Kanpur-Lucknow Read-Meet

The Kanpur Lucknow read-meet was the smallest read-meet, but also one of the largest. It had a surprisingly international character. There were four (almost) real participants, five phone-in participants, and a number of submissions by others were read out.

The meet was great great great fun.

Of the real participants, four is actually an exaggeration, for at any given point of time, there were only three. To start, Natasha the lucknavi chikan a.k.a the "rogA yoga", Dan the thespian danish, and Amit the khuTo. Half way through, we were joined by Danish's brother Banish, but Danish himself had to leave then (he had a train to catch for Delhi), so we were left with Banish for the rest of the evening. In between some of Dan's friends called - Ritu and Pragya - the latter we even converted to a read-in participant...

Watermelons - yes. Tunda ki kabab from Lucknow - yes. Cold Gazpacho soup, pasta with veggies in white sauce - yes. Peach tea, Camomile. Ending with a dash of Baileys. Yes.

We can't say it enough. The read-meet was great fun!

Notes from the Read-Meet

Please click on the title/author to read the pieces. Hit the [BACK] button on your browser to come back to where you were when you went to read.

You can also hear some of the readings.


The Licking (short story)
by Max Babi (sent-in)
(read with great aplomb, by Dan)

Describes a visit to the loo in a jungle in Gujarat.  A python comes
up and licks his bottom as he is shitting.  Danger of castration.

The initial station pickup is OK but does not relate.  Items like the
Nepalese princess etc add to believability, but the dinner table on it
is gripping.  

Perhaps it could begin with the dinner table and the leopard sounds
and weave in the other details. 

Great innovative switch from leopard to python. 


by Shubhada Dharwadkar (sent-in)
(read by Natasha)

Metaphor of snake for loneliness is very effective. 
The poem works, and the image of pain that makes one unfeeling is
powerfully rendered. 
The use of first person "I" could be restrained perhaps. 
Some minor tightening would help, e.g. "run away" --> "run",etc. 


Chilika Estuary
by Anjan Ray (sent-in)

The poem works as a anthromorphic metaphor of nature.  It connects
simple natural objects - the sun, the stars, the wind, etc, well-worn
words - but the metaphors work - e.g. "clouds in the mist that shroud
your hair" or the "golden crown on windblown hair".

"The stars are mirrored on your breast" ending is fitting for this
poem of nature.

One wishes the original Bangla was also there to see how the
translation deals with the ideas. 


Raamesh Gowri Raghavan
Divorce (short story, sent-in)
[read by Dan]

The story has an interesting theme, the male discomfiture at the woman
who earns more money.  It is also told in a deadpan style, with a lot
of funny spots, such as the pie in the bitumen, that make it

But on the whole the motivation for the woman's expenses, or the man's
jealousy as a theme is used like a blunt weapon, and it deadens the
reader after several repetitions. 

The title of the story "Divorce" - gives the punch line away, and one
is merely waiting to see how the divorce is to come out.  Perhaps the
narrative could develop how the differences between man and wife are
exacerbated over time, leading to the divorce.


Sweet Memories (sent-in)
(read by amit)

The poem is surprisingly mature for a six year old.  The sadness
reflected in this stanza:

	  But if we don't spend time
	  with each other
	  We become angry
	  And then we end up with sad memories

is extremely mature.  It is written about someone in the child's life,
and clearly there is some anguish here.  But look how positively it

	  So let us enjoy this moment
	  And let the sweet memories
	  Touch our heart


I sing this song
(read by Natasha)

A smile - give it away and it comes back, is related to the magic
rupee - the material thing - that comes back, enriched.  Draws a
parallelism very nicely, a very mature structure for the 

A very talented child.  Mom and daughter started writing at the same

Natasha: How did this poem come out?  In trying to make the mother


manisha lakhe (call-in from hyderabad)
exploding toads (in ghazal format)

sonia menezes - works on genes - making mutant toads - uses them to
take revenge.  A funny doggerel, well executed. 

See the 
other entries in this ghazal exercise. 


ashish gorde (call-in from bahrain)
cafe serendipity

"silence hung in the air like the jazz tunes"

Got this idea while sitting at Starbucks, which is a great place to
observe people - the superficiality and the humdrum. 

Natasha likes "latte lips".  Dan: why do women always like this
phrase?  Ashish: You know why I wrote it?  I put it in just because it
works as an alliteration.  [Amit's comment:  I don't think anything in
poetry is so simple - why do those thoughts pop up in the mind to
begin with?]

See the huge 
fan gathering for this poem from the caferati board. 


A love poem
(old poem from the attic: 1986)

weep alone silently

waiting to snatch the substance you are made of

you whisper, I hear....


Topkapi (by popular demand)

centuries of conquest - become the parable of inevitable decay. 

