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Selected poems of sachin c.ketkar


 Selections from my Marathi collections Bhintishivaichya Khidkitun Dokavtana (2004) and Jarasandhachya Blogvarche Kahi Ansh (2010) translated by the poet. Selections from my English poems follows the Marathi poems in translation.

 

 

1) Ten Asides for Ten Heads

 

i)

 

The elixir of immortality

In the navel

Of this ten faced world

Has dried out

 

I place my elongated diabolical fingers

On the navel

And click

But I hear no beep

 

Its ten thousand windows

Must have crashed

I guess

 

ii)

 

You think Ravana was a single person

Or that his world had a single face

Let me point out for your information

His bliss was also ten-faced

His agony was ten-faced too

He used to laugh

In ten different ways

At a single joke

He used to weep

His single grief

In ten different ways

 

iii)

 

Go and tell your one-headed Rama

To do whatever he liked in his life

But never try his hand

At poetry

 

Leave such things

To people like us

 

And drown himself

In that one-headed Sharayu

 

 

iv)

 

I have seen this world

Ten times more than you have

I have perceived clearly

With my twenty eyes

How all things have ten sides

 

Pray tell me then

How can I shed light

On my ten-headed world

With your one-headed language?

 

How can I express

What I feel about Sita?

How can I explain

What I felt

When they humiliated my sister?

 

My mother tongue

Has ten grammatical numbers

 

How will I write poetry

In your language

Which has only two?

 

v)

 

Valmiki must have managed somehow

To write the flat one-headed story

Of Rama’s life

 

But kindly assign

The job of writing

My authorized biography

To Vyasa

 

And appoint ten Ganeshas

As his stenographer

For composing this Maha-Lanka

 

vi)

 

 

Your three stepped syllogism

Is useless

When it comes to understanding me

 

The seven-stepped logic

Of the Jainas

Is equally futile

 

Discover first

A ten part syllogism

Invent first a language

With ten grammatical numbers for me

 

Bury your mono-directional

Monotonous language first

 

Toss away the formula

Of the Rama nama chant

And recognize me

As the true Deity of your heart

 

 

Because

With my single head

I can watch ten different channels

At a time on the TV

 

At a time

I can browse

At least ten different brands in the mall

 

I can chat at least

With ten different people

At a time

 

I can discuss twenty different topics

With twenty different people

With my twenty cell phones

On my twenty ears

 

vii)

 

Welcome, folks to my palace

 

Look at my well furnished bathroom

But I hope you won’t be so stupid

As to ask me why

There are ten mirrors here

Or ten tooth brushes

Or mouth fresheners of ten different flavours

Or ten tongue cleaners here

 

My soul is dual-core

Multi-tasking is my very nature

 

 

viii)

 

 

My mother had only two breasts

Women unfortunately just have two

That’s the reason why

I need either

Ten women at a time

Or a single complete woman

With ten hands and ten breasts

 

However, I feel Lord Shambhunath

Has benevolently obliged womankind

By not creating such women

 

Had he made such a woman

We would have committed

Atrocities on her ten times over

 

Indeed

Even if men have a single organ

Their hunger is of ten different kinds

Their thirst has ten faces

 

Conversant as I am

With these things

In my old age

I am planning to write

For the ten-headed men

A different  Kamsutra with ten sutras

 

Book your copy today

And get a prepublication discount

On my autographed copy

 

Ten conditions, of course

Apply.

