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Poetry of the Moment:Volume 1

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  • 1. Poetry of the moment Short Poetry Nisheedhi
  • 2. Poetry of the moment Short Poetry Nisheedhi
  • 3. This file was generated by an automated blog to book conversionsystem. Its use is governed by the licensing terms of the original content hosted at soundaryalahari.wordpress.com. Powered by Pothi.com http://pothi.com
  • 4. PrefacePoetry based upon actual experiences, not one thought up inthe intellectual aridness of a pseudo-thinker. Words as theymean in the specific context of recollected thought or image ,not meaning several things at a time but that which re-createsan aura or a haze of an earlier experience.
  • 5. ContentsThe onion seller 1Re-assembling morning images 2Tree 3Evening on the Puri beach 4The beggar’s joke 5Looking up at the exquisitely sculpted figures on the 6Puri templeStanding before God in the Puri temple 7Visit to the temple of Avinashi 8Comparing development models of Singapore and 9IndiaMorning images 10Our dead voices 11Shopping for wedding saris 12Garage 13The boy priest of Lepakshi 14A train journey in summer 16
  • 6. Eyes 17On return from the Jagannath temple in Puri 18Our elephant-God 19The Body 20My little pal on the ICQ 21At the famous Tamil poet Subramania Bharati’s house 23The Muse 24The Marble Mausoleum 25The legend of Sivakasi 26Death of a woman 27Skull-pot 28Dying of excess life 29Bankura horses 30The moon 31Living in space 32Dream 33There is defiance in the air 34
  • 7. The 70’s man 35Marriages 36The grand plot 37A doctor’s marriage 38Memories of the city of Porbandar 39On completion of the construction of a house 40The afternoon sounds 41Our temple priest 42The pastor and his niece 43His gods ,my gods 44The last days of my mother 45Desires 46Our time is leaking 47The last lecture 48On my mother’s death 49Thoughts at the Srirangam temple 50At the memorial forest for the departed 51
  • 8. You , me and him 52The laughing club 53A warehouse prince broke her horn 54The poet stands upright in his pants 55The memoirs of a Geisha 56Waiting for the boat 57What the old trees do not realize 58Flickr. dreams 59When death happened of my driver’s father 60At death ceremony of a relative in Eluru 61Sunrise and flowers 62The Wishing Well 63On a rainy night in Hyderabad 64Waiting for a flight at Mumbai 65On failing to get admittance to the Taj Mahal 66On return from the temple of Puri Jagannath 67Fear of death 68
  • 9. River noise and river silence 69The peak in Hong Kong 71Sitting in the car on a rainy evening in Bhopal 72Remembering a schizophrenic boss 73Thoughts on a rainy evening in a Midnapore hotel 74Looking at a painting entitled “Books” 75Morning at the Grand Hotel,Kolkata 76At the temple 77The rock 78Prayer 79Hair cut on a Good Friday 80Break 81The wind palace of Jaipur 82Passing by a tribal weekly fair in Bastar 83Suicide 84Dying of love 85Mankarnika ghat 86
  • 10. Upon the death of a colleague 88Tribute to the Shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan 89Remembering a dream on one morning 90On the tiny hillock in our bank’s staff college in 91HyderabadThe royal palace 92Trying to make poetry from a joke 93The cherub in inverted spectacles 94The hanging of a child-rapist 96In the tea gardens of Coonoor 97A boat trip on the Ganges in Kolkata 98Morning at the Palm Hotel, Vizag 99Photographing the cranes in the Bhopal lake 100Fire and water 101Prayer 102The hill is dead 103The bride 104
  • 11. The skin 105
  • 12. The onion sellerThe onion seller with an old white mustacheTalked sneeringly of others who took onionsBefore they were due and ripe under the earth.Their money grew over the earth, high in the air.His money grew quietly under the earth’s skin.His pretty pink onion bulbs ripened in silence.Sure he knew his onions and they their moneyHe pontificated under his old white mustache( A scrap of conversation I overheard in today’s morning walk) 1
  • 13. Re-assembling morning imagesAt the corner house citrus fruits hung in ripe silence.Three coconuts went in a huddle and then exchangedMorning notes with the unwashed house in the breeze.A man walked as if from the sun holding plastic oil canOf spilling waters, his other hand balancing the weight.Another, bound in winter clothes , released bursts of smokeFrom his muffler, into the air, his eyes softly closed in joy.Like the early morning train in the countryside chuggingQuietly as its white smoke rose to the blue mountains.Re-assembling is making a big deal of everyday events. 2
  • 14. TreeIt had stood there bare and brown and stone deadAnd waved in the breeze pretending to be alive.Evening birds had still been sitting on its branches.Yesterday it became a mere image in my mindTwo axes did a fine job in the day and from balconyI now have uninterrupted view of the blue sky. 3
  • 15. Evening on the Puri beachIn the evening we sipped thin milk and tea on the beach.The sea had been quite calm and collected in thoughts.An old man sold colorful balloons that went into the sky;A bare-backed boy quickly backed out from the friendly sea.The dark in camera allowed no sun pictures in the west.( Journaling the visit to the Puri sea beach on 15/12/2010) 4
  • 16. The beggar’s jokeA beggar sat there on the brown stone steps latticed withDark shadows and patches of light that danced with breeze.Up there a naked stone saint was waiting to receive us,Through a maze of monkeys, beggars and tree shadows.The beggar’s plate shone with absence of coins in the sunAn armless man greeted him warmly in friendly shadows.From the smirk on his face it must have been a funny joke.(Looking at a beggar on the steps leading to the temple in Udayagiriin Bhubaneswar) 5
  • 17. Looking up at the exquisitely sculpted figures on the PuritempleWe looked up at the browned finish of the templeIts beauty spilling steadily into eager eye- spaceSeveral nubile stone maidens looked down at usTheir beauty came down to us in machined perfection. 6
  • 18. Standing before God in the Puri templeDeep in the inner space stood beautiful wooden godsThey looked at us as though they were laughingOnly their eyes refused to close when they laughedAs their glances fell on us ,on our bodies and eyes. 7
