false choice

agriculture gave surplus time which gave war
& poetry & god &
the android; some prefer the iphone,
but the choice is false:
the hunter-gatherer never chose to farm.


Optimism of rage

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light" - Dylan Thomas

Rage too against the silence
goading dull obeisance to creep
of power, a practised diligence
to shun the ear when the mynah

cries its cry;  the mountain weary
of the eagle soar, strains to hear
the treetop chirps, longs to mingle
with earth that grounds.


The barbarian and the snakecharmer

              "Tonight, you grow fire
In your home; the hearth is warmer than
It was day before, and the heat is some
What hotter."

Tell me, o bearer of the bard's timeless
Residues, the starkness of what remains,
Endures. Tell me too, o quills that ink
The shores of pain, of destitute growth
And gain.

               "Tomorrow's morrow is now past."

The temple grounded, the sword sheathed, the
Fill of land is for the maker's glory, and
Fuel for the till.

               "Cull your seamstress vows,
Pulverize the atoms of your being, the order
Of light is now of silent gratitude."

The worms of time look about and confer with
The muse of the forest, the news of night;
The loose ground will shift in preparation.

               "Did I mention the glories and
Speak of the stains?"

No matter now, the glory, the stain, the dim
Flames from the hearth are programmed to keep
Your fellowship warm.

lament of the clay anklet

should the sharded anklet go
home where no names are spoken
or out in the open where sulfurous
kannagi, livid, goes a routin’?

can the caste out voice speak at
all in a room full of tenors
rasping out airs – heirs of plumped
entitlement and closed spaces?

would the sunken claw out and
bark, bereft of sun, unmoored
and short of tooth, of bite?
kannagi, livid, ekes out smoke.

Kannagi is the avenging widow from the Tamil epic Silappatikaram (‘The tale of an anklet’).

pejoratively happy

Lines in sand are not etched in stone, though
Give it time, and stone will be sand and lines
Will form – form is not platonic, it is coeval
With time, bursting with each free act digitized
By algorithmic machinations of an irregular
Context-sensitive grammar – grammar is not absence
Of joy but its background, necessarily in opposition
But definitive in structure – structure is not
A given but follows form which seeks joy that sits
Far from the rhetoric of the pejoratively happy.



A smatter ing of words pile on
within and out: a rabbit’s foot,
an emancipated goosebump, the
loud falsifications of rhyme.

Yield word ling to the scythe, to
the dull burrowing of each wordlike
wordlie; the semantics of the bull
horn will eclipse all that is smudged.

Prime some thing out of blobs of word
forms, as if creation is honor-bound
to reveal under oath of a slipped tongue,
a fairied tooth, unfairly tooled, singed.


Why stop the goddess in her tracks?

There is a void in the effluence of
A metaphor broken, a folktale eulogized, a
Myth taken for fact; the earth-yearning
Goddess balks in her tracks – not good.

“Fie then,” it follows. Fie then upon the
Track-stopperers, the metaphor-brokerers.
Refill the jars now, make them reek of
Praise, scream out “the goddess is thus and

Also thus.” You need a thousand and one tales
Of forgiveness for one insolence, you blasphemous
Lout, you un-carer of myth, you track stopperer
You. Counterpoint needs point, dialogue ogue.

Context: This started off as a somewhat serious commentary on the darker aspects of the fallout of the modern quest for identity: when the stories, folktales and songs that have been informing us for millennia have been stultified or forgotten. But then as the poem progresses, it acquires an irreverent tone (in line with one of the functions of folklore as explained by A.K Ramanujan).

Poetics of dissent

Sloughing off inner form,
          The grammar of dissent accedes
          To the howl in the vowel
          But only so much.

Tending to the tender build
          Up of an umptious velocity
          Of will, the preposition
          Proposes the act

Of severing the shill, the
          Bond of a trembling fever
          Of anxious relief; the
          Cymbals can sound 

Out now, the empire stands
          Naked. O root of the
          Predicate, take barbs
          At the conjugal noun!

“Empire follows art and not vice versa” – William Blake



ik bhikaari mazaar se thoRi door, dopehar
ki sangdaar shuaaoN se bhiRa hua

andar kisee darwesh ki boseeda haDDiyoN
ka Dher zameen me gaRa hua

beech kashkol maiN, kuChh sikkoN aur
rupoN ka ik halka raqs racha hua

ishq naheeN to na sahee, yeh raunaq-e
kashkol kisee mu’jizay se kum hai?