Thursday, 24 July 2014


                                                                 Dr. D. B. Gavani
Dom Moraes
 Future Plans 

Absorbed with each other's flesh
In the tumbled beds of our youth,
We had conversations with children
Not born to us yet, but named.
Those faculties, now disrupted,
Shed selves, must exist somewhere,
As they did when our summer ended:
Leela-Claire, and the first death.
Mark, cold on a hospital tray
At five months: I was away then
With tribesmen in bronze forests.
We became our children, my wife.
Now, left alone with each other,
As we were in four continents,
At the turn of your classic head,
At your private smile, the beacon
You beckon with, I recall them.
We may travel there once more.
We shall leave at the proper time,
As a couple, without complaint,
With a destination in common
And some regrets and memories.
We shall leave in ways we believed
Impossible in our youth,
A little tired, but in the end,
Not unhappy to have lived.

Nissim Ezekiel
Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher
To force the pace and never to be still
Is not the way of those who study birds
Or women. The best poets wait for words.
The hunt is not an exercise of will
But patient love relaxing on a hill
To note the movement of a timid wing;
Until the one who knows that she is loved
No longer waits but risks surrendering -
In this the poet finds his moral proved
Who never spoke before his spirit moved.

The slow movement seems, somehow, to say much more.
To watch the rarer birds, you have to go
Along deserted lanes and where the rivers flow
In silence near the source, or by a shore
Remote and thorny like the heart's dark floor.
And there the women slowly turn around,
Not only flesh and bone but myths of light
With darkness at the core, and sense is found
But poets lost in crooked, restless flight,
The deaf can hear, the blind recover sight.

Ajamila and the Tigers
Arun Kolatkar

The Tiger people went to their King
And said “We are starving”
We’ve had nothing to eat,
Not a bite
For 15 days and 16 nights
Ajamila has got
a new sheep dog
He cramps our style
and won’t let us get within a mile
of meat.
‘That’s shocking’
said the tiger King.
Why didn’t you come to see me before?
Make preparations for a banquet
I’m gonna teach that sheep dog a lesson he’ll never
“Hear, hear’ said the tigers.
“Careful” said the queen
But he was already gone.
Into the darkness before the dawn.
In an hour he was back
The god king
A black patch on his eye.
His tail in a sling
And said “I’ve got it all planned
Now that I know the lie of the land
All of us will have to try.
We’ll outnumber the son of bitch. 
And this time there will be no hitch.
Because this time
 I shall be leading the attack.
’Quick as lightning
the sheep dog was.
He took them all in as prisoners of war,
the 50 tigers and the tiger king,
 before they could get their paws
on a single sheep.
They never had a chance.
The dog was in 51 places all at once.
He strung them all out in a daisy chain
And flung them in front of his boss in one big heap.
‘Nice dog you got there, Ajamil,’
said the tiger king
.Looking a little ill
and spiting out a tooth.
‘But there’s been a bit of a misunderstanding.
We could’ve wiped out your herd in one clean sweep.
But we were not trying to creep up on your sheep.
 We feel that means are more important than ends.
We were coming to see you as friends. And that’s the truth.’
The sheep dog was the type who had never told a lie in his life
He was built along simpler lines
and he was simply disgusted.
He kept on making frantic signs.
But Ajamil, the good shepherd
refused to meet his eyes
and pretended to believe every single word
of what the tiger king said.
 And seemed to be taken in by all the lies.
 Ajamil cut them loose
and asked them all to stay for dinner.
It was an offer the tigers couldn’t refuse.
And after the lamb chops and the roast,
when Ajamil proposed
they sign a long term friendship treaty,
all the tigers roared.
We couldn’t agree with you more.’
And swore they would be good friends all their lives
As  they put down the forks and the knives.
Ajamil signed a pact
 with the tiger people and sent them back.
Laden with gifts of sheep, leather jackets and balls of
Ajamil wasn’t a fool.
Like all good shepherds he knew
 that even tigers have got to eat some time.
 A good shepherd sees to it they do.
He is free to play a flute all day
 as well fed tigers and fat sheep drink from the same
 with a full stomach for a common bond.

