Tag Archives: napowrimo

Favourite Poems: March 2018

This year, I’ve decided to read a poem a day. It gets difficult to quantify, sometimes, mainly because a) I’m exploring what’s poetry supposed to mean, and b) I like reading poetry collections. In addition to poem/day, I’m also trying to read a poetry collection each month*. (But at this point I’m sure I’m just showing off.)

But, since I am doing this for myself, and I am too lazy to think of things to blog about (unless you read my poetry blog where I post more often) I thought hey, why not combine the two, and compile a list of great poems I’ve read every month!

The idea for this series is for me to post at least four poems (one poem/week) that I especially enjoyed every month. This way I can keep a check on myself (with respect to reading) and have something to blog about.

I know it’s mid-April, but I’ve been especially lazy, okay? Bear with me.

Fr March, I’d decided to read non-white/straight/male poets. So I read a lot of translations, women poets, contemporary poets, etc. And I’m not a hipster to talk about that as an “experience”, but I realized how hard it is to find poems like that online.

But, here’s a list of my favourite poems for March:

1) The Patriot, by Nissim Ezekiel

I am standing for peace and non-violence.
Why world is fighting fighting
Why all people of world
Are not following Mahatma Gandhi,
I am simply not understanding.
Ancient Indian Wisdom is 100% correct,
I should say even 200% correct,
But modern generation is neglecting –
Too much going for fashion and foreign thing.
Other day I’m reading newspaper
(Every day I’m reading Times of India
To improve my English Language)
How one goonda fellow
Threw stone at Indirabehn.
Must be student unrest fellow, I am thinking.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I am saying (to myself)
Lend me the ears.
Everything is coming –
Regeneration, Remuneration, Contraception.
Be patiently, brothers and sisters.
You want one glass lassi?
Very good for digestion.
With little salt, lovely drink,
Better than wine;
Not that I am ever tasting the wine.
I’m the total teetotaller, completely total,
But I say
Wine is for the drunkards only.
What you think of prospects of world peace?
Pakistan behaving like this,
China behaving like that,
It is making me really sad, I am telling you.
Really, most harassing me.
All men are brothers, no?
In India also
Gujaratis, Maharashtrians, Hindiwallahs
All brothers –
Though some are having funny habits.
Still, you tolerate me,
I tolerate you,
One day Ram Rajya is surely coming.
You are going?
But you will visit again
Any time, any day,
I am not believing in ceremony
Always I am enjoying your company.

I’m assuming he wrote this during The Emergency, but it is still relevant, right? To the point that I couldn’t believe it was written so long ago!

2) The Brocade Border, by Kanaka Ha. Ma
Trans: Arundhathi Subramaniam (from Telugu)

Tell me, how can a brocade sari
without an embellished border
be beautiful?
Isn’t it the border that carries,
with the susurus of pleats,
the imperious swathe of body and pallu?

Flowers, creepers, mangoes, grape-clusters, temples, peacocks …
the body, a sea of dreams
the pallu, a night sky.
But it is the quivering earth-edged border
that takes the breath away.
A simple-bordered sari without body or pallu
like the artless mirth of a woman unadorned.

Were she to turn around,
she’d be a serpent-streak across the fence,
here one moment and gone the next.

Hint of foot, radiant flicker of toe beneath border,
her gait, a shimmer of mehendi.

Try as you might to unravel this sari –
game of dice darting between its folds –
it will not yield the secret of its infinitude.

Of course, brocades are necessary to enhance the allure
of lovely women.
And to pin down the vagrant stars and moon
a beguiling sari is all you need.
Yes, we must learn to resist its seductions
but here anyway is a tip:
in today’s world, civilized folk are advised to attach
a matching ‘fall’ to safeguard their borders.

In all honesty, I heard the poet read it out loud in Telugu in a poetry reading I attended in February, and boy, don’t I wish I knew the language! That was my reaction to the poem Lonavala Dawn as well, a rather visceral poem in Chinese (that’s what it says on the website, not sure which language they are referring to exactly) about Lonavala, a small hill station not an hour from where I stay.

