Poetry has a Complaint!

I share the anger of the Divine who frowns upon exclusive claims to owing Him.

They- the pundits of poetry- are new fanatics like the advocates of human genetics, whose territory is populated by the chosen few.

They- the literary elitists- have the effrontery to assume it’s their privilege
to own me, to define me, to mark me up as if I’m a cloth cut out for dummies in fashionable stores, while my robes are infinite, far and wide
fluttering over oceans and seas, drenched in rivers, revivifying in sunshine–
and they contend that I no longer dwell in nature
(for nature itself is a cliche to them!)
that I have moved from the countryside of fields to city conclaves,
that I go by trends; that time, space, seasons and fashions can chain me!
They think they can determine whom to give me away like a father
marrying off his daughter to the man worthy in his eyes.

But they should know I have had dwelled in the “mere” utterances of saints, social reformers, revolutionaries, reformists for I have had been the architect and they my willing artisans.

They should know that I refuse to be cast in their careful, effort-driven, strenuous practice of inducing complexity and, on the extreme spectrum, in the lightness of their design of offering me oblation in the form of wafers on paper plates.

I steadfastly proclaim my right not to be tied up to the effigies manufactured by degree programs— chased, worshipped, popularized, made saleable by elitist presses
which make me feel as if I’ve been hollowed out
by their mechanics that celebrates hogwash–
unmindful of my delicacy like a newly-wed bride
at the mercy of her partner–
by the intrusion of insincere characterizations, spilled over by their ready kit
of nouns and verbs- disconnected from my soul.

Let me ask them should they be enraged:

Can you awaken an angel in the demon? Can you cause tears and wipe them too?
Can you reproduce hills, mountains, flowers, trees, vales, ponds–
know that it’s the majesty of the poet to make them drift along and settle in his colony!

I assert it’s my sole  privilege to define myself, discover myself, invent myself;
to decide whom to shower myself on with divinity
(Ah! Divinity is not in your lexicon, designed by the vanguards of modern creative writing).

So, be ready to hear:

To stir, to cause, to exhort, to shake off: none is among your strengths
for your craft is an aristocratic woman inside her gem-engraved mansion!

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Poetry has a Complaint!

The Philosophy of Laziness

In a heavily packed hall, a famously lazy person was invited to deliver a keynote address on “The Philosophy of Laziness”:

Ladies & Gentlemen!

In this world marked by feverish activity and mobility,
peopled by practitioners of neatness and quickness, promptness and alertness,
I’m among the chosen few to be bestowed upon the gift of laziness!

Laziness is the calmness of the soft breeze
negligent of the wild fire in the vicinity;
laziness is an adamant refusal to be intimidated by calamity,
unyielding to the necessity of order, of completion, of fruition
for it doesn’t take command, it’s the master of its own will-
the will to do Nothing!

In its purest form, laziness is an extreme tolerance
of Dirt, of Dust, of Messiness, of Odor,
of the under-arm colony of hair follicles- which to me is a township-
of the unkempt sheet resembling a ravaged town
with cobwebs in bed rails- which to me is an exotic landscape-
of one’s own poor breath and residues in cavities,
of the stains in the cup- ready to be used the next day.

Laziness is the vanguard of stillness, the vessel of acceptance,
patiently welcoming of each day and night’s gift of sweat,
taking in with ease and comfort the diversified modes of existence,
piling upon each other, clinging to each other,
overlapping with each other, mingling with each other,
eating into each other, rubbing against each other:
the pen in the shoe, the toothbrush in the bathtub,
the knife hanging out with the jar, the lid of the jar
stuck in the mouth of the sink,
the sink swelling with pride over molds and algae.

Laziness permits the rarest of the rare acceptance of diversity–
the diversity of disgust-causing, vomit-impelling
sights, objects, entities, attitudes, habits, outlooks.

It’s the highest state of the unperturbed mind
that safeguards its territory from human obsession
with perfection, with caution, with action, with attention;

It’s the perfect yogi who finds solace not in meditation,
not in sleep, not in contemplation, not in concentration,
but in doing NOTHING- the most difficult state to achieve!

The Philosophy of Laziness

                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:

wait
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