Thursday, November 10, 2016

ANOTHER 9/11

As American alchemy transforms
Third-world sweat and blood
into their Starbucks and McDonald’s,
and builds empires upon the debris
of war-torn nations,
buying bread with bullets,
so the 9/11s of Chile, Egypt and the Jews of Nazi Germany*
get erased along with the fall of the Berlin Wall,
To make way for the 3000 dead in New York
on an azure September morning.
All lives are not equal.

The World’s 9/11 is America’s November 9.

Yesterday, America waved into the
world’s gobsmacked visage
a racist, misogynistic, hate-spewing Trump card:
That too was a 9/11.
Yesterday, we had a 9/11 that crashed the
economy, converting coveted notes into
paper and nothing more.** As banks and ATMs shut down,
as if in mourning, and social media brimmed
with Trump-struck woe,
I felt for a moment the world shared in my grief—
A humongous pathetic fallacy—
My own 9/11 that splintered my days
into before and after, hijacked my life and
flew it into the skyscrapers of
Ceaseless Avarice, to burst into flames,
To hurtle down sans grace,
And to splutter in the ashes, facedown in muted sorrow:

Tragedy must be a class act, or spectators get bored;
No listeners for a broken piano, so you better soar.

A wannabe phoenix, this was my 9/11.

NOTES:

*Refers to the US-backed overthrow of the democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973 and the bloody dictatorship that followed; the signing of the Camp David Accords that signalled Egyptian and Arab humiliation on September 11, 1979; and the Kristallnacht pogrom by Nazis upon German Jews on 9 November 1938.

**On 9th November 2016, 500 and 1000 rupee notes were demonetized in India, leading to widespread panic among the common man and bringing the economy to a stand-still

Sunday, July 31, 2016

SONGS FROM THE HILLS

There’s a certain cold blueness
that wraps round the mountains,
slides down the pepper vines
choking the spiky coral trees,
blooms with the elaichi buds in the backyard,
and brews in the black tea
that you sip, shivering under blankets.
Sweaters and mufflers can ward off the chill,
But what do you do when the soul feels cold?
**********************************
Wisps of mist swirling over peaks
to embrace the snowy puffs
valiantly swimming through louring grey skies
that leak day and night, drip-drop-drip,
In a fine powder-rain.
*************************************
These hills, they hold secrets as ancient
as the hills themselves.
The oldest and the truest of them all?
“To love is to lose, and to lose is to love,”
whispered the wrinkled hills, with a sigh
that echoed in the wet valleys.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Poetry in a Time of Terror

Tonight I cannot write
Of love won and lost,
Dreams dreamt and burnt,
Palm fronds silhouetted in the moonlight,
Salty rivulets coursing down my back
in the summer heat.
Tonight I cannot write
Of twilights in russet splendour,
Jacarandas raining down on my graves,
Labyrinthine daily mundaneness.

Tonight, when flowers are doused with kerosene
and set afire; when the craggy moon spews blood; when nightingales
are strangled and sparrows hanged; when humanity is splintered
to make coffins for the young with old eyes;
when fetters festoon every heart and hearth;
when streets resounds with the footsteps of fear;
when they stifle, muzzle and muffle, with the mob behind
baying for blood—your blood—which
would be ideal to varnish their nation
which once was yours as well; when to think is to feel
is to question is to die—instant annihilation or a slow
dismembering of your memory, your history, your very being.

When ghettos spill over and smudge coffee tables, desks
and benches, parchments and temperaments; when the dappled tree
shades where we walked scream an eerie silence; when the letters
vaporise from the books we read; when the lakes
freeze in the centre, afraid to lap their shores,
and the peacocks forget to squawk; when the cold stars sing dirges
for the newly dead and dying, in a land where
they alone live who have already died—
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

Tonight, with my son at my bosom breathing baby’s bliss,
I weep for the ashes of my yesterdays, and for his tremulous
tomorrows that shriek with outstretched arms.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

TWO






Two little mynahs
sitting on a  hedge:
One for sorrow,
Two for joy.

A little girl who believed
in fairy tales,
Blue lotuses lived
in her midnight eyes.

Bread and butter,
Woe and mirth,
Lightning and thunder,
Breath and death.
Life is measured out in pairs—
A duet tuned to disaster:
Two tablespoons, please.

What do you do with a poem
whose couplets
refuse to rhyme?

Would you tear it up
into a million flakes
that snow down upon
your summers and springs?

Would you torch it alive,
Let the howls hound you for life?

Would you incinerate it,
Scatter the ashes
beneath your dreams?

Or would you keep rewriting
till your blood runs dry
and you run out of reams?

A sunrise frozen in a teardrop,
A bulrush gasping in a heath,
A forlorn slice of moon in a bedraggled sky,
Some couplets can never rhyme.