Poem of the week: Week Twenty Four.

And the last poem for the month of June (finally): my second favourite from Manohar Shetty’s collection of poems Personal Effects.

Sleepless
Manohar Shetty

I’ve forgotten the function
Of alarm clocks and how
Sunrise kindles the eyes.

By five, I’ve chainsmoked
To the dawn of early
Walkers, immortal tennis

Players; the pulp and starch
Of unread newspapers.
Exotica blooms in my good

Neighbour’s garden. In my
Unwatered patch, begonias
Go to seed, passion-flowers

Wilt and marigolds
Smell of funerals. I watch
The hands of the wall-clock

Tick backwards, time a
Flatline in my heart as morning
Blinks in the kitchen.

Leftovers rankle in the bin.
Flies lie dead
On the gas ring.

***

Poem of the week: Week Twenty Three.

The third poem for the month of June from Manohar Shetty’s poetry collection Personal Effects.

Transitions
– 
Manohar Shetty

He scans all four directions
Before crossing a one-way street.

The black blurs into grey,
The smooth into the 
Edgy as he drags himself
From one week to the next
Like a stray with three
Legs.

He recalls clearly the nick
Names, the leathery crunch
Of boxing gloves, the hum
Of the swinging ball and cane,
House colours sharp as the rising
Bell,

As the B&W TV screen, the ticking
Telegram in crooked capitals,
The trunk call at midnight
On a black telephone
Caparisoned on all fours like a
Sphinx,

The toady Ambassador and her
Padmini the only two mean
Machines, carrom and rummy, the static
Of Big Ben, the matinee at New
Talkies, the net of those hurlyburly
Days.

And stoned freaks who stole
The show without trying, the generation
Gap smoking joint between
Cool and square as he made
A hash of his time in bell
Bottoms.

But blown away by Camus
Plus Neruda and on the road with
Ginsberg and Kerouac, he caught a
Glimpse of something burgeoning
In Madame Bovary, Anais Nin and their
Ilk.

Now his heartbeats are the falsetto
Of a goods train on a creaking
Bridge over a river rank with
Debris. The last ten years
Are a blur but not the first
Twenty.

He can’t place a name
To a recent face or a cover page.
The crossword crowd tramples
On, red and amber. But he’s
Frozen on the green on an empty
Street.

***

Poem of the week: Week Twenty Two.

Second poem for the week of June is the one after which the poetry collection is named: Personal Effects.

Personal Effects
– 
Manohar Shetty

A few things he’ll leave behind
To no one in particular:
A gold necklace from his mother
Melted into a wedding ring;

Two first editions with broken 
Spines that may fetch
A small fortune, but too late
To pay the bills; a box

Of expired pills; a gold-nibbed
Fountain pen he refused
To write with; an Olivetti,
Its keys the seats
Of an empty stadium;

And clothes worn thin – he
Loved the comfort of old
Things: old letters, stopped clocks,
The patina in sideboards,
Fading photographs and paintings;

And, last, musty notebooks
And diaries empty of
Mythical poems and important
Jottings. 

***

Poem of the week: Week Twenty One.

The poet for June is one of my favourites: Manohar Shetty. And the first poem for the month of June is my favourite from his poetry collection Personal Effects. 

Forgetting
– 
Manohar Shetty

I don’t remember the broken glass,
The slice of lemon lucid as a new moon,
Your frozen eye, and blood
In the iced tea as your 
Translucent knuckles tightened on a
Fragment of glass.

I don’t remember that at all.

***