Saturday, December 31, 2005

With vivid shout

With vivid shout the newborn annum
cries in the phrase of the biting wind
she's coming out!   she's here by damn!
uncork the bottle!   let's begin!

Let rise upon     the raging air
the pull of joy   in oral scream!
for silence loves   to feel her hair
constrained by fresh   & vocal dream



This responds to Arka Mukhopadhyay's worthy poem.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Somewhere...somehow...

There’s a smile hiding somewhere,
I just need to find it…
Sometimes it disguises
Itself as a little teardrop
that falls with a big splosh….
I chase after it on big red buses
and sometimes just about catch it
on the corners of little gift shops
or lovers’ lips kissing in bliss…

Sometimes it won’t come to me
no matter how hard I try….
perhaps I could find it in a friend
perhaps all I need to do is try…
Lingering over a glass of wine
raising my knees and resting my chin
I stare at the flickering candle
and somehow it slips through the chinks
when I am not even looking for it…!

Happy New Year!

A leaf glistens
shiny with hope
Tremulous but sure.

A gelato burst
of dew at one spot
Tiny but momentous.

A flower opens
large as a mouth,
Joyous as morning.

Butterfly song
stops you mid-thought
You begin to wonder.

A rakish moon
twirls his whiskers,
cavorts with clouds.

The benevolent forest
looks on, indulgent
It is older by aeons.

Night turns prettily,
flags a passer-by
to ask for directions.

Intensely fragile,
the new year falls
gently upon us.

© anindita sengupta

Friday, December 23, 2005

MEDITATION

I like to think of divinity
not as gods or demon shapes.
I find it revealed when,
in five exquisite steps,
Euclid with his Attic ken
sees his primes to infinity.

***

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Low-technology   [sonnet #2]

What is it I presume I might be seeking?
the joy of meeting   or the pain of absence?
the universe conceivably in presence
is grounded   but it's not as if we're peeking

behind the famous screen   (opaque & deep)
whereon the film's projected   low-technology
by what perverse (indeed macabre) ecology
our little life is rounded with a sleep

the body we embue with daily waking
this instrument for focusing the vast
entirety of everything at last
we loll about & feed it   are we making

    full use of   so preposterous a tool?
    a lens for wise   a haversack for fool?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

On a Writers' Forum

Bacchic words dance to an ecstatic tune
In this rendezvous of writer and bard
This enchanted space where we commune

The muse sometimes smiles; each poem is a boon
In the ideal poker hand, the perfect card
Bacchic words dance to an ecstatic tune

Rhythm, metre, character joyfully hewn
An anguished love of style, all strive to guard
This enchanted space where we commune

What if the humming birds never sang again
What if the Sistine Chapel melted to a shard
Would bacchic words dance to an ecstatic tune?

I would light you a candle for your moon
And sing you a flock for your boulevard,
This enchanted space where we commune

Bcause nothing must stop the flow of the loon
When it throbs among rushes just beyond the yard
Bacchic words dance to an ecstatic tune
In this enchanted space where we commune.

© anindita sengupta

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Wintery Paradox   [sonnet #1]

For you alone   my mouth is filled with words
for you alone   my mind's aflood with thought
my tree desires nothing   but your birds
whose music is my happiness   the naught

that winter brings   (when birds & flowers flee)
the absence   now occasioned by the cold --
this principally   brings no concern to me
except to the degree   it serves to hold

your absence   implicated in this closing
your silence   in the swirl of all this dark --
as if you too   were subject to (supposing
you mortal)   winter's stealth & deathly mark

    my heart cannot accept   the visual lie
    my empty branches murmur   to the sky

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Finding Abel

I could not, could not stop it,
The shadow growing from his feet
Spreading its wings on his outstretched arms
Falling like a shroud on his uplifted head,
I could not, could not stop it.

Then came the silence
As the lamb bled on stones bled on desert,
Hellish silence that rode on the storm,
And tore the sky apart with a thousand wails
That ended the silence

I could not, could not stop it,
And now the cries of lambs don't stop
And now they drag me into a golden earth turned red
The keeper of bones, the keeper of wails,
And I cannot, cannot stop it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Winter Blues

Same time a year ago, snowy driveways,
frozen roads, icicles on naked trees,
for several dreaded despairing days.
I dreamt of July and a summer breeze
as the dreary darkness wore out its stay.

But even through this darkness bleak, I sought
a break in time. I did not want these days
to end, ’tis the passage of time I fought.

And so it’s true of our fondest wishes:
Of highs, of moments of joy unsurpassed,
that trail gloom toward weary finishes,
where we choose to let go or to make it last.

Awaiting seasons’ ends and new tomorrows,
we watch each sunset with immense sorrow.

BOOK LAUNCH

(For B.)

I’m early, by the look of it. Ushered in by the writer
I walk in, find a chair under a discreet light,
glance around. A few women scattered, brighter
for silks and cologne, and the air-conditioning’s bite;
a camera or two, a handycam adjusting his grip tighter,
and the mike man setting his knobs right.

On a table, the author’s labour lies in piles, neat
and inviolate till autograph time. A coffee drum,
cups and biscuits stand unbroached, complete
as still life, inert till the others come.
There’s no sign yet. I park my bag on the seat
next to mine, thinking I could do with some.

And return to wondering why I’m here. Bored,
I pull your precious Larkin out, grateful for the gift,
plant a surreptitious kiss to serve both adored.
Somewhere voices louden, as the guests drift
in; a speaker says something, words obscured
by accent. I revel in the librarian’s thrift.

***

Untitled

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. - Psalm 107:4

It is now a time of silence, a time of darkness,
And still you wait
For words to seep into the grave
And resurrect you.

But how will you know what you awaken to?

To wander mute thru the desert,
To blinding light,
To be devoured by whispers,
To be burnt by memories of other words?

Do you still want to wake up?

Now as you wait
For the words to enter your silence
And fill you with a fearful music,
Awake, and ponder what you've lost.

A peaceful slumber, a promise of dawn, hope in mirages...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Duality.

AD.(click on pic for higher resolution) Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A GLANCE AT MARVELL

Not disdain, but in quiet knowing, your orbit’s reach
swept beyond common eyes, beyond the limited lenses
of mere stargazers. The firmament was for lesser lights,
the vain ones content to sing the lesser senses:
for you were one with gods, your distant sights
set on divine tongues, a remote austere speech.

Not flourish nor conceit, but a cavalier insouciance
marked your passage through worlds, lives, and time;
mocked the grave’s seclusion, gravely making love
to shy mistresses, an ear cocked for wheels on grime.
And in jewelled strophes, an eternity glimpsed above
the running sun, above the dark empyrean’s effulgence.

***

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

i'm no icarus...


Glorious Icarus

i'm no icarus.
won't fly too close
nor seek all
that allures
or, warms from a distance...
for i know
(the acrid taste of charred dreams)
my hopes will torch
and dash to ground
from being so high
in the sky...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Memories

Faint wisps,so gentle
stored away in
the deep recesses
of my mind.

Waiting to be
unleashed,refreshed
with warmth and
nostalgia.

Like a picture story
where one scene
unfolds after
the other.

Of words and images,
a vast glorious
landscape captured
in its finest moments.

By my mind....

My mind,
so intricate,
subtle and
versatile.

Yet so treacherous.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Rainbow

What makes you think
It will disappear
When you tell it to,
That it will fade
If you close your eyes?

What makes you think
The images will stop
Changing form and color;
That the birds that hover around your head
Will fly away?

What makes you think
Your words will heal, kill, purify,
Resurrect, or chain to graves
All colors that change
From green to red, to orange, from black to blue to gray?

Not to white
Not to white

What makes you think
You can wash all colors in the rain
And expect a white canvas
To throw colors again?

What makes you think
All colors will remain frozen
And not change
Within the wall
You build around it?

Friday, October 21, 2005

You and I

You and I
at times resurface from under water
where we choose to live
most moments.
Till we can hold our breath,
till the floating aqua and the marine
entice…
till thoughts bubble
and draw us
back to the surface
for a glimpse.
Where time breathes in air thin
and we have only as many moments
to gulp in the air,
keeping up the chin.

Where visions are far in between and few
so we just exchange pleasantries,
and maybe a word or two
that gingerly allude to the
tempests heaving within
and before the lungs threaten to expend
those breaths waiting in abeyance,
we dive on the double…
to resurface
only when those thoughts
yet again bubble…
Ones that hold within
a world of dewy dreams
that is blithely singular
amidst echoes of discordant regimes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Dreams....

AD. Posted by Picasa
(Double click on painting for higher resolution)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

PERMANENT WAY

This poem was prompted by the news that the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the highest, and surely the most spectacular in the world, is nearing completion.

***

The centuries were less than kind to you.
But then, virginity's a tease for both bully
and suitor alike: you could hardly think your coy
rebuffs would keep either away, you knew fully
what history meant, that empires destroy
to thrive. And there was the odd flirtation too.

