Category Archives: Mythology

Mascara

The last thing she does
before she gets ready to die
once more, of violation,
she applies the mascara.

Always,
in that last and solemn moment
the call-girl hesitates.

With eye-catching eyes
she stops to shudder.
Maybe, the dyed eyes
mourn her body’s sins.

Mascara. . .
it serves to tell her
that long buried
hazy dreams
of a virgin soul
have dark outlines.

Silently she cries.
Her tears are black.
Like her.

Somewhere
Long Ago
in an
untraceable
mangled
matrilineal
family tree
of temple prostitutes,
her solace was sought.

It has happened for centuries. . .
Empty consolations soothe
violated bodies.

Sex clings to her devadasi skin,
assumed superficialities don’t wear off,
Deliverance doesn’t arrive.
Unknown Legacies of
Love made to Gods
haven’t been ceremoniously accounted
as karma.

But still she prays.
Her prayer words
desperately provoke Answers.
Fighting her case,
Providence lost his pride.
Her helplessness doesn’t
Seduce the Gods.
And they too
never learn
the Depth of her Dreams.

She believes—
Cosmetics were
once. . .
War paints.
She awaits their resurrection.

When she dons the mascara
The Heavens have heard her whisper,
Kali, you wear this too. . .

(First published in Indian Horizons)

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Sun in the mouth

And the truth scorches and singes
the pink open flesh of your mouth
with its pungent yellow taste, so,
speaking the truth is not so easy
with just one tongue, anyway.

Seeing might have been closest
to truth and as Plotinus said
the eye would not be able to see
the sun if it was itself not sun
and so seeing was understanding.

The Egyptians called the eye
with the circle of the iris
with the pupil in the centre
as the sun in the mouth
and that was their truth.

Cyclops must have had little
to see in this vast world and
deprived of the whole truth
and that was his loss, his tragedy.

Even Argus with all his eyes
couldn’t escape in the end.
How much truth, how many eyes
of how many senses would it take
to tell the truth to the lord of the third-eye?

A king of a Tamil temple city
raged mad to know the truth
of the scent of a woman’s hair.
Since money bought truth
he made ready, a thousand gold coins.

And a poor poet still married to faith
prayed on to Shiva, the lord of struggling
survivors, lord of births and lives and
deaths, lord of poor poets who gave him
a poem to be sung at the king’s court.

A savant there picked a mistake like
peeling the scab of a healed wound
and said that the poem was wrong.
He said that any woman’s hair
did not have a natural scent.

The lord of dances and grey ash
and cremation grounds came down
to challenge this stubborn man who
extended his truth, even if the woman
was the consort of the lord.

He would not budge even if the lord
threatened to open his third eye,
the eye in the forehead which would
reduce him to bone-white ashes
as light as the wispiest clouds.
The court cowered in fright. . .

But in arrogance the savant said
a mistake is a mistake
even if it was the lord
of the forehead-eye.

O’ saint-bard and master of many wily words
What do you know of truth or love,
or the scent of a woman’s hair?
On the nights of naked sky and
a fragile quarter moon, my lord,
he of the deep blue throat,
he of the rivers in his hair,
he of the third-eye, comes to me.
Before he tears the blankness
of my womb, before he traces
the length of my spine, the curve
of my thighs, before he strokes
my cheeks, he buries his head
in the thousand and one nights
of my long tresses and he says
it smells like the wind-lost voices
of his childhood summers.

Justice is . . .

(For Indians only. . .)

The first lesson we are taught about life
has something to do with dharma and karma.

“Dharma”. “Karma” two good appetizing
and rhyming words they may come in handy for classic poets.

Dharma they say is indefinable,
it is all encompassing
and yet untranslatable.

Dharma they say means
Justice, Integrity, Veracity,
Righteousness and Legitimacy.
Almost enough meaning for a word.

And you carry it on with yourself.
Dharma makes a versatile lucky-charm.
All your life, you blame things you don’t understand
on the word no one has ever understood.
Sometimes highly frustrated with the cruelty
and apathy of everything, you even resort to blaming karma
and you begin to trace past lives, ancestry
you bother about the enormity of trivialities
you start worrying about the petty lineage of everything
you happen to come across.

this insanity deludes you as you fret and fume over
descent—pedigree—wretched caste—and above all proper
marriages and the legitimate sons
and then it all comes to you

the truth, the truth about all this ****
the truth about Dharma
You remember the man,
the man Dharma,
for—the medium is the message.

