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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