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Indian Poetry

Terror Sequence

A J Thomas

New Delhi, 13 September 2008, 6.21 pm

The first newsflash must have been
Beamed about 6.40 pm
As my brother called me up from Kerala
To see all was well with me and mine.
Bombs, he said, had gone off
At Gaffar Market Karol Bagh,
Central Park Connaught Place,
Barakhamba Road, M Block Market GK I.
At first count the figures were
20 injured
Soon it rose to 30-40
Within a few minutes
3 dead
5 dead
7 dead
10 dead
I switched off the TV.

28 and Counting

28 blank picture-masks
In the TV screen
To get a face each…..
A pretty face…
A distraught face…
A ravaged face…
All the rest
Contorted in mortal pain,
In a deadly freeze-shot….
Young men, earnest
In grisly irony
A pretty body
Limp, lifeless
The shapely legs,
The slender waist and the buxom
Bosom and comely face
TV cameras instinctively zooming in on…..

The Terrorist’s Mind

When he wages a war
He must certainly have
His enemies in his sights.
So, when a two-year-old bundle
Of blood and tender bones shudders lifeless
In a rescuer’s hand
Does the terrorist score off
A name from his list?
Does a face loom up in his mind?
When an 80-year-old patriarch
Lies like a sieve
Bleeding from hundreds of
Pellet wounds,
Which Merciful God
Is the terrorist propitiating?

Saturday, 27 September 2008, Delhi

The mobike snaked its way through
The narrow, crowded gali
And the pillion rider seemed to drop a parcel
Accidentally. The four-year old
Girl-child picked it up and ran after
The slow-moving bike
Piping, “Uncle, uncle
You’ve dropped something,
here it is…” Before she could complete,
smoke came out of the parcel
and the explosion blew her to bits,
her tender brain scattering all around….
This was at 2.30 pm and
The TV visuals repeating
The scene of the disconsolate mother
From whose finger the child
Wrenched herself away
Being forcibly lead towards elders
As she refuses to leave the spot…
This is another Saturday
Fifteen days exactly after 13/9.

My heart is hardened like a criminal’s

i can’t fail to remember it isn’t me out there…
somehow i manage to be not there
i escape nuclear bombs
and rise like a cockroach
the day after the n-holocaust…
i escape earthquakes
and thrive on the debris,
looting what is left…
i escape all accidents, bomb-blasts
all my limbs intact
my heart rubberised.
victory to the great survivor!

I Wanna Go Home

My heart yearns
To go back to my childhood greens.
To the tiny mauve flowers
The succulent eraser-weed stems
The tear-drop grass-roots
Hanging below the tiny gushing cascade
In the rivulet…
The cracker-grass shoots…
The dragon flies…
The hosts of mist rising to the cerulean skies
The giant silk-cotton tree
Glowing at dusk…..
I don’t want to see this cityscape
I don’t belong here…
I don’t want civilization…
Let me run far, far back.,..
Farther and farther,
Till I fall back on earth’s pristine bosom.

Translated by
The Refugee
Rustic Vignettes
Sarmad Shaheed
Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaran Road

The Refugee

A J Thomas

He came like a refugee from
The second world, craving human company;
Terminally ill, he seemed to seek
Vitality and hope; his past tumbling from
His lips, as if in a confession,
He felt visibly light and relieved.
Life and death, two sides of the same coin…
He seemed to traverse the thin mass in between.
Like a scout atop a tower who can see both
Sides of the railroad and the two fast-approaching
Trains on the same track, and not able to stop them,
He assumed nonchalance.
Destiny’s immediacy, and the dismay
At discovering it, made him seem
To disbelieve his own words…hesitantly in
A suggestive mode now, instead of falling back on
The assertive ways he was obviously wont to.
His days on earth defined; a reminder
To those who are still in the blind fray.

Translated by
Terror Sequence
Rustic Vignettes
Sarmad Shaheed
Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaran Road


A J Thomas

Lying diagonally
In the wide bed, vaguely
Listening to the early morning sounds
Of bird-chirps, an occasional car-horn
Against the soothing murmur of the slow-falling rain
The fan swirling above at tempest-speed…
Smugly detached from the ballasting past
And the mirage smile of the future…
Sixty-one years of struggles and joys,
Blood-bonds close to the heart--
All suddenly a big void…
The haunting prods of should-have-beens
Strangely absent… no place
Even for ambivalence; each individual path
Fading into the fugue horizon at different directions…
Somnolence spreading like a blanket, inducing
Weightlessness—like a kite cut loose, the mind
Hovering around consciousness;
Life’s drama
Unfolding before the inner eye…
…Is this it?

Translated by
Terror Sequence
The Refugee
Rustic Vignettes
Sarmad Shaheed
Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaran Road


A J Thomas

My mother’s leathery face and
Caved in lips, sans teeth or denture
The broken arm in plaster rubbing
The side of the left breast once fed me
But now turned septic. Her three months
In the hospital had got her life back
To be snatched away anytime;
Death was on the prowl we knew.
She who was so full of life and hope
Suddenly turned to me one day and said:
‘Why should I live on? My time is gone.
Let me go now. Don’t worry about me.’
There was a blank listlessness about her
Eyes and lips.
In her last stint in the hospital
When she went in and out of
Cubicles of consciousness
Her roving eyes could not see
The reassurance her son sought
To bring, the security of wellbeing—
Only blankness, blankness.

Translated by
Terror Sequence
The Refugee
Rustic Vignettes
Sarmad Shaheed
Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaran Road

Rustic Vignettes

A J Thomas

The wind is the same
As ever, over the centuries
Blowing in stiff, straight draughts
Keeping the tree-leaves akimbo
And the black-tipped clouds in great, straight streams
The sky looks clean-washed and dipped in indigo
Hung out to dry
The sunshine seems to shimmer more
As if it has a life all its own
The rural spirit
Superimposed with
The aspirations of a fast-globalising world . . .
Young women flash away on Kinetic Hondas
Older women on mopeds slug away
With funny caps on their heads!


વાયરો તો જે હતો તે જ છે
સીધા સુસવાટે વાતો
વૃક્ષોનાં પર્ણોને સખળડખળ કરતો

સીધા વહેણે વહેતાં કાળી કિનારીવાળાં વાદળાં
ધોઈ કરી, ગળીમાં ઝબકોળી
સૂકવવા ટાંગ્યું હોય તેવું આકાશ
સૂર્યપ્રકાશ ઝળહળતો, જીવતો જાગતો
ગ્રામ્યચેતના ઉપર ચોંટાડેલી
વેગીલા વૈશ્વીકરણની આકાંક્ષાઓ:
કાઇનેટિક હોંડા પર સડસડાટ જતી યુવતીઓ
મોપેડને હળવે હાંકતી પ્રૌઢાઓ
માથે કોમિક ટોપીઓ પહેરેલી!

-એ જે થોમસ
(અંગ્રેજીમાંથી અનુવાદ: ઉદયન ઠક્કર)

Translated by Udayan Thakker from English
Terror Sequence
The Refugee
Sarmad Shaheed
Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaran Road


A J Thomas

My enticing smile, alas,
Reveals only my fangs
My enamoured fondling of your
Winsome shoulder
Are but scratches with my talons
My love-burnt eyes turn
Into two blazing embers
My bosom aquiver with passion for you
Reveal only my hirsute teats!
How am I to love you Rama
With all these
Treacherous exteriors?
My love for you
Is the yearning for the eternal You
But this is how I am defined
And, you, of all people
Spurn me!
You are all-seeing, aren’t you?
How come you can’t see my
Heart burning in Panchagni
Yearning for union with you?
Your petite wife whom you call half your body and soul
Will soon turn fickle, and jump out
Of the circle your slave-brother has confined her in
On your behalf. You can’t spurn femininity
And get away with it. I am Shoorpanakha
The sole sister
Of the conqueror of heaven and earth,
Yet I fail in front of you, Rama.
The molten lava of my tears
Will engulf your epic
In flames of devastation.

