Friday 31 December 2010

Tamil proverb

செத்தவனை
சாவார் சுமைப்பார்

(Those about to die carry
the dead)

Thursday 30 December 2010

Let's play

With Srebrenica and Prizren,
old Banja Luka shot to fame:
the grounds for a jolly new game,
played over and over again.
The rule was to chop a man when
he had a good Bosniak surname;
If he had a Serb-sounding name,
the rule was to rape his women.

Let's find a foe, make his blood spill,
and gloat over his dying scream;
we will emerge victors won't we?
To build muscles, to bolster will,
to strengthen the bonds of the team,
let's play genocide, you and me.

Love messages

Raindrops in Braille:
love messages
on my windshield.

(Adapted from N. Madhavan's

Dewdrops write Morse code::
there's a poem neatly typed on the windshield)

Winter sun

Winter chill...
Sun rising on baskets
of fish.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Son

Ventilator tubes;
Sobbing son sits by.

Laburnum

bright yellow dress
blooms erupt
on summer laburnum

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Cactus

Cactus plant in pot...
hibiscus flowers wither
by the idol's feet.

Empty temple

Empty temple...
incense lingers,
worshippers do not.

red spots

red spots on green:
gaudy baron sits
on lantana.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Technorati token

CV2WUDR8QHPZ

Flowering tree

Flowering tree...
van laden with plywood
parked underneath.

Silence

Silence —
the betrayal of the innocent
by the innocent.

जंग के नगाड़े

ਜੋ ਜੰਗ ਦੇ ਨਗਾੜੇ ਵਜਦੇ ਹਨ, ਅਮਨ ਦੀ ਸਾਜ਼ ਹੋ ਤੁੱਸੀ
ਇਲਜ਼ਾਮਾਂ ਦੀ ਕ਼ਤਲ-ਏ-ਆਮ ਵਿਚ ਸੁਕੂਨ ਦੇ ਅਲਫ਼ਾਜ਼ ਹੋ ਤੁੱਸੀ|
ਖ਼ਾਨਾਬਦੋਸ਼ ਨਹੀਂ ਓੜ੍ਹੋ ਤੁੱਸੀ ਪਰਦਾ ਖਾਮੋਸ਼ੀ ਦਾ
ਇਨ ਕੋਹਰੇ ਦੇ ਰੇਗਿਸਤਾਨ ਵਿਚ ਕ਼ਨੁਨ ਦੀ ਆਵਾਜ਼ ਹੋ ਤੁੱਸੀ||

जो जंग के नगाड़े बजते हैं, अमन की साज़ हैं आप,
इल्ज़ामात के क़त्ल ए आम में, सुकून के अल्फाज़ हैं आप|
ख़ानाबदोश न ओढ़ियेगा परदा ख़ामोशी का,
इन कोहरों के रेगिस्तान में, क़नून की आवाज़ हैं आप||

Friday 17 December 2010

हमसफ़र

इन सितारों से चकाचौन्द आसमान में,
चान्द भी क्या कभी तन्हाई महसूस करता है,
क्या वह भी हमसफ़र के इन्तेज़ार में सिसकता है?

अगर काँटा ही समझेंगे

हमें गुलदाउदी समझिये, बाग़ान में बहार ले आइये;
या महज़ गुल ही समझकर अपने ज़ुल्फ़ों की निख़ार बढ़ाइये|
अगर काँटा ही समझेंगे, तो उससे भी सहमत है ख़ानाबदोश,
बतौर सूई अपने आशिक़ के ख़तों का मुख़्तियार बनाइये||

हमें गुलदाउदी समझकर, हम ही से गुलिस्तान सजाइये;
या गुल ए अहमर समझकर अपने ज़ुल्फ़ों को बाग़ान बनाइये|
अगर काँटा ही समझेंगे, तो उससे भी सहमत है ख़ानाबदोश,
बतौर सूई अपने आशिक़ के ख़तों का निगेहबान बनाइये||

(यह और भी अच्छा बन सकता है, क्या आप मदद फ़रमाएँगे?)

Haijin

Half-eaten sun
the haijin
leaves office

Party

Book launch party...
hushed conversations
about silver-plated earrings.

Zebra

Slow-moving zebra;
moonlight through
my window bars.

Garuda

Garuda's talon:
nest-building material
in firm grasp.

Tears

Tears running amok;
gypsy heart enslaved in chains
of starlight and dew.

Eyes

Words unsaid...
two pairs of eyes
in infinite conversation.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Rainbows

Butterfly on lantana...
two rainbows
stand still.

Hen

Police in bomb-suits
A hen takes chicks
under her wings.

Crescent

Setting crescent...
a million city lights
glaring.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

High tea

High tea
children in rags
lean on the hedge.

Frogs

Frogs croak
Mother pulls out
the raincoat

Starlight

Lizards dart
dragonfly wings
shimmer in starlight

মেযের মৈতরী

মেযের মৈতরী
হৃদযের
সাগরমন্থন

Embracing couple

Embracing couple...
A bottle of pills labelled
sodium cyanide.

Sunday 5 December 2010

जशन

हर साँस को जाम ए शबाब गर मान ले,
तो जीना हर पल जशन है जान ले|
ना दौड़ है ना होड़ है ख़ानाबदोश,
गर हैवान को भी तू इनसान मान ले||

Immortality

I am in cycles, not an endless chain;
Vapour deathless, I rise to fall as rain,
And thus I dream of immortality –
I sprang from mud, I shall be mud again.

Ants

Rat's intestines –
Tiny pharaoh ants
scurry about.

Frooti

Crushed pack of Frooti...
A naked baby bawling
on railway platform.

Dolls

Terracotta dolls:
A coffin lowered
into the mud.

Camera

Cracked camera —
half-finished drawings
strewn amidst rubble.

Panther

Dappled moonless sky...
The spotted panther
crouches.

Friday 3 December 2010

दर्द

किसी सेहतमन्द से न करो मुलाक़ात मेरी,
उसे जीना क्या मालूम जिसने कोई दर्द ना पाला!

Men & Women

There is a woman
at the beginning of all things...

And a war-crazed man
at the end of it all.

सरहद

जब दिल की मंज़िल सितारे हैं,
परवाज़ की सरहद बादल क्यों होंगे?

Mother

Suckling mother...
soldier-child plays
with kalashnikov.

यारों-दोस्तों से...

यारों-दोस्तों से ज़रा होशियार, रंग कब बदल जाएँ वह ख़ुद नहीं जानते|
दुश्मनों के लिए रखो कुछ प्यार, मुहिब्ब कब बन जाएँ वह ख़ुद नहीं जानते||

Tuesday 30 November 2010

வெள்ளீ

வெள்ளீக்கு அழகு
அதின் மின்மினிப்பிலா,
இல்லை உன் காலில் கட்டிய
கொளுசின் மெல்லிசையிலா?

(Is silver's beauty
in its cold shine,
or the soft tinkles
of the anklets on your feet?)

Day

black tea
a new day
dawns

Stained-glass window

A stained-glass window;
shadows on the temple floor
paint a new fresco.

OR

Stained-glass window
shadows on the floor
paint a fresco.

கருப்பு டீ

கருப்பு டீ
வெள்ளை நாள்
உதிக்கிரது

Tuesday 16 November 2010

जादू

ऐ नमक के घोल तेरा भी क्या जादू,
जो आँसू बनकर हर ग़म घुला दे!

IMS Vikrant

A mother breastfeeds
in empty torpedo hold;
when life is, death's not.

Lachrymose

Does a comatose
primrose make the much verbose
Thutmose lachrymose?

Tears

They're sodium chloride,
by what chemistry do tears
wash away sorrow?

Be

To be friends, I need you
to reach out to me...

To be in love with you,
I just need you to be.

शब-ए-हिज्र / Night of rupture

पगले रो दे इस शब-ए-हिज्र को,
के दर्द-ए-जुदाई आँसुओं में बह जाए...

जो ख़लिश-ए-अज़्ल के बरूह हैं,
क्या गर्ज़ उन्हे तेरी यादों के कफ़न की?

پگلے رو دے اس شب حجر کو ،
کہ درد جدائ آنسؤں میں بہ جائ ۔ ۔ ۔

جو خلش ازل کہ بروہ ہےں ،
کیا گرز انہےں تیری یادوں کہ کفن کی

Cry fool, this night of rupture,
that separation's pain wash away in tears...

those facing the void of eternity,
need they the shroud of your memories?

