothing but smirk in approval, unwinding me to the core. Now all the chaos — thrown at my feet, no sealing to its mouth that keeps running.

I keep falling down.

Entirety is disarming sometimes.
Disapproval clawing its way in my mind,

Smitten by blues, add more salt to her wounds … if only you’ve done this. If only you were this …

Just stop. Press pause, go on rewind your tape and you’ll see where it starts:

All. In. Your. Fucking. Head.

I hold still for a moment. Let the truth sink in. So many inviting claws I struggle to dodge.

Oh, how it’s easier to fall into depression … but will you let in temptation?

And that’s how it starts. I breathe my screams out on paper, rewrite the story …

I change lines.

The claws are no longer inviting. ‘Cause no hunter falls for their prey.
The lies fade back to their dimension, this territory ain’t going to be stained.

I don’t pause. I keep going. Destruction no longer smirks.
Entirety could be disarming … unless between the lines you checked again.


Originally published via A Cornered Gurl on Medium.