Translated by
Terror Sequence
The Refugee
Rustic Vignettes
Sarmad Shaheed
Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaran Road

Sarmad Shaheed

A J Thomas

(Recently I revisited the Juma Masjid area and Ballimaran, which inspired two poems. The first one is on the Martyr Sarmad who was executed by the Emperor Aurangazeb)
The king is naked, cried the innocent child.
Power is naked, the unsheathed sword.
Truth is naked too. Innocence can see it.
The two often clash in battle, sparks flying.
Sticking to nudity is the ultimate truth-speaking.
That’s what Sarmad did--the absolute unconformity,
Outside the frames of the established.
If Mansur Al Hallāj declared ‘I am the Truth’ chanting Ana’l Haqq,
Sarmad did something similar, saying only the La Ilāha part of the kalimah
Leaving out illā-llāh, perhaps implying
‘There’s no God outside, but within oneself.’
Dazed by the unravelling, Aurangzeb had him beheaded
Outside the Eastern Gate of the Juma Masjid
Where the headless Sarmad danced on the steps
Carrying his head in his hands, before giving up the ghost,
As the legend goes.
Standing on the very steps, I frame a picture of his Red Dargah below
With the Quila-e Mualla, -- or, the Exalted Fortress which was eventually reduced to
The simple Lal Quila to suit the latter-day reality of total decrepitude--
Looming in the skyline behind.

Translated by
Terror Sequence
The Refugee
Rustic Vignettes
Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaran Road

Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaran Road

A J Thomas

In spite of being in Delhi for the last 22 years, I was visiting Ghalib’s Haveli on Ballimaran Road, off Chandni Chowk, for the first time.
The timeless poet shares his home now
With a shop—never mind, faring better than many
Of Delhi’s beloved bards who upheld
The Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb,
And yet have left no earthly trace.
One can only gaze around at the relics of his life
With a lump rising to one’s throat.
Such exalted conceits, word-craft, humour;
Unbending sense of honour bruised by
History’s nasty turns. Perpetually in debt
Yet never perturbed in his angelic self.
Homeless, ever roaming in spirit, he’d have little value
For a majestic dwelling place like this.
He’d even forgive the garish facelift given
To his long-lived-in, one-time quarters.
He knows these, and the countless tomes churned out about him,
Are well-meaning attempts to keep his memory alive. He’d even forgive
This, my lame verse in his name.

Translated by
Terror Sequence
The Refugee
Rustic Vignettes
Sarmad Shaheed

Pandu, The Masseur in Goa


My name is Pandu,
I am a masseur from Kolhapur,
the state of Maharashtra

I can do foot massage, head massage
I can massage your genitals
I have been massaging since past twenty years,
mostly Americans, English and Danes
but now the beach is full of Russians
and I don't know much Russian sadly

My fellow masseur met a Swiss woman
they got married and went to Switzerland,
now he asks me give him a massage (chuckles)

I work here only six months in a year -
October to May, then I go back to Kolhapur
to work in the fields, to grow vegetables and fruits

earlier I used to sell grass, opium and other drugs
not any more, it has become too dangerous
but don't worry, I still have some contacts

I can get you whatever you want - drugs, women
please let me give you a massage,
please don't tell anyone what I am telling you

the beach shack owner does not pay me
he does not give me food or any drinks
I pay extortion to the police every month

all I earn is from massages I do
so please let me massage you,
this time I've voted for the opposition

look at my finger tip, the dot of Indian ink,
they will give licences for five years
to run the beach shacks

Government did nothing much in the past six years,
I am building a home here in Goa, I have taken a loan
and have to pay a huge sum as interest every month

please let me give you a massage,
my family will die of hunger back in Kolhapur
be kind, take pity on me, let me give you a massage.

Translated by
Soul Song

Soul Song


I was always here
as blowing wind
or falling leaves
as shining sun
or flowing streams
as chirping birds
or blooming buds
as blue sky
or empty space
I was never born
I didn’t die

Translated by
Pandu, The Masseur in Goa


Adil Jussawalla

My body is a pile of papers
left behind on a bench.
Ordered to be burnt,
it sits unruffled.

My body is a metal tube
of paste, wires, clips.
A number on it diminishes steadily,
a shadow flits.

My body is a plant
that came with the tag
“For show.”
I stand in the garden, puzzled.
All day I stand, splodged with blooms like Pierrot.


Sa’adi’s gift comes late.
He writes:
Breathe easy in the garden and be glad.
Be a strange sight.
From this day on
your roses will stay fully open.

Courtesy: Poetry at Sangam

Translated by


Adil Jussawalla

Perennial scrapyard, magnet for the remaindered,
burning ground for ships that outlive their terms of service.

thought its working conditions are savage deplored,
I don’t want to go there now, other things matter.

On night and day are showers of light
from instruments cutting through once-buoyant life.

the sound of crushers, claws, the smell of metal
becoming liquid – all we imagined to be in another country

now blinking their warning lights in rooms close at hand
or in hospitals near or distant,

where those marked to be proceed may spend
the five years it takes or more to make a great ship

vanish, as mother spent hers, open to probes and instruments,
and may make others I dare not mention spend.

Let it be merciful I pray, with us still alive
(however faintly) to the blessings of sight and sound.

the passing of ships with all their lights on, the music at sea
others are joyously dancing to, glimpse

the sudden bight arc of a lighthouse even as it’s happening
here grappling irons hit our decks and slack cable sing as they tauten

Translated by

Mustard Flowers

Ajmer Rode

If you see an old man sitting alone
at the bus stop and wonder who he is
I can tell you.
He is my father.
He is not waiting for a bus or a friend
nor is he taking a brief rest before
resuming his walk.
He doesn't intend to shop in the
nearby stores either
he is just sitting there on the bench.

Occasionally he smiles and talks.
No one listens.
No body is interested.
And he doesn't seem to care
if someone listens or not.

A stream of cars, buses, and people
flows on the road.
A river of images, metaphors and
similes flows through his head.
When everything stops
at the traffic lights it is midnight
back in his village. Morning starts
when lights turn green.
When someone honks his neighbor's
dog barks.

When a yellow car passes by
a thousand mustard flowers
bloom in his head.

Translated by In English Mustard Flowers  

The Ladies compartment

Akila G

We are a motley crowd
with handbags, laptops and lunch bags,
sporting IDs of rings and toe rings,
buffering dark circles
for un-waxed conversations of etcetera
in food, fabric, finance, family.

We manicure safety and freedom
in lip-glossed songs, henna cones and
social network pages on the phone.

Nasal calls of peanut and samosa vendors
are flipped by in bookmarked pages
hoping that one day,
a rainbow would find the puffed eyes
gazing vacant at the window.

Our laughter
indulges in anonymous company
of dry sweat, an aura of our anatomy.

We waltz
with our Body Mass Index,
pH of pimples, dimples, wrinkles and
uneven tones of our skin
on pedicured sandals, cracked slippers,
stiff joints and a numb lower back.
The overhead bar syncs our pursuits.

We are one in many;
many in one.

Soon we would slumber to cricket songs
leaving the lady in the welcome poster near the door
to rattle alone with empty shadows.

Tomorrow will be a new dawn,
sun- screened with another ticket
for this daily soap in the ladies compartment.

Translated by

Elephant Bathing

Anand Thakore

He will never go there again,

Hip- flask in pocket, camera at hand,

Far from the crowded confines

Of the human animal he could not trust,

To the lush cricket-choired thickets

He so jealously loved;

Dense, creeper-canopied spaces

Where he would listen eagerly

For the sudden slither of a python's tail,

Or the persistent mating calls of leopard and crane,

Studying the stealthy ways of predator and prey,

Till panther, bison, hyena and stag

Seemed p art of a single guileless continuum

He had only begun to see his part in.

Now home and city hunt him down,

Building about him their busy labyrinth

Of doctors, nurses, brothers and sons;

Though tiger and spotted deer remain,

Frozen above his bed in black and white.

An egret pecks noiselessly at a crocodile's jaws,

As pale flamingoes, stripped irretrievably of their pinks,

Leap into a flight forever deferred.

Where you are going, they seem to say,

You will have no need for us or all you remember.

And yet the thought of getting there is not unlike

A great lone tusker taking the plunge,

His vast grey bulk sinking below the river line

Against a clear black sky,

Till there is no more of him to see

Than a single tusk,

White as a quarter-moon in mid-July,

Before the coming of a cloud.

Translated by
Dead, at Your Mother's Funeral
Chandri Villa

Dead, at Your Mother's Funeral

Anand Thakore

As if to quench the first, flickering wisps of flame,

Rain poured in torrents when I reached the grounds,

Beating wildly upon the low tin roof,

Like a great hurt beast no will could tame.

Sweat covered your forehead, your blue sleeves wet,

As you took the hot brand into your palms,

Turning towards me before you lit the sticks,

Your brown hair drenched as when we first met.