Thursday 4 November 2010

Happy Diwali

Some lamps you light will burn through the night,
Many will die with the wind, some won't light at all.
But the flame that you must never let die away,
Is the flame that lets you see your dreams.

ghazal in progress

यह चिराग़ रौशन कर भी अन्धेरा है, जो तेरा नूर ए रूह नामौजूद है,
जब तिश्नगी जलाकर बुझ ना पाए, यूरिश ए मॊहब्बत कम ना होगी|

Dow Jones

Nothing elevates
like watching dough rising and
the Joneses falling.

or

Nothing elevates
like watching the Dow rise and
the Joneses falling.

(Second one on a interpretation of the original by S. Balakrishnan)

Fried maida

Few thing delight one
as the smell of fried maida
and petty triumph.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

सपने

कुछ सपने पूरे होंगे, और बहुत अधूरे,
कुछ सपने सपने ही रह जाएँगे|
लेकिन उस चिराग़ को कभी बुझने मत देना,
जिसक रौशनी से सपने दिखते हैं|

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Playful delight

Trees dice the sunlight,
turning a blinding white into
a playful delight.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

फूल बिना काँटे

फूल बिना काँटे,
मुर्झाये यौवन को याद
करता यह बदन

Ink

Ink is DNA,
writing thhe poem anew
for every reader.

Endlessness

Workday screen-staring,
Saturday suburbanry:
cycling endlessness.

Eternal haiku

Three mobile phone friends,
endless sms poems,
eternal haiku.

नीयत है दिल की...

नीयत है दिल की ख़्वाहिशों पर मचलना,
नसीब है पैरों का पत्थरों पर चलना,
पर सिर्फ़ वक़्त फ़ैसला करता है ख़ाना बदोश,
किस दिन मुरझाना है, किस तारीख़ को खिलना

Friday 22 October 2010

परदे के पीछे रोये

दीवान-ए-आम में हँसते रहे, परदे के पीछे रोये,
पर क्या रोना क्या हँसना, जिसके दरबार में परदे ही नहीं?

Thursday 21 October 2010

She's complicated

She's complicated.
She'll charm you with charts,
statistics and that corporate smile.
But look into those eyes,
they're fiercely bohemian.

She's complicated.
Her chatterings seem to resonate
with happy sounds,
but listen with the other ear,
to an unhidden lament.

She's complicated.
Her silences agonise,
her voice echoes in her absence.
And yet there is a mild dread
as her name flashes on the ringing phone.

She's complicated.
Sometimes she's a poetess,
shallow, romantic,
trying to hide a sardonic,
world-weary wit.

She's complicated.
She could be a spiteful Fury,
wrath unabated,
but that's just to hide
the lamb-hugging girl within.

She's complicated.
She's an enchantress, a fool,
a tyrant, a nurse, an imp, a priestess,
but she's generally
a good friend.

She's complicated.

[Published in Making Waves, ed. Pam & Bill Swyers; Swyers Publishing 2011]

Wednesday 20 October 2010

लतीफ़े

कभी लतीफ़े ही भेज दिया करो,
इस बहाने मेरा नाम आपके
षमने तो आएगा!

The Heart

The heart amuses
itself in teaching what it
never understood.

Sunday 17 October 2010

To make a man of a mouse

Take a mouse, cut off its tail,
And make it stand up, hobbling
On crutches named Pride and Honour.

Feed it with many things -
The bitter bile of frustrated years,
The sour curds of congealed dreams,
The sickly sweetness of petty triumphs.

Make it breathe the rancid stench
Of Gucci-scented wretchedness
And middle-class motionlessness.

Retain the ability to compete fiercely,
For scraps thrown by the rich,
The instinct to abandon the weak
In moments of testing danger
and to gorge as if tomorrow will die.

Put in a hundred emotions -
Petty envy, religious zeal,
Impotent greed and the craving bloodlust
Of seeing neighbours stumble,
The joy of minuscule cleverness,
The urge to steal coins from blind beggars
And to luxuriate in the pain
Of butchered animals. Add above all
A genocidal hate of all that is not me.

Suture on a thumb useful for strangulating,
A beer belly bursting
With undigested unpleasantness,
A lye-laden tongue,
And the tribal smirk of triumphant bigotry.

The mouse is now made man.

आज शहर में मेला लगा है

आज शहर में मेला लगा है|

बस की खिड़की से आज नज़ारा बदल गया है,
आज न टूटा फ़ुटपाथ दिखा, न सड़क के गड्ढे,
उन्हें रंग-बिरंगे चीज़ें बेचनेवालों के ठेलों ने ढक दिया,
आज सिर्फ़ रंग दिखे ‍ हज़ारों खिलखिलाते रंग -
हरे, नीले, लाल, गुलाबी, पीले, श्वेत, श्याम -
मिट्टी, प्लास्टिक और लकड़ी से बने खिलौनों का रंग,
गुब्बारों का रंग, कागज़ की टोपियों का रंग,
काँच की चूड़ियों का रंग, नकली फूलों का रंग,
अजीबोग़रीब तरह-‍तरह के कान की बालियों का रंग,
और इन सब में घुले बच्चों की लाली का रंग|

आज न सड़ते कचरे की बू थी न मोटर के धुएँ की
आज बस थी ताज़े गजरों की सुगन्ध,
गरम तलते इमरतियों की मोह का सुगन्ध,
कचौड़ियों की ललचाती ख़ुशबू, इडली-वडे की,
और कुल्फ़ी की वह पलभर की नाज़ुक सी ख़ुशबू|

आज ट्राफ़िक के हार्न तो बजे थे रोज़ की तरह,
और यत्रियों की गालियाँ भी थीं शायद,
पर मेरा ग़ौर कहीं और था -
लडकियाँ चूड़ी खनखना रहे थे,
बच्चे-बच्चे का शोर था, हँसते बच्चे, रोते बच्चे,
ज़िद्द पे अडे ज़ोर-ज़ोर से चिल्लाते बच्चे -
ठेलेवालों की पुकार थी - गरमा-गरम समोसे,
मनमोहक चुनरियाँ, मस्ती भरे प्लास्टिक के ट्रम्पेट,
सब बिक रहे थे, "भारत का नाम, चीन का दाम"|

और इन सब के बीच एक आवाज़ गूँजी,
हलके, मद्धम स्वर मे ‍ एक शहर की धुन
जो अपने माल, स्टेशन, बस स्टैंड को भूल,,
चन्द घन्टों के लिये ही सही,
एक बड़ा सा बच्चा बन गया था;

मैं इस गूँज की तलाश में,
अपनी दुनियादारी बस में छोड़ आय‌
और मेले में खो गया|

Tuesday 12 October 2010

तलाश

मेले के गुब्बारे भी ख़ामोशी की तलाश में भटकते होंगे,
पूनम का चान्द अमावस की आस रखता होगा,
शहर की बसें किसी गाँव का रस्ता ढूँढती होँगी,
सागर की मछलियाँ किसी वीरान कुएँ का ख़्वाब देखतीं|

मैंने न तलाश की न ख़्वाब देखे,
इन सियाही की लकीरों में
मैं कबसे गुमशुदा हूँ|

Sometimes

Sometimes
one's an elephant amok in the bazaar,
helping oneself to the apples;

more often
one's a cockroach at one with the road,
steamrolled paper-thin.

Pockmarks

My face is
pockmarked
with breaking dreams, hope
oozing
away like yellow-red pus;
the body
haemorrhages
desires to the ceaseless
illness of survival.

But the blood
festers
within,
raging
impassionedly, impotently until it
bursts
through,
ebbs,
clots
and
dries
among feeding flies.

[Published in Making Waves, ed. Pam & Bill Swyers; Swyers Publishing 2011]

Monday 11 October 2010

Drops

As little drops tame
the blazing sun, the thirsting
earth spins wild with joy.

Monday 20 September 2010

Dusk & Dawn

Sometimes it is hard to know,
which is dusk and which is dawn.
For was the day a mere eclipse,
careening into the blackness
of unending night?
...Or is night but an eye-blink,
waiting for the light to come,
first in trickles,
and then in torrents?
Sometimes it is hard to know,
which is dusk and which is dawn.

Monday 13 September 2010

महरबान हो जाओ

ख़्वाबों में जो रोज़ाना आती हो,
एक बार खुली आँखों पर महरबान हो जाओ,
कि हमें भी अहसास हो ज़िन्दगी जी ली हमने

आँखों-आँखों में

आँखों-आँखों में हुई एक छोटी सी बात,
हलकी सी मुस्कुराहट टिमटिमायी,
और बीच सड़क पर ग़ुलिस्ताँ महक उठी

पुरानी वाली:
आँखें मिलीं, एक मुस्कान महकी,
और फिर कायनात में कहीं
खो गयी

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Give me not

Give me not hope nor
nostalgia, burdens the
present does not need.