 

 

ix)

 

 

You must have realized by now

That this glossy resplendent world

Is my empire

 

My close circuit cameras

Watch over all ten directions

 

I have detailed information

About what you do

Or do not do

In the mall

 

This world is my circular prison

All of you are my unknowing prisoners

My innumerable cameras

Keep a close watch

Over your every move

Over infinitesimal vibration of your thought

If you do anything out of the way

Mind you

You will have to face me

 

x)

 

However,

Only I know my true tragedy

 

Your one-headed Rama

Could never fathom my secret

His puritan Brahmastra

Could never find its way to my navel

As he never knew

Where it was

 

My heart has sprouted ten heads too

I sit and cry

In the ten-headed darkness

 

This Sharayu of yours

Is made of my ten types of tears

I have cried

Till my heart has turned schizophrenic

 

You alone can find my navel

And free me of my ten souls

Or else in the end

I will have to commit

Postmodern Harakiri myself

 

 

2)  The Tree of Total Eclipse

(Godhra carnage and the subsequent riots in Gujarat)

 

 

We are never really sure

How long we will have to live

Under the cyanide shade

Of the sky-high banyan tree of total eclipse

Growing in our backyard

 

No one dares to unravel the mystery

Of its source, spread and increase

 

After all,

We ourselves have nourished it

With manure of smashed infant skulls

We have never looked at it

With the eyes

Of the tattered weeping vulvas.

 

Under it

The dreadful stench of incinerated skin

Spreads

We,

Inveterate orthodox onlookers flee,

Plugging our noses

 

We will never get

To the root of it

Because

While digging

We will find instead

Its arsenic aerial-roots

 

Deep within us

 

 

3) Alta Mira

 

 

Line drawings of naked fertility goddesses

On the walls of a dirty train lavatory

 

An arrow points at the hole

Between the thighs

Put your prick here

Goes the anonymous message

 

I take my cursor on the hole

Finding my way through the fleshy layers

 

And click

 

There opens the dark cave of Alta Mira

 

The cave from which we have never come out

 

I rub stone

Against stone

Light the bonfire of dried leaves

Illuminating

Stories of mammoth-hunting

The fertile women

With huge breasts and broad thighs

My story or my picture

 

Doesn't feature in these stories

I only play the role of shadow

In this never ending Darwinian drama

 

On the walls of the clogged lavatory of my mind

I mouse-click the link for Alta Mira

Only to read

The tiresome message

Page not found action cancelled

In the public lavatory

 

A prehistoric rock inscription reads

Sheela is a whore

Carved by some primate

 

In a college urinal

The Onida Satan

Has carved for us

With a huge mammoth tusk

An oedipal message

 

Neighbour's envy

Owner's pride

 

4)  Excerpts from Jarasandha's Blog

 

i)

 

 

When Bhima seized me by my legs

In his merciless iron clutches

He is going to dispatch me

I thought

 

He ripped me in half instead

From head to toe

Like Dante did to the Prophet

In his Inferno

He simply tore me in two.

 

It was on the advice

Of that Dark Charlatan

That Bhima flung my two halves

In opposite directions

So that they would never ever

Be one again

 

He is the one responsible

For my demerger

 

The Pandavas' sala

That Ranchod

 

 

ii)

 

 

The two halves of my being

The two halves which can never unite

Are still very much alive

Pulsating with life

Because each and every day

Someone reminds me

That I am already dead

 

iii)

 

I am lying

In Hell's cheap hospital

The left half of my body

On my right

The right side of my body

On my left

The left side

On my right side

The right on my left

My left bollock

On my right side

The right bollock

On my left

The left half of my brain

On my right

The right half of my brain

On my left

 

That’s why

Perhaps

I speak the language of the Right

With those on the Left

The language of the Left

With those on the Right

 

My left right language

Converge from opposite directions

Uttering the interminable throbbing dialect

Of suffering

 

People however

Call it poetry or something

 

 

iv)

 

Bhima tossed away

One-half of my soul

Into the fields

The other tumbled

Into a cyber café

 

Eliot's ghost haunts

One part of my being

The other one intones

The Anubhavamruta

 

v)

 

I don't have single undivided tongue

I have two incomplete tongues instead

 

My Gujarati tongue craves

The touch of Marathi

My Marathi tongue pines

For Gujarati

 

vi)

 

I order desi liquor

In the English wine shop

In the desi shop

I order English liquor

 

vii)

 

In fact

Ardhanarishwar

And Narsimha are my forefathers

 

They are imaginary, however

I am real

 

viii)

 

Look, this is my map

 