  • 19. Visit to the temple of AvinashiHere, face to face with myth ,Thro’ the hazy mists of time ,I see the images of life and deathOf evanescent human existence .A poet sang his mellifluousSong of re-generation, of new life .A boy rose from death’s non-exist’nceThe Lord of Time and DestructionRestores to the Creator his powers .Here, both the poet and the CreatorHave regained their creative powerAs a crocodile emerges from the lakeYet another image of life-in-death. 8
  • 20. Comparing development models of Singapore and IndiaThe choice was ‘tween light and lightning-‘tween Singapore haze and Singrur daze,Politician –inspired haze , an old man’sBenign and truly inspiring island growthAnd a chubby-cheeked rail woman’s -That wanted “no- no” car splutteringBenificently in her Bengal backwoods.She only spewed Bengali fire notoriously.There the old man will cut off your handFor flipping cigarette ash on the roads.Here “didi” sister thought up rail growthIn numbers crunched in puffed up cheeksOr was she getting even with communists?Or with the buffalo man who ran rails likeCowsheds of haystacks and impressedStanford jargon peddlers with cooked upSuccess stories padded with half truths.When you choose development modelsA benign haze by a whip cracking old manSeems easier than a democratic dazeWhere you wouldn’t know what hit you. 9
  • 21. Morning imagesThere the parijat flowers lie on the earth ,Their faces in the dust, feet to the sky.Someone’s cut flower creeper still fillsThe air with previous night’s fragr’nce.On the hills ,from a balcony ,a dark womanLooks down as if expecting the milkman.There a man is up in arms against the sun.A w’man froths at mouth with toothpaste.Words remain,as many scraps of memory.An image or two vanishes in the wilderness;Its fragrance stays as unrealized poetry. 10
  • 22. Our dead voicesAll our dead voices live in midnight graves;When the owl hoots and foxes howl at moonThey come all at once in cascade of sound.Our ears promptly catch them as a single strainOf autumn leaves flying in the spring breeze.It is not enough to die from this world and lie.We have to talk about it , from grave, to sky.The chorus of our speeches rises to the skiesAt night as the wind rustles in the pipal leaves.Sometimes we speak like the whoosh of feathersFalling all at once from many flying birds of airBut we speak mostly to ourselves in our nights.It is not enough to have lived but when we dieWe have to talk about it from wher’ver we lie.(Based upon conversation between Estragon and Vladimir in“Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett) 11
  • 23. Shopping for wedding sarisThe shimmer of color and woven fragranceOf smooth textiles unwind in electric lightAs if they are nights of interminable waitingThrough fold after fold of crisp starlit skies. 12
  • 24. GarageIt is in the garage that I live, all our oils on displayTill a teenager comes rocking my boat in the lake .The horse that eats apples off my hands is locked.We both are locked in the poetry of our tragi-comedy.Our owner-boss says do with the oils as you feel likeAs if we have a choice in garage or on the rail track.Our ‘craic’ beer cans open our life’s can of worms.Both my apple-eating horse and I are now free, luckily,On the rail-track and in the lake of pikes respectively.(On watching the movie “Garage“, a 2007 movie with the engagingtheme of urban alienation) 13
  • 25. The boy priest of LepakshiThe boy priest’s words flowedLike the river Penna in monsoon.He took us gently with his wordsThrough the dusty corridors of time.His voice merged imperceptiblyIn the temple’s flowing historyAs if he was born a creature of thenAnd arrived here on time’s back.One afternoon when the harsh sunBeat down on their bare backsThe sculptors were at their workChipping away at their graniteAnd then it was lunch time andMother was not ready with food;The sculptors chiselled awayAt a giant boulder near the templeAnd transformed it into a serpent.His child’s voice floated likeA white cloud in the summer skyThis statuesque woman in stoneHas aquiline nose and lotus eyesHer waist is narrow, wrists delicate.Her delicate necklace rose andFell on her breasts as she breathed. 14
  • 26. The boy’s haunting voice bridgedThe distances in time as a child-GodLooked down on us mischievouslyFrom the mystical frescoes of the roof.(On a visit to the Lepakshi temple in Andhra Pradesh) 15
  • 27. A train journey in summerIn the pickle jar train coach human bodiesPiled one on other with their body parts scarcelyDistinguishable , their ownership uncertain.A sweaty body in polyester munched peanutsDropping shells on the train floor from the berth.The boltless bathroom door was open with a view.Nearby, meal plates with pastes of rice and lentilCo-existed with gunny sacs of assorted merchandise.A crippled beggar boy mopped the train floorTickling your under-feet for a few reluctant coins.Three eunuchs beat the air between their palmsAnd jabbed their fingers at you for health and welfare.A black-coated railwayman moved through bodiesSurrounded by eager money-wet berth-seekersAs if he was a moving lantern with a halo of moths.A tongue-lashing matronly woman plonked on the seatStretching her arthritic limbs offensively on all sides.A Gujarati family promptly opened tall biscuit tinsOf hard puris and hot pickle to sate children’s hunger.Three wholesalers from Nagpur squatted on the floorWith a pack of playing cards spread out on a towel .A mango-onion bhel seller dispensed his waresOn one foot delicately balanced in the vast humanity. 16
  • 28. EyesWe talk of these curious accidents of biological history.Look into their eyes, to feel , behind their floating lids,Streamlets of consciousness that do not form a riverBut disappear into the vast wild wastes of nothing,The beginning life’s pieces that do not fit into a place.Wonder who was responsible for the cataclysmic changesThat took place, or did not, in their amniotic existence.( On visiting Akshayakshetra, an institution for the mentally retardedin Tirupati) 17
  • 29. On return from the Jagannath temple in PuriImages of wooden Gods, of a jungle treeMeshed with celebrations of celestial love.The theme remained of beauty in sandstoneOf its golden brown hues against the sky,Of a yellowed middleman ‘tween me and God.He, the omnipotent God, seemed armlessHis eyes were large, circular and lidlessHe sees us unblinking, in our absurdness,In our countless follies and pointless fears .s 18
