Category Archives: Poetry

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The Wise

I would like to see no evil around

but alas! cannot close these eager eyes. 

And how could I ever be honour bound

for the truth that glitters is disguised lies. 

I have closed my ears to the evil sound

but the blares of the devil are so loud. 

I try to be deaf but their echoes hound,

and they are but the laments of the crowd. 

I wish no evil from my tongue should roll

for there is much to be said and cautioned. 

But my words lay silently in the soul,

and the ills roam unscathed, unquestioned. 

So blame me not in this life of disguise- 

help me decipher the wise from the vice. 

Early Delivery

Long road nights,
away from cargo terminalled towns,
days passing by like strangers
across midwestern plains,
beating time chasing sundowns
roaring on into chimeras
of purple-flecked dawns;
sights and sounds streaming north
skies bleached passing fast fading
truckstops neon-pink motel signs,
listening to the broadcast game
fade in and out with
the commentators’enthusiasm,
a stray memory of
another game a long time ago
those watching it running down their
lives soaking in the tavern sweat;
Long road nights,
running that clock down,
passing anonymous cities
their silhouetted skylines,
on toward the rumbling
carotene-colored dawn
crashing down breaking
into the final day;
scouting for that dirt road
miles off the Interstate,
rolling up to the farmhouse,
rendezvous with the Man in shades,
and a bulky manila envelope
exchanged for the cargo manifest;
drums of fuel oil
and pallets of Ammonia.

Technical footnote:

ANFO Explosive –

Ammonium Nitrate is an adaptable oxidizer that works well when explosions are needed during mining or quarrying operations. When combined with fuel oil, it makes an effective explosive that has a wide range of applications.

Salma and Antonio

Salma had an unembellished beauty and softness,

Which radiated a striking personal confidence.

Her brown eyes spoke a language

As beautiful as Sappho’s poems on papyrus scroll.

She always had a sensuous and lingering smile

On her lips which many men died to kiss.

yet, she had never known a phenomenal kiss

For, though married, what mattered to her husband

Was a quick intercourse with neither love nor passion.

It was just an act of relief for him

And to her, there was no elegance in his romancw.

Nor did his love taste like vintage wine.

His body was with her

But her heart was elsewhere.

She thought of Antonio who would never know

How much she loved him,

Not because he is handsome, but because

He’ more herself than she was.

Whatever their souls are made of,

His and hers are the same

And her husband’s as different

As a moonbeam from lightning

Or frost from fire.

Antonio was an Afro-American business man

Who had a chain of hotels across the globe.

He was tall, statuesque with jet-black hair

And had a bourgeois approach to life.

Sexy girls had always splayed their thighs

Mesmerizing him with magnetism

Of physical forms of elegance

Where love was a mechanical game,

Heart vacant and feelings transient.

And when he met Salma, he realized

That they were made for each other.

Yet, he remained quiet and loved her silently

Leaving the rest in sweet destiny’s hands.

pramila khadun

Mothering Sunday

Girls in smocks carrying sweet simnel cakes
And picking pretty posies to please their mothers
Girls with gifts of sweatmeats and bakes
Each more keen to set out than the others

Walking past hedgerows white with May
Dew from lush grasses and buttercup pollen
Brushing their skirts as they wend theIr way
Homeward , fording the streams ice- melt swollen

And mothes waiting at the garden gates
Of cottages hung with sweet honeysuckle
With savoury treats laid out on plates
Visitors waiting their shoes to unbuckle

Mothering Sunday’s the second one in May
To thank and pamper and bless and pray .

( ASA )

Albatross

Albatross

Night arrives in a funeral attire
mourning for an aborted day.
The anointing oil of last rites blinds my vision .
Rain is beating against my windows
not in a gentle patter,
but more like dozens of voices
howling with pain.
The white curtain ,
akin to a death shroud,
sways to the wind’s ordeal.
My mind , a ledger stone
is transported to a cliff-side.
A violent sea threatens me.
Waves retorts against rock walls
I slip into a muddy grass fall,
again and again and yet again –
a Sisyphus’s task perhaps!
I try to catch myself from falling into a

precipice of thoughts that refuse to leave!
Scores of reasoning ramble in my mind.

A little boy gets bullied to the point of suicide
for being a little too heavy.
He turns the green escarpment grey with his

fragmented breaths.
Being nauseous of the putrid stench of hatred
he yearns to disappear from a place
where hate drips from every eye.
He designs his own catafalque!