A few centuries back this must have been a center for the high
and mighty - there was so much power and pomp.  
Ashish: And today anyone can enter it with a ticket.

The desolation reminds one of ozymandias.  Also Italo Calvino's
"Invisible Cities". 


(read by Dan: "drop-dead gorgeous girl")

A hint of rains, wetness, umbrella. 

There is a storm both inside and outside, which makes this work. 
A hint of hesitation. 


Tomorrow's Dream

A love poem - a swaying motion. 

The concept of the language of two bodies as truth is interesting. 



the theme of words is universal and everyone can relate to it. 
The first para, with the concept of meek words not speaking out,
is a good one.  The ending - "minds archives" may be a bit weak. 


amit mukerjee
fragmented words I 
translated from namita choudhury by amit mukerjee

image: words imprison the author 

dan is reminded of a marsiya (epic poems - marsiyakhAni - martyrdom
related to the Hussain brothers' Moharram).  In a Marsiya by Mir Wahid
that opens: "o pen - come on paper again, and spread your jewels
here", there is a point when Imam Hussain is entering the battle, and
he describes how the alphabets themselves are frightened by the sight
of battle, and aleph tries to hide behind be, etc.

dan hussain
Saul bellow - obituary
(appeared in Tehelka, April 2005.  Online copy not available)

personalized introduction works well.  
quotes Charles Simic in the end: the heroes of Saul Bellow and
Dostoyevsky refuse to 
exchange their inner torment that comes with bourgeois propriety or
religious belief. 


the trivia of a brooding mind
dan hussain 

there is a hint at the comfort of solitude and the hesitation
to trade it in for companionship. 

Hear the 

great comments on this piece from the caferati board. 


amit kapoor
use me (sent-in)
(read by Dan)

the basic idea of using a commonplace object is a powerful idea, but
the execution does not work out.  The expression is not vigorous
enough, and resorts to too many cliches. 


vinod (call-in from Pune)

there is also a hint of hesitation in this poem. 

By this time we were beginning to feel that the dominant theme
in this read-meet was that of hesitant exploration. . 


silent sins 
(read by Natasha with the poet, Vinod, on line)

the hint of uncertainty - makes the poem very powerful - after the
pleasure, comes doubt and hesitation. 


vijay nair (call-in from Delhi)
wait - some snippets 
(written taja taja)

Many shades of waiting. the 
snippet 1 introduces a degree of uncertainty
"she waits for a tomorrow - uncertain."
The third snippet is particularly powerful - and the end suddenly
    the seconds seemed hours
    till she smiled and took his hand"   

Also see these tAjA comments from AKN. 


pragya thakur (call-in from New York City)
starting over

very powerful constructs - "monochrome destiny" 

see more comments on this poem from the caferati board


once again the mind seeks a word
(translation from faiz)

Dan reads the original - 
"Aj ek harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal".

[Hear Dan read it](399KB, WAV file)

the translation does justice to the original.  the poem itself
is very powerful.  the English rendering seems to work. 


even this was possible

Dan: The image of the night as the ocean washing over the sand is a
powerful one.  But "the skeleton" is too negative - too strong an
image - that of a carcass on the beach of night - and it disturbs.
There is a fond indication then of what was possible - and the dark
image of skeleton does not go with it.  Could we possibly replace
"skeleton" with something that has decay, but it also has some value,
which goes with the next line.

Natasha: I think the skeleton jars, but it wakes one up. 


dan hussain - poem by Akbar NasirAbadi

This poem is from the play "Agra Bazaar" by Habib Tanveer.  It is
about the kakri - the cucumber like fruit of N Indian summers. Dan
also read out the last poem in this play, also by Akbar Nasirabadi,
about the folly of men.


The read-meet ended with a cup of bailey's, served AKN style in
earthen khullars... 

Writings from the Kanpur-Lucknow Read-meet

April 29 2005

See notes/index above for links and comments.