Monday 6 September 2010

Conversations

I look at the ceiling
the blank, blank ceiling
and the blemish-less, soulless
angel white walls
loneliness my paramour
prostituting my fingers.

Black, muscular bodies
dripping with the sweat
of construction bricks
torsos barely contained
in tattering loincloths
did they feed each other?

Or was it a place to
make out consenting
or seduce or gang-rape
some starving servant-maid?

There clearly is sweat
in the congealed cement,
spittle, semen perhaps,
blood too, rich red blood,
either fallen or murdered;
concrete needs its sacrifice.

It never is an anodyne,
colourless, antiseptic
suburban flat;
listen to the walls,
for there is always
a conversation to be had.

[Published in Making Waves, ed. Pam & Bill Swyers; Swyers Publishing 2011]

A fool

Words haunt sometimes.
Sometimes, like grit
in an oyster's shell.
That hurt, the fester.

They ferment the poet's heart,
causing her to lay
layer after layer
of mother-of-pearl,
till at last a pearl gleams through.

Willst thou bless the fool,
who uttered the grit
in the first place?

Thursday 2 September 2010

வா கண்ணா

வா கண்ணா, வா, என் வீட்டுக்கு வா,
படி ப்டியாக வா, என் வீட்டுக்குள் தான்
உன் வீடு இருக்கு?
என் இதயத்தில் இருக்கிரவனே வா,
வா, வா, வா
குங்குமம் பூசிய காலால் படி படியாக வா
என் வீட்டுத்தரையில்
ஒவ்வொரு அணுக்கும்
உன் ஆசிர்வாதம கொடுத்து வா
என் வாசப்ப்டியைத் தாண்டு கண்ணா,
அதுடன் கொண்டு வா,
உன் குரும்பு, உன் அரிவு,
உன் விலையாட்டு, உன் தைவீகம்,
என்னைப்போல் நீயும் அலைந்தாய்,
நீ மதுரா, கோகுலம்,
துவாரகா, குருக்ஷேத்திரம்,
நான் மும்பாய், கோல்காதா,
ஃபஸில்கா, கோடேகாம்,
நீ இதயம் இதயமாக் அலையுவாய்,
நான் இதயத்தை தேடி அலைகிரேன்,

எனக்கு இது ஒரு சின்ன மனம் கண்ணா,
வா, வா, இந்து மனத்தை வீடாக மாற்ற வா

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Bachir Gemayel

What am I?
A body and brain,
Products
Of carbon concatenation chemistry,
An intelligence and conscience
To enable bits of DNA evolve.
I'm someone, anyone;
I might be Bachir Gemayel
Among guns and shells a Maronite;
I might be an Afghan
Between powers a puppet
Pawned in a Great Game;
Weak, then powerful;
Alive, then dead;
Somebody, anybody, nobody.

I might be someone else,
Maybe a pharaoh,
Maybe a dung-beetle,
I might be you,
I might be a third person;
Never more than
A safe conduit for some genes.

Thursday 26 August 2010

Yesternight and Yesterday

Yesternight I thought the stars came out,
twinkling towards infinity,
the moon was a sil'vry orb
as she played hide-and-seek with the dream mists;
I thought I met the Queen of England
and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh
on a helicopter over the Caribbean
sharing a turqoise curacao
in an electric-lighted reverie ;
I thought I saw the sun rise,
red, orange, yellow
to the avian symphony of
magpie-robins, mynahs and
red-whiskered bulbuls;

I thought I saw the hibiscus buds open
and the frangipani leaves shed dew;
But what I truly saw
was the grime-laden red city buses
with their overloaded,
quarrelling commuters;
What I truly saw was
the trains stuck at bright red signals
that wouldn't change
to the green glow of progress;
What I truly saw
were my office lights in the false ceiling,
the monotone of the air conditioner
and the stern, upstanding computer screen;
What I truly saw,
was yesterday.

(A bit of the Carpenters' 'Yesterday Once More' might be in this, but just a bit.)

[Published in Making Waves, ed. Pam & Bill Swyers; Swyers Publishing 2011]

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Pourquoi

Pourquoi est-ce que
qu'il y a
des temps pour
danser,
chanter,
courir,
tomber,
voler,
embrasser,
étreindre,
crier,
rire,
sourire,
nager,
grimper aux arbres,
rouler,
jouer
quand on n'est que
l'enfant?

Pourquoi
grandissons nous?

Friday 20 August 2010

Rat

I'm a rat, I'm a rat, I scurry and I bite,
I eat what I get, And I fuck and I fight,
I dodge the black crows, I run from your shoes,
But I'm old or sick, you'll trample over me.

बग़ावत

बग़ावत करूँ भी तो किससे,
ना ग़ुलाम हूँ किसी का,
ना अज़ाद हूँ किसी से

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Stranger

I am a stranger everywhere;
the house I stay in,
is it a home or just a camping-tent?

Roller-coaster

A weekend's thrill,
and then five days
of boring, nerve-wracking
hyperactivity: I'm
on a roller-coaster
I can't get off from.

Monday 16 August 2010

दोस्ती

दोस्ती करना भी तो निभाना है,
कभी डायरी में हमेशा ख़ामोश
एक नाम दर्ज है,
कभी ट्रेन में घण्टे भर की गुफ़्तगू
को ही याराना मान लिया

अवाज़

जान देने वाले बूँदें आपके अल्फ़ाज़ थे, अवाज़ मेरा बस दरिया था
जो ख़ूबसूरती थी आपके अल्फ़ाज़ में थी, अवाज़ मेरा बस ज़रिया था

शेर पर शेर

ऐ इनसान तुझे देखकर ख़ौफ़ नहीं होता,
न तेरे दान्त हैं, न नोकीले नाखून,
फिर ऐसा क्यों कि मेरा शिकार भी तू,
मेरा शिकारी भी तू?

Friday 13 August 2010

I

Two DNA strands
divorced, two bodies joined,
And I am become.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Profit

As turnover, they'll put
gold, land, conquests
and a few genes to my name.
As profit, I'll get to take
with me
a cheap cotton shroud.

Human

There is a human
in every beast, that's why they
are nasty sometimes.

Coffee

I live on coffee
and black depression, hurtling
into nothingness.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

Epulaeryu to curd rice

Fragrant, soft, white, puffy rice
Boiled with mother's love
And mixed with cool, milk white curd
Partaken gently
Morsel by morsel
...And I knew
God!

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Embrace

A red apple, some
cyanide takes me to the
sweet embrace of hers.

Pebble

Why does the world hurtle
on like a pebble rolling
down a mountain?

She

Someday she will be
a voice, not a memory.

Monday 9 August 2010

हवस

आया था बेलिबास, जाऊँगा बाकफ़न,
क्यों रखूँ हवस रेशम-ओ-ज़र का?

Friday 6 August 2010

It

must it care
where,
what,
when,
who,
why?
Congress, BJP,
Shining Path, Tea Party,
balding Czechs, sexy Mexicans,
sanyasins, witches,
Mandodari, Sita,
Ayodhya, Lanka,
sluts and wives,
smog, spring, ash clouds,
Casanovas and Popes,
lamas and rapists,
jihadis, hippies,
cobras, humans, dung-beetles
where,
what,
when,
who,
why?
does it really care?

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Haiku

In life's lasting winter
I find in a haiku
everlasting blooms

Thursday 29 July 2010

کفن / कक़न

میرے کفن کو چاشنی میں ڈبوکر لپیٹنا ، و گورکن ،
تاکی مٹٌی کے کیڑوں کو بھی کوٴی کڑواہٹ محسوس نا ہو


मेरे कफ़न को चाशनी में डुबोकर लपेटना ओ गोरकन,
ताकि मिट्टी के कीड़ों को भी कोई कड़वाहट महसूस न हो

Friday 16 July 2010

सूई से क्या वफ़ा / سوٴی سے کیا وفہ

तेरा मुन्तज़िर घड़ी पर क्यों ग़ौर करे,
जब तू वक़्त की महकूम नहीं,
तेरी राह को तकती आँखों को
सूई से क्या वफ़ा?

تیرا منتزر گھڑی پر کےوں غور کرے،
جب تو وقت کی محکوم نہیں،
تیری راہ کو تکتی آنکھوں کو سوٴی سے کیا وفہ

Sunday 27 June 2010

यह आसमाँ क़फ़न...

