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The Sun of Cancun

Cancun. 2003.
Same old sunrise.
Same old Negotiations.
Déjà vu.

The Colonials
huddle in the backbenches.
Former masters
haggle over trade
up front.

The rich sign a deal.
They sent it over to the poor.

They look at it.
Unfair. Too little.
As always.
Crumbs.
No cream.

They whisper.
No more.
Good deal,
or no deal.

Four of them
Form a gang.
A gang of brics.

A new sun will rise.
They will
cringe no more.

They send Twist
to the big ones.

“May we have more please?”

(brics: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa; a group of five nations the US and EU consider most dangerous).

I ask for peace

(A transcreation of Maithreem Bhajatha)

I have come here
to ask for an empire
to ask for an alliance
Of the hearts of the world.

I have come here
To ask: can I be you?
To ask: Will you
try and be me?

I have come here
To ask: ditch war!
To ask: ditch rivalry!
Don’t step on each other’s toes.

We live in a big world
She gives us all enough.
We got a good God
He likes us all the same.

I have come here
To ask: Be nice.
To ask: Be calm.
To ask: Be kind.

I have come here to ask
For Prosperity
To bless us all together.

The original:-
Maithreem Bhajatha

Maithreem Bhajatha Akila Hrijjaytreem
Athmava Deva Paranapi Paschyata
Yudham Thyajatha Spardhaam Thyajatha
Thyajatha Pareshvakramam Aakramanam
Janani Prithivi Kamadughasthe
Janako Devaha Sakaladayaluhu
Daamyatha Dattha Dayadhvam Janathaha
Shreyo Bhooyath Sakala Jananam

Lyrics by Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi.
Sung by M. S. Subbulakshmi at and for the United Nations.

The city won't stop for him

The city doesn't stop for anyone.

He was young: agile and swift.
Could cross the street.
Dodge cars with ease.
Not now. He is an old man now.

Age, dignity, and a pension
is all he has left.

Wife is at home waiting.
So they can sup and retire.
He wants to cross the road.
He wants to get home.

The cars are in a hurry.
They need to get somewhere too.

Turnover, Growth curves,
Bottomlines, Quarterly projections.
There is business to be done.
No time to stop for an old man.

The city doesn't stop for anyone.

Farewell, Lapwing

On the lawn stands a lapwing,
In the sweet light of the moon.
I saw it in the morning,
It was still there at noon.
The rain has shed his blesing
In the happy time of June.
Silent stands the lapwing,
While a thousand crickets croon.

When winter was freezing
The bird was still around
Now the rain is pouring
Yet on his lawn he is found.
Bright may flash the lightning,
Fearful the thunder sound,
Stubborn is the lapwing
He won’t give up his ground.

When the sun was scorching
In the summer month of May
Unfazed stood the lapwing
The bird was there to stay.
I have learnt this one thing
Come twilight dark or day
To emulate the lapwing,
And persist in my way.

This bird knows but one thing;
The crow is very clever.
Always experimenting,
He flies hither-thither.
But his skills are wanting,
In the face of danger.
Nothing beats a lapwing,
In inclement weather.

Among the crows a lapwing
Hope forever to be!

Imagine

Imagine a country
where national interest
is the only one.
In which Manmohan Singh
and Atal Vajpayee
come together
to lead the nation forward.
In which Chidambaram
and Jaitley
are in the same cabinet,
where Arun Shourie
and Praful Patel
work together.
Where Sharad Pawar
and Suresh Prabhu
sort out the nation's worries,
as men seized of a mission.

Sigh,
Imagine.

Heck.

If Ariel Sharon
and Shimon Peres can do it,
why not our leaders?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4485568.stm

The Economic Sonnet

When onion prices reach the sky,
When inflation crosses limits
And domestic budgets stretch
Governments fall as people cry.
Ministers must then use their wits
Trying to please every kvetch.

But what if champagne hits a high?
The cost of condoms you can't bear?
Viagra costs a thousand pound,
The flow of vodka becomes dry
Fishing rods are also dear
And a guitar's price is not sound.

The dismal government economist
With humour now has made a tryst!

Condoms used to measure inflation

Doggerel [Japanese Genius] (might be disgusting)

The best of Japanese creative power,
Is the invention of the bum shower,
Bum shower,
Bum shower,
Japanese shower.
The best of Japanese creative power.

No Canadian pine tree's grandeur
Need be ruined to make tissue paper.
No paper,
No paper,
No tissue paper.
Save the Canadian pine tree's grandeur.

No Indian low-caste labourer,
Need be degraded as a night-soil carrier.
No labour,
No labour,
No degrading labour.
Save the Indian low-caste labourer.

So the best of Japanese creative power
has been to save the glory of nature
Of nature
Of labour
Of dignified labour.
The best of Japanese creative power!

