Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why Do We Hate?

Why do we hate:
People who are of a colour different from ours,
People with slanting eyes and high cheekbones,
People with curly hair and broad noses,
People with brown skin and sunken eyes.
People who wear cloth wound around their loins,
People who wear colourful turbans and grow hair,
People with exquisite and lush beards,
People who wear leather sandals.
People who eat noisily from leaves,
People who dance and sing freely,
People who talk with gestures and interjections,
People who walk in the wild without shoes.
People with distracted looks who create beauty,
People who learn and teach others about life,
People with a begging bowl and hungry looks,
People who build homes with cardboard and plastic.
People who sleep on streets in the cold and rain,
People with nothing to call their own, no loved ones,
People who hate just for the sake of hating someone,
Our parents who teach us all we know and to walk and talk.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Breast Tax

In my faraway homeland of Kerala state,
There used to be tax, records indicate,
Called Breast Tax, a tax on breasts
On women who cover their chests.

One day, Nangeli covered her chest,
The Pravathiyar grew wild and upset,
“Pay the tax, at once,” he said,
“I will not,” said Nangeli, unafraid.

“You defy the law and thus your King,
For this you will do some lamenting,
You shall be whipped and made to pay,
The price of trespass will come your way.”

Grabbing breasts, she cleaved it with sickle,
Watching people cried, “Don’t be so fickle.”
Laid them on leaves, presented to Pravathiyar,
“Here’s your tax!” she said, as he watched in horror.

Nangeli died, whereupon the tax was withdrawn,
“It’s not right,” said the owner of the crown.
“Women will have all rights in my kingdom,”
Thereafter, it’s said, women were harassed seldom.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

“The Jungle,” Calais, 2016

Here we die slowly, he said, in our land it’s quicker,
Slow death is our choice, as the pain is bearable and boring,
In "The Jungle," at least, we are alive and breathing in the cold.

A thousand bombs rained on us in the desert and children cried,
Their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, disappeared every night,
A million shrapnels in their bodies, a cry frozen on their lips.

Here, it’s cold; our lands are hot, sweltering,
Reeking of gun smoke and smell of cordite burning,
The mornings we forage for food and water amidst the ruins.

In the refugee camp our bones slowly chill with the cold,
Our flesh freeze, we submit to the endless hostile gaze,
The batons of power rain blows on us, but, that's okay.

It’s no different this land and the one we have left,
It’s both ruled by powerful men with guns and tanks,
War lords who are lobbied by ruthless corporations.

Yes, we die slowly here, so that our children might live,
Sleepless, they stumble out of our flimsy tents into the cold,
There’s no place to play tag or learn alphabets here.

We never asked for wars or guns in our lands,
It's their endless wars fought in Councils and Assemblies,
They sold us guns and when the money was gone, sent food packets.

"The Jungle," Calais, France, is not far from Paris,
Twelve dead in the Charlie Hebdo shooting made big news,
In my country one shell kills twenty, and, they say, it isn't news.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Failed Writer’s Anatomy

Your brain is a jumble of unwritten words,
Your head is as bald as the Avonian bard’s,
Your teeth are chipped, those that exist are sallow,
Your eyes are jaundiced and are turning yellow.

Too many hours have you spent reading,
Other’s words, that you have tried correcting.
Your hands are calloused from too much writing,
Your skin is like parchment with no sunning.

Sitting too many hours has added to your girth,
I say you must stand up and write, forthwith.
Your heart’s irregular, yes, you can feel its beat,
You can sense it to be your greatest defeat.

Your stomach bulges with excessive beer,
Will it hold? You live in constant fear.
Your chest has sunk into your rib cage,
Your collar bones fight a losing scrimmage.

Your shoulders slouch and your back is bent,
Poring over proofs your editor has sent.
Your legs are weak you can’t stand straight
They can’t bear your body’s hulking weight.

It’s only fair that you abandon your writing,
Take up copy writing or letter drafting.
Or, be a critic who wantonly pans books
And, vanquish egos of those pompous crooks.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Closed Door

I wonder what’s happening behind
The closed decorative door of your mind?

Yes, I can open that door only if you open
Your mind and let me inside.

I know, I will find the shattered shards
Of many broken dreams there.

But I promise to step lightly,
Broken dreams can fragment at the slightest touch.

I will not let the mad rain drench you,
Or, let the fiery sun scorch you and the ornate door to ash.

I am sure behind the beautiful carved door;
I will find lonely hours of cravings and passionate sighs.

Longings that turned into milky secretions,
Behind creaky hinges, stained pillows, and fungal growths.

I think you decided to close the door in the flush of adulthood,
When you decided no doors must be left open.

It may be dark behind those closed doors,
It may suffocate a human and many hungry rodents and pests.

No light may filter through the cracks and crevices,
So for clarity there is no hope of ingress.

I know, it must be chillingly cold or melting hot,
Depending upon the season.

But I see a wind weeping outside your door,
Please allow it in, so it can purify the insides.