यह आसमाँ क़फ़न बनेगी मेरी, हवा रुदाली मेरी,
गिद्द उठा ले जायेंगे लाश मेरी, मक्खियाँ जनाज़ा पढ़ लेंगी,
आप से बस इतनी ग़ुज़ारिश है हज़रत मेरे,
के जब साँसों की जिद्दोजिहद रुक जाए,
इस ख़ानाबदोश का सर मक्के की तरफ़ कर देना

Thursday 24 June 2010

Burn your dog

Burn your dog,
never bury him;
you'll never
tear yourself
from his grave.

Beware of Dog

One never knows how
dangerous
a dog is,
till one lets it
bite one's heart.

Beautiful women

Poets love beautiful women,
but I sharply suspect,
they love poems to
beautiful women more!

Monday 21 June 2010

Never trust a dog

Never trust a dog to be loyal,
for when you bury or burn him,
is when you need him most.

Monsoon butterflies

Monsoon butterflies
feed human eyes with joy; and
lizards with protein.

Wednesday 16 June 2010

To Puppysingh

Perhaps, I must learn
to say goodbye.

Thursday 20 May 2010

To the dog who tore my heart

indolent, half-lifted eyelid.
A tail wagged drowsily.
A half-whine of acknowledgment.

A limp, reluctant handshake
and taunting dejection
on not getting the promised biscuit.

A quiet, piercing stare
as the clock strikes six
that hour of his business.

An ambling unconcerned walk,
immune to tugs on the leash
and no interest in thrown balls.

Fingers clasped firmly in teeth,
a demonstration of power
that was right now not being used.

Hungry, innocent eyes
pleading for dinner, not counting
the meal consumed minutes ago.

The quiet snore,
teeth half-exposed in warning
to let sleeping dogs lie.

Just like the quiet vacuum
unfilled by furry memories
of the dog who tore my heart.

On Niceness

Yesterday, someone was nice to us.
They came home to invite us nicely
- nicely and personally -
for a wedding in their nice family.
We nicely appreciated that
someone was being nice to us.
But how nicely
does one appreciate niceness?

By saying thanks for all that niceness?
Or saying thanks for all that niceness
and also nicely pointing out
how that someone was nice
while someone not nice, someone else not nice
and someone else not nice at all
were not being nice?

I mean, if someone is nice,
let's be thankful for that, and nicely so?
Are we being nice
in not-so-nicely pointing out
how someone else was not nice?
Could one think it's like nicely saying
well, thank you for niceness
but we don't care for your niceness
because what would would really be nice
is that someone else being nice.
Is that nice?

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Puppy

Puppy.
Device of God.
Before which all kowtow.
And meditate on innocence.
And death.

Innocence

Why are we born to
innocence that only
leaves tears behind?

At A Historic Site

I have before me a tourist brochure.
I think it is laughing at me.
The way ink soaked into paper can laugh.
A way that is silent, malignant.
It seems amused.
That I have come to gawk, to gape.
Where my forefather once cut down other people's forefathers.
Like that of the brochure writer's.
Or did not.
I must trust the story the ink tells me.
For the blood soaked in the ground never speaks.

Monday 3 May 2010

Boobquake

Bosoms
exposed, unclad,
lead good men into sin
and cause - as reverend elders say -
boobquakes.

Friday 30 April 2010

Poems

to some they're just words
strung together
that may mean something
or nothing at all
or mean different things
at different times

to some they're expressions
of desperate souls
entrapped in their existences
conjuring shangrila
elysian fields, ruritania
by inked stains on paper

to some they're everything
truth & escape
existence and fantasy
being and dying
the only way to live
and to die

Thursday 29 April 2010

फ़ासले

ख़्वाहिश तो यही है कि
तुमसे फ़ासले रखूँ
पर हर राह तुम्हें ही
मनज़िल बनाती है

क्योंकि

फूलों में इतनी सुगन्ध क्यों होती है?
क्योंकि आपने उन्हें स्पर्ष किया|
लहरें धीमे से गुनगुनाती क्यों हैं?
क्योंकि आपने उनमें राग सजाया|
इन्द्रधनुष मेघ में क्यों छुप जाता है?
क्योंकि आपके तेजस से शर्माता है|
हम प्रेमकवि क्यों बन गए हैं?
क्योंकि आपकी वन्दना ही अब
जीवन का लक्ष्य बन गया है|

Goodman diagram

Goodman diagram:
explaining metal stress to
relieve mental stress.

Civilisation

Civilisation
is a passion play of masks,
barely hiding fangs.

Civilisation

Civilisation:
fragile Venetian glass that
bottles seething rage.

Mummies

Commoners giggle
at mummified kings who slaughtered
their ancestors.

Civilisation

Civilisation:
Superman dieting on
dilute Kryptonite.

Shards

Broken shards speak of
an ancient city built on
broken love stories.

Wheel

Hearts beat, throb, stutter,
break, break down, die. The city's
wheel completes one turn.

The heart

The heart
pulsates, races,
skips a beat, gets obsessed,
aches, stutters, breaks, breaks down, breaks up
and dies.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Sleeping Beauty Awakes

One hundred years they made her sleep!
One hundred years she could not weep,
or skip or sing or laugh or dance,
Until a prince had had his chance.

One kiss of love did break the charm!
He held her fondly in his arm,
But she recoiled back in fear
And summoned her guards to come near.

For when she woke she could not tell
That she had been under a spell.
She thought he was an intruder
And not her destined saviour.

But when they had questioned the youth
They came to know the bitter truth
That time had moved a hundred years
And then their eyes were filled with tears.

The princess and her loyal maid
Were very truly much dismayed.
Both began then to loudly wail
To hear them no one could fail.

On waking from so long a sleep
You too dear, would vainly weep,
If you realised what you wore
Was out of fashion long before!

Phone Tapping

The sound of tapping goes beep beep
Good folk, switch off your black Blackberry
Beware the deadly radio sweep
Unless you have had too much sherry

Government, Government, they tap a good man's phone
Government, Government, their motives are unknown

Tap: They spare not an iPhone
Tap: They do it when comatose
They even know your new ringtone
But say they do not act on purpose

Government, Government, with many a bumbling plan
Government, Government, they can't end what they began!

(With apologies to Edmund Blackadder)

Canto Caligulae

What wondrous miracle a human neck is!
Divine, slender, lissome; a bridge to connect
The heart's beating passion with analysis,
From the cold, calculating brain; a perfect
Feature of Paris, Anubis, or Isis;
That vulnerable, captivating effect
Of David's ponderous marble poise - his
veins as they stand out for a knife to transect;

Does it not tempt the hand to reach out and clasp
Between the palms, and feel the throat convulsing,
Pulsating wildly, in its desperate gasp
To break free; Or would it be deemed revulsing
To gloat as slit veins leak blood and hear the rasp
Of the dying, as one's own nerves are pulsing?

Sunday 25 April 2010

A variant of 'Escape'

A gunshot in my temple, tempered by cocaine;
Barbiturates, so honeyed dreams shall never fade;
Or seppuku and its seizing, searing pain
As my tenderly nurtured flesh meets whetted blade;

Plunge a dagger into my dear neck, and wailing
Screeching, screaming qualis artifex pereo;
Or must it be by self-immolation, flailing,
Buckling, gyrating in an obscene rodeo;

Fall upon my sword, or trust my loyal maiden
To smuggle in an asp and to it surrender;
Perhaps a ripened apple, cyanide-laden
To exit without pain, and go out in splendour;

Which do I adopt, the most beautiful way
To pass into freedom, and escape from today?

Solomon Grundy

We're all of us Solomon Grundy

Born by auspicious Caesarean on Monday
Dying for 90% marks on Tuesday
Demographic dividend on Wednesday
Pension plans on Thursday
Marrying daughters on Friday
Ayah-ing grandchildren on Saturday
And an urnful of ashes on Sunday

We're all of us Solomon Grundy

SMS Poem

I love you.
takes oly 10 chtrs.
Wht do I
do wid d rest?

Ninety nine

It is an interesting number 5
one short of the one that 6 (11)
is held as a gold standard 6 (17)
for measures of success and failure, 6 (23)
the number that judges everything 5 (28)
from someone's sincerity to 4 (32)
the contamination in a bar of iron. 7 (39)
It is a hungry number, besmirched 6 (45)
by an accusation of incompleteness 5 (50)
though it is so perfect in form, 7 (57)
its twin members so beautifully 5 (62)
illustrating its two divisors 3 (65)
the first one less, the second one more 8 (73)
than that other fabulous number 5 (78)
which multiplied by itself yields 5 (83)
that magic figure all men yearn for. 7 (90)
Perfect and yet always incomplete. 5 (95)
Ever hungry, ninety nine. 4 (99)

(Exactly 99 words)

To Mary Anning

"She sells seashells on the seashore"
Is all we remember of her.
Not that she found the pterosaur
Nor that she was a Dissenter.

