Mountains And Mist

cardamom plantations

and trees

I see along the winding road

to Kattappana

and I find that inside me

my emotions too

move exactly like the mist

I can’t catch those thoughts

the same way

one can’t catch the mist

my emotions keep

passing me by

without me being able to

figure them out

like this gloomy monsoon day

my thoughts are lonely

and lost

disconnected  and emerging

randomly

and when I return home

it begins to rain

and then my emotions

are all a blur and I can’t

figure them out at all

and as it rains harder

it makes me feel like a sad clown

when all my thoughts begin to drown.

Thinking

I find today

is burning

the hours so fast

making my mind

hot and heavy with fire

and when I look at

the gloomy monsoon

outside my window

it occurs to me

that the world is dead

that something happened

which I cannot understand

the birds are chirping

but no human is talking

what wickedness

is this universe up to

what has it done

to my mind

what has it done

to us humans

I ask and I am

shocked at the silence

of the sky and the trees

I wait and wait for an answer

and then I find there is none coming

and again as I look at the time

I find once again hours have passed by

and then when I look up at the sky

I notice it has been burnt black

and is torn and flapping

in the crying wind

and finally in despair

when I lower my gaze

I crumple into ash.

The Tree Trimmers

have come

and are cutting

the branches

leaning onto my roof

we are in mid-monsoon

in Kumily

and mist moves from three places

in the mountains

so beautifully

I feel calm

as the birds chirp

and I say good morning

to my neighbours passing by

and while chasing a monkey

the other day I tripped and fell

on the terrace and hit my head

against the parapet

later I found the whole thing

very funny

and yesterday evening

my neighbour Laxmanan

opened my gate

and entered my property

I was in bed in the front bedroom

with the curtains drawn

looking at the trees of the valley floor

and Laxmanan went back soon

chasing two chicks trying to get them

out of my gate and I found

that very funny too

how our life passes in this misty rain

like laughter and the branches

being cut down also seem to be happy

as they crash readily

onto the ground

and that too seems so funny

the cocks crow in joy

and the tree trimmers

swing their machetes

onto the branches

which is now sweet music

to my ears

and soon Laxmanan

is urgently talking

to someone

in fact

he is instructing

his aged grandfather to bathe

and there is such focus

such seriousness

in what he says

I can’t help but burst out laughing

now this is the beautiful part

of being in Kumily

and my childhood toys

on the desk in the hall

are all alive

the cars moving

the elephant walking

and the cup I won

in a sack race in school

shouts hooray!

The Monsoon

is firmly here and the weather

has become cool in Kumily

light showers just some time ago

while I was on the terrace yielded

a beautiful sight

I saw the mist form thickly white

and rise into the green mountains

a huge whoosh of slowing moving delight

I felt in myself

how it spread across the trees

and I thought of my mother holding my hand

and we walking in Five Gardens in Bombay

many years ago and everything

is sweetness and serenity and love

and the black monkey here hoo hoos

again and again how shy they are

how they leap and run as they see you

and the bulbuls here are the greatest musicians

I have heard I’ve heard them many times sing

and one recently tweeting such intricate melodies

music that takes you out of yourself

how beautifully nature is built

how I felt the bulbul’s heart

in my heart how the bulbul’s voice

became my voice and I felt the magic incantation

of the notes flutter in my body and my mind

and now another bulbul continues its singing on and on

it goes golden note after golden note and once again

I feel transformed I now find I have grown wings

of translucent light I see I am glowing and as the harmonies

weave their magic I take flight and disappear into the forest

we are such creatures of illusion although we are made bulbul and man

we can fly anywhere spreading our mesmersing music around and here

once again is rain and the hypnotic tunes are of the utmost transparent blue

and bulbul and I take to the skies and our song is so enchanting

we are able to fly beyond the wide blue vault beyond the sky of delight separating

earth from beyond and we dive into a musical pool and we are then

dramatically transformed into a single flying creature a bulbulhuman our songs so great

anyone who hears us is also transformed into a bulbulhuman and given everlasting life.

The Rainy Season Is Finally Here

my maid said today

and I said yes

one dark brown cow

is grazing on the valley floor

in front of me

it is so beautiful

and comforting

to look at

and now as the sun shines

the bulbul sings

so sweetly

such exquisite notes

liquid red

dancing orange

and now on a different tangent

it tweets its sweet voice

on and on and it is so

entertaining

there is such melody

it is simply exhilarating

and then I must

tell you about the mists

here in Kumily

how they form

immediately after the rain

they are like

big thick whooshes of white fog

rising into the green trees

of the forest

slowly passing across

the mountain faces

reminding us that the

world is a phantom place

and perhaps that is what

the bulbul is singing

and it is now in full flow

as though it heard my thoughts

and were reciprocating

in notes that were

so close to language

that is what I have been

saying all along

the bulbul sings

when I was born

when I got out

of my mother’s womb

I knew this world

was not real

it will not survive

I will not survive it

I knew that and yet I am happy

the world is all apparition

and magic see how

I speak to you Dominic

the bulbul sang

and I was jubilant

and the fact that I would die

did not bother me

and the fact that it would die

did not bother the bulbul

so these our voices we raise

and these our songs we sing

no matter what

the dark clouds bring

we give you our joy

let our voices ring.

It Has Been

raining inside my head

for over two days…

all my thoughts are drowning…

I sit in my living room

and stare outside the window…

a new building is under construction

dark grey it’s a large skull

with 25 eyes

I keep staring through the rain

through the dull wet morning…

then a man appears in one of the windows…

he too just stares and stares.

 

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.

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.

Now This Is How It Is

inside I’m full of sadness

my mind is weaker

than a blank page

the sky mocks me from up high

so many years

I rose before it

and now

here once again

I sit

on my bed

writing this

the rains

are blowing

the emptiness

about in my life

the world lush and green

waits like a shy bride

and I see nothing

but the endless

haunted road

its beauty

its terror

and sigh

and in my mind

I see lorries go by

and think

will I go like this

into the night

full of stars

will I roar free

into the dark

will I tell the moon

horn ok please.

How The Heart Cries

for human suffering

it is so bad

the misfortunes

I feel eyes

watching me

all the time

my mind

is disturbed

but there is

only myself and my pain

and the suffering

is such I feel

I wish I could be a bird

but the horrors

become a mountain

they flay me

as I stand fighting

I will die

when I will

I shout

and then

I hear the birds tweet wildly

and Bombay explodes in rain

the dark city dances like a ghost

I go quiet and watch

the unhappiness begin to wash away

until my body and mind are silent as a tomb

and I feel the cosy comfort of the womb

O cradle of civilization rock me now rock me now in this rain

and thank you thank you so much for stealing away my pain.