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Who is this hooded man? The women are at their frivolous pursuits At lake, with a shameless crow on the tree. Soon the crow will be black in wistful air With a princess’ jewel, to women’s shouts, Their delicate fingers pointing to the sky. There is a Krishna- flippancy to the crow That flies away with a jewel hiding shame. The women walk on their hushed whispers. The hooded man seems a crow running away With the princess’ beauty on rising bosom That went up and down on the golden jewel. He is in fact a self-redeeming black soul A bored painter of languid women of myth. These women are figures from his canvas Bored with pointing fingers at crows in sky. (Raja Ravi Verma’s painting: Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: raja ravi verma's painting, who is this hooded man

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Scraping the night I have to be a cat scraping the night Confusing between idea and thing. You may call me a soft landing cat On night’s tin roof with no hot feet. Its corrugations collect windy leaves Having lost the previous day’s sun. The cat is missing and since gone . Rain snakes overflow corrugations With blowing yellow leaves to floor. But the cat is messing and not gone With a kitten held by a loose scruff. Mom cat is searching for other night On another hot roof, in scalded feet. Kitten turns small night’s scraping. The scraping of the night is a sound In the inner lobe of an ear’s poems. Cats are poems on your hot tin roof They sky-drop and flow as rain waters Snaking through night’s corrugations. (A gentle recall of Raja Rao’s novel The Cat and Shakespeare) Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: scraping the night

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Money Times we feel warm and upbeat in pants With money ,as with pebbles from beach Near a sand castle built on our child foot. We bring home pockets of cash to forget Hot flushes, our years hot with knowing. We know oldies with their gleam in eyes About certain money schemes hatching Gold ducks , the gold from duck stomachs Dropping as Sunday’s eggs in bare fundas. And later, on four shoulders towards dust, The gleam would go home to their sunsets Beyond rocks, their children smiles gone. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: money

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White clouds In that sky, like preternatural birds , Lay soft white clouds, full of rain Drops for red roses by the lakeside Lying in wait for somebody ‘s car Boot to pick up so as to lie in wait With the wet clothes on balconies. The white clouds are wet clothes Hung by the sky gods for drying. As they drip-drop they will turn rain Drops on lake roses lying in wait For cars to pick up, to lie in wait On balconies with drying clothes. Meanwhile , soft white clouds will Turn temporary cat’s eyes peering Down in our camera’s pure view To lie in wait permanently in eyes. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: white clouds

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The god of the hills All the machinery is there ,a siren’s blow A blade, a voice to the right, some words. The blade cuts through ice, mud and lies Saying it is words from the night, a sleep. It is bodies in their own words from space A chopper on its way down , men stopping Short, other people living and some dead For a hill visibility that is missing from life. Silence is all ,a stone phallus in the hills Snug in the cave ,a light from earth lamp A blue and dusted god with a river in hair And a moon no longer super, far from us. Words are his dreams, a god in snow hills, A god submerged in the stream of his wife. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: the god of the hills

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Stages It turned out their world was not a stage But many stages as players looked down Their eyes popping out in disbelief about The growing years of mustache and glory Turning to mud , in cloud dust and rumble. A handful was the rat-slime about a temple That turned eyes to pearls, passing stages. And nothing of them that doth change but Doth suffer a river change, a rat that came Crawling from the trapped valley of a glacier. (Thousands of pilgrims to the Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath and Badrinath have perished ,caught in a flash flood triggered by a cloud burst : Those are pearls that were his eyes Nothing of him that doth change But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange The tempest : William shakespeare Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: stages

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The super-moon My super-moon drifted away to its sleep Behind rain-clouds ,while a super-mom Danced away blues on the small screen. Big bright orb was ghost on another sky. My purest view had to be near a guess Behind rain – cloud, a dastardly destroyer Of men in folded prayers on the snow hills. A moon ghost became far from my truth With men and trees across its luminosity, Ghosts of men and dark trees in a breeze Violently disagreeing with its astral views. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: super moon

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The jungle flower Near the lazy rock and its green sky A jungle flower would bloom whitely Like whirring wheel of a firecracker, A toothed wheel of tiny locomotion. The breeze stirred its shape into many, With false feet of anthers , disheveled Hair of dancing to a morning breeze. Near its heart is a dash of soft orange Set in a white crystal of perfect view, With contrapuntal note by brown bee Hovering to a hesitant landing away From prying camera for macro views. The rock rose grandly to a summer sky Looking down on a single jungle flower A white pride in its green rock bottom. The bee landed briefly on bee outlines, Many shapes vaguely embracing bee. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: the jungle flower

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Well being Like the old poet we had a well to look in With a bucket lowered gently to touch its Perturbed waters in their broken moons. Midnight was fearsome with green snakes Lurking in ghostly hibiscus trees standing. A boy in knickers could not bend too low For fear in belly, with no Narcissus -love. Fear perked up like a piece of balcony sky And crawled in half-pants to feet below. The bucket fell to it with deep dull thud As its rope had slithered down a pulley Like a vague water snake searching frogs. The waters came up to sprinkle moons In tiny puddles on the stone saucer rim. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: well being

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Sleep Sleep is not doing nothing with body But a possibility of switching off Like for instance in sleeping with. You have to sleep with a possibility, A metaphor for love that kills sleep. Just when you turn a blind corner At the corner tree in a windy dance You sleep off your wind in the hair. The wind gone the hair still stands As piece of avant garde reporting. You only have to sleep once with And not do anything with the wind. What we mean sleep we mean with. Or if you please, we may agree to off, And not alone in a midnight pillow. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: sleep

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Agape While at the stand we keep wondering With mouths agape, forgetting to close. All the time we ask immortality forgetting To desire eternal youth to fading bodies. The cicada keeps its mighty mouth open Its sounds a never ending stream of youth. We open our drawers only to keep them Wide and agape as our mouths wonder. Wonder never ceases while youth is gone. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

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Own My own thing is this very empty space Since nobody has claimed this as own Like the dog on a leash claiming his , Shouting at tree’s silences in corners. The cricket claims his own in the bush And around a forgot house on the lake, Now a grand view of buzz- mosquitoes. Poems are buzz- mosquitoes owning all This piece of unreal estate at midnight. Their shrill cries are documents of title. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: own

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Lines A few red spots turn lines as a sun dies. They are on a body flying southwards. Birds are white spots under fingernails. Fingers flutter wings to call birds down. Tiny red spots disappear from a dusk sky And the body turns to sky at a soft dusk And azure, beyond a brown rock of lake. The lake swirls around the birdless rock And the rock swirls around a birdless sky As the birds turn fingers fluttering wings Calling other birds down from a dusk sky. Birds are now white spots, v’s on canvas May be lines from white spots in fingers. Sky is a line joining white spots of birds. The rock is a line living in the lake’s line . Sky is a fine line living above a lake’s line. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: lines

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Smile Just this happiness wish at the street corner With no birthday in cakes and songs on lips, As you coast along on a floating noise of feet. A smile curves at lips corner near silver hair. Today is not even your birthday but could be. Who knows somebody is smiling in your back. I for one smile behind my back at your corner. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: smile

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Inchoate In the hours before a night crashes Our meanings are formed as wings. Wings are a shambles of flimsy art Exquisite art of a silver filigree done In sleep and dreams between sleep, The mothwings left on a rainy night. Marginal words are inchoate ideas A shambles of thought , a silver filgree Of wings that pile up like fallen leaves To be scooped up the next morning To throw away behind a white wall. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: inchoate

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The wild elephant The tribal guide would not not let us down Into the crunch of leaves and tiger pawprints. From such height you can see the mountains. The secret is to hold on and not let it move To mountains over thorns , low-slung bushes With blue clouds at the top presaging storm. Witout ankush it takes us to the inner animal Wth trees uprooted, mountains pulled nearer Without the dusk shining from the rear flanks. Muthu teaches us to wield ankush to it to go Where we want to go, to the blue mountains. (The mind is a rider on an elephant. ‘My own mind used to wander wherever pleasure or desire or lust led it, but now I have it tamed, I guide it, as the keeper guides the wild elephant-Buddha) Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: the wild elephant

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Cats in the clouds Rainless and cotton-white it had turned A whiskered cat staring down from eye Over the spiked antenna of the neighbor A picture of a ghostly vision of a feline. How can it disappear from my picture? It is as if cloud cats jump walls to disappear In the bushes to the other side of tree. The eye-hole stays but the rest of the cat Has gone , cat-silent and rubber-footed . A cloud-eye is what remains of its ghost. Cats disappear from the virtual picture The same way as they do in the real sky. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: cats in the clouds

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Closure The dad’s absence hole is waiting closure Of a grief never felt, yet staying open in The space between us and a body’s sleep. We live alongside a grief’s body staring At the ceiling fan that has never buzzed. The fan was never really meant to buzz For the tiny blood flowing up and down, A bundle of baby flesh shrieking closure. The gaping mouth in its mother’s breast Stays open for closure of grief never felt. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: closure

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The hibiscus We have never looked deep in its heart It carries at the top waving in the breeze Loving a bee and the colors of butterfly. Cognition names it hibiscus for poems But poems are no hibiscus, with anther, At summit sprinkling pollen on breeze. Airy creatures will land on the summit. They will make it a hibiscus pure view For a stamen to nod in excited whispers For the breeze to carry a floral message. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: the hibiscus

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Password You say it and shall pass like Change of guard in Elsinore fort. But the lockbar does not slide Like half-open toothless mouth . You shall remember who mom Had been before her marriage. You remember mom all the way Before she was dead and gone Further back to silly giggling girl Before she had worn that finery To her new life, your new birth. Her own lockbar opened to enter The half-open toothless mouth With a password open sesame. One always forgets it to return. The captcha is hard to decipher. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: password

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The silver mountain The silver mountain disclosed answers To a meditating saint in its deep recess Now sky blue with priests interceding For us on behalf of a phallic stone god. Then were no blue – red painted pillars Enclosing people bathing phallus gods With smooth gluey banana milk paste, Just a saint and his god in banyan trees Sprouting from silver recesses for wind. The saint would look for beauty in jungle And in silver mountains, on his cross-legs Blinded by a gold of sun , a child’s doubts A flicker in the mind like a child’s smile. We search beauty in blue stone pillars Climbing kitschy colors engulfing men. Their beauty flows in white guey paste Around phallus gods in silver mountain. The mountain is no more silver but blue With white clouds about it as gluey paste. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: the silver mountain

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Conversation We did little to further the conversation. Our gestures would vanish in the wet air, Our gait formal and awkward in the sand As cactii bloomed between legs of dogs. Stray dogs jumped and ran to other dogs Beyond the mound, to fishermen’s shacks The shacks that sported colorful garments Before the conversant sea of fishing nets. The nets broke off ongoing converation Between moluscs and hole drilling-crabs Making drag-marks as if of formal nets, Nets broken like holes in mosquito nets Letting in mosquitoes to buzz near ears. The sky stretched like a drying garment Broke in holes to let in sea-conversation With a moon that would listen endlessly. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: conversation