She had a talent for finding
Whole skeletons of dinosaurs.
She made her living by selling
Ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs.

Wrong class, wrong sex, wrong religion
- Doomed her to be a peasant woman.
All the fame and recognition
Went to idle wealthy gentlemen.

But now we're finally giving
The credit due to Mary Anning.

(She deserves a far better poet; she gets me)

Neighbours: An acrostic

When we bought our flat we hoped we would
Have neighbours with whom to build an
Outstanding comity of trust and fraternity

The family in flat 24 (we're in #23)
Has never spoken to us in 9 years
Except once (when they borrowed milk)

Flat no. 21 and 22 have in them
Unsocial folks who keep to themselves, or
Compulsive obsessives who think we are
Kleptomaniacs out to strip them bare

I might have to admit that I'm not
Such a wonderful neighbour myself

A voluminous book or a lengthy
Letter from a friend overseas
Is my idea of diverting company; I
Care not to exchange fake 'how are you?'s
Even in shared elevator journeys.

(From Gompie's parody of Smokie's 'Living next door to Alice')

Home

A monastic cell
where hormones don't rage
disturbing the harmony of silences

Prime Numbers

One
Photographs of a birthday
I never knew

Two
A memory I want to visit
Blank state that it is


Three
Pram rolling downhill
In it an unwelcome sibling

Five
First friend across the balcony
First crush in the opposite flat

Seven
Bedtime extends past nine
into the world of adults

Eleven
Breasts seem to make sense
Half-ticket status despised

Thirteen
Hot flushes burn within
Red initials spatter my math book

Seventeen
School ends
as does adolescence

Nineteen
ambition crystallises
A hurrah the world can hear

Twenty-three
The dream goes sour
First thoughts of suicide

Twenty-nine
Salaries chase deadlines
As aspirations dehydrate

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Mother

Mother has many names.

Anak Krakatau might be one of them,
Or Uttarkashi or Qinghai,
Haiti certainly is.

She's the mother that swallowed
Maui into her womb,
the mother that disarmed Karna,
who led Oedipus to sin.

She plays pranks too,
in that cheerful way unique to her.
We find strange names to give them
- tsunami, hurricane.

Kalki is another name
we've given her, for when she
will be an old woman
looking for some kind of elixir of youth.
Perhaps some quack will mislead
her to find it in our blood.

She has a heart of gold they say -
pure, molten lava,
that sometimes erupts on her skin
like a ripe pimple.

She loves nothing more
than the sound of babies crying -
orphaned, bloodied, hungry, dying
their carcasses feeding hyaenas.
But hyaenas are her children too.

But she is the green mother
who feeds us, clothes us,
protects us from the sun's
ionizing radiation,
we came from her loins,
which is where we go.

Over Tea

"Here's the ring
and the ear-rings
you gave last Diwali."

"You can keep them."
"No."
"Tea?"
"Yes."
"The usual?
No sugar,
no milk?"
"The usual."
" "
"Yes?"
"Nothing."

"Your letters."
"Thanks."
"Your phone."
"That was a,
a gift."
"Give it,
to her. Not me."



" "
"Anything?"
"Nothing."
"Here's my share -
twenty-two rupees."
"Yes."



"Yes?"
"Uh!"
"Yes?"
"Oh, no.
Nothing."
"Bye, then."

(Reworked from Shadows)

Eyjafjallajökull

The volcanoes' child
throws a tantrum. The world halts.
The elders waken.

{As Katla waits to erupt}

Spring

Spring's a state of mind;
accomplished poets make words
flower anytime.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

इबादत

तल-अल-अराफ़ात पर तेरी इबादत कुफ़्र है,
जो तूने ख़ुदा को दिल के मसनत पर ना बिठाया

Monday 19 April 2010

Fools

Some need microphones
to make fools of themselves. Some
others use Twitter.

She

I can move her to
tears, to smiles; but cannot
move her to say yes.

Deafness

Deafness: insurance
against imbeciles with
verbal diarrhoea.

Rain

How funny that rain
that floods acres is measured
in millimetres.

(This is a twist of an original by Sharath Rao)

Sunday 18 April 2010

The Panjandrum and the Apostrophe

Beware the mighty panjandrum,
Who holds his court at Trivandrum!
For one misplaced apostrophe
Would cause a great catastrophe!

Do mind your plural possessive
And about it's be obsessive.
Know where it goes in won't and can't
And when you don't and when you shan't.

About spellings he is not vain,
Bad syntax does not cause him pain,
Semicolons may come to grief
For such matters his time is brief.

But an abused apostrophe
Would break his mighty heart in three;
The panjandrum's benevolence
Doth turn to foul malevolence.

He'll punish you for such vile deeds
By rubbing you with prickly weeds;
You must recite a thousand times
That you will not repeat your crimes.

But once a most uncommon thing
Did cause a lot of worrying.
A grocer did cause much chagrin
And so this ballad doth begin.

This grocer's thick viscosity
Inflicted much atrocity -
What was owned by his potato
Posterity would never know!

His board said ten cents potato's
Was it its head? Were they its toes?
The entire panjandrumate
Was consumed by the big debate.

Some said it was the spud's jewels,
Some memoirs of its travels.
What was it that cost ten whole cents
The tuber's pugree, or its tents?

The matter reached the panjandrum
Upon his seat at Trivandrum.
Thus the errant apostrophe
Was poised to cause catastrophe.

His face went purple, and then red.
He got up from his velvet bed -
To make the sinning grocer bleed,
And so punish his evil deed.

He summoned his light cavalry
To end this grievous devilry
He marched with all his infantry
Right upto the grocer's right knee!

They seized the grocer and his wares,
His goods, his books and all his chairs.
"See what happens in Trivandrum
To those Who dare the panjandrum!

"Puree all of his tomatoes
And boil all his potatoes.
Cause him terrible damages -
By shredding all his cabbages!

Men! Throw him into dungeon one,
Along with my favourite son
Who abused an apostrophe,
And landed in catastrophe!

Tomorrow we'll hold a trial
Of those who live in denial
Of the magnitude of such crimes
Truly we live in testing times!"

The morning came, the court was full
The trial was such a great pull
They had lined up in all the lanes
Where the captive was dragged in chains

The panjandrum then took his seat
And all was quiet, all was neat.
The prosecution read its charge,
"The sin is very very large!

"He sold tubers in multitude,
But to good grammar he was rude
Where he should have inserted e
He placed a wee apostrophe!

"The people of this noble state
Our glorious panjandrumate,
Were confused, upset, perplexed, dazed
But this offender stood unfazed!"

"The justice of our panjandrum,
who holds his court at Trivandrum
is impartial, unbiased, fair!
Let him his opinion declare!"

But the counsel for the defence,
Who was engaged at great expense,
Rose to say, "My client's offence,
Must be proven in every sense."

"I claim that ten cents potato's
Followed by twelve cents tomato's
Doth rhyme and make good poetry,
So escapes grammar's corsetry.

"Such use of the apostrophe,
Surely is no catastrophe -
For is it not good commonsense,
That it is poetic license?"

The audience rose up in might
And declared, "The defence was right!
Set him free, restore his estate,
And make him poet laureate!"

The case collapsed, this ballad ends
But wait for another tale, friends,
About the mighty panjandrum,
Who holds his court at Trivandrum!

Sudden summer rain

Sudden summer rain.
The smell of earth meeting sky
- clouds of gloom clear.

(originally by Sharath Rao)

OR

Sudden summer rain.
Hearts fill with ecstasy as
joy rises skywards.

न आना बेसाख़तह / نا آنا بصاختہ

नस्तालीक़ में ढला नाम तेरा बेहोश करता है,
क़यामत है होंठों पर ज़िक्र तेरा,
न आना बेसाख़तह रू बह रू
तू जो ख़्वाबों में साँसॆं रुका देती है

نستالیق میں ڈھلا نام تیرا بیہوش کرتا ہے
قیامت ہے ہونٹھوں پر ظکر تیرا
نا آنا بصاختہ رو بہ رو
تو جو زندگی میں سانسےں رکا دیتی ہے

ज़ाहिद का दर्द

शा`इर क्या जाने ज़ाहिद का दर्द,
शराब की रिन्दगी मस्जिद के
आब ए सफ़ा में धो जाता है,
मस्जिद को कौन साफ़ करेगा?

