Tag Archives: Poetry

Index of poems

Composition

At that brief time
When you wait
For the audacious cane
To strike your skin,
And the rest of you is flinching
And cringing, with part shame,
And part pain,
Poetry dictates itself
In your mind. Short lines
Rip through, like bullets
From a machine gun.

The poem comes with the
Freshness of a life set free,
Whistling its way,
Painfully, like wind searing
Through the palm fronds.

Then,

The cane thrashes
Your skin, dancing cruelly
And bouncing in wooden joy.
Before you scream,
Or shake, the poetry stops.
And the Muse, is tentatively,
Laid to rest, much before the
Composition is
Complete.

(First published in Sulekha)

An angel meeting me

and may be we will
almost fall in love. . .
I will look into his eyes,
and he into mine—
my one single eye,
(the unfortunate other
blinded by a disciplinizing slap)
and we will agree, adjust
that Love can be Blind.
And he, healthy boy
well-fed, white with his rosy cheeks,
will wonder about me,
pity my bony body, those thin ribs
and worry
and feel my twisted ears
and the scars on my hands,
(reminders of the flirtation
of my skin and a cruel cane)
and perhaps lift my skirt. . .
Before he learns the greater horrors,
I owe him the truth of me—
So, I will say to him:
“I went to school”.

(First published in Muse India)

How they prostitute a poem

It is uniquely easy
For some to sell
Ideals because
Business of absent
Goods is essentially
A sacrosanct but mostly
A flimsy transaction.

Some learn, early on,
To prostitute their verse.
So, in all the waking hours
They scavenge for a simple simile
That matches requirements, fulfills needs.

They barter reality
And every romance
To a blurred triplicate
Carbon-copy World of Hard
Cash and Price Tags and Brand Names.

In this brothel
Of stilled hope and
Stagnated stories, poems
Are born virgin and endowed
With voluptuous figures of firm,
Full breasts and wide hips where men
Prefer to plant their pastime dreams,
Or conceive their seed,
Or merely spite themselves,
Or dabble at domination.

But, the poem, with this
Bogus existence becomes
An adept, untiring prostitute.

Taken
On a starry night,
The poem opens
(dry and drab and dreary:
lacking love and life) like
The paid-for parting
Of the thighs.

(First published in Great Works, UK)

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.

We will rebuild worlds

We will rebuild / worlds from shattered glass/ and remnants of holocausts.

Once impaled for our faith / and trained to speak in voiceless whispers / we’ll implore / you to produce the list / from hallowed memories / of our people disgraced/ as outcastes / degraded / as untouchable at / sixty-four feet / denied a life/ and livelihood and done to death /

in so many ways it would take / an encyclopedia to describe and steven-spielberg / or some-such-guy to produce the special effects for a blockbuster version /

not just the stories of how/ you charred to death forty-four of our men and women and children / because they asked for handfuls of rice/

electrocuted children to instant death because they played in your well / and other ghastly carnages

but the crimes of passion/
our passion/ your crimes

poured poison and pesticide through the ears-nose-mouth/ or hanged them in public / because a man and a woman dared to love/ and you wanted / to teach / other boys and other girls / the lessons of / how to / whom to / when to / where to / continue their caste lines

and we will refresh your mind with other histories / of how you brutally murdered and massacred our peoples / with the smiling promise of / heaven in the next birth / and in this / a peace that / never belonged.

We will wipe away the / sham of your smiles / that appear and / disappear like commercials on prime time tv / smiles that flash across / botoxed faces / smiles that crease / plucked eyebrows / smiles that are pasted and / plastered to your lips/ smiles that sell yourself / smiles that seek to / sell us into soulless worlds.

We will singe the many skins you wear to the world/ the skins you change at work / the skins called castes and / skins called race / the skins you mend once a week / the skin you bought at a sale/ the skin you thought was yours / the filthy rich stinking skin you thought you could retain at bed.

Shorn of style / and a hypocrisy named / sophistication / there would be nothing for you to do but gape at our combat gears.

We will learn/ how to fight/ with the substantial spontaneity/
with which we first learnt / how to love.

So / now/ upon a future time/
there will be a revolution.

It will begin in our red-hot dreams that surge that/ scorch that / scald that sizzle like lava / but never settle down never / pungently solidify.

It will begin / when the song in the sway/ of our hips/ will lead us to dance and sing/ and stand up straight / put up a pretty fight/ redeem and reclaim/ the essence of our earth.

It will begin / as our naked bodies / held close together / like hands in prayer / against each other/ like hands in prayer / set to defy the dares the /diktats the years the terms / the threats / that set us apart.

It will begin / as we give names to our children and/ give names to our / inward anger and aches and / name ourselves / with words of fury / like forest fires / with the words of wrath / like stealthy wildcat eyes / that scare the cowards/ in power /away.

It will begin / the way thunder rises in our throats and / we will brandish our slogans with a stormy stress and succeed / to chronicle to / convey the last stories / of our lost and scattered lives.

It will begin / when the oppressors will wince/ every time they hear our voices and their sparkly silence will never be taken for a sacrament.

It will begin when never / resting we will scream / until / our uvulas tear away and our breathless words breathe life to the bleeding dead and in the black magic of our momentary silences / you will hear two questions / India, what is the caste of sperm? / India, what is the cost of life? and the rest of our words will rush/ in this silenced earth / like the rage of a river in first flood.

It will begin / that day when / we will pay /
all that it takes / for the dangerous price of love.

Fire

Black satanic fumes
shroud the blank blue skies
in puffing jet black soot;
few flashy cameras record
glimpses of destruction
(for tomorrow’s papers). . .

Our huts are burning—
Regular huts in proper rows.
Dry thatches (conspirators-in-crime)
feed the flames as we rush out
shrieking-crying-moaning
open mouthed hysterical curses
and as if in an answer—
when the blazing work is done
Fire engines arrive . . .

Deliberately late.
These feverish cries continue
in the same shrilly pitch
echo, echo, echo and
finally reach. . .

Up there.
Reverberate and sound as loud
as snail shells crackling under nailed boots
and perhaps as distinct and defenseless.
This double catastrophe projected in sights
and shrieks evokes. . .
No response.

Those above are (mostly):
indifferent bastards.