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.