Closing In Like a Dark Cloud

Jayaprabha
Indian
b. 1957

 

The train hadn’t stopped yet
I stood in the open doorway,
hoping you to come to the railway station
to await my arrival…

Like unknown places,
I saw many faces running backwards
Yet I couldn’t find
the sea of sweetness personified as your face
among them…
Nor the sunflower fields…
nor any trace of Mahendragiri,
that hallowed hill we knew so well.

Thinking
that you hadn’t come to receive me,
or that this wasn’t my destination
doubting… nervous,
I began to quietly get out of the way.

Suddenly,
from behind,
two strong hands — as if with a prankish intent,
entwined me, along with a loud chant
of the mantra of my name ‘Jaya!’
and covered me,
closing in on me like an opaque dark cloud
and turned me into a shower of rain.

Beggar

We present this work in honor of the Day of Dr. Ambdekar Jayanti.

Suryakant Tripathi Nirala
Indian
1896 – 1961

 

He comes.
Making us repentant with remorseful remarks,
He comes on path.
His stomach and back seems one,
A stick in hand,
Asking for alms and grain,
To satisfy his hunger.
He spreads forward
His torn satchel,
Making us repentant with remorseful remarks,
He comes on path.
Two children with him always,
With one hand on their starved belly
Other hand raised
to attract some merciful sight,
Lips and mouth parched.
Receiving no mercy from the Maker,
Starving, can’t sob and shed tears
Busy eating decayed leftover by a roadside
Competing with stray dogs
To satiate their hunger.

Ah Kite

In honor of Buddha Purmina, we present this work by one of modern India’s most revered poets.

Jibanananda Das
Indian
1899 – 1954

 

Ah kite, golden-winged kite, don’t cry any more this noon
of moist clouds, as you hover around the Dhanshniri river
Your whimper reminds of her eyes dim as pale cane-fruit!
A pretty princess she has drifted afar,
leaving the Earth bereft of beauty;
Why do you call her back?
Who wants to stir up pain by digging heart?
Ah kite, golden-winged kite, stop crying this noon
of tearful clouds, while flying around the Dhanshniri river.

Let the Life Be Victorious

We present this work in honor of Bihar Divas.

Maithili Sharan Gupt
Indian
1886 – 1964

 

The fear of death is false
Victory is only for Life.

Setting up the root of Organisms
making new splendor eternally
This soul is everlasting
Victory is only for Life.

The world only gets a new life
the lifeless remains like the foolish
A seed creates a hundred plants
The creator is very kind
Victory is only for Life.

I die a hundred times over the life
Do I bury this money
If I do not use it properly
Then it is a great devastation
Victory is only for Life.

The Hunt

O.V. Usha
Indian
b. 1948

 

It burns
White hot are these sands;
Coils brand the body,
In crushing embrace.
Who has hurled me alive
On these burning sands?
With growing clarity
I see the strangeness of it all
And the approach of a beast of fierce resolve.

Large, wrought of fire,
With a slouch and a smothered roar,
It runs a bright flame tongue
Slowly over its ember lips.
In its gaze,
Poised for a throw
Is a thunderbolt
That would cleave my soul!

Now the beast pauses
Not close and not far!
Cry for help?
Stilled is my voice
And there is no one
Within the throw of human voice.
Has the beast put
A slow burning step forward?
Have those fearsome teeth
Splashed white liquid fire?
Yes it draws close,
Lets out a roar;
Puts out its flaming tongue
and licks those ember lips.
It bends over me.

Mercy?
There is no patch of cloud
In the spread of its wild fiery eyes
The skies catch fire
The world burns!
The beast scoops out my heart and devours
And now in one sweep
It catches
The little bird, encaged in my frame
And it growls and rolls
In awesome play.

Says Rahim

We present this work in honor of Losar.

Abdul Rahim Khan I-Khana
Indian
1556 – 1627

 

Says Rahim do not snap ever
the thread of love
once broken, it does not unite
if it does, knots appear.

Says Rahim do not spurn the trivial
seeing the weighty
when you need a sewing needle
of what use a sword.

Says Rahim keep your sorrow
to your own heart
others will taunt you
none willing to share.

Says Rahim a man with no education
wisdom, religion and generosity
an animal without a tail or horns
futile is his birth in this world.

Says Rahim pleased I am not
being offered ambrosia without respect
better to die with dignity
drinking poison.

Says Rahim a dilemma indeed
when you speak out the truth
worldly ties break
with lies you don’t ever reach God.

Says Rahim the sun rises with glowing rays
it sets with equal grace
so does a good man
living through ups and downs.

Body, a paper toy
turns into pulp in a trice
strange, so says Rahim
yet filled with much pride.

How will the weak ever live
fighting the strong?
Says Rahim like being at war
with the crocodile while in water.

A tree does not eat its own fruits
no pond drinks up its own water
a good man saves for others’ needs
so says Rahim.

Blessed is the love the fish has for water
lifeless without it
says Rahim a bumble bee is different
hopping flower to flower.

Blessed is the swamp
insects thrive on
says Rahim so vast the sea
yet everyone comes away thirsty.

Says Rahim my Lord’s image is embedded in my eyes
there is place for none else
like a traveller turning away
from a full caravanserai.

A News Came

We present this work in honor of Maha Shivrati.

Amir Khusro
Indian
1253 – 1325

 

Tonight there came a news that you, oh beloved, would come –
Be my head sacrificed to the road along which you will come riding!
All the gazelles of the desert have put their heads on their hands
In the hope that one day you will come to hunt them…
The attraction of love won’t leave you unmoved;
Should you not come to my funeral,
you’ll definitely come to my grave.
My soul has come on my lips (e.g. I am on the point of expiring):
Come so that I may remain alive –
After I am no longer – for what purpose will you come?