POEMS
 

Poetry is a great passion. I write mostly in English, but also in Hindi and translate both ways.
In 2002, I was invited to read three of my poems at the SAARC Foundation, Academy of Fine Arts And Literature, New Delhi

Painting or poetry which comes first?
Always, the impulse/inspiration comes first and stays.  There are ‘work-phases’ of ‘painting-power’ and ‘word-power’. Each may last for months at a time depending on the eye condition…. which fluctuates. A poem or painting may happen depending on which mode I am functioning in at that moment. Its counterpart may come simultaneously or follow later.

Though many artists write and paint, rarely has an artist expressed the same thought simultaneously in these two mediums.

 
Enigma | Find your space | Free Spirit | God speaks | Love | Maqbool Fida Husain | Nobody’s friend | Where is God  |  White Earth  | What makes me Indian
 

 

Enigma

‘Nirvana’ – (freedom from rebirth and death),
proclaims
that for eternal bliss
one must detach from life,
reflect alone and journey into self.
All able, abstract dampers
of the human spark.

Yet no one’s ever returned to say
if evasion or escape
taught them aught
or brought them what they sought
or whether life is but a vivid dream in death
or death but an interlude in life.

Eons of endeavor
have not yet said or read
who lives, who dies
or why or when
or where we stand today -
at the gate of death
or at the door of another birth.

The enigma remains.

The soul slides unmindful of
world-words and blurred-bounds
of birth and death,
for some live but only after death;
and some live but every moment die.

In this spinning disk of shade and sheen;
who knows which came first
the blossom or the seed -
death then birth or birth then death.

So blink not.
Drink merely to what is,
not to what may or may not be
and seek not
‘Nirvana’ – (freedom from rebirth and death).

 

 

Free Spirit

Am I just
woman,
wife,
mother,
friend ;
poet/ painter with some special style
or healer of the body;
sometimes of the soul?

Am I young and laughing
or sad and old?

I am none
and yet I’m each of these
for I'm an unstructured spirit,
one without a mould.

I know
that my shadows create my lights;
that lulls and pauses power my strides
yet I gasp in horror,
I am stifled
by epithets that hem me in.

Like the foraging Swift
I must soar afar
and dive sometimes deep within:
sampling, relishing deeply,
spinning dreams for myself,
sometimes for others too
for I’m just
a spark of the Infinite Spirit
propelled by Cosmic Soul.

 

 

God speaks
(To the Taliban)

Man, you have pained me !

Women's bodies you have
'honoured' with the veil
and their souls
'dishonoured' by your ruthlessness.

You have turned them into
speechless, mindless, unseen wombs;
just wombs.
Yourselves you have maimed.

Your myopic minds
have caused a fertile land
to grow mines alone
and vast vineyards to perish
with the mocked blood
of countless slain sons.

Now a valiant people
scavenge and cringe
to silence stomach screams
with alms and decreed devotion
that fail to soothe their souls.

My Word you have donned
to shroud your iniquities:
to earn your bread
not by diligence but by trade in sins;
to breed without the means to feed ;
to maim and kill the faultless by deceit,
then strut about in gems of tears and blood
and call yourself 'students' of my Word.

Man, you have pained me !

 
   

Love

Love
is like the Sun
preening itself
at the
high-point of sky.

It is:
youth itself;
the sprout;
the frown of a clown;
the mirth
of the mountain stream
and the blossoms of May.

It is like Moonlight
and the tail of a falling star.

And like the dewdrop
waiting to draw
the drapes for Day
Love is alluring,
but like all delightful things
it also is ephemeral -
‘here’ today,
no longer ‘here’ tomorrow.

 

 

 

Maqbool Fida Husain

M - Metaphor Man
Marvelous thinker
Master of the bristle tool
Maverick
Magician
Movie-maker and
above all a
Misread
Monk.

F - Fertile mind,
Febrile too.
Willful child ……. of a Greater God
Fabled
Flush with Funds.
Famed,
sometimes
Framed.
Fountainhead of line and lore
Making
Forms dance
to his personal score.


H - High priest of
Harmony and
Hue.
High-flying sage
of the snow-white locks, Lolita lips
spindly-hands, unshod feet
and figure of stacked sticks.

Unruffled, writing -
writing a fresh
History
of ‘new-age’ Indian Art.

 
   

Nobody’s friend

I was free,
matching, my friend the wind
in the fire and flow of my moves.
Nostrils flared,
neck arched magnificently,
like a pampered child
I savoured the sound of my hooves
on the breast of the countryside.
And the wind loved me.
She kissed my face
and ran her fingers through my hair.