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Unread I would better smell the unread growing To a huge pile of golden straw at dusk In a read later’s vast continuum of sky. The gold shall disappear at early dawn When a whole new pile appears to smell Fresh dew-wet straw scraping the blue. We always remain unread straw people. We are for demolishing our straw piles To wear their hats in our literary leisures But always put it off to tomorrow’s dusk. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: unread

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Enema All this sadness is hers and not mine It is her kneecap that is not working To climb the stairs powered by a lift Not working now , sadly, out of power. This sadness is hers she refuses to own And passes it to me nursing my own, My own sadness congealed in blood As the general sadness of humankind. Sadness is not hers but enema maker’s Pain in the arse is mankind’s, not hers. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: enema

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Phone gossip We call it the possibility of a happening A language of thought, of a meditation A way of happening, not just an event As the phone unfurls on a pair of ears. We construct life ,wall by wall ,corridors In empty spaces of language and speech. In the graybeards exist many possibilities To hymns, God-invocations and silences. The phone vibrates a silence of thought By hand gestures, a pantomime on wall. The ears speak actions jumping on wall, As eyes remain screwed to their ghosts. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: phone gossip

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The reluctant old man In the beginning it would sound funny Like the short squat cries of brown birds That have come back to a roost season. Any old man has got to look ridiculous And feel it so in short squat bird cries. He did not feel that awkward before birth Why now before a locomotive of a disease That will carry him to the little black dots On starred skies’ map, like dots of towns On a lazy map lying stretched to eternity. Disease takes him there chugging clackety But on foot the old man is rather reluctant. (For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it. But to look at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots of a map representing towns and villages. Why, I ask myself, should the shining dots of the sky not be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? If we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. One thing undoubtedly true in this reasoning is this: that while we are alive we cannot get to a star, any more than when we are dead we can take the train. So it doesn’t seem impossible to me that cholera, gravel, pleurisy & cancer are the means of celestial locomotion, just as steam-boats, omnibuses and railways are the terrestrial means. To die quietly of old age would be to go there on foot.”)

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The driver’s mustache A wide and long handlebar mustache Trembled with life and a car smoothly Flowed as life, driving its bloody heart But one morning as the sun would rise Its blood trickled down to its last sand. Two plastic tubes could smooth its flow But tubes are the commerce of medicine That flows smoothly, on warm pockets. And the mustache had to stop quivering With all emotion as pockets went cold.

Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: the driver's mustache

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Derelict On the upper story is telltale remainder Of a fine smile of yesteryears , a direct Message from Christ, a new shiny star In plastic paper in light, gently swaying To December wind’s Christmas carols A fine celebration over christmas cupcake By rubber man now south with daughter Grown and graceful, a fine Maria of angel A lily fragrant from a monsoon breaking. Our heads are derelict , carrying ruined Walls from yesteryears flaked off by rain Accumulated rain of bitter experiences But the remnants still sport a life-giving A green plant shooting from derelict space. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: derelict

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Grass lily A bearded yankee sang of leaves of grass But where were its flowers bursting in color? A bulb of ego can sprout in verse and sky As water would hit India’s bottom of wind Its hills shedding the tears of a virgin’s loss. The grass lily’s color hits you in the navel And leaves you dazed , prostate and flailing Just woke from a sleep of temporary fugue. When in camera view , it is unearthly color Far away from rainbow’s seven or combo A view where flowers are simply overstated. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: grass lily

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Waterfall Nothing about it is permanent except Going over edge in the gondwana plain A ninety feet drop in an abyss of spray A fog of death ‘s hell, a brimstone frame Serrated like winter sky , a green bush Hanging slowly, now here , now gone. Go down to the hellish depths,in its fog. Look your eyesight up to a pure white Streak from an old sky, a permanent sky Holding no permanent water ,but a fall A fall dizzily impermanent, set in its blue. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: waterfall

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Full Is there a thing that is full like a ripeness That is all, of seasons , through the year I ask in eyes full with factory made tears, As tears do not flow back in drain mesh. The eyes are full of an optimism of night. Night is full with absence of sleep and wind. Wind is full with a rainy optimism from hills. Life is full with language and no currency. Currency is half-full with its hope and faith. The night is full with a stick tapping sound. The earth makes sounds with a watchman. Night watchman’s mouth makes its sounds With a blow whistle at a night of fullness. Life is full with words and sounds and lines As fruit to be dropped any time in fulness In season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: full

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Tea In afternoons we drank tea that rose In mild hot vapors from our deep cup Sweet to a severe tongue of scalding, Woken up from a sour belly’s dreams Of a fearful afternoon of midsummer. Tea would go into hiding behind bushes Waking in afternoons of female hands Deft for plucking, tongues busy crying. Three leaves and bud go back, to baskets Like dreams plucked one by one in sleep For tea- taste by expert tongue and finger. Only the best would pass the test leaving The unselected crying in afternoon sleep. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: tea

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Chain The words will go on as eternity chain Linking endless skies of watery nights, Words trickling down from dark nights . Words that have been stars shimmering In sleep’s crevices , in its secret places, Words not coming out wearing a meter But a plain rhythm like water falling off The leaking faucet at the midnight hour. I share their eternity in this being chain The awful sounds of an alphabet’s music Like graffiti on the city’s rocks in lakes As birds whiten them with fevered flights. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: chain

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Bokeh At least the finite will keep the breath intact In the end , till the mountains in a blue haze The twin hills that seemed to climb the sky For a telltale eagle to beat about the bush. The bush does nothing except to sit pretty The lizard is its home ,a destination comfort An earth not moving away to a far off near. Bushes do not move but think as if to move But not to a shocking loss of their finiteness To indifferent infinity of hills not being there. In a bokeh of a pure view I shall fix the focus Round the lizard to rescue bush and myself From the infinity of a bare naked visual field. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: bokeh

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The library With not much of a sugar in the eye And nothing coated with sweetness It is a vestigial fear of rain and clouds As the books stack up to the infinity From a hyphenated to a seeing sky Whose stars turn sand grains of sea , Each a microcosm writ from a night. Books can contain anything of light They take away your breath smartly As eyes adjust to their intense light. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: the library

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Bones At times hard facts would touch our tiny feet As they flipped charred bone pieces in the sand From freshly smoked men , in spirals of smoke. The waters shimmered down skirting the hill Through the upright palms on the other side Nodding their vigorous heads to newer bones On their way to the river bed to turn smoke. They were fine clay , the shards of burnt earth Only yesterday’s hard facts with their own feet. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: bones

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Absurd She asks death’s lord god to defer his visit Until grandchild’s wedding and her wardrobe. Her travel plumes wait in night’s black-yard. You see his smirk, her admission of defeat As uptight dress is getting ready for journey And a slip is in hand with unknown number. Who is admitting defeat in this waiting game And who will blink first, as her eyes meet his , In this absurd script , written afresh each time With a smirk alternating between him and her? Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: absurd

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Sleep in a train These are my real things born of a sleep The real objects existing out of my sleep On disembodied walk with a lonely train In its tracks continuing to its gray gravel Endlessly as my own objects , that have Borne the brunt of temporary existence. My existence is temporary to the train And the gravelly things hitting its bottom, Sparks that fly off its wheels as tangents, Temporary things but real sleep things , Light sculptures in the night of the train. Sleep is light sculpture in a night of sky. The train’s light beam is sleep flying off, A temporary thing waking from the night. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: sleep in a train

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The broken world In the night we collect pieces of a broken world For the after-life of a body promised, an illusion Of seeing, a rainbow now shimmering, now gone . The world’s whole remains shattered to this day A sound broken in parts, a color diffused to sky. There is the body gone to the mountain breeze Broken from our world, away from our touching. Let us sing of this broken world, its shattered sky The silhouette of a body disappearing to sunset A song broken from breeze, a broken mountain . Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: the broken world

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Breeze The child wind is a spirit, like the fallen leaf That rolls along towards the earth’s infinity Riddled with false matter from its past sky. The mischief maker touches human cheeks Provoking them to endless fits of kiddy mirth With the hair falling loosely about like grass Unfurled in the hours before a wind gets it . Breeze is no laughing matter in a hand fan, Nor in trees shaking with excess sunshine On the days when mercury rises in the glass. Shake trees , will you? asks nostalgic mom, Her sultry despair climbing hard nut trees Looking for child of the wind in neem trees. Actually it is found shaking a polythene bag In a bedraggled bush, just outside of the city. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: breeze

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Fairy tales It looks you are through with the stock Of fairy tales told in the evening hour As the night’s stars appear one by one To occupy their positions in the hall. A soft breeze will stir in jasmine bush From evening’s wetness of fresh leaves And come to far reaching conclusions As to the prince finally saving the dame So everyone is duly happy at hall’s end. The hall is empty with the stars coming One by one, as your breeze gently stirs In the flower bush and the garden lizard Looks at your waiting for the next move. The lizard is your own word in the offing. Your reasons are a grand abeyance show As the lizard is waiting for the next move And a prince moves ahead on horseback Toward everyone’s happiness of wedding. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: fairy tales

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Interior The softness of its textures is my possibility A skilled assembly of corners in my space. Here I create space as time’s multiplication, In wind-blown doors and curtained windows Brushing palpable wind, the colors of prism. The colors are my ghostly existence outside, A sun dwelling in my senses, ruffling my hair Creating dark patches of my exfoliated skin. The sun lives in my interior as room partner , An extension of space through several times. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: interior

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Faith All that is wrong is righted in the body. Several things keep fighting in its liquid. A tiny new mess of creatures will trigger Fisticuffs and liquid risings in red blood. They are not welcome to add to its heat As the mercury is rising in a piece of glass And we are highly helpless in our blood. A fierce lady comes over new neem leaves Her tongue sticking out, our own mother. She rules our tiny creatures who shall go At her leafy touch, her tongue sticking out. She will right all that is wrong in the body In smoke and incense, in a few body shakes. The creatures shall leave at her command. The mercury shall no more rise in our blood. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: faith

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Water They say we are ninety percent of water. We are hydro-static about it naturally, In our grand ecstasy of a tongue touching The back of the throat shouting hoarsely. The throat goes kaput as our ten percent Turns a notch up, to form a series of holes In earth pot for throwing our ten percent In streams flowing , as water to the earth And a part of ten per cent to fire and sky. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: water

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Frame The yellow leaf is not an autumn leaf Before falling to the pure view frame. When inside the frame it will not fall Like the painted leaf of the story one. Only outside will it fall and loosely off. The gold of it arises from a sunrise Of the balcony, in shadows to form, Birds forming to wake on the house. And when they do they are little v’s Painted in the gold of a dawn’s sky. Just juxtapose yellow leaf with paper, The paper of a pink flower trembling As in deep cold before a soft breeze. You now have pink plus yellow frame In the slightly inebriated morning sky Without its native hues of resolution. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: frame