Can I say I still loved the man I saw,

Whose loss I turned so quickly away from?

I saw you through tongues of leaping flame,

And cold eyes of ice no flame could thaw,

Your mother burning as I thought of my own,

Seeking no way into the cell of your grief;

No way out of mine as I heaped her with twigs,

Poured oil on damp wood and watched you like a stone.

Translated by
Elephant Bathing
Chandri Villa

Chandri Villa

Anand Thakore

His name was Chandri-my grandfather once said-
Who was to live here, but died of plague. Each of us fails
In the end, but I was born in a house built for the dead:
On the red gate they hammered his name with nails.

Nineteen Nineteen. These bougainvilleas
Have grown since then; the dead leave us, leaving no trails-
Deep in the banyan-grove at Chandri Villa,
A secret sense of loss prevails.

And the very stillness of these trees carries me past an April
Long dead, newly strewn with banyan leaves; thick roots dangle
Above my head-ancient, knotted roots I cannot untangle,
Till I am a child once again though against my will,

The wide grove closing its arms as it to kill;
My veins so many banyan roots twisted into one,
And all their tangled knots come undone,
Till almost I see him – the plagued man I never will.

Translated by
Elephant Bathing
Dead, at Your Mother's Funeral


AnIta PInto

He was my grandfather.

when I am eight

he is eighty

large, a giant

a twirling, white mustache

small bright eyes

under thick cotton cloud eyebrows.

a white dhoti

black velvet cap

I am small and frail

I pinch the skin on his hand

and watch it slowly

so slowly

go back

will you die soon? I ask

maybe, he answers

then will the skin stay up forever? I ask

he laughs softly

I climb onto his big armchair

and comb his hair

make it stand

like white candy-floss.

I can’t spell, I tell him

I may fail, I confide

he smiles

and kisses my brow

to blow cleverness there.

when I’m afraid

I hide under his chair

he glares at anyone

who comes looking for me

scuttling them

like dry leaves in a storm

you will cry

when I die, he says.

ha, I laugh

and so will your twenty five grandchildren

yes, but you will cry from your heart, he replies

one september morning he dies

we are called back from school

my sisters and I

I run to his room

his chair is empty

his walking stick standing still

he lies on the bed

his bushy eyebrows calm

his mustache not twitching

his bright eyes closed

I don’t want to pinch his hand

to see if the skin stayed up forever

I touch his candy-floss hair

and run from the room

I fling myself on my bed

and I cry

oh how I cry

great racking sobs choking me

no one, no one

can console me

no one can understand my loss

the first real sorrow

In my life

mine alone

that no one can console

the beginning

of knowledge

that we stand


Translated by


Anjali Purohit

Whoever was born a tabula rasa?
I came from the womb
with the history of our ancestors
the forks in their tongues
and the venom on their lips
interwoven into the strands of my DNA
wash, scrub and rinse, abrade and buff
it won’t come off.

Put on all the liberal masks of the world
one over the other yet
there will be a chink where the cosmetics melt
and the BB cream cracks
to show teeth and fangs
and atavistic passions
that would put our tribal past to shame

haven’t we now devised means so clinical,
long distant, sophisticated and global
that we can vanquish
entire peoples without a spot of blood
on our manicured white hands.

Translated by

5:46, Andheri Local

Arundhathi Subramaniam

In the women's compartment
of a Bombay local
we seek
no personal epiphanies.
Like metal licked by relentless acetylene
we are welded—
dreams, disasters,
germs, destinies,
flesh and organza,
odours and ovaries
A thousand-limbed
million-tongued, multi spoused
Kali on wheels.

When I descend
I could choose
to dice carrots
or a lover

I postpone the latter.

૫.૪૬,અંધેરી લોકલ

મુંબઈની લોકલના
સ્ત્રીઓના ડબ્બામાં
અમે શોધતાં નથી
કોઈ અંગત સાક્ષાત્કારને.
ગેસના લબકારે
સંધાતી ધાતુની જેમ
અમે જોડાઈએ છીએ-
સહસ્ર હસ્તચરણવાળી
લક્ષ જિહ્વાવાળી, અનેક પતિવાળી
ચક્ર પર ચાલતી કાળકા

હું ઊતરું ત્યારે
ચીરીને ચોસલા કરી શકું
કે પ્રેમીના
બીજા ક્રમાંકની શક્યતાને હું મુલતવી રાખું છું.

-અરુંધતી સુબ્રમણ્યમ્

Translated by
* Home
Black Oestrus
Catnap & A Shoebox Reminisces
Learning to Say Yes
The Way You Arrive
A Shoebox Reminisces
My Friends

* Home

Arundhathi Subramaniam

Give me a home
that isn't mine,
where I can slip in and out of rooms
without a trace,
never worrying
about the plumbing,
the colour of the curtains,
the cacophony of books by the bedside.

A home that I can wear lightly,
where the rooms aren't clogged
with yesterday's conversations,
where the self doesn't bloat
to fill in the crevices.

A home, like this body,
so alien when I try to belong,
so hospitable
when I decide I'm just visiting.

Translated by
5:46, Andheri Local
Black Oestrus
Catnap & A Shoebox Reminisces
Learning to Say Yes
The Way You Arrive
A Shoebox Reminisces
My Friends

Black Oestrus

Arundhathi Subramaniam

I could lie against you,
mouth on forehead, limbs woven
into a knot too dense
for yearning, hearing the gossamer flurry of your breath, the wild nearness
of your heartbeat, and it still won’t be

close enough.

I could swallow you, feel the slurry of you against palate
– and throat, ravish you
with the rip, snarl
and grind of canine
and molar, taste the ancestral grape that mothered you, your purpleness swirling down my gullet,
and it would be a kind
of knowing,

but you still won’t be
me enough.

I’m learning, love,
still learning
that there’s more to desire
than this tribal shudder in the loins.

But I’m not sure I’m ready
for it yet –

that shock
in your daily kabuki of shape and event.

Not yet.

Not yet that shock
of vacancy.

Translated by
5:46, Andheri Local
* Home
Catnap & A Shoebox Reminisces
Learning to Say Yes
The Way You Arrive
A Shoebox Reminisces
My Friends

Catnap & A Shoebox Reminisces

Arundhathi Subramaniam

This shoebox started out
a stiff-upper-lipped quadrilateral,
Upholder of Symmetry, Proportion, Principle,
sanctuary to an upright couple
of pedigree leather moccasins.

This week
shoebox learns
to sigh

Old idealist softens,
grows whiskers,
drowsing chin,
slumped tail,
Arctic eye.

Form is emptiness
Emptiness is form, Shariputra.

Shoebox abdicates
and Gucci worship,
secedes from
Pukka sahib
to purr.

A Shoebox Reminisces

I renounced shape
a long time ago,


but there are days
when the longing

and I cannot abide
the sterile cynicism
of the Anti Couples Club,
the smug peddlers
of Uni-sole Advaita.

I know it means
the saga of
two old shoes
all over again,

their grubby leather unions,
tales of childhood,
prejudice, toe jam, politics,

laces in a perpetual snarl
of knots,

But some days
I’m idolater enough
to want it again:
that old charade,

[Where I Live: New and Selected Poems; Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2009]

Translated by
5:46, Andheri Local
* Home
Black Oestrus
Learning to Say Yes
The Way You Arrive
A Shoebox Reminisces
My Friends


Arundhathi Subramaniam

I wake in the mornings
to find the city at my window,

a giant mouth

that’s forgotten how to close.

The telephone rings,

each ring a reminder

that I have been detected,

that I am She

whose e-mails pile up unanswered,

whose checklists grow




She who is never on the right platform.

She who turns away

from importunate hands at car windows.

She who smiles when she doesn’t mean it.

She who didn’t vote at three elections.

But what no one guesses

is that it is She who after sundown

stalks the dark alleys,

hungry to annihilate anyone

who seeks to tame her

with clammy malarial tentacles

of guilt.

And on full-moon nights

She even dares

to look the world

square in the face

and say


[Where I Live: New and Selected Poems; Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2009]

Arundhathi Subramaniam

Me despierto por las mañanas
para encontrar la ciudad en mi ventana,
una boca gigante
que ha olvidado cómo cerrar.

El teléfono suena,
cada ring, un recordatorio
de que he sido detectada,

de que soy Ella
cuyos correos electrónicos se acumulan sin respuesta,
cuyas listas de control crecen

Ella quien nunca está en la plataforma correcta.
Ella quien se aleja
de manos importunas
en las ventanas del automóvil.
Ella quien sonríe cuando no lo desea.
Ella quien no votó en tres elecciones.