  • 30. Our elephant-GodBefore the onset of winterOur dear elephant-God arrived.The beginningless God presidedOver our every worldly beginning,Rising from the mud-peelingsOf our own Magnificent Mother.He laughed at the annoyingAsymmetry of the imperfect world.The moon mocked at his bellyThat rocked with food and laughter.The crowds cheered their clay-GodPainted in kitschy acrylic colorsAnd national pride was restoredAmidst cacophonous film music.(On the Ganesh festival this year) 19
  • 31. The BodyThe body lay there in the roomWith flies and people buzzing.The pale face looked indifferent.Tomorrow it will go downInto the bowels of the earth.Yesterday night he was busySearching for a quick-fix solutionTo his life’s problems in theFroth of the golden yellow brew.The body had a fatal hungerJust like the woman in its life.Scoops of dust settled on the coffin;It had no complaints about life.(The death of our Security officer ,Stephen ) 20
  • 32. My little pal on the ICQThe last time I saw her on the netShe was still growing milk teethStrands from her tufted hairDanced on her pretty foreheadShe wore her unspoilt innocenceOn the lambent parting of her hair.She now talks of man-woman stuffIn the morning she sits on my icq panelLike the little blue-green bird of summerWhich sat on my parapet wall of balconyHeaving her meager body as she sang.A frayed uncle of full forty yearsWants yellowed sleaze on the sly.What should she do, with a lustful man,Who wolf-whistles in the silences of the netAll she needs is a little gurgling brotherA bundle of shrieking flesh in mother’s lapOr a freckled school-boy brother in shortsNot a leathery-skinned lecher of an icq pal.Take my son, my dear, hold his handsWalk into the freedom of the mountainsThese little blackberries taste no sweetAlthough they bleed and redden your palmsAnd their bushes have piercing thorns. 21
  • 33. (A little girl named Shakti from Australia was on ICQ with me for along time) 22
  • 34. At the famous Tamil poet Subramania Bharati’s houseThere were no shadows on the wallsOnly a tall silhouette of aBeturbanned, deep-throated poet.His songs had spilled overInto his countrymen’s heartsLike Tamraparni river in spate.An elephant, not the colonial power,Cut off his sonorous voiceSure ,poets shall die young. 23
  • 35. The MuseIn a dim-lit corner of this house,I looked her in the eye, intenselyBelow the unswept wooden stairs.She stands starkly, under the shadows,Her gaze intently fixed on the lineBetween an expectant earthAnd a translucent blue May sky.(At the poet Rabindranath Tagore’s house in Kolkata) 24
  • 36. The Marble MausoleumThere is this woman-question, ever.She screamed from the bowels of TimeFluttering her soulless eyes in anger.A megalomaniac emperor had her,Embedded in a cold marble vault.The marbled beauty of the mausoleumSmothered her inner self leaving her cold,Like this man’s fabled passion for her.A fourteenth child was not for celebrationShe helped create his entity, lost own.(Written on a visit to the Taj Mahal . Mumtaz Mahal, in whosememory the Moghul emperor Shah Jehan created the Taj Mahalhad died delivering her fourteenth child ) 25
  • 37. The legend of SivakasiHere a horse-borne King had faltered,Stopped by his Queen’s purple flowThe bilwa leaves had become greenThe phallus-God shall be installedBrought here from the banks of deathThe desire-cow refused to moveIts udders were full with the milkEverything must go on unhindered ,All is ripe for love , ripe for death. 26
  • 38. Death of a womanShe stared at the roof beam,The wood that was once a tree.A tailless lizard came fromBehind the beam to lookAt her for the umpteenth time.Kitta kitta , said the lizardShe who had become ‘it’ staredUnremittingly at the beamThat was once a forest tree.The beam looked at the lizard.The continuum flowed endl’ssly .(Written on the death of my mother-in-law) 27
  • 39. Skull-potHere , I sit on the edgeWith my feet danglingIn the abyss of time.On the far-line I espyA pile of stacked skullsOf large circular eyesWith the mountain airHissing through them.There were thoughts in other skullsWhen their own holes were eyes,That wished no brains in them.What did the skull-pot think,When , lying on a string cot,It saw the smile of deathWhere the banyan met the sky?(Pol Pot, the infamous dictator of Cambodia was responsible for thegenocide of a million innocent people in the name of ideology ) 28
  • 40. Dying of excess lifeShe is collecting frost in the cell’rEarly tomorrow she will embrace fire.This evening she died of too much life,Excess activity in her cells, life’s surplus.Meantime life goes on and music goes onIn the temples of our dear elephant-God,The music of death, the music of life.(concerning the death of a relative from cancer) 29
  • 41. Bankura horsesIn Bishnupur our horses do not flyLike the horses of the Sun-God’s chariotTheir long necks are brittle and funnyOur broken terra cotta temples are GodlessThe temple ponds are now dhobi ghatsOur gods no longer adorn the Dance HallWe have potato storages, eve’rywhere,And our listless young men are playing cardsUnder the shade of the ancient banyan.Our famous horses do not fly these days.(The Bankura horses are made in wood and clay .Making the horses is a cottage industry in Bishnupur.There are 35 ancient temples, in laterite and terra cotta,dating back to the 17th /18th centuries . The temples areexquisitely beautiful and are not in a good state of preservation.The area is predominantly a potato-growing onewith a large number of cold storages.The seasonal nature of the potato cultivation and tradehas resulted in large scale unemployment in the area) 30
  • 42. The moonThis season our backyard coconutsHid it under their swinging frondsBehind our asbestos-sheeted shack,Its presence marked by the pale shadowOf our cow swishing tail on the insectsIn the backyard’s lonely darkness.The cow looked in the water troughGiving out a low plaintive moan.Her eyes shone through the nightAs the rope of the pail seemed to move.Actually it was a mere water snakeThat had made the well its home.Our hibiscus stood mute by the well;Its flowers went gray by the moonlight.Tiny flowers bloomed on the creeperThat had climbed our red-tiled roof.Their fragrance filled the night air.It was as though it was the moonThat smelled good in our backyard. 31