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And you All night these very ants are working In the computer on their white stuff, Data packets ,bits and bytes on back Their back turns heavy , a leaden back Of sorrows in holes, a night left behind. The day will begin with your magical Line drawn round to keep them away You will take your little pesticide stick To draw a round charmed inner line As your lips will tremble with words. Your words shall disappear with ants At dawn, as their holes are filled again With new white stuff , sorrows brought In endless new lines on internet wires Taking data parcels below their bodies. And you are left behind, your silly words. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: and you

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Balance What have they done, these tiny ants, To her inner bone ear of many years Of waiting not to die and turn fossil? Ants too do not want to die but wait, As they crawl a mouse-pad and mind In the smallness of our larger years. Wonder how they keep their balance. The ears are used to determine years Of fish, that have their otoliths intact. Can we know the ants’ years by ears? Wonder if ants have ears as they walk. But one thing is clear in our own ear. They seem in collusion with maggots. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: balance, otoliths

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Culture in dust You bring up the great Gatsby in an old jacket In layers of dust on hard backs writ in fingers Surprise flowers in dust, not fully gathered yet But soon turning a sticky mess in earth’s crust. A silent man of movie turns away from sound He thinks is a mere fad that will go away to sky. You bring up the silent movie of people talking In slow eyes , exaggerated gestures and drawls. Culture is flowers in dust, a sticky mess indeed. Old man Borges imagined rows of books to roof, And their content spread in his blind mind’s eye . No longer is rows of dusty books left to imagine. Books are electrical worms crawling in handsets. Culture is no more flowers in dust but plastic stuff That is immortal like a polythene bag that rustles In a morning breeze, for ever on a wayside bush. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: culture in dust

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Mother’s day Some times it pays to think without bones The arm crook of sleeping mom with her kid My own head that is still bones nested in flesh. A pot that had held her silence is my memory, A river of purification in a boat, from behind As I would hurl her silence in revving waters , To return to the shore with no looking back. This night I look back to hear her lip silence, From up there in the wall looking down at me. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: mother's day

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Pure View The pure view envelops the light within Weaving darkness around core of being. Leaf around leaf promises a deep flower Nestled in contrast, a fierce independence Untrammeled by a reality check of color. The color is moss green away from pink. Pink is leaf around leaf, petal after petal. The pink reinforces a forced moss-green Of leaves mimicking tiny ground leaves Of slippery earth surfaces , rained walls. Men are daubed in pink, women in russet. Sun turns blushing red, a bleeding shame. The trees soar leaf after leaf, to a blue sky. The sky turns pure view, cloud after cloud. Pure view is nature brazenly imitating art. ( Taking pictures from Nokia Pure View 41 MP camera phone is pure joy , an act of willing suspension of disbelief) Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: pure view

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The music of flowers The petals ranged against a centrality To a pitch of thought, flowing sideways. While a song was perfect for their bees Their fragrance was a rhythm of paper, A pink paper of written needles piercing An invisible space,an early morning fog. Pink -white petals fell one on the other To the earth of everyone’s muddy refuge. Their music was funeral in loud trumpet. Their color rustled against a broken sky. Their earthly sojourn will be a whimper A brief shout , to whoever it may concern. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: the music of flowers

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Paper flower A pink bougainvillea would spread out On a dumb computer that is far from Excited over its chromatic extravaganza. A crackling paper petal leaves you cold With no scent of the neighbor jasmine. The paper petal is surrogate for a poem, Especially after flower falls to the earth And is not a sticky mess in mud,valiantly Fighting your and its earthly ephemerality For days on end in the morning breeze. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: paper flower

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Ekphrasis- a quarry in ruins This time we did not go to the twin sister hills. We changed our track to a clearing in the rocks Towards the long arms of a dead stone quarry As gloomy machines poked an enormous sky. The quarry holes shimmered down somewhere Accumulating rain water that came and went Through monsoon and summer , rain and sun. The machines fell silent like holes they had dug Now accumulating dead time in their emptiness. Their twisted arms now gather the rusts of time. The holes they made to the silence of the hills Have vanished in the quarry’s bottomless history . A green mosque stood by a silver oak in prayer. Its walls whisper noon prayers , with lips gone. (An ekphrasis is a verbal representation of a visual representation, a sort of art on art, an effort to fuse together space and time. The poem is a verbal representation of an essentially spatial experience of photography, a visual experience of a visit to a condemned stone quarry) Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: a quarry in ruins, ekphrasis

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The daily routine Your daily routine shall keep you alive And not unusually dead on some days When you are with cats play-acting sleep. All you do is stare and stare and stare From the whites of your opalescent eyes Their tears fed by ophthalmic drops. Just imagine what it is like to be dead To watch yourself alive as if a haystack Rising from a brown earth to a blue sky. Near a shaved tree ,the eyes look dead, Shriveled up like autumn on the earth. Morning of the poet awakens promptly To take his medicine and goes to sleep Without loss to complete a daily routine. The poems would rise to a glassy sky Broken like eyes crinkled in a wan smile. (…on a typical day in the last year of William Burroughs’s life he would awaken in the early morning and take his methadone (he became re-addicted to narcotics in New York in 1980, and was on a maintenance program the rest of his life) and then return to bed…)

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/05/06/william-s-burroughs-da Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

56


Space The way a new space crowded in on us It was time that it had stifled our throats Leaving no chinks in our space for breath. Space will soon go out of breath in sky. The sky will go out of breath in a spoof. We zoom into frontiers of space in hills Where they sit unmoved and breathing. A touch will bring them forward to minds Overwhelming us to breath, like a woman That stifles breath in a preternatural hug. We now close space with the finger’s flick. Space will overfly us in Ganga over head. We hold our breath to experience its lack. Space flows over us in preternatural time. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

57


The pigeons Their slow guter-gu dragged the day endlessly On mid-day’s napping children waiting vaguely To walk the hot sands of a dry river to the boat. They had made their family that season in twigs Brought from the guava tree of our neighbors. They marked time to this old time of the years Filled with gray smoked memories of a woman Who had fed children with love in cashew nuts. Her nuts would leave fragrances of roasted love Mixed with an endless guter- gu of the pigeons From their holed coop built on the barn’s wall As it overflowed with a neighbor’s annual rice. They flew in our faces from pictures of a river-sea In the very space where they would live with cows And monks donning ocher robes to sea temples. They flew in our faces from the tombs of sultans While they mapped their sleeping places in white. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: the pigeons

58


Mere Past savannas, across the green horse-pastures With the snowed hills rising above them quietly And in several landscapes, one is moon-struck By a mere, just a mere semantic, the keyword. The keyword is mere, from the poet’s struggle Like the artist who begins to paint with his words. Moon comes in just like that, like a pink Indiana Of cartographic need, the chosen color of map. Just and mere are freely interchangeable words. A poem has to rise from somewhere in the word. Like words are , poems are mere chance events Abetted by mere absence of the definitive article. Poems are made from mere individuality of words Each of them carrying their unique life histories, Being rebels for cause, to beat the crap out of life. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: mere

59


The grandchild’s marriage The trees fall silent to the air-conditioner In a silence of aliveness that is a pause to live To shriek out your existence of omnipotence. You scream and you exist beyond the bridge, With lung power to shout out death’s silence. This silence drowns the awkward sounds of life. A grandchild’s marriage is the very pause in life To re-validate your birth and fleshly continuation A shout from your lungs, a declaration of power. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: the grandchild's marriage

60


The page The page begins herein for me to take up Where I left off in the middle of yesterday A big day to the day’s before, the then page. The day is a page blank and cruelly mindful Impelling a keyboard, the scroll of a night. The page causes a sputter ,a sound in fury Ending up in a spoof, crossing sound barrier, In a dust of sound , a light sawdust of stars. The finite sky is a page left off in the middle. The infinite sky is an endless scroll of pages. Mom is a page torn off from the book of sky, A page that sits on the wall of another page Staring infinitely from endless pages of a sky. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

61


The Gir lion The lion turns head back for a moment As it walks into the shadows of a future. Kierkegard would look backwards to see The future endlessly tied up with the past. You cross a lion’s tracks towards future In dark shadows of the Sasangir forest That hold its vast tracts of past futures. The cowherds who live in the forest there Spot a calm understanding in the lion’s eyes As it looks back each time it walks past. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: gir lion

62


Unusual Unusual and from a bed slept in, Rises a shadow stretching to roof In a light of memories flitting past Like the elephants in the west hills. There is some poetry in the offing . Rather unusual , a film of April heat Envelopes us all like a layer of dust A rubble from an upright building Or earth deep in pain in its nether Spewing rock dust as puff smoke From underground fires of passion, Not yet doused by springs of water. A smart phone aspires to be different To a dumb phone under warm touch. Game is how not to be dumb and old But how to be wise and old in fingers. All said , there is nothing unusual about Fingers stopping to point these things. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

63


Metaphors While trying to understand one thing As another, I call, at night time of day, A picture I get of self loose on things, A body’s nerves taut with expectation , An entire escape bid from plain truths. Their wordy beauty haunts us ghosts And cultivates melancholy in our depths A despair wrought by their otherness Not words, thought whole and round . Words are metaphors for reaching out From a body’s prison, its thought limit. We propose land to buy and border And let imagination set a fancy price In a far future , for gold it will bring. The metaphor of a six by four land plot Comes to us so easily in our borders. Metaphors blur our borders so much. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: metaphors

64


Returning gifts Gifts is what you have always thought of In cellophane and silk with a red cross-knot Of love in many a splendor or a see-through Corruption stench, abuse of company money. Not what your son had when first born then. A gift from mother nature turns dad proud A calculation backward or a rhythm of fingers Or a teenage guitar strumming excess notes. Gifts do not come free like company lunches. You give what you received the last season. His life was a gift from nature like her flowers In colors unsolicited, fragrances of memories. There are no free lunches in business or nature And now is the time to repay by return gifts. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: gifts

65


Going loose Going loose was not just in your pants An old sartorial manner of speaking Where the visual field goes on and on And a foot is loose and a mind is free. The mountains yonder are your other The otherness of you and of the clouds Precipitating to rain not duly falling. The seams in your plates seem showing Like your unzipped pants in the society A fly is open ,not the otherness of insect. In rabid humor fly’s fly is always open. You wear your hell bottoms and hair loose, Singing loose songs to a sleeping society. Your foot is loose, your minds cut loose. You go loose from all and your freedom. The otherness of other is you of old space. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: going loose

