See The Dream

won’t go

see the sparrow

sitting on the grass

hopping onto the railings

and then over the grey road

to someone’s kitchen window.

What I’m trying to say is that

it is better to know this

when the heavy evening

having lost her happiness

comes to you

there quiet in your bed

it lays down in

the dark with you

then you know the meaning

of sorrow

the day changing its clothes

bored

and the stars racing in the sky

having outrun your sleep

see how this world drifts

unmoored

and when you wake in the

morning

the sparrow comes and

tells you this

then how easily

the whole thing

becomes a song

just like that

how the planes of joy

crisscross the sky

how the mind once again

comes home

and dances

delighted.

 

The above poem is from my first book Reeling (2012).

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Now This Hot October Day

is bad

it will not let me think

it leaves me here

sitting stupid

and sad

I will not have this

I think of trees

and remember the time

I first encountered

a squirrel

and my wonder

at it

in the cool morning

behind my house

where I stood on

ground covered in golden laburnum

and the squirrel

grey fluffy cute

with black stripes

climbing up the tree

pointing into the blue sky

I look at the birds flying

small black ones

in flocks

and I know

I am one of them

I feel what they feel

I feel the wind on my body

and I know I am home

in this vast dome

and now as I write

the squirrel runs out of sight.

Everyone Loves The Sea

I had two old beds;

their headboards

of blue sun mica

were the most beautiful

things in the world.

 

There’s World War II

over the lime-washed buildings;

you can see the fighter planes,

the pilots in their

helmets and goggles at night…

 

Broken, shabby houses…

run-down bars

animal people talk…

 

Naked men and women,

emaciated, speaking

some strange language

join us in the streets…

 

In the morning when I wake

I notice the sky has backed

deeper and deeper

into silence…

 

 

The above poem is from my second book Circling the Sky (2013).

All Day

I thought

and turned

into glass

by evening

the world

couldn’t get

more mischievous

than this

I thought

and realised

that you didn’t

really get much

not even sleep

which conjurer

of black airs

broke nothing

into this

I wondered

all night

till I turned

to stone.

 

The above poem is from my first book Reeling (2012).

Sunrise In Vattakanal

It is 6.40 am

and the bright golden sun

is climbing up the sky

outside my window here

in Vattakanal

the blue Nilgiri mountains stand in mist

from the far left along a wet rockface

to the deep distance

a conical mountaintop

framing the scene

from there the Nilgiris flow in mist

beautiful misty mountain

after beautiful misty mountain

all varying shapes and sizes

to the centre where there is a hill flowing harmoniously

also in the foreground

a big green one with a few pretty houses

and there are trees on the top of this hill

and beyond this these misty Nilgiri mountains flow

now downwards towards my right

I look and look mesmerised by the beauty

and at one point begin to see those mountains

as big ocean waves

one two three four five

layer after layer

like fingers of a hand

like dreams flowing

so translucent

and closer there are tall pine trees

they are beautiful too

their leaves gently sway in the breeze

and last night there was lightning in these mountains

I have never seen anything like that in my life

this far away there was no sound of the thunder

I opened my window and strained to hear

a sound but there was none

just big balls of fire lighting up the mountains

their green peaks glimmering golden in the darkness around

but getting back again

it is quite cold here although it’s May

and whilst here at my window in the morning

my neighbour from the cottage next door

comes over with a warm cup of tea

I thank him and sip the tea

I thank my luck and enjoy the beauty.