One-half of my body is saffron

The other is green

Both facing away from each other

 

A historical white strip

Of the Partition

Cements my two parts

 

There is also a sham

Of a heart

With twenty-four spokes

 

Defunct

But very much alive

 

ix)

 

In fact, I wanted to go to the heavens

In flesh

One-half of my body

Did actually manage to go there

 

The other half, however,

Missed the flight

 

x)

 

Frequently

The halved organs from the one-half of my body

Arrange a limited-overs cricket match

With the organs of the other half

 

Obviously

My soul plays the umpire

 

Look, here is an appeal

For run out

I signal

For the third umpire

 

xi)

 

Only in you

Is this Jarasandha

Complete

 

So take me deep down

Forever

Conclusively end

My two dissevered lives

My two dissevered deaths

 

5) Chlorophyll of Poetry

 

 

Icy green blood

From the carnage of multitudinous

Trees, innocuous and mute

On my bare naked hands

 

 

Whenever with my sharp pen nib

I lacerate

The white backs

Of a blank sheet of paper

I calligraph cold-blooded lines

Of tongueless poems

On the cemeteries of voided spaces

Vacated by annihilating

Thousands of forests

 

Unsuspectingly

My hands become part of the conspiracy

Denuding this planet

I too become a collaborator

In this felony

 

But my lush green hands

Cloaked in the bleeding screams

Of the handicapped trees

Are long-familiar

With the yellow grief

Of a leaf nipped off

 

The crimson excruciating pain

Of a crushed petal

 

The wet sting of a branch being broken

The earthy agony

Of being uprooted

 

These are the very things

Flowing out on the white corpses

In the form of chlorophyll

Of poetry

 

 

6) A Soliloquy of a Smart-alecky Soap

 

I,

A one timefat green perfumed cake of soap

Spend the rest of my life

As a mere lucent film

Indistinct from your toilet floor

I toiled for you my whole life

Wiped my skin against yours

Wore myself out

With my soul frothing at mouth

 

I am conversant

With every root of your body hair

I know your body more closely

Than your partner does

I am intimate with its every opening

I know

Every contour and every gap

As back of my hand

Its entire map stored in my memory.

 

I may not be strong enough

To expel anyone from his caste

I may just be a lowest of low garbage collector

The most neglected of the neglected

 

I am sitting right here in your bathroom

Pretending to be the floor

Waiting for you to step on me

 

7) A Soulful Song for the Black and White Television

 

Senility makes

Blackout drift

In front of your eyes

 

Discarded by all

You sit in the corner

Staring at the wall

Your hunchback

Turned towards the colourful world

 

Many tried their hands

At breathing life

Into your lifeless picture-tube

But your eyes

Deep set in the sockets

Merely glimmered for a while

And disappeared

 

You are only a black television now

Awaiting final darkness

 

But don’t you worry grandpa

I am sitting just next to you

Like a Celeron 133 computer

Opening only ninety-five windows of my mind

Awaiting for obsolesce

To set on me sooner

Than on you

 

 

8) The Dildopnishad

 

 

I don’t have a body

I am the body

I don’t have a soul

I am the soul

I am the Ultimate Self

Of all the orifices of your flesh

Of all the hollows of your soul

 

I am the Secular Shiva Lingam

Who gives Sat Chid and Anandam

To all the openings of your bodies

Who fills up the vacuum of flesh to brim

 

Multiply me with the void of the body

What you get is the void

Divide me with the void of your body

And the void again is what you get

 

I m masculinity without manhood

I am the Purusha without Prakriti

 

I am Yama, Niyama, Aasan, Pranayaam , Pratyahaar

I am Dhyaan, Dhaarna and Samadhi

I am Dharma, Artha , Kaam and Moksha

I am Sat, Dwaapar, Treta and Kali

I am Brahman, Vaishya, Kshatriya

A menial servant of your orifices

A pleasurable Shudra

I am the Yogi

Who gratifies the hungers of your holes

 

Hence, treat me fondly

And I too will fondle you in all the right places

 