I will not disturb anything, I will only tread on
The threshold to see what others have not seen.

Whether you are fed, clothed, sanitised,
In accordance to the custom and observance of the land.

Or, if you are being prepared to be sent,
To another closed door far away in a stranger’s company.


Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Power Is Gone, My Dear!

Waking up I say: the power is gone, dear,
Can’t pump water, but don’t despair,
The fridge will not work, my dear,
For the food gone stale don’t shed a tear.

My dear, it’s dark because the lights are out,
Step carefully, and please don’t you shout
At the servant. She is not the reason,
It’s the doing of the ministry in season.

The cell phone battery is way down,
You can’t call a taxi to go shopping in town.
Except in emergency you can’t call or chat,
Until it’s recharged from the very start.

They say they will fix it in two days,
That would mean a week, anyways.
Can’t chat with our abroad-living son,
Without power the internet won’t function.

There’s no water so we can’t bathe,
Let’s eat stale food and go to bed straight.
Tomorrow, dear, is another day of powerlessness,
The government doesn’t care for its uselessness.

Can I fix anything? At least, the back-up?
No dear! There’s no liquid in that damn set-up.
Unfortunately, no television soap operas or reality shows,
This here is reality; not a chimera the world follows.

Note: On a recent trip to my home state of Kerala, following heavy rains, there was no power for almost a week. This was written then. Just to show how in a connected world everything we do is dependent on electricity.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Rain's Reply

The rain asked the earth, are you quenched?
Is your body properly drenched?
The earth said yes,
But what will i do with this mess?
Rain said 'do what you will, no conditions attached.'

Friday, May 27, 2016

If Death Comes Calling Tonight! (Villanelle)

If death comes calling tonight,
Clad in robes of silken black,
Hasten, hasten, it before the first light.

After the fading of early twilight,
If the end comes, do not turn it back,
If death comes calling tonight.

Hide him in shadows, if the light’s too bright,
And do not let time turn in its track,
Hasten, hasten, it before the first light.

To leave the world and end the long fight,
He concedes, he fought bravely, nary much luck,
If death comes calling tonight.

It can come in some fancy flight,
A gun, a bomb, or, a rumble and quake,
Hasten, hasten, it before the first light.

Sorry world, all this was so fleeting, alright,
He has no regrets, no turning back,
If death comes calling tonight,
Hasten, hasten, it before the first light.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Ode on a Grecian Crisis

Thou urn of Gods, Holy Grail, cornucopia
Of learning and poetry harking back to Athenium.
Thou born of wars of Thermopylae and battle of Platea
Fierce battles that raged in seas of Artemisium.
Thou art bankrupt, now begging for succour from Germany
Can’t believe this fate has fallen on the country of Herodotus.
Failed state, basket case they say of thy finances
What happened to the vanquishers of the army of mighty Darius?
Stories of thy valour and munificence there are many,
Narratives sprung from Epistles lacking in nuances.

Dost thou have no money to pay thy pensioners?
Have thou no resources to manage thy historic debts?
What of the poor and destitute and thy farmers?
Dost thou have money to pay thy commanders and cadets?
Thy combined forces under Leonidas defeated Persia,
Routed the navy of Persians under thy warrior Themistocles.
Athens and Sparta were once thy prosperous kingdoms,
Wisdom was once disbursed by thy son the great Socrates.
Thou could have created a mighty empire throughout Asia,
Yet thou were satisfied to lord over thine own fiefdoms.

Yes we have heard of the great Agamemnon and Helen,
Sure we have read about the great warrior Achilles.
But, today, world economy is dominated by Janet Yellen
And the men who work in the White Houses on Capitol Hills.
Did you forget you were the world’s first democracy?
Or, did you forget your ancestors’ great history?
Have you forgotten Achilles’ fury over death of Patroclus,
As told by Homer in Iliad, your grandest story?
If you don’t think this is all myth-making and hypocrisy?

Then go to Germany and Europe and settle your dues.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Meet Mr. John Nobody

(With apologies to Poet Dom Moraes)
Glad to meet you, poet born to somebody, Cheeky jowls, languid hair, and plump of body, With glasses slipping down your nose, A receding chin and lips as a wilted rose.
Alright, you lived for poetry and prose, A life sacrificed at the altar lachrymose, You married beautiful women and left them, Because, bored of them you soon became.
You were anointed; you were God’s child, Your verses were mellow, but were angst filled, The pages of history’s sinister happening, You chronicled without a sigh or sorrowing.
They called you a promising child prodigy, It’s so sad your life ended in tragedy, Writing in flawless iambic pentameter, While drinking liquor in bottles by the litre.
Though your life was troubled, t’was not bad, I know of unread poets who have gone mad, You confidently walked the road of fame, Nobody said an unkind word, or, of shame.
The world in which you travelled and wrote, These days is full of show and self-promote, Today poetry slammers face audience in anger, In their minds no any compassion linger.
Now, please, meet Mr. John Nobody, Writer of vain and vapid prosody, Bearer of considerable self-inflicted pain, Singer of many a rock-star-poets’ refrain.
He is a poet of utter nothingness, Prone to long bouts of carelessness, He writes poems that no one publishes, To save him from ignominy and the blushes.
Once in a while he makes a few submissions, Which come back replete with outright rejections, How then would he make a poet’s pre-eminence, Before he reaches his state of senescence.
In writers’ fora he has tarried too much, Closed poetry circles he tried vainly to breach, But the bitch goddess wouldn’t post a smiley, On his attempt to essay metaphor and simile.
John Nobody thinks there was life on Mars, And it self-destructed in a few millennial years, Likewise life here on earth is not eternal, It’s only a few years from an atomic infernal.
So, John Nobody doesn’t mind much the anonymity, He constantly absents from events with regularity, When he dies, he says, don’t grieve, instead, drink Moet, On his grave write, “He doesn’t mind being re-born a poet.”

