A poem a day written in June 2003
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Who is this hooded man? 1
Scraping the night 2
White clouds 4
The god of the hills 5
The super-moon 7
The jungle flower 8
Well being 9
The wild elephant 16
Cats in the clouds 17
The hibiscus 19
The silver mountain 21
Phone gossip 26
The reluctant old man 27
The driver’s mustache 29
Who is this hooded man?
The women are at their frivolous pursuits
At lake, with a shameless crow on the tree.
Soon the crow will be black in wistful air
With a princess’ jewel, to women’s shouts,
Their delicate fingers pointing to the sky.
There is a Krishna- flippancy to the crow
That flies away with a jewel hiding shame.
The women walk on their hushed whispers.
The hooded man seems a crow running away
With the princess’ beauty on rising bosom
That went up and down on the golden jewel.
He is in fact a self-redeeming black soul
A bored painter of languid women of myth.
These women are figures from his canvas
Bored with pointing fingers at crows in sky.
(Raja Ravi Verma’s painting:
Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: raja ravi verma's
painting, who is this hooded man
Scraping the night
I have to be a cat scraping the night
Confusing between idea and thing.
You may call me a soft landing cat
On night’s tin roof with no hot feet.
Its corrugations collect windy leaves
Having lost the previous day’s sun.
The cat is missing and since gone .
Rain snakes overflow corrugations
With blowing yellow leaves to floor.
But the cat is messing and not gone
With a kitten held by a loose scruff.
Mom cat is searching for other night
On another hot roof, in scalded feet.
Kitten turns small night’s scraping.
The scraping of the night is a sound
In the inner lobe of an ear’s poems.
Cats are poems on your hot tin roof
They sky-drop and flow as rain waters
Snaking through night’s corrugations.
(A gentle recall of Raja Rao’s novel The Cat and Shakespeare)
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Times we feel warm and upbeat in pants
With money ,as with pebbles from beach
Near a sand castle built on our child foot.
We bring home pockets of cash to forget
Hot flushes, our years hot with knowing.
We know oldies with their gleam in eyes
About certain money schemes hatching
Gold ducks , the gold from duck stomachs
Dropping as Sunday’s eggs in bare fundas.
And later, on four shoulders towards dust,
The gleam would go home to their sunsets
Beyond rocks, their children smiles gone.
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In that sky, like preternatural birds ,
Lay soft white clouds, full of rain
Drops for red roses by the lakeside
Lying in wait for somebody ‘s car
Boot to pick up so as to lie in wait
With the wet clothes on balconies.
The white clouds are wet clothes
Hung by the sky gods for drying.
As they drip-drop they will turn rain
Drops on lake roses lying in wait
For cars to pick up, to lie in wait
On balconies with drying clothes.
Meanwhile , soft white clouds will
Turn temporary cat’s eyes peering
Down in our camera’s pure view
To lie in wait permanently in eyes.
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The god of the hills
All the machinery is there ,a siren’s blow
A blade, a voice to the right, some words.
The blade cuts through ice, mud and lies
Saying it is words from the night, a sleep.
It is bodies in their own words from space
A chopper on its way down , men stopping
Short, other people living and some dead
For a hill visibility that is missing from life.
Silence is all ,a stone phallus in the hills
Snug in the cave ,a light from earth lamp
A blue and dusted god with a river in hair
And a moon no longer super, far from us.
Words are his dreams, a god in snow hills,
A god submerged in the stream of his wife.
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It turned out their world was not a stage
But many stages as players looked down
Their eyes popping out in disbelief about
The growing years of mustache and glory
Turning to mud , in cloud dust and rumble.
A handful was the rat-slime about a temple
That turned eyes to pearls, passing stages.
And nothing of them that doth change but
Doth suffer a river change, a rat that came
Crawling from the trapped valley of a glacier.
