Monday, December 25, 2006


scrounging for scrap
in a pile of garbage
empty christmas

25 Dec 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006


For a diversion
rests his palm on her pussy
and head on the breast
till she shuts the hand out
and adds to the nightmare

Wednesday, December 13, 2006



1. Why do you write?

Basically I am a poet and I write when I am moved by certain thought, idea, feeling, emotion, or experience. Any sensory, intellectual or spiritual experience may arouse me to articulate a lived or experienced moment. I write because I want to feel lighter, liberated or refreshed within. I write to seek a release from myself as much as from others; to feel free by unburdening myself in verses; to experience an inner balance, feeling, probing, sensing, recalling, or whatever. If it turns out to be a good poem, it has beauty and meaning created out of a pressing sense of inner emptiness or purposelessness of existence.

2. Will you please tell us something about your childhood memories? How was your parentage and bringing up all about? Was there conditions conducive to flower your genius?

I come from a humble family of Varanasi. For generations my forefathers had lived in the narrow lanes of Kashi, partaking of a culture which flourished on the bank of the Ganges that still attracts everyone, though the uniqueness I experienced in the 1950s and 1960s is gone. I was born, brought up and educated there, beginning from the School nearest to our residence, to high school, intermediate, and graduation (1970) from Harish Chandra Degree College, to M.A. (1972) from BHU, and Ph.D. (1981) from Kashi Vidyapith.

As my grandfather was a freedom fighter, frequently imprisoned along with other Congress leaders in Banaras, my father could not have formal education. He learnt to survive by himself, and learnt to read and write and did petty jobs before he could settle down in life, as he told me once. I am the eldest of his eight children who are all postgraduates and/or doctorates and fiercely independent in their views and thinking. I am proud to say that we all grew up in a secular environment with freedom to think, read and express our views.

3. How would you define a good poem?

A good poem generates some physical, emotional or psychosexual sensation, stimulates some sensuous, spiritual or exalted pleasure, or provokes some ideas.

I have no taste for didacticism in poetry. I love brevity, rhythm, and “colouring of human passion”; personal, lyrical, honest and free expression, with seriousness in reflection and interpretation. Poetry lies in creating the image (like the painter who celebrates sensuality), and in capturing momentness of a moment, which stirs the mind.

4. How have your writings been received?

Perhaps, with a sense of difference, or maybe, indifference? The established academia and the media have ignored me, as I have been writing from the margin, from a small city, where creativity in English is simply not bothered. A handful of friends and readers have, however, been very encouraging and enthusiastic about my poetry, book reviews, and articles.

5. Who did help and inspire you the most in writings?

: Help? I doubt anybody helped me in my writings. But I did learn the art of editing (my poetry) from my poet-professor friend, Lyle Glazier (USA). He helped me edit my first two collections, My Silence (1985) and Music Must Sound (1990). He was a very positive reader of my verses and he inspired me most in the 1970s with his liberal comments and/or suggestions.

6. What is your masterpiece?

It is difficult to say which of my twelve collections is a masterpiece. Perhaps the best is yet to come out. However, the first collection, My Silence (1985), is a significant volume just as my latest collection, The River Returns (2006), should be a milestone in my poetic career.

7. Tell something about your masterpiece.

My Silence may be treated as a mini-epic, with ‘silence’ as the common thread. The 80 poems in the volume bear no titles; titles tell too much. But here one may discover my formal taste, personal vision, and sexual orientation rooted in Purush-Prakriti union. It is significant for open eroticism, seriousness, candor, and exaltation of Rati “to a plane where the apparent glamour of the flesh merges into a universal principle of creation,” to quote R.S. Tiwary.

8. What is your philoshopy of life?

I believe in unity of mankind and equality of sexes, and am secular and non-moral in my attitude and values. I recognize the world as one earth, one nation, one country just as I love all the races, tribes, nationalities, religious, and languages. I accept the spiritual oneness of people and my concerns cut across national boundaries. I believe in living without prejudices as man belonging to the whole world, honest to my self.

In creative writing, I trust the autonomy of readers who must read and recreate a poem’s meaning according to their own intellectual potency, taste, and sensibility without any suggestions or comments from the poet (or critic). I love my poem’s exposure to different kinds/levels of meaning.

9. Which of your poems/stories are specificially autobiographical in nature?

Though most of my poems may have one or the other personal elements to refer to, I would not like them to be explored in terms of autobiography, for facts and fiction are so fused in my brief personal lyrics/poems, haiku, senryu, and tanka, one would succeed only in distorting and reaching the wrong conclusions.

10. What, in general, are the themes of your writings--poems and stories?

I am realistic and try to present facts. Maybe, sometimes I am not palatable but I don’t think the aesthetic appeal is reduced. The themes of spiritual search, an attempt to understand myself and the world around me, social injustice and disintegration, human suffering, degradation of relationship, political corruption, fundamentalism, hollowness of urban life and its false values, prejudices, loneliness, sex, love, irony, intolerance etc are prominent. In my haiku/senryu there is a deeper understanding of the quotidian as well as things in their complex simplicity.