66


Almost said Transience of the word is almost said Flashing away in the skull of memory A skull transience, a word transience . A rain rumble is in sky with a mosque A transient loud speaker to west god . A bird transience is their intransigence. Their transience is dawn’s temporary air And likely death a transient fact of birds, A sun rising again with different birds, Different words from the dark of a sun. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

67


The sentence Here the word is a sentence long enough To come to close with no end punctuation. The story will spring from a pad in words As they hop -skip in unconnected spaces. Gregor Samsa ‘s fate is sealed by opening As he turns to wake up on his feet of a bug. His bugness is complete ere story is born. Words are stories of latent possibilities A random word screws up a perfect story With no room for the guy to use free will. Free will ,my bug foot, a determined mind Says ,turning its vermin body to the side Much before its story is born in the bed. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

68


The ritual We love a gray time frame encircling Our activities from sunrise to sunset With a day in between, for dreaming Our eyes closed with cows and things. A certain poetess watches cows until They drop away from her line of vision, She and her lady accompanist in hills. An invisible frame encloses us always A shell that drags along round a snail The very shell that makes it feel warm Within ,with its tiny feet duly drawn up . Do we leave drag marks on the beach? Only for the seas to wipe them away. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

69


The messenger The messenger carries hardly any messages, Wearing a red sash across waist and a brass , Only large-sheaved ledgers, with seams gone. The messenger is forbid to peer into a ledger Under instant amnesia but is duly authorized To imagine insects of figures across its pages. A red slash traverses end to end of his torso And a fine burnished plate softly glistens to it, A proud moment , albeit carrying no messages Only bulky ledgers with tiny figures crawling Across pages, with no meaning for the bearer. Messengers carry no meaning , only ledgers. Ledgers have no meaning for the messenger Except to earn a few annas for a daily bread That have far more meaning than big figures Crawling inside the red large-sheaved books. But the insects at times crawl into his pockets Tickling insides, a situation of some discomfort. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

70


Spring rain Spring rain is just my suggestion As the midnight dog’s barks balk At an earthy smell of rain in turns And bells chime in windy response All our life is unending visual field And now hers as it closes, a spirit Going over shopping and a failure Of body to stretch eyes beyond it As the rain keeps falling and falling. Rain is a mere sound around ears Not a silver splatter on our cheeks. May be it is not rain but a smoky hill At the end of eyes as they close. Life goes on in flash and hers now As body thinks of rain in the spring Beating unawares around the ears. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

71


Uproar There is nothing stable in our old days With a television uproar, a sea that kills And rolls on as a child’s eyes turn pearls Suffering sea-change as they run deep. But the noise outside is just an uproar That will quieten like the sea out of moon. The child is violated in uproar of the veins. Her green bones ride tumult up and down And sea waves take them down in crowds. Eyes are unsaleable pearls after the uproar. (A 5-year-old was raped and beaten for days before being rescued, police said on Friday) Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

72


Not knowing Dawn is not knowing strident cuckoo And its rain clouds failing to deliver When a wind chimes in from the sky In a stillness that continues with a poet Gloating over not knowing, a seedbed From which new sprouts shall emerge. His darkness persists in not cascading Writing sheets of the night’s thoughts As bird sounds brim to form a dawn. Not knowing is the unmixed blessing Of oversleeping its embedded dreams. Not knowing is a straight face kept up By a fidgeting body ,in a postured chair From which the world unfolds by itself And dawn goes on in birds unmindful. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao

73


Joint and several worlds (Here we are all, by day; by night we’re hurl’d By dreams, each one into a several world. Robert Herrick) We shall now feel sleep in our tired bones And smell its neutral flowers and colors In several worlds beyond the sea breeze. A dwarf god stamps his humongous foot On our bent heads that makes us dizzy With the breathless air of several worlds. By day we are all but by night we are all Hurled headlong into our several worlds. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: joint and several worlds

74


Random I select the random word, a chaos word In a mass of confusion and poetry words The most beautiful world out of a rubble A heap of ideas hid in my random worlds. There is a random world somewhere there From sundry poets of ancient mysticism A geometrical measuring by elegant face A Greek face or a Roman or even a desert Sphinx deep encrusted with history sand . The random world is a real one out there, A heap of delightful chaos , a pile of earth A broken ancient stone, its letters missing. I was there somewhere in utter confusion A random man in the men of the bazaars, Their merchandise a white sugar figurine Sold randomly to a kid’s extended fingers, Only random, merchant , child or figurine A re-assembly, a possible re-combination Or a jumble pulled from ancient memory. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: random

75


Revenge As they run a marathon they have grown old Their meat is faded and a revenge fed is dead They have run to a finish, their boy duly dead Revenge fed is dead to the lost and living beard. You have grown old, your meat is sooner dead The viand flits too soon, your angel light a panic Attack of terror’s grip, a shrapnel flying in trees, A dead sun’s orange , a smoke beyond the grave. (Remembering Emily Dickinson’s poem Mine enemy is growing oldafter the Boston bomb blasts) Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: boston bomb blasts, revenge

76


Attention There is a tiny flower curving at the wall corner A cutesy fan head moving in stillness of shadow An absence of drilling machine sound in window An absence of an insect struggling to come up On all sixes, an insect flying by the flick of a toe. I have to pay attention to syntax and grammar Verbalizing acts, grammar logic, thought breaks The dark of silence, try to make bridges of words And fail to live many presences and their absences. I have to connect insects with fans, sky and wind The presences of things, the sounds of my heart The absence of many things, the words in syntax Words that are flowers curving at the wall corner Insects that are sent flying symmetrically by toe, Windows that have garnered sounds of presences And absences showing up in a vast dark beyond. Yet I have to collect sounds by words in their logic, Sights by their absences, smells by their night sky Move my attention around in a maze of presences And their absences, and maintain my presence. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: attention

77


Notions I have notions that all this will be gone Me gone , they gone and our words gone Only the chimes will remain, their echoes A dust, an amulet for keeping , a residue. Notions are gone like nations , oblations, A water for pouring in rivers of sunrise. Laughing is gone of man beast and bird On a boat in the lone sea and a sky falls In the sea , a breath gone , a body gone. The sea turns dust of the remaining sky. I have notions that all this is not there With the sun and the clouds and the sky Falling in the sea, in their fit of laughing The wind sporadic from the mountains. Mountains are not there in the horizon The horizon is a notion from our dreams Embedded in old mountains not there. Notions are not there when bodies gone. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: notions

78


Apprehensions At the day’s end there is slight twitch of body A contortion of the soul, a pre- occupied mind As a white wall rises with the sun on its top And the trees have dis-appeared to overlook. A job is upgraded to nay-say of recession plan Now a fear of not being there as the sun rises. Hold on ,we have multiple reasons vibrating As fears turn shaky like several thumbprints One on the other to reinforce a sleep- heavy Night’s ruin of dreaming sleep by mosquitoes. Use your hand to swat them flying on cheeks. Their blood is yours in the veins, full of flight. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: apprehensions

79


Zebras We are just thinking about real zebras In the dark continent , in a thick forest And in the light , speckled by the dark. A predator sees zebras in a slow fuck, Pistons of loosely motioned shadows Thickening in an afternoon of the forest Like zebra stripes after the smiling act. The zebras tend to smile after the act And some times before , in anticipation. Their camouflage acts fine when smiles Are mistaken for tiny shadows moving On the floor of the forest in dry leaves. After the act no difference exists in smile Between the zebra’s and its predator’s. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: zebras

80


Residue Our ash and residue you may scoop up here To collect a bag of bones meant for your river In early mornings of sleep lost to a stomach. Irony is what is felt in bone marrow in a bag, A supreme chill of Alaskan cold, as in a snow With crystal ice streams,where it is so clear And so transparent below fishes swimming And jumping over the waters of destruction. The stories are tied up with all the anecdotes The irony is too explicit for poems in words. Residue does not leave you longing for truth. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: residue

81


Images Images do not mean much ,only idle fancy A passing show sliding away by a train With hanging people as big busy blurs. The tracks people mean only squatters Off houses of tarpaulin sitting with crows. These dark birds squat on the tracks to hit A train’s bottom, wanting to get at truth, A morning’s getting at sky’s orange truth. Images do not get at truth ,only at blurs. They move slowly like squeaking train fans As if to get at truth, unhindered by crowd. But nobody ever got at truth in a local train. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: images

83


Slide-show A tiny red ant passed on the keyboard A figure on a slide show of a memory A shadow that would never come back However much you point- clicked for it . The ant will have to pass its funeral Slide-show once, a memory cluster In my mind , in its mind , all-ants mind, In separate slide-shows of species ants The atavistic ants of passed ant-lines. A long ant-line is a funeral slide-show Of memory clusters of men about ants And of ants memories of passing men. The white stuff they carry at the head Is their memory clusters of our fingers On a keyboard, kicking in a slide-show. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: slide show

84


Free will, my foot All things are happening to this me Through a night that encompasses Chimes in a ringing piece of the sky With white flowers embedded in it. The fan blows on like a sky rumble . Night is the very thing happening. I have the free will to will it away, Not to drink water , write poems. Write about free will and deaths Embraced ,under a building’s fall A trade-off done out of free will By those who had courted death By debris of builder’s negligence. Free will, my foot, I say in flowers At the elephant corner where I think And explain determinism of death. Flowers are ten rupees by elbow. My foot took me to flowers where I was determined to think of debris. At night I would pick on the word To write about, free will, my foot. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: free will

85


Metaphors Everything was everything else The white swans in a lotus pond Were of learning’s lotus goddess A metaphor for a child of beauty, A recall of imagined sweetness. The child made a speech on stage On a poet dead to a growing beard Amid claps for speaking his mind, A metaphor for a lauded virtuosity, All you remember now in bald age. A screaming titya bird terror struck Then in a child is now a dead duck In the lonely deserts of old despair. Fear is now metaphor for bellyache A rumble in a nether world of belly. Metaphors rise from vague spaces. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: metaphors

86


Disbelief Inside a window is life and its poems Behind a grille ,plants in their breeze And words straight under the night. A canvas stretches through the wires Bringing the world inside of people Typing away furiously after the seas. Wonder what they are doing rubbing Their eyes of disbelief, sending down Stuff and thoughts to me, the obscure Recipient, typing away here in a hole. The wires cut the trees in their smoke. A scrap of sky evaporates above them Till a sun will arrive to redden its face. The day noises wait till it fully reddens And disbelief ceases to be suspended. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: disbelief

87


Monologues In our betweens, we talk to us checking Nobody is around,in a high bass tone And metallic,fine drumbeats following. We are nobody’s clowns , just desserts In motley, just joking for living, splitting For effect, duly obese and monologous. We wear words like tatters of our coats. Hark ye ,this thing is coming on again. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are alive And licking and times are not that bad . Polonius is waiting behind the curtains Neither borrower nor lender be,says he. When we are keyed up in our behinds We clap gleefully and beat our drums We are cold in our flesh and our fetish Our satire is not one of the airy things. Our screams at the end of the bridge Are monologues full of wind and sail. We hear our black speeches in between As they disappear among other people With monologues,uttered mouthfully In the privacy of their own boudoirs. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: monologues

