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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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)

(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)

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

(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

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