The suitors left but the ravisher, none too gentle,
gorged in heat and scourged you with his lust.
A cynical world watched your screams abate,
your flailing spirit ground to conquest's dust,
a desiccated carcass. And now the tourists wait
like vultures, for tickets to Lhasa Central.

***

Saturday, September 24, 2005

On Letting Go

These years will soon go by a-blur.
In a lonely room somewhere,
I'll live the past, the times with her.

Voices trilling in song or cheer,
Frills and laces, ribbons in hair,
These years will soon go by a-blur.

I'll think of eyes of twinkled laughter,
Monsters in closets, dolls in her lair:
I'll live the past, those times with her.

Of a child's kisses that healed a mother,
Adolescent fears and misread care,
These years will soon go by a-blur.

Shadows will sweep a desolate shelter,
No more now than a threshold bare,
and walls that whisper of times of her.

For I must know she's not mine forever,
Or else the rest is round despair.
These years will soon go by a-blur,
I'll live the past, the times with her.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Soul satisfaction....

AD. Posted by Picasa
(double click on painting for higher resolution)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Requiem

Gently please, don’t mind the dust. For this was organic too,
and shared air and breath with him, as did the roach
and the rodent. Step lightly round those scribbled scraps
that lie like leaves on untended graves. Sounds encroach,
even footfalls desecrate the quiet which wraps
this home turned cenotaph. For here silence grew

like an anthill, a maze of byways, histories trapped in a womb,
the fluid conscious of ages. Those books once lived and talked,
chattered to him like squirrels, or spoke gravely like the owl
as he fed them or was fed smiling, or laughingly mocked
like a master by his wards: a benign terror on the prowl.
Tread softly. They lie like children, dead now, in this catacomb.

***

The thirst.....

A. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Lets paints this world

Lets paint this world
to rival the songs
on the lips of that raindrop
falling
or is it dancing
maybe a half twirl?


Lets paint this world
and turn the sky green.
An audience in your show
the sun, mixes blue to its yellow
when it blows hot and cold!


Lets paint this world
using lipstick brushes
even if its just the air
it connects you and me
and many-a-times is the space
you demanded vociferously!


Lets paints this world
I have to paint it today
I cannot, any longer contain
This smile, the irrepressible child!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Raindrops



is it rain
or you within,
dancing in drops
on my parched skin?

*
each drop brings
a piece of sky
each pore
becomes an eye

*
dance in rain
I still do
and the rain dances
around you...

*

Friday, September 02, 2005

Insane

Soft, long fingers of a gentle breeze caress my hair; its moist lips plant teasing kisses across my face. And I feel very high.

Standing atop a thirteen story high building, I size up an arrowhead of pigeons fast approaching me, contemplating a Keanu-Reeves-look-ma-I-can-fly jump straight into them. But I wouldn't make a difference, would I, if I did that? If I bent my knees and pushed myself off the ledge, straight at them, it wouldn't affect anyone, would it?

For just a brief but seemingly inordinately long moment, some primordial instinct would make me spread my arms and flap them around before I plunge straight down and stain a sidewalk for a couple of hours or so, barely missing a lower-middle class matric-pass government office clerk carrying a white plastic bag with his lunch in it. He would turn around and stare at my smashed remains for a moment.

Maybe he would walk away, maybe he would be the first of a crowd of people who wonder what happened and why I had jumped. They would formulate theories in their empty little heads and hypothesise among each other, the reasons for why I jumped. They would have something to talk about when they meet a friend in the bus, or with people at work. But their lives would not change, and my flight to freedom would only be my escape.

But their lives would not change, and my flight to freedom would only be my escape.

I look up and see this azure blue sky as a ocean of opportunities, an ethereal level of consciousness with ideas swimming about frantically like little fish in the sea, waiting for a tempting thought with implementation as bait to dangle tantalisingly and hook them and reel them in. Ideas of all shapes and sizes: some are small, probably affecting a small minority of living beings with meaningless implications of redemption or happiness. Others I see as large, probably having the potential to transform the world as I see it. It can be huge. I know it is. And there is this one large crazy white idea that I have seen swimming among all these small little gray opportunities. And I know that it is for real because it is distinct. I have seen it all these years, and have meditated unsuccessfully with unflagging resolve to reach out and trap it. Perhaps I want it too badly.

I have a desire, a lifelong want, an unsatisfied need to change this world- to impact every living being that exists. My efforts, sadly, have yielded no result. I have failed. Even now, when I look down, I see cages around people as they go about their mundane lives with planned daily routines. Cages that don't allow these people to think beyond their limitations, cages that prevent them from reaching out and plucking ideas from that orchard of opportunities; doubts and inertia that bind their thoughts. And all I wanted was to destroy these cages- to grab that big idea with both hands and expand the collective consciousness of all alive and dead, to zap their cages and their binds, and free their minds. I have tried, and I have failed. And nobody knows.

Their life has not changed, and my flight to freedom is only my escape.

This ledge that I stand on has grown on me. My bare feet rest comfortably on it, but all things, good or bad, must come to an end. And so, I must take my leave of you and all others who inhabit this realm of consciousness to make my way back home, my goal remaining unattained.

My goal. When I talk to people about it, they look at me strangely, and smile. They agree with me; they nod their heads, look at each other as if they understand what I am saying. Some say that they admire what I am trying to do, before bursting into laughter. That something still plagues my mind: a doubt still persists. So before I take leave of you, I have just one question.

POEM FOR N.A.

You wear your darkness like a cape,
comfort-clung with the ease of years,
trust requited in its drape:
perfect sanctuary for fears.

Each languid swish fans the air,
unsettles winking stars like dust:
sequined specks in a cloud of hair
that shimmer with each gentle gust.

But these are no fairy lights:
no friendly goblins’ tease and play,
nor merry dance of elves and sprites
to keep a wicked witch away.

For they are fires lit by shades
to cleanse the fearful night of dread,
and light a way through pain-hung glades
to take the living to the dead.

***

Friday, August 26, 2005

Black Night

Last night I was woken up
By old ghosts, and they brought along
Their new friends.
They talked all night
And kept me awake with the noise
Of running feet and hands that wouldn’t stay still
For long.
They said I was the ghost
And wanted me out,
Out.
But the door was locked
And I watched them
Invade my room,
Tear apart my music
And replace it
With their ruptured, guttural voices.
And before I knew it
They opened the window
And showed me a way
To escape
The dark night.
Last night was black.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Nod at Hobson

So what hurts most, I often wonder…
(your deceit’s place is beyond doubt).
My folly, perhaps, when I first fell under
your witch’s spell, before the rout?

Or the greater one, when I should have laughed
at my mock consecration as your God:
the joke revealed when you used my craft
to woo and take to bed a fraud?

***

Watching my Unspeaking Father Board the Bus Home

That tree on the other side of the road
Seems bare.
Only yesterday
I stood by the cemetery,
Mesmerised by the fiery blooms
Hovering over silent bones,
And heard the leaves whispering
Secrets of those who come and weep.

This tree stands silent
And yet,
Defies steel hurtling past
Trying to flee, trying to weave past
Patches, unravel threads,
And create new patterns
That have no place for a tree,
Any tree.

And as they check the tickets,
The exhaust smoke
Blurs the long road
And my tree becomes
A Picasso dream in water.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Escape

I had wondered at this proximity,
an intimacy of thoughts, like a nakedness,
unimaginable, a union supreme.
Distances were irrelevant, propinquity -
a word that applied, when our oneness
amazed, silences weren’t rude.

It’s said we seek mysteries; an escape
from the banal but in a meeting
of minds, could banalities intrude?

Perhaps they could if on barren landscapes,
mirages, mere illusions, had sated a longing
undefined. They could serve as preludes
to deconstructed lives scrambling
for slivers of reason to conclude:
the enchantment’s as real as the escape.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

PLAISANTERIE

"I hope the noise doesn't disturb your prayers,"
says the man come to clean my room.
His tone and question catch me unawares -
you'd think he'd come to sweep a tomb.

Which, all things considered, isn't far wrong
given the life I seem to have led.
The man's earnest, and the temptation strong
to tell him to lightly vacuum the dead.

***

Saturday, August 06, 2005

ANNIVERSARY

Last week it slipped by unobserved.
Oh, not a wedding or a birth –
the weather had closed my mind,
and this probably wasn’t worth
a pause: there was little to remind
one of it, and even less that it deserved.

Two years ago it marked a typhoon’s edge.
At its rim I stood callow-faced, and paying
obeisance to a mistress out to woo. The winds
were held in check, the smiling calm betraying
no artifice, nor whiff of later violence,
with neither portent nor a presage.

But soon it blew, and its malignant force
left entire histories changed, and charts
as futile parchment – things to grace a wall,
or gift someone unlettered in the arts
of fickle seas. And all hopes of a landfall
gone with reason, blown hopelessly off course.

***

Welcome home!

I stared out with unseeing eyes, lost in an unseen but real enough world. Bits and fragments of memories swollen with longing burst low in a shower, drenching the snarled traffic below in silent reproach.
The skies had stilled-for now- and eyes glittered with stilled fears. A deep breath! Eyes squeezed shut! Arms wrapped around myself. A jumbled collage of a locked home; a scattered tear; a broken kiss; a lonesome airport; a goodbye that happened even before the meeting could, formed amorphously. I miss you.

