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A few poems by Poets from India

In You
...K Satchidanandan
The Looking Glass
...Kamala Das
The Seven Laws
...Arvind Passey
A Farmer's Ghost
...Anju Makhija
The Gown of a Narrator
...Neelmani Bhatia
After Work
...Tabish Khair
The Divine Wit
...Shampa Sinha
Two Days
...A K Ramanujan

In You
by K Satchidanandan

When you were near me
I thought love didn't need a body.
Now that you are away
I know love needs
like voice, a sky
like water, a stream
like electricity, a taut wire
for me to be a cloud
a fish, a warm tremor, in you.Be my earth.
Let me blossom in your valleys,
their first blue flower.
Let me run whistling across your tunnels,
with light on my brow.
Let me be a breeze in your woods,
in your seas, a submarine.
I would be corn in your fields,
wander in your house
like the odour of mustard
bursting in oil.I long to be born in you,

(from 'The Journal of the Poetry Society (India, 1995)

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The Looking Glass
by Kamala Das

Getting a man to love you is easy
Only be honest about your wants as
Woman. Stand nude before the glass with him
So that he sees himself the stronger one
And believes it so, and you so much more
Softer, younger, lovelier...Admit your
Admiration. Notice the perfection
Of his limbs, his eyes reddening under
The shower, the shy walk across the bathroom floor,
Dropping towels, and the jerky way he
Urinates. All the fond details that make
Him male and your only man. Gift him all,
Gift him what makes you woman, the scent of
Long hair, the musk of sweat between the breasts,
The warm shock of menstrual blood, and all your
Endless female hungers. Oh yes, getting
A man to love is easy, but living
Without him afterwards may have to be
Faced. A living without life when you move
Around, meeting strangers, with your eyes that
Gave up their search, with ears that hear only
His last voice calling out your name and your
Body which once under his touch had gleamed
Like burnished brass, now drab and destitute.

(from 'The Twentieth-Century Indian Poets' Ed. R Parthasarthy)

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The Seven Laws
by Arvind Passey

Human touch, like a word on paper, may create
imperishable poetry.
Wind can blow away the fragrance of herbs--
Marooned thoughts make love to an inactive verb.

That only tidal-waves and epics gesticulate
is wrong. Ripples and haikus fill any chasm:
it is passion that creates an orgasm.

Addressing a bespectacled spouse
is vulnerable but original. It is darling
uncliched and nakedly poised to sing.

Shops do not sell though love
is freely
offered for those who step forward to share
smiles. Care in fun is fun to care.

A frog kissed in vain must not
set in pillory
passion that swore to win. Obstacles
cannot forever put sperms in shackles.

The Kamasutra talks of not just one, two,
or three
positions to please. It talks of perfection
through riyaz. An attempt is, at best, a fraction.

Trying to be a star will not help
a tree
be a tree. Shooting like Arjun is trust
in self. A grenade has to burst.

(from 'Poetry India -- Emerging Voices' Ed.HK Kaul.)

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A Farmer's Ghost
by Anju Makhija

Behind the trunk of a mango tree you were seen
vigilantly guarding rice fields, later,

collecting cow-dung, rounding up cows,
you munched dry rotis, beat your daughter-in-law.

A farmer never leaves his land, they said,
till rice is safe from man and beast.

When bins are full, rice mixed with dry neem,
he will leave. The old man is dead, not asleep.
That night, I read about witty Veetal,
short-tempered Zhoting, amn-eating Hadals

and other such Konkan spirits in The Times.
Next night: ghost-busting, to dispel tales spreading like flames

in the night. Dark face, still as a scare-crow,
leaning against a haystack, you were seen

by all but me. Disconcerted then, now I see the point:
dispelling superstitions city folk like,

but, to believe the imagined to be true
can be a way of life, a fact, a truth.

(from 'Poetry India -- Voices in Time' Ed. HK Kaul)

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The Gown of a Narrator
by Neelmani Bhatia

In the dark wintry cold evening we
Drew closer for warmth under the quilt.
The children to while away the time
Wanted to know about my life gone by.

How could I tell them my life story
In a word or two
Or compress it into a line.

Life was not so calm or benign
Where bonds were strengthened over a dish of noodles
Eyeing all the while the spilt water making poodles.

What can a fish
Tell her children born in an acquarium
That how it was there in the sea.

Bound by my middle-class norms
Shackled by the seven vows of matrimony
Fettered to the house and the man
Who fathered the children fortuitously.

Like the dark wintry night
Which has no morning

My life goes by.
I am but a spectator
I cannot don the gown of a narrator.

(from 'The Journal of the Poetry Society (India, 1994)

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by Irfaan

Poetry may falter in praise
may totter behind filth in scraps
appear suddenly in crumpled pea-pouches
or decide to place itself in heels of a boot-licker
and receive awards too many.

(from 'Indian Literature' 1983)

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After Work
by Tabish Khair

An ordinary day's labour is hard and heavy
When you have nothing to look forward to.
The streets lie grey, the rain drops dully
And the wind has a keen, unkind edge.

Work done, you walk the endless streets,
Turning corners with empty hope in coincidence.
Suddenly, footsteps that are similar, a remembered raincoat;
But the face that turns to you is the face of a stranger.

The evening falls darkly; you walk to the apartment,
Open the post-box, feeling its emptiness in your heart.
Someone has left a pamphlet under your door: a protest, a play;
Somewhere in the world things are still happening.

(from 'Poetry Chronicle' 1990)

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The Divine Wit
by Shampa Sinha

Some days
when I am at my most sceptical
I wonder
whether the creation of the poet
was God's
idea of a joke
something He
fashioned on the spur of the moment
and gifted
with an excess of tears
so that
on Sunday afternoons when raindrops
drip metronomically
off the leaves of trees
this creature
sits by the window and cries
while others laugh.

I shall never understand God's sense of humour.

(from 'Poetry India -- New Voices' Ed. HK Kaul)

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Two Days
By A K Ramanujan

Yesterday, I met
no one:
it was wet
and vain:
a mouth-
ful of breath
on tomorrow's windowpane.

And today too was vain.
But I met
who gave it
pretensions to a pattern:
a maplike waterstain
steaming upon a stone.

(from 'Indian Horizons')

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