Then in mid-stride I paused
at sounds new and harsh:
“Lasso him. Tie him down.
Moor the muzzle. Brand him with fire.
Crack the whip. Break him in.
Push in the bit. Hammer nails in.
Slap the saddle and dig in the spurs”.

Helpless and bound
I made my peace.
I forgot the caresses of the breeze
and became your friend.

In battle I fell with you
or carried you safely home.
I nuzzled your palm
and let you into the recesses of my soul.

And you,
you called me by lofty names,
fed me rich morsels,
kept me in well-tended surrounds,
not as friend
but for gain from my speed,
from my seed,
from my elegance and my strength.

Man, you’re nobody’s friend !

 
   

Where is God

Chants hum.
Their drone lulls the boy spirit
and conceals it in structures of stone
where it lives
but
sterile and un-thumbed.
Ah, how the gatherers of wool lie!
They sell a Shangri-la
of trussed bodies and levitating minds.
God is not there.

The sound of the temple-bell swirls around
the naked lust of the pundit’s paunch.
With every chuckle the blubber jerks.
Just outside, the hapless and humble stand;
skin hugging bones; entreating eyes in line
with pleading palms but the temple-gate rasps
“Stay! Touch me not”.
God is not there.

Under the cleric’s watchful eyes,
knees bend; minds too;
the smell of sweat mingles;
foreheads kiss the floor of the ancient mosque
and a sign yells ‘Only for men’.
The patriarchal plot
has found the most potent park.
God is not there.

The false hush
and greater falseness in the church pews;
even before the hollowness of the sermon lulls
they have flown out of the front door
into the labyrinths of the sinner self.
Penitence shows but two empty hands
and one bloodied nose.
God is not there.

The older the creed
the more gangrenous it grows;
down, down it goes
to the door of the waiting fascist

But in nature
where birth is natural, no needless array,
no bayoneted potion for pain.
Raindrops kiss the leaf above
then surge to touch one below.
Like the Cheshire cat, a rainbow smiles
ephemerally on a sky-ledge.
A wave wiggles in, slaps the rock,
then waddles back with a smirk.
In barbaric bickering
Life lives by the death of Life.
Equilibrium maintained.
God is there.

Where ears heed the Creator’s voice
which says, “this woman-soul and man-soul
are both part of me. Handle with equal care.”
God is there.

Where the wonder of the innocent
and the gaze of the old skeptic
are mothered;
mothered with the same belief –
“This is life”.
God is there.

Where dins doused;
scabbards with their devil-charges
laid in tombs;
clasped hands nurse fractured minds
and frightened nerves.
Where every parish priest,
every muslim cleric, every pundit
has fathomed the others belief
and none transgress.
God is there.

 
   

Find your space

Woman friend !

You yet may walk
or you've already trod this trail :
of bruised knuckles,
tattered toe-nails,
graying strands ;
you may have
fostered food and brood
oft with no support ;
trudged quite alone
lengthy labyrinths
and toilsome heights ;
stepped from foyer to foyer
with low lights
of deep-stowed stubs of snubs,
of self-doubt
slapped on to your mind ;
stood forever,
waiting,
waiting for love's ebbed tide
to turn ;
yet walked
more miles
fusing
furious musings
with masks of soothing smiles.

Resurrect now !

Shift the lips of life
far beyond
to taste of paradise ;
go gather those masks
even off friends,
feed them to the winds;
fumigate
to ferret out fear,
let it zigzag far into the night;
step over stifling holy books
holding God's hand;
tamper with puffed egos,
let their breath bolt
in sudden gasps;
break shackles
link by scarring link;
then stride back to the queue,
to find your space,
up on the platform of life;
let not pretence of brief adoration
or false prompts
spoil a brilliant show,
for you too
are God's special child.

 
   

White Earth

Nature in soundless retreat,
stung by the savage stride
of the ravenous cityscape.             

Mock slogans ‘Save the Earth’
dart the defenseless Earth-breast
even as kilns like giant pestles
pound and singe its essence
to turns its colours pale
to a dry bare white earth.

A White Earth!     

 
 
   

Don’t let the clamour down

When unfair lashes fly                              
Don’t hide
Show. the lesions.                 
Dig to thee depths
Reach beyond the skies
but don’t let the clamor die.
                                                               
And when the circle of friends                                
diminishes to a distant dot - as it will,
waver not, nor dither
Flay the frown
pick up the gauntlet    
and don’t let the clamour down.

‘“Its all in a person’s will they say                                                    
If the volleys  are  right                   
the returns will come   
So light the candle: nurse the flame  
beat the barrel: tell an honest tale 
just never let the clamor pale .   

For from the pits of pain                                      
amazing powers flow
From mumbles and low rumbles            
great crescendos grow                                      
So keep on, try, try,                                                                       
just don’t let the clamor die.                               

 
 
 


 

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