Allow me to penetrate

The depth of your soul

And get the first preview

Of the first and the last Freedom

 

 

9) A Paper Presented at the Conference on Global Warming

 

 

Invisible termite of the mind

Spreads all over the computer screen in front of you

The palms turn into the white mice

And disappear into the holes

In the bored skull of the God

 

The eyes dry like leaves, ablaze

On the flat screen

Of the liquid crystal sky

An unknown cursor

Waits for impotent letters to emerge

 

Green and yellow LPG attached auto-rickshaws

108 numbered ambulances

Cars without wheels

Two wheelers without drivers

The loitering Ashoka trees whistling

With their hands in the pockets

Run through my veins

This multicoloured world has liquefied

And it flows from god-knows-where places

 

The ghosts of traffic policemen

Who have left their eyes at home

Doing their rounds in dark glasses

Pretend to be scarecrows

Drivelling the tobacco

Of female police officers

 

Sunlight, that old drudge,

Fed up with people

Fatigued from donkeywork

Sits in the shade

Wiping its sweat

Bearing the weight

Of this city on its back

Hurtling profanities at the road

 

This world gets baked

In the microwave oven

It melts but look

On the North Pole

You can see

The monstrous foreplay

Of Bhima and Hidimba

 

And the whole city submerges

In their foul-smelling sweat

 

10) The Tom and Jerry Show

 

 

We don’t have that much time

When I m scuttling around

You trap my tail in your paw

If I happen to pounce upon you

You vanish in your hole

 

Is it going to be like this

Till all our machines conk out

Till all our factories die out

Till all our mechanical parts

Corrode and crumble?

 

And after all

Even if they submerge our ashes

In different rivers

Aren’t our mortal remains

Going to be intermixed

In the ocean anyway?

But does this mean

We are going to test

Each other like this forever?

 

There will be no passion left

In our embrace

No lust in our loins.

Isn’t it a high time

We turned off this Cartoon Network

And called it a day?

 

 

11) Spam

 

 

i)

 

Nowadays every attachment

Consists of My doom virus

 

It penetrates the very nucleus of cells-

In an instant

It spawns millions of copies of itself

And inscribes its own illegible and devastating script

Into our genetic code

It spreads like cancer far and wide

Annihilating our operating system

Utterly

 

Like some mutant fish

Struggling on a hook

My Norton protected soul

Is impotent to retaliate

 

 

ii)

 

We are the digital crows of words

With broken wings

Pecking at the mlecha skins

Of your holy cows

 

We are e-locusts

Perpetually spamming

Your scarecrow sensibilities

From our thousands of IDs

 

Just how many of our toxic messages

Can you delete?

 

iii)

 

 

I am a Postmodern Parikshit

This virtual fruit

Stares at me

Spammed by destiny

 

I know it contains a familiar worm

It will turn into Takshaka

 

The virtual World Wide Labyrinth has no exits 

I have known this ever since I was in my mother's womb

 

So I click on the icon of this fruit

And wait for the ultimate sting

 

iv)

 

Digital Ghatotkach peddles

His merchandise in my bedroom

 

Enlarge your Penis

Viagra for less

Loans at low interests

Easy ways to loose weight

Fuck Russian women

Take your Jackpot of ten thousand Dollars

Exchange your old soul for new

 

The dead mailbox of my mind

Stagnates like a public lavatory

 

I do in fact

Wish to enlarge my penis

Cheap Viagra is also good for me

I even want to find out

The easy way to lose fat

Russian women won't be a bad idea either

The jackpot of ten thousand dollars is welcome too

How good it would be for me to have

A new soul in place of the old

So that I can play some kind of spook

In a stupid horror serial

 

Still

Instead of opening them

I delete all these mails

 

How I love

My empty virginal mailbox

This is the moment of ultimate realization

 

This is the Moksha

 

v)

 

Someone has discarded us

On this vulnerable blue planet

By mistake

 

We do not know who

Has mailed us to whom

 