88


Memes A spring in the step is another meme To hustlers of memes,internet freaks Described as peddlers of mellow words, Like a new spring in our street leaves. Words are newer algorithms vaguely Connecting spaces of big time chunks Hop- skip- jump over stones of words In puddles formed around vague huts Their walls touched in midriff by rising Waters kissing knees tucked to below. Frogs are memes of no kissing princes Heaving croaks in throats of memes. A spring in the step is one in the leaves, Not in the box of rising ,a nasty surprise. Frogs do not dance in true Gangnam Constrained by absence of forearms. A spring in their step can sure go viral. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: memes

89


Weather At times the sun would beat us hard Behind clouds in their wet promises On the trees and in compound walls. The air-conditioner drones mournfully As sparks of violence fly relentlessly From a body going in vibrating mode In solo dance while audience sleeps. Our words are infatuated with the sky. And our eyes turn upwards for water. Our words pour from eyes in streams Of water ,reminiscent of last year rain. The air-conditioner is birds’ split home When it doe not turn hot for our insides. The birds will come when they are hot Enough for a fresh parenting zeitgeist. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: weather

90


Home It is where you always got away from To the trees ,to a vast sheet of sea calm, Only to come back to its old bird chirps And bats black to tamarinds at dusk Divested of ghosts by autumn leaf-fall House corners purring like lolling cats, Deep wells in waters unreachable by eye. Home is where you come back to die To lie on the earth, on hairy straw mat A cotton swab in the nose-holes of life Eyes closed in a final count of dreams, At the very space you had first come From the vast sea green of a stomach. Filed under: a poem a day by A.J.Rao Tagged: home

91


Child wind The child wind is a spirit, like a fallen leaf That rolls along towards the earth’s infinity Riddled with false matter from its past sky. It is no laughing matter in mom’s hand fan, Nor in trees shaking with excess sunshine. Shake trees , will you? asks nostalgic mom, Her sultry despair climbing hard nut trees Looking for child of the wind in the leaves. Actually it is found shaking a polythene bag In a bedraggled bush, just outside the city.

1


Window glass I woke up to this window glass this morning As the tree , a tiny branch , waves on the glass A moving shadow made by tree+wind +glass Not a sleep dream but a waking word dream A beauty engendered by a tree+glass+wind Beauty came from this very tree+glass+wind+I Who had woken up, me and words, from a body That is a part, a string, a voice, an eye, a water Sloshing in it, in the eyes, raindrops of color, A fan whirring, a sound ,a beauty of mountain A rumbling, clouds wet touching, a silver river Just like the tree waving -a- creaking at wind Brown dog barking at dark, snout wet and dark. But I say, cut out this “I’ from window glass The body that woke up at dawn to the window Let the dream continue on the window glass.

2


Cricket stories We are looking for our stories In the park ,under a thin tree On green bench or thereabouts. Cricket stories abound in there. Grass replicates the past words On bare feet to earth, cracked Like mind in a nothing’s duress. The body re-thinks own stories Physical stories mired in words. Stories are just words of things Behind , wiggling worms found Under long lying stones in sun. They are crickets creaking under Vague stones lying in the grass.

3


Just write just write ,it would whisper , in black and in white,when it is still dark night. one must take in the night,its two roses sleeping in the night ,in waking yellow and crimson, rising from a little earth to higher reaches, where wind strikes and the sun strikes a flower into being. come to balcony opening to a street’s night project to a street, a stream of silent men shuffling feet in absence, in their futures all the while a black increasing, to diffuse beyond the apartment, beyond a gnarled tree now in the room, before a curtain of sound a sound of marriage strikes a stick of holes to a music of bodies , in a night of black as it turns orange beyond a dead- standing tree, a wishful timber tree of old dreams, its old birds’ dreams,staring at its stumps.

4


Grass notes On a morning of bedewed grass A bare walk hardly leaves notes Only bird notes from park trees. The grass cowers in wet silence, But raises its heads once a while Its wetness tingling the underfoot A painful thorn peeps some times From shadows hid in self-respect. A noisy nose on the green bench Dumps a breath of fresh dirty air But takes much more of green air. A broken lawn-mower lies listless Throwing up its hands in despair Powerless to cut grass pride to size. Winter-cold feet barely manage To squish in its bleary-eyed upper Submissiveness flying away before The water sprinkler gets them.

5


Decline and fall This is September and you mark the decline of the sun Behind the long rows of buildings and listless trees. From the train its decline is noticeable in arid wastes That teem with straggling shepherds in grazing sheep. The sun does not envelop their bodies in its silhouettes. The orange of light shall wait at the mountain’s mouth Beyond the spartan colors of the lake, less its shimmer And clouds pass without event, giving rain a sabbatical. The decline will surely be followed by an exciting fall.

6


Moon’s magic Yesterday’s moon had slid behind the school To surface today at midnight, behind the shed. It is a struggle for the cow to reflect on events Of the day, near the haystack, with tacky flies Needlessly bothering its tail, while the moon Is reflecting thoughtfully on its water trough. The straw is all around its feet, stewed with urine And Bengal grams tastefully added to porridge. There at mountains all was peace and heaven. The grass was just fine, the flies less of bother. A red bull came with dishonorable intentions But was promptly ignored, as if he did not exist. The moon is now directly above the asbestos roof. The night is quiet with the street dogs gone to sleep And the moonlight has become brighter and cooler. Somehow the cow is now less angry with the bull.

7


Whites in fingernails When I was a child birds gave me ideas, In their flights of rows, towards lakes When they looked white and glistening Against the autumn sky, my fingernails Clawing the air rhythmically and lips Calling them to infuse whites in nails. Those days birds could drop their whites Directly into/behind of our fingernails.

8


Feathers in our books Birds gave us their ideas, from their wings And bones full of hollow air, silly feathers That would at times be dropping in street Dancing down many layers of air playfully. We would catch and curate them in pages Of books, afraid to lose them to homework.

9


Spider We argued for a neat unified life Its spidery dreams just material For lyrical verse, its terms nature Like filigree works of spider circle Hanging by roadside thorn tree Here and going but expectantly Postponed to returning camera. The argument of a life steeped In pearly lyrics was lost to spider Snug in a silky wayside hexagon Not usual concurrent lyric circles. But geometry is not our concern. We argued to retain it in return A beauty to capture in the mind Not on the dew of camera lyric. The camera turns out its beauty If put off , a fine lyric in making. We gestured acceptance in air. Our hands went up to a sunrise And we would turn a silhouette Standing by the spider getting Busy at its gathering dew pearls. Our arguments sound specious Always during our morning walks.

10


Rust Can moss oxidate is our question hanging In the cliff, as a hanger is mid-air and against Streaks of water, dropping from higher rocks And a shirt color or two emerges at bottom Among rising food carts for colored sweaters. Seems we have lichen in oxide color of rock Or moss that gathers no green but brown. Imagine rocks rusting like our good old iron. Their ancient sun does not make chlorophyll But brown tiny leaves, in pearl-drops of rain The sun may be rusting of old age in the hills. It is not the sun alone who is rusting , in case. The monks are doing the same thing in ocher. Their child presences are smoking in laughter. As white curls emerge from their rust brown Clothes with Buddha peace prevailing in folds. As they run peace prevails in higher echelons.

11


Wet place At night a white wet place would come Out of nowhere, with high boots in mud An earth falling off to white snow in tea A tepid tea to warm military stomachs. Further down would be a turquoise lake Lapping up against the enemy country On other side, with their military boots Stomping their ice, rising in icy silence Their men looking all of them the same. The hills would rise in their brown mud Stripped of ice drained out last summer. Their water rivers are bloody capillaries That trailed off to lake’s turqoise history . But for now we are still in that wet place With military boots sinking in white ice. A temple is swathed in ice that must be Having an oil lamp to light dark innards . Everything has to be wet , even a flame. (Chang La is a high mountain pass (17000 ft) in the Himalayas on way to the beautiful Pangong lake)

12


The hibiscus We have never looked deep in its heart It carries at the top waving in the breeze Loving a bee and the colors of butterfly. Cognition names it hibiscus for poems But poems are no hibiscus, with anther, At summit sprinkling pollen on breeze. Airy creatures will land on the summit. They will make it a hibiscus pure view For a stamen to nod in excited whispers For the breeze to carry a floral message.

13


The deaf crow We raised our kid eyes to the leaf spaces To glimpse its brownness in a sky of trees Tracing its presence to staccato mating calls. Its brown body seemed moving like leaves In the morning wind, touched by sun glints. All was soft brown music that froze tree time Setting our boy time free, from home clocks. A morning eight of clock, stood obliterated By the deaf bird , with a song that stretched Luxuriously on our bodies, no schools barred. Its reddish little discs of eyes glowered at us Down to the earth where we stood on knees Calling down in fingers that pretended to fly. Actually we were trying to test how deaf it was. (The crow pheasant is a fascinating brown beauty of the crow species, called jemudu kaki the Deaf Crow in Telugu)

14


Watercolor We came upon the waters, in themselves, That ran deep, under rain drops on rocks Their music falling softly on the morning As birds ran counter to embedded trees. It was the music of the bodies from a mind. The leaves fell gently from rain and clouds, Their textures collected most of the ecstacy From a sound of meaning, their sensations On the skin perking up as if to a first rain . The textures of the rocks broke their skies. The hues in them wavered as cotton- white Corrugations ,with birds caught in the folds Like tiny v’s from God’s free hand drawings . Rocks merged in the sky and water flowed Like the music of the birds caught in clouds That were birds not yet caught in the trees.

16


The blue cyclone The morning rain continues from a night Cold coming through bird chick’s cries And now light gently falls on wet plants Their personalities glowing by the hour. Our dying rose may yet wake up and go From the company of hibiscus partying In its wet splendor, a late night partying After the night’s thoughts went berserk Like a sea urchin ,in violent wind – water. The urchin may not come this way of sky. But his looks killed many an upright tree Like its distant American cousin ,in coast And brought a ship or two to sandy knees. (Cyclone Neelam (blue), struck the Southern coast yesterday bringing about large scale devastation to the coastal areas) Related articles •

Cyclone Nilam makes landfall near Mamallapuram; rain claims four lives in Tamil Nadu

17


Texture This the morning has the texture of plastic In a world of hues, of longevity, of a breath A corrugation, a tilt to a side, a new sound Of a world upside down, a feel of thinginess. Shapes are chairs in their silence of sitting, A sound of looking, a skin feel of winter air A palm occupying wind with water in throat A form in formlessness, a door shutting out Winter, a butterfly failing to land on flower. Morning is rain in its falling softly into light. It is rain mired in the half light of open sky, Plants in earth pots dreaming spring leaves On branches scraping the blue off a new sky.