(Thousands of pilgrims to the Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath and
Badrinath have perished ,caught in a flash flood triggered by a cloud
Those are pearls that were his eyes
Nothing of him that doth change
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange
The tempest : William shakespeare
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My super-moon drifted away to its sleep
Behind rain-clouds ,while a super-mom
Danced away blues on the small screen.
Big bright orb was ghost on another sky.
My purest view had to be near a guess
Behind rain – cloud, a dastardly destroyer
Of men in folded prayers on the snow hills.
A moon ghost became far from my truth
With men and trees across its luminosity,
Ghosts of men and dark trees in a breeze
Violently disagreeing with its astral views.
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The jungle flower
Near the lazy rock and its green sky
A jungle flower would bloom whitely
Like whirring wheel of a firecracker,
A toothed wheel of tiny locomotion.
The breeze stirred its shape into many,
With false feet of anthers , disheveled
Hair of dancing to a morning breeze.
Near its heart is a dash of soft orange
Set in a white crystal of perfect view,
With contrapuntal note by brown bee
Hovering to a hesitant landing away
From prying camera for macro views.
The rock rose grandly to a summer sky
Looking down on a single jungle flower
A white pride in its green rock bottom.
The bee landed briefly on bee outlines,
Many shapes vaguely embracing bee.
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Like the old poet we had a well to look in
With a bucket lowered gently to touch its
Perturbed waters in their broken moons.
Midnight was fearsome with green snakes
Lurking in ghostly hibiscus trees standing.
A boy in knickers could not bend too low
For fear in belly, with no Narcissus -love.
Fear perked up like a piece of balcony sky
And crawled in half-pants to feet below.
The bucket fell to it with deep dull thud
As its rope had slithered down a pulley
Like a vague water snake searching frogs.
The waters came up to sprinkle moons
In tiny puddles on the stone saucer rim.
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Sleep is not doing nothing with body
But a possibility of switching off
Like for instance in sleeping with.
You have to sleep with a possibility,
A metaphor for love that kills sleep.
Just when you turn a blind corner
At the corner tree in a windy dance
You sleep off your wind in the hair.
The wind gone the hair still stands
As piece of avant garde reporting.
You only have to sleep once with
And not do anything with the wind.
What we mean sleep we mean with.
Or if you please, we may agree to off,
And not alone in a midnight pillow.
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While at the stand we keep wondering
With mouths agape, forgetting to close.
All the time we ask immortality forgetting
To desire eternal youth to fading bodies.
The cicada keeps its mighty mouth open
Its sounds a never ending stream of youth.
We open our drawers only to keep them
Wide and agape as our mouths wonder.
Wonder never ceases while youth is gone.
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My own thing is this very empty space
Since nobody has claimed this as own
Like the dog on a leash claiming his ,
Shouting at tree’s silences in corners.
The cricket claims his own in the bush
And around a forgot house on the lake,
Now a grand view of buzz- mosquitoes.
Poems are buzz- mosquitoes owning all
This piece of unreal estate at midnight.
Their shrill cries are documents of title.
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A few red spots turn lines as a sun dies.
They are on a body flying southwards.
Birds are white spots under fingernails.
Fingers flutter wings to call birds down.
Tiny red spots disappear from a dusk sky
And the body turns to sky at a soft dusk
And azure, beyond a brown rock of lake.
The lake swirls around the birdless rock
And the rock swirls around a birdless sky
As the birds turn fingers fluttering wings
Calling other birds down from a dusk sky.
Birds are now white spots, v’s on canvas
May be lines from white spots in fingers.
Sky is a line joining white spots of birds.
The rock is a line living in the lake’s line .
Sky is a fine line living above a lake’s line.
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Just this happiness wish at the street corner
With no birthday in cakes and songs on lips,
As you coast along on a floating noise of feet.
A smile curves at lips corner near silver hair.
Today is not even your birthday but could be.
Who knows somebody is smiling in your back.
I for one smile behind my back at your corner.
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In the hours before a night crashes
Our meanings are formed as wings.
