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ﺷﻜﺴﺘﻮﻥ ﻛﻲ ﻛﻤﻲ

اي ﺳﺎﻛي ﺗﺠﻬي ﻛﻴﺎ ﻏﻢ, ﺗﺒﺮي ﻣﺴﺠﺪ ﻣﻴﻦ ﻣﻴﭙﺮﺳﺘﻮﻥ. ﻛﻲ ﻛﻤﻲ ﻧﻬﻴﻦ
ﺗﻴﺮا ﻛﺎﺭﻭﺑﺎﺭ ﻣﺪاﻡ ﺭﻫﻴﮕﺎ, ﺩﻧﻴﺎ ﻣﻴﻦ ﻣﺴﺘﻮﻥ ﻛﻲ ﻛﻤﻲ ﻧﻬﻴﻦ
ﺗﻴﺮﻱ ﻭﺣﺸﺖ ﻛﻲ ﻟﻴﻲ ﻭﻗﺖ ﻛﺴﻲ ﻫﻲ, ﺗﻮ ﺑﺲ ﺁﺏ ﺷﺮاﺏ ﺑﻬﺎﺗﻲ ﺟﺎ
ﺧﺎﻧﻪ ﺑﺪﻭﺵ ﻃﻠﺐ ﻫﻲ, ﺟﻮ ﺯﻧﺪﮔﻲ ﻣﻴﻦ ﺷﻜﺴﺘﻮﻥ ﻛﻲ ﻛﻤﻲ ﻧﻬﻴﻦ‎

Published in Amaravati Poetic Prism 2016
ed. Padmaja Iyengar,
Cultural Centre of Vijayawada & Amaravati

Bleeding

I haven't, in a long time,
bled myself.

I haven't scratched flesh,
watching in
dread fascination,
grotesque shapes
burning, searing, yearning,
dying and birthing themselves.

I haven't watched
the blots spread into
new territories of being
I dread to enter.

I haven't,
I haven't watched
meanings do their morbid dance,
preen in their vanity
or thrash about
or flail limply even.

I haven't stood by
to watch the reek
of ambushed dreams
rot by the roadside,
the gutter-water rushing over them.

I haven't, in a long time,
bled myself.

गिला گلہ

गिला शिकस्तों से नहीं, गिला है तो ख़्वाबों से गिला है,
मेहनत से शिकायत नहीं, पर उसके सवाबों से गिला है

तलब-ए-यक़ीन में कोह-ई-तूर तक सफ़र करने को तैयार हूँ,
ऐतराज़ सवालों से नहीं, पर कभी जवाबों से गिला है

क़बूल नहीं है मुसलसल हसरत, कशाकश की अफ़सोसबाज़ी
हालातों से मैं जूझ भी लूँ, लेकिन इन्तख़ाबों से गिला है

पिंजरों को समझता हूँ, पर बेहद्द आसमान कहाँ ले जाएगा
दीवारों से शिकवे नहीं, लेकिन खुले बाबों से गिला है

मन्ज़िल जाने बग़ैर राह-ए-हयात में इख़्तियार बहुत आए,
ख़ौफ़ नहीं आग़ाज़ से ख़ाना बदोश, मगर हिसाबों से गिला है


گلہ شکستوں سے نہیں ، گلہ ہے تو خوابوں سے گلہ ہے
محنت سے شکایت نہیں ، پر اسکے ثوابوں سے گلہ ہے

طلب یقین میں کوہ تور تک سفر کرنے کو تیار ہووں
اعتراض سوالوں سے نہیں ، پر کبھی جوابوں سے گلہ ہے

قبول نہیں ہے مسلسل حسرت ، کشاکش کی افسوسبازی
حالاتوں سے میں جوجھ بھی لوں ، لیکن انتخابوں سے گلہ ہے