Pero lo que nadie adivina
es que es Ella quien después del ocaso
acecha los callejones oscuros,
con hambre de aniquilar a cualquiera
que intente domesticarla
con tentáculos húmedos, palúdicos
de culpa.

Y en noches de luna llena
aún se atreve
a mirar el mundo
en plena cara
y decir


Translated by Berni Sangit into Spanish from English
5:46, Andheri Local
* Home
Black Oestrus
Catnap & A Shoebox Reminisces
Learning to Say Yes
The Way You Arrive
A Shoebox Reminisces
My Friends

Learning to Say Yes

Arundhathi Subramaniam

They matter,
the minor questions –

the smell of a new wardrobe,

the eternal bus ticket

in the bag’s second compartment, the leer

of the late shift security guard.

Yes, Draupadi’s sari is endless

and there’s no way to tame

life’s wild unstoppable


but this:

Fill out the form. Do it in bloody triplicate. Enroll.

[Where I Live: New and Selected Poems; Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2009]

Arundhathi Subramaniam

Ellas son importantes,
la cuestiones menores –
el olor de un nuevo vestuario,
el eterno ticket de autobús
en el segundo compartimiento del bolso,
la mirada de soslayo
del guardia de seguridad del turno tarde.

Sí, el sari de Draupadi es interminable

y no hay manera de domesticar
la burocracia
imparable, salvaje de la vida,
excepto esta:

Llenar el formulario. Hacerlo por sangriento triplicado. Inscribir.

Translated by Berni Sangit into Spanish from English
5:46, Andheri Local
* Home
Black Oestrus
Catnap & A Shoebox Reminisces
The Way You Arrive
A Shoebox Reminisces
My Friends

The Way You Arrive

Arundhathi Subramaniam

The way your words reach me,

through all these tensile,

suspicious membranes of self.

The way you unclog

these streets and by-lanes

so I can surge

through starshine and aqueduct,

the luminous canals of a world

turned Venetian.

The way you enter

and the day’s events scatter

like islands in the sea.

The way you arrive.

[Where I Live: New and Selected Poems; Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2009]

Translated by
5:46, Andheri Local
* Home
Black Oestrus
Catnap & A Shoebox Reminisces
Learning to Say Yes
A Shoebox Reminisces
My Friends

A Shoebox Reminisces

Arundhathi Subramaniam

I renounced shape
a long time ago,



but there are days
when the longing

and I cannot abide
the sterile cynicism
of the Anti Couples Club,
the smug peddlers
of Uni-sole Advaita.

I know it means
the saga of
two old shoes
all over again,

their grubby leather unions,
tales of childhood,
prejudice, toe jam, politics,

laces in a perpetual snarl
of knots,



But some days
I’m idolater enough
to want it again:
that old charade,


Translated by
5:46, Andheri Local
* Home
Black Oestrus
Catnap & A Shoebox Reminisces
Learning to Say Yes
The Way You Arrive
My Friends

My Friends

Arundhathi Subramaniam

They’re sodden, the lot of them,
leafy, with more than a whiff
of damage,
mottled with history,
dark with grime.

God knows I’ve wanted them different --
less preoccupied, more jaunty,
less handle-with-care,

more airbrushed,
less prone
to impossible dreams, less perishable,

a little more willing
to soak in the sun.

They don’t measure up.
They’re unpunctual.
They turn suddenly tuberous.

But they matter
for their crooked smiles,
their endless distractions,
their sudden pauses --

signs that they know
how green stems twist
and thicken
as they vanish
into the dark,

making their way
through their own sticky vernacular tissues
of mud,


Translated by
5:46, Andheri Local
* Home
Black Oestrus
Catnap & A Shoebox Reminisces
Learning to Say Yes
The Way You Arrive
A Shoebox Reminisces

Haiku 1

Arvinder Kaur


how i learnt

to let go

wishing well--

the hollow sound

my penny made

sandalwood tilak...

we wrap grandma

in her favourite brocade

milky way...

footprints of the night

within the night

honking geese--

a raven's silent glide

into nothingness

rickety bridge--

a langoor's leap

from fog to fog


a pailful of darkness

village well

Translated by

Flamingos in Early Summer

Ashwani Kumar

Nobody thought
In the terrible days of solitude,
Herds of jobless migrants with clay brick masks would
Suddenly arrive in the deserted city.

With them, the Armenian flamingos
Also descended; flock after flock
In the maggoty shadow of early summer.

From their sweaty pink wings,
Dry mustard leaves kept falling
In the freshly made shelter homes.

Flapping their empty stomachs,
Slowly, they filled the sky
With their hungry nasal cries for food and water.

Infuriated with the smell of infectious blood
Affluent city dwellers turned against themselves-
Speaking with strange voices of stones
In their moments of self-survival.

ઉનાળાના આરંભે ફ્લેમિંગો

કોઈને કલ્પના નહોતી કે
એકલતાના આ ભયાનક દિવસોમાં
મોં પર માટોડિયા રંગની મોં-પતી પહેરેલાં
બેરોજગાર પ્રવાસીઓનાં ધાડાં
અચાનક જ આ ઉજ્જડ નગરીમાં આવી ચડશે.

એમની સાથે જ આર્મેનિયન ફ્લેમિંગોનાં ઝુંડ પર ઝુંડ
આ ઉનાળાના આરંભે ખદબદતા પડછાયાઓ વચ્ચે
ઊતરી આવ્યાં,
એમની પરસેવે રેબઝેબ ગુલાબી પાંખો પરથી
શરણાર્થીઓ માટે હાલ જ બનેલાં રહેઠાણો પર
સરસવનાં પાંદડાં ખરતાં રહ્યાં.

પોતાનાં ખાલી પેટ ફફડાવીને,
દાણો-પાણી માટેની ભૂખી કિકિયારીઓથી
એમણે ધીમે ધીમે આખું આકાશ ભરી દીધું.

ચેપી લોહીની વાસથી ક્રોધે ભભૂકેલા સમૃદ્ધ રહેવાસીઓ
પોતાની જાતને ઉગારી લેવાની કપરી ક્ષણોમાં
પથ્થરોની વિચિત્ર ભાષા બોલી રહ્યા.

(અનુવાદ કમલ)

Translated by
Monologues of a Selfie

Monologues of a Selfie

Ashwani Kumar

Hey, you love me. Does it matter?

I don’t need anyone. I love me. I say it loudly. I love me.

I am not someone. This is my body-made for myself.

This is such a nice thing. I am no good, bad or evil.

It’s not hard to meet someone like me these days.

I feel like I have really made a genuine connection with myself. What a discovery?

You know my name. Nope. You guess – Abiku, Azaro, Sinai, Analogue, Android, Andromedean.

Ah, I am my generation. No name calling.

Forget your father, mother, uncle, aunt, siblings, and a series of absurd filial connections.

Forget family planning also. You are your own Gene.
Don’t think wrong of me. I tell you something about my personality traits.

I am no ascetic, no pragmatic, no conservative, no free thinker, no humourist, not follower of any leader or sect. Don’t get me wrong.

You think I am a bestseller. Yup. You got it right.

I am attractive, intelligent, confident, and successful. I make no mistake. I rock all the time.

I don’t want to know you. Yet I got lots of friends and contacts on Facebook, Twitter.

I often bare myself on Instagram. You want me. Don’t lie. You want me.

Tell you frankly. It is Impossible. I love myself. We are new monogamous. We date ourselves.

Don’t think we don’t have reproductive organs. We procreate and replicate.

We are like various brands of the milk – like soya milk, almond milk, coconut milk, chocolate milk, lactose-free milk, skimmed milk, regular milk etcetera.

We don’t age. Just grow old. Carry on.

Is it true that memory is like a room without windows? I can’t hear you. It is only me here.

Who is she? Who is he? I like to talk. What about you. Don’t care if you also like to talk.

So, the problem of finding common ground is over.
I feel like we are learning so much new about ourselves.

Hey, I don’t invite my boyfriends or girlfriends to my apartment. Gender is so boring. Male or female, it makes no difference. It makes things uninteresting.

I prefer walking by night. You like tram rides in the day. Fine. I earn my work. You also work for the Ministry of Future. A lot of you are afraid of me. But you like my pictures –

Let’s move a bit forward. I know all your quotes. You know mine. It’s great. I change my DP every day. Wait. Nothing changes though.
I love my own fragrance. Oh. Its so nice, so erotic as well.
Sure, you’ll love your own.

