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the Means to Unite
Poetry is perhaps the more natural and spontaneous medium of
expression. We tend to express our heartfelt emotions in a few
lines of verse than in sentences. The poetic form is more
capable of reaching out and touching the hearts of others. The
thirst to connect, to express and listen is ingrained in every
poetic heart. It is this unique quality that qualifies poets to
be the ideal agents to promote peace and unity.
The poet’s vocation is a free one – it just can’t abide any kind
of fetters. The words have to necessarily flow, bridging the
diversity that is characteristic of the world. Though poets sing
in different tongues, their themes are universal, they are bound
by a unique camaraderie. Freedom is a natural by-product of
peace, and being by its very nature free, the poetic spirit will
necessarily foster peace.
The poetic sensitivity is there in each of us. Maybe it is
dormant in some. We only need to awaken this natural compassion
that lies deep within – then there is no more war, strife,
jealousy or hatred. It will be the awakening of our inner
spirituality that runs like a thread through each of us, uniting
one and all.
Dear friends, let our poetry festivals be the venues where
poetry can speak to us in words loud and clear, where each of us
get to see what we need to see and help others to see, where we
can put our heads together and understand our responsibilities.
Let us capitalize on poetry’s inherent capacity to soothe,
comfort and instill hope even in the most troubled times, and at
times of loss. Let us wield the power of the spoken word to
craft a more meaningful, “brave, new world.”
Enjoy reading this issue of Kritya.
* Jayasree Ramakrishnan Nair
(for Derek Ball)
On sunny evenings
a cascade of loveliness:
on the poor
of the windy gap,
filled with battle sap.
Upstanding, faithful, courageous,
our protection, our heart’s desire,
fighter of storms
and winter’s ire.
Champion of unwavering mind
the moon shield you hold
in your right, in your left the spear of gold.
in battle fury, wild,
what need we fear
you are in the gap of danger
ever alert –
More than words, it’s your pauses
which fall between bricks,
cement silence, build a wall,
which I’m trying to understand.
Or how the wordless stare
of the enlightened mirror,
reveals everything about me
with just one glassy cold glance.
And my own hushed silences
A mole on the face of the ocean
I frantically try to drown
my unknown unquiet islands.
To the calm with which
time keeps moving, in a clock,
in safe, but uneven hands,
a second not dropped back.
Though bought with borrowed money
there is grain in the house
The lady of the house is happy
she has mud-coated the courtyard
The rolling pin and bread board
are flapping their wings;
the lady is happy.
There are no vegetables to
go with bread,
but the lady is happy.
Eighteen. Gale force rising.
Eighteen. The heart of the fire.
Storm-fanned flames lick at eighteen-year-olds.
But my storm passed quickly, contemptuously,
As if I was no more than a drop of water.
Plane trees ululate in a red blizzard
Like green wolves howling in a scrub fire
Or like that unspeakable explosion that blooms
Gaudily, into a diseased mushroom.
Hailstones of shrapnel clatter from the sky.
Pedestrians are grey cars, and race in all directions.
The God of Death Speaks to Men of Evil
Yes, I am Azrael!
But do not number me among your kind!
When you intrude on gentle lives
You use your fists and whips and bullets
To build a house of death.
But I, with pity, spread snow-white sheets for them.
And even when it’s to your hordes
I come to gather up the souls,
I use my fingers lightly, to close
Eyelids that still throb with your crimes.
Uncle, how can I shelter you?
The storm’s battering has transformed you.
Thunder hacks at you with its black axe,
Lightning stabs you with its silver sword.
Uncle! You must withstand it, you cannot leave me.
Against volleys of rain I run to you.
My long wild hair flails with your tree-top,
My pliant arms are grafted to your branches.
This one tree will have the strength of two.
Let us protect each other and endure, Uncle. Endure!
trans;ation by Paddy Bushe
She is nude
if you call the flower freshly blossomed nude.
soft as a rose apple.
is a yellow snake.
touching the right of the belly button,
moves up between the breasts,
round the shoulder
and down back from around
the right shoulder,
now round the right breast,
now round the left breast,
and then up from behind
five times loosely around the neck,
once tight round the trunk above the breasts,
covering the nipples,
and then up back from the forehead,
and again down back
eight times round the buttock
She is awake.
Her lower half is termite-infested.
On her right thigh,
in the part clear of termite cover,
is a blood spot.
Snake slough in the left leg.
between the parted thighs.
She has the .eyes of a snake.
Her head is the garuda
that bites at a thousand hoods.
The left palm a blooming triangle
with fingers turning into boughs
that partly cover the sun.
The fingers of the right palm'
brushing the stars gently
as on the strings of alyre.
She is awake
in the canvas that fills the room.
come out of your closets,
Open your windows, open your doors,
You have been holed-up too long
in your closed worlds.
Come down, come down
from your Russian Hills and Telegraph Hills,
your Beacon Hills and your Chapel Hills,
your Mount Analogues and Montparnasses,
down from your foot hills and mountains,
out of your tepees and domes.
The trees are still falling
and we’ll to the woods no more.
No time now for sitting in them
As man burns down his own house
to roast his pig.
No more chanting Hare Krishna
while Rome burns.
San Francisco’s burning,
Mayakovsky’s Moscow’s burning
the fossil-fuels of life.
Night & the Horse approaches
eating light, heat & power,
and the clouds have trousers.
No time now for the artist to hide
above, beyond, behind the scenes,
indifferent, paring his fingernails,
refining himself out of existence.
No time now for our little literary games,
no time now for our paranoias & hypochondrias,
no time now for fear & loathing,
time now only for light & love.
We have seen the best minds of our generation
destroyed by boredom at poetry readings.
Poetry isn’t a secret society,
It isn’t a temple either.
Secret words & chants won’t do any longer.
The hour of oming is over, the time for keening come,
time for keening & rejoicing
over the coming end of industrial civilization
POPULIST MANIFESTO #1