Wings are a shambles of flimsy art
Exquisite art of a silver filigree done
In sleep and dreams between sleep,
The mothwings left on a rainy night.
Marginal words are inchoate ideas
A shambles of thought , a silver filgree
Of wings that pile up like fallen leaves
To be scooped up the next morning
To throw away behind a white wall.
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The wild elephant
The tribal guide would not not let us down
Into the crunch of leaves and tiger pawprints.
From such height you can see the mountains.
The secret is to hold on and not let it move
To mountains over thorns , low-slung bushes
With blue clouds at the top presaging storm.
Witout ankush it takes us to the inner animal
Wth trees uprooted, mountains pulled nearer
Without the dusk shining from the rear flanks.
Muthu teaches us to wield ankush to it to go
Where we want to go, to the blue mountains.
(The mind is a rider on an elephant. ‘My own mind used to wander
wherever pleasure or desire or lust led it, but now I have it tamed, I
guide it, as the keeper guides the wild elephant-Buddha)
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Cats in the clouds
Rainless and cotton-white it had turned
A whiskered cat staring down from eye
Over the spiked antenna of the neighbor
A picture of a ghostly vision of a feline.
How can it disappear from my picture?
It is as if cloud cats jump walls to disappear
In the bushes to the other side of tree.
The eye-hole stays but the rest of the cat
Has gone , cat-silent and rubber-footed .
A cloud-eye is what remains of its ghost.
Cats disappear from the virtual picture
The same way as they do in the real sky.
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The dad’s absence hole is waiting closure
Of a grief never felt, yet staying open in
The space between us and a body’s sleep.
We live alongside a grief’s body staring
At the ceiling fan that has never buzzed.
The fan was never really meant to buzz
For the tiny blood flowing up and down,
A bundle of baby flesh shrieking closure.
The gaping mouth in its mother’s breast
Stays open for closure of grief never felt.
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We have never looked deep in its heart
It carries at the top waving in the breeze
Loving a bee and the colors of butterfly.
Cognition names it hibiscus for poems
But poems are no hibiscus, with anther,
At summit sprinkling pollen on breeze.
Airy creatures will land on the summit.
They will make it a hibiscus pure view
For a stamen to nod in excited whispers
For the breeze to carry a floral message.
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You say it and shall pass like
Change of guard in Elsinore fort.
But the lockbar does not slide
Like half-open toothless mouth .
You shall remember who mom
Had been before her marriage.
You remember mom all the way
Before she was dead and gone
Further back to silly giggling girl
Before she had worn that finery
To her new life, your new birth.
Her own lockbar opened to enter
The half-open toothless mouth
With a password open sesame.
One always forgets it to return.
The captcha is hard to decipher.
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The silver mountain
The silver mountain disclosed answers
To a meditating saint in its deep recess
Now sky blue with priests interceding
For us on behalf of a phallic stone god.
Then were no blue – red painted pillars
Enclosing people bathing phallus gods
With smooth gluey banana milk paste,
Just a saint and his god in banyan trees
Sprouting from silver recesses for wind.
The saint would look for beauty in jungle
And in silver mountains, on his cross-legs
Blinded by a gold of sun , a child’s doubts
A flicker in the mind like a child’s smile.
We search beauty in blue stone pillars
Climbing kitschy colors engulfing men.
Their beauty flows in white guey paste
Around phallus gods in silver mountain.
The mountain is no more silver but blue
With white clouds about it as gluey paste.
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Thinking is a language’s voice stopped
Wind in coconut leaves brieflystopped
While cock crowed a train in woman’s
Voice embalmed in sleep before coffee.
Train will arrive soon on the sun’s back
And find voice of woman on its clackety.
The milk van is on its feet finding voice
On the slurp on kids’ lips as eyes bleared.
Soon it will be the voice of school on back
Little girl giggles of memorising formulae
On ponytails ding-dong on uniform backs
As buses blow ready horns in road corners.