  • 43. Living in spaceSeveral ugly apartments rise in silenceTheir hues a dark mix of kitsch and colorThere are bellied men in the holes up there,Surrounded by red blue and yellow colors.They are not earthlings in their daily lifeSure they do not seem to live on the earth.Perhaps they are not men but birds in factThey live in holes in space like birds that liveIn nests and come down to the earth for food.They then fly back to their holes in the night.(Looking at the pigeon-holes of apartments in our residential colonyin Hyderabad). 32
  • 44. DreamWhen I live in the night I forget nightOn the rim of the night I stand apart.It was that time deja vue and a night,The big clutter of dreams hap’ned in heart.The night was when it was a poem, a dreamOf blood coming from the forehead and hurtBy somebody’s stone from roof and beamBecause dreams are real and in whole and part.They are not just flimsy unreal sleep things .When dreams happen real things happen in sleep.We think and dream and not miss what life bringsBecause knowledge slips and life slips and sleep.Life slips and sleep ,moments of wakefulnessIf we are not mindful, in life’s bus’ness.(Bleeding in the head from a stone hurled by somebody is arecurrent motif in my dreams) 33
  • 45. There is defiance in the airA girl in white stands in a far corner of the roadHer right pigtail defiantly slung on her left shoulder.There, bleary-eyed moms stand impatiently waitingFor yellow buses to take kids to reluctant schools.It had rained heavily last night on the neredu treeThere was violent wind and violet rain from the tree.The puddles under the tree were violet with ripe fruitsMashed under walking feet in rain water and mud.The woman takes the white dog out for a walkBut the dog pulls her sideways for sniff-sniff.Apparently the dog has fiercely independent views.An old man with his lungi duly tucked above the kneesIs dragging the bawling brat grandson into the house .The three year old is defiantly dragging grandpa away.He does not see eye to eye with grandpa on all issues.(Events in the morning walk) 34
  • 46. The 70’s manHe floats around in the park softlyLike a creature from another time.He wears the 70’s clothes and listens,As he floats in its space, to the musicWhich emerges out of his left pocketSpreading like a rain -puddle around him.In the blue clouds and over the wavesOf the wind I hear the song you sing. 35
  • 47. MarriagesThe bridegroom, in a thick suit, comes inWearing a red vermilion on his foreheadAnd a blotch of sweat under his arm.Marriages are hot, sweaty and blood-red.Marriages are tents full of clarinet music.Marriages are sonorous Sanskrit chants.Marriages are several silk sarees rustlingAs though the spring wind is already here. 36
  • 48. The grand plotIn the story the gaucho is set upon by other gauchosAmong whom he recognizes his godson and asks, ”Pero Ische?”A thousand years ago, Caesar similarly asked, ”Et Tu, Brutus? ”,As he recognizes Brutus his friend among his assassins.The gaucho now dies so that the scene can be played again.Neither the gaucho in the story nor Borges had any choice.(On reading The Plot –A short story by J.L.Borges) 37
  • 49. A doctor’s marriageA nose-sniffing doctor marries a doctor.We are listening to the wedding chatterAs though we are on the operation tableAnd consequently, are in an extended dream.The sounds of the chatter reach the ceilingAnd come down to meet us on our plastic chairsIn a steady stream of indistinguishable buzz.The nose-sniffing doctor sits on the stageWith the non-nose-sniffing doctor behind a curtainA middleman priest calls down gods in Sanskrit.We are in a morphine-induced dream lyingOn an operation table undergoing surgery.Our nose-sniffing man has sent us in our dreamHe is sitting by the side reading Kamasutra.But actually he is going through strange motionsWith the non-nose-sniffing doctor who is his bride.The middleman priest is invoking gods for himMaking him circle the smoking fire seven times. 38
  • 50. Memories of the city of PorbandarThe city stands on the sea where the waves beat black rocks,The white surf of an ocean which stretches to distant AdenWhere the ancestors had landed in a dhow to make trading money.Tall white stone buildings stood quietly against the blue sea.At night they wore the transparent veil of pale moonlight .On moonlit nights perfumed society people stood on the promenadeAmong the rocks where the waves from the distant Gulf beat thecity.Dark people sold smuggled tape recorders with whirring tape-spools.The whitewashed buildings had white peace in their upper bellies .But in their under-bellies they had fishermen’s knives and redrevenge .A frail old man from the city made white salt at the sea-shoreAnd spun white cotton on hand-wheels making others wear white. 39
  • 51. On completion of the construction of a houseThe house workers who had no houseShifted their house things to another house ,Everything on their headsAnd nothing over their heads. 40
  • 52. The afternoon soundsA lonely worker chipped away at the neighbor’s roof ,A leaking roof between the sky and my neighborWhen the sky poured torrents of rain on his head.The hammer-beats echoed in the hollow afternoon ,Interspersed by a yellow-black bird’s tireless notes.The notes came from our dead standing brown treeWhich was still hosting beautiful yellow-black birds ,While awaiting final execution by the municipal Axe. 41
  • 53. Our temple priestHe is our temple man , our friendly intermediary between us andGod.His words were a mere drone in the temple loud speaker in themorningBut the power of his words extended beyond the earth’s borders.He has a belly round as God’s earth, with cosmic incantations inthemHis words and flame and water connected us to our monkey god. 42
  • 54. The pastor and his nieceThe pastor’s mind is dark as a moonless night.In it she is a sepulchral figure, cold as death.Some times, on certain moonlit nightsAs the world becomes unbearably beautiful,She looks far, far away as he talks about God.And she suddenly laughs and hugs him.That is when the pastor becomes father.He sees their silhouettes in the pale moonlight.There has got to be reasons why God createdPastor’s nieces and boy friends and moonlight.( On reading Claire de LuneA short story by Guy De Maupassant) 43
