6/3/19

Two Poems | Indran Amirthanayagam

pic via The New Yorker 

Allen, Caretaker

Only connect, my Dad said before introducing
me to Allen Ginsberg, who built bridges across
oceans between East and West, throwing his key

in a sock off the fire escape to East 12th street
below so his visitor could walk up…Imagine
a world without intercom, telephone to be

dialed on the bedside table, plates stacked
up in the sink, to be washed by hand. Allen
gave me a hand, and his protean thoughts crossed

back and forth over the Great Wall.  He imagined
the road of excess, dancing of the little black boy,
energy turning to eternal delight. Then he gave us

the best minds of our generation and sat with Jack
on ‘Frisco Bay to see the sunflower afloat fighting
against the oily grime. He interpreted Blake,

ploughed Whitman’s line, and he befriended
me and threw his key down in a sock, worried
about my first job, how I would manage to eat

while writing poems. His attention to detail, cost
taught me thrift. I will never forget our last chat,
how he advised me to visit Charleville, to see

where Rimbaud grew up, to read
Christopher Smart from the madhouse,
and to cut half my first draft out. 

He then caught his breath, asked me
to hang up when he realized I was calling
him long distance from Brussels to New York.




The Hindu Party in a Landslide

Yes, the emotion is bittersweet, my friend,
your win as MP, but the party’s loss, liberals
and free thinkers, agnostics, pacifists, the live
and let live shopkeeper who serves all clients,
 the printer of poetry books, bureaucrats
who assure that the reservation system
continues to affirm rights of scheduled castes,
these people and the cowherd now a university
principal, these children of the promise
of democracy, sired in the loin cloth
of Mahatma Gandhi, the constructive
opposition,  laic republic,   turned
into Diwali by fiat. So what now
my Indian Muslim, Zoroastrian, Parsi?
Where do tribal peoples gather?
Not everybody is Hindu in Hindustan.


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