One fine day

They will take us for junk mail

And delete us

To prevent future infections

 

vi)

 

I shouldn’t have downloaded

Your attachment

 

The scan discovered

An unfamiliar malicious code

Of destiny inside

 

I downloaded you

All the same

On my hard disk

 

I love to open unknown emails

The idiotic hope

That there will be something for me

In those mails

Makes me open these messages

 

vii)

 

I have already lost Troy

Trojan horses have taken over my bastions

 

Here is Hector's cadaver

 

Here is exhausted Ulysses

 

Here is the gutted bedroom

Of Paris and Helen

 

Here is my burnt out memory

Here are the corrupt files

In undecipherable script

 

Here is my locked cursor

Its no use restarting now

 

viii)

 

I have posted my zipped eyes

As attachments

 

Glance over them at least once

Before deleting them

 

ix)

 

My firewall

Is defunct

My immune system has conked out

 

Anyone can hack me

Decrypt my secrets

 

I have become stark naked,

Exposed to the world

You will change my password tomorrow

 

Nothing will remain

Which can be called my own

 

x)

 

We will unremittingly send you

The wooden horses of words

For Helen

The onslaught of millions of Raktavirya genetic codes

From their bellies

Will reduce your system to ashes

 

xi)

 

 

I want to erase

My fingerprints from the moon

Tea-stains on the sun

The lines on the hand

From my joystick

The unascertainable look

In the eyes of a hunchback computer

And other such traces of my being

 

Zipping and attaching

To my last email

I want to bombard thousands of unknown IDs

With my viruses

Of the Unbeing, Inauspicious and the Ugly

 

Because in the loss of thousands

Of unknown people

Lies my gain

 

 

SELECTED ENGLISH POEMS

 

 

11) Love Songs for Amogh

 

 

I

 

Torment of thirty five worlds

Falls away

With your smile

 

A resplendent star

In the evening

Of my hazel eyes

 

You have fathered me, Amogh

Before I die

II

 

 

I haven’t come across yet

Love poems from fathers to their sons

Probably

It is not manly enough

To write a one

But here I am

Looking at the blank paper

In front of me

 

Remembering

The paper white purity

Of your skin

When the nurse placed you

In my hands for the first time

 

Your first dark faeces

When I changed your diapers the first time

Injecting  cow’s milk

From a needless syringe

Into your mouth

I remember your ceaseless howling

On the second night

When your mother had not started lactating

 

Do father lactate?

They may

For they are females too

 

This poem for instance

Oozes out of the nib

Instead of my nipple.

 

 

III

 

 

I absolutely had no idea

My elf

That all along

You were hiding

In some obscure corner of my mind

Playing your usual peek a boo

 

Though I could feel

That you probably reached out

With your palm

When I tried to hear

Your somersaults

And flying kicks

Inside your mom

 

I remember

How you wetted

My umpteenth pajama

When I used to rock you on my laps

Sitting cross legged

(Yes, you could fit into the frame then)

During midnight hours

 

I also remember trying to put you asleep

On my shoulders

When you were bent on staying awake

With your mischief

 

Yes, fathering a father

Can be a tough job

But you did it pretty well.

 

 

 

IV

 

 

I don’t know exactly why

We decided to name you `Amogh’

 

Your name means the infallible one

An unfailing weapon

 

But I know now

That I aimed my arrow

At my aging agony

 

It hasn’t really missed its mark.

 

V

 

I have hardly anything on me

To pass on to you

With joy

 

The books I read

Are as dark as the ones I write

 

My genetic records

Are not commendable either

 

They haven’t isolated

The Asthma gene yet

 

Probably

It has latched itself on to you

 

Neither do I think that they can ever identify

 

The gene for poetry

Which is probably as bad

Or even worse

 

For it means

To be condemned forever

 

To live alone

Like a man with an extra pair

Of testicles

Hiding his shame

In the shadows of the world

 

VI

 

In these hands

I have held the ovaries

Of my aged mother

Floating in a flask

Where seeds of suffering were first sown

 

