Poem of the week: Week Forty Four.

And here’s the last poem from Hoshang Merchant’s poetry book Love’s Permission.

‘Sunday’ Afternoon
– Hoshang Merchant

Actually, it is Tuesday
But I’ve taken off from work
He, from school

We listen to Ifti Nasim’s ghazals
Read gay poetry from Boston
Discuss Ashok Row’s magazine piece

We have installed ourselves
in a world made by ourselves
with a little help from our friends.

I think of Hockney’s paintings
of his sleeping lovers
They sleep, he paints

My lover sleeps, I write
I shop for bread and cheese
My lover dreams

I cannot enter his dreams
Living together for him began
with a dream of friendship

In his dream a boy became a man
There is no man or woman only love

The poem is complete
The challenge of this once empty page met.

***

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Poem of the week: Week Forty Three.

Here’s the second last poem from Hoshang Merchant’s poetry book Love’s Permission.

Reading Rumi
– Hoshang Merchant

This morning has come whoring
Where are incense and prayer?
The sun is in bed
Outside it is raining
Rumi’s plaint reaches our ears
It frees rivers of ink and tears
Something must sit at centre for this to be
The Master absconds
The pupil sits searching
The sky for an eye
He waters the earth                                 Verses wet
By giving up each one’s brought up bone dry and shining
Each letter a burning jewel
Each jewel a burning wound
Received on the way to Mecca
Dealt by the Beloved’s own son
This morning the darlings are turning
at Konya as they do each mourning
They celebrate the son of the Sun
They call to the Lover to come
So the Beloved can become the bridegroom
Each day is death
Each day is marriage
in this world but not of it
Why then do I
turn to you in bed with wet eye?

***

Poem of the week: Week Forty Two.

Here’s the second poem from Hoshang Merchant’s poetry collection Love’s Permission.

Evening Song: 17 October 1995.
– Hoshang Merchant

This long evening
When old monuments hide in mist
belongs to me

It longs for all its history
The history of other long evenings
It longs for me

It tells me I’m nothing
That men will come and go
There will always be evenings

Then out steps a shade from the mist
It is not rain; it is memory
Calling to me

It says come back to your history
You were not nothing
You were sent to sing the night

And all the rain of Nohant
Descends on my heard with Chopin
What could he do but sing?

We sing always to shades
To mists and memory and evenings
There are no men everlasting

Only Love, evanescent
That passes hurting us into heart
Making everlasting nights of evenings.

***

 

Poem of the week: Week Forty One.

The poet for the month of November is Hoshang Merchant.
And poems  are from his fifth poetry collection Love’s Permission.

Song of the Courtesan
– Hoshang Merchant

I keep house
like a courtesan

I sit writing poems
in bed

I listen to old songs
of the courtesans

Boys who visit
Find here a strange peace

Even if my mood be
bad or sad

Life would go on
without us

But there would be no pleasure
we live as if there was no death

Though daily we die
in bed

Teaching the boys this
I cease to being the old courtesan that
I long to be
and become purely her song.

***

Poem of the week: Week Thirty Seven.

This month’s poet is Amrita Pritam. Poems are from a collection of her poetry called प्रतिनिधि कविताएँ, published by Rajkamal Prakashan.
I’m really excited since this is the first ever poem in Hindi on this blog!

I picked up this one (too) from Kitab Khana. So, every time I go there, I spend some (quite a lot of) time looking at the poetry section, and I usually end up buying at least one book – depending on my budget. This time, since my card is blocked, I had left home with just 200₹ my mother had handed to me. So, a very important reason why I picked प्रतिनिधि कविताएँ  is that it is priced only at 50₹.

I don’t know if this is good or bad. I’m happy since I’m reading some amazing poems at minimal cost, but would I feel the same if my work fetched me so little? It is strange that novels, comics, or even books of photographs are priced up to 1,000₹ or more but when it comes to poetry, publishers feel it’s best to price it low. Even more so when it is regional literature. 

There is an audience for poetry in the city. What proves this is the number of poetry events that happen around here. And I’m sure many of you buy poetry books but if you don’t, please do. Visit Kitab Khana (the poetry section is just next to the staircase), go through the list of books on Writers Workshop. Support the work of poets.

