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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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.

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).

I Am Having A Conversation With Myself

in the hills

across from me here in Bison Valley

there are beautiful thick trees

over the side of the wide hill

they are there on the hill top too

how pretty the tree tops there look

in the morning mist

the different leaves slowly becoming visible

in the slow golden sun

so sweet so calm so carefree

and straight across from me here

high up in the hill

the trees are widely spaced

their light grey trunks rise silently and gracefully

into the tree tops

now catching the sun’s light

below there is grass

on the floor of the hill

I am reminded of the Georgics

I think of Virgil

in his robe walking the hills

I think of paradise

and now the birds sing

they whistle and coo

they sweetly tweet

and one bird that

just flew past me

left me a line

what a sweet little verse

tee taa tee tee too

thank you I say

to  life

as the sun now

burns bright golden

through the leaves of the trees

its rays blasting through

straight into my eyes

I close and then

feel the warmth.

The World Is A Deep Green River

only last evening

I saw it

while listening

to Stan Getz

there’s nothing

so big and beautiful

and green

so freely flowing

and translucent

coming from

a place

so nice

it feels so good

this soulful music

this lonely life

and the jungles

of Brazil

are full of leopards

and trees

and the oceans

and the sky

begin to sing

the sadness

and the lovely

green river

flows by

and then

it is night

and the stars

come out

and shine

the moon

blows by

so high

and I have

never seen

the world

so big and

so beautiful

I have never

seen a river

so green

flow by

and before

I know it

the booze

is out

the palm trees

are swaying

and couples dance

in crazy ecstasy

along the

green river bank

birds of red green

blue purple

and yellow

take flight

into the night

drunk on this music

deer come to watch

peacocks strut excitedly

Stan Getz

your beautiful music

I will never forget

the world outside

my window

the buildings stand

their windows sparkling

fluorescent Stan

and they are beginning

to move

O Stan

we are now

a ship

sailing on

your green river

and here we

come towards you

Stan

over the moon.

 

  • For Stan Getz, jazz saxophonist (1921 – 1991)

 

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

My Mind Is A Monologue

of memory

dialogue

imagery

right now

and when I cough

from smoking

it totally disappears

and then starts

all over again

pretty soon

and then there is sky

that comes from nowhere

random combinations

of vague images

that haunt

that get stuck

that float in and out

slowly creating silence

slowing creating colour

red and blue

earth and sea and sky

and in this complete silence

a boat rows in black shadow

how beautiful the earth is now

these hills in the darkness

the pine trees and their branches

rising like smoke into the sky

how the stars hang shining

and black langurs climb the mountains

enchanted with everything

and I soon feel

I am at the bottom of the sea

and there is no greater feeling

than this beautiful blue

caressing me

I see the stars come searching

for this warmth

how they undress

and go to sleep

on the seabed

and then I find

myself turning into a whale

I take to the ocean and I swim

in the magic sleep of darkness

my mind is water

and then I stop and look

and find my belts hanging from their hooks

and I look at my grey cupboard full of books

and I open my window

and take to the sky

and I fly and fly

disappearing from view

only to find myself again

lying in bed

looking at my hairy legs

at my stomach breathing

under my orange T-shirt

and I find I am unusually calm

very relaxed

my feet warm

making funny faces

at me

and I smile to myself

thinking this is definitely different

and I feel very good

and there are these wonderful sounds outside

an aeroplane in the sky

soft

soft snatches of vehicle beeps

and then a hawker

blows his horn

and I am gone

and the sparrows are chirping

the crow is cawing

and then the pigeons coo

I love you

and sunlight climbs the sky

like a wave

and now the whole world

is shining bright golden

this is what I seek

I feel the need to speak

though I also think I should give it a break

it’s only the beginning of the week

so thank you so much

it has been simply sublime

I’ll catch up with you some other time.

 

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

I Went

down into the streets

to get a haircut

everywhere people

rushed by

motorbikes cars rickshaws

they went by the salon

behind glass I saw

pretty women

on their way to work

and when I had had

my haircut

my very short haircut

the wind ran round my head

I lifted up

into the blue skies

from my high chair

I breathed white clouds

people fled from my head

some shying to look at me

some happily amused

while one or two were clearly

angry and threatening

I went home and took

a bath

I shampooed my hair

till it stood like a forest cool calm

silent

and then the world settled

in my head

and the day curled up to me

as I read

a book in bed.

 

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

The Branches

flare like an open palm

lifting me into the lap of the breeze

the azan from the mosque

is the sky caressing my heart

long cool notes

become the silence of the universe’s dawn

and now the cocks crow in relay

a clear cacophony of joy

as I fall through

the leaves of the pine trees

spread out like a net of smoke

turning into a big black langur

and I feel more

than thousands of years old

falling into my armchair

and when I go back

from the balcony

into my room here at the homestay

to take a leak later

I look at my face

in the mirror

I look at my face under

the blue woolen cap

I look at it

for more than usual

first there is only my mother’s profile

then I get a glimpse

of my father’s face

my own face

I find

it takes such a long time to see.

 

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

The Evening’s

come to rest

in this room

my glass in its

pool of water

under dim red light

has golden whisky

silent like the walls

the pictures come alive

the side-table

and the speakers

high in the corners

cough through static

some dead singer will croon

of love

of loss

and then the bar will bristle

the conversations start to flow

forks and spoons

clatter on plates

when a glass would

fall to the floor

from someone’s hand

who couldn’t hold it anymore

and soon we’ll find the swimming ceiling

the spinning sky of misery chasing happiness

past the pale white moon

and the stone cold stars

that will finally claim us all.

 

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

Uncertainty

in my mind

hangs like a silent cry

in my heart

in my stomach

the universe is dark

there are no stars in my eyes

no moon in my sky

only emptiness

only absence

and here I sit hunched

over my computer

thinking of the sky’s whiteness

in which black birds fly

and it turns to blue in my mind

and I see sunsets and palm trees

and slowly drift into sleep

and then I suddenly dream

I am a river

a green river

under those trees

and when the moon sings

at night

I dance and sway

rippling in cool waves of thrill

and in the afternoon

under the sun

I shimmer like an emerald

playful warm

flowing calm.

 

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