  • 55. His gods ,my godsAs rain falls softly on the gleaming park trees, I walk on the wettrackAnd its etched geometrical shapes move endlessly like Nabokov’streesWhich seem to be going on a pilgrimage to somewhere all the time.The boy in his story has drawn gods with round eyes looking at theskyMy own Gods have unblinking eyes which see everything,everywhereBecause they do not have lids, they see all the time, all the space.(Reading Gods, a short story by Vladimir Nabokov) 44
  • 56. The last days of my motherBehind the wall the sound had comeOf illogic and helplessness, in bedAnd in the insecurity of the bathroom.Then she laughed her eyes slantingIt was at life she was laughingNow at you, steeped in life, in her eyes,From behind the mask of unreality. 45
  • 57. DesiresHe has grown hard in New EnglandGrowing things from them stones.Because God is hard and lonesomeWhile them kids are soft and easy.He has now grown ripe on the boughDesires under the elms make them allGrow ripe and fall to the ground.(Reading the play “Desires under the elms”- by Eugene O’Neill) 46
  • 58. Our time is leakingWe are all creatures of night and poetryWe stand here on the brink of the night .On the other side we hear this green oilThat is leaking ,drop by drop, into the seaIt is our time which is leaking into the night .(Concerning the disastrous oil leak in The Gulf of Mexico) 47
  • 59. The last lectureIn Randy Pausch’s last lecture there is spaceLeft briefly only to be occupied all time-The space that will exist all time, lackingIn substance like a quarry in the hillock,Which exists as long as the hillock lasts.Let us imagine the quarry hole filled with darkAnd you stand on the rim of the hole that existsIn absence of space and presence of time.As you continue to hit tangentially the last lectureYou do not get into the Randy Pausch’s circleThe circle of an inspiring cancer deathThe circle of dark quarry humor with a twistYou merely stand on the rim and lean into the darkStraining your eyes to see own reflection down there.(Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your ChildhoodDreams) 48
  • 60. On my mother’s deathWhile I was having my head shaved in her smokeI asked why the hearse should have blown the sirenAs we had gone about throwing flattened rice on her silence.But,when she was alive, the van that took herTo draw a map of her brain’s electrical wiringHad blown no siren at all on the crowded roads.Later, in my complicated muslin cloth and ashesI wondered why the river flowed in my mind and the roadWhen there were no rains in the Vindhya hills beyond. 49
  • 61. Thoughts at the Srirangam templeMy people’s concentrated historyFlowed through these stone archwaysStone people who lived on foreverThese are my own dearest kinsmenAnd my flesh and bones are madeOf the same powdered red rockWe worship the same granite god.(Looking at the exquisite sculptured figures on the Srirangamtemple walls) 50
  • 62. At the memorial forest for the departedWe looked for her in a revived memoryIn the greenness of the memorial forest.A young mango tree flourishes for herIn the vast dome of the academy’s sky.The boy-keeper says it is fine and green-At the corner the monkey-God is waitingTo be housed in a reddish-tinged templeAlong with the Goddess with extended tongue.Here my mom shall flourish in good companySoon there will be green mangoes hangingAlongside the morning sun and silver rainAnd tiny vivid birds heaving , on its branches,Their bodies filled with sweetness and song.(We had planted a mango tree in a Memorial forest in Bhopal in mymother’s memory) 51
  • 63. You , me and himYou would wish to ask him whyOur friend’s son has not returnedFrom his bath in the Ganges .You cannot ask such questions.You can , of course , whisper themSoftly into the misty morning airStanding on your toe on the railingIn the dizzying heights of the Qutub .If and when you get your answers,Please whisper them into my earsAbove the bazar din of Chandni Chowk .(Concerning the death by drowning of a colleague’s young son inRoorkee) 52
  • 64. The laughing clubThe men and women here laughFor no particular reason , really.They cannot help it , however.They belong to the laughing clubOther people hurt yet other peopleEverybody laughs for no reasonEndowed with a free lower jaw.They cannot help it ,you will agree.(Watching the laughing club in Bhopal Ekanth park) 53
  • 65. A warehouse prince broke her hornShe just does not sit around doing nothing, night and mornLook at her glass menagerie of animals , cute and unique-bornTake a look at the silver-glowed unicorn with his pretty hornA prince from the warehouse comes riding into her life forlornIt is this warehouse prince who breaks the horn ,her poor unicornStrangely she does not mind it- we mean this loss of unique horn.(The Glass Menagerie by Tennesse Williams) 54
  • 66. The poet stands upright in his pantsBukowski’s lady had him off the bottleHe now tries sundaes of different flavorsNow he does not have to listen to MozartShostakovitch and other classical blokeThrough a surreal haze of smeared smokeHe now feels cool like the ice cream people.Above all he stands upright in his pants.http://hellopoetry.com/poem/the-icecream-people/#ixzz0vbAOS0XJ 55
  • 67. The memoirs of a GeishaThe geisha had eyes like rain.There was laughter in her eyesThat looked the color of rain.Just an artist of the floating world,She dances sings keeps men happyShe is just a half-wife of nightfallThe rest is shadow, the rest secret.Thank god it is just her memoirsJust an afternoon movie on the telly.(The memoirs of a geisha, a film) 56
  • 68. Waiting for the boat(h t t p : / / s o u n d a r y a l a h a r i . f i l e s . w o r d p r e s s . c o m / 2 0 1 0 / 0 8 / w a i t i n g - f o r- t h e - b o a t . j p g)They are unknown quantities;they sit still in shadows and evenings.sometimes they crouch expectantlywaiting to be reality-copiedthey are huddled togetheron the muddy shore of the lakefor boat and togetherness. 57
  • 69. What the old trees do not realizeThe trouble is they want to remain homesTo the many homeless evening-birdsWhich incessantly chatter to slum kidsPouring out of their improvised shantiesWith tin roofs glistening in the sun.They do not realize even in their deathThat our gardener’s three-stone stoveIs waiting impatiently for their dry logsTo arrive in its enormous, crackling fire.(Concerning a withered tree in our Bhopal house which wereunwilling to fell even after its death because it was the home toseveral birds) 58
  • 70. Flickr. dreamsI have several black and white “flickr” dreamsNobody touches them because they areJust my black and white dreams ,not theirsAnd it is the colored ones they are after. 59