4) Nani, by Kamala Das

Nani, the pregnant maid hanged herself
In the privy one day. For three long hours
Until the police came, she was hanging there
A clumsy puppet, and when the wind blew
Turning her gently on the rope, it seemed
To us who were children then, that Nani
Was doing, to delight us, a comic
Dance…..The shrubs grew fast. Before
the summer’s end
The yellow flowers had hugged the doorway
and the walls. The privy, so abandoned,
Became an altar then, a lonely shrine
For a goddess who was dead. Another
Year or two, and, I asked my grandmother
One day, don’t you remember Nani, the dark
Plump one who bathed me near the well?
Grandmother
Shifted the reading glasses on her nose
And stared at me. Nani, she asked, who is she?
With that question ended Nani. Each truth
Ends thus with a query. It is this designed
Deafness that turns mortality into
Immortality, the definite into
The soft indefinite. They are lucky
Who ask questions and move on before
The answers come, those wise ones who reside
In a blue silent zone, unscratched by doubts
For theirs is the clotted peace embedded
In life, like music in the Koel’s egg,
Like lust in the blood, or like the sap in a tree.

I definitely didn’t expect what was going to happen in this poem, and good lord, was I shocked! I thought about the lines They are lucky/ Who ask questions and move on before/ The answers come for an unhealthily long time, and don’t think I’ll forget them any time soon.

5) Advice to women, by Eunice de Souza

Keep cats
if you want to learn to cope with
the otherness of lovers.
Otherness is not always neglect –
Cats return to their litter trays
when they need to.
Don’t cuss out of the window
at their enemies.
That stare of perpetual surprise
in those great green eyes
will teach you
to die alone.

*I read The Weary Blues, by Langston Hughes as my poetry collection for the month, and again, I loved most of the poems in it.

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Red

You wake up one day

With those heavy bags under your eyes

The sun has already been up for a long time

It’s noon.

 

You’re walking alone at night

Guided by the North Star in your eye

It’s been twilight for a long time

And he’s your moon.

 

You tell him moon is for lunatics

And he tells you “It’s also for a soneteer

And for the love you induce.”

And you swoon.

 

When you walk in the darkness alone

It’s him who insists to volunteer

The sense of warmth in you that he induces

Is a boon.

 

And those days you go back

With your grey sweaters and socks

And he looks at you with his twinkling eyes

And wraps you up in a cocoon.

 

And those days he makes stupid jokes

And “You’re so hopeless,” you mock

Following his laughter that’s shining bright

Now you’re the loon.

 

And as you turn your shades from black to brown

To crimson, orange, amber and white

And he just listens to you in control

Like to your soul he’s attuned.

 

It’s warmth in laughter, 

And in your bicker, and your fight

Forever enchanting like the smell of soil

In monsoon

 

Now when you wake up one day

With those heavy bags under your eyes

He looks at you like the stars that shine

Till you are the lighter shade of grey.

 

Because it’s NaPoWriMo, another Poetry Challenge based on the theme colour.
The Colour Challenge: A week of original poetry based on seven colours.

Day 7: Red.

(I’m extending the challenge by trying to tell a story through the seven colours I choose.)

I can’t believe I just finished writing a poem series that tells a story! I know that the quality of the poems aren’t that great, even to my standards, but I believe that it did convey a story. (Right?)

……………………………………………………..

And I don’t believe that love leads to a happily ever after. I’m definitely rooted for career and social life, but I think this is the way I needed to end my series, because my protagonist, in the beginning feels completely lonely and the person she manages to end up in love with is a great companion to her in my head, which is why I ended here. 

Follow me on Twitter: @WallflowerBlack

 


Orange.

The calm of the midnight street enthralls you

As the orange light of the streetlight

Washes over the street in front of the window

And you look back at the new friend you have made.

 

Slowly, the love letters creep back

Their place, rightfully, into the bookshelves

And the photographs, a trope

Of your life- begins to refill

 

Everything about him fits your bill

Or that’s how you certainly like to hope

Straight in your heart the stranger dwells.

And in all the patience and love you lack

 

But now you know you wouldn’t trade

Everything you learnt the last couple of weeks though

And you know your conscience will fight

Against you being adamant too

 

And that’s when you calm down

Comfortably onto your plush bed

“I want nothing but love,” he said

And you have a heart full of it, for going around.

 

Because it’s NaPoWriMo, another Poetry Challenge based on the theme colour.
The Colour Challenge: A week of original poetry based on seven colours.

Day 6: Orange.

(I’m extending the challenge by trying to tell a story through the seven colours I choose. Don’t know if it’ll work out though.:P)

Follow me on Twitter: @WallflowerBlack