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.

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                The Hide-and-Seek of Poetry

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

The Quagmire of Quickness

So persnickety about management of time,
we need fresh research into a normal heart rate.

We need to determine if the earth is slowing down
and has incentive to rotate, when we happen to treat
days and nights alike.

A dear I asked for her mailing address for my handwritten letter.
She preferred an email, saying: “That would be instant!”

The verbena with which I had embossed
the periphery of the fragrant paper
and the hand-drawn smiley circumscribed by stars
must have felt inferior to the efficient e-mail text,
which I spruced up with a couple of emoticons.
The soul of the letter I couldn’t replicate
as I set down regretting
the wastage of time over careful calligraphy.

And in the early morning, the grandma’s portrait fell down,
as if she had her own complaint:
“I have been grappling with understanding RIP!”

 

(Published in The Tower Journal, Fall 2013)

The Quagmire of Quickness

A Family Bond: Devotion versus Consumerism

Family MattersA family is founded when commitment triumphs over
the cleverly vile logic of sexual compatibility.
And the heart refuses to keep tenants:
couples realize they’re Humans!

and it is products—a cloth, a shoe, a toilet tissue —
that are gracefully suited for return,
vindicating the trust in a consumer’s sense of satisfaction.

A family then is “felt” when there is no complaint of boredom
with an existing relationship, whose bloom survives a partner’s death.
In this family, the child gets the lesson in willing sacrifice;
where the meaning of “bond” is seen beyond
its epistemological veil, since this is the bond
that the members have cemented and ably sustained,
unlike quick-fix solutions based on exigencies.

And that’s why in such a family, a wife can wait anxiously
for her husband who has been languishing for decades
as a prisoner of war in the foe’s jail:
and it is not the loss of delightful nights that she broods over,
but her’s husband’s safety. And there, unfortunately, might be people
who label her willing devotion “female subjugation”,
since to them it is predominantly
the loss of a night companion.

Family, indeed, matters as it can work both ways,
depending on what brings the couple together:
love or mere lust; commitment or convenience.
And the difference manifests here:
children might behave as tortoises that shut themselves off
when a tragedy hits the family;
and they might appear as swords
that out of sheaths assert themselves to slay adversities.

The minor nuisances, of course, I know of such extreme bonds
when crazily you eat, upon a flurry of insistences
and receive a thousand instructions on safety,
or in a foreign land you receive a call from parents who ask:
“Have you put on a warm jacket?”
And when you go back home, the neighbors—the extended family–
dare ask: “What’s for me?”

I love Indian family!

Source: “Family Matters” (anthology), Nivasini Publishers, 2013

 

A Family Bond: Devotion versus Consumerism

What Does a Girl Want?

 One who listens, and knows she may not be cheery all the time,
for giving mere pleasure her talk will not be destined for.

 
And he must heed her broken sentences uttered in grief,
 her incomprehensible words issued from joy,
 her apparently nonsensical questions emanating from curiosity,
 her imaginative stories and complex verses.
 She’s no cruel to test out his patience,
but he must be willing to leave her wondering what more to say!
What Does a Girl Want?

Being Worthy and Worthless

God, your creation was wasted when you created me. You adorned me with ornaments
that have no use to me, nor to this world.

These breasts, which began to form as I grew up,
reminded me I would be a mom one day.
And I knew nature chose me to be a mother and I felt superior to men.
And what a match to my chest -you filled it with motherly affection,
but forgot to gift me a baby!
You lavished gentleness on me, and loyalty is so embedded.
But men don’t care, like a blind man refusing the gift of eyes.
You gave me a lovely smile.
And some flirted, appreciating it. But should this smile want to spread like a rose,
they have refused to yield a space of their garden.
You blessed me with intellect. Men are much impressed.
But they’re fearful to be proud to have a smart brain
shine in their room.    Oh! I understand- instinct wins the game.
But nature was generous with me to satisfy lust as well,
but men’s hunger will find a mere crumb in me.
Being Worthy and Worthless