Three Poems of Hope


That footprint on the wet grass

need not be death’s;

perhaps a folksong had gone by.

The butterfly quivering on your palm

has something to tell you.

How long had the mangoes

and jasmines awaited your hands

to stop them from falling!

Don’t you hear the sea whisper,

debts are not to be repaid?

Even your dark little room

has a piece of sky.

Everything is blessed:

fish, cicadas,

sedges on your yard,

sunlight, lips, words.


At times, it is good to laugh,

even the moment before

you take your life,

for, the sun survives you;

fishermen set their tiny boats

on the raging sea;

the drowned man’s clothes

learn to fly about the riverbank;

a man and woman blossom

into heaven from the bed of misery;

a boy riding the noon

dreams of caparisoned elephants;

a girl breathes in orange blossoms,

and slowly turns into a breeze;

a homebound bird

deposits four blue eggs

and a star in the twilight; a Saigal

trembles like the moon in a river;

a poem slips past a banyan tree,

hiding its face in an umbrella;

a raindrop turning into

an emerald on a colocasia leaf

remembers Kunhiraman Nair.


Let them go, who want to;

turn your eye towards those

who remain. Look into the mirror:

an angel watches you from within,

whispering to you in your

own voice, ‘Live, live on’.

Listen to silence;

it is an uproar —

a cascade, like your beloved

bursting into laughter,

stroking her hair backward;

the dance of leaves;

the wind’s anklet; the song of survivors

from beyond the river; the new year

arriving with a round of claps,

and flowers hanging from its ears.

There is no yesterday, nor tomorrow;

only the doors of today opening

to the sky. And, smells, too:

wet hay, grain boiling,

rain-washed earth, elanji flowers,

serpent’s eggs,

the mysterious secretions

of trees and men.

I will not sleep tonight,

nor will I let you.



(Nainital, 10 June 2004)

This lake is Parvati’s eye

open towards Kailas.

This blue carries

the penance of a lifetime’s love.

Fish and boats

cut across these liquid dreams.

Trees see in it their future.

The wind murmurs in my

ears a rustic song in Pahari.

Among these mountains,

I love you all the more.

This chill burns me.

Back in the room

I have a Third Eye.

This is instinct:

I know how beasts climax.

I grow an elephant’s trunk

in the lustful memories of woods.

We need a black baby

to seize the scent of

vanishing flowers and sway

its ears to the lost rhythms

of native drums.

I regret

having burnt Kama.


Your lips are red-hot.

I kiss them;

they turn my lips into a burning noon.

Your lips are an oozing honeycomb.

I stroke them;

a thousand wasps besiege my heart.

Your lips are the flushing dawn of my dreams.

They touch my eyes

that blink in the summer sun.

Your lips are acidic quills.

They sculpt your name on my brow,


Your lips are the tornados of June.

They pass over my body, and rouse

dust, water, poetry. At once.

Your lips are this coast and the other.

I tremulously launch my tongue

onto the torrent between them.

Your lips are a pair of red sparrow wings;

my lips soar on them

to the eternal blue.

Your lips are the banks of the red sea.

I sit meditatively on them

watching the west set.

Your lips are birth and death.

My being is stifled between them.

I pass from this world to the other

along the red bridges of your lips.

Your lips are silk, or

the essence of rose, or rainbow, or wind.

Water, blueberry, feather, ecstasy.

From between your lips come

love, fire, spring, moonlight,

children, breast milk.

Your lips are sa and sa;

between them lie the seven notes,

crescendo and decrescendo,

all those ragas, named and unnamed.

Your lips are alpha and omega;

between them lie the alphabet;

all words.

I pick some of them with my lips

and put them together.

I call it a poem.

You call it love.

In truth, it is a soul,

a lean soul that comes out of the hellfire, burnt:

Dante, Paul Celan,



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