It seems I will never be
The quintessential South Asian poet.
For once, I don’t use the word mango
Often enough, and I’m Sri Lankan, which
Means, I don’t have the mojo to make it
As an international poet. In this part of the world,
Tagore’s songs still serenade nature
In all her effluence; the rustles, the ripples
And the ricochets. He is everywhere;
In a woman’s navel, in a kingfisher’s eye
And on the dome of the Taj Mahal. Still, I move out
From Tagore’s shadow, to my own metaphors,
Symbolic of my Sri Lankan experience.
Here in Colombo, every meal is served with spicy curries,
That bequeath a little madness to receptor linings,
And bloated pappadams, which make thieves
Out of little children, who eyeball the little
Flour-moons with a partial eye. Still nothing
Beats a game of cricket, where sailing hits
Spawn poetic movements in the air, that even Tagore
Would be stumped to find a suitable metaphor.
Still, cricket makes Colombo streets deserted, except for the
Beggars imploring for some rupee coins.
The seasonal monsoon blows through here,
Afloat like a saree’s fall and lightning strikes,
Light up the Bay of Bengal, deserted
Now, in the absence of trawlers and catamarans.
And still, you can see stilt fisherman hook
The catch of the ocean, donning colorful
Sarongs and head scarves. I wonder
If Tagore ever saw the beauty of a fishing village,
The die-hard spirit that infects
Wrists of steel that pull massive nets
With the catch of the ocean.
Still, nothing is as beautiful as love here.
Lovers, they hoist little umbrellas on top
Fishing for a little private space
To take in the catch of the lips. Perhaps
I’m more like Tagore than I wish to say.
I give stripes to the poem, just
Like Tagore did, and how beautiful
Is a poem prowling through open spaces
Caressing like the claws of a tiger
Gripping a palpitating life. And words, they are juggernauts;
They move something as industrious
And science-prone, as a South Asian heart.
And Tagore – and I – we will never
Be remembered as deity or be paraded as effigies
We are just lowly poets – an endangered species,
That has the pupil of a Bengali tiger
For the transposition of verses to raw beauty
To millions battling the beholder’s plague;
Their fall to counter-immunity.
On my front yard
Is a mango tree, which becomes
Like a constellation at night
No stars here though, just nature’s bulbs
And a mango, you learn
Has a big seed and forms a near
Kidney shaped fruit. Pealing a mango is like
Pealing passion off a woman
You have succulence dripping against
Your mouth and taste inculcating
On your tender tongue.
And the ripened yellow pulp
Cruises you through flavor
Until the last bite ends and you
Feel the mouth yearning for more.
A divine truth comes to you;
– When you have the mango sutra
Who needs sex ?
The days that golliwogs were scarecrows
Are gone. Now doves roost
Inside golliwog hearts. Onyx
Is now valued not for the saturation of color
But for the chemistry. There are no
More scapegoats for hate, only
Clones of Othello, whose hearts
Are captured by Desdemonas.
And dark is beautiful now, from
America to India, where coffee-bean
Sculptures in dermal tuxedos,
Are making splashes everywhere
You look. Beauty is not just a movement
Or a benchmark, it is diluting
All prejudices of the eye, to remedy
The vanilla-flavored retina.
And with time, doves become magpies
And so do the crows.
You learn something new everyday.
Like how a conversation
That doesn’t mean anything
Can unzip you or prick the bubble
You’re wading in to the tide
Learning that the sand moves towards
The sea, in slow deposition. And
A shoulder, is like that too.
You shift towards a bough of flesh
Who wears the empathy mask on,
You converse about a moment in history
A moment of conscription
When I was writing on my room walls
Like a prisoner does, to survive
And that conversation, takes a chunk
Out of you, like the top sand
That deposits on the ocean bed. So
A friendship begins.
I’m a tuber eater
And that doesn’t make me a
Starch reservoir. I’m just fat,
As fat as the keg flowing with
Yes, I’m a drunk that doesn’t know
Right from left, when inebriated,
An obese drunk to be precise.
And in this conscription of weight
You look at the fat blobs
And stretch marks, and decide
“must kill the cumbersome” to feel
Like a little dragon fly, whose eye pop out in habit
As my eyes do, when caressed
By curvy women. I do little
To shed my fat and what am I,
But a prince of adipose who poses for pictures
With the tummy tucked in.
Creepy the way how fat swims
Around the lean cuts. The muffin
Top as notorious as a jumping
Whale. My blubber, is my
Beauty though, the timber of my bough.
Concentric rings that gives a number;
By deposits of age.