Poems | Amrit Ghoshal

1) Not in Praise of Varanasi

It is strange how the river bank
Seems so deserted. Just
Minutes after all the clamoring bells,
The shoals of people,
The tearful realizations of one’s oneness
With everything, subside,
Few things remain.
Dogs howl in the orange light,
Under the black sky boats in arrays
Citrine flags point westward.
The lepers count their coins
At the foot of the temples.
Ancient, oh so ancient.
The river flows on with the weight of the city
Carrying the signs of progress
Of the cities before it, chiefly inorganic,
Plus fish, flowers, dead bodies and diarrhea.
Pushing the civilization’s load, one dirt molecule at a time
While the folks smoke ganja and spin convenient yarns
To wide eyed blond students
About the spirit of their living river Goddess
“Pollution cannot touch her”, fuck the water, save the spirit.
Happy. Happy. Happy, because in their city
Spirituality, cannabis and bhokal
Can wash the earthly liabilities away.

I am a minor poet of simple things.
I can’t inspire revolutions.
I don’t even pretend to be a revolutionary.
No thank you, neither guns nor pens would suffice.
I am also not a starving poet
I get by reasonably well
In my two bedroom apartment-
In its dark expected corners
I find mediocre bronze lines 
I don’t know just yet
If all the poets of my land
And those across the seas
Have already lost the war
If there ever was one 
To be won in the first place.
I have been taught well,
To be decent and polite,
Though I have started to forget most of the instructions.
I get my groceries
And walk carefully on the sidewalk
Mumbling curses with a scowl
To the disorderly drivers of my small town.
Giving names to things helps me understand them better.
I am practical enough not to believe in love.

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