Poetry Corner: Volume 7

It’s raining cats and dogs here. The days are dull, gloomy but ever so often they invoke terror and awe like Arundhathi Subramaniam’s poetry. The aftermath is a clear, washed-up sky, which has you marveling at the few stars the city affords you. You stare, run through the pictures of the James Webb telescope again, remember the tales of Asimov you have been reading and somehow find yourself examining life on these other worlds. It’s only when you shake yourself awake, you realise the world’s just the same – decaying with hate. The distance between dreams and reality is insurmountable.

A First Monsoon Again – Arundhathi Subramaniam

At first
it’s nostalgia —

a downpour of kisses
under a weeping umbrella,

a euphoria
of gulmohur,

an eternity
of adrak chai,

every moment
the memory of a previous one

when the skies were crazier,
love purer,
life simpler,

when the heart turned Malabar,
the spirit Arabian,

desire Coromandel,
laughter more Gene Kelly

and words like baarish
and mazhai

were headier,
truer.

The first rains
are always
this plagiarism of yearning,

every moment
an echo of another

and then another —

the thunder the roar
of an outlawed god

whose hair is a foaming green river
through which seahorse

and minnow dart deliriously
around a crescent moon,

and every dark cloud a courier
from a classical past,

and longing
a rising fever of loam

and thirst for a man whose voice
is blue ash and oatmeal

(with a twist
of Gulzar).

It takes
a long time

to arrive
at this Tuesday at elevenness

when we open our windows
to the outrage,
the impossible nowness,

the gasp,
the rawness,

the sock in the chest,
the newness,

the raving psychosis,
the brazen never beforeness

and say the word,

our voices alight
with unguarded wonder

and a kind
of ancient terror:

‘Monsoon.’

Telescope – Louise Glück

There is a moment after you move your eye away
when you forget where you are
because you’ve been living, it seems,
somewhere else, in the silence of the night sky.

You’ve stopped being here in the world.
You’re in a different place,
a place where human life has no meaning.

You’re not a creature in body.
You exist as the stars exist,
participating in their stillness, their immensity.

Then you’re in the world again.
At night, on the cold hill,
taking the telescope apart.

You realize afterward
not that the image is false
but the relation is false.

You see again how far away
every thing is from every other thing.

What we want – Linda Pastan

What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names—
now they want us.
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.
We don’t remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there
even in full sun.

Balancing – Blythe Baird

I am trying
to be happy

& pay attention
to the world
around me

I do not
know if it is
possible

to do both
at the same
time

Jahan kuch nahi pahuchta – Jacinta Kerketta (Hindi)

पहाड़ पर लोग पहाड़ का पनी पीते हैं
सरकार का पानी वहां तक नहीं पहुंचता
मातृभाषा में कोई स्कूल नहीं पहुंचता
अस्पताल में कोई डॉक्टर नहीं पहुंचता
बिजली नहीं पहुंचती इंटरनेट नहीं पहुंचता
वहां कुछ नहीं पहुंचता
साब! जहां कुछ भी नहीं पहुंचता
वहां धर्म और गाय के नाम पर
आदमी की हत्या के लिए
इतना ज़हर कैसे पहुंचता है

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