Now, some classic Amrita Pritam:

इश्क
– अमृता प्रीतम 

कमीना… बेवफ़ा… बदज़ात… ज़ालिम
कम्बख्त तुम याद आते हो
तो कितने ही लफ़्ज –
मेरी छाती की आग चाटते
आग थूकते
मेरे मुँह से निकलते…
 
बदन हा मांस
जब गीली मिट्टी की तरह होता
तो सारे लफ़्ज –
मेरे सूखे हुए होंटों से झरते
और मिट्टी मे
बीजों की तरह गिरते…
 
में थकी हुई धरती की तरह
खामोश होती
तो निगोड़े
मेरे अंगों मे से उग पड़ते
निर्लज्ज
फूलों की तरह हँसते
और में –
एक काले कोस जैसी
महक महक जाती…
 
***

Poem of the week: Week Thirty Two.

The last and my favourite poem from Mustansir Dalvi’s Brouhahas of Cocks.

a saint prays for rain
– Mustansir Dalvi

You are gone these many seasons,
anamnesis shed like miniatures
lost in the dunes west of Sam,
and I am left white, anaemic.

I paint my breasts saffron
with pastes of sandalwood
for to anoint You, my Lord,
but they dry and cake.
I scratch myself, scrape
Your names on my skin,
bring blood simmering
to the surface to keep
Your tongue interested.

This world is anathema,
conjoint of meat and material,
a malediction of the mind
keeping You from me
and my heart, a four-chambered
reef knot, another piece of flesh.

Answer my prayers, Lord,
but get Your aim right.
The archers of Your approbation
are way off mark. The leaden barbs
from your forge should pitch
their sights to a lower eye
for my faith is my clitoris
between the teeth of my Lord.
You bite down with felicity
midsummer showers
redden the earth, and the musk
of my fertile mud is released.

*** 

Poem of the week: Week Thirty One.

The third poem from Mustansir Dalvi’s poetry collection Brouhahas of Cocks. Also, the second last poem for this month.

choosing trains
 Mustansir Dalvi

It’s those bloody slumwallahs again
my father curses, wet from the rain;
they’re back, throwing rocks at trains
so,so heartless, so totally insane.

I peek out from behind exhaust shaft
at the mob that destroys, burns and laughs;
duck just in time as a spinning half-
bat crashes through our grimy pane. 

The old man rushes to take us in
two sons, one wife, no next of kin
into the backroom store, on its roof of tin
skeletons dance to staccato strains.

I turn the back handle, quick, scurry out
onto rain swept rails, heart thudding, father shouts.
I turn left, then right, and finally, head south
to pick my rocks, to choose my trains.

***

Poem of the week: Week Nineteen.

Too many poems from Vikram Seth’s poetry collection, Mappings, are worth sharing. But there’s space for only four. This is the first ever poetry collection I have read from start to end without a break, and what a feeling it is! Should do this more often.

Here’s the third poem for the month of May.

Guest
– Vikram Seth

I woke. He mumbled things in the next bed,
I lay there for an hour or so. At four
The alarm rang. He got out of bed. He wore
Nothing. I felt his sleepy classic head
And long-limbed body stir my quiescent heart.
I’d thought that I was free. Wrong from the start.
I found I loved him entirely instead.

There was no real hope. Guy loving guy?
“Man – that’s a weird trip – and not for me.”
I accepted that. But next day, warily,
We coiled to snap or spring. Rash truth. To lie
Still could have spared the trust; the warmth as well.
I left his room that day. I try to tell
Myself this sorrow like this ink will dry.

***

 

Poem of the week: Week Two.

Second week of the theme ‘Beginnings and Ends’. I picked up Jane Bhandari’s Aquarius when I (finally) went to Kitab Khana opposite Flora Fountain. I had passed by that place numerous times and had absolutely no idea that it existed. Had I found it on an ordinary day, the experience wouldn’t have been anything short of finding Wonderland or something.

I have attended Jane’s Loquations meets, but had never really read any poetry of hers properly. Here’s one that fits the theme on many levels. 

New House
– 
Jane Bhandari 

In the beginning
The new house was void
Of all but light.
White walls 
Scooped light from the windows
And threw it into my eyes.
I was in a shell of light,
Echoing, bare and bright.

The breaking and the making
Are almost over.

At night I prowl
The silent rooms, littered
With the chaotic debris
Of a new-made home,
And look out
Over the sequinned city.

By day I watch the play
Of light on the walls,
Watch the house transform
Into something wholly mine,
My print on it as distinct 
As that of my hand.

Now
I shall enter my shell,
And then begin to grow.

***

I love the solitary feel this poem has. In it, there is a sense of patience and determination to start life anew.