But. Then.

I smile at the richness of it all, a textured lustrous pain draping life as it lives on, within the ever expanding horizons of hope and possibilities amongst and amidst chaos and loss.
A cool breeze floated past; saline cheeks bathing in the cloud burst as I let every pore drink in, quenching my thirst and....

I opened my arms wide to life....

Welcome home! I need you.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Peter

Contemplating a certain thought of wisdom
on these smooth and broad gentile plains
my brain ached and remembered a room
in a familiar, strange and restless city
where as a young man I was gently led
like a sheep to the fold.
There I was but not alone,
really there were twelve of us
each one timid, fearful and unaware
only silently listening to what He said.

Silently after a little while
we broke bread and ate because we were hungry
and needed food; and we tasted the wine
which was so bitter and also so strangely sweet
that in our thirst we remembered the prophets:
what they had yearned for and,
how easily in our midst we beheld that.

This much of theology I understood
that is, how much ever I saw
not only because it was so tangible and real
but even so because I could fathom it
in my mind and rationalise its implications
but there was something else that happened
which I was not prepared for,
something which made me curiously baffled,
speechless and completely out of ease,
something which, for a moment at least,
forced me into a sudden indecision
that now on reflection I ask myself,
"Why was I hasty to have my feet washed?"

But time has inflicted a better cure
and whenever afterwards I remembered that night
always a new thought strikes me,
a new wisdom speaks to me; as if it was
God himself talking to me and telling me,
how much of myself I have to give to Him;
how much of all that I cherish I have to sacrifice
and how much more I have to lean on Him
to cleanse me and my feet
as I walk reluctantly in these chains
on these smooth and broad Gentile plains
to my inevitable death and obvious glory.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Manic Monsoon !

A. Posted by Picasa


A filtered haze of
grey and blue
as I drenched
in you....

The cravings
eddying
flooded with pools
of you....

Awashed bodies
and garbage
bodies are garbage
too....(?)

A remembered
flurry of
You and I
washed away

But why then
does my skin
still ooze....

With the thought
of a monsoon
you....(??)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A NOT UNLIKELY REPLY TO "LETTER OF RESIGNATION..."

We are in receipt of your letter dated…
and are constrained to note
that you adopt a tone unbefitting
a subordinate – and we quote…
While we’ve no objection to your quitting,
please be informed that approval’s awaited.

We cannot but observe - and we could cite -
that you speak most insultingly of those
who, you must know, are your superiors.
The tenor of your communication shows
your contempt or, what’s more serious,
seems to suggest a deliberate slight.

You’ve called our beloved CEO a sod,
a word we’ve carefully looked up and find
is short for sodomite: a grave imputation
not just unwarranted, but unkind
in view of his well earned reputation
as a family man, and a man of God.

As for the comic army you mention,
please be informed that we’re outraged.
The idea is monstrous, you seem to imply
that we’re jokers ossified and aged:
a bunch of geriatrics who refuse to die,
and who’d be better off with a pension!

Your insolence merits disciplinary action.
However, we’re compelled to take a lenient view
(oddly, you have friends in our higher ranks
who have good things to say about you,
and it’s to them you owe your thanks),
and dismiss it as a minor infraction.

You’ve been trouble, say what you will, but
the fates and a few have been indulgent:
you’ve got by on your language and brains
(the one useless and the other redundant),
and forever have caused us posterior pains.
And by the way, who on earth is Gilbert?

***

Remembrance

I

At four they shout songs in church
I see people shining, talking a strange language,
Clapping hands in the Holy Spirit.
I grow up on books
The pictures and words etched in my mind,
The mind grew as I ran at home.
At six, I am an organist
And the music flows as I read.

II

The Bible I got
For being the “Best Youth” in church
Sits somewhere in the bookshelf,
I never opened it beyond the first page,
The page where the printing is faded
Stating my ownership;
My sister now takes it to church.

III

The picture I drew won a prize at school,
Daddy smiled,
Mummy smiles with him,
To keep them smiling
I sit silently and win more prizes;
After the second, never first,
But they don’t mind,
And I don’t care at all.

IV

My sister comes home
Every year for two months
And at eight I sing Careless Whispers and Wild World,
I read Jeffrey Archer at ten.
She stayed home from eleven,
At the houses on Old Passport, Holiday Inn
And Airport Roads.

V

At school I watch the others play
I join them and their laughter
But I don’t run with them any day.
After school I go
And play the piano,
I hide for hours,
I stay alone.


VI

I watch the Wimbledon final
And my dad pushes me
To go for drawing lessons,
He wants to see
The architect in me,
But now I draw
Infernally.

VII

I go to sleep on DaVinci and Van Gogh
Wake up with a start to Dylan Thomas and Coleridge;
I took a flight on Air India,
Brought my guitar for protection,
And with a pen for a sword
I stand on a bridge,
Fight the mad pushes of the waves
Tearing the skin,
The salt spray makes it burn.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Taking Stock



When I segued from student to working man, I weighed much less. Much water has flowed under the bridge, much avoirdupois accumulated on the frame.

All those years ago, I could bench-press my current weight. Now, I can barely bench-press what-used-to-be-my-weight then.
My body bothers me.


On the other hand, I have achieved what I used to consider one of the marks of 'coolth', back when I was in college. I know aall the suits in all the watering holes in town, most of them by their first names. (Not just the ones who wear those brass name-tabs, gerrit?) And I'm now confident enough to send back a dish if I don't like it. Ohhhh, sexy!!
Back then, I very definitely was not part of the gang that frequented the only disc in town. At the Oberoi. It was called the Pink Elephant, and after our college celebrated its sesquicentennial (look it up), an Old Boy threw a party for us at the Pink. I think it took a week to get rid of the smell of teenage puke. Free booze for 18-yr.-olds, the man was mad.
The only other time I entered the Oberoi (“back then”) was when I was walking down Chowringhee to catch a bus, and suddenly I just had to go. Lovely marbled restroom, oh joy, but half a mile down a slippery-floored corridor. Try that some time when your innards are making like Krakatoa before it blew.


When I was 18 I tried to write poetry. Occasionally I even wrote something that could pass as poetry.
These days I post on a blog. Sometimes, on two blogs. Or even three. But I haven’t written any poetry in years.


I think I was about 22 before I learnt to shut up.
I still have to remind myself, now and again. But I’m getting better.


I was 15 years old when I first heard “Scarborough Fair / Canticle”, “Bridge over Troubled Water” and “For Emily, Wherever I may Find Her”. Also “Patterns” and “Cloudy” and the “59th Street Bridge Song”. (My first time in New York, my friend thought I’d lost it when I insisted we make a detour to see that bridge. Great guy, but he used to like ABBA. I mean, a grown man who hummed “Fernando”?)
Then I fell in love with Kishore Kumar. And found R.D. Burman, Floyd, Tull, Al Stewart, Led Zep, Tom Lehrer. The amazing voices of Billy Joel and Shubha Mudgal. Along the way I sampled Silk Route, Traci Chapman, even Lucky Ali (yes, I DO like the Hrithik number).
One amazing night at IIT Delhi started with Shiv Kumar Sharma and went on to Amjad Ali Khan. Hari Prasad Chaurasia summoned dawn with Bhairavi and I’d discovered something. Years later, thanks to SPICMACAY and Prof. Qureishi, I sat in a small room and heard Shruti Shirolikar and once Zakir Hussain.
But …
… when I hear THOSE two sing their songs again, I’m still 15 years old.



I first went to Shiraz (“Golden Restaurant” … w.t.f. is golden about Shiraz anyway? Perhaps their biryani), at the corner of Park Street and Lower Circular Road, back in 1982. Thanks to J. No wonder he was my best friend. That was when a hundred bucks was still a Big Deal. One time J and I won that much in some college fest and blew it all at Shiraz. Ran up a tab of over 90 bucks and left the rest for tips.
To put that in perspective, the average human being would have found it difficult to finish a plate of biryani and a side order of rezala for fifteen rupees. The first time I took my wife out (that same year and no, she was not my wife then), it was to Shiraz. We had 5 bucks apiece and bullied another 5 out of Rajesh S with some obscure reasoning. We sat downstairs where it was cheaper, we paid our money and we ate our meal. We were full, we were happy.
The last time we went to Shiraz was … well, last week, actually. They still make the world’s best biryani. And the most amazing tandoori roti. The bill was a ridiculous amount, perhaps barely enough for a soup and dessert at Churchill on Colaba. Some things don’t change. Mmm mmm mmmm. And in case the point isn’t clear enough, MMMMMMMMMM!!!!


