The Hide-and-Seek of Poetry

When she’s not in the horizon and is more of a hallucination,
when she approaches and flees
when she lives like a dead in a tomb roaming around at will-
and a ghost isn’t still

When patterns of her arrival and departure confound,
when shapes evolve, advance, and relapse into crudity

When no privilege of persistence is assured
even though the feel is majestic,
divine sometimes,

Her emergence is a flame through the wick soggy and cold;
the assemblage of her material an episode in the making:
the handiwork of an occultist in the pilferage of sorrow
to pour into the lamp
the oil.

                The Hide-and-Seek of Poetry

The Grave of the Letter I Didn’t Post

The letter I wrote you is lying on my desk
underneath a vase of fresh flowers

How hard it is to assemble dry leaves for a cemetery,
when the desk has too much to hold-
sometimes tears.

I understand its urges
(especially when the post office faces the window of my room)
and detect some outside compassion:
the feathers I found upon my return from a weekend,
formed into a plumage—
a gift from the bird that never cared to leave me a feather.

So I disjoined them and threw them at her
who has stopped visiting since.

But you don’t worry

you’re invited to this grave, upon my death.

And if you care, I permit you to dig it out,
fun you’ll have finding and conjoining the words

some of which would have fallen under the desk,
some behind my books with a photo of you,
some mixed up in pulverized leaves,
and some clung to the closed window.

Oh yes, if that bird happens to be alive,
let her in.

And remember not to ask people about my own grave—
it won’t be separate.

Source: Romi Jain, Poems from Conflicted Hearts, 2014.

The Grave of the Letter I Didn’t Post

A Case for a Virtual Family

Humans confront two paths:

until you’re able to win someone over

Or kill your dream and move on.

But for those whose hearts are bruised when partly healed,
an option it is
to superimpose their desires
on to a computer screen.

Create your spouse, your child, and extend the family if you wish,
or take back a piece.

Name them. Beautify them. Give them voice.

Add music as you arrange dinner plates
while your virtual husband comes out of bathroom,

or put your baby to sleep with a lullaby
of your own voice or of a celestial fairy.

Yes, the joy of having a cyber-family is akin to taking delight in viewing a moving train
with the press of a button–
a return to the world of a child who seems to take toys for real.

Don’t mind the limitations.

While innovations keep pace with our demands,
overcome the reluctance to desperately seek peace in them
who deprive you of it,
and seek comfort in imagination concretized in another world.

Our hopes hinge on engineers, on providers of infrastructure,
on tech companies, on tech guys–
the rest we’ll manage as we embrace our cyber reality.

A Case for a Virtual Family

India: From the Lens of History

Here is the land:

Where millennia back, the divine larynx sounded the precept of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam,
stirring the cosmos into joining in the chorus to glorify
the unified soul of the world:

cosmopolitanism required neither common threat nor enticement of fruits of partnership,
to justify itself.  

Where a civilization awed us with marvels unparalleled for its age:
town planning, artistic seals, overseas trade, orderly life, urbanities dexterous.

Where the treasure of Vedas and Puranas, predating fascinating inventions,
holds out the promise of enlightenment, like a billion suns stored in a casket.

Where the orb of innovations and inventions in science, mathematics, astronomy
shone across an onyx firmament.
Where the births of Sushrut and Charaka- pioneers of surgery and medicine-
kindled human faith in recovery.
Where the creation of Ashtadhyayi  mirrored morphology of a high order.
Where to cognitive therapy, the Yoga tenet of the conquest of mind
formed an unrecognized umbilical cord.

Where saints set out to discover the truth like a bird that soars to the Heaven
on a wingless flight,
and lifted up the curtain of sensory perception,
sharing the glowing omniscience freely with the world.

Where hymns merged with Nature which man harbored no ambition to conquer:

Samudra-Vasane Devi Parvata-Stana-Mannddale |
              Vissnnu-Patni Namastubhyam Paada-sparsham Kssama-Svame*

 Where the spirit of self-government sprouted in Vaishali, before anywhere democracy dawned.

Where masterly statecraft Arthashastra had injunctions for the king:

“In the happiness of his subjects lies the king’s happiness, in their welfare his welfare”.

Where a monarch despised his own victory, and abjured the war
at the sight of the blood-soaked vanquished,
and lavished compassion on humans and animals alike.

Where architectural ingenuity envisioned bringing divinity to Earth–
celestial beauty, wrapped on intricate structures, breathed in crisscrosses and mazes on walls, windows, ceilings, and floors.

Where the mighty bowed to the enlightened, the affluent to purity,
where death wasn’t feared;
the promise of bliss and peace was assured to every soul.

But O’ it is the land
where the glaze of prosperity dazzled the outside world,
like the beauty of a woman inviting trouble.

It stumbled, it was plundered, it bled.

It is healing, rising again.

May we know its resurgence is tied to the rediscovery of its soul:
enlightenment, harmony, spirituality, peace
for it is the land where at the confluence of moral dhamma**
the streams of knowledge, military might, and commerce
once met.


    O’ Mother Earth, forgive us for touching You with our feet

** Law

Source: Excerpted from the Letter from the Editor, HAQ, Vol.16, 2014.

India: From the Lens of History


How exhilarating to set eyes on shiny artilleries

when orgies innervate the mind to strip the foe of glory

How thrilling to see the lords slicing the waters
to demolish with torpedoes the eye sores

How uplifting for a chest seething with vengeance,
to see jets soar with a promise of ravage.

Sense the trepidation of the sea that doubts its capacity
to hold vestiges
and abhors a graveyard,
and wishes the earth, to be spared of as well

Which decries the wicked plots in its womb
when landmines supplant the saplings,

While the sky bemoans its dumbness and the heart swelling with secrets.

Silently somewhere condolences set in:

the earth offers green leaves,
the sky soft rains,
the sea offers to wash away blood and venom.



Elusive love

While God expects the entire humankind to discard the world for Him,

some humans crave lifelong for one fellow.

Desperate to escape the pauperism of love,
they lap up attention that turns out to be a fake penny
that a frail beggar had visualized a piece of bread on.

For one leaf, they wait, wait, wait;
but spring’s itinerary happens to be selective until they pass away.

Music credit: Deep Sky Divers

Elusive love