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Languages

Comment-allez vous? Parlez vous Francais?
She says them in schoolgirl French,
And not particularly shyly either.

I, in bastard, self-learnt tongue,
Must rant, rave, show off
Phrases and words half-learnt.

Was she impressed by that fluent chatter?
Or was it I wooing unwittingly,
Chest expanded subconsciously?

It's that instinct in our genes,
Isn't it, that old kameena,
To make a pass at whoever passes by?

Later in the wisdom of night
Her testosterone-stirring presence
Has vanished doubts regain territory.

Was she? Wasn't she?
It all comes down to testosterone,
That old trickster, doesn't it?

To render men into fools,
Is its sacred, evolutionary duty
And perpetuate the genes that make them.

Talk of languages, one artificially
honeyed, for the sake of that other
eternal nucleotide double helix.

Blue

Ray Charles. Dead babies. Greek flags.
Queen Victoria's hemophiliac children.

Flute-playing, demon-slaying, gopi-charmer.
Films by actresses fallen from grace.

The depth of oceans, the height of skies.
Avatar. Krzysztof Kieslowski trilogy.

Morning glory, violets, venomous toads.
Naval camouflage. Police uniforms.

Viagra. Prozac. The venom of cobras.
David's star. The fifth throat chakra.

Rafflesia

Carrion flies adore
the Rafflesia's thick odour.
No thing lacks meaning.

Untitled

Rage surges
like gas in a cola bottle
imagining thick red blood oozing
from a turbulent child's slit throat;

Pity soaks
like a sponge cleaning up
soaking up wails, wants, woes
from a stricken pourer out of her heart;

Sadness swirls
a Charybdis in the head
with this terrible fascination
for a juicy apple soaked in cyanide;

Kindness swells
the Mother Teresa genes
express - tending, touching,
nurturing an abandoned mongrel puppy;

Coldness sets
The Ice Queen within
passes by, merely pausing
to watch a drunk roll into the gutter;

Delight swings
to watch a flower open
hands reach out to shield
it from a sudden menacing torrent;

to get on with life's unfairness,
misery, putting on masks
upon stranger mask
Gargoyles smirk

Meditating upon final salvation,
the soul plods, traipses
towards vague ideals
Angels smile

Thursday 8 April 2010

How do I described my beloved?

How do I described my beloved?

Shall I say when she catches me talking to other girls
she is as mad as a nauseating toad?

Shall I say when she is angry with me
she makes me pray like an insulted CEO?

Shall I say when my apologies don't work
she makes me as green as an Opera understudy?

Shall I say when she does not return my calls
she makes me as lonely as a queue-jumper?

Shall I say when I try to make up with her
she makes me as nervous as a king under siege?

Shall I say when we finally meet
she makes me as eager as an unpaid piper?

इन्तेज़ार

कितना सितम देता है यह तेरा इन्तेज़ार,
आँखें ताकती रहती हैं राह को बेकरार,
रस्ते पर न पड़ती है परछाई तेरी,
न होने देती है पैमाने में ख़ुमार

सामराज्य

मेरे हृदय में सामराज्य
जो बनाया है आपने,
अभी राजधर्म निभाइये!

न आना

न आना बेसाख़ता मेरे आशियाने में,
फ़र्श को अब मेरे कदमों से ऐतराज़ है|

Ocean

A hundred noises
that hide a thousand secrets.
Deep is the ocean.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

The young man of a place with a long name

There was a young man of Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu,
Since the name was so long and he could not pronounce it he migrated to the tropical Pacific island paradise of Oahu,
Where he wrote horrid limericks,
and raised well-bred gavericks -
that escapist young man of Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu

Spring

Koels' joyous songs
remix with dogs' boisterous joy -
Spring grants no favours

The Cruel Love Form Either Meaning Tears Sestina

They ask me to write poems on love.
They ask me not to make it cruel.
But it should not be funny either.
It must follow some poetic form.
It must be rich and deep with meaning.
It should move people, but not to tears.

Why should it not move people to tears?
Because they cry when they fall in love
For no reason and without meaning.
That's because love itself is cruel
and causes grief in its every form.
One cannot escape from it either.

It is not even funny either.
One spends all one's time shedding tears
And meditating upon the form
Of whatever being is one's love
Who is in general very cruel
And will get upset without meaning.

One wastes one's time looking for meaning.
One never finds it. One will either
die frustrated or suffer cruel
punishments. But no one spares tears
for stupid people who fall in love
And think it is divine in some form.

It is not divine in any form.
It is senseless, devoid of meaning.
the rational do not fall in love
They do not play with venom either.
They are therefore immune to tears
And don't suffer barbs that are cruel.

Protect yourself, do not be cruel
And you'll escape peril in this form.
There is no surrender to tears
Or a vain, fruitless search for meaning.
And people will not taunt you either.
There are no advantages in love.

Be free from tears and all things cruel,
Keep far from love and thus keep your form
it has no meaning, nor does this either.

Monday 5 April 2010

My nose

My nose
It goes and pokes
it's self into all forms
of trouble and then it sadly
gets cut.

Clerihew on self

Mr. Raamesh Gowri Raghavan
who looks like a stuffed Christmas bun
Does not fit into corsetry
But writes abhorrent poetry.

To Her Who Sends Me Gloomy Poems

Your whines are all that I revere!
I seek sorrow in word and deed -
That's why I read your poems, dear!

In every day and every year
Pure misery is all I need.
Your whines are all that I revere!

Of boredom, love, I have no fear
Your verses are my ceaseless greed -
That's why I read your poems, dear!

Your wails are all I want to hear
Upon your gloom I seek to feed
Your whines are all that I revere!

Mine eye must ne'er be without tear
Joy in my life is like a weed -
That's why I read your poems, dear!

To one principle I adhere
Self-flagellation is my creed.
Your whines are all that I revere!
That's why I read your poems, dear!

ख़ुदा ने पूछा

ख़ुदा ने पूछा मुझसे -
मैंने तुझे इसलिये धरती पर उतारा
के वक़त बेवक़्त मुझसे मन्नतें
माँगता रहे,
के इसलिये के एक दिन
तू आकर इतराकर मुझसे कहेगा -
इतनी थी ख़ुदा तेरी बरकत,
और इतना सारा मैंने कर दिखाया

Weeds

Man's predations
defeated, weeds overgrow
abandoned railway line.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Ode to a Trolley Dolly

By all means you should be pushing a trolley
Twenty-one thousand feet in the air, your face
Plastered with creams of all kinds - Chinese holly,
Acai berry, ginseng - ground into pomace,
That overlaid with rouge and baby powder
Till your beauty cannot scream any louder
And yet gilded with lipstick and mascara,
Guaranteed to make you look an apsara.

But you choose to inflict that upon mortals
In some attempt to inveigle them into
Parting with money; while you thought it was true
That your MBA learning opened portals.

And we children of a lesser god look on
The principles that the Higher Gods work on.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Of course I read your poems

Of course I read your poems.

When I'm not reading a brief
to create an advertising campaign
that will cause a stampede
outside the branches of a bank
offering 6.75% interest on fixed deposits.

Of course I read your poems.

When I'm not standing on one leg
on the bus back home and peering
over the shoulders of a guy
watching Tom Cruise
biff up the baddy on his iPhone
and thinking that Rajnikanth
would have done it better.

Of course I read your poems.

When I am not with my
monomaniacal boss
seated on his hobby horse
expounding his favourite theories
on how the whole world
but him is wrong and
wondering whether to cut up his tie
or strangulate him with it.

Of course I read your poems.

When I'm in the mood to know
how your umpteenth boyfriend
exudes magic from his sebaceous glands
(and not sweat like us mortals)
and taught you the meaning of
love in love-making
and how that same umpteenth
now ex-boyfriend was only using
your heart to mop the floor with
just like all men did before.

Of course I read your poems.

Sunday 21 March 2010

तमाशा

क्या उस फ़क़ीर से हसद रखूँ, जो बिन भुगतान दुनिया का तमाशा देख रहा है
या फिर ख़ुद पर मुस्कुराऊँ, जो बिन रोज़ी तमाशेबाज़ बन बैठा है

(मुश्ताक़ के मदद से)

विरासत

दस्तक मैंने बहुत दिये, दर कभी खुला नहीं;
पौधे को रोज़ाना सींचा, गुल कभी खिले नहीं;
कमनसीबी लिपटी रही, ख़ाना बदोश जो ठहरा;
धूप को मैं विरासत समझूँ, साया कभी मिला नहीं

A/C bus

You can sit in dark comfort,
or stand reading in the aisle.
The choices of an A/C bus!

