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 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 Four.

The second poem of the month from Gabriel Preil’s amazing poetry collection Autumn Music.
The following poem is my absolute favourite from the book.

Letter out of the Gray
– Gabriel Preil

No one writes to me.
The books are as tired as I.
The pen still shakes on the paper
its dubious warmth
and it seems I’m not holding it.
It is a reed stuck in a faraway sea
or seized by a stranger
directing a line from right to left
as if by accident.
But sometimes, out of the gray,
a square letter smiles.
Blue and innocent,
it whispers:
I am the only one who loves.

***

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 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 Seventeen.

May is long gone and the pile of poetry books on my desk keeps increasing day after day. Sadly, very few of them got read in the past two months.  But no matter, there are many more days to come when poems will be read and grasped; today is such a day.

Instead of a theme a month, I thought I’ll read and post poetry of a particular poet every month (yes, it is easier this way). This month’s poet is Vikram Seth; poems are from his poetry collection titled Mappings. 

Quaking Bridge
– Vikram Seth

So here I am again by Quaking Bridge.
Standing a moment by the water’s edge,
Hearing the water’s roar as it churns past
The ancient brewery; and I am cast
Back to December when by Quaking Bridge
I stood a moment by the water’s edge
And heard the water’s turbulence and knew
That since no more remained that I could do
And since to think of pain itself is pain,
I should forget and not walk here again
And hear the water under Quaking Bridge
And stand in thought beside the water’s edge,
And I am here again; but why delay?
Think, and walk on, and think: but walk away.

***

 

The Thirty-Ninth Rule of Love

Little by little one turns forty, fifty, and sixty and, with each major decade, feels more complete.You need to keep walking, though there’s no place to arrive at. The universe is turning, constantly and relentlessly, and so are the earth and the moon, but it is nothing other than a secret embedded within us human beings that makes it all move. With that knowledge we dervishes will dance our way through love and heartbreak even if no one understands what we are doing. We will dance in the middle of a brawl or a major war, all the same. We will dance in our hurt and grief, with joy and elation, alone and together, as slow and fast as the flow of water. We will dance in our blood. There is perfect harmony and subtle balance in all that is as was in the universe. The dots change constantly and replace one another, but the circle remains intact:

“While the parts change, the whole always remains the same. For every thief who departs this world, a new one is born. And every decent person who passes away is replaced by  a new one. In this way not only does nothing remain the same but also nothing ever really changes. For every Sufi who dies, another is born somewhere.”

The Thirty-Eighth Rule of Love

The first step is always the hardest:

“It is never too late to ask yourself, ‘Am I ready to change the life I am living? Am I ready to change within?’ Even if a single day in your life is the same as the day before, it surely is a pity. At every moment and with each new breath, one should be renewed and renewed again. There is only one way to be born into a new life: to die before death.”

The Thirty-Seventh Rule of Love

There is a time for everything:

“God is a meticulous clockmaker. So precise is His order than everything on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die.”