The hares have gone; the grey ground, parched, is dried of them,
my talons clutch cracked bark, I give a shrill, low cry.
The small grey doves are gone, all gone. The cruel sun, the ugly sky,
they smile today. They smile. I beg for food.
Yes me: the lord of the sky above, the god of the earth below.
Enraged eyes range the ground beneath and the sky above, ahead.
Now this, my home, is dead for me.
Friends I had none, have none, won’t have,
yet can’t forget my kind is gone, all gone, but me. No, I won’t die,
for I’m the one: the lord of the sky above, the god of the earth below.
My beak, it shines. It lusts for flesh. My talons glistening thirst
for blood. I can’t stay still. Yes, I must kill prey small or big, or else,
I die while the sun smirks and the sky cackles.
How can I die so young, so strong? I, who they call
the lord of the sky above, the god of the earth below?
My lazy wings stayed folded long, now spread, they hide the smiling sun.
My talons clutch no bark but slash through the sky. I fly and search.
No, close to ground won’t do. I rise and cut through the sky,
up where eyes can’t follow me, then dive or not,
for I’m the god of the earth below, the lord of the sky above.
At last, the sheep! I choose the newborn wobbling behind: white and soft and sweet.
My beak glistens. My talons shine. I laugh at the sky, deride the earth.
I see the white of the big one’s eyes, I go so close. I smell fear, and hear one cry.
Two run back; not the one I singled out. Does not know death, not yet:
the offering for the lord of the sky above, the god of the earth below.
My talons clutch it, glisten red. My shining beak plucks clean one side. It’s no more
slow, the lamb. It runs but not away from me. I ride its side. Its neck now far,
I tear away the flesh. Mistake in haste: blood covers my eyes. Can’t see a thing yet work. Precise, clean strokes, life bleeds from it. You know the end. I know it too,
for I am the lord of the sky above, the god of the earth below.
Wrong yet Right
“Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.”
Says Chomsky, is right in a way yet wrong.
Colorless crimson clouds move still
under the dark light of liquid gold.
Endless short moments live fatally
until their end begins to burn cold.
Until the beginning ends turning inward
Spineless straight frames live deathly.
Under the limpid night’s dark light
Sightless staring eyes see blindly.
Letter to Dear Brother
I don’t think I need you anymore.
I don’t say that I learnt it well.
Life taught me how to live alone,
it couldn’t teach me to live well lonely.
There’s no pain like that which comes
when stumps start to wither. I’ll tell you how;
not now. First let me purge myself clean
of all those days, of all those years we grew together.
I did not know back then that life would teach me
newly, new things; new ways to live.
I still miss you sometimes,
at the times when I see a brother play
with another, or with a sister. I miss you
when I see them play tennis ball cricket.
Your face from the past I don’t remember.
I do remember the joy of life that we
lived then and yes, I do remember on my lap,
that little bundle of a month, or two. You can’t. I do.
The Old House
Oh what shall we do now? That house is old.
It stands by the street, its walls all yellow,
their plaster cracked, fallen, bricks lie naked to strangers’ eyes.
They have seen better days, when twice every year
they were painted fresh and stood with pride
and grace and glory, tall (a century ago, the tallest in the area)
by the side of a street, lazy
except through nine nights and nine evenings
with a sea of heads while the life of Rama
was played on the yellow stage beside the house.
Those bricks, well made and burnt just right
have stood there for a century, and one more, for sure.
Oh what shall we do now? Our houses are new.
Their lintel and pillars concrete, their walls so strong!
Beside that old yellow, crumbling plaster, brick walled house,
they don’t look good, they just don’t look right.
I know them
I know them, those ‘things’, all deaf and all dumb.
Can’t hear with ears, tongue that are dumb
You know them too my friend, unless you are them;
Sit snugly; sit smugly, with them, in them.
‘I know you, you snob, you setter of trap
You first set them sure and wait then to trap.
You wash first our brain, your canvas; then paint.
You seed us with distance, with hatred you paint
With taints our minds, our heart you clutch then turn
Me against us, you snare of men, hearts you burn.’
Rajnish Mishra is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India. He is the editor of PPP Ezine, a poetry ezine. He has a blog on poetry, poetics and aesthetic pleasure: https:/poetrypoeticspleasure.wordpress.com.
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