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A Wanderer's Funeral

I come at last to a wanderer's grave,
My sexton is the vulture's jaw;
He'll bury me by the wanderer's law
In open field or cloistered cave.
The buzzing flies will make up my shroud,
As the wind howls my death lament.
While I convulse through my last torment,
They chant my rites clear and loud.
The vagrant at last shall come to stay,
In the maggot's fattening zest.
May I think I've found eternal rest
As my tissues ferment away?
But for peace I shall pray in vain,
For my bones roll on upon the plain.
(Published in GloMag, December 2015 p72)

Learning Portuguese

On the way to saying it, I find that the snake
eats pineapple and that the tiger eats bread,
the butterfly writes a book and your horse eats salt

and that I have a pink plate, the last one quite
unexpected. I’m so far não entendo but
eu trabalho, I am still working on it.

Desculpe, desculpe, I know I will get there
They’ve got me to perdemo você and oh
how would they even know I miss you, how would they?

On the way we get to eu quero você -
of course I want you - and then they let me say it:
for now and forever - eu amo você

Published in GloMag February 2017, ed. Glory Sasikala; Cyberwit.net, Allahabad, 2017. ISBN: 978-93-85945-78-6.

Narrow Road Vol 2 is now live

Rohini, Paresh and yours truly are happy to announce the release of the second volume of our journal of flash fiction, poetry and haibun, Narrow Road. Featuring authors from the Philippines, India, Denmark, UK, Canada and the USA, this was our first issue with open submissions. You can read the journal here:https://issuu.com/narrowroad.mag/docs/narrow_road_vol_2_august_2017

Saluva Timma, Mahamandaleshwara

Saluva Timma, Mahamandaleshwara
Shall I tell the story of how you came to be
Blind beggar at the shrine of Venkateshwara?

When your dying king bid you blind his young brother
You deceived him with goat's eyes, what vile treachery!
Saluva Timma, Mahamandaleshwara!

You who crowned Krishnadevaraya emperor
With all the Coromandel as your demesne
Blind beggar at the shrine of Venkateshwara!

The king's son was poisoned; he charged you for murder.
He put out your eyes and granted you no mercy -
Saluva Timma, Mahamandaleshwara!

The truth was discovered, you regained your honour
He sought to atone and restore you to glory -
Blind beggar at the shrine of Venkateshwara.

Beware a kings' whims and all his behaviour:
Let that be what we learn from this tragic story.
Saluva Timma, Mahamandaleshwara
Blind beggar at the shrine of Venkateshwara.

Published in Indian Periodical, 16 July 2017

War is Necessary

Yes, war is necessary.

But let my wife not be widowed,
Nor my children orphaned.
Nor let my mother and father
Spend life’s last lap looking
At the photograph of me
Saluting at my passing out parade
Trying desperately to stifle a tear.

War, however, is necessary.

But my career is also necessary.
That US visa, that VP designation
And that Thailand…
Well, whatever happens in Thailand.
And that 5-crore sea facing flat.

It’s necessary, war is necessary.

I am aware that the men in uniform
Fighting the blizzards of Siachen
Or sudden fire on the Line of Control
Or fearlessly facing militants
Martyr themselves for the Nation,
But I fulfill my responsibilities too
And have never failed to offer
Koti koti shraddhanjali
On Facebook and Twitter.

War, however, is necessary.

But it is not in my fate that I,
Clutching a mug of cold tea at 3 AM,
Fight a jihad against sleep; nor,
Wearing body armour (If I get any)
Depart for a crusade against
The searing heat of the desert.
And I must forget altogether,

This Tendency to Die

Pets are prone to it. As are grandchildren.
And the little birdies and kittens
You bring in from the cold.
All you can do is rage - in impotent disbelief,
And sorrow, and anger, and desire, and hope,
And go through what they call the four
Stages of grief, but what man was so heartless
To coolly count while a woman smashed
Her bangles on her wrists, fresh-widowed?
But it’s a tendency we cannot avoid,
And while we may clamour, in foolish lust
For the hanging or shooting or electrocution
Of someone we have been taught to fear;
Our own papa or hubby or Sox or Puppy
We were never taught. Oh yes, there it is
In the Vedas and Quran and the Confucian texts
And maybe we could use it for our own time,
But for papa or hubby or Sox or Puppy
We never could learn, never could be taught.
All you get is vague notions that are inadequate,
So inadequate, to fill that rising emptiness
Called life hereafter. And yet we fill it and
‘move on’ till someone else expresses, unwantedly,
This strange tendency i…