I don’t go to any public library or watch films at multiplexes. Neither do I withdraw cash at ATMs.

No hanky-panky. No ketch up. Damn it. Sing this ghetto-blaster-DUP-DUP- dudududu-DUP-DUP.

You know Kai Miller – that Jamaican poet. He loves singing DUP-DUP-dudududuDUP-DUP.

Don’t tell me a reason why you like it. Just sing DUP-DUP-dudududu-DUP-DUP.

Oh, life is so beautiful these days. Me, Me, Me, Me Only Me. It is queer. Downright queer.

Are you still not convinced? That’s O.K. Good news.

These days, we don’t have to be in the same picture frame. Don’t we?.

I know you are like me. You just don’t want to admit you love yourself.

It looks like you just got a new alert. Hey, don’t delete me. I confess. I am just a selfie –

I love my simplicity!

Translated by
Flamingos in Early Summer

Kitchen Poems 1

Dhiruben Patel


Once I went inside the kitchen

The maid was glaring at the fire

As though she’d never forgive Prometheus

For his misdeed

Her dark face glistened with sweat

And the place had an awful smell

I tiptoed out

And wondered why

People had to have a hole like this

In their mansions beautiful and bright?


I’ll give blue curtains

To my lonely kitchen

And paint white birds on them

Birds in flight

Fluttering in the breeze

Staying right there

Day in and day out

Keeping me company

Till the curtains decay

And fall apart.

From "Kitchen Poems"
Original English Poems

Translated by
Kitchen Poems 2
My granny's mother

Kitchen Poems 2

Dhiruben Patel

My heart leaps up

No – not when I behold a rainbow

But the first green mango in the market!

Vishnu* had but ten manifestations

My mangoes will have many more

When the green glory of the mango

Will light up my kitchen

Recipes collected from far and near

Will anxiously stand in a queue

Like monarchs awaiting the bride’s garland

Sweet and sour

Pungent as pungent can be

All by itself or with a few others

Submerged in oil or sugar or salt

The mango will fill up all my bottles

A few may be gifted away

But the rest will remain

Making me feel like a very rich woman

Who can defy a rainy day.

* According to the Hindu religion there are three principal Gods - Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Vishnu appears in ten different forms from time to time.

From "Kitchen Poems"
Original English Poems

Translated by
Kitchen Poems 1
My granny's mother

My granny's mother

Dhiruben Patel

My granny's mother
Had a lovely sari
It was the colour of clay
Its golden edge
Caged in the flowers
Running here and there
Daily wash and daily wear
Just strengthened the sturdy silk
It was the priestess' robe,
Worn only when she entered
Her Holy kitchen
To prepare the daily meal.

મારાં દાદીનાં માની

એ સાડી કેવી સુંદર હતી!
માટીના રંગ જેવા વિપુલ વિસ્તારને છેડે
ચમકતી સોનેરી કિનાર!
એની અંદર પુરાયેલાં
રંગબેરંગી ફૂલો આમતેમ દોડાદોડ કરતાં હતાં.
એ સાડી દરરોજ વપરાતી
ને દરરોજ ધોવાતી.
એના મજબૂત રેશમી પોતમાં
પ્રતિદિન નવો પ્રાણ પુરાતો.
એ હતો પૂજારણનો પોષાક.
એના પવિત્ર રસોડામાં
હંમેશાં રસોઈ કરવા
પગ મૂકતી વેળાએ જ પહેરવાનો.

Translated by
Kitchen Poems 1
Kitchen Poems 2

A Breeze

Dileep Jhaveri

I am a wandering breeze
You are a widespread park
A park grows from rich soil
It covers stiff rocks and reveals scurrying brooks
It cares for humble short grass as much for tallest ever green redwoods
Infinite is its variety of leaves in shapes, sizes, sheen and texture
Every colour unfurls in its flowers
No tongue can tell the taste of its fruits
Seemingly anchored it keeps flying
on the wings of the bees butterflies and birds
It cavorts with crickets and cicadas and squirrels and raccoons and bears
It hums with floating fragrances
It rolls with seeds and scones and pebbles and pollens
It twists with climbing creepers and photophilic branches
It limits the sky in its lakes and hides the sun in its dew
How else can I describe you?
Stay, you are a park in league with mighty winds
I am just a passing breeze
that you may not recall
while I shall carry you forever

Translated by


Dileep Jhaveri

Once I write Woods on paper
every leaf, tree, beast, worm
mud, soil, hill, stream, river, pond
will remain where they are
till I dip the pen again in ink
and write another word
This means that if they are not on paper
they are not anywhere
and if they are they are forever in my command

Afterwards if I write Fire they all will burn away
and if I write Floods they will drown .
After writing Caterpillar so long as I do not write Pupa
a Butterfly cannot fly
After a Leaf if flapping is not written
wind cannot be felt
As long as I do not put Raven and Hawk on top of
Teak and Cedar the Sky will remain unseen
The Caveman busy with painting the walls
will not cross over1the fence of fire
Chewing the flesh of forest beast simmering in its fat
he would keep slurping juice of fermented fruits
Around him squirrels will prance merrily
Earthworms would tickle his soles
Lice will creep in his messy hair
and the pong from armpits of his kept females
will keep beckoning him

Till I write Helicopter
and put Binoculars in your hands
the Woods written by me on paper will remain Words only

Translated by
A Breeze

O Sky Of Blues

Dominic Alapat

O moon rolling like a ball
O buildings with windows staring
O million feet walking
O insane traffic
O gutters of Bombay
O gods in temples churches and mosques
O mad cellphones ringing
O screechy loudspeakers in slums
O pigeons on parapets cooing
O lovers in gardens
O grain of sand on the beach
O clothes fluttering in the wind
O flies at garbage dumps
O junkies on the street
O packed trains shuttling
O silent streetlights
O people buying groceries
O food that I eat
O water that I drink
O breath that I breathe
O words of this poem
tell me what I am looking for.

Translated by
In Search

In Search

Dominic Alapat

of rhythm
the old poems tumble out
of the mind.

Like the black cupboard
in the green wall
I would climb

to sample the darkness
through the shelves
I would crawl

opening boxes
entranced by the silence
and lulled
by the softness there

lie back and dream
I guess I may have wanted
to be one of them

know what it was like
that sweet little red tin box
with the blue bird on its lid
quiet sitting in some cosy tree

in the sun
and the rows of medicines
with their intoxicating smell
taking me half a world away

until I recognise
the bedsheets stacked till
the dark triangular roof

standing full of the softness
of welcome
telling me this is it
this is it
the real thing
the real universe
like a mother telling
her child
come home.

Translated by
O Sky Of Blues

Alzheimer’s Day

E V Ramakrishnan

I did not reply to my father’s question,
“Who’s that fat woman over there?”
It was mother. He had gone past her
past his children into a land
without birds or flags.

He often said, ”All right, let me go.”
Once he walked out early in the morning
and was tracked down by a group
of neighbours. He had a vague sense
of being held there against his wish.

In his occasional lucid moments
he wept for words he could not find
for common things
like a bed-sheet or a newspaper.

All his life, he had taught children language.

Translated by
Terms of Seeing

Terms of Seeing

E V Ramakrishnan

On our way home from school
We often spent hours in the abandoned
orchard of mango, cashew nut
and tamarind trees, where each season

had its fruit and each fruit tasted different .
There we raided the make-shift hidecouts
of bootleggers, and broke their buried mudpots.
The crematorium in the corner

revealed an occasional roasted vertebra.
Once we went further and discovered
a disused well, and peered into its vaporous depths;
the water smelt like freshly distilled alcohol.

Through clotted branches of close-knit
shadows floated white turtles with glazed, metallic
shells. Moving with monastic grace, they looked
knowledgeable, like much-travelled witch doctors.

If they cast a spell it was unintentional. As we
bent down, their shaven heads rose and met a shaft
of sudden sunlight at an angle, tilting the sun into
the sea. Still the light lingered over the hill.

like an intimate whisper of something forbidden.
By this time, the terms of seeing were reset:
the well was watching us now. Its riveted
gaze pierced us and even went beyond us.

In the dark cornea of the well, the white
turtles moved like exposed optic nerves.
And as if a word was spoken, we stepped
back into the world of gravity, in silence.