  • 71. When death happened of my driver’s fatherIn the meanwhile there is this driver’s dramaWhen he gets into train to see ailing dadHe hears dad already dead of too much sugarAnd look,death is so sweet and so prosaic! 60
  • 72. At death ceremony of a relative in EluruTrains bring people to river canalsWhere death is a mere after-factSubmerged in flowing green waters. 61
  • 73. Sunrise and flowersIn my nights of waitingFor sunrise and flowersI look pain in the faceI struggle to think in flowersAnd rising orange sunsMy night then fizzles downWith its false props to prideAt five I wake up bleary-eyedTrying to catch beach sunsBefore they turn white.(After a restless night in the hotel in Chennai smarting under undera hurt ego, I got up at 5 A.M. and headed for the Merina beach tocatch the rising sun on my camera) 62
  • 74. The Wishing WellWith my back turnedI hurl stones after stonesInto the wishing wellDisturbing the frog’s sleepIn its libidinous dreams.My moon had fallen into the wellMy pail could not bring it upI continue to drop stonesSomeday the water will riseTo bring up my beautiful moon.(This Wishing Well is found on the hills of Yercaud in SouthernIndia.The legend says that if you manage to drop at least one stoneinto the well ,out of three attempts, with your back turned on the well, whatever you may have wished will be fulfilled ) 63
  • 75. On a rainy night in HyderabadWith hot springrolls we plonked into deep chairsTo watch waves after waves of silver rainIn the night’s depths the fogs croaked in gusty unisonOver shallow puddles on the edge of the street. 64
  • 76. Waiting for a flight at MumbaiAt the vaulting dome waves refused to travelUnless on a few pieces of silver and a name.The flying metallic bird will take two full hoursThese angels in turquoise will feed our appetites(Although Mumbai airport was wifi-enabled I could not access theinternet) 65
  • 77. On failing to get admittance to the Taj MahalYesterday’s eye-red was but a phaseHaving lost the moonlight all the wayBehind large doors and khaki authority(When we pray in marble mosquesWe tend to get killed on FridaysBecause beauty does not really matterBut only the blood-red duty-call)In the end we see where the king wentIn the cold cellar,past earthly beautyThe priest’s God-call pierced the vaultAs beauty is not truth,only coldness. 66
  • 78. On return from the temple of Puri JagannathThe Lord of the Universe secured my sanityImages of wooden Gods, of a jungle neem treeInterspersed with celebrations of celestial loveThe theme remained of beauty in sandstoneOf its golden brown hues against the blue skyOf a yellowed middleman between me and GodHe , the omnipotent God ,seemed armlessHis eyes were large , circular and lidlessHe sees us unblinking ,in our absurdnessAnd in our countless follies and pointless fears 67
  • 79. Fear of deathDeath crawled on the tender undersideThe body threatened to explode in fearUp there, on the first floor, you were aloneWith sweaty fear between you and infinityWhat seemed to matter was a dusty existenceEnclosed in divisions of space and timeIn the cold cellar darkness touched your bodySmelling fearfully like yesterday’s deathThere was death in the smelly danknessThese insects were creatures of the darkTheir life signified your ceasing to existWe know their bites would not matterThere is this mountain in exquisite morning lightWhich will become the center of your selfAnd grant freedom from the flesh to the world.(A poem written on a visit to the Ashram of Ramana Maharshi inTiruvannamalai ) 68
  • 80. River noise and river silenceriver noise and river silenceswept by leaning trees and rockscarry ashes of our living since deadrice balls are carried in rapid waterreaching distant rivers in hillsour fire is lighted ,our rice cookedfor our no longer kin but airy spiritswe chant strange words ,sonorouswords that release airy nothingsfrom real bondages ,strange.words are airy nothings toothe body is nothing ,just sleepsand it turns into ice and ashesswathed in ice that holds bodywhile it does not smell ,quietlybodies that look at the skydisappear the next morningin ashes of flowing waterwe tried to collect two urea bagsfull of she who bore us into the worldthe boat enters midstreamwithout looking back we hurl herher ribs were trying to holdafter the fire they are cinderswe scoop her in our bagsall the while we chant strange wordsthat mean nothing to us or to herour words are ashes ,our love ashes 69
  • 81. a bag of yellowed bones(my mother’s death) 70
  • 82. The peak in Hong KongHere we talk on the peak ,about the peakAnd some times walk gloriously on the peakIn summer our performance peaks in the peakAs tiny white lights glitter through the darkThe stars peak in their glittering performance . 71
  • 83. Sitting in the car on a rainy evening in BhopalEvening rain glistens on the roadAs bread is bought and bananas areTurned over for ripeness and less ripeness.The rain is dancing on the car roof;From the car the camera tries to catchThe wet sun on the leaves of the corner treeSoon the wipers catch fever and quicklyWe make our way in a sea of umbrellas. 72
  • 84. Remembering a schizophrenic bossThat man in anger thinks he were thereBut anger makes him just not thereBecause he wants much to hurt youNot in the stomach but in your upper.He is quizzing because he is not sure.He gets into a maze of wordy thoughtsAnd his words confuse you and him.They hit you in your solar plexus and his.Now, now, he wants to saunter leisurelyOn the frosty wastes of the snowed hillsAs I saunter leisurely now in this nightOn the frozen darkness of my years. 73
  • 85. Thoughts on a rainy evening in a Midnapore hotelThe day sizzled as thoughThe Gods were being angryIn the evening the sky openedIn electric anger hurlingTorrents of water throughOur hotel room windowsThe windows were fragileAnd too full of gaping holes.Alone , in the hotel room,I thought a thousand thingsThe day’s vacuous bits , inane imagesAn old heritage buildingOverrun with wild vegetationPhantoms from the mythical pastRose from its ruins and historyI heard the Kauravas’ war criesFerreting out Pandavas in exileFrom their secret existenceThen a trigonometrical puzzleOn the hill everything appearedTo this speck of consciousnessAs if standing on the edge of timeSoon sleep came in wavesDemolishing the hotel walls andMy flesh-and-blood existence. 74