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Guns and Cameras

These days, gunfire and cameras
make the same sound:
One kills; the other
what comes first?
I don’t know.

In these extreme days,
when guns crackle in snow and heat,
the cameras pan,
debris and dead bodies.
Those that didn’t face
the cold steel metal, say:
“It was me,”
“It was me,”
“that the bullet missed.”
Why? I don’t know.

Those days before Kalashnikovs,
and Berettas were invented
killing a man was called murder
“Lock ‘im up,”
“Lock ‘im up.”
Nowadays the military-industrialists,
kill millions,
yet, we hail them as keepers of democracy.

These days gunfire and cameras
make the same sound:
One kills; the other
what comes first?
I don’t know.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Nirbhaya – The Beast Is Out on the Street

Nirbhaya, that night were you shy,
To go on a date with a guy?
What did you wear for them to complain?
Was it too short, too long, or, profane?

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

To your parents you were like a son
They were happy the day you’re born.
The eldest one to carry their burden
When all this happened, of a sudden.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

Millions of hearts grieved your passing
Thousands lined up at India Gate chanting.
But, can they bring you back, I ask?
From the other world, no easy task.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

The gruesome details we have read
On television shows it was shared.
They tore your insides with an iron rod
The beasts laughed when you cried out loud.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
His manner is rakish and upbeat
He is hungry for his daily treat.

They put the juvenile in a centre for correction
How will he right the damage, beg your pardon?
They let him out with cash and sewing machine
Into the streets where he spilled your intestine.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

Thousands still grieve when they say your name
Men bow their repentant heads in shame.
That’s because a beast lurks in every man
A savage beast that can’t resist a woman.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

The beast is going into the streets again
Unrepentant and ready to rape and malign.
He is insolent they say in the papers
He will do the same with girls and lovers.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

At India Gate they hold slogans and prepare
To scream themselves hoarse and despair.
The savage is out again, radiant in lust
Get away, stay away from this recidivist.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Homs, Syria, 2016

Today, Homs, Syria
stretches for miles without gates,
a field without a fence
nothing worth protecting.
Anyone can walk in holding a gun,
and plunder its treasures,
rape its women,
and radicalise its children.
Homs is a ghost city
wiped clean from the map,
its walls bombed back to the stone age,
its neighbourhoods and street names,
turned to debris and dust.

Homs perchance was
my imaginary ancestors' birthplace,
and tears roll down when i see,
Homs, my ancestral land, today,
torn and twisted by bombs and mortar,
crumpled buildings, empty doorways,
vacant spaces where people lived,
and fled, in utter panic,
from death, rape, and terror.

Those people, those refugees,
"boat people," "tent people," without rights,
want to lead a normal boring life,
like the rest of us,
and, find a place to cry and stifle sobs.
For them Homs, Syria, was once
a city of sunny streets and languid squares,
beside the beautiful Qattinah lake,
on the banks of the Orontes river,
built by Roman maurauders,
alas! no more, destroyed by another.

In Homs, Syria, my ancestral land,
nothing moves, nothing except maniacal metal,
from barrels cast from steel.
The vestiges of its culture are torn down,
churches and mosques are but rubble,
there are no homes, roads, or, parks,
schools have been shut long ago,
and desks have been burnt,
and children woken from sleep
by singeing fires and crash of concrete
and told to go wash their faces in fire.

Neither do I want to visit Homs,
nor, do i want to walk its streets,
it’s a ghost city when darkness falls,
nary a mongrel's barks there,
or, morning chirps of birds,
it’s not home to anybody,
its water poisoned by death,
its fields planted with gelatine mines,
it's said there are more land mines,
than blades of grass.

It’s a wasteland, this once thriving city,
which its inhabitants abandoned,
they say it’s the new biblical exodus,
of Moses, Aaron, and Joshua,
leading Israelites into the promised land,
Where peace still remains elusive.
Across the seas in the coldest of lands,
they wait in long lines in the rain and cold
to rebuild their lives,
wash, clean, and cook,
send children to schools,
waiting to be given visas and work permits,

to re-build new colonies and ghettos.