I wonder which year I learnt to say Hullo to a woman’s eyes instead of her chest. I do know it must have been some years after I was 16.
But I’m proud to say it’s been several years (decades, even?) since I greeted even the hottest woman with my eyes directed a few inches below her clavicles. Even on that memorable occasion on the Long Island Railroad four years ago when, for more than an hour, I half believed that bald is sexy. Somewhere in a finer and better world where true heroism is recognised and feted, I’m right up there with Sir Galahad. Or Bedivere at the very least.
(Ummm … I must confess I still do lech at times, but my priorities are different now. Brains and a sense of humour certainly, but also eyes, hands and voice. Most definitely eyes, hands, voice.)


I used to try to help people. A lot of it was due to Enid Blyton and Richmal Crompton and all that rot about one good deed a day. (Do kids these days even know about William and the Outlaws?) My good intentions were rarely appreciated, even on the rare occasions when I didn’t goof up big time. I did donate blood several times in college, though.
I really am better at helping people these days. Or so they tell me. Double difference there. Not bad.


Back then, I never had much money, but I don’t recall ever wanting much money either. Just didn’t think about it, I guess.
These days, I do want money. A fair amount. Still don’t have much. That hasn’t changed.


There was this picnic when I was in my first year in college. Half the people who went had only one condition – I shouldn’t be part of the scene. Major popularity.
I’m still told that I’m obnoxious. But it’s usually said with a smile. At least, I think it’s said with a smile.


I was tagged on that book meme that went around. Never did respond. How does one list 5 books? Or even 10?
What was the first book I read? I really don’t remember. The last was (a minor embarrassment) The Half-Blood Prince. Finished last night at 9 p.m.
That feeling when one has a new book to read. “The keen thrill of anticipation that surpasses every possible emotion … love ambition sex music food success, nothing can compare.” Something else that hasn’t changed. Thank God.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Letter of Resignation Unlikely to be Tendered

Please be informed that I wish to leave.
To retire while my mind is whole –
a miracle in itself, when you consider
three decades and more of battered soul,
the price I’ve paid for being an outsider.
It’s time I returned to what I believe.

In the thirty years or more aforesaid
I’ve seen brains scoured with caustic soap:
the kind that purged natural law and reason
and left spines snapped beyond hope -
for decrying the absurd was high treason.
I’ve seen lives shambled, and some dead.

I’ve lived and survived better than most
( to be sure, there weren’t too many of me).
I gave a damn or half for the corporate climb -
you know, I’ve hated grease since I was three!
So I ploughed my furrow, did my time…
That you couldn’t have me was my boast.

Please be further informed that God
doesn’t sit on the eighteenth floor. Not all
your cravenness can make that worthy
whom you fear more than mortal,
nor adulation make him less than earthy:
like you and me, he’s just another sod.

Be informed I’ve had enough. Enough of paper,
enough of your mindless comic army
that would have done Gilbert proud:
any more of this and I’d be driven barmy.
And not caring, I can afford to say it aloud.
I’m through with this stupid career caper.

And yes. Lastly, please find enclosed a snap.
A mountainscape, as you can see. And lest
you jump to conclusions, it isn’t the Swiss
or Austrian Alps where your kind recuperate or rest,
but something closer home you miss –
and thank God (mine) it’s off your map.

***

Friday, July 22, 2005

Silent symphony

Dancing laughter
pirouettes to silent music
drums of the yellow orb
and shimmering strains
drizzled by moonlight violin
rhythms of the tides too,
never missed half a beat.

The dancer was led
to the floor of grass and spunky weeds
children and flowers rivaling each other
who will spin more dreams
silently stood they, the magnificent
deserts, oceans and night-sky
reminding the one who waltzes
the ecstasy in stillness around him

:)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

HUMPTY DUMPTY

It’ll soon be a year since your slaughter.
A year since you dined and feasted
on my hacked and gouged flesh: my mind’s walls
bear witness to that carnage when you tasted
blood, and your demented madrigals
of lust turned my soul to water.

Even now it intrigues me how finely
you took to killing: how blind I must have been
to miss the light in those devil’s pools
of your eyes…though, even if I’d seen,
what good would it have served a fool’s
purpose? You’d have killed just as unkindly.

Well, I’ve put myself together, you know.
Not quite what one was – can’t expect that,
can we? You were thorough, and hate
corrodes and preys on love’s larded fat -
but yes, a whole of sorts again, oblate
though scared of falls. I sit low.

***

Monday, July 18, 2005

A rainy lesson

From behind the wheel
I watched the quartet
in a verdant park
across the boundary wall.

Bare torsos
no apparent concern
unfettered joy
as they romanced the rain

Squealing in delight
swinging high
catching the rain
earlier than otherwise

Instinct worked
desire surfaced
dain beckoned
and the door opened

Logic intervened
thoughts of shoes
and formal clothes
slammed the door shut

Unmoving in the seat
I stayed trapped
in cabin space
smoldering, simmering.

On the swings
the lads reached higher;
In my heart
I could sense envy arise.

Better sense prevailed
instead of jealousy
I embraced delight
in just watching joy

My spirit deserted me
to take the vacant swing
but only for a moment
for, it was time to drive again.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I am peaceful !

Silly Fool
Feeling so balanced
walking the tight rope
stretched on the floor

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Nightmare

You would anticipate peace
But then, what happens?
Silent screams of the dawn,
Then low morning moans
That rise to wails of torment
As the nightmare deepens
And merges with the darkness.

Then you decide
To silence demented demons
With a chorus of your cries;
A howling, from which you
Would never wake.
And though the sun
Stalks you like a raving psychotic
You only see
Shadows chasing you.

Through all this you try
To pick the shards of your sanity
Searching for the memory
Of your completeness in mirrors,
Always praying they don’t disappear,
Or you don’t break them.

When dreams go gray,
Doors remain locked, and drums pound
In your head,
You pace up and down
Like a caged animal,
Trying desperately hard to forget
A time when you thought
That drum beats were music
And you once held the keys to all doors
That open into a blue sky.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

LEH (12/09/04)

In my lens the lone street cants and drops
beyond perspective’s edge. In the distance a loaf of brown
straddles roofs against a cobalt sky, all there is to this town
of backpacks, yak butter and tourist shops.

Yet, take the colour away, the plastic hues
of mountain wind wear which white men bring, or even those
the locals flaunt brought from Lhasa, Shigatse or God knows
where: coral, jade and lapis lazuli blues –

and a mezzotint or woodcut stills this frame.
Through the viewfinder, and the sepia of two centuries
nothing seems changed in this anachronistic freeze:
the ancient thoroughfare slants just the same,

that distant hill not a curve out of true,
weather and years notwithstanding. The sun beats on slate
or stone, little more than caravan rests for the long wait
when passes froze and the winds blew.

But time dissolves in a dreamer’s sighs.
Through cars and army jeeps my driver threads his way
to where I am, lost in this windswept town of another day,
seeing it through mad Moorcroft’s eyes.

***

Friday, July 01, 2005

Earthquake. . .

In the faint tremors
Of your quivering lips
My world tumbles
As it seeks them for a kiss

© Dan Husain
March 16, 2005

Thursday, June 23, 2005

High Hopes

1.

city by
city by
city we parted
- you did not say a word
nor I

without you
I can find no rest
in this place
I once
called home

clouds appeared
on the vacant horizon
whispered promises
disappeared

now all I can do
is throw stones
at the sky
and hope
it rains

2.

we live on

of course

and isn't it amazing -
the things we get used to
the things
we can get by
without?

building our lives around
an absence
(cupped palms
under a tap run dry)

waiting
(that final act of faith)

waiting

as if waiting alone
can bring back what's
lost

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Fall

1.

Consider the height, the height,
The height from where you have fallen;
Taking your music with you,
Think it not My loss,
To have lost the best, the best,
The best of creation?

You are now lying in your blood,
Rejected,
Shall I tell these dry bones
To live?
Mind without soul
You are lost eternally,
Soul without mind
You are a ghost,
Wandering the face of the earth,
Desolate,
There is no rock for refuge.

2.

Lord, I aspired for greatness, for fame,
Forgive us as we forgive others
But I can’t forgive myself,
The promise, I have broken it,
I have lost
Your faith, Your trust, Your love;
How can these dry bones live?
My breath is a dry cough
Forgive us more than we forgive others.

3.

Consider your departed glory, consider,
Why is your wisdom darkened
Like the dark side of the moon?
You search for darkness even at night,
For dingy corners
And shiver
When the wind finds you.
Remember the breath I gave you?
Now you gasp, clutching your throat,
Rubbing your chest
You exchanged your fire for lesser lights
Under shadows;
Hell is excited, excited for you.
There will be hell to pay.

4.

Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
No more promises can I give
But I come
Gasping, groping in the dark,
I have become a horror
But Lord, have mercy
And restore.

To A Lover Once

My given faith makes no provision
for the solemn ritual of confession.
Sin is washed in some sacred river,
not purged through the intercession
of a stern sacramental forgiver
in an uniquely privileged audition.

But had I been born into yours
however, and bent a quotidian knee
before the Lord’s locum in the dim
penitential pew, my bleak litany
of lapse would lightly skim
the sins of transgressed mores.

