Wednesday, December 25, 2013

SEASONS* K. Satchidanandan

It was in summer that
death first came 
to take him away.
“ Look”, he told death,
“as long as this sunlight
continues to dance like this,
sending butterflies fluttering
around the brows of the living,
and lets the waves shimmer
like leaping silvery fishes
and generates eyes
all over the seashore,
I shall not come to
your island of night.
No, not in this hour of the sun
and of violets.”

Next death came
during the rains.
“Look”, he told death,
“as long as the rain’s serenade
thrills even the stones
and even dead trees hide buds
yearning to burst forth
and the crickets’ morning carol turns
night into day,
I shall not come to
your woodless land.
No, not in this time of elephants
and of drums”

When death came again in winter,
“Look”, he told death,
“as long as the moon turns
the mist into sugar-lumps
and the sand to silver
and the earth with her hair of shadows
dreams of jasmine buds,
I shall not come to
your dreamless land.
No, not in this season of nativity
and of snow.”

Death came back in spring.
“Look”, he told death,
“As long as even the grass
grows self-aware and the crow’s cawing
sounds like a melody and love fills even
the serpents’ poison glands with honey,
I shall not come to
your abode of frozen hearts.
No, not in this moment of flower
and of wine. ”

Each time he drove death back
with his passion for life. But
in autumn death slithered towards him,
a hissing breeze over the fallen leaves
and struck him. This ecstasy, he knew,
was his end and he now lay
among those yellow leaves,
staring at the rainbow
that blossomed above him.

*The original title is ritusamhara, the title of Kalidasa’s long Sanskrit poem about the seasons.

( Translated from Malayalam by the poet )

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Understand, I'll slip quietly 
away from the noisy crowd 
when I see the pale 
stars rising, blooming, over the oaks. 

I'll pursue solitary pathways 
through the pale twilit meadows, 
with only this one dream: 
You come too.

© Rilke

Friday, October 25, 2013


Between two words
choose the quieter one.

Between word and silence
choose listening.

Between two books
choose the dustier one.

Between the earth and the sky
choose a bird.

Between two animals
choose the one who needs you more.

Between two children
choose both.

Between the lesser and the bigger evil
choose neither.

Between hope and despair
choose hope:
it will be harder to bear.

-Boris Novak 
(translated from Slovene by Mia Dintinjana)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Plain Sense of Things by Wallace Stevens


After the leaves have fallen, we return
To a plain sense of things. It is as if
We had come to an end of the imagination,
Inanimate in an inert savoir.
It is difficult even to choose the adjective
For this blank cold, this sadness without cause.
The great structure has become a minor house.
No turban walks across the lessened floors.
The greenhouse never so badly needed paint.
The chimney is fifty years old and slants to one side.
A fantastic effort has failed, a repetition
In a repetitiousness of men and flies.
Yet the absence of the imagination had
Itself to be imagined. The great pond,
The plain sense of it, without reflections, leaves,
Mud, water like dirty glass, expressing silence
Of a sort, silence of a rat come out to see,
The great pond and its waste of the lilies, all this
Had to be imagined as an inevitable knowledge,
Required, as a necessity requires.

Friday, September 13, 2013

so you want to be a writer? by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When I die
don't throw my bones and flesh away
for let them tell by their smell
what life was worth on this earth
what love was worth in the end.

(C) Kamala Das

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pablo Neruda's Poem

“Well, now
If little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you
Little by little
If suddenly you forget me
Do not look for me
For I shall already have forgotten you

If you think it long and mad the wind of banners that passes through my life
And you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots
That on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms
And my roots will set off to seek another land” 

― Pablo Neruda, Selected Poems

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I have gone out, a possessed witch, 
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

Source: The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1981)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Questions of Travel

Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?
          (C)   Elizabeth Bishop, ‘Questions of Travel’

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Was it rain 
or you?

There were scents:
intense ones, 
of the rain-washed earth, of tobacco,
of the acrid sap of the mango-stalk, 
of oleander flowers, 
of woman’s inner lips.

There were colours,
flying ones, 
of the mynah, of the pink balsam,
of collyrium, of wild fire,
of wet yam leaves, of red wine,
of fresh paddy.

There were memories,
unendurable ones,
of the index finger, wet lips,
aroused nipples,
wounds, bells, 
irreplaceable hearts.

How many names how many selves
How many places how many births
How many rivers from touches

The mad ecstasy of dreaming of your return
when I lose you
The wild shock of the fear of losing you
when you return.

I have never seen a rain so blue
an embrace so liquid, a dance so irrepressible, 
a monsoon kiss that rains so incessantly
like flowers from a gulmohar tree. 

( 2005)
(Translated from Malayalam by the poet ) K. Satchidanandan

Monday, February 25, 2013

Imagine thirst without knowing water.
And you ask me what freedom means.
Imagine love without love.
Some things are unthinkable,
until one day the unthinkable is here.
Imagine thirst without knowing water.
Some things we assume just are as they are,
no action is taken to make or sustain them.
Imagine love without love.
It is fear that eats the heart: fear and
endless talk, and not risking a step.
Imagine thirst without knowing water.
Fold away your beautiful thoughts.
Talk away curiosity, chatter away truth.
Imagine love without love.
Imagine believing in the whispers,
the screams and the gossip. Dancing to a tune
with no song to sing inside you.
Imagine love without love.
~”Thirst,” John Siddique, from Full Blood, 2011

Friday, January 11, 2013

 I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that's wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a grave site
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots

a dream once lost
among sorrows and songs.
 (C) Rainer Maria Rilke