Thursday 18 March 2010

ख़ामोशी / خاموشی

अपने अल्फ़ाज़ के चमन को कभी सूना न होने दीजियेगा,
आपकी पल भर की ख़ामोशी भी मेरी रूह को तड़पा जाएगी

اپنے الفاز کے چمن کو کبھی سونا نا ہونے دیجئیگا
آپکی پل بھرر کی خاموشی بھی میری روہ کو تڑپا جائگی

Circus

My whole life is a
grand circus in which I am
an unpaid actor.

Tears

With tears I water
your words but they wilt into
silent nothingness.

Fakir

Freeloading fakir
watches me perform unpaid
in life's theatre.

Monday 15 March 2010

अश्क़

क़त्रे क़त्रे को रेशम में क़ैद कर रखा है मैंने,
तेरा मुस्कुराना सारे जहाँ पर मुबारक है,
पर तेरे चश्म से निकले हर अश्क़ पर सिर्फ़ मेरा हक़ है

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Bhajan Mandali

Local train stands still,
bhajan mandali transcends
to a higher realm.

Two Hundred

Well, it's not a 200
scored by Maoists or Jehadis.
That would have just given us
an east target for anger and
a temporary thirst for blood
before we realise painfully
that dinner is yet to be earned.

It could be a Shahrukh 200
- 200 metrosexual minutes
of ghee-shakkar and glycerine
which we buy to escape
into that world of love
and niceness and gemutlichkeit
which is so not ours.

It could be a politician's 200
as he assembles a majority
to grab the CM's chair.
Chi-chi we say in disgust
at all that corruption & horsetrading
even as we plot to rig
the housing-society elections.
Papi pet ka sawal, after all.

It's so much more better
that it was Sachin's 200.
Scored ball by ball
in front of our own eyes
and then humbly acknowledged.
200 runs of honest industry
to line our stomachs with.

We're truly happy that
Sachin scored 200 runs in a match.

A Flower Fallen

I watch a flower fall from its
bough buoyed softly by the
breeze before it lands in the grey,
soulless dust; And with no
leaves to shade it I watch it wilt
into paleness under
the sun's bleaching malevolence;
I watch a wee puppy
toss it in play, then tire and
seek newer diversions;
I watch a young girl walking by
contemplate it, but it's
too pale, too shrivelled to add to
her pretty merriness;
A botanist comes by seeking
specimens, but this one
is torn and damaged - I watch him
toss it aside and look
to the tree above with its fresh
blooms - more perfect in form;
I watch at last a lover pick
it and tear it apart
petal by petal - she loves me,
she loves me not -; at last,
I trample its remains into
the earth - let it dissolve
into elements to emerge
newborn, when I come by
as it blossoms again next spring.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

شکوا

انسے کوئ گلہ نہیں جو خطا کر کے پچھتائ
پر انسے تو سرف شکوا ہےجو نیکی کر کے یترائ

سزا

اے مھبوب یہ کیسا انساف تمہارا
ذرا سی گستاخی کی سزا
اس وفہ زندگی کو ملی

احسان فراموشی

آپکی ذرا سی احسان فراموشی
زندگی کے ترازو پر
میرے تمام وفہ سے بھاری پڈ گئی

لطف آتا ہے

لطف آتا ہے آپکے ہر ایک بات سے
ابر بہار برستے ہےں
خوف لگتا ہے آپکی خاموشی سے
ابر یورش پنپتے ہےں

Monday 22 February 2010

To Whom It May Concern

Don't ask me how I am doing.

Do you really want to know
how I'm coping with my hernia,
asthma, astigmatism and piles?

Do you really want to know
how I cope everyday - everyday -
with a genetically constipated boss
and colleagues as warm as snakes?

Do you really want to know
how I deal with daily disappointments
of failure, that I'm just another
stattisitc, an also-ran, not done
in life as well as you?

Do you really want to know
how I fret and fume watching
politicians, businessmen, athletes,
work up sleaze and scandal to
fill screen after television screen,
while I wallow in obscurity?

Do you really want to know?

Red blooms

Many hues of green,
grey shade, bit of brown - perfect
background for red blooms.

Silk cotton flowers

Orange-pink-red silk
cotton flowers make the word
blossom, meaningful.

Friday 19 February 2010

How To Sharpen A Machete

Never let bloodstains dry on the blade; they
dull its keenness, you cannot cut smoothly
and will need four or five clumsy strokes. Wrap
sandpaper around the handle, so that
sweat doesn't loosen grip, else hacking off
limbs becomes tiresome. Rub grit on the
blade, sand with vigour - first with coarse, then fine
paper - till the surface is evened. Make
sure every inch from tip to hilt has sparked
on the whetting-wheel. It should cut away
arms in clean, efficient strokes. Rub down the
edge with hemp and linen, till it neatly
severs the spine in one graceful swing. Then
rub down hard, first with a cotton rag, then
silk, Rub keen till it rends the soft skin of
the abdomen elegantly. Rub last
with satin and dacca muslin. Then you
will have an edge so sharp, you can gouge out
eyes with the most delicate of movements.
That is how you sharpen a machete.

A kite broken

A kite broken from its string,
I rise, I fall, I swirl, I sail,
Over land, over water, over homes;
Plaything of the winds I be -
I go where the current bids me...

Till at last trapped in a tree,
I flutter pinned to a twig;
I can hear the breeze whistle
As it rushes through my tatters,
And that gentle, creaking sound
As the rends expand...

And then some boys discover me,
take me down, mend me, string me,
But dreams taped together fly no more...

Can I protest aloud
If they choose to string a newer kite?

Saturday 13 February 2010

The Wanderer

They ask me at the city gates
Who I am -

May I say I am a flower fallen,
Withering in the dust,
Longing for the bough I was born on;

May I say I am a kite broken,
Plaything of the winds,
Longing for the string that held me;

May I say I am a son exiled,
To wander from shore to shore,
Longing for the soil that made me;

But the bough bears new blooms,
The string flies new kites,
My motherland has new sons;

All we can do is wander, drift, meander;

Can you, O city guards,
Give us a home to die in?

But all they can give us is a rubbish bin's
damp, smouldering fire. Thus must we -
The flower, the kite and I perish.

All they agree to do
Is scatter our ashes in the wind,
And in its ceaseless motion,
We find our graves.

Sunday 7 February 2010

சூரியனைப்போலா, நீ?

நாள் பின்னால் ஓடும்
சூரியனைப்போலா, நீ -
காலையில் பிரகாசித்து
பகலில் எறிந்து
மாலையில் மறைந்து
இரவில் துலைவாயா?

Remembering birthdays

Don't ask me to remember birthdays.
Or your name. That's hard. But.
I'll remember your face forever.
If I've lent you anything, that too.
The good and bad moments we've had,
(I'll be discreet about the bad ones).
Any favours you've done for me,
And need repaying, those certainly.
Much of what (and whom)
You like and dislike,
Even things you're allergic to.
Just don't ask me to remember birthdays.

Saturday 6 February 2010

Le soleil

Es tu comme le soleil
Chassant le jour-
Espérant pendant l’aube,
Brillant pendant la matineé,
Brûlant pendant l’après-midi,
Pâlissant pendant la soireé
Et perdu dans les ténèbres?

Nellie, 1983

Very often the sun rises
in warm, golden rays
on opening buds,
birdsong and dewdrops,
and the stench of stale death.

Very often the sun rises
Upon mutilated men -
blood drying over their eyes
and gore-caked machetes
rusting in their abdomens.

Very often the sun rises
over hyaenas fretting
over the carrion going waste -
they can eat no more,
nor can the vultures.

Very often the sun rises
on a day already defeated
- shrieking, screeching, screaming,
demanding that it go back
for there was peace in the night.