There’d be little to scorch the holy ear
by way of lust or vice; I’m far beyond
the fantasies of boys. And hate admits
of no distraction, save what is spawned
in the wormwood culture of its
slow ferment – and this is all it would hear.

Yet, by analogy perhaps it takes
a black confessional to plead a flaw
long history now: a heart that wept
at another’s pain, one that saw
a child scourged; and as lover kept
the memory and the tears for sakes.

***

Desperately

Hidden beneath these
naked wrinkles of an aged skin,
Like black pools
of trapped, stagnant water
after the flood has receded,
Are left some breaths

And these probes
at my breasts,
suckling life away
incessantly

A forked tongue
slithering up my spine
slowly, surely

And every cell
like a traitor
Resonating
with the mysterious call
from unknown

I want to puncture
this blind old skin
and peek ouside
Once
desperately

***

Echo of a prayer



Like a seed that's sprouting
insignificant, little green hands
from deep down my womb

Holding on to a feeble beam of light
from a window, too small, too far above
the sound of my prayer trying to reach out
seeking God somewhere, out there.

And bouncing off
the merciless walls of skin,
returns unanswered.

Its echo sounding like a twang of a bow,
in the hands of a gallant warrior
his arrow just missed

At least, the echoes are here
till the walls last....
What happens to the sound of prayer
when the walls cave in?

***

Rajendra

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fakers & Fakirs. . .

Let us be together,
You & I,
And weave a web
Of wispy tales
And huggable lies;
Of truth and deceit;
Of two faces we have
And the worlds
In between – whirling.

Let us be together,
You & I,
In this flimsy world
Of words and feelings;
In this space
Between dream and awakening;
In these tit-bits
That nibble at hearts
And leave us – dangling.

Let us be together,
You & I,
In a conversation
Ridden free of deceptions,
Imbued with hues
That paint
Our respective milieus;
Persistently chaffing
Fakers from fakirs
But then our eyes meet
Your smile – redeeming.

� Dan Husain
February 8, 2005

Distraction

All his cars were red.
First a Cheverolet that was too big to park,
And then a deep-red Datsun that faded with age;
All his cars were shades of red
Like blood, in different stages of clotting,
Or fresh bruises on skin.

Then one day came a Merc, white,
As though purged from sins.
I opened a black-curtained window
And remembered the toy car he bought me
Replacing the gray Ferrari that fell from the third floor
And broke into pieces.

That day I was twelve, and the window
Was 16 floors above the toy Merc,
I looked down
And saw his snow white car
Turn bright red with my blood.
He won’t be able to make water out of wine anymore.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Scars - 1

That day, you dusted the bed,
Lifted the mattress
And found jagged pieces of my soul
In black and white.
But they were blood-stains
Of all those rusty blades I used
Just to feel alive.

Under the mattress
My soul slept,
It breathed in peace
Under cover,
Until you dusted the bloody bed
And gave it as much importance
As last week’s newspaper.

And like that paper,
You perused it for clues
To my silence,
Subjected it to public scrutiny
For a post-dinner discussion.

Take my body and partake of it
It is laid down for you
Drink, this is my blood,
Congealed and preserved
For you.


It is just black and white in your sight,
Not a living body, soul and mind
I hid under the bed
To prevent further attacks;
Not a vestige of what I was
And protected
To be what I am.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Friday, June 10, 2005

RUIN

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you how
he messed his life. With a pious shake of head
they’ll say don’t look now
but that chap there may as well be dead,

for all the living that he does.
For thirty years he’s held a job he hates,
for twenty drank more than most of us,
and left wife and kids to their fates.

He lives alone, dines out, eating not for pleasure
but as a chore to be put away,
a tiresome impediment to his leisure.
Drinks tons of tea, a ghastly Earl Grey

he spends a fortune getting (his other tastes
being just as odd and expensive) – in short
a rum cove, an eccentric who wastes
more money than he’s got.

At home he swims like a distrait whale
among piles of books that litter his floor
like scattered shoals, the air stale
with tobacco, decay and the must of yore.

And yet – he’s not all loss. Remove him
a few centuries, and watch animation stir
on his Old Testament face: eyes a-brim
he’ll talk of times or worlds more familiar

than his own palm. Listen quietly as he rattles
names and dates, places long since
wiped off the maps, and obscure battles
past the scrutiny of even historians.

Or mood depending, hear him tell
most movingly of some Antarctic race,
or how some lustrous mountaineer fell
on K2’s cruel unforgiving face.

For he’s that curious bird for whom
the past must lure with a siren’s wiles,
or the timeless sanctuary of the womb
which a raucous loutish present defiles.

***

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Confabulations

There are days
When I see afloat
In your iridescent eyes
Many hued happiness
Teasing me,
Beckoning me
To paint
The rest of my days
With it.

I am wondering,
Still musing
When you gently knock me,
“Why?
Are you drowned in my eyes?”
I emit a coy laugh –
Wish I wasn’t
Carrying the burden
Of being wise.

And hence we go from here
To bougainvillea-laden street,
Orange morning,
Silver bleached beach,
Alfresco caf้e
In Parisian neighborhood
Where we, carefree, laugh till
Time stands still.

ฉ Dan Husain
May 10, 2005

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Phonecall to the Weather Department

“Hello. Is that the weather department?”
“Yes madam. How can I help you?”
“There is something strange happening here
You see, we finally had rain this year
Your scientists said it was long overdue
I was stuck for two days in my apartment!”

“That happens, madam when the rains fall.
What exactly is it that’s bothering you?”

“The smell, Son. That lovely smell. It appeared
just before the rain, and the air was smeared
with sweetness, it was magic all through
And it slowly faded till it wasn’t there at all.”

“Ah madam. That is the smell of the earth
As it receives the first drops of rain
It’s a wonder you never smelled it before.”

“Oh wonderful! I couldn’t thank you more
Ah! I just have to try and I can smell it again:
that musty scent of an impending birth.

Just one more question comes to mind
The raindrops in my desert land are few
But there are places where it rains all year
Does the earth smell sweet perpetually, my dear?”
“It does madam. Each time it rains anew.”
“Ah well, praise the Lord. He is kind!”

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Wanton Spewing

He tossed and turned
Paced. Raved. Ranted.
Anger clawing at his soul.
Words after words he spewed.
He was after all, he said,
Just playing a role.

So why the angst,
The smarting,
The wanton spewing?
Ah, grasp! Life is greater than self,
Not all will feed
His rapacious ego brewing.

Indubitably,
There are those copious
Cavernous moments to fill
No raison d’être, no harbor -
Yet he follows perambulate
Acute acerbity to the kill!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

No answers.

Do you remember?
The empty house
rooms full of
imprinted space
my space;
the glimmer of
blue light
as I faded into a
shimmering screen

out of sight...

Do you remember?
From across the worlds
had I reached out
lived a life
with you;
had been there
an invisible apparition
disappearing
when you
wanted it to….

Perhaps the walls
told you
my history
perhaps
my mystery
still haunts
your memory
perhaps the
mists part
sometimes
and you see
me beckoning
to you

through time...

Do you?

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bekal Fort, Malabar 25/03/05

All straight lines and geometric, it strikes
with its absence of feature. Square or trapezoid –
it’s difficult to say – and not much of a glacis,
it’s unlike your copybook kind, devoid
of crenellation or turret. Down below, the sea
washes rocks, not footholds for enemy spikes.

It’s hard to tell what purpose it served besides
what largely seems cosmetic: from a few miles out
the walls can hardly have struck terror, given
the open coast flanking this redoubt.
There’s no artillery in sight, not even
a ceremonial gun to signal the tides.

It boasts a history, though perhaps no more
than most places on this stretch. Local kings,
Tipu, and finally the British, though God knows
why they wanted it: peripheral pickings
from some minor conquest, I suppose.
Slowly I make my way down to the shore.

But it’s a recent past that’s brought me here,
a lover’s quest for shingle. The sun, the very air,
even the wide Arabian that rules this strand
smells and looks different from where
I live, forty-odd miles up the land;
and the heat’s a whole lot steamier.

Loved country once, mapped fondly in my mind
and subtly scented, its wafted bouquet
had held me captive in its power.
But none of that survives now: instead, a grey
malignancy reigns, blue gone sour.
The horizon skulks, hard to find.

***

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Car Wash

“Yes, what do you want?”,
he shouts
in a hate-filled,
menacing tone,
“Isn’t this a car-wash?
Isn’t this what you’re all about?”, I ask.
“Yes, ma’am that is our task”,
he sneers,
I tense
Feeling afraid,
And alone.

“You want me to wash your car?”,
a flash of bad,
gold-capped teeth,
stressing ‘me’ and ‘your’
he seethes,
as he violently
kicks in
my door.

“I had a job!
I had a life!
I drove a fancy car,
Now you’re in here,
You demand a wash,
When I’d rather
slash a tire,
with this knife!”

“This is my country,
my home!
Go back
from where you came!
Leave us alone,
leave us in peace,
go back
where you belong!”

I step out,
feigning calm,
examine the dented door,
note down his name,
and warn him
in a steely tone,
(I barely believe)
of the next legal game
of charging him with
a minor misdemeanor
and a callfrom my insurer!