18


Scenery We continue to pit two tiny hillocks Against the infinity of a sky bending Dangerously on the brown bushes With loud explosions in their rear And a gray smoke in the elevation. We have a man and a woman near, Two faceless figures for a scenery. They have no faces but cheekbones. A rock gets angry with a loud bang With machines making it look small In the bigness of the blue scenery. Woman bathes in emptiness of rock. Rock falls into emptiness of morning. As smaller holes bath in bigger holes. Brown bushes bath in their shadows. Holes have shadows in themselves. Shadows have no holes in a scenery. There are tiny eruptions in shadows Like lizards in holes quickly catching Tiny eruptions to eat their emptiness. We are in a hurry to pit two tiny hills Against the infinity of a breathless sky Before it eats them into its emptiness.

19


Light and camera Lake’s brown is mush and green algae, The shadows a high point near the boats, With men rowing time, a noon in clouds Plain white stuff lolling in a blue sky. Those algae lie peacefully with an ibis Its one leg on a rock, its white double In waters, doing penance for the day. The boatman scoops up algae into boat From a ripple breaking him in pieces. A dappled lake is all we are looking for. Smoke curls beyond shore are not our thing Not a high point when the sun plays hooky. Shore trees look inward, their eyes closed.

20


Tea

There was a general vagueness to our camera A fog of the rain, a fuzzy smoke in the valleys Where woman and mountain merged in each other. We had tea on the slopes, where women hung At the sky’s edge , about two leaves and a bud A basket where they hurled their green pickings. Our tea was spread in plastic bag,in green light Not a tea in cup that warmed stomachs in smoke. ( A visit to the tea gardens of Darjeeling)

21


The act The zebras tend to smile after the act And some times before , in anticipation. Their camouflage acts fine when smiles Are mistaken for tiny shadows moving On the floor of the forest in dry leaves. After the act no difference exists in smile Between the zebra’s and its predator’s

1


Notions I have notions that all this is not there With the sun and the clouds and the sky Falling in the sea, in their fit of laughing The wind sporadic from the mountains. Mountains are not there in the horizon The horizon is a notion from our dreams Embedded in old mountains not there. Notions are not there when bodies gone.

2


Plaster of Paris The artist has sullied his dark hands As they shine on mother’s whiteness. Her many arms are stubs in reverse With weapons yet to be put in them. Her fierce tiger is making in a corner. But a demon is yet to be conceived. In plaster of paris, good takes shape Earlier to mould and shape than evil With its several shades and tonalities So difficult to create in white purity.

3


The mosquito killer bat seller The China bats she sells make some sputters As they go about electrifying flying creatures Burning them to zero entities, in tiny air fires. Her dress colors captivate with small mirrors On the woman’s dress, narrating life’s snippets In a moment of your life at the traffic junction. They are the mosquitoes that will burn to cipher When the bat plays with life in a fireworks show.

4


Bumblebee We have dropped a bumblebee from our fly. Women’s faces were flushed with our shame. Their songs went bone-dry in private blush, As our tigers growled in our private pants. See the buses bloated with men and parts. (concerning the recent gang rape of a woman in a Delhi bus) Bumblebee :( Definition): A large hairy bee with a loud hum, living in small colonies in holes underground.

5


Contorted The sights were contorted in smells Of rotting arms, sweating shirt backs. A whole world sprang under elbows. The crooks of arms went contorted With framed faces going up and down. Some went contorted with laughter. Words were contorted in their meaning.

6


Teals among cranes Four in the afternoon is brilliant lake in teals From an alien land come flying a long way, Co-existing in crowded bazaar of local cranes. Together we shop, say teals among cranes. Lake is everyone’s shopping for stomach fish. Some fish dance in the empty air of baskets By the lake ,for women to decide their prices. Soon they are on way to hungry stomachs.

7


Matter All the time we are making matter in this Factory of the old matter merging to form New matter which will do the same thing. This matter wants to control other matter And at times hastens the process of matter Decomposing ahead of time like the monk, In a compulsive urge to decompose matter. The matter is the same, monk or murderer. The urchin who broke dog’s leg with stone Was breaking down matter to its essentials

8


Houses of dusk Muted conversations are heard in the street In the gray shadows of the houses of dusk. The incense smoke from their four-armed gods Enters the streets, reaches up to the trees And electric wires, going up in silky swirls. As darkness sets, tiny white flowers break out From mother creepers on the houses like stars We often see burst on our roof after nightfall.

9


Sleep Sleep is when a red of white forms in our glassy eyes Into a mess of capillaries supplying blood to seeing, To dreaming in a sleep of time, in a sleep of thought. Sleeping is body in a merger in the blue of the sky Into a sky of nothing that rises above the apartment, On the roof , by the water tank, listening to its water

10


Polka dots The rock was green and mossy in the overall Turquoise of sea with diamonds of molluscs Stuck in body like polka dots on sunny holidays. A fish jumping man would point a rock corner For squatting to catch the essence of the sea. The sea continues its tirade against the rocks.

11


Silver eyes We then go forward to the sun in silver, The sun god on chariot of seven horses Behind temple tank of immersed bodies Torsos in prayerful baths, eyes closed. We offer prayers to the sun in whiskers Lighting our eyes with camphor flames. Our silver eyes are for his safe keeping.

12


Dimsa The women were waiting to turn red waves Of dancing with hands locked in each others’, Their songs reaching the blue end of the sky. Their dancing hands waited to inter-weave In fragmentary beauty under trees, with boys Waiting on tree top ladder nets like monkeys. (dimsa is a dance performed by tribal women in some parts of India)

13


Temporary Our permanence is temporary thing of the day The day being temporary in the east of window Its curtains effectively blocking permanence. Light spots are spot on after a violet light is cast As if they were temporary once but now and here Semi-permanent in an overall temporary scheme. What if they swim now ,as they had swum once In a purely temporary sea-scheme of years ago And the temporary sea turns a permanent sky.

14


Brittle gods Eyes are cracked being brittle, out of sockets. Eyes crinkle out of their shape, from sockets Empty with air, like mouths, like sooty hands. Hands god loves are separated from bodies And later from gestures of finger- pointings. Gods the broken hands worshiped are brittle.

15


Red bangles The soft pink of the wind palace Does not jell with her poverty’s Blazing red tie-and-dye saree Too kitschy for our proud art, Too sentimental for our souls. Let us have bright red bangles They contrast better with the pinkThere is still poverty left in them.

16


Lens error Just before morning it seemed night And birds in darkness and absence. All the while there is truth, unreality And rain and the sun behind clouds Exquisite in the camera but a fatal Failure to retract just when needed. It is lens error, dear, just like my life Which I had chanced upon in error On the bleak shores of fetal nothing. All our pictures remain in our minds Our river valleys and ancient stupas Stay deep in gorges of brown history.

17


The hole of forgetfulness Sometimes we light sticks of matches At the upper end to hear their sound Travel across the bushes ,to the gate. We then laugh to remember to forget, To forget other times, other spaces. In this you and I shall jointly forget. Forgetting jointly is more meaningfulAbove all, the hole of forgetfulness We will make, shall be the biggest ever.

18


On my mother’s first death anniversary At four the morning was night. A bird landed on a plastic sheet Waking up too early for the worms For other birds’ comfort on trees. The tube light whined sorrowfully Against Octavio Paz and certain poet In the inner tube of my computer. Mother would come with rice balls In Sanskrit incantations and dhoti Tied across my waist and thread. All we lay stretched on the floor Remembering her dead a year ago. Night will soon be morning birds Their noisy calls were like that time When she laughed the last time.

19


The lake The night was deep and dark and tongues of fire Cast shadows that quickly climbed the mango trees. There are many crocodiles under our feet,he says, As the rain lashes the lake in a rising shrapnel There it was place where a girl had met watery end. The lake sat there brooding all the while, benign And blameless,the crocodiles in its belly harmless . The mountains pour in the lake more and more water Borrowed from the sky and but the lake repays it all, In summer, when dark clouds go up from its bosom.

20


Time again I was just asking time Once again. Because my words had fallen Into night. They were not luminous. When Rilke dropped them They were. But they fell into the same Aggregate of darkness.

21


Rain in the morning I and birds slept little, a few bird winks Interspersed with dreams and fears in sleep In fat shirts and funny, transience reminders Earth pots of bones, that left a belly pain. Beauty tokens emerged in luminous leaves, Some praises of beauty, some let-me-downs. The rain is now here, prohibiting my walks Deliciously key-board happy at sunless six. The train hoots did not pierce the morning. The snails slow-walked my garden up and down Quietly like nobody’s business and I am back At the key-board amid faint heart-murmurs.

22


Incense We had thought of transience and rain Rivers overflowing on to the highways Dismal failures, temporary successes Then finally some beauty-talk in art Literature, deep thoughts,body mystery Everything that was coming to an end As though there was not any beginning. Yet the colors went on all the while And they would smell nice like incense.

23


Paininthebuttness Now that they are here no more, No gentlemen while they lasted, The essential nomoreness makes it More difficult to hold the past Paininthebuttness against them. Because when they lay stretched In white cloth under a blue sky Their gaze told our future story.

24


Year-end The year-end is not inside nor there in space But just hanging on time, as we hop and skip Holding our hems from paint sticking to them. The year-end is a doorway that will disappear in the dusty lane and in the dust we can’t recall What ghosts we were in the room left behind

25


Thumbnail He stares there in face book Who went last year’s this time . His ghost is efficiently manned By sons behind his thumbnail. He now plays farm ville by sons And you may poke him gently So as not to hurt him too much In a rib cage with the bird gone.

26


Textures Shapes are chairs in their silence of sitting, A sound of looking, a skin feel of winter air A palm occupying wind with water in throat A form in formlessness, a door shutting out Winter, a butterfly failing to land on flower. Morning is rain in its falling softly into light. It is rain mired in the half light of open sky, Plants in earth pots dreaming spring leaves On branches scraping the blue off a new sky.

27


The glass wall In a vast glass wall a young woman opens The door inward, that should really open out, A blonde, her thoughts open out, in a state. The color of hair is not a state of affairs. But no, she is not a blonde, nor do blondes Open their outward opening doors inside. The glass wall shuts out most of her light With a door that has no doorman in mustaches Opening a door to a cold night of reason. A body is embroiled in a state of affairs, A body that will one day be behind the glass Saying not much in its pantomimic gestures.

28


Watercolor The textures of the rocks broke their skies. The hues in them wavered as cotton- white Corrugations ,with birds caught in the folds Like tiny v’s from God’s free hand drawings . Rocks merged in the sky and water flowed Like the music of the birds caught in clouds That were birds not yet caught in the trees.