I have seen my wife

Writhing and bleeding in her labors

 

I have seen eyeballs

Of my friends father

Who was quite fond of me

Extracted and bottled

For posterity

 

I have been overrun

By asthma

In the Oxford Botanical Gardens

Where I thoughtlessly went

And spent rest of the evening

Floating in warm water of the bath tub

As if in amniotic fluid

Thousands of kilometers away from home

 

I have sat up wheezing

Any number of nights

From past two and half decades

Clutching the stubborn old darkness

Under my belly

For support

 

I have seen family friends

Swindle my father of his hard earned money

 

I have cremated dozens of old skulls

And heard them crack in their pyres

 

I have seen madness of love

In the woman’s eyes

I know the feeling of oneness

When I make love to her

 

 

But it is so different

From the feeling of love I have

When you sleep in my arms

Dreaming of innocence

I kiss your small white shoulders

Feel the fragrance of your fingers

Playing with my ear lobes

 

Agreed

I haven’t seen much of life

But I haven’t been entirely ignorant of death

But to catch a glimpse of love

And to be touched

By the beauty of the whole world

Is sufficient

To make a prematurely graying man

Without youth or childhood

Smile

 

VII

 

 

Amogh, for you

I have attempted the impossible

-writing a poem on happiness

 

But who cares if I fail

As long as your paradisal beauty

Lights up

The fading lamps of my eyes

 

 

24 Oct 2007

11 15 pm

 

 

12) A Long Song

 

My mouth is an old useless tunnel

In which abandoned corroded railway tracks go in

But don’t come out.

 

You are the light at the end

Of my mouth.

 

My face has turned brittle like a mummy’s

When I try to take it off

It crumbles into million little pieces

On the floor.

 

Let me undo my hands

From my elbows

And offer them to you

In a dish full of oranges

And grapes.

 

Allow me to make a garland

Of my ten heads

Interwoven with

Sliced watermelons and pumpkins

For your neck.

 

Permit me to take out funeral procession

Of my brown eyes

And bury them in the backyard

Of your nipples.

I will wait for marigolds

To burst forth on their graves.

 

 

13) The Simplicity of My Congenital Thirst

 

The pale fingers grow

Like hair

On the edge of my amnesiac

Skin reaching out

To the dried skeleton

of sky

 

The simplicity of my congenital thirst

Branches out of my pores

Shedding

Its eyeless brown leaves

On the famine

Of my earth’s black mouth

 

The parched sky peels off

Like a cheap blue paint

 

The decrepit arteries

Of the desiccated soil

Crumble like the ruined drainages

Of the extinct civilizations.

 

My stultified heart is a palm

Whose fingers have come off

But it can still hold nothingness

Like Shiva’s translucent semen

It can still keep count

Of my deaths with its mute thumb.

 

I have planted

The stillborn foetuses

Of my eyes

Near the ancient roots of peepal

The male rocky hands

Of the last earthquake

Will awaken

Their disfigured faces

 

They can still startle you

By sprouting from unlikely places

 

14) Bird Songs

 

 

The song birds swim

The dark green depths

Of my soul

 

They flock

On the long forgotten branches

Of underwater trees

Intoning

Their deep blue songs for you.

 

My arsenic heart

Disintegrates

Under the ancient gaze

Of the cold-blooded sun.

 

My destiny

Dries up like a goggling injury

Revealing the cobalt bone.

 

The birdsongs are orphaned

And my blood

Black with rust

Weep on my helpless fingers

 

I weep salt

As there is no water left

In my tears.

 

 

 

 

15) Wait for Me

 

 

Like dried teak leaves

My eyes have come off

 

Bored crows people

The forsaken branches

Of my leafless fingers

 

The sun has dropped

His smooth round skull somewhere

On my treeless grounds

 

I am waiting to grow

into a great babul tree

In this wasteland

Where no sun grows on the trees

 

Blown by the barrenness of the winds

My eyes gather near your feet

 

Crows look at you

As if you are unwanted stranger.

 

Somewhere a monkey stares at you

And you do not know.

