And The Hawker Blows His Horn

and the sounds of a small town come to life

dogs shat all over my terrace last night

my neighbour talks to her cat asks it if it is hungry

her voice is soothing so is the rickshaw going silkily down the road

in the sky the clouds are big and beautiful their colours their textures their shapes undulate all day

and the birds are always there they chirp whistle and coo all the time nature’s sweet music

two days ago a giant Malabar squirrel visited my neighbour’s property it sat on a branch and ate a guava spitting out its flesh

its big black reddish brown body as large as a rabbit’s its long black furry tail hanging gorgeously it sat there eating and spitting out the guava so coolly yesterday black monkeys jumped across the trees in the teak valley across my house racing excitedly

and last night two dry coconut branches fell on my property in the rain while I think of those elusive golden red birds and the long tailed ones flying like helicopters into the trees Babu came last evening to clean the taps there was so much dirt in them from the municipal water and then Selvam came to take a look at my terrace he would be painting soon and I was happy and slept well after taking my medicine my neighbour sneezes as she sweeps her house as the sounds of a motorcycle and a car horn blow softly in the distance as the mountains silently green and fresh in the morning stand calm as my mind is soothed by the sounds of flowing water as a boy calls for his mother ma ma ma as someone walks in slippers as a happy bird whistles as the sun shines and the hawker blows his horn once again.

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The World Is A Strain

in the head

and sickness

in the body

only the birds

seem to be happy

their beautifully coloured bodies

their shapes their tweets

their chirps their whistles

say it all

I sit here and think

we will all die

and somehow

that puts peace

in my heart

leaving this world

going away forever

so haunting

the hills seem then

the sun the moon the stars

so intimate

like family

still you are happy to leave

and on a birdsong

nature recycles you

puts you to rest

like a mother

saying it is all over

all over now.

What Comedy Runs In The Head

life’s a joke

I want to write

the darkness

I want to swim

in its depths

through this valley

through the trees here

I want to fly

into the night

and whirl like

a star in the sky

I am lit up

for this entertainment

this deep blue wonder

I wake into

and find air

and peace

a musician

blows his flute

he is made of ivory

and beautiful planes

and he gives me the key

to my home

a pyramid

at whose triangular entrance

I now stand

bathed in laughter and light.

Now It Is Cool

here

how sweetly

the birds chirp

so musical

and the wind

like a wave

delights you slowly

a dog barks

and the wind comes back

and now it is continuous

and sending me

lost in thought

it goes away

then a rickshaw climbs

the valley

and once again

as I am lost in thought

it goes silent

in the distance

we are all messengers

of something

barely understanding

each other

yet knowing

that the most precious thing

is there

our relationship

the secret

that still lies asleep

and will not wake.

The Trees And Mountains

of Kumily are big green and beautiful

desire can torture the heart and make it sick

that is the truth

the wind blows

and life flows

with it

the birds chirp

and your destiny is being written

and you don’t know

what will happen

miserable you

troubled in body and mind

O squirrel what do you know

what do you think as you flit so lightly

across the forest floor

and monkeys you thieves

what about you

so menacing

what do you feel

O birds sing to me sing to me

always so sweetly

though only you know

what you are saying

as you lead me

to my death.

All Mountains

on the way to Kattappana

with thick growth of trees on them

such a wild look

nobody wanted to come to this place

nobody wanted it for free

my driver Appu said

there were wild elephants

that would kill people

that’s devil’s mountain

he said pointing to a misty mountain

foreign Christian monks live there

it’s always misty

you can’t go there he said

sometimes I go

into these self-draining moods

my mind questioning

and answering itself

torturing itself for what

I wonder

unhinged

frozen and lost

desperate for days

life is really a mysterious enigma

through and through

though the birds are so beautiful

yellow green brown red

they burst open my heart

with their songs

singing so sweetly

leading me

with their whistling voices

like they were

just meant for this

drawing my mind

like a train

on track

once again.

It Is Slightly Cold Today

so I have worn my jacket

and now the bird chirps

it is whistling like it’s happy

short sweet tweets

and then there is silence

a space that opens

and expands

till your mind

is filled with it

and becomes silence itself

it is beautiful to be human

I hear my neighbours talk

and the same bird chirps again

we are together in it

birds and humans

we are linked in life

and now a new bird chirps

this one has a bigger and sweeter sound

and like it could hear my thoughts now

it chirps louder

and then again there is that silence

perhaps we feel the same way

perhaps we are talking to each other

hello I say to all birds and humans

out there.

We Are Tree

bird

singing angel

in the blue bush

of the sky

when we stand

at windows

in the cool air

of the morning

the buildings race

like a symphony

till the eye can see

the mind register

this beautiful expanse

this silent music of the senses

charmed

begin to soar

in the darkness

that is clearing.

 

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

There Are Trees

on top of the mountains

in the distance

from my terrace they look like ferns

almost fantasy creatures

I’m so glad my neighbour switched off the music

now I can hear the wind through the trees

this morning the birds chirped so beautifully

it was so joyous

life here is good peaceful calm

the valley is so lovely to watch

and pretty painted houses

at the other end through the trees

also look like fantasy creatures

green pink white yellow

they are so beautiful

and yesterday while I was reading

my neighbours

a short lame boy and a young woman

were at the gate

the young woman said

she wanted to pluck neem leaves

from my tree

and she jumped and got them

I felt good then

and now the little birds chirp again

so sweetly

they make a flower in my mind

I give to you.

You Said

you were walking

with a bucket in your hand

you said God was in the bucket

you said you walked for hours

along this road in a foreign country

while cars went zzzupp zzzupp

in the afternoon

many years later I met you once

outside my house

you were drunk

you played your piano in that hall

and hit us

we sang

transported on a sea of song

we sailed to Rome

O captain at the helm

see this soldier

marching off to war

in his helmet and armour

his mother weeping

we ran like deer through the woods

chased by a burning moon

we sang and the hall rang with our voices

vive la vive la vive l’amour

your wife had died…

many years

after your own death

today I think

of your dark glasses

your grief.

 

– For the late Mr Fernando, Singing Master,

St Joseph’s High School, Wadala

 

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