29


Cricket The cricket has just opened its window, In my ears, to darkness on the other side. Crickets open their sounds to our ears And are sole windows to all night sounds. Darkness is sound from a cricket’s throat And vanishes as its throat is vanquished By the soft light sound of the morning crow.

30


We love our sun In the seven colors that make light The sun’s fiery chariot swiftly moves Towards the equinox, our own thing In backyard, a cross-square of twigs That turns a chariot on a bean leaf . Our rice and milk ,stewed in smoke Tastes exquisite, like his warm gold Of morning rays on weathered bodies. We love our sun but cannot see him With our naked eyes ,except in smoke Or as he is fully eaten up by our earth.

31


Letting miracles not happen Free will is power to refuse miracle Away from the night and time ticking Nearer the hot sun and a broken moon Flickering close to a new Jupiter star. It is power to let miracles not happen Free will is power to stave off words Falling as asteroids on a dark night.

32


A sonnet for Eighty and Five Eighty and five springs in leaf-ends later She still finds her life a song , a number Not numeric, but mere music and matter. She can hear crickets’ music in lumber Frog-lets croaking in night’s rain-puddle. In autumn years perhaps you imagine Her steeped in mixed aural sounds, in muddle A vague spectacle of death in a life’s din. In such music one hears yellow leaves crunch As if they are the dress one wears for lunch.

33


We have no interest in redemption The banyan spreads dark hair on the muddy river And its red fruits are dropping on it like rain drops. Come to its folds to experience our sleep and death In an extorting sleep, interest for our light’s capital. The fruits mark time for periodic interest payments And interest shall cease only on the final redemption. In the meantime we sleep off our interest payments And each time ,hope that interest is not redemption.

(Schopenhaur’s famous financial metaphor in which he calls sleep little interest payments for the capital of life we had borrowed at birth that will cease only on death,the final redemption)

34


Burial of the fruit We now live cozily in the thatch remembering The cashew-fruits that lay in temptation’s way. Their taste is shriveled up on our sand bodies . Our knowledge is but a sensation , a sand fruit That has cozied up to the beat of a summer sun. We are waiting to bury our fruit in the sands.

35


The dancing nuts In her kitchen she had the earth-stove With a fire licking the dark sky of iron pan. She roasted nuts on it for our kid stomachs. The smoke from her logs climbed the wall And the thatch of the roof blackening it To the color of the pan that had the nuts Dancing in pain on it like black deeds.

36


Undertow The sea has an undertow like what I remember Of years ago , a fit of passion, at the full moon When the pearl-white surf became almost blue. The skin blushes for nothing, no errors by bones. It is much like the sea, with a large undertow. You never know the sins lying unpunished inside.

37


Catching breath We have tried to make sense of our sounds Under the breath, our old lips trembling With light words , in running commentary On the world, reasoned out and heuristic, A verbal diarrhea they called, in laughter, Words that will define our silence ahead As we catch our breath, trying to hold it.

38


Daily poems We begin from beginnings, from a chaos Of darkness where you had not even once Suspected existences, that flimsy matter. In the dark night it would end up roundly As the east reddens it would begin again And several beginnings form in amoeba –like Existences and word-shapes of free volition Their false feet, like lies spoken in the day, Wiggle to make our existences daily poems. We write without thinking, do not even write. When we think, our writing stops at our lips

39


Buddha in piece In the undulating hills a fallen leaflessness Pervades a monk-less silence, perfect in sky, An ancient absence of silently scurrying monks Of ocher robes in pursuit of white Buddha-peace. Buddha sits there, broken in pieces, his eyes Fixed at the gnarled tree-back bursting with Rough brown skin eruptions of painful knowledge. (Sanchi Buddhist site ruins)

40


Your crows,our crows There shall be snakes of rain between our houses. Our crows shall shake their feathers off the white Bodies under them and wait for the rain to stop. Your crows shall look across sheets of fuzzy rain At the outlines of their friends visible on our roof Wondering when the wet trees will stop shaking To let them have their usual evening get-together.

41


History words Interrogate and discover is one such footprint In the wooded depths of your poetry’s history. Ask searchingly and history’s mind must confess. It is so full of words that lead you to sand-dunes That have strange history-words buried in them Belonging to lives that were either sad or funny.

42


Cow dust I am overwhelmed by this golden evening As it comes with the sounds of the cattle, In the distance, of dust of angular hoofs Overwhelming the mud-tracks up to the sky. The cattle are overwhelmed by their time By milk overflowing from their red udders In thin jet-streams that will overwhelm us In our faces behind a morning’s hind legs. The fleas overwhelm them in their hind legs From a tail that seems the end of the world.

43


Beauty is wet The carpenter wants keenly to realize beauty From his bearded face wearing drops of liquor On the corners of lips, with a buddy on bench, Sunday not surely being a holiday from beauty. Beauty lies in a shack, a thatch and on a bench Frothing in brown at the top, to flies buzzing Around eyes , the world having lost its outline. The earth and the sky become a vast single mass.

44


The coconut moon Every coconut has to have a moon in its fate. You see the moon happens as an appendage To our coconut trees, mostly, in early nights. On a rain less night the moon rises over them As a beauty-flower in their hair in a dark sky. At times moons are mere light bulbs hovering On rooftops,peacefully existing with coconuts. When they are moons, not dim-wit light bulbs They may be broken with some moon missing. But they always stand by the listless coconuts Encouraging them with their characteristic cool.

45


We have arrived We had always lived in holes,crawling with men. We are now in bigger holes with smaller ones Inside them for morning ablutions and yoga. We now have separate holes for individual men. Our holes smell nice with room fresheners Made from the private parts of civets in heat. We are a gated community, staring from gates At the passers-by and listless cattle dropping Their green feces on the wet road nonchalantly. Our lawns are manicured green like our minds. We buy all our cattle droppings by kilograms For our green plants that have arrived like us. Thank god we are now suited ,booted and gated.

46


River steps River steps are wet with village women’s baths. A golden sunlight floods their mornings in boats Leaving early for mountains on wrinkled rivers. Giant banyans greet them from the other of bank Spreading their shadows of hair on the blue sky. Mornings are for sun,your palms cupped with water Looking the sun in the eye, lips softly trembling With prayers, as white wet clothes cling to body.

47


Forgetting Forgetting is sound disappearing, body’s spasm In folds of death, mind’s entrails in a stomach As everything of you freezes in life’s green liquid An ice block of death, whose water of life melts The night when it happens in a death that stares And you collect life’s water in rags of wet clothes As body is a waiting rag torn off from your fabric. Forgetting is fire and wood, in a crackling sound.

48


Decline and fall It is September and you mark the decline of the sun Behind the long rows of buildings and listless trees. From the train its decline is noticeable in arid wastes That have straggling shepherds and their grazing sheep. The sun does not envelop their bodies in silhouettes. The orange of light shall wait at the mountain’s mouth Beyond the spartan colors of the lake, less its shimmer As clouds pass without event, giving rain a sabbatical. The decline will of course be followed by an exciting fall.

49


No right answers Our poetry is made from blurbs of apparitions Those have vaguely tapering tails in place of legs Like you draw them roundly in kids’ magazines Vanishing in trees, if you answer a ghost’s riddle And if you don’t answer, head will break in pieces. Somewhere in the head you have a thing growing That makes your head break, even if you answer As the ghost does not accept it as the right one Because there are no right answers to its riddles.

50


Egg-head We heard about a boy who stared in the hospital Trying not to cry, when they were shaving his head. It is the uncertainty of what lies inside his skull That is what makes him cry, not just an egg-head. An egg-head is a joke, a laughing matter in mirror. But we are all egg-heads and we are in this together.

51


Bird brains Birds gave me their ideas, from their wings And bones full of hollow air, silky feathers That would some times drop in our street Dancing down many layers of air playfully. We would catch them and curate them in pages Of books, afraid to use them for homework.

52


Blue smoke Grandmothers cry from no salt in the eye. They cry softly from waters in the head Of memories of husbands lost in opium Of sons and grand-nieces lost to a moon. They laugh toothless laughter in ripples Over vegan jokes made specially for kids, Not on fart jokes in high demand by them. As they make hot evening snacks for kids They rub their eye-whites, of blue smoke.

53


Shoulder talks with head It is in the hot words of wax in a cold syntax Of a mobile talk between shoulder and head As the former comes close to a sneezing head. The head is now leaning tower on motorcycle. Such heads, leaning on shoulders, warm cops In their pockets, their hearts, burning stoves.

54


The chair as an idea The chair’s memories go back to a sylvan past Men, women and kids in leaves of loin cover, Fire in twigs and bird calls , bees of honey. The ancestors might have sat on its idea When there were no chairs, only branches. You can see our ancestors’ seats delineated In the chair, as if they had once sat on them.

55


Dissolve You know the merger of light in the dark Is easy on our body and feels like a breeze But the merger of light in light feels like Getting back into the claustrophobic space From where we had all emerged years ago. We had come there from nothing and will Dissolve in the space of nothing from there.

56


Edit You and I were trying to edit detail Emotion that cut thinking at its back. The morning needlessly brought poetry. I cannot seem to edit all that detail From this night of life that it occurred. I cannot edit the color of my dreams Nor change the depth of field in them. My picture seems shorn of all depth As I am caught fishing in the fish-eye.

57


God in mountains There we felt warm and tea in stomach, but cold Under the skin with bones shivering in anticipation. He might grant a moment’s sight of flowery smile Among hairless men and women waving as flowers In a warm sun flower bed, against a blue winter sky. We come to these mountains to meet our God.

58


The window The window burst from the opacity of the wall On the morning was the music flowing freely And as music went, the pipal leaves danced The breeze struck beauty in a sun’s ambiance Shadows flowed from tree’s exquisite motions The world danced, trees danced , wall danced. On the wall the elephant danced with tail high The kings of old rode on camels that laughed. On the opposite wall yesterday’s man and woman Joined life’s chorus from across death’s borders. Their space merged with time,images with solidity Water flowed in gardener’s hose, silver and soft With flowing sound that smelled earth and water.

59


Posture trying to read stories in the noontime,when least rain is expected there is a hot chimera on the tarred road a lone woman with a metal pot on head the sky becomes hot in the pipal leaves all that happens in the transience of the hem in the corners of leaves. the body posture replies, the question posed then the reply ,in the body, in the way it crouches and in the colored back

60


Tar Hot were their expletives and mixed With liquid tar by boys in the shade Their eyelids closed and play-heavy. This man turned the drum of liquid. The fires crackled and black smoke Went up above the tree and red wall Silk- smooth and black like a snake.

61


Others’ phrases Others’ phrases are tiny palpitating moths That die by the firelight of your old winter Leaving heaps of fluorescent wings in gaps Of doorways, in balconies that precipitate To abrupt darkness of wordless mid nights. We scoop up their fluorescence to pockets But our work lies elsewhere, in other words Beating warmly in our chests of furious work.

