Gulmohar

A lot has been written about you,
Oh! Fragile piece of wonder!

As you sway, I draw parallels;
To my own self-
The way I flew with the breeze,
Ignorant of the destination.

Today, as I come back to you,
I can see your leaves
And your flowers
Unchanged-
Offering me the same feel- goodness they did-
When I held them within my little hands, decades ago.
How is it that you emit the same tenderness,
Even after years of adversity?

They say your roots are not strong enough-
You can’t even withstand a mighty wind!
But my question is different.
Nothing has shaken your beauty yet.
Is being soft your greatest strength?

Shangri-La

“Thatha, what is Shangri-La?”
“Ah! Where did you get that, dear?”
“I was playing with the thesaurus!
And I found this word on ‘S’!”

“It’s paradise, dear”
Thatha said, smiling.
I pointed to that Milton’s book
“Paradise Lost” it said.

“Can we lose it, Thatha?”
“It’s within. Complete bliss.
It’s extraordinary.
It’s a place of delight”

“Like, our home, Thatha”
“Yes”, he smiled.
Next day I wrote a poem
On the new word I learnt
Wanting to surprise him-
And move him into tears.

But, Thatha he was!
How can I outdo him!
He surprised me instead,
People said,
“Thatha is in Heaven, child”.

With tears, I asked myself,
“Isn’t our home Shangri-La?”

The Inferno

The mountain of flames enveloped in all fury,

The treasured holy church in an inferno so woozy

It blazed,

Our eyes glazed

And when the steeple, engulfed in flames fell apart,

The crash gripped our hearts.

What a fall it was!

What a shocking sight it was!

Holding our breaths, on our knees we implored

For mercy from the Heavens to be bestowed,   

Thinking, for nine centuries it stood supreme,

Majestic, mood elevating, it reigned supreme,

Hallowed, revered abode of serenity

Joy, solace and beauty,

Doubtless like the phoenix it will rise.

Rise it will. To bless us, the Lord will certainly devise.

Why poetry in toxic times?

Why Poetry in Toxic Times?

Poetry can be discovered in most unlikely places.

For example, sitting in the atrium of a big mall, facing a gushing fountain on a hot humid May-end Mumbai evening, you say to your companion, surrounded by all the twinkling fairy lights and fir potted trees placed strategically on the white marble floor, “How poetic!” The crystalline water jet shooting up in a column against a darkening sky in the middle of a soulless glass-n-concrete and sanitized property can be a great diversion for a tired shopper left poorer by few thousands by that sexy and seductive commercial space: The vertical movement of pure drops of H2O can be a big visual relief in a place that registers the maximum footfalls these days in Mumbai or Madrid, Delhi or Peshawar. Malls are the new temples and churches for the post-modern Odysseus hunting for treasures and exotic fare and the urban tribes in Dubai or Kenya find time there to congregate. In such anonymous but identical architectural complexes— in homogenized and standardized settings, amid fake plants and plastic smiles of the overworked and grossly underpaid young poor staff; outside/inside the dazzling shops and their inviting wares, cruising along the well-preserved floors and regularly sanitized loos, gawking at the bald zero-figure mannequins under ark lamps and hunting for mineral water bottle that  costs a fortune for your recession-hit middle-class fake-leather wallet— you get a feeling of derivative power and branded kinship with others  in New York or Berlin. After gleefully splurging more than you have ever planned and secretly planning to go ascetic for a whole year in your personal expenditure, you, the tired Ulysses, decide to sit down on an empty bench and then—suddenly discover the solitary fountain singing merrily on the hot and humid evening. For the other adjacent happy chatterers on the Blueberry, it is a fixture, a prop; for you, it is sheer poetry in a pricey impersonal place, a symbol of purity and eternity. Poetry in slow motion. Water that priceless thing triggers a primeval response in a subterranean crevice of your overtaxed brain and connects you immediately with the first spontaneous priests of raw nature that wandered the earth, at the dawn of the civilization. You feel transported to a dim age when your distant ancestors conversed eagerly with early gods and twinkling stars and swaying trees and murmuring rivers, finding everything in the universe living and sacred. They talked with the gods and gods with them under starry nights and on fresh dawns, near crystalline rivers full of marine life. All this harmony was recorded in delightful and sublime verses, in epic poetry by the all-seeing ancient minds. There were few facilities then but poetry was a presiding deity of their immediate life; to-day, there are facilities galore but poetry, that musicality, that harmony, is sadly absent. Or, almost. The poetic spirit has started disappearing in prosaic times. Begun withdrawing from an age that is high on high-tech but low on basic human emotions. Bonds are brittle—you care more for your China vase or crockery or Swarovski glass than your dear siblings or pals.