A Song of Spring

I saw you first at midnight miss,
When the brawl had just begun,
Your nasty growl and bark and hiss,
My heart had then been won!

That foolish pack across the street,
Thought that they’d raid our dump,
With zero idea who they’d meet,
Got bitten in the rump!

Your features in the moonlight shone,
Your howl was loud and clear,
And when the watchman threw a stone,
Your snarl it made him fear!

I’m black and shine with pedigree,
Of pure-bred mère and sire,
You mongrel of vague ancestry,
You’re the one I desire!

I see you scratch behind your ear,
Hindleg in comely poise,
You seize my heart, my dearest dear,
And of all the other boys!

Your mangy teeth, flea-bitten fur,
The remnant of your tail,
Make me at night, my pretty cur,
In lovesickness to wail!

The way you snarl and bite and tear,
To guard your rubbish bin,
What intruder would try to dare,
The glorious mess you’re in!

What human tune can match your song,
When at the moon you bay!
The way you dodge those missiles flung,
My soul is yours …

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear Harriet,
Happy birthday to you!


Happy long life to you,
One seventy five!
You've lived long dear Harriet,
Happy birthday to you!

Green beans and celery,
pink hibiscus cake,
Have a party dear Harriet,
Happy birthday to you!

You've come a long way,
from Galapagos,
You've been around dear Harriet,
Happy birthday to you!

Rise and fall of empires,
One world war and two,
You've seen much dear Harriet,
Happy birthday to you!

When life is threatened,
When nature is lost,
You bear a flag dear Harriet,
Happy birthday to you!

May we protect your kind,
For the sake of conscience,
We love you dear Harriet,
Happy birthday to you!

I wish I were you,
At peace with the world,
Happy birthday dear Harriet,
I wish I were you!

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear Harriet,
Happy birthday to you!
Wishing Harriet the tortoise a very happy 175th birthday!

Day after Tomorrow

There comes a time to live,
A time to thrive,
A time to die,
and a time to be forgotten.

There comes a time to protest,
A time to survive,
A time to go to jail,
And a time to be forgotten.

There comes a time to stand again,
A time to fight and lose,
A time to fear and despair,
And a time to be forgotten.

There comes a time to rise again,
A time to fight again,
A time to struggle and win,
And a time not to be forgotten.

There comes a time
- to start all over again,
A time
- when the day after tomorrow has come,
A time
- when the star of hope has risen again,
A time
- when old woes may be slowly forgotten.

There comes a time again,
A time when tyranny ends
- That time has come today,
A time when the people are free
- That hope has flickered again,
A time when betrayal is far away
- That fear has faded for now.

There will come a time,
- When hopes will fade away
And madness will descend upon us again.
But today is not that time.

Today is a time to reflect
- That the struggle has borne fruit,
A tim…

Tell me

Tell me
whether you think their motives are not futile.
Tell me
whether the right thing to do
is react in the way they want us to -
to hide in our bathrooms and cower in fear.


Tell me
whether we should believe our hands are rendered invalid
because we pricked a finger.
Tell me
whether the juice shop whose cylinder had blown up
has gone out of business.
Tell me then,
whether I'm right or wrong.

My Ode to Joy

Sing! Sing a song of joy
A song of truth and beauty!
A song of love
A song of hope
A song for eternity!

A song of the galaxies
A song across the oceans!
A song of light
A song of peace
A song forever in in motion!

A song for the rainbow
A song for the flowers
A song for a million heavens!

A song on your lips
A song in your heart
A song that makes you happy!

A song of forgotten sorrow
A song for the future unknown!

A song for the laugh of a child
A song for the sparrow's twitter.

A song of dreams
A song of friends
A song to go around the world.

Sing! For the joy of life
And sing it loud and clear!

(To the tune of "An die Freude")

delhi

you seek to maim
my body
with a thousand cuts
until
it breathes no more
cut here cut there
cut my heart
my liver my hands
cut anywhere
i shall grow again
fresh renewed
and leave
no trace of the scar
cut cut again
go on cutting
till your hand pain
and yet it shall be futile
I am eternal
I know pain
and suffer
but that is all
I am beyond death
and pain is but
illusory
an ephemeral burn
it singes me no more
go on cut
cut cut cut
and i will grow
grow grow grow

you cut cut cut
i grow grow grow

To my Newborn Daughter

Little bundle in my arms,
Your pink little face,
Asleep, Vulnerable, Innocent,
Drives me to tears;
And emotions beyond description.

As I hold you,
I fall into a reverie –

Diaper changes, Baby baths,
Pink dresses and paranoid wife.

Toddler days and teddy bears,
Crawling, standing, falling down,
Those first steps;
Camera poised to record
those fleeting landmarks.