پنجروں کو سمجھتا ہوں پر بیحد اسمان کہاں لے جاءیگا
دیواروں سے شکوے نہیں ، لیکن کھلے بابون سے گلہ ہے

منزل جانے بغیر راہ حیات میں اختےار بہت آءے
خوف نہیں آغاز سے خانہ بدوش ، مگر حسابٔوں سے گلہ ہے

The Wanderer's Curse

There is always a Me, and a Them,
But there never really is an Us,
They'll let you in, yes,
They'll be nice to you,
Share their food even;

But there's always that little space
They keep in between,
The r not rolled correctly,
The colour of your skin,
Or the way you smile at the women;

They're happy to help you try,
But if you do roll the r the right way,
There's something about eating cheese
That you won't get right.

The best jokes are not for you,
They'll cuss just out of earshot
So you can hear the hiss,
And they might talk to you about return journeys
More often than you think polite.

Stay apart, Wanderer,
You never did belong,
You never will.

death

i have seen in my time then
the death of a baby
the death of a dog
the death of dreams
the death of many things
yet
and that is a big yet
i seem to live on
to have the will to live
to see more deaths
the death of a star
the death of a puppy
the death of an ant
but
fungus grows on those dead bodies
and so life thrives
so maybe that is a lesson
still
can i really live through
the death of a friend
the death of a frog
the death of hope
or a cherished principle
maybe

i can
i am still alive

Arbeit macht frei

'Arbeit macht frei' sie sagen.

Wann der Krieg ist beendet,
Gemütlichkeit wird uns gegeben werden;
'Arbeit macht frei' sie sagen.

Im Moment
gibt es Schweiß
heiß und lästig;
gibt es Tränen,
die die Seele brennen;
Aber merken mein Freund - was Schiller gesagt:
'Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben'!

Blut wird Freude geworden
mit Küsse und Reben...
Küsse und Reben...
merken mein Freund - was Schiller gesagt:
'Wandelt, Brüder, eure Bahn'
Sind nicht wir kinder von Elysium?

Arbeiten Sie jetzt, arbeiten Sie,
'Arbeit macht frei'.

Children's books

I'll stick to reading children's books.
I've made forays into adulthood:
all it seem to have
is the acrid smell of burning dreams.

...there are no fairies in the world of adults,
though plenty of witches;
no redemption, merely a grave;
love is so full of conditions
it doesn't seem like
happily ever after.
Puppies grow up you know,
And teddy bears wear out.
The books have no pictures
- or they do: terrible word-pictures
of the fallacy of human existence.

I'll stick to children's books.

Published in Whispers, July 2015

Poems in the sand

There are poems in the beach sand,
Eroding in the wind and waves,
Left behind there by ephemeral imaginations,
That concern neither the crabs sidling over them,
Nor the rich red sunsets,
Nor the clouds hanging low in the romantic depression
That only poets bother with,
Nor the sandpipers skimming over the waves;But they will never be completed,
Foaming away into the sea,
The poet's illusions drained away,
Into the eternal indifference that is the universe.

My love is like a rafflesia

My love is like a rafflesia
With a fragrance that is causing anaesthesia
Large and red, red and large
Like a rose-coloured barge
Upon the river Thames
But I am not liking your friendship with that man called James
It is the only blot on my love pure and simple
Which is like the soft soft dimple
On your smooth and buttery cheeks
On which I am taking many peeks
Only my love is not parasitic
Like rafflesia but it is stalagmitic
Growing slowly and maturing with time
Like an old pond with green slime
I am truly in love with you
But everyday your behaviours are teaching me something new.

(Originally written for The Dreaded Poets' Society)

Intoxication

There is little to be had from drink,
A few bottles and then there is
Just drunkenness: a sleep without sleep,
And mumbling, thirsty ranting;
From opium or cannabis,
An escape into Xanadu for a while,
Into colours and sounds and happinesses
Before wandering into regret
And then the blank of unconsciousness;
Sex is the salt of human skin,
Beautiful in its caresses and cosseting,
Or empowering, warrior-like
In the abuse of a woman's body;
But the best of all is blood,
The greatest power over a man,
The glistening, oozing drug
That satiates on mere sight
— no needles, no pipes —,
The throbbing, twitching body,
The spurting gash, the chilled steel,
And that final, final eros,
It pleases, it pleases.