भक्त ने समझा, भक्त ने माना

भक्त एक था नारायण का, नारायण का, नारायण का
परम भक्त था नारायण का, बचपन में था, यौवन में था
सुबह शाम पूजा करता था, घी और गुड़ के भोग चढ़ाता
जय हरि की, जय नारायण, जय हरि की, जय नारायण

एक दिन एक चूहा आया, घी चट गया, गुड़ चट गया
श्री नारायण देखते रह गए, देखते रह गए, देखते रह गए
हरी से बढ़कर चूहा होगा, भक्त ने समझा, भक्त ने माना
जय चूहे की, चूहे की जय, जय चूहे की, चूहे की जय

अब चूहे को भोग चढ़ाता, घी चढ़ाता, गुड़ चढ़ाता
लेकिन एक दिन बिल्ली आयी, डरकर चूहा बिल में भागा
चूहे से बढ़कर बिल्ली होगी, भक्त ने समझा, भक्त ने माना
जय बिल्ली की, बिल्ली की जय, जय बिल्ली की, बिल्ली की जय

अब बिल्ली को दूध पिलाता, बिल्ली बिल्ली जपता रहता
एक दिन जब एक कुत्ता भौंका, दूध गिराकर बिल्ली भागी
बिल्ली से बढ़कर कुत्ता होगा, भक्त ने समझा, भक्त ने माना
जय कुत्ते की, कुत्ते की जय, जय कुत्ते की, कुत्ते की जय

अब कुत्ते को अन्न चढ़ाता, उसकी पूजा वन्दना करता
पर पत्नीजी ने डन्डा लेकर, उस कुत्ते को मार भगाया
कुत्ते से बढ़कर पत्नी होगी, भक्त ने समझा, भक्त ने माना
जय पत्नी की, पत्नी की जय, जय पत्नी की, पत्नी की जय

अब पत्नी की आरती करता, अलंकार अभिषेक वह करता
पर जब भोजन देर से बना, पत्नीजी को भक्त ने डाँटा
पत्नी से बढ़कर मैं ही तो हूँ, भक्त ने समझा, भक्त ने माना
जय हो मेरी, मेरी जय हो, जय हो मेरी, मेरी जय हो

अपने नाम से यज्ञ कराता, अपनी ही चालीसा पढ़ता
एक दिन जब पूजा में बैठा, भूख के मारे ध्यान बट गया
खुद से बढ़कर पेट ही होगा, भक्त ने समझा, भक्त ने माना
जय हो पेट, पेट की जय हो, जय हो पेट, पेट की जय हो

इससे आगे क्या मैं बोलूँ, पेट के आगे हरि भी झुके
जय हो पेट, पेट की जय हो, जय हो पेट, पेट की जय हो
पेट के आगे हरि भी झुके, हरि भी झुके, हरि भी झुके
जय हो पेट, पेट की जय हो, जय हो पेट, पेट की जय हो

एक कन्नड लोक कथा पर आधारित
उल्लेख: स्वर्गीय श्री अ.कृ. रामानुजन का 'अ फ्लवरिंग ट्री' कथा संग्रह

देवनागरी लिपी टंकण http://www.higopi.com/ucedit/Hindi.html के सौजन्य से

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Antakshari

With a setting crescent moon
over the darkened hills,
a single, bright star
in a purple sky turning violet,
a cup of green tea in my hands,
a couple of crisp, marie biscuits
and a well-written book of history -
you might think Sunday was perfect.

But no, there has to be what's called
a society function - haldi kumkum this time -
in the lawns, ostensibly to celebrate
Makar Sankranti and related festivals.

I can't quite see where the thali
containing turmeric and vermillion is.
Instead there are plastic chairs
in a disordered semi-circle,
a sound system, a table with prizes
and another where snacks are being prepared.

A mistress of ceremonies,
who should be legally restrained
from coming within six feet of mikes,
women of all ages busy sharing notes
on silk sarees and bright jewelry
(dare I call them gaudy?),
men guffawing over some crude joke
but trying not to be too noisy,
and children being children -
all of them try to get as much antakshari
finished before the inevitable squabble.

Bad Bollywood and Indipop songs
are sung even more horridly,
and then the awaited squabble breaks out
in all its entertaining intensity -
over which word the previous song
ended in, over who deserves the prize,
and whose child is most talented.

And then it dies down, for folk are hungry
(better to finish off as much as one can
lest the organisers corner everything)
and the organisers look on in anxiety
(how greedy the society people have become,
next time we should not have buffet system
but limited snacks only).

The mike at last is silent;
under a navy blue sky
with Orion, the Pleiades
and the Dog Star shining on us,
my dog and I lie down
and gaze at the sky
revelling again,
in that eternal quietness,
that is Nature's night.

Saturday 23 January 2010

باغ / बाग़

آپ ایک بار میرے باغ میں کیا آئیں
گل کھلنے سے انکار کرتے ہےں ،
کہتے ہےں آپسے مقابلہ نا ہوگا۔

आप एक बार मेरे बाग़ में क्या आयीं
गुल खिलने से इनकार करते हैं
कहते हैं आपसे मुक़ाबला न होगा

अवाज़ / اواز

आपकी अवाज़ ही कुछ ऐसी है,
मेरी फ़ोन की घन्टी भी नज़ाकत से बजती है

آپکی اواز ہی کچھ ایسی ہے ،
میرے فون کی گھنٹی بھٰی نزاکت سے بجتی ہے

مینار / मीनार

تم نے بھی کیا مینار کھڈی کی داد دیتے ہیں ہم تمکو ، وہ آسماں کو چومتی اور تمہیں پناہ کہیں اور لینی پڈی

तुमने भी क्या मीनार खड़ी की, दाद देते हैं तुमको, वह आसमाँ को चूमती रही और तुम्हें पनाह कहीं और लेनी पड़ी

Tuesday 12 January 2010

K2

They say you can't be climbed in winter.
I wonder why someone would want to do that.
But then again, I wonder why someone
would ever want to climb you.

As 'Godwin-Austen' some have tried to name
the silent ice of centuries, locking time within itself,
that stood witness while men shed warm blood
in ephemeral lives and causes.

Some call you Chogori or Lamba Pahar
for you grow a few centimetres every year,
looming over your prettier sisters the Gasherbrums.
But you are only second-tallest on the earth,
- dulled, dimmed, diminished -
by that accessibly famous Mt. Everest.

They call you King of the Karakoram,
in your eight thousand metre magnificence.
You reach, yearn, lunge for the stars -
just as men with the ambition of kings
reach, yearn, lunge to conquer you.

Some call you the Savage Mountain,
the hermit among mountains -
in awe of your frigid isolation,
for they say, you cannot be climbed
unless you yourself will it.

It is well no one truly bothered to name you
For names have a beginning and an end.
But you were there in your nakedness
before the first of the humans
and you will be there after the last.

Monday 11 January 2010

Old photographs

Rummaging through old photographs,
I'm suddenly driving the wrong way
on a one-way street.

There's an old photograph of me -
eight or nine years younger perhaps.
Maybe if I shed some flab,
lose that double chin
and some of the gloominess -
You think, I can go back to that
fresh-faced twenty-something look?

There's one of my sister's friends
taken some years back.
Pretty bachelorettes worth a whistle
- when no one's looking, of course -
but they'll not be bachelorettes now,
perhaps not pretty even.
Who knows?

Further back in the pile,
a few snaps of my coming-of-age ceremony
or perhaps a losing-of-innocence ceremony.
There's me - eight years old - being
initiated into rites I'm going to abjure
a teenage rebellion later.

And randomly there's one I see
of Gomateshwara -
a tourist souvenir
of a visit to Shravanabelagola -
head too far up to capture in the camera
(probably the sun glared).
If he weren't a god or saint,
not a suitable photograph for ladies.

Old photographs in crumbling albums.
Certainly driving the wrong direction
in a one-way street.

दीवार

आज मैं उस सड़क से गुज़रा,
जिसपर हमारा कालेज खड़ा है.

और वह दीवार याद आयी|
वही दीवार, जो तुमने और मैंने
इतने साल भुलाने की कोशिश की|

पता नहीं क्या चली तब मन में|
मैं गया उसी कोने में,
जहाँ दिल का आकार बनाकर
बायीं ओर पर मेरे
दायीं ओर पर तुम्हारे
इनिशियल हमने खरोंचे थे|

उस दीवार पर अब शायद
पेंट की एक परत चढ़ गयी है.
या फिर हमारी ही तरह, बीसों युवाओं ने,
उसी मासूमियत से, उन्हीं ही ईरादों से,
अपने नाम तराशे होंगे.

पर नहीं|

वह दीवार वैसी ही है|
वह दिल का आकार,
वह इनिशियल बरकरार हैं|
बारिशों, हवाओं के वजह से
धुंधले होने लगे हैं,
शायद कुछ और साल में
पूरी तरह मिट जाएँगे|

मैं चला आया वहाँ से|
शायद जाना ही नहीं चाहिये था|

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