Our emperor is no lion,
He is a fox like the rest of us,
He knows that we know it-
And roars with laughter,
Jeering at the futility of our knowledge.
We admit, he is cleverer,
He has perfected the art of noises-
He sounds nearly convincing,
And the dye has seeped deep into his being,
A permanent cover, a second skin.
Like the rest of us,
He is tethered to cowardice and docile loyalties;
He knows that we know it-
And roars out loud in frustration-
To make himself sound invincible.
In no time, joins in a chorus of brotherhood.
As their clamor grows louder-
We get more and more subdued,
Only air and no howl comes out of us,
The moon is perpetually on the wane.
We survive the never-ending drought too.
With no clear lakes and ponds left to mirror us-
We shall never see our invisibility,
The emperor always unsees us-
He cannot see himself-
And fancies that on stretching out,
His thinning tail shoots past the moon, planets and stars,
Our frightened eyes join in a collective hallucination-
We look up in awe-
At a bushy tail sweeping and swishing across the firmament.
THE ACT OF NOT DYING
The stake pierced right through her heart-
The witch bleeds herself out in the street,
Refusing to die;
A passing dog licks her feet in unspeakable love.
In grief, insects drown themselves in the pool of her blood.
Thirteen days have passed;
The witch has no time to die,
She is busy screaming her furies to the moon.
Cautions the soldier, cleaning his bayonet:
“Look, she is indeed adept in her craft
A vampire in civilian guise, kept alive by her dark art.”
His weapon’s steel tongue had licked its way
Probing for conspiracies seething within the impaled.
The tongue gleams in the memory of her blood
Warm and salt, like the ocean’s voluble craving.
There comes a priest to pray for the witch’s soul-
He looks at her face, now encircled in a halo,
And flees as he senses the god eclipsing in his soul.
The king of the land is in an alien shore,
He sits at the table draped in finery,
As powerful men feast on slaughtered bovine-
The king is calm as usual, even looks a little sad,
Thinking how ungrateful his people are.
He yearns for more revenge-
Fantasizes about his kingdom burning-
Then he will tune his instrument,
The music should flow and pause-
Like the passing of the last breath.
‘The witch is still alive’, inform his cronies back home-
He grinds his teeth till they crack.
The witch screams loud and clear;
The ministers are waiting under a banyan tree,
Eager to witness her passing;
For thirteen days and thirteen nights-
Playing chaturanga, sipping chai,
Cracking lewd jokes, masturbating on the sly-
Ogling her bare bosom slit open by the stake,
Still she refuses to die.
The cops laze around keeping an eye on the drifting crowd
We the people tread with care-
Quietly, with our eyes lowered or looking away,
Not letting the witch’s blood wet our toes;
The witch is still alive, kicking and screaming-
At us, her most culpable betrayers.
THE RAPE OF LIFE
The clock harangues
In brutal accents
The hands of time
Stifle the screams of life
Into her reluctant holes
Life lies passive, surviving
Taking stock of pain
Refusing to play
A lachrymal farce
The salve of philosophy
Heals not temporal wounds
Time’s assault leaves
More than a mere memory scar.
Nothing to antidote the suppurating standstill
Festering fixity of the moment
A bullet stuck in the wound
An embalming gel congealed
In body’s throbbing hollows
Death implanted in life
In this clockwork bough
A dream of death
Nipped in the bud;
The damned fruition
Of eternity’s seed
ANOTHER ALICE, IN WONDERLAND
This is another Alice,
In nubile curiosity
Venturing into wonderlands.
Down the rabbit hole a fall
The doom of the pit, hell
Her mind was raped, gang raped,
By too many wonders.
In front of the looking glass,
Unclad and bruised,
Wondering whether it was fair!
“Curiosity kills the cat”
The crowd spews its wisdom
The grin of the Cheshire cat,
Lingers on the sky-
A nascent moon of many moods.
Alice stirs thick rabbit stew,
For her nocturnal visitors;
Sets bread and wine on the table,
Flinging the tea-things in rage
She lights a candle near the crucifix,
Thinking of someone’s flesh and blood;
And waits for the devil to knock at her door.
Bini B.S. is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences, Baroda, Gujarat. Her research articles, poems and translations have appeared in national and international Journals and anthologies. She is the editor of Anekaant: A Journal of Polysemic Thought and the Managing Editor of JCT (Journal of Contemporary Thought). Her poems were part of an anthology of corporeal poems titled A Strange Place Other than Earlobes: Five Poets, Seventy Voices published by Sampark, Calcutta in 2014. She is the winner of the 2016 J. Talbot Winchell award for the contributions in general semantics, which she received in a ceremony in New York on October 21, 2016.