"For this is my home
as much as yours,
and the law is,
on my side,
take control of your
so called life,
and carve a niche for yourself
with your knife!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Rise of Sir Pelham Grenville

A little more than a couple of months ago I had fondly ruminated on the thirtieth anniversary of Wodehouse’s passing – I use the latter word advisedly, since it is more likely than not that he would have frowned on so prosaic and pedestrian a word as death. And as a master craftsman, in his own time he had coined many a picturesque mot for this, the only certainty in an otherwise uncertain life. Besides, it is just as likely that he would have taken umbrage (if umbrage is what one takes) at being pronounced dead: a man so supremely and exuberantly a celebrant of Life had little use for the Dark One (he very appropriately consigned him to Russian novelists of the Dostoevsky school).

The generation which went to school and college in the ‘sixties and ‘seventies – to wit, mine – had a certain literary regimen, in addition to the standard fare that it swotted for exams. This diet varied in minor details with individual taste (always expansive, never restrictive), but the common, unvarying factor was Wodehouse. So most of us affected the argot and airs of Wooster, Psmith, Uncle Fred or Ukridge, greeted each other with cheery “What ho!”s, addressed each other as Old Bean or Old Fruit or Comrade, described our schools as ‘scaly establishments’ or the ‘House of Usher,’ and occasionally asked some of our more indulgent teachers why they were looking like ‘bereaved tapeworms’ or why they were alone and pale loitering.

It was an elaborately constructed world, where the principal pleasure was derived from the countless comic possibilities of the English language.

What we were tapping was the kernel of Wodehouse’s genius, the perennial spring of his imagination which invested the entire classical cosmos, from the Graeco-Roman and the Biblical down to the inexhaustible staple of Shakespeare with an air of delightful absurdity.

For half of Wodehouse’s fun has its roots in his classical upbringing: it lies in the ingenious use of quotation, the clever employment of epigram in bizarre or grotesque contexts, the reduction of historical, scriptural or literary figures to the level of burlesque. Dulwich trained its sons well (Raymond Chandler was another Old Alleynian), but it is debatable whether ‘the fruit of an expensive education’ (as Psmith calls it) was foreseen in quite the form it took in its most famous scion. When Lorenzo spoke of ‘the man that hath no music in himself’ it is unlikely that either Shakespeare or the masters at Dulwich had imagined it in the context of Bertie Wooster’s essays on the banjolele and the resultant complaints from his neighbours:

“Jeeves! What was it that Shakespeare said about the man that hath no music in himself?”
“Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils, Sir!”

Or that Marcus Aurelius would be summarily dismissed as an ass in absentia for his reflections on the Great Web of fate.

The Americans get their comeuppance too:

“Jeeves…who was Barbara Frietchie?”
“A lady of some consequence, Sir, in the war between the American colonies.”
“Do you think she scratched when she was itchy?”

The braiding of allusion and absurdity, the weft of outrageous but apt simile or metaphor (“aunt calling to aunt like mastodons across a medieval swamp”) with the stereotypes of the age - the silly-ass Englishman, the formidable butler, the club, the notoriously dotty nobility, the perennially impecunious younger sons, perpetually on the run from the fringe of the London underworld, above all the aunts (an obvious borrowing from Saki’s Clovis, it would appear) – it is this fabric, rich in texture but light as girls’ summer dresses that is the abiding draw, the never-failing hook.

And that is the other noticeable thing in the Wodehouse Canon: a complete absence of winter snows and chills. Like Vincent Starrett’s eternal 1895 for the Sherlockian, the Wodehouse season is an eternal summer – with perhaps a spring variant in one or two books. The sun is forever shining on Shropshire, always beaming benignly on the Home Counties. If you have the soporific balm of cricket in the early stories, romance buzzes contentedly with the bees in the later ones. Even the odd snake in the grass – Baxter, for instance – is more of an annoying pest than consummate evil. It is as though Nature herself were a laughing participant in whatever revels or rascality were afoot.

But it is not the plots – or rather, plot, since almost all the stories are variations on more or less the same theme – which are the highest scorers: the ultimate winner, the last hero, is the English language. Wodehouse didn’t write for the less than literate: the pleasures of his splendid table are reserved for the connoisseur. The allusions would make no sense to one unacquainted with the original sources; his turns of phrase, so quintessentially English, would leave the novice or the indifferent cold. It is this latter fact which explains why one occasionally hears things like, “What do you find so funny in Wodehouse?” Any attempt at answering that (assuming murder hasn’t summarily disposed of the questioner and the question in the interim: Wodehousians are famously fanatical) would be akin to describing the attributes of an exceptionally fine vintage to someone whose palate has been dulled by moonshine.

“P G Wodehouse not bad. Not good, but not bad.” (The Clicking of Cuthbert)

***

Syringe baby.

She sits there
on the pavement
outside the door…

Her lonely perch
day after day
humming lost
tunes with
empty eyes
and a full womb
a syringe
by her side

And
I wonder…..

What games are played in the
hormone hungry
name of damp love
a chaotic fevered addiction
wounding love
as wombs are
torn apart
desecrated
and discarded…

And
the world
goes by
dropping a coin
for her
lonesome tune

As
she weeps
fondling her
syringe baby
by the road…

She sits there
on the pavement
outside the door…

Monday, May 09, 2005

Looking at the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort

no one heard the wailing of metal over marble
that afternoon, the masonry of agony
was too persuasive in its percussion
for ears to intrude and decipher its pain.

the worn-out workers, too, seemed unaware
of the plaintive cries the palpitating walls made
as their hands toiled and hammered
at this ashen-faced monument

to imperial anguish.

slow patricide was how the story unfolded
eventually, and the river became a witness
to the slaughtering that took place,
while shaking the earth from his axis

the chasm like river had its own version
of what happened, and the crying calligraphies
on the walls simply digressed into poetry
to explain this mournful mausoleum’s demise

into an imperial anecdote.

(c) 2005 Ashish Gorde

The Killing Restraint...

I shush them.
Chasten them, as they arise
Threatening to carry me
Along in the torrent
Of the unruly waves
Dashing against
Those rocks serrated.
Culling me from those caves.

You can bruise.
And, so can I.
Still tending to
Lacerations within.
Hence, the sporadic
Constrained silence.
Nurturing it,
Like its always been.

Every so often though
Visions of yesterday flash
When you found
My display of silence amazing
And wondered,
If your silence would talk to me.
Setting trails
Of words blazing.

Perchance,
You’re right.
There are stretches
Where fools rush in,
And angels
Dread to tread.
Yes, there are odds
A fine bargello might just
Be torn to shreds.

Nothing was ever gained
By plunging forth on a quest
With battle raging loud,
And silence buried
Under the din.
Should we let us be
Till clarity reigns
And you’ve quelled
Those demons within?

So, I shush them. Yet.

Friday, May 06, 2005

When We're Dead. . .

When we’re dead
Strange people crawl into our intimate spaces.
I see the aunt who spewed venom
Washing utensils in a kitchen
Where once we chopped coriander and cucumber
With other assorted vegetables
For a salad that I fussed and you fretted upon
But in the end we did relish eating it
Over a meal of courgette and prawn.

And there is this uncle,
Weeping profusely next to my mother,
Who always thought I am good for nothing;
A wastrel who lived off his parent’s deeds.
He once said he had a job for me –
A sales executive in a respectful company –
But we knew in his motives he is suspect;
He only intends to oblige, to humiliate.

Oh! There is this beautiful cousin,
Who once was besotted with me,
Washing her lovely daughter’s nappies
In a bathroom where once I washed
Our little girl’s clothes and yours too
When you lay nursing after a painful birth giving.
And as I rinsed them dry
You smiled through the slit of light
That fell across the bed,
Your lithe body, your blessed face.

And there they sit, my friends,
Huddled around my forlorn father
Who only shakes his head and sighs –
If he had to die
Why did he commit a suicide?
Why didn’t he also perish
In the same car accident
That snatched his wife and lovely kid?

© Dan Husain
May 5, 2005

Friday, April 29, 2005

Endings - II

It’s strange how the most powerful of endings are the ones which are not endings at all but long roads with no destinations; poignantly solitary endings which are conversations only nobody to converse with; endings which in themselves are like poetry in the making only nobody to see it being made.

The finality of an ending is a relief, one shuts the book, one forgets the story, one gets on with the business of living (whether alive or not!) but the story that worms itself inside the very fabric of one's being is the story weaving its way endlessly through meandering life, where one hopes that there IS an end almost like a dark destination only that the hope never quite fructifies...

It's that end with the possibility that it will be a beginning...but one never quite knows....

Do we really have an end or do we go on endlessly....??!!

I prefer to think that we do.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Pain

To heal I need you
to feel you
to touch you
in your rawness
as you tear me apart
till the tears flow....

Your beauty lies in
that you remain hidden
unrevealed
closeted
behind all the layers
so that no one else can
have a glimpse of you but me...

