Spark

was the word

the man said

imagine the picture

the vest

the god

the fluorescent tubelight

the green walls

the grey grey Wednesday

he said the spark

had caught

it had scored the music

he could see the other houses

sailing in the moon

their windows open burning with light

the red BEST buses

creating a roar

and the lines and lines of washing

singing in the wind

he said he could now hear the music

setting the stars on fire

making them jump and dance

in the municipal gardens

where the children made new friends

and cheered and played

he said it was the spark.

 

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

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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).

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.

My Throat Is Trench Torn

wounded soldiers

try to run

with their guns

but fail

cannon blasts

rend all asunder

politics is the speech

of the day

should a girl talk

is she a doll

is her father dead

I don’t know

I say

and try to run

although I can’t

move an inch

and the buildings

all hoarded up

like forts

and mother and child

at the window

watching waiting

all their lives

what to do

where to go

at the railway station

the heads of the people

turn 360 degrees

in the streets

I drown in my own blood

eeeeh eeeeeh

I say

and scramble for safety

and when I rush to a garden

the merry go round

makes such a noise

the sea saws

hiss like snakes

and when I look up

at the sky

I see the sun bursting

into black ash

and now the world is gone.

Last Evening

I had dinner early

and hit the bed

I couldn’t sleep

I was feeling too bored

so I got up and

went to Juhu Beach

it was wonderful

the sun was still burning yellow

in the sky

the waves were silver

the sand was golden

and it wasn’t crowded

I walked along

and spotting

some stairs

leading to a building

went and sat

down there

it was beautiful

soon I was joined

by two northeastern children

a tiny sister and brother pair

the sister older

threatened to beat me first

then quickly became my friend

and chanting nonsense rhyme

jumped down the stairs

one by one

I leaned my back

against the wall

the poet in me delighted

the loneliness in me unlocked

and looked at the sea

my heart beginning to warm

and then I found myself laughing

when I was shortly joined by

a shaggy brown stray dog

who came looking

rather purposefully

for something

all in a pant

and finding me instead

quickly slithered away.

 

The above poem is from my third book The Branches (2015).

Now When The Mind

is so full and heavy

with chatter

it is no small matter

to sit down

and write

a poem

in fact

it is no small matter

for anything

you know it too

so here I sit

writing this poem

trying to push

all my mad shouting voices together

arguing talking laughing

cursing hooting

gathering them all in place

like children in a classroom

trying to make them quiet

and when finally

they do

they stand up

and walk out in a row

in silence

and then

those absent voices

turn into thoughts

they take wing

and today they’ve turned into trains

in the sky

flying mechanical worms

chain-links

crisscrossing the white

dividing it like farm-hedges

and all over

huge entranced clouds

softly breathe

gliding in bliss

across this city above

while the trains their silver backs

shining in the sun

blow their horns

ooooooo oooooo

through all this white white white

light spreading over all that fog

I gaze and gaze at it

like a signal pole burning

at the prettiness of it

where my mind flies

like a bird

bursting with happiness

whistling

singing and winging

over these skies of golden awakening

this other world

and then slowly

as I fly

I ask myself

isn’t it worth doing

writing a poem

everyday

anyday

more than anything else?