Schooldays: A tearful face,
dimpled cheeks pinched cruelly
by o-cho-chweeters;
Leaky water-bottle,
Sandwiches given to the crows,
A bewildered nursery teacher
And mother bent over A-B-C.

Fights with those rough boys
For the playground swing,
Daddy dearest will beat them up
And my little doll remain unhurt,
Only her spirit a little bruised.

Adolescence:
Tampons, boys and pimples;
Those giggles
Those looks of shyness
Awkward days for daddy.

Young lady about town
Dashing admirers
Phone calls, flowers,
Paranoid papa.

The coy bride,
Copious tears, Silk sarees.
A deep unsaid apprehension
That some young man
Is losing his freedom.

Pesky grandchildren
Running all over my hous…

Greetings to a Giant

To Anchises
first Roman;
To Titan straddling
twinned worlds
of fancy and fact
that pride
in splendid isolation
ignorant of the force
entwining their fates;
To Atlas, bearer of weight;
To Aristophanes of the
cloud-cuckoo land;
To Nabokov of Lolita
and the butterflies;
and to that Alexander
who claims the province
of the spoken phrase
in his domains:
A bounty of words,
an embarassment of riches
of sweetness and light,
the harvest of stars
and the pageant of life!

Dignity

Nine-yard saree
fading in the sunlight
borne with grace.
Brow bent with age,
with wrinkles of poverty.
Eyes squint,
item is held close to face
to determine what it is. "Thirty rupees.
Very good material, Sir.
Will hold water. For ages."
I paid the amount instantly.
As I walk away,
I steal a quick glance. Old woman, frail but proud.
Proud of a day's hard labour.
Of her keep honestly earned.
A bit of kumkum, some flowers,
the last of her green bangles. I look at me.
Levis, Adidas, Clavin Klein.
I would give my fortune
for the dignity she exudes.
Published in South Asian Poetry Review 26 (3); 2005

Obituary - Lakshman Kadirgamar

They shot you in your car,
They shot you in your shoes,
They made you pay your dues:
They got you Kadirgamar!

Their name you made it mud,
Their pride was burst by you,
Their ambitions you slew;
Their aim was now your blood!

Your cause you served it well,
You soldiered till the end,
Non-violence to defend,
Your glory will now swell!

Your death brings no sorrow
Yours was the way to go!

An Indian Graduate's farewell song before he boards the plane

Two-ninety on the TOEFL test
Fourteen-fifty on GRE
So I am now ready
To attend the very best.
Don't want your TIFR
No school in Doon Valley
Don't show me a home degree
Just lemme travel far.

Those Americans will give me
Good worth for work done hard.
The fathers-in-law'll chase me
My money, success, green card.
What can your country get me?
Turn away, lemme step for'ard.

Outburst

Can words ever come back
to the mouth they escape from?
Can ears ever forget
the jarring strains of discord
or the pleasantness of harmony?
Do eyes ever forget
the sights they see
whether they like it or not?

A song for Wooden Doll: The tale of Veerapandian Kattabomman

"Who be you to tax our land?"
Thus spake the fearless polygar*,
For Freedom did he stand!

The British did with heavy hand,
Provoke every ryot to war;
"Who be you to tax our land?"

Kattabomman** with his faithful band
Against vile Collectors did spar;
For Freedom did he stand!

His struggles charged the motherland:
Rebellion spread wide and far,
"Who be you to tax our land?"

Even when at Pudukkottai the war he planned
Was betrayed by the treacherous Zamindar
For Freedom did he stand!

He squeezed the noose with his own hand
Before the they could hang him at Kayattar,
"Who be you to tax our land?"
For Freedom did he stand!

*polygar: minor chieftain before British times
**Kattabomman: in Tamil literally "Wooden Doll"

Puzzle [How many to dine]

This puzzle was first invented by C. L. Dodson, and published in The Monthly Packet' in 1881. I have set it in verse form, crack it in prose or verse.

The cake is iced, the pudding set,
Veal and viand are ready.
Cider, champagne and claret:
The flow of wine is steady.

With loving care, do we prepare
A table set for three.
For me some meat, for wife a seat,
And a guest have we.

My father's dear brother-in-law
Is a good candidate,
But brother's cherished pa-in-law,
We do not bear him hate.

Father-in-law's brother dear
We would love to invite,
Brother-in-law's father we fear,
We cannot do him spite.

For deserve, but one we serve,
Do set our hearts at ease!
Four men to dine, also to wine,
With whom share we our peas?

Music rediscovered

I can hear the owls again.
Can you hear their soft tu-whoo,
The courser’s sharp kwik-kwoo,
The call of the sole moorhen?
The night is quiet again,
So the nightjar can sing too.
And a sporadic moo,
I can hear it now and then!

The little crickets court;
With love-ballads seldom heard
Their talents do employ.
What is it that they purport?
Its music rediscovered,
Now the darkness rings with joy!