  • 86. Looking at a painting entitled “Books”In the beginning there was chaos in formBeauty eluded us, lacking formal symmetryA prestine female form then appearedFrom somewhere -then another,close.A shadowy dark form in the wingsA scramble for crystalline knowledgeNeatly bound volumes to be crossed over-A crossing over to the world of the deadA conscious demolition of made-to orderThen emerged beauty leaving us breathless.(Asha Radhika ‘s painting ) 75
  • 87. Morning at the Grand Hotel,KolkataThe morning crystallisesPure and silver. At sevenThe moment slowly swellsTo an iridescent eventAmid outcry of cutleryAnd bone-clatter of chinaSparrow-love on the lawnsAnd aromatic hotel smells. 76
  • 88. At the templeThe moon fluttered atop God’s flagpoleA thousand oil lamps smelling GodScattered birds in the tree’s darkness.(At the Balaji temple,Bhopal on a Full Moon day) 77
  • 89. The rockThe drill cut through the rockUntil there was no rockOnly a bluer sky.(When I saw , from my balcony in Hyderabad ,the constructionpeople drilling a rock to make room for a housing project) 78
  • 90. PrayerIn the rock lay my lovely child-GodWho was born today morning.There is this saffron-robed monkUnder the folds of water in the rockLighting the perfumed camphor for himIn the dark recesses of my mindWhenever the orange sun is missing.(On visiting the cave temple of Rama in Bhopal on the SriramaNavami day (the birthday of Srirama) 79
  • 91. Hair cut on a Good FridayThis Friday should surely be goodTopped up by an evening hair cutTo cleanse fear deep in the folliclesHelped by a fakir* in the head-cloth.(Shirdi Saibaba from whose Samadhi temple I had just returnedafter seeking his spiritual grace) 80
  • 92. BreakBreak is what touches metalAnd nerves and mental state.Break is sound and disconnectFrom life and living and love.Break is midnight and strangeHuge buses cutting down life.Break is not another morning.(Upon hearing the death by accident of the business partner of myneighbor) 81
  • 93. The wind palace of Jaipur(h t t p : / / s o u n d a r y a l a h a r i . f i l e s . w o r d p r e s s . c o m / 2 0 1 0 / 0 8 / i m g _ 2 3 1 9 . jp g)The soft pink of the wind palaceDoes not jell with her poverty’sBlazing red tie-and-dye sareeToo kitschy for our proud art,Too sentimental for our souls.Let us have bright red banglesThey contrast better with the pink-There is still poverty left in them. 82
  • 94. Passing by a tribal weekly fair in BastarYesterday was the day of cockfightsThe birds stared at their bound legsWaiting to bleed their bird-friendsOur white fluid glistened in the potsWe went high on smelly rice drinks.We made a rope circle among trees,That was the bloody arena for cocks.Our basket threw up big plastic dice,Our village youth staked day’s labor.Our children now have blue uniforms-They will one day be clerks in office. 83
  • 95. SuicideThere a bald man walked into the seaThe sea of emptiness beyond the windowWanting to get back to the mother fastInside, a greedy woman , a son in fogAt the end of the street they all disappearWhere there is a blind turn, a dead-end.(Upon hearing the news of the suicide of a relative) 84
  • 96. Dying of loveYou watch the celluloid horrorOf a twelveyear-old girlLying spreadeagled, shriekingAs knowledge strikes as horrorIn the suburban trainOf three living-dead humansWatching a twelveyear-oldDying of love.(After watching a Hindi movie on the video in a night journey by busfrom Mumbai to Hyderabad) 85
  • 97. Mankarnika ghat(h t t p : / / s o u n d a r y a l a h a r i . f i l e s . w o r d p r e s s . c o m / 2 0 1 0 / 0 7 / d s c n 7 2 6 7 . jp g)The Manikarnika ghatThese people have come hereTo solve existence problemsOn the river that washed sins,Human bodies and buffaloes.They came from a far off river landWhere sins are equally washed.They are wearing dark glassesAnd their lungis above kneecaps.They speak an ancient tongueAnd eat mounds of liquid rice.But when their boat reachesWithin sight of the Manikarnika ghatThey are deeply afraid in their eyesLike you,me and our ancestors. 86
  • 98. ( Watching a boatful of Tamil pilgrims on the holy river of Ganges inVaranasi)(Manikarnika ghat is the ghat (river steps) where one meets life anddeath:it is the cremation ghat on the Ganges in Varanasi .It isbelieved that the soul will attain liberation if the body is crematedhere.) 87
  • 99. Upon the death of a colleagueHe who knew my secrets is deadIn the field and on his house .His own secrets are safe and secureIn the lock- and- key of my aliveness. 88
  • 100. Tribute to the Shehnai maestro Bismillah KhanI had dreamt of a magic, a mere thingWaiting to become a mere thingJust like a rock of inorganic cellsA few chromosomes carry all memoriesOf my primordial world, of giant-sized eggsYou see I have invented a reed bringing forthThe finest smelling finger hole music,Smelling of oil-lamp flames extinguishingIn ancient temples behind closed doors.I have invented golden- robed gods smilingIn flower decked finery, with vermilionOn my forehead where it is all written.I have invented half-burnt corpses flowing,In flames, on fragrant heaven-promisesThis morning the reed vanished abruptlyIn the fragrance of the river’s shadows. 89
  • 101. Remembering a dream on one morningIn the morning it all came back ,awakeFrom the dream, the planet called the earthThe birds chirped among new-born budsTheir colors spoke interminably of dreams. 90
  • 102. On the tiny hillock in our bank’s staff college in HyderabadIt is the sleeping rocks that glowedTheir contours passionately etchedAgainst white houses in blue spaces.We had tiptoed all the way to the hillockAs the trees looked down on us,clinging,Their foliage witness to our fecund follies. 91
