Old corner

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Abject we are in this old corner
The bottom of economy’s dogpile.
Our savings fear no passing wind
Like w.p.i.weekly nonfarm rolls.

We are oldies fluttering papers.
We shout in no halls of bourses.
Our diaphragms do not vibrate
To money-wet cries of brokers.

Term deposits are fixed stares.
As they stare, eyes turn marble.
Principal grows shrinking skin
Interest a sneeze,an abject nose.

Pitchers

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This is our wealth, the plastic pitchers
Colored and vain, on our heads of hair
With jasmines smelling from our backs.
The way waters pour in them is beauty.
Our bodies are made of water sloshing
In them just like in the green coconut
That fell from a monkey man up there.

Our water dilutes our husbands mostly
Full with viscous liquids in gray smoke.
Our jasmine smells are drowned in them
And they make mostly diluted love to us.
Our pitchers are our wealth, red and blue.
Ere the cock crows we are up and about
With red and blue pitchers on our heads.

Blood brothers

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Radio was a fine storage to keep
Scarce charcoal for our icy stoves,
In a war time we needed to store
As the Chinese were fast coming
At the border , across snow hills.

What Chinese did with their radio
Was their business but generally
They loved propaganda to a fault
And we said indie chini were bros.

Then they smiled their fine eyes
Crinkled in a brotherly approval.
And soon we would stab each other
And so we would need no charcoal.

Our soldiers were soon charcoal
Of patriotic songs and war news
And years that had turned fingers
Were duly writ in powdery snows,
Having writ , moved on like radio.

Cow dust

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,

Our twilight blinks a transitory day
A moving shadow on a series of hills
Like overcast eagle looking for prey.

This is the time of cows return dust
The hoofs lightly askew in earth hour
To home, a night advancing in moon.

(Cow dust(godhuli) is the dust raised by the returning cows at the twilight hour- a frequent reference in Indian literature))

Laughing to death

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,

She was the old woman of our age
As we hurtled towards our old age,
Her crinkle too young for our age.
Her body shook an entire laughter,
Acting life like it was no real thing.

An old woman of our essential age,
Her body wrinkled as if it laughed
Its guts out, emptying inner bags
Of its several childhood laughters
Spilling on the floor, rolling over
As inside-splitting ,old hag bodies
That had gone and to go hereafter.

(At the ripe age of 102 , the veteran actress Zohra Sehgal passed two days ago)

Village cooking

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A stone is her food industry,
A smoke a stomach warmer
Rising to blackened sky-roof
Of straws of a year’s vintage .

A big fat stone grates a yellow
Condiment for our stomachs.
Its grate on an afternoon nap
Has eyes dream river breeze.

Yellow paste and grey smoke
Delineate an existence in time
A grate so warm on stomachs
Under a sooty thatch ,due for
A yearly renewal before rains.

The village post master

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The village post master has passions
Smelling of red chillies drying in sun.
His body’s blood has ancestor smells
Vague in blood,with inbuilt difficulty
To pinpoint dads to their grand dads,
The women running own chilly farms
In bodies ,with passions hot as spice
Such as the ancient Europeans braved
Rough seas to discover,a white species
In preservation of red stomach meat.

The gentle man has morals somewhat
Flexible, in a highly progressive village,
Failing to distinguish villagers money
From own ,as the money orders arrive,
His bags somewhat loose and money
Slips through its chinks, like starlight
On many moonless nights on his roof
Where he dries chillies in the nights.
He keeps the secrets of the villagers
When their letters arrive, a custodian
Of community’s secrets, lips sealed
About everyone’s farms, quid pro quo
That makes him a hot village darling.

Girl statues

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We do not remember our girls too long
After the warmth of their girl feet is cold.
So let us make hanging statues of them
After our young have duly defiled them
Taking their girlhoods and their breaths.
Girl tears do not come cheap,their cries.
Let us preserve them as statues hanging
On trees,leaving to birds to defile them.

(Two girls were found hanging after their rape and murder by unknown hoodlums,in Badaun U.P)

Turbans

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From the sleepers I get up and go
Past dreams by their inert bodies
Careful not to brush fragile winged
Butterflies of their eyes enacting
Fierce war dramas behind the lids
Their butterfly movements in sync
As in choruses of some tragedies.

Now I survey bodies and turn back
To remove their turbans as trophies
For my own dearest sister who took
A private fancy for their many hues.

At dawn’s crack , bodies will get up
And go, their colored turbans gone,
And their swords drawn for a battle
With below- the- turban knowledge
That dreams are gone with turbans.

(From a scene in the great Indian epic Mahabharata)

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