11. Tell some memorable instances that have moulded your writings.

My chance encounter in 1971-72 with the poetry of Lyle Glazier for writing the M.A. dissertation proved a strong effect on my poetic sensibility. It seems it matured with personal correspondence between Professor Glazier and myself on our poetry. Further, the more I suffered rejection slips, the more determined I became to prove myself, especially in poetry. I have proved my distractors wrong, whether they recognize me or reject me.

I also learnt the art of criticism in the learned company of my teacher, the late Dr B. Chakroverty, a Tagore Scholar and critic. It was during the period I was jobless that Dr Chakroverty moulded my literary and critical sense.

Later, interaction with poet friends like O.P. Bhatnagar, I.K. Sharma, I.H. Rizvi, Krishna Srinivas, Y.S. Rajan, Niranjan Mohanty and others has also be memorable.

12. Will you tell something about your visualization of the futuristic society and ethos to emerge as portrayed in your books?

The ethos my poetry projects is characterized by mutual love and respect for others; tolerance of social, sexual, political, religious, and linguistic difference; and cultural dialogue and assimilation. I visualize a more liberal and tolerant mind; a more creative, more assimilative, more skilled, more aware, with a sense of caring and sharing, society. I see a future which is conscious of mutuality of concern and action, which is more integrated into global trends, which is more international, intercultural, nature-conscious, and internally spiritual.

13. Is it not dream would of your books in which a thought of harmonization surfaces amidst awful conflicts and competitions?

As a believer in the unity of humanity, I value the spiritual oneness of people and seek harmonious relationship. The ‘dream’ world of my poetry is very much real, exposing social attitude, morality, hypocrisy, the socio-sexual standards that determine ‘civilized’ norms, that discriminate, enchain, and debase honest aspirations as lust or vulgarity. The very exposure is an act of criticism. The lies are revealed to strike a balance and harmony in relationship.

14. Are you a satisfied person vis-à-vis your literary and academic pursuits?

RKS: No. Frankly, I feel sad that despite 32 books, including 12 poetry collections, about 150 academic articles, and more than 160 book reviews to my credit, I get little attention. The mainstream academia do not recognize my contributions as an Indian English poet nor do they explore my poetry for doctoral dissertation. No big press has published me yet.

Though there seems a peculiar apathy/indifference all around, I am happy I have not wasted my time and done whatever could be possible within the constraints of my situation. I have been supported and sustained by small press all these years, and to that extent, I am very satisfied.

15. Do you want to give any message to the readers?

It will serve the cause of Indian English Writing well if you could read the new, unknown poets/writers seriously and critically, and then, if you think so, dump them, instead or rejecting them without even looking at them. A change in academics’ attitude is essential.

And, please support the small press, ‘zines, and journals!

December 13, 2006

For my poems, visit

Monday, December 11, 2006



Love tickles
with erect pistil:

Oleander and
hibiscus blaze with passion—
making love in sun

on the spider’s web—
a hibiscus

Narrowly escape
the midair web of spider
perched on hibiscus

The lone hibiscus
waits for the sun to bloom:
morning’s first offering

Red oleander and
hibiscus calling morning
to Kali

Without washing hands
he touches hibiscus for worship:
her frowning glance

After little rain
lilies smile with hibiscus—
the sun in May

Too short
can’t reach the height:

on the mossy roof
deeply rooted

Too big for its web
between two roses—
a yellow spider

Around falling leaves
a lone dreaming flower—

Stands alone in
the assembly of flowers—
Valentine’s Day

Not sad to die
blooming after a day’s rain--
the mushroom

Shrouded in fog
the lone pomegranate
in the courtyard

December morning—
the first roses in the lawn:
fragrance in passing

Leaves sway
to fly like birds
free in the sky

Waving down
a leaf settles between
her breasts

All night trees wave
with roaring winds:
autumn in the courtyard

Bluebells and hazels
lost in rustic kisses:
morning stars burn

0n a lean
branch of neem swinging
a bulbul

The courtyard stormed
with dried leaves and tamarind:
her frail hands sweeping

From tree to courtyard
cotton balls blown on the wind—
seed in the centre

Her scarf—
a rainbow of flowers
moving in the sky

Her visit—
a transient painting
on holiday’s floor

Painting mom’s smile
with broken crayons—
smiling Winny

her voice
on the phone

Switching on
the hearing aid:
wife’s warm soup

With her saree
hitched up between the legs
my wife in bed

Raising her saree
above the thighs bends to ease
and blocks my way

Rising early
to make tea for everyone
the newly wed wife

As the duo sit
lights go out—
sofa springs creaking

Dissatisfied with
each other the two of us
in an empty house

In the grey of dusk
sway between hope and despair
their dream promises

Leaning sideways
she looks at mango pickle—
caries ache

She repeats my ills
to express her anger but
I know only her love

Basking in the sun
files nails in garden chair
my wife’s friend

No joy in lighting
the candles this Diwali:
both the children away

Awaits his son’s
phone call from the border:
dogs and cats wail

His son’s voice
not relayed by wire:
tense borders

Distance mounts
each time he visits home:
love’s last rites

Not age but
years of worries
his furrowed face

Shadow of age
on the wall—
second full moon

Whiteness of the moon
and rocks howl with the wind—
December in the veins

A star shines bright
beside the crescent moon
she fakes a smile

The sun not yet set
but the full moon rises
as if in a hurry

The half moon
on her neck reminds of love
before departure

all of the moon at night—
white chrysanthemumns

After the party
empty chairs in the lawn—
new moon and I

The sky couldn’t retain
all of the moon now enveloping
my house through windows

Setting moon
leaves behind sparkle
on the waves

Noisy birds
don’t let me sleep:
midnight moon

Through the window
gaze at the moon hid behind
cloud after cloud

Fearing allergies
he misses full moon party
savours white light

Wet bodies
of bathing woment:
full moon night

under the blue moon—
the dry sky

They all look for
a little more moon coming
back from movie

Standing behind
the window bars observes
darkness in shapes

Unmoved by the wind
he sits on a rock wearing
peace of the lake

Night bombing
leaves the garden
white as death

Vultures waiting
for the leftovers
of the sacrifice

In the ruins
searching her photo:

on her bed rings
the cellphone

A dead voice
calling up at dawn:
drowsy eyes

Waiting for the train
alone on the platform
swatting mosquitoes

All guests gone:
after the late party
night and I

Nothing changes
the night’s ugliness
in the lone bed

in a shrunken bed
aged love

In the well
studying her image
a woman

Knitting silence
my wife on the bench
after lunch

A moth
struggling for life
on wire

Between virgin curves
he deep-breathes evening mist
rests in the hollow

Shell-shocked or frozen
he stands in tears on hill top
craving nirvana

The lone mushroom—
a pregnant woman
stares out of the window

Facing the sun
the lone flower
dying to bloom

A dead leaf hangs
by a spider’s thread
invisible in sun

Under the tree
in meditation sunken
a lone stone

on the National Highway

So many headlights
and my myopic vision—
walking difficult

They walk on red coal
matching steps with drum-beats:
carnival of ecstasy

Keeps him sleepless
fireworks and high decibel
puja all night

on the cold floor
a mother with child

Awaits sunrise
to hire an auto safely
sits at the bus stand

Two women argue
over price and weight of fish:
the hapless huckster

Carbon flakes drift
high above the flat I cough
they widen the roads

Burning tap water
and seething house in the morning
heat wave cripples

Chanting mantra
with wine in one hand and
torch in other

A mother and child
stuck between concrete rubbles:
fidayeen attack

Setting ablaze
Muslim houses and children
seekers of Ram

White-yellow trail
the Mirage on mission:
ten souls buried

Amidst roaring guns
clouds blossom snow lotus:
light hilly terrain

On the margin of
home-to-work-to-home routine—
life’s achievements

Shivering in the cold
young boys sell balloons late night—
New Year revelers

Half-fleshed faces
track from behind the windows
rawness of journey

Journeying tries
to raise his silence
to prayer

Never enough
the earth’s hunger for graves:
peace barricaded

The red light is on:
they all have secrets to hide
no use peeping in

In measured pace
hit for divinity
two political golfers

Disposable blades
one over the other—
dusty switchboard

Seismic lab
a network of cobweb:
no earthquake for long

No Zen thought—
scribbling haiku with
gun in hand

Staring at the huge
stone penis at Shinto shrine—
two female lovers

With her breasts bobbing
up and down she challenges
the moon as she walks

Sees the eyes
in walls as I rise
to kiss her

in empty whiteness:

Wiping tears
from each other’s eyes
two souls in love

Writing with strands of
watery hair on her back
a love haiku

Love of three decades
extinguished in a moment—
anger in the mouth

Shedding bitterness
of the tiff in sex act
she and I

Moist lips parting
on a tea cup promising

Bending down to pick up
apple she presses
piercing embrace

Looking lovingly
she bends his head down to hers
twines like a creeper

She preys the body
behind obsidian sheath
fatuous flap

After burns
leaving the body
the dead skin

Rain-soaked sun
sheds its sultry light:
her bare back

Her palms
the only lingerie
in Fashion Show

Crouching out of the bath
with hand on the genital
his new tenant

A pregnant woman
bending over the mushroom
bloomed under a tree

Awaits the bloom
of love in her womb:
silent action

Lovely with hope
the glow in her eyes:
no need of sun

Her body—
the night’s perfection
in dim light

Seeing her
a liquid sensation
between the thighs

On a canvas
a poet in twilight
painting her skin

Sensing her presence
he stares down the street—
lingering perfume

A star in making—
but an island appears:
the palm amuses

Sipping gin with lime
he says he loves sex each night
but hates the smell

Looking for Taj in grains
through sand-storm find history
trapped between toes

Bleeding fingers draw
new domes of betrayal in
windy matrices

He walks down the aisle
looking for the nave in her
to kneel and slide out

His tongue
between the teeth—
sudden sneeze

Fed up with my sex
she threatens to move
to our daughter’s room

Leaves him alone
to escape daily rape
in bed his wife

The bedroom altar
no substitute for temple—
sacrifice of sex

Winter’s chill—
sweating under the gown
her thighs and breasts

her stooping breasts—
the first night

Measuring life with
ejaculatory rhythm—
envies sparrow sports

Her thighs—
resting place for my head
on bed

Trying to decipher
the complex curves on my palms
in the morning rays

Fondling her breasts
I incite a poem
on her body

A film of mist
between my eyes
and her image

Locked in her eyes
the bright glow
of the goddess

Melting in
the colour of the heart
the sun in the west

A lizard shrieks
before the climax:
love making

The blood passes through
green veins I hear the heart play
melody of dews

Every breath
love in action—
fire in the hole

No bottom reader
but the shape and the lines do tell
she can stir the soul

The aching limbs and
blood dripping between the legs:
love-making postponed

With his head between
the knees he squats and smells
the body’s sweat

Bones rattle to make
a song of flesh in the night---

blaming her
not old age

Lies with her
in freezing cold:
an empty tube

jangles odours presences--
twinges in bed

Drying on the line
pork venison and beef--
the room smells their vests

Don’t know their tongue—
the stars beyond the mountains
whisper among themselves

While I lie alone
shapeless fears rest on my eyes
heavier than time

Searching salvation
a moth flies into the lamp:
oily burial

Colours sparkle in
the morning’s dew on the blooms—
my breathing changes

Nobody cares
burial of my dreams
in coal dust

Besides allergies
so many other complaints:
sudden weather change

Bronchial breathing—
the only sound audible
in the soulless space

Noisy birds
don’t let me sleep:
midnight moon

He sweeps yellow leaves
or gathers years in a heap
burns to merge with dust

Cleaning dusts from
the old sandals for a walk:
again the same pain

Peeling paint
from the drawing room—
shadows flicker

Seeing no image
in the mirror of time—
foggy blankness

Hot bath or no bath—
the cough persists unmindful
of the New Year’s eve

Sees in a flash—
opening the eyes
takes a long time

Linked with anxiety
my comfort at his home:
Ph.D. viva

Fear of forgetting—
car insurance premium
paid a month ahead

Fears the approach
of night with him—
twisting tassels

In the lone room
prefers haiku to yoga
drinking scotch

My bedroom
a maze of cobweb
spiders breed

Sunday afternoon—
waving into gin
two drops of lime

Difficult to change
I am what I have disowned—
dressing down salads

The bed is short
and the covering shorter—
crouching alone

by passions and clamours—
Buddha’s calm

Seeks Buddha’s stone bowl
to win the bamboo princess:
she dwells on moon beams

Her heart
a thousand doors of

Standing behind
the window bars observes
darkness in shapes

into dust her last

Trying to read good news
I look at the lines taking
new turns on my palms

Looking for riches
in her left hand shortening
days on the pavement

They sculpture psyche
in the city of dumb dreams:
idols sweat in sun

Pulling out white hairs
she reminds increasing age:
time’s fragrance unchanged

Still a child—
embracing a breast
sleeps her man

anger with roses:
petals fall

They all walk
like shadows in night
for themselves

Lying on his table
a few unanswered letters
and unrealized dreams

A little child
chases the painted dreams
on butterfly wings

Two butterflies
racing with each other
perch on the wire

A child’s fingers feel
the butterfly lying
one with yellow leaves

Sudden rain drops wet
the wings of a butterfly
lying at the basil

Lost my way again
asking for direction:
a pleasant change

Locked between the cracks
cockroaches in the alcove
dropping their eggs

Awaiting their turn
to feast on a dead dog
crows in a circle

A crow hits
the scare crow and cracks
its earthen head

A crow picking