Going home

Railway toilets plastered with washing soda;
The rasping of nylon streamers against
Fly racquets; Chinese toys beating about
Before the vendor quickly bundles up
And flees; Jasmine garlands and Incense-stick
Boxes sharing space with Severed goats' heads
— their eyes staring glassily at you to match
Your startled glance; the smell of fried flour and
Potatoes, and of withering cabbage stalks;
Taxi smoke, gasoline and soot; Sweat — anxious
Sweat —Whiffing by on hurried steps and a
Quickly muttered apology on pushing
You out of the way; Mysore masala
Dosas frying on a street griddle — all
Beetroot and carrot and tomato flakes;
A promise of naked women in
USB drives, and hard-bodied nude males
Promising fairer skin from giant billboards;
Death of course, lurking everywhere, sometimes
Peering from a bier; Suburban life-forms
In their TV-equipped habitats not
Peering out of lit windows; and I

— I just go home, as I do everyday.

(Published in Setu Bilingual Journal, August 2017)

Halfnesses

Somewhere between the truth,
And our world of comforting lies,
Is the world we seek to live in,
Half earth, half fantasy;
Happiness is what we call it,
Though a stagnating lack
Of worry would do as well,
Maybe it's a race we're running
Against our own aging selves
Chasing a childhood memory
Always a step ahead of us:
A visible phantasm, a mirage
Concocted from our own imagined pasts
With guilt conveniently buried
In the shroud of forgetfulness
And yet - there's always a yet -
There is a listlessness, ennui,
That we never got what we wanted
And the regret, unmessianic,
Of not knowing what that was
Till the commas of life stop abruptly.

Published in Whispers, April 2016 as Commas

Standing Guard to Kamakhya

They've seen much, these statues
Standing guard to Kamakhya's
Dark, mystic sanctum;

There's a nose lopped off here,
An ear eroded there,
By wind, by time, by swords.

They've been nested on by doves:
Love-making, chick-rearing
Guano-shedding doves.

They've seen cows amble around
Bestowing sacred dung
While bulls bestow sacred blood.

They still stand, these statues,
Their medieval silence further
stifled with vermilion and ash.

They see the pilgrims wilt
— lined in their rag-covered faith —
shivering in morning drizzle

Like oleander petals and
mango leaves; temple offerings
to an invisible goddess.

They see the pandas in red
bearings; unbearability
writ large on their pouchy faces,

Against the tall, thin trees
Banana, papaya, margosa,
shading a sacrificial goat.

They see the Brahmaputra
which is always a presence —
a brooding, looming presence.

And they see me, eager tourist
encaging them in camera stills:
Another spectacle to see.

The Noodle Song

O dock-a-doodle dack,
Boil a noodle black.
Boil it in Artsakh
(Nagorno-Karabakh),
Boil it in Tibet
With salt and alkanet,
Boil it in Darjeeling
That will be a good thing.

O zock-a-zoodle zed
Bake the noodle red.
Bake it in Alaska,
Kansas or Nebraska.
Bake it in St Andrews
With raisins and cashews.
Bake it in Singapore,
And just a little more.

O cock-a-coodle coo,
Roast the noodle blue
Roast it in Santa Cruz
Hormuz or Veracruz
Roast it in Tripoli
With white ravioli
Roast in Wollongong
But do not keep it long.

O mock-a-moodle meen
Fry the noodle green.
Fry it in Mandalay
In oil of Olay,
Fry it in Cameroon
Under a waxing moon,
Fry it in East London
Until this song is done.