Author Archives: Madhumathy R

About Madhumathy R

Former Professor of English from Kochi, India. Holds doctoral degree in African literature; loves to read and write poems; has published poems in journals and would like to engage in discussions on literary themes.

Athena’s Gift

Amidst the pinnates of leaves, every February
my laburnum sprouts dangling beads of yellow green buds.
Soon her pimply face takes on
a flawless golden complexion.
A glorious beauty, swathed in spangles
she ushers in spring before it’s due.
A gift of love, the nascent sapling
came to my hands long ago.
Fearing her clawing roots, I found her
a safe nook on the margins of my abode.
There she stands poised, lavish in looks!
Her slender branches stretch their necks
across the temple walls to offer prayers.
All through the month, to the last of March
her bewitching looks enamour the winds.
But come April! shattering all hopes
she stands denuded; bereft or exhausted?
My reluctant steps then pace up to the florist
for a measly bouquet, to adorn the cauldron,
brimming plenitude on a ‘Vishu’* dawn.
Annual rings wind days round and round
her trunk and my remaining years.
Uprooted one day from the material world
I might perch on her highest branch
and gently whisper – “Tardy through your
blossoming youth, my dear; drink in the
sap enjoying every sip; let not the wind
waft away your gifts when all look up to
you for a glittering ‘Vishu’, don’t ever
turn up a squandering spendthrift”.

  • Vishu marks the spring Equinox and celebrates an abundant harvest. It falls on the first of Medam of the Malayalam calendar.

Erasure

Run the wet mop over the floor,
take a look from a distance,
make sure footfalls are wiped clean –
I give my maid instructions.
Trying to bite the tail end of a dying year
hours and minutes roll over days and nights.
This cozy home treasures a trail
of faded footfalls – a host of trodden
imprints, from toddlers to old men,
wheel marks of potty chairs,
dotted flowers by feline paws,
geometrical patterns from rubber soles,
crutch marks from a son’s tendon tear,
classical dance steps tapping a tattoo.
The reptile motion of a wet cloth
dissolves all these and more.
Like a forgotten family tree
I used to stomp around once
spinning aspirations, scattering
agile footprints everywhere,
like lazy doodled lines.
Now, I hobble all the way
hanging onto fingertips of love.
Like Jupiter meeting Saturn
on their orbit, not bothering erasures
dear ones meet and part
as night dips a round seal
in black ink to wipe clean
the rainbow colours of vibrant earth.

Misery Unplugged

Rough, rustic and tell tale

their feet like arid land

exposed to sultry drought.

Their cracked lives sustained

by coarse labour; these gypsy

lives whose tomorrows stretch

along darkening asphalt roads…

They trudged on foot in mute

resilience; braving the crippling heat

a few dropped down in the middle

of nowhere; a journey along

rail tracks, they drifted to the land

of dreams; death arrived on

chugging wheels – like goods and

chattels scattered to pieces,

shepherded to a dreamless world.

Last week, their garden shears

pruned the plants taming

all wild growth. Today

the seeds of guilt left behind

fall on fallow conscience

and dog-eared history

jots down another

forgettable chapter.

Turbulence Let Loose

Don’t you realise how garrulous

I am inside? inside my head??

A lunatic’s prattle, thoughts race

to win no trophy, but to preoccupy.

It is a busy thoroughfare  

where there is too much traffic.

Fallen leaves litter cobbled paths

and lamp posts of memories

light up my way  through

forgotten past, regurgitating

words – spoken, heard and read.

I argue, contend and cry

inside my head….

Unperturbed outside, I

undertake adventurous trips

across perilous oceans, dense

forests and lose my way.

Sometimes I wear a motley inside

desperately trying to make you laugh.

My munificent thoughts shower

gold onto begging bowls.

Like nails struck on the

barks  of trees in Devi temples

I strike a nail on a ragdoll

To exorcise submerged turbulence

And wear a dispassionate visor.

The Final Lockdown

A scaly dinosaur

It stalked through the land

Breaking down walls

It paced the globe

Spreading dread in its wake.

People huddled inside

Setting work stations at home.

Your own hands became

A traitor to your well being

And trust became a breach.

Wash your hands inside out

Off all yesteryear sins.