 

In the crowded thorny shrubs in my lungs

Hangs a no-moon night

For

In the shifting sands of life

I have buried all my twelve moons.

 

My thousand eyes

Dry like leaves gathered around your feet

Blaze like the intestines of a deadpan earth

 

The bored crows

Fly away into the soul

Of white inert sky.

 

The smooth round skull

Of the sun crumbles into dust

I am waiting to die

 

Like this huge leafless baobab

On which the monkeys wait

For the fruit and a leaf

 

Dust gathers on the tired tamarind tree

That has forgotten its own taste.

 

Dust gathers

On the brown soil of my eyes

Dust gathers

On the round abandoned skulls of the sun.

 

Monkeys look emptily at the shadows

Of the crows which are no longer there.

 

Gather the ashes of my eyes in your palms.

Weep the tears blue as the earth

On the silence of my pyre

 

Remember me as monkeys

Remember the fruits

When they are hungry

As the crows remember their mates

In summer. Remember me

As the leafless baobab

Flourishing on the tombs

Of the entombed moon

Remember the rich green felicity of their leaves.

Wait for me

Where no one waits for anyone any longer

 

 

16) Every Breath that Leaves My Body

 

 

Every breath that leave my body

Is an encrypted confidential message

Only death can unscramble.

It is useless to hack it.

Death is the only ultimate interpretation

There no text remains.

 

Paper boats leave

The abandoned dock of my being

Sailing soundlessly

On the invisible rivers

Of my ancient breath.

 

Traces I will leave behind

Are crumbs fallen inadvertently

From the absent minded mouth

Of death.

Let harmless sparrows peck

At the grains of my words.

 

I will not leak the secret

Once I am gone.

 

17) The Old Prostitute at the Taj Mahal

 

 

She reclines against the unfeeling marble

Of this exquisite abandoned hospital

Wearing a startling red lipstick

On her aged black lips

With a hope

That her flesh made light

By termites

Will be of some use

For minds turned horny

Under the influence

Of the emperor’s grand white delusion

Of catastrophic proportions

 

An ageless river

Reeking with effluents

Rotten myths

And polythene

Waits for that dark silken flute-player to return

And restore her youth, grace and innocence

As they say he once did

To an old hag in the story

 

There is an empress buried here too

 

She died during childbirth I learn

Trying to give birth to her fourteenth child

 

These women must have realized by now

That the flute-player in question

Is not exactly famous

For keeping promises

 

( 16-3-09)

 

18)  TWO NARMADA POEMS

 

(I)

Karnali Dec 2008

 

Though there isn’t much river here

I find my way

Out of the thatched sheds

Which cover the river bank

Dodging

 

The nauseating leftovers

Of death’s ritual dinner

Broken earthen pots

Shocking heaps of hair

Of shaved mourners

Women’s undergarments

With no women in them

 

No, I haven’t come here

 To submerse my ashes

I am not completely cremated yet

 

Most of it is pale xanthous sand

 

This dried up river resembles

An old decrepit Hindu beggar woman

At the emigrations counter

She scrutinize my papers

For forgery

I have nothing to declare

Except my innings

 

You can’t cross borders

With your poems

She says

 

But I am a translator

I protest

 

You son of a bitch

She says with a toothless grin

And sparkle in her eyes

As she tears up my tourist visa

Into shreds

 

You bloody son of a bitch

 

 

(II) 

Chandod

                                                      (For Dayaram 1777-1853)

 

It is over

Before I can make out anything

This small walk in the forest

Ends with an ambush

Of aliens

The mob of a million temples

Attack me

With their ugly whitewashed faces

Uglier than the whitewashed faith

That spawned them

 

I lost faith

Long time before

I lost my virginity

I don’t think I will recover

Either

 

I am taken

To the birth place of a medieval Gujarati saint-poet

It is an ill lit square room

With the poet’s poems and information

In the notice boards on the walls

It looks like an elementary school

In the village

The place where God’s most unpoetic creations are born

Is equally prosaic

 