  • 103. The royal palaceThe palace was luminously wet and reached out to skyIn its shadow lay the kings and their faceless womenWhose fine drapery interrupted their noses and seeing eyesUnder big-vaulting domes and resounding halls.Their noises went up to the ceiling and returned emptyLike their noses and eyes lost from their faces.They were not lost actually but had never been there.When the silks arrived they forgot the women’s faces.The women sat there gossiping about other women,Other women in the harem and their fine draperies.Their men’s bloated egos did not show on men’s faces;Their men’s egos showed on the women’s stomachs,,On the little heirs to the throne who came from there.A fine bangle,a glittering necklace and some pearlsHush talk about the latest addition to the haremAnd other scraps of conversation went on as it rained.They had no faces for the evening conversation,Only bodies fully draped in the finest gilded silks.In the beginning they sat on the ground huddled.Later the West grew on them in the white man’s landAnd they sat on sofas and high backed chairs presidingTea ceremonies just like the sophisticated women.They still did not have their noses on their faces . 92
  • 104. Trying to make poetry from a jokeAfraid of the seething world withinI took pictures of my pulsing bagpipeA white ghost with a tail in his neckWatched the geometry of my heartOn the flatness of a luminous worldIn this bath we are all naked and frothingHe with the cat’s eyes had his own geometryI co-swelled with him in creative prideIn our separate apostasies we fell prostate.Everything fell in place except this jokeAs love’s summers passed for wintry nightsThe joke is now on me prostate and fallingAs I try to make pretty poetry out of it.(About a general medical check-up I had undergone in 2008 .Theexamination revealed a prostate enlargement ,the beginning of oldage problems that will slowly creep in as one advances in age) 93
  • 105. The cherub in inverted spectaclesThe portly gentleman looked at himselfIn the bathroom mirror and smirked.In the shrill voice of his childhoodHe made some really funny noisesWhich yuckily merged in cistern sounds.He tried to think simple like childHe will go out and pick some berries-Bleeding berries from the red mountainBut mother says Banti it is sleep-timeWill you now lie on your back and sleepHow can one lie on one’s back and sleep ?It is fun to wear spectacles upside downThe world looks so much different.Not for me the complicated transactionsThese grown-ups are terrible bores.I will now dig deep in uncle’s backyardI will find several nuggets of gold there;These teachers are sometimes stupidThey ask funny questions in their class.The big gentleman looked at his paunchThis time the child is not coming backEverything is once again complicatedThe cherub in spectacles vanishedIn the mists of time , not to come back.(This is me and my cousin’s young son on the surface but it isactually me now and me then. Obviously the portly gentleman is menow and the cherub is my cousin’s son who was asking all those 94
  • 106. questions! The me then comes out now and then) 95
  • 107. The hanging of a child-rapistThat was a clinching moment.Darkness spread its wings;The walls were already closing inAs they had been threateningThese years , nights and moments.Their pale textures mergedInto the corners of his mind.The time has come to experienceSlow and painful unfilling of space ,Sudden, abrupt ejection into Time,Just like that little girl, you see,Whose piercing cries precipitatedHis inevitable descent into hell.On the other side of the glass wallHer lips seem to be movingHe cannot read them, now,The mists on the glass are thick.(Based upon the hanging incident of a youth from Kolkata who wascondemned to to die for the offence of raping and murder of a littlegirl) 96
  • 108. In the tea gardens of CoonoorIn the blue mountainsPassions do not rise highThe mountains gently shakeTall shimmering silver oaks offThe wind in their hair.These fat matronly mountainsSquat pretty in the valleysWearing their best velvets.The air here is tea-fragrantAs magical woman-fingersPluck two leaves and a budAnd hurl them into baby-baskets.Time here hangs lightly betweenSips of tepid C.T.C. tea . 97
  • 109. A boat trip on the Ganges in KolkataOn the Babughat the Ganges woreA splendid necklace studded with imagesOf inverted candle lights under the bridge .The flickering flame of the lantern in the boatRefused to dance to the wind’s death-tune .Near the jetty stood a dark monstrosityBrooding over its unillumined loneliness .Its cavernous stomach ached withThe darkest secrets of the high seas . 98
  • 110. Morning at the Palm Hotel, VizagAt six the crimson orbBursts out of the sea’s vastnessA red-and-white old lighthouseWith patches of chipped-off paintAn apparition of a coconut treeWith its frond struck downBy last year’s lightning. 99
  • 111. Photographing the cranes in the Bhopal lakeThey belly-rest on swamp,Snow-white, on murky mudIn a funny numbers gameNear the brown broken wallIn the luminous evening lake.Pearl-white they take offAnd suddenly swoop headlongTo catch fish and tiny wormIn utter boring repetition. 100
  • 112. Fire and waterDark girls with jasmines in their hairStood unblinking all day, in the hall,Bringing fire into other people’s lives.Listless sweaty men made balls of fire;Tired old ladies kneaded fiery doughThere is fire in their tired hearts,In their dulled minds , on their handsBut no water to quench their thirsts.(On a visit to the firecrackers and matches factories of Sivakasi) 101
  • 113. PrayerThe sounds settled on our coreTouching our conscious, our selfnessMetallic music poured forthFrom yellow discs in fevered rhythmAs our sepulchral child-egos rose .Our consciousness flapped its wings .We only rise once over the cloudsOur waxen wings melt too quicklyBut our memories remain of flying.(After a visit to the ISCON temple in Bangalore) 102
  • 114. The hill is deadThe ring road is surely our city’s proudest diamond ringOn its side lie the mangled remains of our mountains.(A thought which occurred as I drove down the newly made RingRoad in Hyderabad) 103
  • 115. The brideHer long back arched silentlyAs she crouched and waitedFor history to break and beginWith fresh stories in the making.( A pen-sketch of my cousin’s bride done at the marriage) 104
  • 116. The skinMy skin hides my flesh and my bones so wellBut is darkly opposed to sunlight and after- life.My twice-born superiority in it is challengedBy that dark woman who says we are thoseWho wear their knotted hair on servile backsAnd carry the dead on their hunched shouldersFor a meal in their belching brahminical stomachs.My skin was fair and complexion clear a year agoAnd my bones were in their proper places below.Now at the dead of the night the water flowsOn my skin giving the foretaste of dark deathThe death of my skin, the close-end of existence(My eighty year old aunt who lives in a home for the elderly) 105