Shruti Sareen
Irom Sarmila-- a ghazal

Do eleven years go in vain, Irom Sarmila?
As she lies in worse than pain, Irom Sarmila.

People are killing and dying in Manipur
Are those deaf ears in power insane, Irom sarmila?

They put her in jail and her demand on the shelf
She from food and drink for us abstains, Irom Sarmila

How long can we sit in apathetic silence
Let's join her, protest, complain, Irom Sarmila

She has unflailing courage that does not give up
Shruti wants to learn your refrain, Irom sarmila.

a photo-poem for Nabina Das' Mer-City (pic attached)

I am a riverine nymph
with long black woman hair
and a forked-fishy tail
But my fishy tail won't swish.

Long ago, I was an earthly woman
my wild roving heart and spirit river-
-dreamt, river-walked
But now, my fishy tail won't swish

I river-talked, river-loved
and thought I could become the river
my dreams swam, my thoughts glided
But my fishy tail won't swish.

One full moon night, I climbed
out the window, downhill to the river
My heart laughing and singing with merfolk
But my fishy tail won't swish.

I puffed, I dragged, I sprouted
a tail of brick, it held me back
I could not reach the water
And my fishy tail won't swish.

Restless as a Byronic wanderer
between the river and the chains
On the yellow sands of the nodi Luit
But my fishy tail won't swish.

On Poetry and Photography

The play of light and shadow
hides fault lines
and seeks to delude
Focussing and zooming
craftily make the backdrop
pale away. the angle and
the perspective are tricks
artificers use to lure the senses
Cuckoo's eggs in crows' nests
Art designs illusions, conjures
to deceive, magics
wizards the banal to look romantic
Photography is an art, poetry too
They do it exceptionally well
A photo is a poem which rhymes
metres, line breaks truth into lies
A poem which seduces the most apathetic reader
willing suspension of disbelief
into accepting secrets of my heart
which you threw into the bin yesterday

(a response to J M Coetzee's *Disgrace* )

Teach me

that ritual, David's daily penance

of carrying dead dogs to the incinerator.

Teach me

Lucy's mysterious wisdom

of accepting guilt without flinching.

But do not try to tell me

that shame precludes desire.

That they cannot coexist.

Desire can be consecrated, pure

as blue fire, it can worship the beloved

yet not touch her with its flame.

Fighting Menka and her fellow apsaras

of desire and temptation

is the agnipariksha remorse must win over

A daily duel with these dancing apsaras

only strengthens my victory

and is my highest offerring of atonement

towards grace.

The twin birds on the tree of the gita are within me

one tempted to eat the fruit, the other watching

even if one succumbs to the fruit, the other redeems.


Frost's road diverged in a yellow wood

But what made him take the one less travelled by?

How do Hamlets decide to be or not to be,

to go, to act, to kill, or to not?

This power to alter our states is terrifying,

Nambisan is right, and I am paralysed

into Alfred Prufrock's doubt and inaction.

Dumbledore said our choices make us

what we are. But how do we make choices?

But let's not get existential. Let's not fall

into this canyon of questions.Let's find

a bottom to this bottomless gorge.

Or make one!

Open Pandora's box! Out with the bees,

the wasps and the hornets with their stings!

rights, wrongs ,goods, bads, reason,

logic, morals, virtues!

Shoo them away! No wreaths of laurel,

no gold medals for me! No awards of virtue!

Who decides, anyway? And when? On the Day

of Judgement on my deathbed?

Shoo them away! Doubts corrode as much

as certainty, after all. We meet in rust. That's

what Arundhathi Subramaniam said.

If you want references. And authorities.

Shoo them away! And let me be.

Let me be happy. Let me be me. Let me live

the life I wanted, the life I dreamt of. Let me

follow my heart.

But a tiny demon stalks me constantly

whispering in my ear

"are you quite sure"?


My Voice | Poetry In Our Time | In The Name Of Poetry | Editor's Choice | Our Masters
Who We Are | Back Issues | Submission | Contact Us | Home