But only when
I can venture in there
into that empty space that you occupy
where I can savor your feel
your fullness
and absorb you
release you bit by bit
day after day....

You aren’t my friend
nor are you my enemy
just my teacher
teaching me lessons
through challenges
that I have ignored so far...

I go to bed each night
feeling I have conquered you
just that bit
that little bit
and just when I get a glimpse of the light ahead..

I also see the shadows..

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Trivia of A Brooding Mind - The Complete Series

I
The Trivia…

Perched on a mountain top
With icy winds
Against brazen cheeks
And a writhing river
Amidst mottled green
Life perhaps is a spectacle
And a handful of perspectives
That we bequeath
Our hearts’ each twist.

II
The Brooding…

In the middle of
A dreary afternoon
I woke with a start.
My throat dry
Bruised with a thousand sighs
With voices within
Like a million cries –
Enough! I plug my ears
I wish to hear
Your euphonious voice
Before I slide into sleep again.

III
Falling Apart…

Lost somewhere
In our efforts
To carve
Our separate worlds
Is perhaps
That nascent feeling
We lovingly nurtured
To drape
Our days with.

IV
A Spanner in The Works…

It was just a face
No more than a pattern
An entity in space
Of many seen in a tavern
That waits its end
At the corner of a shabby street -
Morose, moribund -
Epitomizing mediocrity's defeat.
And though it reflected much,
It said nothing.
An average man's fate is such;
It's sealed before the morn begins.

V
A Scene at A Café…
Epilogue


I place my hands on yours.
You quietly withdraw: unsure.
Our silence engulfs
A million wishes unsaid.
I wish to say
But you place your fingers
On my pouting lips –
“Don’t ask!
I have no answers.”
But when did I seek an answer,
I only pose the question –

What is life
If not
A glimmer of love
In your gaping eyes?

© Dan Husain
April 22, 2005

THE BARD

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

23 April 1564 - 23 April 1616

He was not of an age, but for all time.

Abandoned....

A. Posted by Hello


Inspired by 'Bazaar...Lost Innocence...Old Woman'
Thank you.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bazaar. . .

In the bazaar of conscience
We sell vestiges of notions
That we held close to our breasts
When home was mother’s lap
Or humped spaces on crooked boughs
And bliss two candies worth
Or a splash in village ponds.

But now we have sold
Our dove-eyed souls
And like a majestic eagle peck –
Blasé to the emanating odor –
The dead pigeon’s flesh; and when bloated
We leave the rest for others
In nature’s design to feast upon.

© Dan Husain
April 19, 2005

PS: Pragya & James, I am humbled. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Lost Innocence

Also inspired by Dan's poem - Bazaar

Shame replaces innocence
as we build another fence,
to hide from prying eyes
and keep alive the lies,
that hold us trapped within,
a glacial cage a la Merlin.

Sentient and painfully aware,
immobile, powerless, we stare,
through icy walls of our own
creation, forlorn and alone,
waiting for that balmy breeze
to melt away the deep freeze

or perhaps a shattering blast,
that sets us free at long last,
broken and splintered, but free,
to start over, to wait and see,
the longevity of innocence
regained, the onset of pretense,

a manifestation of original sin,
to keep us from scoring a win,
over any ingredient of shame,
in a never-ending human game,
of building walls and fences,
and hiding, behind fortified defences.

OLD WOMAN

And Truth my friend is an ugly crone
at the crossroads, watching her sisters
paint their faces, make eyes at men
while she tends her warts and blisters,
uncaring, knowing that for every ten
that they snared she'd be lucky to get one

who'd take her home. Fair above all,
she doesn't blame her lot, nor birth:
this was the bargain she drew,
the price she paid for her worth.
Besides, fools weren't extinct she knew:
some starry-eyed ass would fall

for her, honour-proud or bent on suicide.
That lust was something she understood,
though slow to quench. Let them stay
the course to know how good
she was, that she was no common lay:
she'd be there when all the tarts had died.

***

This was written as a response to Dan's poem "Bazaar".

A series of endings...

A wintry wetness
In the aftermath
Or a trail of memories
Slithering down the cheeks?
A garland of salty pearls
Tasted and wasted away
In vain waiting
As life gyrates
Into yet
Another
Twist…
---------

Come kiss me, once again….
as a torn tear hovers
uncertainly

On locked lashes
and the clock ticks
ominously

Marking yet another
end in nothing
but

A series of endings….

Monday, April 18, 2005

Politics

Tactics, we play by tactics
Fine, subtle and covert
If overt,
They are perceived as attacks
On the ego
By another swollen ego.

Tactics, we play by tactics
Machinations of the human mind
To survive amidst throes
Of plaguing insecurity
Of crippling fear
Of losing hold
And power
That we bequeath ourselves
At our own free will.

I am the monarch of
All I survey
Want to survey
We hold on
Crabby, crying, cribbing
We hold on
Cringing, clinging, crawling
With ugly uncouth movements
On the canvas of life
With the colour of politics!

(c)Praneeta Paradkar, 2005.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

No Nothing...

no hopes
no expectations.
just a plain wish
to know
maybe, for a change
let go.
to explore
to feel the warmth
of the glancing glow
to know what you think
how you feel -
maybe reel.
nothing to worry
nor to fret.
no pressure
no fissure
pray, feel free.

no hopes
no expectations.
just plain, unalloyed me.

Friday, April 15, 2005

MARGINAL NOTE

The House of David was riven wide
by Rehoboam and Jeroboam:
their scattered tribes are still a-roam
millennia after they’ve died.

The leaves of scriptured history tell
little beyond this tale:
a war fought to no avail
that sounded Israel’s knell.

Today in cobwebbed cellars they lie
neither reviled nor fabled;
but neatly dated and labelled
for the palates of the high.

***

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Portrait...

Scratched beyond recognition
At the margin of today's paper
That lies soulless
On your coffee table -
As we talk unsure, hushed
Our voices sliding into pauses abrupt -
Is perhaps my face
That you so fondly drew
Knowing it's me on the phone for you.

© Dan Husain
April 13, 2005

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The 'Q' with two tails*

*Frederick Dannay and Manfred Lee used the letter 'Q' with two tails to signify their partnership.


The annals of crime fiction have known many partnerships, but none so fruitful or enduring as that of Frederick Dannay and Manfred B Lee. The composite of those two is better known to us as Ellery Queen, and under that name were produced some of the most intelligent and inventive yarns ever. There was considerable ingenuity even in the form: the stories were written by ‘Ellery Queen’, and featured a detective so named who, far from being a professional sleuth, was actually a writer of detective stories! The fortune cookie came full circle.

Arguably, Queen is the first instance of a ‘cerebral’ detective in the American form of the genre (we shall forget Poe’s Dupin here, since he was too improbably bizarre to be real). He is a scholar, within reason; a man remarkably well informed on the arcane and the abstruse, without the epigrammatic airs of Holmes. He’s an acute observer of minutiae. He’s also sufficiently human to have a father, Inspector Richard Queen, a policeman in the New York Crime Branch, and with whom he enjoys a most affectionate and endearing relationship.

We do not know very much about his personal life, except that he is ‘young’, whatever that means. Like Holmes, he is timeless.

The stories themselves are encyclopedic in plot and sweep – as indeed one would expect, given the detective’s unusual abilities. The names are intriguing to say the least: The Roman Hat Mystery, The French Powder Mystery, The Dutch Shoe Mystery, The Greek Coffin Mystery, The Chinese Orange Mystery, The Egyptian Cross Mystery…

It wasn’t long before the partners in this delightful enterprise realised that they had spawned something of an industry; the seal on this fact was finally set by their founding, in 1941, of what is perhaps the most famous magazine in the world devoted to crime writing, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, or EQMM as it is now familiarly abbreviated. In more than six decades of flourishing existence (even after the demise of the original founders) the journal has elevated the genre to levels that even mainstream literature has seldom seen. It was the first magazine to encourage new talent through the ingenious medium of the writing contest and competition, has played host to some of the greatest names in detective fiction, and carried learned critiques on the form by eminent commentators.

It has had a fanatically devoted, and exponentially increasing following among cognoscenti – the kind probably last seen when Sherlock Holmes was the mascot of the Strand Magazine in the last decade of the nineteenth century. And in much the same way, collectors prize its old issues.

This year America celebrates the Ellery Queen centenary.

***

Topkapi

i searched for comfort in history’s
forgotten backyard, a reckless debris
it was: angry stone and mute granite
cobbling together in an ornate dance,
and the wind like a swirling dervish
swaying with the fury of a woman
scorned. the ottoman walls wailed
over memories of miseries enacted here,
and over pleasures that were played out
by the banks of the nearby bosporus –
a pliable backdrop, if ever there was any,
to this decaying palatial harem
where eunuchs and courtiers conspired
to stretch an empire beyond the marmara.
i was all alone when i witnessed all this
from my zephyr burnished perch, an impossible
privilege in the days of the sultan
and now a mere salutary stop
in a tourist’s itinerary. i was perturbed,
to say the least, at what this meant
and found no comfort in pitying
the significance of this moment
as i saw before my eyes
centuries of conquests collapse
into a parable of the inevitable.