Translated by
Alzheimer’s Day

Old Man's Death

Gieve Patel

There may be a very small comfort
In knowing yourself finally
Useless – when even grandchildren
Have grown beyond your love,
And your would-be widow
Has outhobbled you and
Wont be around to break with
One or two of her last thick tears,
And you not caring much for
Your fellowmen, the doctors
Wont get your body –
To know how simply you
Will be bundled away, startling
A lifelong friend who finds
He cannot mourn
At the quick and easy changes:
A sprinkling of water,
The disappearance of an odour,
A turn of bed-sheets, leaving
A bed, a chair,
Perhaps a whole room,
With clarity in them.

Translated by
Squirrels In Washington
From Bombay Central

Squirrels In Washington

Gieve Patel

Squirrels in Washington come
Galloping at you in fours, then brake
To halt a few feet away
And beg on hindquarters.
No one stones them,
And their fear is diminished.
They do halt, even so,
Some feet away, those few feet
The object of my wonder. Do I
Emit currents
At closer quarters? Are those
The few feet I would keep
From a tame tiger? Is there
A hierarchy, then, of distances,
That must be observed,
And non-observance would at once
Agglutinate all of Nature
Into a messy, inextricable mass?
Ah Daphne! Passing
From woman to foliage did she for a moment
Sense all vegetable sap as current
Of her own bloodstream, the green
Flooding into the red? And when
She achieved her final arboreal being,
Shed dewy tears each dawn
For that lost fleeting moment,
That hint at freedom,
In transit, between cage and cage?

Translated by
Old Man's Death
From Bombay Central

From Bombay Central

Gieve Patel

The Saurashtra Express waits to start
Chained patiently to the platform,
Good pet, while I clamber in
To take my reserved window seat
And settle into the half-empty compartment’s
Cool; the odour of human manure
Vague and sharp drifts in
From adjoining platforms.
The station’s population of porters,
Stall-keepers, toughs and vagabonds relieve themselves
Ticketless, into the bowels of these waiting pets;
Gujarat Mail, Delhi Janata, Bulsar Express,
Quiet linear beasts,
Offering unguarded toilets to a wave
Of non-passengers, Bombay Central’s
In-residence population.

That odour does not offend.
The station’s high and cool vault
Sucks it up and sprays down instead,
Interspersed with miraculous, heraldic
Shafts of sunlight, an eternal
Station odour, amalgam
Of diesel oil, hot steel, cool rails,
Light and shadow, human sweat,
Metallic distillations, dung, urine,
Newspaper ink, Parle’s Gluco Biscuits,
And sharp noisy sprays of water from taps
With worn-out bushes, all
Hitting the nostril as one singular
Invariable atmospheric thing,
Seeping into your clothing
The way cigarette smoke and air-conditioning
Seep into you at cinema halls.
I sink back into my hard wooden
Third-class seat, buffered by
This odour, as by a divine cushion.
And do not suspect that this ride
Will be for me the beginning of a meditation
On the nature of truth and beauty.

Translated by
Old Man's Death
Squirrels In Washington

On Killing A Tree

Gieve Patel

It takes much time to kill a tree,
Not a simple jab of the knife
Will do it. It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out of it, feeding
Upon its crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
And out of its leperous hide
Sprouting leaves.

So hack and chop
But this alone wont do it.
Not so much pain will do it.
The bleeding bark will heal
And from close to the ground
Will rise curled green twigs,
Miniature boughs
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.

The root is to be pulled out -
Out of the anchoring earth;
It is to be roped, tied,
And pulled out - snapped out
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth-cave,
And the strength of the tree exposed,
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth.

Then the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,
And then it is done.

Translated by
Post Mortem

Post Mortem

Gieve Patel

It is startling to see how swiftly
A man may be sliced
From chin to prick,
How easily the bones
He has felt whole
Under his chest
For a sixty, seventy years
May be snapped,
With what calm
Liver, lung and heart
Be examined, the bowels
Noted for defect, the brain
For haemorrhage,
And all these insides
That have for a lifetime
Raged and strained to understand
Be dumped back into the body,
Now stitched to perfection,
Before announcing death
Due to an obscure reason.

Translated by
On Killing A Tree


Glenn Shea

What I remember best of our short time
is not the strange mad dance of sex itself
but in the tunnel of night and morning dark
how our bodies would shift to seek each other out,
like pups asleep but nuzzling their dam.
That unthinking, half-awaking movement
(before our lives would wrestle us apart)
across the mirrored distance, my narrow bed,
was answer to that hope I'd hardly dared:
what I had sought was also seeking me.

Translated by


Haraprasad Das

She rises to go. Her body opens
up like a hurricane held by velcro
all breasty and unaware, her synthetic charm

the basement where the dark gods defacate
at night, and hold conclaves by day
waits to received here footsteps, the clatter
and the hooves. Pure animal satiated by scent, the virus

of all nonbeings on the astral computer.

Translated by


Jayanta Mahapatra

It was hard to believe the flesh was heavy on my back.
The fisherman said: Will you have her, carelessly,
trailing his nets and his nerves, as though his words
sanctified the purpose with which he faced himself.
I saw his white bone thrash his eyes.

I followed him across the sprawling sands,
my mind thumping in the flesh's sling.
Hope lay perhaps in burning the house I lived in.
Silence gripped my sleeves; his body clawed at the froth
his old nets had only dragged up from the seas.

In the flickering dark his hut opened like a wound.
The wind was I, and the days and nights before.
Palm fronds scratched my skin. Inside the shack
an oil lamp splayed the hours bunched to those walls.
Over and over the sticky soot crossed the space of my mind.

I heard him say: My daughter, she's just turned fifteen…
Feel her. I'll be back soon, your bus leaves at nine.
The sky fell on me, and a father's exhausted wile.
Long and lean, her years were cold as rubber.
She opened her wormy legs wide. I felt the hunger there,
the other one, the fish slithering, turning inside.

Translated by
Her Hand

Her Hand

Jayanta Mahapatra

The little girl's hand is made of darkness
How will I hold it?

The streetlamps hang like decapitated heads
Blood opens that terrible door between us

The wide mouth of the country is clamped in pain
while its body writhes on its bed of nails

This little girl has just her raped body
for me to reach her

The weight of my guilt is unable
to overcome my resistance to hug her

એનો હસ્ત

છોકરીનો હસ્ત અંધકારનો બનેલો છે
એને હું કેમ પકડું?

છેદાયેલા મસ્તકોની જેમ લટકે છે શેરીના દીવા
અમારી વચ્ચેના ભયાવહ દ્વારને ઉઘાડે છે રક્ત

દેશનું વકાસેલું મોં ભીંસાય છે વેદનાથી
દેહ કણસે છે કંટક-શૈયા પર

આ છોકરી પાસે છે માત્ર બળાત્કાર થયેલું શરીર
જેના વડે હું તેની સમીપે પહોંચી શકું

મારા અપરાધભાવનો ભાર રોકી નથી શકતો
એને આશ્લેષમાં લેવાની મારી ઇચ્છાને

-જયંત મહાપાત્ર
(અંગ્રેજીમાંથી અનુવાદ: ઉદયન ઠક્કર)

Translated by Udayan Thakker from English

Haiku 2

Kala Ramesh

Devi temple . . .
along with the ants
I enter barefoot


the year passes . . .
longing for cranes
to colour the sky


mild breeze . . .
the breadth of the wheat field’s whisper


spring rain . . .
halfway through my meal
a scoop of loneliness


my fear -
the darkness
between stars


crashing sea waves rockcradled into silence


my thoughts
nudge each other . . .
bumping bees


the darkening sky splits
into liquid night


temple bells
the isolated raindrops
on my umbrella


horror movie
my sister screams between
her fingers


birthday —
as usual he remembers it
after I begin to sulk


Courtesy : Acorn, Frogpond, Haiku Presence, Modern Haiku, Simply Haiku, 3 Lights Gallery, Sketchbook, Kokako and Wednesday Haiku

Translated by

Haiku 3

Kashinath Karmakar - kash poet

what is left
and what was there-
crescent moon

Christmas night-
this sudden desire to
look at the sky

first winter days-
again in mom's frail hands
my unfinished sweater

tipsy night-
chasing the moon
puddle after puddle

cold wave-
the news reader's sneeze
goes uncut

Milky Way-
even the dead stars
light up my path

deafening rain-
to think it has no sound
of its own
Father's Day-
in her sleep my wife
calls me dad


the silence
of the harvested field-
moonless night


as if
they know all the answers-
nodding sunflowers


Courtesy : The Heron's Nest, European Kukai , Shiki Kukai, Creatrix Haiku Journal(Australia), UkiaHaiku Contest, Kusumakura International Haiku contest(Japan), Mainichi Haiku Contest (Japan).