62


The call never comes The tree stood mute by the temple A man cogitated on the verandah Another,bent on knees, stared at the river An old man squatted, his head bent, Among turbaned men of another time, Awaiting the call from across the river. Actually the call has never come It never comes in dreams and art.

63


We felt small He interrupted us ,smiling, In our endless dreams, In the infinite space beyond Where the eagles soared. The earth came alive Where his feet touched . Thick conical leaves Intertwined with his legs To hide a splendid nakedness From the sleeping world. We felt small as if We had to remain silent While the earth came alive. ( The statue of Gomateswara , a Jain saint stands tall at Shravanabelagola in Karnataka- the world’s biggest monolithic statue constructed in the 10th century )

64


Talcum In the evening we smelled talcum And tiny white queens of the night As we passed by the stairs of room. Once out we saw talcum-fresh girls Who giggled for nothing in the sun. Their eyes had memories of the noon When their books appeared top heavy And their eyelids dropped for sleep.

65


His job is done In the Book of Jobs God in thunder hated questions Directly addressed to Him from ashes of sons, wives Cattle , body, mind, prayers, rosaries of faith-all lost To an arrogant divine omni- desire to prove a point. Forget it if you mean to ask anything about apples. Apples do not mean anything, even when polished. A bite is sin prompted by serpent of knowledge. Every Steve bites his apple, even the apple of eye. Every apple shall turn ashes, once the job is done. (remembering Steve Jobs of the Apple who passed this year)

66


The old stool It is a four-legged stool made years ago And got colored by her who is no more. The stool she had fiercely guarded as own As a thing of the heart, next to the bird. The stool that would not be left behind In house relocations, giving us body-lift To the light-bulb, to loft of empty things To airy things of sky and earth’s sweet Water, elixir of life, a support to logic. It is from it we shall reach higher worlds As it will continue to leave us all behind.

67


The baby girl She was crawling like a floor lizard last year. Now erect, she smiles and fiddles with things Puts them in God’s order, on dusty surfaces Setting them right like an airy angel from sky. In the corners of eyes, she smiles a moon smile As if she has known things and you all along And the dark secrets behind your shirt-pockets.

68


Orange O’Hara had his De Kooning with an orange bed And a radio to perform Prokiefieff of a week ago. Bukowsky’s radio got flung on the roof playing In the woman’s back against a highly orange sun. Our radio plays from a light to a tiny arrowhead. Radio is dead but it is still orange our sunset.

69


Spinning yarns This side, old spinster is at her needle For unfinished dupattas, long flowing For many Diwalis that went in and out Riding out a prince on a white horse. Her needle is now spinning long yarns In endless story, from Diwali to Diwali That will go on like a failed wet cracker.

70


Father He stared there from a photo corner With no knowledge that I was coming With a future that meant his going. There was space only for one of us. He would stay wedged between old heads Staring at an old space unremittingly.

71


Love Love never took the wind out of your sails On the seascape but the fight with waves. It seemed like phone waves up and down Through a milk bird in a running train’s eyes. Your eyes are full of tear love, wet in regrets But with a click in throat enjoying every bit And the salt of it is fine on a lolling tongue.

72


Freud in common cold And pictures are real of women climbing The attic for long overdue green pickles And the dream stops in confused states Of men and children, in mixed up states. The women are yet to pick up their wet White widowed cloths from the wall peg. The pictures are real in children and men In confused states ,in snakes and planes When the latter fall on the falling former In Freudian sleep mixed up with nose cold.

73


Felt words Like houses that exist without built walls, Poetry is built without words but with felt words. A girl of large eyes is floating to th’ sun , As ponytail and bag fight for space on h’r back. Those were felt words on her schoolgirl back.

74


Driving up the Tirumala hills This air is still crisp and there is promise Of excitement on the leafy floor of the forest As the mongoose scurries in the yellow leaves. Zany butterflies of many hues burst from bushes Striking the stunned panes of the passing cars .

75


Titiya bird One day a brown bird flew over us, in our sky, With its mournful cry that shrieked out titiya. Our dear cousin looked up, lying sprawled On the stretcher, with eyeballs screwed up The whites of his eyes were opaque and pearls Nobody told us why he would not come with us To hurl flat-stones on those water surfaces.

76


Faces He drew many faces on Kolkata’s billboards. His brush touched up cheekbones to heights. They cast nebulous shadows on low’r lips. In the city’s wee-hours he depicted time On the Hooghly banks waiting in old jetties Discarded by its deceased jute factories.

77


Belong In the night those tiny parijat flowers Actually belong to the dark neighbour Of the red and yellow house with a woman Hanging out of a white parapet like cloth. Their fragrance does not belong nor she. The parijat belongs to wind and death. She of the parijat house parapet belongs To the evening and the blue sky of rain.

78


Pretending Off the stage, the Blue Roses calls out, her glass recently broken. There was nothing blue or roses, just pleurosis, wrongly spoken You know she is expecting her gentleman caller the warehouse prince. Her brother calls his mother a witch who is rising on a broomstick You know, she does not like his going to the movies all the night. BTW he is actually not going to the movies but is merely pretending. Blue Roses is not going to the business school but is pretending.* Actually nobody is going for a morning walk. We are just pretending. *Teneesee Williams play The Glass Menagerie

79


Questions You would wish to ask why Our friend’s son has not returned From his bath in the Ganges . You cannot ask such questions. You can , of course , whisper them Softly into the misty morning air Standing on your toe on the railing In the dizzying heights of Qutub .

80


Web The ailing old man is alive and ticking in pulse He should stay that way through the rains,else His wife cannot come to do my house’s dishes That is how our web is woven across the bushes.

81


Silences I hear two old men on the park bench Speaking softly to each other’s silence. I write my own lyrics and you? I compose mine on the bathroom walls And some times, sing, in dulcet tunes, An exquisite duet with the night cricket. I love this real solo hum that comes From the vacant holes of my insides. I hear it in the silence between my ears.

82


The white wall The man slept on the grass ,his face turned to the park wall He was dreaming of sleep so he can dream beautiful dreams. He turned to the wall shutting off the world from his eyes. There was this park wall that stopped his world at five feet To make a single white world that left him free with his dreams. Behind his eyelids was the infinity of yet- undreamed nights.

83


After him In the meantime there is death in the air. A mere movie in the afternoon on tellyWas that deep as death ? After him ? After him there is noon ,there is sleep And another waking up to death again As though there was no waking up In-between but an ontological continuity Between sleep, wakefulness and sleep.

84


Midnight music Midnight music is the rising ocean Called by a reddening of the moon. Midnight music is the pipal leaves Playing the wind’s exotic hill music As its fingers touch the spiked ends. Midnight music is the invisible cricket Singing in the dark silences of the bush.

85


Lonely Loneliness grows on park benches That are as lonely as fans whirring For nobody, with the bums away in Hotel rooms clutching their heads . Bums gather moss of lonely rooms As they do not roll in dusty streets And other bums have other rooms.

86


Verisimilitude A gray and sullen sky is up there I cannot paint all those birds back Into a seeming blue sky, tiny dots On the painted canvas of the world. Since I have to maintain proximity With truth, a verisimilitude of no birds When no sun, but just white clouds. I wonder why in the name of God Facts always come accomplished.

87


Intersection At the intersection of truth and poetry, It does not at all matter if we prevaricate. Words do interfere by beauty and noise. We are not here speaking the real truth But an almost truth, and if this is not it, Let the bodies speak, in their receding In their constant flux, movements away.

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Place In the rocking chair we are placed tightly Behind the newspaper of all about places. There on a park bench shadows fall on us Of our many absences from thinking bodies. Leaves crunch below of remembered places. We sleep on soft pillows in running trains Of moving places and fast moving absences. Our desire for place is moving away from it.

89


Voice I can see the picture of mind’s knots In folded vicissitudes of inner space That resonated with shrill bird calls, Flashes of memory, failure thoughts That soon faded away in a foggy past, A fall from a fecund sky, a brick wall That returned all pharyngeal sound. In fact there is nothing with my voice Just I cannot scream loud enough To be heard on the river’s other side .

90


Hung silence There is silence here, of paper crackle. In the kitchen there is clatter of cups. There is the blare of oncoming train, A dog’s barks in the morning’s silence. Silence is in the wall, hung on a sound.

91


Sticking On the side street people sleep on cots Not to admire the moon but rest backs. Buffaloes stand there with vacant eyes Their udders now full with reluctant milk. The old man is groaning in his blanket. He is still sticking to his point, his times. The train is yelling at men on the tracks Its flanks bursting with hanging people. The train sticks to its point , they to it. It is much fun to ramble, when all others And all other things stick to their points That way you are sticking to your point.

92


The flood relief helicopter We see several hands stretching to a helicopter, From dry mouths that quiver with hope at its whir. A mystery how bodies can pile to form a pagoda. And why some bodies are always found on a copter While other bodies rise from the dusty ground-earth, And bodies here have to reach out to bodies up there.

93


Black comedy When we say a tennis ball it is a ping-pong We know the tumor can’t be so large inside. We are playing our little dramas in our head Our script is black comedy, a fun thing we play When we are desperate about people we love.

94


Bodies When spirits talk ,bodies vanish like spirits. Our bodies disappear in chloroform smell On the table under a green cloth of scalpel. Some times they just disappear in clay-pots Into flowing rivers, melting snow-mountains. Our spirits are mere words, some tautology. Our bodies do not exist except in dreams.

95


The night of the sky In the night the bushes behave like moving, As if they are lazy bears on the wait for food. The mountain in the distance stands abolished. God knows where the clouds went from its top. Everything is drowned in the night of the sky.

96


Silence It is the silence at the edge of sound A brief highway of green paddy fields That occurs between town and town In the populous countryside where Noisy chickens often cross the road And men are found lying on the road In helpless pools of drunken silence.

97


Table In the balcony our wet clothes hang Revealing tiny bits of the blue sky Their tantalizing shadows will enter, When the table will embrace them. But that is a story of the afternoon.

98


Making meaning On the sidewalk men sipped tea from a red kiosk. They made their personal meaning out of the time And the information in the trodden dust of the road, In the bricks that piled to be built to a house’s wall In the stray mongrels that sat listlessly on the road And in the yellow leaves that fell on the parked car.

99


Verifying In the whir of an electric fan in the room There is sound that comes from a child A child of the earth and a climbed wall, A tree with leaves plucked into pockets For worship of a stone god in vermilion And yellow softness of a beginning god. It is god nested in a heap of yellow rice. It is my women of rustling silks of the air, A fragrance of worship flowers and flame. It is the flame that dies in floral fragrance But re-lives to verify my continued living.

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Selected Poetry by Adukuri Jagannath Rao  

Poetry

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