Felling of the Banyan Tree
Dilip Chitre

(Dilip Chitre (1938) was born in Baroda. He writes poetry both in Marathi and English. Travelling in a Cage, from which the poem selected here has been taken, was published in 1980. Apart from poetry, Chitre has also written short stories and critical essays. An Anthology of Marathi Poetry 1945–1965 is one of his most important works of translation. He sees poetry as an expression of the spirit. He lives and works in Mumbai.)

My father told the tenants to leave
Who lived on the houses surrounding our house on the hill
One by one the structures were demolished
Only our own house remained and the trees
Trees are sacred my grandmother used to say
Felling them is a crime but he massacred them all
The sheoga, the oudumber, the neem were all cut down
But the huge banyan tree stood like a problem
Whose roots lay deeper than all our lives
My father ordered it to be removed
The banyan tree was three times as tall as our house
Its trunk had a circumference of fifty feet
Its scraggy aerial roots fell to the ground
From thirty feet or more so first they cut the branches
Sawing them off for seven days and the heap was huge
Insects and birds began to leave the tree
And then they came to its massive trunk
Fifty men with axes chopped and chopped
The great tree revealed its rings of two hundred years
We watched in terror and fascination this slaughter
As a raw mythology revealed to us its age
Soon afterwards we left Baroda for Bombay
Where there are no trees except the one
Which grows and seethes in one’s dreams, its aerial roots
Looking for the ground to strike.

She dreamt of descending
curving staircases
ivory fan aflutter
of children in sailor suits
and organza dresses
till the dream rotted her innards
but no one knew:
innards weren’t permitted
in her time.

Shaking her graying ringlets:
‘My girl, I can’t even
go to Church you know
I unsettle the priests
so completely. Only yesterday
that handsome Fr Hans was saying,
“Miss Louise, I feel an arrow
through my heart.”
But no one will believe me
if I tell them. It’s always
Been the same. They’ll say,
“Yes Louisa, we know, professors
loved you in your youth,
judges in your prime.”’

A linkless node, no spouse or sibling,
No children - John wanders alone
Into an ice cream parlor. Nibbling
The edges of a sugar cone
By turns, a pair of high school lovers
Stand giggling. John, uncharmed, discovers
His favorite flavors, Pumpkin Pie
And Bubble Gum, decides to buy
A double scoop; sits down; but whether
His eyes fall on a knot of three
Schoolgirls, a clamorous family,
Or, munching cheerfully together,
A hippie and a Castro clone,
It hurts that only he's alone.

The King speaks to a Scribe
Keki Daruwalla

First Kartikeya, there is no pride involved
Nor humility; understand  this. I speak
Of atonement, that is if blood can ever
Be wiped away with the words. We will engrave
This message on volcanic rock, right here
Where the earth still reeks of slaughter
A hundred thousand courted death, mind you.
The battlefield stank so that heaven
Had to hold the cloth its nose I trod 
This plain, the dark and glutinous with gore
My chariot-wheels squelching in the bloody mire

Nothing stands now between them and destruction
Neither moat nor bridge nor hut nor door leaf
No lighted tapers call them to their village
It is to them that you will speak, or rather
I will speak through you. So don’t enunciate
The law of piety, no aphorisms
Which say that the good is difficult and sin easy
And no palaver about two peafowl
And just one antelope roasting in my kitchen
Instead of an entire hecatomb an in
Write whatever
You chance on. Don’t look for a white- quartz boulder
Anything will do. A mass of trap rock
Or just a stone sheet.  And the language simple
Something the forest folk can understand.

An Introduction – Kamala Das.
I am Indian, very brown, born in
Malabar. I speak three language write in
 Two, dream is one. Don’t write in English they said
“English is not your mother tongue. Why not leave
Me alone, critics, friends and visiting cousins,
Every one of you? Why not speak in
Any language  I like ? The language I speak
Becomes mine. its distortions, its queerness 
All mine, mine alone. It’s half English, half
Indian, funny perhaps, but it is honest,
It is as human as I am human. Don’t
You see? It voices my joys, my  longings, my
Hopes, and it is useful to me as cawing
Is to cows or roaring to the lions It
Is human speech the speech of mind that is
Here and not there a mind that sees and hears and
Is aware.  Not the deaf, blind speech
Of trees in storm or of Manson clouds or of rain or the
In coherent mutterings of the blazing   
Funeral pyre.


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