Yesterday I Saw Labour

Claus took me on his bike to Harry’s Farm

here in Kumily

and we climbed up the steep hill road

till he dropped me at the end

and continued to market

Stefan was making manure out of cowdung

and dirty and sweating

we greeted each other and he said

he has an hour’s work to go

sure I’ll watch I said

while he continued to work

he was mashing the dung together

under the hot noon sun

then someone from a house nearby

offered me tea

while Stefan spoke with another guy

and then we all chatted awhile

and they decided we should all proceed

to Harry’s Farm and they would work there

so then three of us Stefan Jomon and I

trekked along the mountainside to Harry’s Farm

how beautiful the green valleys full of vegetation were

vast and deep with tall pine trees

and soon we are at another house near Harry’s Farm

and someone offers me coffee now

while Stefan and Jomon continue to work

on a dung pile here

Stefan first mixes it up with a spade

then fills the dung into a big steel tub

then lifts the tub full of dung

and pours it into the sack Jomon holds

they work like that while I watch

and we chat from time to time

about my earlier visits

while they fill 16 sacks of dung

over an hour

and now from here they will

carry it to Harry’s Farm where we now proceed

finally I sit down on a chair

and relax

and Stefan chops up a jackfruit for me

it is so sweet and delicious

I thank him for it

while he and Jomon now continue

to bring those 16 sacks of dung

on their shoulders uphill

all this is manure for the pepper

and the coffee that grows here

I marvel at their capacity

for this backbreaking work

while they chat and laugh

about this and that

and I eat that sweet jackfruit

and enjoy the lush green landscape

they talk about deer hunters and

the gunshots they’ve heard

as they climb up the hill

they talk about predatory animals

forest officers and guns

while I listen and eat

I had first met Stefan years ago

while he was a boy in school

he loves this work

he says good health is what you get

he dropped out of school and chose

to be a farmer like his father

and now they come climbing up the hill

with sacks  of dung on their back

and when it’s finally over

we all sit and chat again

while Stefan strips to his black shorts

and jumps into his natural rock pool

for a swim and bath

soon he offers us homemade chapattis

and peanut butter and honey

all from the property

it is so tasty and again we have tea

and chat

Jomon says he’s 29

and if he doesn’t work hard and earn well

he won’t get a girl

he too is a school dropout

he’s also a wedding decorator a rickshaw driver

a dairy farmer and odd job man around

Stefan talks about his family

while I talk about my life in Bombay

and then rainclouds appear in the sky

and Jomon offers to take me

back to my homestay in his rickshaw

I thank him and Stefan then

and Jomon and I make our way

back across the mountain path

he points out a baby snake to me

and again at Jomon’s house I’m offered tea

while his nephew and niece work

both children between 12-14 years

they work on their dung heap

while I chat with an old man there

and chickens run in and out of the house

soon Jomon also joins us freshly bathed

and in new clothes and I thank everyone around

while Jomon now starts his rickshaw

and we go down the mountain road again

into town

when we reach my homestay

Jomon won’t tell me the fare

pay me what you want he says

I give him a 100 rupee note

while he thanks me and I think

how sweet life is

as a fresh breeze blows

and it slowly begins to rain.

And From 6th Mile Road

there is that view of Tamil Nadu

its plains and farms and houses in mist

Claus and I are on his bike

we stop and I take pictures

here in Kerala high up in the hills

it is bright lush green

there is thick vegetation

jackfruit pepper and cardamom abound

leaves of various shapes and sizes

it is so beautiful

and at Shailendra ’s house up the dirt path

we sit and chat about this and that

his black dog licks me with its soft pink tongue

there is so much love I think

then we meet Adarsh from next door

who brings tea

and now we all sip tea and chat some more

then we all walk over to his place

Claus, I, Shailendra, his wife Seema, Adarsh

and now Adarsh’s black dog jumps all over me

there is so much love I think again

and the dog is so excited he is relentless

panting it climbs all over me

all the while its master orders it to get away

but the dog comes back again

and climbs all over me

travelling solo

so far away from Bombay

so high up this quiet hill

I stand still

and feel the love.

The World Is The Ultimate Magic Show

such a lot it has to offer

now I’m here in Kumily

it has been raining in May

Claus Garden is lush green

and Claus talks about life and insects

suffering and death

about Germany and Europe crumbling

I am old now it doesn’t matter, he says

and I’m relaxing after a long journey

two-hour flight from Bombay, five hour taxi uphill

and after living alone for so long

I’m happy to be here and happy

to hear Claus talking

I noticed the jackfruit hanging

from the trees

all along the way

I saw green rivers smiling in joy

and boys and men jumping into them

now the crickets begin to chirp

and before you know it

it’s a chorus

and then a roar rising like a wave

and now I know nature’s symphony

and think of the waterfall cascading

down the rocks

along the way

dawn is slowly approaching

the cocks are crowing

I look at the lightening blue sky

and I look at it

it’s wet deep blue like an ocean

like nature’s cinema and the

beautiful green leaves and me.

Three Dancers

in brightly coloured shoes

scratch their scruffy hair

till they shake off a train.

In the dark at Oval Maidan

Rajabai Tower’s clock

rings its half-hour chimes at 9.30.

Beautiful red BEST buses

their interiors lit fluorescent green

go skating round the ground.

Like fallen beads from a chain

sparse groups of men in twos and threes

sit under the stars hanging hard.

And the trees so free

swaying so mightily

turn into rockets

ready to fly.

 

The above poem is from my second book Reeling (2013).

Through The Green Hills

we went

through the clouds

in the sea

there we heard voices

calling out their names

and saw shells

white glittering pieces of rock

beautiful red stones

we saw them

the sun floating in the water

the ocean singing dancing

and knew who we were

as we kicked our ball in the sand.

 

The above poem is from my first book Reeling (2012).