at the ripe papaya and
another waiting

A yellow spider
on the blooming marigold
weaves tiny webs

Two lizards fight
to mate on the wall—
balancing act

After the quake
a dog sniffing his master’s
presence in the rubble

Searching Christ’s sandals
in the pile of shoes at
the church’s entrance

Traffic snails through
the water-logged road I feel
a manhole cover

Dust mites devouring
the secrets preserved
in my diary

Seeing my shadow
three fish in the pond look
for a safe corner

In the well
studying her image
a woman

A hooker hides
behind the green letter box:
looking for a client

Cut wrongly
each body a slave—
grey faces

Too heavy
these man-made machines
choking weight

Students murmuring
over the class test result:
the teacher’s curved lips

In the moving train
sleeping on his feet
the newspaperman

Flowers inviting
seeds of love scattered in
the perumed garden

Looking for a prey
a snake slides through the fence:
warmth of the sun

Safe from sun
under nascent leaf
a gold fish

After sleepless night
a drowsy sun tears
the morning sky

With sunrise
gone to sleep
the morning moon

Two dreamy eyes
await the rising sun
through the fogged window

A sweating sun
after the midnight chill—
changing hues of spring

The sun conceals
aeons of darkness planets
mirror in the sky

Closing its eyes
in the setting sun—
the Ganges in autumn

A cloud-eagle
curves to the haze
in the west

A butterfly rests
on the butterfly tattooed
on her sunning back

The sun not yet set
but the full moon rises
as if in a hurry

Setting sun
leaves behind sparkle
on the waves

Suddenly rise
the sleeping waves from far off—
‘quake in the sea

Swollen sea
boiling over the head—
roars increase

The sun rolls
on the waving Ganges—
whitens love-hope

On the wave’s crest
travels a fallen leaf—
rot on the bank

Couldn’t erase the wind’s
soliloquy from the waves
breaking on the shore

Traveling back
from the waves of bliss
a foam-leap

On the waves rise shells
in accents lie with love—
beauty on the shore

A lamp floating on
river breast in bridal grace--
waves in the gloaming

Bathing in thousands
they float lamps on her breast
the river sparkles

Knee-deep in the pond
standing obeisantly
nude worshippers

Ends with ritual
one more morning—
sun-worshippers in the pond

Awaits the sunrise
in the chilly Ganges
a nude worshipper

Sees visions
eating food of gods—

Fills the void
with illusions and self—
names them god

December almost
over what new wish to add
to Christmas wish list

On Christmas eve
santa claus takes leave—
mist on chairs in pairs

between flowers
Jesus on the cross

Making holes
in the wooden cross
white ants

Colours of envy
stick on their colleagues’ faces:
Holi revelry

Krishna offering
parijata to Radha:
Narada looks on

The temple’s dome
in the flooded Ganga--
empty kalash

Fermenting spring
in the arms of lovers:
a secret sin

The cherry pink
in the spring—
a framed nude

suffocates in bed—
chill seeps through slit

Wintry chill—
enters the cold bed:
skips morning walk

Winter allergies—
I stay inside to escape
the wind in full moon

The long night passes
sleeplessly I deep-breathe
the December chill

Alone and sleepless
count hours by asthmatic bouts—
the long winter nights

A part of the night
hidden in the morning moon:
the sun waves bye bye

Nothing changes
the night’s ugliness
in the lone bed

The first night
spots on the sheet:
clothes wake up

Long wintry night—
opening the mail box
for a date

darkness of the opening:
standing erect

Whiteness of the moon
and rocks howl with the wind—
December in the veins

Seek my haven
where the sky arches the sea—
a white gull leads

Stars mock his drinking
alone on the cement bench:
moon in the glass

Spend our short time
together after a long
watching the moon

all of the moon at night—
white chrysanthemums

Seeking smell
in cactus flowers:
late monsoon

Clouds don’t rain
coldly come and go—
icy bed

All night rain
the gaping roof
her shelter

Sudden rain
on the way home—
a peacock

After the night’s rain
the sky’s still overcast:
wet Christmas today

Through thick clouds
sees an arc of moon—
her belly

Shadow of age
on the wall—
second full moon

Lonely nights and
days of non-stop rains—
depression mounts

on the wings of winter
ill news

return of the light and warmth:
winter solstice

Feels the shadow
with wet fingers
in the fog

Mist surrounds:
the steel statue watches
few visitors

Morning fog:
her face invisible
even the sun

The evening fog:
invisible her hand
on my shoulder

Slowly clears
the morning fog—
end of the year

Swollen fogs
ready to make way
for the sun

Her make-up spoilt
in the evening mist:
looking for light

After dust storm rain
alloy with cool colours:
rainbow in the west

Splendid with the moon
night in silver peace dreams
through folds of light

Sees beard
shining in the mirror:
morning on the face

In a flash
trapping eternity—
the camera

Post-lunch solitude
filled with thoughts that couldn’t become
even a haiku

The first night:
spots on the sheet:
clothes wake up

A sly lover
ejaculates poison—
sting operation

With glittering diamond
on the navel swinging
an item bomb

The phone rings:
in the middle he rises—
prayers unsaid

With a telescope
view the lunar eclipse—
midnight shadows

Out of wood and stone
he carves his vision of peace:
night’s secret visage

In the ruins
searching her photo:

Suffer animals
with a peculiar smeel:
men in white khadi

Crossing the shadows
in the Indo-Pak match—
the last ball

Drunken with force
spreading the century’s sore:
nine eleven

Freedom to kill
with faith in divine regime:
terrorist’s peace

Watches the snow rain
with finger on the trigger:
insurgence in Drass

Reaching nowhere—
ideas flying from the minds
of top echelons

Himself doesn’t
listen but teaches

Her anger shifts
from manure to cellphone:
10 o’ clock soap

Winking at her
in the dark—
power cut

Two peacocks
on a dancing spree:
see water

a few muddied crocs:
the river returns

Nibbling a leaf
between her fingers
a dragon-fly

A small frog
leping on my hand
from the pothole

Birds crouch in nests
along the snowclad path—
wheezing silence

Away from home—
smell of frying fish
in the air

Swimming afresh
in the glass box
two gold fish

Peace in silence
of the heart and body’s cells:
Buddha’s calm

Weaving its nest
Grass blade by grass blade

Sad and dull
his backyard poultry—
fears of bird flu

Mooching about
a rose petal in the sun—
a butterfly

An orgasmic view
from behind the car’s window
the Taj Mahal

Perches nervously
on the fence a squirrel
nibbling its luck

Puppies groping
for the tits of our doggy
relaxing in sun

Sudden screech of tyres:
a frog from the pothole
perches on the car

Selling tea
a mustachioed Mizo
in shanty

Awaits the train
in November night—
insects all around

Truce between
two lizards inside
the light fixture

Ten fish in the tank
rising in twos threes or fours
to the bait atop

Hiding in the shade
of toilet brush in the bath
a frightened mouse

Awaits a rickshaw
under the gulmohar tree
a girl with lilac

Jumped over the head
a sticky frog on the ground---
stoning to death

the cellphone on her bed

In the changing hues
of rainbow in the east:
sun and lightning

Flashing a rainbow
at the dining table
her diamond nose-pin

Reflects the rainbow
in the mirror of water—
Yamuna Bridge

R.K.SINGH,Professor & Head,Dept of Humanities & Soial Sciences,
Indian School of Mines,Dhanbad 826004 India.

Haiku included in THE RIVER RETURNS (2006) published by Prakash Book Depot, Bafra Bazar, Bareilly 243001, India. ISBN 8179771881

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I'M NO RIVER: Some Tanka


She hears the voice

of unrealized bliss in

the coos of koel

at the window sill this evening

rains love and delight

His message to meet

at moonrise among the flowers

sparkles a secret

on her smiling face passion

glows with charming fervour

She is no moon yet

she drifts like the moon, takes care

of him from the sky—

meets him for short, waxing

leaves him for a long, waning

Before going to bed

she looks too sad to have

any sweet dream:

the lonely lamp glints no love

and no star peeks through the curtains

Yearning to meet him

she turns a silk-worm spinning

love-silk in cold night—

stands in a shade melting tears

like a candle, drop by drop

Stains of dried dewy

tears on the eyelids tell of

the load on her mind:

clothed in spring the willow twigs

reveal the changed relation

Locked in the shadows

of unrolled curtains her love

in the lone boudoir:

she plays tunes on the guitar

flowers fade at the windows

She senses all things

changing as she passes through

the city again:

should I leave the old house or

lie in the grave before death

Twisting tassels

round her finger fears coming

of night in bed:

octopus grips the body

and buckles into disgrace

At the river

she folds her arms and legs

resting her head

upon the knees and sits

as an island

Is it her quietus

that she roars in herself

like a sea

waves upon waves

leaps upon herself?

Gods couldn’t change the rhythm

of the body and its needs:

erotic scars stick—

after three decades love waves

tense the flesh and rock the night

When the sun is erotic

and the moon lyric

the winds turn tempestuous

in the orbit of love

legs slide by calls of nature

Before the foamy

water could sting her vulva

a jelly fish passed

through the crotch making her shy—

the sea whispered a new song

Swirling spiral

of her skirt spills tides of dream

and memory:

I breathe fire in the dance

forgetting bends and twists

When I wanted to change

seats my friend said she can

only if the door’s locked

the light out and her mom

in another city

When I inhale in

your mouth and exhale stroking

hair or caressing

I ride you into joy and

make you hail morning like earth

Life limits between

whence the sun rises and where

it goes to relax:

joys of a fleeting moment

I see Aditi in your eyes

When I have no home

I seek refuge in the cage

of your heart and close

my eyes to see with your nipples

the tree that cared to save from sun

The smile you weave splits

the sun I lose my direction

in clouds that cover

the banks darkening the white

of the lake moon kissed

Winter is caught in

waves of narrow discussions

under the blanket

fingers move by nipples erect

without sensing consummation

Drinking evening star

blue green patterns before eyes

no meditation

no god visits to forgive

the sinning soul in solitude

Exhausted she sleeps

unaware of my presence

this warm night carefree

I croon my spring song alone

and fill the void with new dreams

As I repose in

the wrinkles of her face

I feel her crimson

glow in my eyes her holy

scent inside a sea of peace

The room has her

presence every minute

I feel she speaks

in my deep


Love is the efflux

from her body spreading

parabolic hue—

enlightens the self I merge

in her glowing presence

Looking at her face

for the glint of her nosepin

or rise of renku

they couldn’t finish but form

in their eyes together

Your vacant eyes

reveal this city:

dim, humid, absent-minded

orchestrates bronchial noises

‘quake in the face

Living in dust smoke

and white darkness I know

I just flicker—

stand alone like a lighthouse

lost in the fog of seashore

What should I do

about the mornings

that couldn’t be:

now fog controls

appearance of the sun

Breathing pipe choked

with coloured dust celebrate

spring in coalfield:

the moon mocks my nightly plight

I look for the inhaler

The chilly wind blows

to freeze my feet and fingers

tonight I can’t rise

and silence the whisperings

storming the vacant room

Ghosts rise to mate

in moonlight tear the tombs

frighten with fingers

rhino horns rock the centre

granite sensation

I lost my sleep

over a thought I could not

make my own:

the sun’s antidote changed

the voice of the wind

Sleeps the night with

desires wrapped in blanket—

spring in the eyes

gods couldn’t change the rhythm

of the body and its needs

Drugs don’t diagnose so

let’s kiss our sneezes

into each other and stop

worrying about repression

necessary or surplus

Watching the waves

with him she makes an angle

in contemplation:

green weed and white foam break

on the beach with falling mood

Crazy these people

don’t know how to go

down with the swirl and

up with the whirl but

play in the raging water

They couldn’t hide the moon

in water or boat but now

fish moonlight from sky:

I watch their wisdom and smile

why I lent my rod and bait

A cloud-eagle

curves to the haze

in the west

skimming the sail

on soundless sea

I thought I’d exchange

my anxieties for a bit

of peace but thinking

was easier than happening:

I couldn’t even sleep

Standing at the edge

I long to float with waves and

wave with instant wind:

on the dream water’s breast

I read tomorrow’s wonder

My hand held out

in the dark remained empty:

no one reached it

to give joy of

the meeting hands

The heat inside will

reduce with the flow of blood

and cactus may bloom

in desert of flesh again

the heart may feel the green wave

The truth of our

togetherness is more real

when we lie filling

our body with each other

silencing sensation

I fear the demons

rising from my body

at midnight crowding

the mind and leading the soul

to deeper darkness

Sleeps the night with

desires wrapped in blanket—

spring in the eyes

gods couldn’t change the rhythm

of the body and its needs

Awake in dream time

he looks for the candle—

love’s invitation

lighting up in the dark

and sings the body’s song

The nightqueen fragrance

seeps in through the window

coupled with full moon

adds to my delight though I’m

alone in my bed tonight

The sleep is buried

in sex for diversion

yoga or prayers:

the dawn preserves bitter eyes

in the day’s bleak passage

An insomniac

weak with desires and prayers

hears the heartbeats

rising fast with dark hours

survives one more nightmare

Seven times he moves

round the vermillion god

under the peepal

sprinkling water to escape

the malefic Saturn

He watches the mound

of dead leaves in the backyard

to grow dreams after

the end of summer and drought:

rains nurture seeds birds buried

Muttering Tablet

of Ahmad in TV noise

he lies on the sofa

by window seeking

post-lunch nap for change

Bored with politics

and news of falling sensex

he folds the paper

and flips through the old PLAYBOYs

to see the nudes seen in youth

She receives my call

complaining why I didn’t go

to see my father

while he says it’s alright

only gums bleed and joints ache

Gentle like a dove

love was graceful a night away

on the white wave it’s

a sea searching ways leaps to

eternity tonight

The bamboo garden

we picknicked and made love in

is now all concrete—

managing environment

and pollution control

The power goes off

suddenly summer heat chokes

in bed sleepless she turns

undoing a hook or two

of her tight bra

Greeting the first rains

after months of soaring heat

the lone rose flutters

little petals to the ground

echoing our first embrace

Shining on rose leaves

silken layer of dew drops:

gloss of her mauve smile

she blushes when I tell her

beauty of the blooming rose

Roses await

sun and wind to clear

the baleful fog:

I fear she’ll say no

to my love again

I’m no romantic

turning sufferings to bliss

and delude in

heavenly meeting with god

or life’s grandeur and greatness

I’m human and feel

their meanness every moment

get angry and lose

my sleep as the earth writhes in

the pain butchers knives inflict

There’s little save

poetry and prayer

to put up with

rising darkness in and out

and god too is silent

Couldn’t be happy with

my present nor could realize

any dreams all these years—

there’s nothing to look back

to say I lived my life well

The chart predicts

I must keep the company

of the righteous

but how to find one among

the wicked that write our fate

Psalms or no psalms;

workers of iniquity

shoot their arrows

with praising lips and god

flees to see their shrewd schemes

Recedes into self:

crooked trees and leaking roofs—

the city conspires

swarmed with listless spirits

young and living, slowly dying

Hiding or waiting

it raises its head when least

expected, a snake

glitters in the eyes, looks for

the moment to reveal fangs


of the stone conceals

grace of nudity

the image of Kali

reveals to her devotee

The sun

on a mountain

grave illumines the path

to divinity unrealized

in soul

With steel flow

the rolling water

pierces the rocks

shapes them into stars

turned into river’s song

She visits

a beauty parlour

to erase wrinkles

and returns with the same

wintry darkness

The lips in her eyes

and long hours in the mouth—

no moist secret

between us to reveal:

now our backs to each other

All her predictions

could come true had I paid her

the fees for her writing

psychic reflections on dreams

I failed to realize in life

Wrinkles on the skin

remind me of time’s passage

year by year traveled

long distances renewing

spirit and waving good bye

Stray fungi grow

on the broken window frames

beside my bed

watery smell swells as if

a corpse in the river

Feeling the difference

between a tin house and

a weather proof tent:

on the Yamuna’s bank

Kumbh deluge to wash sins

With black and white marks

and nest of ants on its skin

the tree grows taller

shining through the geometry

of sun, moon and halogen

My voice

brown like autumn

crushed in noises I can’t

understand days pass in colours


Layers of dust thicken

on the mirror water makes

the smut prominent:

I wipe and wipe and yet

the stains stay like sin

In the forest of your hair

my finger searches

the little pearl of blood

that stirs the hidden waters

and contains my restlessness

The sun couldn’t help

nor fish protest:

river has no sex

so it dried up

trapped in its own banks

I’m no river

flowing toward the sea:

I must find my way

asking strangers in strange places

sensing soul, using insight

The otter watches

a duck walking on

the frozen river

icicles drop bit by bit

from a lone tree

I couldn’t understand

what’s Hindu about having

fish and onion

after prayers by the river

in the temple courtyard

Fears to see

his own image in

her eyes so

avoids seeing her again

betrays his cowardice

They watch her bare back

to feel the body through crotch

thank engraving pen

she loves the etching on skin

to enhance nudity

Dancing on

the car top a girl

holds the mike

to express her love

twists the audience

Slung-jawed awake

two grinning skeletons sit

bolt upright in bed

hear the shrieks next door but

too scared to call the police

The nightly ghosts crowd

my mind’s passage to forge

gods’ names in disguise

I fail to scan the face

of thought and life in the dark

The chill outside

deprives me of the bright moon

I breathe in my fears:

asthmatic bouts haunt and

jealousy itches the throat

Night’s prisoned friends

keep me awake with planes

flying over the ashram

every now and then I watch

the directions matter

One thousand miles

traveling together

in tense silence

he and she contemplate

the next round of duel

I can’t cement cracks

nor save the frames from collapse:

the wreck reveals the myth

I need not knit new dreams

if truth’s so cold and stingy

The yellowing patch

on the lawn won’t green with


the water infects the roots

even if I am drying up here

Each night speaks to me

in flatulence, wheezing

and pain in the legs:

god intervenes at times

in momentary union

With years of rubbish

he reeks of aborted dreams

lives a stagnant pool

cut off from the running source

rots in the marsh like a frog

They own little earth

and seek to auction the sky:

excel by default

god too becomes a party

to their flight with wax wings

Lying all day

with pain in the heels

and sinking heart

I read tanka and wait

for miracle to sleep

Burning without warmth

one more hot and sweaty spell

of summer, restless

down with stroke, without light, fan

exhausted, alone in bed

Ageing he thinks of

the ashes and the long trip

ahead in spirit

feels the earth he would

become celebrating life

New leaves welcome

his shadow near the window

the telephone rings

perhaps to greet Naw Ruz:

I didn’t pray or keep the fast

Like tramps and dogs

they piss and shit I see

I’m sucked in my own cracks:

now curl and cry

but none bother

With moral twists

name of god or religion

they fly planes to bomb

sheep of his pasture and

expect grace for humankind

Preaching peace

explode ‘plane bomb, car bomb

human bomb

and bluff the living corpses

with politics of terror

They claim to kill satan

mass murder innocents

and blow themselves up:

I wonder how god condones

vague prophets and their cult

From the border rings

he’s stationed dangerously:

any moment war

may break out for their follies

he must kill and live…to kill

In my impatience

I werdle or opup more:

they take their own time

here waiting is more aweful

than meeting or going

Vibration of thought

with their venom in groups

my spirit disturbed

I lose desire to live here

conceal my angst in tanka

Concealing mourning

in twilight gaze he explores

the shaping nightmares:

colours of the rainbow guard

the beasts at the day’s entrance

Their loose tattle

or loitering on the street

changes nothing

not even the hand they wave

to penetrate the body

Surging like a wave

they image in the air and

end up wriggling worms

hiding through the thick hedges

digging the dark undergrowth

Naked children crowd

as I pass through the alleys

between smelly slums:

dogs bark to alert them to

the presence of a stranger

Swallowing capsules

he trusts in absent healing

seeks intercessions

to cure allergic asthma

and the cyst not contracting

Is it the water

or sweat flowing from the cleft

they queue up to drink?

not far away the masons cut

rocks to build a new highway

The sun of knowledge

shining through the beer bottle

under the neem tree:

carousing, singing in praise

of gods and ghosts that never drank

He takes out the letter

and writes a poem on its back

recalling the last words

winds whispered through the stars

that still shine in the sky

Waving arms of trees

conspire with overcast day

to drench again

the two of us look for shade

under leaking umbrella

Over the dried moss

rains have grown new layers

making the path more

slippery for all of us

falling is a postscript now

Laden with new shoots

the trees promise mangoes

to celebrate summer:

the dust-storm and rain shatter

all hopes hanging by snapped wire

Waiting for the remains

of sacrifice vultures

on the temple tree

stink with humans and goddess

on the river’s bank

Copyright: R.K.Singh

Published in The River Returns (Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 2006)