Poems | RK Biswas

A painting by Hungryalist painter Anil Karanjai
Source: Facebook page (with permission from his wife Juliet Reynolds)

1. Bitter Coffee

There are yolk coloured flowers bursting
out from olive green leaves. The sky right above
them is frothy with clouds. Today is
a breezy, sunny day. Yet what words of love
do I write? How should I address
this welling of sadness, as if a sea swell has emerged suddenly
and drowned too many? Where do I go
from here? This place of abject sorrow to which
you have tethered me.
This is not a bag of salt that I may toss
across my shoulders into the waters and
instantly rinse clean. The sediment
has calcified and now hangs barnacle-fashion
from my muscles and tendons. I have lost
the strength to renew myself. Greet each good
day through the shrouds, of your heart. Yes yours, which mourns
all the time, never seeing how life
blossoms and pulsates around us. You never
hear the movement of air. Never feel the sun’s
brisk touch. You have doused me in tar. Your bile
has hardened my liver. And it seems to me that you perhaps
needed not love, but only a receptacle to pour all
your effluvium in.

2. Headache

There was enough
anger in you then. Enough, more
than enough. Human necks
are soft, twistable things. Human-will
as slim as the waists of ants.

You could have let it loose. Run amok. Taken
pleasure in their fear
-ful respect. There are times
when you still feel that way. Like today.
Like today. You want
to burn your muse down to cinders.
Smash every goddamn
beautiful thing in your present life.
You feel like carving faces today.
You wonder
how each one of them would fare
if you whipped off their security blankets.
would they be able to stand straight?

There are times when you wonder
why you didn’t
take that extreme path. You could
have. You could have.
There was so much anger
in you then. You could barely
hold it. You still
can’t hold it. You still get hot and cold
all over. But you won’t. You won’t.
You won’t ever be able to do
those things. You followed
the rules for far too long.
You’re old. You’re soft.
And these days when you rage
you only end up with a headache.

3.  How we bring happiness into our lives

We gloss over the immeasurable cruelties
encountered on an ordinary day in the ink
of newspaper, the glare of television screen
and soft soulful, nurturing conversations.
We turn down the lids of our eyes. Just like
the snail beneath a rain of clods, we create
a protective carapace for our tender most parts,
which may or may not be our hearts,
but that is a nonessential requirement. We
walk around with a nonchalant
air. Insanely unaware of our daily
annoyances in the shape of those who dare
to scratch against the window panes
of our cars with their dirty fingernails.
But we listen to poetry even when
the vapours within threaten
to turn toxic. And then we turn to flip
through the pages of meaningful books;
we go to art exhibitions, watch sad films
and classical dance. And at the theatres
we are immaculate. We’re so often vegetarian,
and even buy Ahimsa silk and chic handloom.
Our children are polite. They do well at school.
All said and done our lives are neat
and tidy. We are in sync. We never miss a beat.
We never forget to offer a drink,
even when we are on the brink
of a teeth gnashing, hair pulling,
saliva spewing situation. Eager to pour
more venom into the air than
a spitting cobra’s fangs. We are clean.
We keep our lives clean and free
of disorder. We take great care
never to become the other. And we

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad Michael Segers brought my attention to these poems. Quite a nice collection.