Poetry is like the Golden Barrel Cacti— critically endangered, rare species in the Mexican wild, yet surviving the tough conditions. It is like Welwitschia mirabilis, another hardy plant of the Namibian Desert of the South West Africa. Poetry is a surviving link with our heroic past, with our mythological memory, with a unique moment when man and god were not yet cruelly split but were real for the other and having a continual dialogue. Like these two plants, it is endangered and becoming exotic. But it is a great survivor that adapts to most arid conditions and challenging habitats and grows in most inhospitable climes and times. It is vital to a polluting age like an oxygen mask. It can detoxify your body filled with an overdose of pills, caffeine and nicotine and other drugs, and raked with a toxic desire for More (Remember Henderson, the Rain King?).

Poetry is like the first rains over a smoggy town: It washes away all the grime and revives the dormant seedlings and revitalizes the corroded cores of your inner- life. It is a strong anti-dote to a frightening spiral of mad chasing of the deadly deadlines on daily basis, mechanically performing all the time in office and home and suffering indifferent colleagues, public venues and neighbourhoods that define social existence of competing individuals, and dreaming dollars and economic migrations inside/outside the country of your origin. Poetry is like the first rays of dawn that greet a terminal patient in a grim facility and spreads cheer in a solitary life on the threshold of cessation or a burnt-out top executive fighting for more money and promotion and his bad hangover.

Finally, poetry is coming face to face with your spiritual truths that refuse to be commodified and reified by a mass culture. It fulfills you and makes you whole, like the tiny church-bells chiming on a wintry desolate evening in the Chekhovian land.

Yes, we are the

 Warriors

Of poetry

Who

 Uphold the standards

In war zones

And never ever

Make them fall.

@Sunil Sharma

(From: Preface: Mundane, My Muse)

The Stranger, one last time.

There he sat,

in the place where he sat

the last time that we spoke

all those years ago;

And there he sat

as if he’d never left

and the years hadn’t passed us by;

” I’m still waiting for my absinthe that I’ve ordered ” ,

he ventured apropos of nothing,

his deprecating smile lingered

as he brushed some imaginary

cigar ash off the table;

A faint susurration arose

from a Greek Chorus somewhere

in the background of this

mise – en – scene ;

” Years in a desert of empty days,

years in a white nothingness,

Time itself marooned in

a white swirling fog “.

” Waiting..” the Stranger began,

my curiousity piqued,he continued,

” is the worst part of waiting “.

I concurred,which seemed

to set him at his ease,

though he glanced obsessively

at his pocket watch;

” Time flies and having flown

runs out of fuel and crashes

amidst the contretemps and vicissitudes

of our world “.

He once more glanced around for signs

of a waiter with the absinthe which he’d

ordered such a long.long time ago;

but no-one was forthcoming and

overcome by ineluctable disappointment

he rose and bidding me adieu

swept with customary insouciance

from the cafe into the busy boulevard;

as I turned my gaze from the departing stranger,

I saw the waiter arrive with a tray

bearing a singular glass..

**********************

Author’s Footnote:

The reader might care to also read ” A Stranger Returns ” -April 23 2018

and ” Encounter with a Stranger ” -October 3 2017 .

Vanquishing Doubt

Evening chills clasp my bones

Crushing them with utmost strength

Bringing me to shout out with pain

And to cry bitterly!

Evening chills whisper in my ears

Stories of how false this world and

The love it carries can be

Yet, of how attractive it seems

To souls while they do bask in God’s summery glow

Causing them to fall, oh so easily to their doom!

Evening chills laugh in my face,

Giggling foolishly at my tears

Mocking my allegiance to the skies

And to their word!

It shall lead you nowhere, they said,

You shall end up as a mere loser!

Evening chills prick my heart as if they were harpoons

And it, a mere baited fish!

A pure heart, seeking true love, eternal love

Everlasting love, willed by the Gods

Can only be qualified as being dull-witted, they sang!

Evening chills blow their putrid vapours into my soul

Suffocating it

And having it yearning for freshness!

A fallen soul, fallen for the sake of love

Is only meant to rot in a world which controls everything!

From lives to catastrophes!

A fallen soul, fallen in sin, shall never climb the divine stairs!