The phrase `saint poet’ loiters aimlessly in my head

It is an oxymoron

Ambidextrous and androgynous

Every saint has a past

And every sinner has a future they say

But poets have neither

 

I chance upon a poem titled

` Love’s Satire’

In English translation

On the notice board

 

Got it pal I say

Got it

We have been doing it since ages

 

 

(4 December 2008)

 

19) Stranded

 

 

On a murky corrupted afternoon

As the harsh rains hurt

The sparrow wings of time

Hiding in the tired wet boughs of an unknown tree

Or in the gloomy unmanned windows

With its intolerable soaked translucency

I m stranded

In a small grocery shop, without an umbrella

Unable to go to my dank dark house

Or return to the dark edge of memory

Where I came from

I wish the rain would stop breathing

I wish its heart would die a brain death

I hear it flogging mercilessly

With its silver black whip

I have a reverie of a black-and-blue world

Running for cover

 

I hear the disquieting reminiscence

Of an alluring voice dripping wet

From a distant branch calling out to me

I at times wish it would rain on me someday

Leave me stranded

Between the betweens of the world

I at times see in my trance

My ancient sarcophagus

In your eyes

I dream of my stranded tomb

Between the moist love

Of your tender breasts

I see my parched fingers thirst

To touch your mad eyelashes

Soaked to the skin

In the heavy sterile rains

Of my tropical rain forest desire.

Stranded in the terrible blank space

between

the agonized craving for silken darkness beyond oblivion

and the  anguished craving for ripe secrets of your mouth

I stand helplessly waiting for rains

to flood my gutters and streets

 

13 June 2003

 

 

20) Angles of the Sun

(Konark, 23 Feb 2008)

 

i)

 

The mice trap lesbian lovers

In their act at night

Priests punish them

By cutting off their hair

Our guide says wickedly

`Women go to beauty parlours

All too frequently these days.’

Smart chap, our guide.

 

ii)

 

A dog laps at the bleeding organs

Of a naked woman agonized due to gonorrhea

 

An old woman with elephantiasis

Teaches her old husband

How to handle his hydrocele

 

Sixty four coital positions

A dozen or two less

Than the Kamasutra arithmetic

The algebra

Of impossible

Permutations and combinations

 

iii)

 

It’s difficult to believe

The very kings

Who had nothing better to do

Than to fuck around

And screw up people’s lives

Until some other king

Equally good at such things

Would startle him

In his hamam

When he would be gamboling around

With his concubines

Doing all the Vatsayana stuff

Built these magnificent memoirs

Of human misery

Pleasure indivisible

From pain

 

iv)

 

I don’t know

If the Sun God

Indulged in these

Earthly triple xxx hardcore pastimes

With the Shadow

His devout Hindu wife

But I am sure

His lady

Must be completely overshadowing him

At night.

 

v)

 

A man grabs his woman’s breast

As their child gapes at them

The woman attempts to distract the child

But fails.

 

A man screws a woman

As another woman beacons him

A woman aroused and wild

Grabs a startled bloke

And sits on his mouth

With her panties off

 

vi)

 

You busy old fool

Unruly sun

Trapping us in

All sorts of angles

Acute, obtuse or complementary

Since eons

Why don’t you leave us alone

For a while dad?

 

Why don’t you mind

Your own business

Of curing lepers

Or lighting up people’s minds

Instead of capturing

Our animal selves

On your pornographic films?

 

How about finding out

Ways to avoid being swallowed

By demonic heads

Of god-knows-what departments

Of your universal university?

 

Or finding out ways

To dodge the takeover bid

From Microsoft?

 

Spare us mister big ass

Don’t throw your remorseless light

So exactly on our gaping orifices

Our weak human fluids?

 

We want to hide ourselves

Behind our mommy

This kind old earth

 

Let us be who we are

For a while.

 

 (1:35 noon, Konark –Puri Rd.)

Note:

I read this poem at SAARC First Young Poet’s Meet, Puri, 23 Feb 2008