Author Archives: VijayNair

About VijayNair

I retired as Associate Professor, Department of English, Government Victoria College Palakkad, Kerala. I taught English Language and Literature in various colleges for 31 years. My Ph.D. thesis was on the plays of Wole Soyinka. My collections of verse include "The City and the Hermitage" (1988), "Doors Swing Open" (2008), "Eyes" (2010) and "Whispers of Light in Darkness" (2013). My poems have also appeared in the International Anthologies "I am a Poet" (2013), "With Love" (2013), "Synthesis" (2014) "Poetic Symphonies" (2015) and "Heavenly Hymns" (2015).

Summer of ‘79

Your waste-paper basket holds a collection
Of wrinkled and smudged
Letters of the alphabet – –

With every fresh attempt
Less spontaneous than the first
Your calligraphy improves

And words grow into verses
Beautiful yet shallow:
The scent of passion disappears

With each new quest
For the right word in the right place – –
You say you can read her mind

Like the back of your sweaty hand
And that all your life you have walked the talk – –
Days wait for us to fill them:

She waits to read the scribblings of your heart.

A Poem and Her Poet

How long does a poem wait for her poet
To catch up with her? She has landscapes
To capture, and a procession

Of protestors to click, and others to touch,
While he scratches his head searching for
Lice, and images to satisfy her body and soul – –

How long does a poem wait for her poet
Before she grows impatient with his worthless wooing
And decides to pack her bags and go?

And as she waves goodbye and blows kisses
The train of his thoughts
Disappears into the last tunnel – –

How long does the poet wait for another poem
To smile and make a pass at him
Standing, empty-handed, on a crowded platform?

The Hall: 2022

Our poems follow us faithfully
Like bruised and battered bodyguards
With the warmth of images waking up our childhood – –

In the mist, words linger with your breath
And as you sway into the crowded hall
I hear gasps – –

You read your verses, promiscuous and free
In an orgy of adjectives and applause:
I blew your trumpet from time to time – –

But still you are restless, my love
Like in those days of anxious lockdown
Seeking to retrieve the missing pages of a lost year

We know there is always a pause
Before the living, lie
But the dead raise no dust.

Sometimes you come to me

Sometimes you come to me

Like the wind through the woods last night:

Your memory, warm and apple-flavoured

Like your once familiar breath – –

And as always,

Wearing someone else’s sorrow

On your damp sleeve – –

Whispering in a strange language

That needs no translation

Or subtitles – –

Sometimes you can come to me

Like the fragrance of pine trees

In the silence of winter photographs – –

I think of you

And, therefore, you are.

Venice

Something about you always brought me back:
Was it the way you unwisely thought aloud
Even while you smiled and stepped on someone’s toes?

Maybe, it was your laughter that once scattered
The pigeons that gathered at St. Mark’s Square – –
Or the persistence of your photographer’s eyes

Clicking memories as the gondolier sang us to
Our clichéd kiss under the Bridge of Sighs?
We shuffled a deck of cards and cut

Back at Hotel Bloom, but outside our window
Thunder chased lightning across the Rialto:
In a postcard city with history

Written all over it, and with tired, narrow lanes
Where one could get easily lost
I found you.

Tea

Nothing remains the same except their names
And the short silence after yet another landslide
And a dog waits–

Our carefully-plotted stories have now been flooded
And words hide behind a sad emoji :
Elsewhere,a lonely slipper floats downstream–

It’s time to write elegies for the living
Buried inside their heads,and under the debris
Of long-guarded hopes and dreams–

Masked men dig deep in the heavy rain
But the estate workers are asleep:
Remember them when you awaken and sip your tea.

Musings

We exchanged our hopes for small change
For we were promised a safe passage through the clouds:
The reticence to see reason at first sight–

We ignored the chorus of recollections
Urging us to crossover,without a doubt,
At the next red light–

And you asked me if you would remain
A signature in a slim autograph book,a name
I would not recognise on a silent toothless night?

Our love is not like old wallpaper
Looking washed-out in time.I inhale the scent
Of your sentences wherever I go, and embrace each insight–

An unapologetic truth could turn us inside-out:
Let us crouch low and lunge, my love,
Only when the time is right.

Standstill

In a year brought to a standstill
With the faceless searching for a face
And the nameless reclaiming their narratives–

While days disappear in a puff of dust
And silence grips us by our throats
Your breath keeps me alive–

You understand my passionate pauses–
Somehow, this sunrise seems so different
When you smile, and I forget

The lies we live with, the lies we live by:
The bruises left untouched–
A wordless wind lets us listen to the dawn:

And beyond,
Everything changes subtly
Like the light in a Turner landscape.

Words and Sentences

You were the stranger who came to see
The indifference of their words to our sentences:
You said:Forgiveness is a forgotten word–

But apt words appeared as in a crossword
And though you were masked,your eyes smiled
Like a prisoner’s that had captured a flight of birds–

Observe,you said,the folded palms of those who seek
And the raised arm of those who hate.Observe,you said,
The impatience of the drooling mob–

Reflections don’t always make us wise
Refraction does
And the silent stare that does not flinch–

You said that to find your voice you have to listen:
Some feel the need to kneel in prayer or protest
And some kneel to kill.

A Lyric

We don’t have the skill to touch the sky
We won’t bear gifts to betray friend or foe
But what we have grows after every last goodbye–

Our hands are even now raised so high
Even though we fought and surrendered long ago
Under a cloud of doubt,in the public eye,

To each other,and for an alibi:
In the setting sun,your smile’s glow
Brings the light back into my life, and I wonder why

The wind remains bemused,as time goes by,
Not knowing which way to blow–
And then at midnight we hear the sudden cry

Unnerving as breaking glass and difficult to identify–
You roll your eyes as if you know:
Who waits in silence,waits to die.