Pray, amidst the twirling doom,

I closed my eyes

Allowing not the tears to flow

Allowing not my heart to writhe with pain

Allowing not my soul to die!

I closed my eyes

And prayed, so hard,

That a warm fire lit up in my whole body

A warm fire, kindled therein by the angels, messengers of Gods!

I shall not let the swords of negativity kill me

Whispered I in a broken voice

The skies’ word I do trust

To it I do hold on to

As if it were my oars and I was lost at sea

As if it were food and I a starving child

As if it were peace and I a war victim

As if it were cure and I, an ailing disease!

The skies’ word I do trust,

And in it, I do tend to play,

As joyfully as would a fairy in a rose garden!

The skies’ word, after all,

Remains my cause, my meaning, my savior,

Without it, I would have still been another one grain of sand

Sleepily adorning the many shores of the world,

Having no other purpose other than being

Lazily and ignorantly!

For their realisation do I wait,

As eagerly as would a child,

Awaiting Santa on Christmas Eve!

Elegy for Tina by her brother immediately elder to her.

Someone put some mud in his extended left hand
He looked at it, uncomprehending
Put it in, down there, a voice said
He looked down at his feet
And as his eyes travelled, from left foot forward
There it was
A two foot by one foot hole, dug in the ground
Holding the small box of wood
In a shape he could not describe
Not having the word for it
Ten years old is too young to know much
(Elongated, hexagonal, it was, he knows now)
He could no longer see that face
Only the clean, almost white, yellow of the wood’s grain
Around him the voices which he could not make out, in refrain
of sad song or funereal chant of prayer
Around him the milling crowd of people, people, faceless, faces, known ,unknown, when all he wanted was to be left alone, everywhere
What had drawn so many there?
He opened his hand and let fall the earth
Watched it fall with no sound he could hear
And disperse into its tiny particles
Along with other clods of earth
‘Dust thou art and to dust thou dost return’
Then he understood
Something wet his cheeks burned
He wondered had she discerned
The sound of the sand
Hitting her roof
That it was different
And from his hand
Then jerked
Out of that mad reverie
She was gone
Under, forever
Even her tiny face
Tiny, how funny, so close to her name
You just change one letter and a whole world shrinks and a person is gone
Only the hope was left
Of meeting in eternity or heaven
Or some other life
Or the memory
Or both, or whichever
Was more true
So with Nothing left to do
He left
Before they covered her and the box up
With spades and shovels and picks
Gravely, as befits a new grave
He does not remember if he turned and looked
One last time –
How lame! –
The scene to frame
Not knowing it would never fade…

The Almighty Divinity

The Almighty Divinity

Creator you,

Moulded figure me,

Saviour you,

Dependent on your mercy me,

Flutist you,

Listener me,

Healer you,

Permanently need of healing me.

Grace is You,

Looking forward for a gram of that grace me.

Guardian of the universe You,

Great need for protection me.

Law of Karma You,

The chastised me.

Inculcation of virtues You

Ever the learner me.

For eternity ruling You, 

My constant companion I seek in You.

Manifested in innumerable forms You,

Unfortunately, previously I did not see You.

My mundane preoccupation kept me from you.

How I wish I could have sooner known You!

Why did my selfishness distance me from You,

Hindering the realisation that everything comes from You?

Hooked


—————–

Whorls of smoke

whiffs of substance

hard spirits burning

down the gullet

for agonies of life 

to melt in …..

pain , distress , despair and hell ,

with every attempt 

in which you fail ,

Self esteem waning ,

failure gaining …..

to triumph over destiny

roll the dice and move ahead ,

a square at a time 

or lunge by six ,

just grab your peace ……

truce with destiny 

not grieve in pain ,

for missing the bus

might give you a flight….

so dont despair , 

drown and asphyxiate , 

in spirits and fear…….

Gift yourself a life

Self Regard and Worth ,

get rid of fags

and boozer tag , 

a sincere attempt 

to rise and shine 

not a case of smoke and mirrors thine …..

to obsure and embellish

stand firm and vow , 

to honour and bow

to your lungs and liver 

and brain , anyhow 

help thyself

before its late ,

when people around 

will assign it to fate ,

will call you a loser

destined to die ,

blame you for being enslaved

to kicks and high…….

Wake up my dear

its never too late ,

its not a point of no return yet…….

I wish you my life

my happiness my love , 

fear the depths 

of dark dreamy troves , 

they deceive they devour

steer away 

steer away , my dear !

© *Dr. Swati A Gadgil , All Rights Reserved*