A divorcee is being bullied into chronic depression ,
labelled a slut because she
chose to remarry!
Now disowned by her kith and kin
she wanders like an unclaimed
blue suitcase lying forlorn
in the railway station.
The bitterness of being defamed

and the insulted disgrace of an enervated hope
to live with respect –
She kills herself in the palm of her hands!

A six year old gets raped
inside a menagerie for six days!
A solitary star ,

now crushed, crumpled, compressed.
An Astral portent
slices her life ruthlessly !
A truncated silence
yearns for a fleet of stars
to spark up her hostile sky.
She draws an albatross
with an obtuse pencil
on a crumpled paper –
broken wings , gasping to fly!

An old man burnt alive in the middle of the street

for the God he chose to (dis)obey.
While men watched in silence,
the flames pranced and leapt!
His grandson spots an albatross
over the sea-
folds his hands in prayers
“ please fly to the sky and ask my grandpa to come back’’.
Calm cacophony of cumbrous
tears creates a riot –
unsettled just like the child !

A woman in a rural village
tied to a Sakhua tree
stripped naked and beheaded
by her own brothers
because she fell in love with a man
who goes to a sanctum forbidden
to her religion.
Collapsing on the tarmac of her own shadow,
she, a marionette, breathes her last!

Men and women
and children dragged out of their homes
and shot on the streets
because someone on a high
chair
decides to play god and annihilate
people that do not feed his needs!
Termite feasts on the exposed lesion of time!

I wonder if all of them had once wished to be an Albatross
and fly into the crocus sky
towards a harvested sun ,
fluttering in search of a safe place
like Odysseus !

But where is that safe place ?
Does it have room
to hold the girth of pain?

Mahua Sen

** Odysseus – King of Ithaca, one of the heroes of Iliad and protagonist of Odyssey who wanders for 10 years to get home after the Trojan war.

** Sisyphus – He was the king of Ephyra. Zeus punished him by forcing him to roll a huge boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top.

Familiar Tune


Woken up
By a flute seller
Familiar tune

Every morning
The garbage collector
Familiar tune

In the street
The vegetable vendor
Familiar tune

Summer afternoon
The ice cream card tinkle
Familiar tune

Winter forenoon
The itinerant carpet seller’s cry
Familiar tune

At every wedding
Bahaaro phool barsaao*
Familiar tune

Every Parent’s Day
Nanha Munna Raahi Hoon**
Familiar tune

Beating of the Retreat
Abide with me
Familiar tune

At every funeral
Ram Naam Satt hai ***
Familiar tune

Angry buzz of Wasp
Caught between shutters
Familiar Tune

Bees on the Lotus Pool
Humming over every bloom
Familiar tune

Koel in the Mango Tree
Every summer without fail
Familiar tune

( ASA )

Glossary :

  • Shower Flowers, Spring Seasons
    ** I’m a Little Traveller
    *** The Creator’s Name is Truth

My tryst with squirrel

I watched the spry squirrel
scamper away hearing
my footfall; Its ear turned
to even slight dissonance of
sound and it rushed to guard
its nest; a fretful companion,
content to feed its
squealing offsprings, also
hearkening to my short fuse.

Its energy was unfailing;
it would sweep to the
terrace to grab any morsel
It could feed; the red stripes
on its back, blessed by mythical
Lord Ram*, kept egging it on
perhaps; It knew when
the windows would
drop down at night to squeeze
inside for a nap in its niche;
Its squealing heralded
the dawn of dawn too.
Nudging me to open
the window to the trove
of morning breeze flowing in;
And it would rush out.

Wonder what is its missive?
“Wake up Man, it’s time.”

Those tender notes

He was neither a bird of some rare plumage,
nor a caged bird singing.

On the pavement near the Dal Lake sat
the stooped, old man selling lotus stems, turnips
and fresh leafy vegetables.
Rheumy eyes, and gnarled hands,
his dry lips puckered into a happy smile
as passersby stopped and bought some vegetables from him.
Gone was the grim countenance, as he broke into song.

A song that my granny used to sing.
A song that captivated the throng.
A song of longing. Of belonging.
A song asking why things went wrong.
Did the vegetable vendor know
that he was killing me softly with his song?

His tender notes crept slowly over me,
killing me softly, but gifting me a rebirth.
He was a ‘stranger to my eyes‘, you see,
but not the notes of his achingly familiar song.
The houseboats looked on,
the Zabarwan Range looked on,
the shikaras looked on.
And I looked on and on.

It was a song that my granny sang years ago.
A song of longing. Of belonging.
A song of camaraderie. Of bonhomie.
A song of long ago.