© 2005 Ashish B. Gorde

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Suroor...

Words that trap you
Shackle the very wish
Of yours to break free… from me

Like vignettes
At the margins of your portrait
Entwining, entangling, ensnaring
This biblical velleity
To taste the forbidden
Fruit of your Eden
But the swirling snakes
Of heathen desires
Raise their wispy heads
Of gnomic intent and size
To only find themselves gnarled
At the margins of your portrait

You look up from the poem
Oh…and all that remains are…

Your kohl lined eyes
The purple stained lips
And a crooked shape of once a snake
At the margins of your portrait

©Dan Husain
January 18, 2005

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Pest and the Pedant

Quite without argument literature’s busiest and most officious of busybodies was Thomas Bowdler. A man trained to be a physician or surgeon (I forget which), he gratuitously meddled in things far removed from the ambit of his chosen calling: encroaching on the province (if that) of the clergyman instead of enriching his own, trying to sanitise supposedly impressionable minds and souls.

A full two hundred years after Shakespeare’s death he picked on the poor Bard as a starting point to begin his self-appointed purification mission. Carefully excising, expunging and expurgating words, phrases and passages considered ‘indelicate’ for tender eyes and ears, he produced The Family Shakespeare: an opus to be dipped into by a benignly stern pater familias for the instruction, improvement and edification of his brood. One can imagine the scene: a Sunday evening at home by the fireside, after a properly sensible supper, with six or seven eager faces upturned as the man ponderously drones on.

And mind you, Victoria was not yet enthroned to set her stamp on the age.

Well, history often displays a nice sense of irony, so it wasn’t long before the silly doctor got his come-uppance (but not before he had visited his unwholesome attentions on the Bible, and Gibbon, poor man): his name soon became synonymous with overly sensitive morality and ridiculous censorship. The same tender minds for whom he laboured now laughed at him.

But curiosity impels us to examine what precisely Bowdler found objectionable in England’s greatest son – and not, certainly, out of moral scruple in this day and age.
As far back as the 1930s, Eric Partridge, the famous scholar and writer on English language, trawled through Shakespeare and documented every single word, phrase and passage having sexual or scatological connotations. And the result was his monumentally entertaining Shakespeare’s Bawdy. A sample, perhaps? Here’s something from Venus and Adonis – Venus speaking:





‘Fondling,’ she saith, ‘since I have hemm’d thee here
Within the circuit of this ivory pale,
I’ll be a park, and thou shalt be my deer;
Feed where thou wilt, on mountain or in dale:
Graze on my lips; and if those hills be dry,
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie.

Within this limit is relief enough,
Sweet bottom-grass, and high delightful plain,
Round rising hillocks, brakes obscure and rough,
To shelter thee from the tempest and the rain:
Then be my deer, since I’m such a park;
No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark.’

For sheer exuberance of imagery, that has few equals: the Elizabethans were remarkably free of moral straitjackets.

And if that whets your appetite (pun or none), Partridge’s delightful work is now available in a fine reprint (Routledge Classics): both scholar and prurient alike can rejoice.

***

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Dulcet Dreams

Wipe my fevered brow
Brush my tears away
Spin your magical yarn
of yonder and of yore.

When sleep eludes me
on the nights I lie awake,
Mother, won't you weave me
those dulcet dreams once more ?

© Suma Nagaraj 2004.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Gambit

“I love you.” Pawn to king three
mobilises your infantry.

Black regards, fields a knight,
an early move to protect his right.

Queen to king’s rook four
takes the battle to his door,

sends his knight running
in this contest of cunning.

And while he looks,
you open your rooks,

your sleek bishops
insurance against mishaps.

Daunted, black responds
with a few desultory pawns –

till endgame stares him in the face
to tell him he’s lost the race.

White to play and mate in two:
cold eye and hand move “I hate you.”

***

Reality Check…

That once looked so bewitching
Filtering dazzling lights -
Casting myriad patterns
On the walls… the ceiling…the couch.
The chandelier has slipped from the peg.
The inverse interrogative icon, inversed.
Posing questions…jagged.

Jagged shards on the floor
Beckon crimson drops from the feet.
Ones that are aching –
To ooze from the heart instead.
Trying to fuse the motley pain
Ones she nurses within…
The drained heart lies in vain, beat.

A little piece of Eternity

Ruminating on days gone by,
Wasted moments and words
That were never spoken.

Scared of saying them out loud,
Hiding in the shrouds of silence,
Promises made, and then broken.

Maybe someday I will see,
What you mean to me,
Was just not meant to be.

Maybe someday you will see,
All I ever wanted,
Was a little piece of eternity.

© Suma Nagaraj.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Desire...

I walk in there.
And, as if by design
Our eyes meet.
Lock for a fleeting moment
Caressing.
Unlocking in me, languorously
The fabrication of desire.
The cascades of emotions
Tripping on each other
Engulfing me languidly
In the tortuous fire.
Molting the sleet.
Yielding -
Unsettling the intrinsic schema.

I look away.
Perchance, it seems so plain.
But almost in the tripping moment
Am drawn,
To seek that look again.
My native quiescent in disarray.
I can no longer eclipse,
Feign.

I so wish to see you again.

© Preeti Bose

A Poet's Dilemma

Drunken metaphors
Cavorting to strange rhythms,
Hauling sackfuls
Of allegory and cliché
Pilfered from a Bedouin’s caravan,
Spice-laden, my words,
But their aroma
is lost to a critic's blocked nose.

© Dan Husain
March 30, 2005

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Umbra

golden clouds sketch arabesques in the purple sky
by weeping waters I sit darkening
and throw letters and poems and pictures
into the river to drown the moon
no night's without end (I tell myself --
it's a sorry consolation)
and the skies will soon burn with my favourite tint of aquamarine
and the whitehaired clouds will dribble in anticipation
of something
of something
there will be time to figure out what,
till then

. . .

(three stops that compass
an unspeakable eternity)

*

I reach out and pick from the river
a longsilent photograph
and the moon bobs up groggily, wagging its sickle finger --
"I knew it. I knew it all along," it says
-- but I'm not looking at it
because I'm looking at you
surrounded crowded yet alone
the reddest drop of blood
on lips of bleachbright bone.

HOUSEWARMING

We have a new home, as all of you can see. Unlike those of brick and mortar, which are prey to every kind of whim and caprice that Providence in its infinite wisdom is capable of throwing one’s way, this one was ready in remarkably short order: the architect-contractor executed his commission with the minimum of fuss, and the owners are beaming proudly at the results. Would that all pursuants of the former’s calling were as gratifyingly quick in their labours as the splendid Chugs: ladies and gentlemen, shall we rise in a toast to him, if you please…?

As is the wont of all new houses – and ships – there may be a few oddities here and there, a few leaks beyond the shipwrights and fitters. If any catch your eagle eye just say so, and we’ll see what we can do about them. But you’ll agree that the overall effect is not infelicitous! Sylvia Beach’s famed shop-front graces the masthead, just as we’d wanted it. And the white sets off the writing to advantage.

Chugs, thank you once again for your lovely work!

This is now our home. May it bring joy to all of us!


Shakespeare & Co.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Potential

The wet clay – innocent, impressionable
Ductile and malleable...
And the ruthless wheel of fortune
That so effortlessly
Deforms, damages, and destructs
That which has the ‘potential’
To take its place of pride
On the mantelpiece
But now stands ‘cracked’
A glint passes through
With great difficulty
Easily reinforcing
That ‘happiness’ can
Only be a dream...
The shards of broken pottery
Cry their heart out...
And ask...
Why did you break me...
When I was taking shape?
And then melt away
Into shapeless lumps, drowned
In their own tears...

© Praneeta Paradkar 2005

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Be my love.

I Want.
To meander randomly, stroll quietly, write with a purposeless purpose; let words have their way, pleasure me, I say.

A Smile..
The little wordy handkerchiefs of grief are dry, crackling with starch and ironed but they blow now in the wind, freely moving voile. Sometimes they have a stiff upper lip, these words, I want to nudge them then into a gently gliding smile.Make love to me, molten liquid words, kiss me wet and linger, words don’t you abandon me, ever.

Don’t be shy.
Open me up to the world, take me to its delightful heights or then bring the world to me; I promise you won’t be disappointed. I’ll give you lacy words; I’ll give you silky solace, words don’t you leave me, ever.

Stay.
By the day, down meandering lanes, where breathy life shelters in cafes; sit with me awhile as I tuck you into my paper, capture you forever in inky blots on napkins with spring Daffodil sketches as the filtered aroma of a creamy cappuccino wafts sighing up to us.

I promise.
I’ll bed you by the night; take you to dreamscapes where I paint passion with a luminous brush and whisper wordy iridiscence. Lets tuck ourselves in, lost in each other as the room rises and falls with us with its smiling walls lustily cocooning us and the windows lower their eyes in innocence.

Words.
Be my love.
Forever.