Coconuts find dancing voice before dawn
In lost moons and wind gains,before eagles.
Eagles will arrive to find voice before trains.
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We did little to further the conversation.
Our gestures would vanish in the wet air,
Our gait formal and awkward in the sand
As cactii bloomed between legs of dogs.
Stray dogs jumped and ran to other dogs
Beyond the mound, to fishermen’s shacks
The shacks that sported colorful garments
Before the conversant sea of fishing nets.
The nets broke off ongoing converation
Between moluscs and hole drilling-crabs
Making drag-marks as if of formal nets,
Nets broken like holes in mosquito nets
Letting in mosquitoes to buzz near ears.
The sky stretched like a drying garment
Broke in holes to let in sea-conversation
With a moon that would listen endlessly.
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I would better smell the unread growing
To a huge pile of golden straw at dusk
In a read later’s vast continuum of sky.
The gold shall disappear at early dawn
When a whole new pile appears to smell
Fresh dew-wet straw scraping the blue.
We always remain unread straw people.
We are for demolishing our straw piles
To wear their hats in our literary leisures
But always put it off to tomorrow’s dusk.
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All this sadness is hers and not mine
It is her kneecap that is not working
To climb the stairs powered by a lift
Not working now , sadly, out of power.
This sadness is hers she refuses to own
And passes it to me nursing my own,
My own sadness congealed in blood
As the general sadness of humankind.
Sadness is not hers but enema maker’s
Pain in the arse is mankind’s, not hers.
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We call it the possibility of a happening
A language of thought, of a meditation
A way of happening, not just an event
As the phone unfurls on a pair of ears.
We construct life ,wall by wall ,corridors
In empty spaces of language and speech.
In the graybeards exist many possibilities
To hymns, God-invocations and silences.
The phone vibrates a silence of thought
By hand gestures, a pantomime on wall.
The ears speak actions jumping on wall,
As eyes remain screwed to their ghosts.
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The reluctant old man
In the beginning it would sound funny
Like the short squat cries of brown birds
That have come back to a roost season.
Any old man has got to look ridiculous
And feel it so in short squat bird cries.
He did not feel that awkward before birth
Why now before a locomotive of a disease
That will carry him to the little black dots
On starred skies’ map, like dots of towns
On a lazy map lying stretched to eternity.
Disease takes him there chugging clackety
But on foot the old man is rather reluctant.
(For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it. But to
look at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream
over the black dots of a map representing towns and villages. Why,
I ask myself, should the shining dots of the sky not be as accessible
as the black dots on the map of France? If we take the train to get to
Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. One thing
undoubtedly true in this reasoning is this: that while we are alive we
cannot get to a star, any more than when we are dead we can take
So it doesn’t seem impossible to me that cholera, gravel, pleurisy &
cancer are the means of celestial locomotion, just as steam-boats,
omnibuses and railways are the terrestrial means. To die quietly of
old age would be to go there on foot.”)
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh c. 9th July,1888
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The driver’s mustache
A wide and long handlebar mustache
Trembled with life and a car smoothly
Flowed as life, driving its bloody heart
But one morning as the sun would rise
Its blood trickled down to its last sand.
Two plastic tubes could smooth its flow
But tubes are the commerce of medicine
That flows smoothly, on warm pockets.
And the mustache had to stop quivering
With all emotion as pockets went cold.
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On the upper story is telltale remainder
Of a fine smile of yesteryears , a direct
Message from Christ, a new shiny star
In plastic paper in light, gently swaying
To December wind’s Christmas carols
A fine celebration over christmas cupcake
By rubber man now south with daughter
Grown and graceful, a fine Maria of angel
A lily fragrant from a monsoon breaking.
Our heads are derelict , carrying ruined
Walls from yesteryears flaked off by rain
Accumulated rain of bitter experiences
But the remnants still sport a life-giving
A green plant shooting from derelict space.
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