This was written in response to the Supreme Court verdict banning noise at night.

(Published in Chants of Peace, the anthology of the 9th International Poetry Fest, 20-21 September, 2016 at JKC College, Guntur, edited by Prof. P Nagasuseela and Prof. P Gopichand.)

Parody - Old Witch

The US recently declassified documents in which Nixon and Kissinger called our IG colourful names when her armies ran rings around his favourite Pak. Here's a politically incorrect ditty (slightly modified from Queen), of what IG might have said to him:

Nicky you’re a prez make a big noise
Playin’ with the world actin’ like a big man some day
You got mud on yo’ face
You big disgrace
Kickin’ your CIA all over the place

We will we will rock you
We will we will rock you

Kissy you’re an old man cold man
Whisperin’ in corners gonna piss off the world some day
You got blood on yo’ face
You big disgrace
Sneakin’ your tricks all over the place

We will we will rock you
We will we will rock you

Buddy I’m an old witch sly bitch
Hammerin’ your Pak, gonna make you taste mud some day

You’ll get mud in your face
You big disgrace
Somebody better put you back in your place

We will we will rock you
We will we will rock you

(With apologies to Queen and none to Nixon and Kissinger.)

T.I.F.R.

A glossy notice on the board
said "Write an entrance test
for an opportunity
of a lifetime
among the very best".
I filled up the form,
paid up the fee
and as I wrote my paper
I looked here and there;
for I wanted for me
a shoulder to cry on. An express letter in the mail
said I'd made it to stage two.
So an interview
was the next thing
along the chosen few.
I befriended a fellow
interviewee.
Facing the committee
I looked here and there;
I hoped that his would be
a shoulder to cry onI was diffident and frail;
He broad-shouldered, strong-willed.
He'd console me
at the bad time
when I heard my hopes were killed.
But I made the list;
God! He did not.
As I stood bewildered
I looked here and there;
I had wanted for me
a shoulder to cry on.But it was mine that had to be
the shoulder to cry on!

The Serpent

The Sun dies on a summer eve;
his light at last dissipates.
The shadows lengthen
under the streetlamps’ wistful,
flickering, even extinct
illumination.
Then Night begins her rule
and the stars sing
a million – oh! A billion –
little stories – each
an epic in its realm,
but a footnote in mine.
The bull over the west;
can you hear his groans?
The hunter
with drawn sword and bow
and his dog at his heels
claim their gory trophy
and sing a victory chant!
The bear looks on,
its gaze turned northward,
tranquil and unconcerned.
But the night is mine –
The many-headed serpent.

Run away to your houses,
frail men,
beware my slithering children!
Safe between your walls,
lamps lighted,
you open your windows
to let in a sliver of moonlight
and shut it again
when you glimpse my blazing form!
My writhing figure
dancing on the zenith,
my tongues aflame,
and my tail in gracious curves
rule the night!
The moon shines dejectedly
in waning glory,
and the planets flee at my approach –
The night is mine!
Know me, fear me,
I am the malevolent
shattere…

Rant

TESTOSTERONE
Comment-allez vous? Parlez vous Francais?
Every pearly word that the pretty girl says
in schoolgirl French, laboriously learnt;
yet an amateur's attempt at foreign speech!
And I, with bastard, self-learnt tongue,
ranting, raving, showing off phrases
and words I do not yet fully understand.
Nevertheless upon her each word I hang!
And so does she,
impressed
with my fluent chatter,
or is she?
What would not a young man do,
to impress a girl, and woo her too,
showing off subconsciously,
(chest expanded spaciously)
driven, of course
by that old instinct in our genes,
to make an end, whatever the means.
My metre fails me, I try again,
and finally exhausted let it go.
Later in the day, or night as may be
when her testosterone-stirring presence
has vanished, and reality
comes back in full force;
was she? Wasn't she?
Did my incoherent sputtering,
and French-sounding verbiage
(But it was the genuine thing)
have any effect on her
seemingly wonder-stricken face?
Nah!
O testosterone, you old trickster,
maker o…

The Mantis Sonnet

Was never a myth so firmly in place,
As the praying mantis' deadly embrace,
She loves her man like we love food,
Hunger is her only mood.
The inhibition in his head,
Is shed the moment he is dead,
He sows his seed for all his worth,
So that his future can take birth.

Evolution has a thousand means,
Death cannot stop our selfish genes,
But many a mate does get away,
To live and love another day,
Another day, another wife,
Yet human myth, it keeps its life!

Clerihew

Raamesh Gowri Raghavan I,
Bloated ego, single eye,
Man, woman or gamergate,
In their genes I read their fate!

(A gamergate is an ant who lays eggs and runs the colony in the absence of a true queen. I studied ant behaviour before trying to do the human genetics I do now.)