Monday, May 29, 2006


Let’s put things down. There’s the man,
“Ecce Homo”- forget the irony for a minute
and be literal if we can.
Baptised, Jew, 33 as far as you can pin it,

give or take a year. Good looking too,
though the portraits are copies – unreliable
at best, and descriptions are few.
Only the charisma’s undeniable.

Attractive to women no doubt. The Son
of God could hardly be otherwise
than the nonpareil Perfect One.
Certainly the most arresting eyes!

And then there’s the Magdalene,
the most famous – no, forget the name
by which she’s so unfairly been
reviled, the object she became:

the man himself preached compassion,
remember? We shall do no more
than follow, and in our own fashion,
dispel the myth of the whore;

although, admittedly, the slander of ages
must take a while to die. Spare her
then the pious pulpit outrages,
the common urge to tear her.

Consider her instead as wronged –
there’s nothing empirical in scripture
to deny her what belonged
to her: she suffered by depicture.

Thus, no longer base, she could
be lover, wife, mother, all
in the fold of Christian good.
A worthy married woman withal.


Two Translations from Jibanananda


We still are not dead- yet, ceaselessly, vistas are
Mohin's horses graze upon moonlit autumn fields,
Like prehistoric horses- still grazing, grass-greedy
Upon the grotesque dynamo of this earth,
Stable scents drift in, in the crowded night-wind;
Sad hay sounds fall on the steel machines;
Tea-cups, like sleeping kittens-devoured
by leprous dogs
Go frozen in the restaurant over there
The paraffin lamp goes out in the stable
blown out by time's quietus
Touching the moonlight of the horses' neolithic


'Rather write a poem yourself-'
I offered, smiling ruefully; the shadow-man did not
I realized- no poet he, but enthroned posturing:
Manuscripts, commentaries, footnotes, ink and pen
Make up his royal seat- no poet- undecayingly,
Professorial; toothless- eyes impotent mucous
Wages a thousand a month - another thousand and
a half
Come from scavenging the flesh, worms of dead
Even though such poets had wanted the strange
Of hunger love fire - had surfed in shark filled

© Arka Mukhopadhyay, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Haiku....

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When Others Sleep

others sleep
while you and i watch the sky
turn to various shades of blood alternating
between hot and cold and dead
in our heads

others sleep
while you and i dissipate words
to exorcise images of losses recurring
in the time and space and silence
of our hearts

others sleep.
we watch others.
and wonder why we've forgotten how.
others sleep.
we dream.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Delhi - A Revisitation

Delhi - A Revisitation

It’s akin to visiting my foster mother, today,

That I am returning to you, mother city, after twenty years,

I look at your broad, bereft streets, mater,

Through which emperors, prime ministers cavalcaded,

In victory and defeat, through gates and triumphal arches,

That murmur of the pains of your rape and impregnation.

The sudden shock of your poverty upsets me,

It is evident in the desperation of the cycle-rickshaw puller,

His eyes intent on the ground, standing on his pedals,

He pulls his woes, as if there is no halcyon tomorrows.

Your grimy streets are dusty, high walled, impenetrable,

As if you wish to guard the gory secrets within.

Is this where histories, dynasties were made, and fallen?

A dynasty now rules by proxy the city of the great Akbar,

And a fratricide of a potentate now fills you with awe,

When you are the city of kingly fratricides and parricides.

Remember how Dara Shukoh was marched and beheaded, by his kin

In your own street of Chandni Chowk, of not long ago?

The secrets of the present and past mingle,

Where now stand glitzy malls, I know, blood had flowed,

In your dark corners soldiers, spies, princes plotted to kill,

You witnessed stoically the dethroning of emperor Shah Jehan,

And the ascendance of his wily progeny, Aurangazeb,

As you watched, your face covered in the folds of your veil.

Yet, now, mother city, your tears are dry, your sobs silent,

Slowly you die, spent and ravaged by your many lovers.

Though it is kitsch melodies that you hum today, you were once,

Serenaded by Tansen, and Amir Khushro Dehlavi,

In your parlor once, poets and artists did conclave,

Over the “daughter of grapes” and the smell of tobacco!


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

reflection of Blue

He who fills the universe
and yet remains apart,
how could I fit him inside
a mere heart?

so I became a mirror and-
His reflection I caught
within me

now however big He is outside,
will also be so, forever,
within me

but unaware I was
of laws of reflection
until the moment of revelation

what was right, is now left
truths that I knew
have become untrue
black turned white
and eyes, Blue

© Rajendra Pradhan


these days I remember
the stories you used to weave
and would ask me to believe

they make me aware
of breaths that we take
and venom that we spew
of lives that we fake
and lies that we live
universes apart

time is fine sand
and our untwined hands
make a coarse sieve

you should have stayed
when the world was conquerable
or so, I used to believe

© Rajendra Pradhan

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Like some ancient monument it pushes its head
above the trees. Under the massed amorphous green,
unsuspected, the city quietly lies unseen:
the dome might be a mausoleum to the dead.

Streaked with ages’ dirt, it doesn’t require much
to transpose it (if one is so minded) to some fabled
riverbank, a watercolour or engraving neatly labeled
Robert Orme, or a Daniell or some such.

But I who know it’s no cupola-ed tomb
wonder in what repair the ratchet is, the date
of its last greasing, in what dubious state
preserved the precious optics in that room.

Now no less a reliquary than the chapel’s own,
those old Jesuits who turned an eye skywards
would hardly credit this rookery of birds.
There, I see two now…no, one: the other’s flown.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

interior monologue

where do you see yourself four years from now?
Four? why not five? ten? I've been asked those before.
Four. This is new, what do you mean,
The seasons, the winds? I am in the doldrums,
All I hear is static, red sand whirling through my brains,
Four, four, what is this number? The trinity and I
Accusing each other, three times you deny Me,
Four you kill me.

Three minutes to die by hanging, four
For transit, four fretboard-scarred fingers,
Playing four beats a complete note,
In four minutes I complete this call, four
Corners in a page I tear out, where do I see myself?
Scattered life history no one wants to read
In a rational four-dimensional world.

Four years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds,
Time, ticking four, clanging bells, the wandering
Account of deserts in Numbers, wars with the Lord,
The unspoken Word and death wrapped in four,
Where am I in this? between the unread
And the undead, I float wraith-like haunting the
Doppleganger infinite in enclosed mirrors of four.

where do you see yourself four years from now?

In a cage making music within bars,
Beats of four and then silence for-ever.
Writing four octaves waiting for the curse of the ninth,
Dying fall and then deafening silence.
Gazing at the broken notes written on stars,
Bleeding from jagged edges an then
Four times four millenia of rests.