The Printing


Kalki Koechlin

Chrrr chrrrrreee

Goes the steady printing machine

Chrrring bloody scenes into bold black ink

Chrrring headlines that make you glug

glug your drink

Chrrring crimes against women

Steep rise in ink

Gang-raped Japanese tourist

International stink stink

Strip-searched for menstruating

Blink blink

Irom force-fed from starving

Think think

Child raped by politician

Ka’ching ka’ching


Chrrr chrrrrreee

The machine harps happily

And we drink to ink

That makes our stomach sink

And teaches us to fear




Fear the beasts riding the nights

From Delhi to Pondicherry,

Cat-calling, wowing, growling,

Grrr grrr grrring.

Beasts of poverty

Beasts on a shopping spree

‘It’s midnight, Cinderella’

‘It’s ten o’clock, you dirty fella.’

Oh, hell, it really doesn’t matter

It was afternoon in the warehouse and nobody heard her

There’s was just grr grr grrring

Growing louder and louder

And the machine chrrr chrrr chrrring

Faster and faster

Chrrring a nation that prides itself in the hanging of four men

Five if you count the suicide bastard

Chrrr chrrr chrrring a village dangling

Of two girls, pin-up dolls upon a tree


Chrrr chrrrrreee

Goes the busy printing machine

Till heads pile up in our hands

Printed crisp and clean on our newspaper stands

And blend smoothly into our morning routine

Heads for one side or another

Like a black and white marketplace

Two heads for four

Four heads more

Eight heads for a martyr

Enough heads to start a war

I mean how many heads are we after?


Chrrring one after another



And when you think it’s over

When the machine stops with a sudden



Wait a little

Wait patiently


It’s just readying

To chrrr at textbooks of rewritten histories

Of dissected countries

Of majorities and popular beliefs

And then the

Long slow chrrr

In italics

In roman prints

Of sweeping statements made by official establishments

To take safety precautions and make improvements

Based on political views and religious sentiments

Chrrring out the marks of sin

Cut-out of the clothes you’re in

The men with whom you’ve been

The color of your skin

(Speaking of which...)

Chrrring horizontal lines vertically

To pay for print

In soft baby pink

The pleasant opening page

Revealing a “fair and lovely” face

Which melts

A few pages on

With the rise of acid sales


Chrrr chrrrrreee

The machine sings obliviously

Chrrring magazines

With shiny sheens

To accommodate setups socially serene

A world we can buy into

A dream we can hang onto

A love that divides one into two

Values that depend on what others think of you

And you know the tune

You are what you say and not what you do

So keep tap tap tapping

On keyboards computing

Virtual drawing rooms of communicating

 Tap tap tweet

Tap tap sweet

Tap tap texting

Tap tap emoticoning

Whilst our machine


Chrrr chrrrrreee


The family you marry has nothing to do

Chrrr chrrrooo

With the man you woo

Chrrr chrrraaa to underwear and bra

Ladies can’t fight seriously in lingerie

So hurrah hurrah

Let’s throw her a bikini

Every time she raises her head defiantly

You see God forbids multiplicity

For a woman in our society

Chrrr chrrrrreee goes our precious printing machine

Chrrring you to mask your nakedness

By wearing

Less and less

Chrrring bitterness in mothers

Like slow venom seeping into future generations,

Quiet revenge of the weaker sex

From behind the guise of a tear-stained Kleenex



Chrrring little brats that grow into men

Chrrring little ladies that use hearts to pretend

And manipulate and defend


From the grr grr grrring beasts

Of Darwin’s survival-of-the-fittest theories

Until our whole existence becomes just a little series

Chrrr chrrreees



Stories that becomes our histories

Oh the irony of all ironies

Will one day reveal

How our great Indian heritage

Fell to its knees

At the mercy of innocent


Printing machines.

This poem was also performed by the author, and is available here.

Interview with Javier Marías
The Printing Machine    by Kalki Koechlin

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock    Illustrated by Julian Peters
Prufrock in Love   by Esme Soriano

Trifles   by Christian Garcin
A Visitation of Skin   by Eben Wood

The Woman Next Door   by Alain Mabanckou
My Mother Is a Miss   by Alain Mabanckou

Fargo Burns   by Kos Kostmayer
Lingua Franca    by John M. Keller

Midget in a Catsuit Reciting Spinoza   by Carey Harrison
Museo Casa de la Memoria (Museum of Memory), Medellín

On Yannick Privat's "Barbara"
On Richard Dinter’s "Snö"