Translated by


Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca

Tandem Poem to accompany Poster poem 1 by Nissim Ezekiel
(My father talked too loudly…. but just before he died)
Dedicated to my father who sadly passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2004

My father could not talk to me
Before he died
Could not reach me in a distant land
Twinned in spirit, separated by geography,
I heard he remembered me
Said he could never forget me
Memory without a memory
Not able to remember
Not able to forget
Trapped in a maze of loss.
Two losses
The greater loss is mine


He could not remember
What he had lost.
The poem, Loss, by Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca is based on the late poet Nissim Ezekiel’s poem.
Poster Poems

My father talked too loudly
and too much.
but just before he died
his voice became soft and sad
as though whispering secrets
he had learnt too late.
He drew me close to him
and spoke his truths to me.
I felt the breath of his love
but could not hear a word.

Translated by


Manohar Shetty

For Riya
My daughter brings a crocodile
Home, its snout bound tight
With rope, its buckteeth clenched.
Untangled from a fisherman’s net,
It lies still on our strip of lawn,
Its tail serrated as a saw, its hide
Like chainmail. We stare
Back at its staring eye
From our safe balconies
As my daughter and her team
Haul it like a palanquin
Into a purring pick-up. Accustomed
Only to lost kittens and pups,
We watch in suburban awe as they
Set off in a swirl of dust
For that remote river, green
With slime, but home
To their captive and its kind,
Their ridged heads floating like islets;
Or sunning themselves on the banks
Where birds peck clean their
Yawning cavities, busy as dentists,
And where they’re out of reach
From the stench of the tannery
And those spotlit arcades
Of shoes, belts, wallets,
And other accessories.

Translated by
Morning Light
Carried Forward

Morning Light

Manohar Shetty

At midnight the hands
Point heavenward.
My body clock ticks
To a false tune.

I’m up before dawn
As the crickets fall
Silent, the moon
A thumbnail sketch;

My memory a half-filled
Library where borrowers
Have left bookmarks
After the first few pages.

Even the sunflowers
Lovingly tended in
The garden refuse to turn
East as I shine my shoes,

Iron my dark coat
Between burnt toast
And cups of cold tea for my
Neighbour’s funeral.

Translated by
Carried Forward

Carried Forward

Manohar Shetty

Beyond Furniture & Fixtures,
Fixed Assets incl of Plant
& Machinery, Goodwill incl
Of Green Donation & Tree
Trimming Vehicle, Gross
Profits, R&D on WMD
Incl of Hospitality,
Sundries (in million)
As Incentives to sundry
Inspectors (of Boilers)
& Miscellaneous Agents
Incl of Undercover,
And an unnumbered account
In the Caymans, here is an
Asterisked footnote
In the fine print—words
Carried Forward for their
Own sake, but clear as a trickle
Of water dripping
In rhythm deep in a skeletal
Buried one metric
Mile below the burning
White landscape.

Translated by
Morning Light


Manohar Shetty

You unfold like starfish
On a beach, your touch
Stills the rumpled sea,
Hair plastered seaweed.

I come from the labyrinths:
Traffic lights park in my eyes
Before I cross, highways fork
And stream like veins in my hand.

You hunger for a blade of grass
In the welter of concrete,
I step on softening sand
Suspiciously. Together

We trace a bridge: you pick
A shell translucent as neon,
And I a tribal earring
Reflected in plate glass.

Translated by
Morning Light
Carried Forward


Manohar Shetty

For a year it was its home,
The sill and window behind
My bed, and each night I saw
The scattered grain had gone.
The guarded eyes, the torn wing
Like a neglected hedge,
Fluttered in greeting; then it
Flapped up to sleep, rocking
Precariously, as on a trapeze.

It became something of a friend
With its rhythmic murmuring.
Sometimes, tilting off
The window’s edge, it’s dribbling
Descents intruded on my
Avian dreams: birds perched
On my shoulders, birds
Feeding out of my hand, and
Skirring about in a cloud.

But that one night a livid
Flash broke through my head;
Five times it reeled over
As from a cliff, its wounded wing
Thrashing down the window,
Spilling squalls of feathers
On my pillow, uprooting me
From the tense moorings of sleep.

I remember the startled eye,
The pulsing, iridescent breast
As it flinched from the sharp slap,
And fell off the sill.
I remember it swerving, rising
Clumsily on its one good wing
To teeter on a roof’s rim,
Then drop like a stone.

I dreamt, then, of lame dogs,
Abattoirs, and pulped frogs.
Now several nights have passed,
And I have no dreams at all.

Translated by
Morning Light
Carried Forward

If nothing is

Mihir Chitre

Your house
A collapsing dream
Whose octagon
Your palm lines
Your turmeric eyes
In a forgotten sunset
The broken mirror
The lack of clarity
My fears
My singularity
On disappearing beaches
Cancelled lunches
And I, wriggling
In a dimension-less
Pond upon
The past’s tablet
Flicked away
With the itchy fingers
Of what-never-was

Your house
A collapsing dream
And all that again
Over and over again
If nothing is

Translated by
It's Okay


Mihir Chitre

The miniature smuggled through thin alleys
of crippling lifetimes; the forever-fluttering
petal of a non-existent flower. Transition. Transact
with April’s gaping corridors, the bottled March.
Each time you arrive, a bite-long road disappears
from a geography of zigzagging self-promises.

Translated by
If nothing is
It's Okay

It's Okay

Mihir Chitre

It's okay
To wake up
In the middle of the night
And start brushing
Your memory or picking
Your brains on where you lost
Your favourite keychain

Seven years ago
In that cold overflowing lane
Or what the symbol carved
On your college bench stood for
Or on which floor was the balcony
Where a woman puffed her age away
Every time you rode up the flyover
In residual winters
It's okay
To find out that life
Like space-time isn't flat
And gravity here is created
Not by objects but by their absences
Which compel you to orbit them
As long as you live
It's okay
To think you'll turn lonelier than yesterday
To go to hell with optimism
And drape in the season's dark

It's okay
To deduce once in a while
That god is the biggest tragedy
The world has never seen

Translated by
If nothing is

the Ladies Only

Mustansir Dalvi

The wooden bench is wide,
time enough to do God's work.
In the compartment, beyond
the grill from the Ladies Only,
sleepwalkers hum buzzsaw refrains.
Ten minutes to midnight. Borivali,
seven minutes away.

Adjusting for his comfort, not hers.
one open hand brings face to knee.
with the other he rips
rags that resist more than the girl.
Clothing struggles for honour
but the ardour of engagement, constraint
of time and freedom of space, overrule.
His real purpose is clear and tumescent.

Too shy to comprehend
what should have been
for a better time, a wiser time,
she gets an understanding of endurance.
Her mind-sieve senses an oozing away,
the changing of yugas.

Roused by the bumping backbeat,
unlike the train's familiar cadence.
childhood's end disrupts.

Guilt seeps through thickets of irony.
Slapping their side of the partition,

they stare, captivated by the mechanics
of dogs fucking in a busy street.

One minute to Borivali, the cleaven girl
retracts into the stillness of the catatonic,
while the one with the sense of urgency, reasons:
Come on, come on, before I lose my erection

Translated by
lines for an infant who fell off a train
Sunken Ship

lines for an infant who fell off a train

Mustansir Dalvi

If you could have asked your mother
for the moon, she would have plucked
it out of the night, and like Kaushalya,
trapped it for you in a than filled
with Chelpark Royal-Blue Ink.

Did the upside-down handles chitter
from the drop rails overhead,
play a metronomic rag
that brought you into the empty aisle
away from Baba's lap? Was it
the open doorway, the views
of the Parsik Hills beyond that made you
choose this moment to go walkie?

The instant that your father,
apropos of nothing, extended
a tentative hand to find lushness
swell under your mother's saree.
Like a recovered toy,

Baba became aware of Aai
as more than a partner
in the mandatory push-ups
of baby-making. She too,
looked up sharply, afraid
of the assurance of touch,

but the curling lips on the verge,
took her back a year and half.
before you stretched both her nipples
out of shape with milk teeth, before
your last few months of litany
‘Aaye! Aaye!' tugging at her pallu
to keep her attention.

