Caste in a local train
Caste in a local train can be deceptive
Like the soul of a Pakistani fast bowler
Camouflaged in a three piece suit
And anglicized accent.
Though seated opposite me
I can feel him charging on to me.
If my surname is too long
I could be –caught behind.
Will I be trapped leg before wicket
If I attempt a bloodline crossover?
Hope I do not lose my nerve
At abrasive queries like bouncers.
I try to find myself a place
In his skull
Beyond his caste mark amidst his eyebrows
Like trying to find my way around
An ever changing map!
He tries assessing me with an in swinger first
“What is your full name?”
Then he tries an out swinger that seams a lot
“What is your father’s name?”
By this time he loses his nerve
And tries on a direct York-er
“What is your caste?”
My harvest of poems will be winnowed.
If done dexterously,
The lighter shallow poems blow away in the wind
While the heavier, meaty poems, fall back onto the tray,
To become the fire in my belly
Grapes of Wrath
(The migrant laborers of Kerala)
The displaced of capital have come to the capital- Anne Winters
Faceless migrant lads
Tread landscapes of tongues
To be greeted with a lisping embrace
At God’s own country.
Lips turn the wheel of time
“Correct our watches by the public clocks.
Then sit for half an hour and drink our bocks.”
T.S.Eliot ‘Portrait of a Lady’
Two pairs of lips
Lock in a kiss
Losing the sense of time.
Heads turn to
Adjust their wrist watches
From a public clock.
Turn the wheel of time
License to Kill
Not a morsel of food down her throat
An act of protest against licenses to kill
Her periodic crimson stopped
To stop the crimson draining down the streets
Of her seven sisters.
This poem refuses to be
The world’s wife.
This poem is not pimple-free
Is printed on rough paper.
This poem has cellulite in its rear end,
Its rump outsizes itself off the market.
This poem walks the ramp with a self-edited gait
Without introduction or foreword from veterans.
This poem does not opt for offshore liposuction
To make oneself eligible for international prizes.
This poem eludes the trap
In the hourglass of time.
The life and time of Jesus
(From the Lost Gospel)
The first woman in his life
She was a feminist,
Wrote a lullaby for bastard children,
Chanted at protest rallies against
Child abuse by clergymen.
He had married Marie Magdalena
She earned more than her preacher husband,
Wrote a sermon on equal wages for women-
Tried to organize prostitutes.
He had kids.
They sued Friedrich Engels
Disputing the origin of family,
Private property and
The state of the Catholic Church.
Killing the Shambukas
Jim Crow segregated hostel rooms
Ceiling fans bear a strange fruit,
Blood on books and blood on papers,
Black body swinging in mute silence,
Strange fruit hanging from tridents.
This poem draws its inspiration from the poem STRANGE FRUIT (1937) by ABEL MEEROPOL and is on suicides of Dalit-bahujan students in institutions of higher education in India.
Namdeo Dhasal’s Letter to a Young Poet
In your poems
Do not set your rhyme and meter
With the drum beats of populism.
You may build mansions in their shade
Where synthetic grass is cut to level
And flowers bloom in time for the next election season
With petals the teal of the incumbent flags.
Before your mansions crumble,
I want to send you
To the smithy of the blacksmith.
[Post Script: Do not charge fees to read poems on hunger.]
Born in a bourgeois family
Indoctrinated into the praxeology of insurrection
Self translates himself into a fugitive guerrilla
Adorns garbs of aliases while on the run
Always browsing for the right dialectic
Like needle probing for the raw nerve.
Some women overcome nightmares of
Still born babies or miscarriages by never talking about it
Like discarding a poem from their anthology.
Some poems self-immolate
Resisting unsolicited advances of a translator
Translations are abandoned
Like aborted revolutions.