11 February, 2010

Desire Breeds Expression

A chubby cuneiform, these sparrows,
changing configuration with arrival,
flight, arrival:

yet the message stays —
a face-to-face over crumbs.

In one simplification, this is nature.
The rich and the strong surrender nothing
if possible, and yet, here,
behind desire, the other:
a different, chirping message —

light breeds music.

For even the butterflies, silent to us,
fight for sunny patches,
fluttering up in their twirling spirals
throughout forests. Are they lost

in war or in a dance?
How do we know the difference?

~~ Allan Johnston

First published inCezanne's Carrot, Vol. I, Issue 4 (2006).
The Lama

I cannot say where he came from
Possibly, from beyond the tall
Mountains, from Tibet, past crevasses
And glacial scress, like a high
Stinging wind. The bells on his
Pack-mule tinkled. He shuffled along
Peddling borax, salt and gold,
A lion-maned, eagle-eyed lama.

He travelled down the gorges,
From the Jadh Ganga to Harsil.
The beauty of Bhaioghati
Poisoned his blood. He taught
Himself to wear his curse like an amulet.

We chanced upon him singing
Of fires that burn, snows
That numb. Seldom does he speak
Of that serpent that has
Seized his tongue.

Mountain-dweller, below you
Stretches a plain that asks
Nothing of you. The river that was
Always by your side shall flow,
While you till and sow, and having
Unlearned language, relearn the
Songs of Silence.

~ ~  Smita Agarwal
Four Questions and Infinity

Where is home but in the choices

Why does the invention of zero take away one's strength for death

Shall one patient step following another relieve me of now

How does one prune :: trees who love their shape

Infinity is a box :: absurd until opened

~ ~ Grant Hackett

02 February, 2010

Monsoon Cantata

Rain is tattooing on the roof, tap-tapping
On the tin sunshade of the kitchen window,
Beating an insistent though erratic rhythm,
Deranged by dancing leaves that come in its
Way, like a chorus of mad women that seem to
Say - drench us, O drench us.

Across the barred, shut gate the road is
Gold and silver under the benign glare
Of sodium and fluorescent lamps; crimson
Tail-lights, tyres swish past. Criss-cross
Wires drip. A quiver of quicksilver water
Is rushing toward the gate - the barred, shut gate.

Something is knocking down the gate,
Something in connivance with the rain,
I turn my back to it, stare steadfastly
At the gas burner, at the metal frame of
Its round head with pricked-in holes.
Something has knocked down the gate,
Contralto voices come storming in,
Suicide-squad assassinations, communal
Conflagrations, scams, arms deals, a tribal
Woman gang-raped, mute deaths in custody,
India in the nineteen nineties. Something
Has knocked down a gate.

I turn on the gas,
Flare like the many
Blue, incandescent flames.

~ ~ Smita Agarwal

First published in Poetry Review, London, Winter 1996/97.
Meditation on Bliss

“Why write about bliss? There’s a war on!”

War was invented by the flowers,
as the English and Aztec knew.
Lavenders attacked jacarandas
with luscious scents and iodine.
Soon the rhododendrons learned
to poison the earth by opening blossoming
empires of color. The bees made golden
by pollen produced the honey that drove
the foraging Macedonians mad
in Alexander’s campaign.
Then petals fell in legion;
soon there were just the endless acts
of blossoming holding the flowery world
Bliss exists outside
of time; it lives in eternal moments
inside and outside of war. It knows
the bloom of dust borne up by the bullet
that misses its mark, and leaps in joy
as the target stumbles beyond the sights.
It is one and is always winning.
It only demands complete surrender.

~~ Allan Johnston

First published in  Poetry East, #60 (Fall, 2007).

Mist in the valley
Memories of another time
Fades into space

Wasp in a room
Bangs at windowpane
Freedom is confined

Rainbow in the sky
A poet’s poet
Utters no words

~ ~ Bhuchung D. Sonam

He could not stop talking about her,
and when he could not be silenced
they arrested him.

Alone in his prison cell, he wrote of her
so they took away his pen and paper
and destroyed his words.

He scratched poems about her
with a matchstick into his soap.
They bound his hands.

He would stand by the window
of his cell at night
and sing to the sky
of his deep longing for her.
So they cut out his tongue.

He lay on his prison cot
and thought of her.
They could not stop his thoughts--
and so they killed him.

Does it matter who she was?
Who he was?
Let’s call her “Truth”.
Does that change anything?

This is not about him.
This is not about her.
It’s about Them
and what they can
and cannot
kill in us.

For every voice that’s silenced,
a thousand more
will take its place.

~ ~ Annie Wyndham
First published in Raving Dove Literary Journal, Spring 2009.
The Machine of War

The machine of war
used to be
a marching machine
like a centipede
coordinated by
hunger and need.
It’s mechanized now
and flies in planes
dropping bombs below
in indiscriminate rain
but still has
an insect’s brain.
  ~ ~ Diana Der- Hovanessian

Copyright © 2002 by Diana Der-Hovanessian. Reprinted from The Burning Glass (Riverdale-on-Hudson, NY: Sheep Meadow Press, 2002), with permission.