Aai encountered a husband afresh,
when the train lurched
to halt at Khandeshwar.

You should have seen them then,
rubbernecking for you
in an empty compartment,
in the mindful moonlight
after you had made your giant leap.

Translated by
the Ladies Only
Sunken Ship

Sunken Ship

Mustansir Dalvi

She straddles me, eyelashes stroke my chin.
Against my chest, her breath susurrates,
each exhale falls, late

in the night, almost day,
so long to put her several to rest.

She sinks into me, I feel her weight
and am pressed deeper into the chair.
She melds into my

safe and limited place,
legs wrapped around me.
palms bunched into little fists.
Tonight, I am a womb.
I allow fluid senses to swirl

full fathom five, so she can travel deep
where there is no poetry, only the sunken ship.

Translated by From The Bloomsbury Book of Great Indian Love Poem
the Ladies Only
lines for an infant who fell off a train

Vadodara-Visarjan *

Neeti Singh

My dress is made of rain
my heart a hooting pair of owlets
perched atop a banyan’s hat
Dusk has dropped a curtain,
a mask has slipped.
Come morning you don dappled joy
in polka dots and sunshine print.
A faded pair of Levi jeans, stilts for legs,
or a climbing pair of eucalyptuses -

slender marbled limbs,
stone washed…
You strut besides the lion’s enclave
in KamatiBaug*
It rains.
The garden hangs its monsoon frocks –
trees, climbers, flowers, frog -
a score of puddles and sky-falls raise,
with ordinary worm and amoeba,
a stage!
With mongrels you cross the road
and enter the Arts campus at four.
It raises its dome and wags a tail.
Floral grill gates patterned to protect -
Systems ancient – keep the Faculty intact.

Free as rows of seasonal rice –
tulips and a tank of water lilies design
garlands of restless choice.
Fluttering indecisions -
pigeons pendulum from bajra to tub.
Their friends in green frocks
are content however,
to peck the soil at Shiva’s shrine.

Praised be the elephant headed God,
its Visarjan-time!

Ganesha gambols through Vadodara’s veins,
flaunting with fetish, his feet to Bolly beats,
On truck backs and tempos he rides
off for an annual dive -
his ritual fun with frogs and fish and more.

The city arteries are agog,
Throb! throb!
O elephant-headed god O!
Through narrow streets, rain-washed,
moves His cake-and-carnival walk.
Brown men in wet skin and girls in skirts that cling and cling,
they frisk and flounder, they jump they joust.
The river of joy’s a-brim!
And burst the hunger of hope.

O Vighana-harataa*, O G’pati!
Sweeper of pain and paucity!
Off with the dregs and dogs of streets,
off with beggars, the teachers,
off with paper and plastic…
and all that titters with the litter, let sink.

Learn well your lessons,
fashion yourself in buffalo-hide,
gulp down with pepsi or diet coke,
coins of complaint and ego.

Your soiled Ganapati-soul,
you hold in a bowl at city crossings.
Sometimes you curl up at railway stations,
or eat bananas on uneven sidewalks.
There are days when you even become a girl
selling lemons and gulab* and marigold.

Immersed at last
in his liquid tomb, the Ganapati
meets sunset
and a host of aquatic kin.

In the shadows of the king that rides a dark horse,
the drenched city laughs,
it burps and releases a foul smelling fart.
Drums roll back upon tide-tongues,

we dunk him so we may live.
Visarjan is our insurance to wellbeing.
*Visarjan – ceremonial immersion of the idol of Lord Ganesha / Ganapati.
*Vighana-harata – slayer of vighana i.e. slayer of hurdles and difficulties.
*Gulab – a rose.

Translated by

In the Bazaar

Panna Naik

How I enjoyed
going to the bazaar with you!
We drove in a horse-buggy with leather seats.
We took a purse, a mesh
of filigreed silken threads,
holding money.

Everyone there knew you.
The shopkeepers
welcomed you warmly.
You bought my favourite
fruit and vegetables
and sometimes even print fabric
my favourite color, rust
for my dress or skirt.

After shopping,
you would order
the same horse-buggy
with the same driver, Fakir,
you had known for years
who brought us home
from every trip to the bazaar.

I remember--once
when you were haggling
with a vegetable vendor
over his prices,
I sneaked away
and got lost
in a toy shop
shutting you out of my mind.

Losing sight of me
you became hysterical,
retracing your steps to the shops
we had visited
asking everyone
When no one could help you find me,
with tears in your eyes
you stepped into a temple
praying to
Krishna, the Lord Protector
to protect me
You stopped
at the poor astrologer’s sparrow
which, perched in a cage on the city’s pavement,
forecasts bright futures for people.
just when you stood still at last,
not knowing which way to turn,
I emerged from the toy shop.
Our eyes met.
You ran,
took me in yours arms,
and hugged me so hard
that I have never been
able to get away
from you.

Today, too,
all by myself,
I wander on my bare feet
in a bazaar
among faces that seem familiar
yet remain unknown to me

Translated by

Haiku 4

Paresh Tiwari

stillness ..

the sound of dusk

washing ashore

toddler's hideout ...

the azaleas fragrant

with giggles

war news ...

the dark underbelly

of autumn clouds

crayon rainbow...

a kindergarten wall

survives the blast

cloudless day . . .

a field of dried grass

in italics

sumi-e ...

a sparrow returns

to its shadow

divorce papers . . .

we end up deleting

the ampersand

fading daylight –

an oarsman's ballad

drifts ashore

thunderclap –

the infant's fist tightens

around a dream

sunset beach –

a parasol leans into

its own shadow

Courtesy : The Heron’s Nest, Bottle Rockets, Cattails, Haiku Presence, Under the Basho, Frogpond, Prune Juice, Modern Haiku, Snapshot Haiku, Daily Haiku

Translated by


Pradip Khandwalla

For years I stood
for the moment of rest.
My eyelids drooping
I fumbled for a decade
for the steps to bed.

How many months
I sought
the hollow of the pillow!

For weeks I bent
to vanish
under the bed-sheets.

And now when all my aches
are in place
why is white sleep so late?

Translated by
Turning Sixty

Turning Sixty

Pradip Khandwalla

I was out
on a chirpy morning.
There was this breeze
that greets all dawns.
An over-age rose
was losing petals.
Like an old man
shedding teeth and wits.

I smelt something acrid
and looked around.
I saw in alarm
a circle of fire around my feet.
I jumped back.
Peering closer I saw
that my creeds were on fire!

One flame was consuming
‘Intellect Is Supreme’
and adjacent fires were burning
‘Achievement Is All’
and ‘Yielding Is Cowardice’.

But in that grimy circle
around my feet
were also little, green shoots
raising shyly their tiny heads
above the sod
and waving fair banners
‘Being Is Feeling’
‘Peep Inside Every Cell’
‘Peace is the Way’
and others still
of obscure intimations.

I stepped back
into that dying circle of soot
amid that surfacing band
of lively chlorophyll.

Translated by

Haiku 5

Pravat Kumar Padhy

cherry blossoms—
the scent bridging
the long river


old lake—
I feel closeness
to full moon


Neil Armstrong--
baby’s maiden walk
on bright moon day


early moon rise
cranes shift whiteness
to an old banyan tree


flow of river--
I gather wisdom
at every turn


flight of cranes—
bridging the sea
with the sky


crescent moon--
the old man returns
from no where


green vegetables
my mother smiles with
morning freshness


disputed land--
the trees share their
tender shadows


counting stars
I move round
the galaxy


Morning dream--
an owl stares at me from
the hanging cloud


fallen kites--
the slum boy gathers
the colours


flowing river--
the bereaved girl holds
a palm-full of water


wall painting--
the spider climbs up
Mt. Fuji

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Invitation, Iris Haiku Magazine, The Kloštar Ivanić International Haiku Competition, Haiku Reality / Haiku Stvarnost, World Haiku Review Sketchbook, The Mainichi Daily News, Best of Haiku in English, Spring Haiku Contest 2014, Diogen, Haiku Asahi Shimbun, Acorn,

Translated by


R Parthasarathy

You wake up and slip quietly out of the room,
shutting the door behind you. Eyes closed,
I clasp your pillow in hopes of smelling out
the faintest trace of your body’s secret perfume.
Never before have I held you more closely
than I hold you now in your absence,
but you hug the morning paper to your chest
in the kitchen and wash it down with a cup of tea.