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).

Another Lyric for You

As we sat on the beach, holding our breath
We saw twilight clutch at
Straws of sunlight – –

Our names struggled against
The receding tide
But our bodies recited chapter and verse

All through that frog-croaking, sweat-soaked night – –
Our pauses grew swollen with guilt
Not knowing that the answers we sought

Were locked within
Beyond our insights – –
Let us remix shared memories

And search for the right key
For the misplaced lyrics of our story:
Not always in black and white.

One Phone Call Away

We waved goodbye to the secrets of our past:
A burst of sunshine pushed aside the rain
And all the lingering doubts we shared – –

Once, we talked in figurative language
Transforming dull facts into fanciful fiction:
Your questioning eyes wait for my response – –

Suspense peels off the skin of my thoughts – –
Raw, I feel the warmth of your welcoming breath
When words surrender to silent, articulate lips – –

As we walked through the branched light
We realised that all these years, we had been
One phone call away from the truth.

Interlocked:1975

I remember how close you came to a meltdown
When I loosely translated your silence:
There was a mishap in semantics – –

Later, you said:”There are eyes everywhere
Like black holes.” But I could only see
The unfolding contours of your thoughts.

Soon, we shared an agreement of signs – –
Meeting you became a daily reawakening:
My words slipped through the syntax of your fears.

We survived on stolen conversations and hurried paragraphs
With you reading between the lines
With a torch, when the hostel lights were switched off – –

And afterwards when our fingers were interlocked
With your long pauses and slender sentences,
You possessed me.

The Breath of Islands

Here, where the air is fresh and free
A stench descends:
An archipelago is held to ransom – –

Hostages struggle to breathe:
Longings stuck in their throats
Netted dreams wrapped around their necks

Legends are spread out across the sands:
The silence we hear between bird calls
Is the silence of their islands’ cells,

For the choice that strangers make
Unmake these islands’ fate – –
Let them see you as you are:

A coastline of coconut trees and truthfulness – –
Let not your moonlit beaches grow barren
And welcome only breathless, breaking waves.

The Edge of Tomorrow

Walking through the mist
Of unmasked memories,
Distances disappear when I hear

The catch in your voice – –
And though my eyes are worn-out,
Staring at the screen,

I wash my hands and wait. I have a crush
On your poetry, and in the way
You rescue words from slaughter

And have mercy on our souls
During this quarantine recitation
From two cylinder-hungry towns – –

Your tired smile brightens my night
With your spectacles perched over
The edge of tomorrow.

She Was Only Walking Home

Walking home, masked, from her friend’s flat
Through a large and silent park
Into a builder’s bag: beautiful, she was recognized

By her non-judgmental dental records – –
But many appear appalled and devastated
As if something this absurd had not been

Heard or seen before, unless in a play by Ionesco:
Claudia. Blessing. Bibaa. Nicole:
“You are currently offline. Refresh.”

Truth is in custody:
Light a thousand mourning candles, or even one
Handcuff your vigils and your own – –

“She was only walking home”:
The streets are always safe at night
For predators.

K for Karna

All my life, I have been adrift
In a basket, or among scattered friends:
Clouded, under a patronizing Sun – –

My flaws embrace me tighter than
The guilt of broken loyalties:
Someone’s right becomes another’s wrong – –

I am the eldest of all my closest foes
And bowing to a plea at dawn
I fight with one hand tied behind my back – –

A birth, better left unexplained
And, a death by betrayal on a battlefield:
Someone’s boon becomes another’s bane

The Gods indulge in playing their sacred games
The sages long to curse in different tongues:
Brave deeds sprout from rotten seeds.

———
NOTE: Karna is an important character in the epic Mahabharata. He is “the spiritual son” of Surya, the Sun-God and Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas.

Kanchipuram

Some have travelled miles to see
You, wrapped in nine yards of pure
Unstitched poetry – –

Bear witness to the sun
Pay homage to the shrines you wear – –
And touch the skin of silken legends

To hear the swish of your thoughts
As you walk through history – –
The fabric of our lives

Hand-woven, with the thread,
Dyed and dried,
Of others’ heartbroken narratives

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?