You realize he is a bastard,
an illegitimate son.
Justice is Dharma.
Dharma is a bastard.
So you know Justice is. . .

Well, whatever. But still, blotted.
Blemished. And with Scandal for a middle name.
Perhaps all your hopes die and you stop all your expectations.

Or, perhaps you suddenly throw back you head
and laugh and laugh. . .
Whatever you chose to do
the truth hits you
when she whispers

‘Legitimacy is Illegitimate.’

(First published in Muse India)

The Gods wake up

Another worst things with the Gods is that
They sleep most of the time—
                          (they don’t even dream).
If you happen to go near heaven:
It is a very noisy boring place.
And all that you get to hear there are—
Thirty three million synchronized godly snores.
                          (The Goddesses snore too).

The Gods sleep right through the prayers
Performed by the Brahmins—
                          (maybe they find it boring).
Births, Marriages, innumerable yagnas,
Brahmins take the center-stage, all the
Gods skip. Also, “Om” is now obsolete—
a kind of recurring mosquito buzz.
                          (Besides, Om is ©opyrighted).

At times, the sleeping celestials do stir.
Gods always get excited over funerals—
                          (they are kind of necrophilic).
The loud drums lead the dead to eternal sleep,
Ancient noises herald the escaping life.
This deeper music shakes the skies.
That’s when the Gods wake up.
                          (Just to receive the dead.)

Reverence :: Nuisance

In walls of reception counters
and staircases of offices, hospitals, firms
and other ‘secular’ institutions—
pictures of Hindu Gods are painted. . .

so that casual people walking in (or up or down)
fear to spit on the adorned walls.

But still looking around or climbing:
you can always find the work done
a irregular red border underlining the walls
owing so much to betel juice and spit.

And on cheap roadside compound walls
that don’t bear “Stick No Bills” messages or
cinema and political posters—the Gods once again
are advertised. And captioned with legends that read
“Do not Urinate”. And yet, the Gods are covered with
layers of smelly urine—they don’t retaliate.

Tolerance is a very holy concept.
Or like someone said,
the Caste Gods deserve
the treatment they get.

(First published on The Poetry International Web)

Mohandas Karamchand

(written after reading Sylvia Plath’s Daddy)

“Generations to come will scarcely
believe that such a one as this walked
the earth in flesh and blood.”
   —Albert Einstein

Who? Who? Who?
Mahatma. Sorry no.
Truth. Non-violence.
Stop it. Enough taboo.

That trash is long overdue.
You need a thorough review.
Your tax-free salt stimulated our wounds
We gonna sue you, the Congress shoe.

Gone half-cuckoo, you called us names,
You dubbed us pariahs—“Harijans”
goody-goody guys of a bigot god
Ram Ram Hey Ram—boo.

Don’t ever act like a holy saint.
we can see through you, impure you.
Remember, how you dealt with your poor wife.
But, they wrote your books, they made your life.

They stuffed you up, the imposter true.
And sew you up—filled you with virtue
and gave you all that glossy deeds
enough reason we still lick you.

You knew, you bloody well knew,
Caste won’t go, they wouldn’t let it go.
It haunts us now, the way you do
with a spooky stick, a eerie laugh or two.

But they killed you, the naked you,
your blood with mud was gooey goo.
Sadist fool, you killed your body
many times before this too.

Bapu, bapu, you big fraud, we hate you.

(First published in The Little Magazine)

Maariamma

We understand
why upper caste Gods
and their ‘good-girl’ much-married, father-fucked,
virgin, vegetarian oh-so-pure Goddesses
borne in their golden chariots
don’t come to our streets.

We know the reasons for their non-entry into slums.
Actually, our poverty would soil their hears
and our labor corrupt their souls.

But Maariamma,
when you are still getting
those roosters and goats,
why have you stopped coming to our doors?

Maari, our girl,
since when did you join their gang?

(First published in The Little Magazine)