The masks you wear

To protect inner secrets

Fall off, withered pale.

Distancing you and me

From its spiky touch

Not contaminated, an island unto

One’s own self – a no man’s land

Is fast looming….

Poem From A Hospital Bed

Wherein lies the horizontal comradeship

Of imaginary nationhood?

Arteries are clogged in seditious hearts.

Blazing red Satan’s eloquence…

A soul surgery – subverting scriptures and naïve history.

Misconstrued notions and divisive fragments

Make and mar a piecemeal nation.

Our earth, always a melee of shared memories…

Shifting identities – rooted and fluid.

Left or right, green or orange

Make it greener, make it fruitful

Juicy sweet, not salty-bitter.

Nuggets of pure iron imbibe rusty gold

Immersed in dregs of opiated ideology.

Polluted environs, asphyxiating politics

Millennials gasp for want of fresh air.

Oxygenate them dear mentors

Should they inherit a Lost Paradise???

Against Mosquito Nets

Be pragmatic!

We did.

We enmeshed daylight

Streaming through open windows

To trickle down as streaks of brightness

To dance on the floor in luminous spots.

Bulbuls chirped their clamour

The cat frowned, quivering whiskers

It purred aloud a plaintive protest

The neighbour’s dog watched demurely

Resting its forearms on the wall

Across the open gate.

Bloodsucking mosquitoes kept at bay

Buzzed in chorus its own dissent.

Scorching sun letting off steam

Scowled a ruddy complexion.

Timorous breeze slinked away.

Dreaming of further conquests,

April heat marched ahead its way

Trampling over a sweaty day.

Angel in the House

Angel In The House

She rings the doorbell

and walks in.

Rush hour begins…

In no time, kitchen sink crowded with dirty dishes,

charred pots and pans like in Exo Bar commercials

gleam, wink and twinkle.

The broom navigates its course

through the room, like the deft moves

of the mouse on the desktop

in the manicured hands of the mistress.

She hangs wet clothes on the line

as political scams are laundered for next day’s sound byte

by her bossy counterpart.

Aerobic lessons and fitness programmes,

no match for her figure and stamina.

Academic conferences and seminars

on equal wages for women

fall short of the ‘home maker’

who makes many a home on a single day.

The sweat of her labour squares gender polarity

in her own home and elsewhere.

Another Day

The leaves of darkness swept away

to a corner in the East,

the sky sets fire to morning glory.

Every leaf and bud yawns open

their sleepy eyes and another day

takes strides with you on a morning walk.

The vertical gardens on metro pillars

look green with envy at the

wild growing plants on the sidewalk.

Tarmac roads licking old wounds,

take a deep breath before traffic gains momentum.

Practised laughter in varying tones

from the laughter club rend the air.

Luminous now, the clouds float along…

Turning into polar bears, their

claws taunt the vanity of skyscrapers.

Satchels strapped on shoulders

children wait for their school van.

Mothers wave them to a bright future.

Spreading life on a frying pan,

flipping over customs,  you watch

traditions sticking to the bottom.

Along with coffee, morning news

Spills over into your living room.

The gory details of a carnage

happening on another side of the globe

make your day.

A Bangkok Reverie

In Bangkok people

emerge from their beehives

early enough to throng the roads.

Busy street vendors, their

voice a nasalized twang, lure you

to Thai food. A genial smile

and gracious bow. . .

Unknown people walk away

busy with their own lives.

Wide roads stretch endlessly

baring itself to heavy wheels and footfalls

The Grand Palace beckons tourists

Its gilt and glitter reflect

the sunlight and its glorious past.

Sentinels to preserve the bygones

stand steady simulating a statue.

Through the corridors of history

decorated with murals, I become

a Thai princess; shedding years,

ugliness and the present.

I walk with majesty.

My skin assumes a bright golden glow,

eyes narrow down to a line,

lips like cherry sing a Thai melody.

Dragons come alive,

swing their tails to the tune.

Golden Buddha reposing in Wat Pho

slowly fall asleep….

Genuflecting Thepphanoms

With their pointed headgear

shower blessings – love, peace, ahimsa

The abandoned sleeping child and wife

of Siddhartha enter my soul.

Without an adieu why did you leave?

The words take wings, flit through the air

and pierce the Spiritual from the Material.