max babi

The Licking (short story) Ronnie peeped out from the train. The pre-dawn sunrays in their budding glory had painted the harsh landscape of Eastern Gujarat in whitish gray. He asked a fellow traveler, lighting up a cigarette : " How far is Dahod?" " Next station " said the surly fat cop, and added as an after-thought, " twenty minutes." Ronnie thanked him and planned out further moves. His uncle would meet him there, and both would drive down to Garbada, a nowhere place where the thick forests begin. He didn't much care for these vast expanses, hilly terrain and what was certainly worse, the tiger-infested jungles. No sooner the train had come to a screeching halt, he saw his fat short and stocky uncle Pesi waving at him wildly as if he were in a tearing hurry... we have all the time in the world, thought Ronnie, this family business was driving him nuts. His father had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and signature of Pesi uncle was needed to settle some property dispute. " Kemchhe dikra?" Pesi gave him a resounding slap on the back and shook his hand with an intention to tear it right out of its socket, thought Ronnie gingerly pulling away. " Sojju majaaman" said Ronnie as they climbed into the 1930 vintage Willys car which mystified the Bombay kid a lot. They used to make Jeeps, he had asked the uncle once, how come a sedan ? Pesi as he was prone to had played hide and seek with him with obtuse answers finally agreeing this was from an experimental batch that was later abandoned from the manufacturing program. " It can carry three bloody blue bulls if I remove the backseats," said the red-faced hunter. Ronnie didn't care much for this pastime either. Sitting in pubs drinking beer and ogling college girls was a better pastime, he had once told the rambunctious uncle -who had tried to get him interested in the tribal beauties... .. terrible beauties Ronnie had said and shrugged his shoulders. He hated the people here too. Ronnie's mind wandered whilst the hunter waxed eloquent about the advanced features of some stupid rifle or double barrel gun. He even started humming a film song, doing up his hair with a fancy new comb, trimmed his nails daintily -not listening to Pesi uncle, bursting into obscene guffaws over nothing. Your bally sense of humour puts me off, he tried to convey without words. ESP did not work on the ex-ranger who had tuned a timber merchant. " You wanna hear a funny story, sonny boy?" asked the hunter facetiously and the city dude nodded yes. " Well we have this moronic neighbour, Pravin Shah who is a strict vegetarian... . Sort of a guy who keeps scooting in just to ask me or your Minu aunt what animal are we cooking today. Har har har ... " Ronnie squirmed in his seat. The impending anecdote has to be unfunny - but the hunter went on disregarding the burning looks. " One day me and my bosom pal Rustom decided to play a trick on the unsuspecting yokel. We took him along, saying we wanted to see farmhouse on sale. He was horrified when he realized in the heart of the wilderness we had other ideas... har har har... ." Ronnie stared at the uncle uncomprehendingly. " So we opened our Scotch whiskeys and sodas, and nearly well got plastered before the shoot. By then the beastly Rustom was seeing double, I am sure. He would shoot at standing bloody blue bull and miss it wide. I wanted a running dear to shoot at -no fun shooting a standing critter. " Pesi whilst driving, deftly removed a half bottle of rum and took a swig. He offered it to Ronnie, who politely declined. " Kem? Soo thayu? You got holes in your liver like your dad?" he asked teasingly. " Naaa- re, Pesi uncle." Said Ronnie defensively, " it is latest girl friend of mine, a Nepali princess, who has laid me off liquor." Pesi doubled over laughing, tears streaming down his face. " Surely you must be joking Mr. Daruvala, " said he amidst choking chuckle, " with such a name, how dare you spread wild stories about giving up drink for a mere woman... " He actually used an impolite name for the seat femininity in a woman... ahem. Ronnie reared up with a look of rightful indignation but the country bumpkin went on regardless. " Ah so we went hunting after that and in a drunken mood Rusi, handed over the gun to the grass-eater as we know Pravinbhai. With a lot of dire threats from us both the Gujubhai finally aimed at what Rusi said was a bloody rabbit standing and peeing like a dog, whilst the baniya said it was something else. Rabbits cannot pee like that... " "And then... ?" "And he aimed and shot. The recoil made him jump up like a horse that has treaded soft ground, and the rifle went up in the air, crashing barrel down on Rusi whose skull seemed cracked." " uh huh... " " Well the animal lay dead, we thought, so I ran to get it, whilst Pravin rolled on the ground overcome with sheer fright -and you won't believe this son, it was a milestone he had shot ! I brought back a piece of the stone to show Rusi who was certain this was a rabbit. We thanked out lucky stars that his skull wound was superficial." They reached home, and unhurriedly finished a royal lunch waiting for them -it had taken them two hours after breakfast time and Minu aunt had cooked a huge feast for the nephew. He gaffed with them and discussed the property dispute and they had to break up for the siesta. He thought he had died. The peace and serenity, plus the heavy meal took their toll. He lay motionless in a four-poster with brass angels on the posts and a thick mosquito net covering the whole thing, till sun had set and the forest sounds began. What was that? He asked himself after he had analyzed all the chirrups and creaky noises as insects. A growling sound came from nearby. He summoned a servant who informed him it was a leopard, who often came to the bushes nearby and stole some chicken. Ronnie shuddered, and anxiously enquired if he would be required to go out for anything. These houses were made by the British who were mad, thought Ronnie, and who loved sauntering in the wild at night too. The servant said no and dissolved into thin air again. Again a heavy meal, after an eternity of drinking whiskey with soda, chilled in a fridge that worked on Kerosene, imported from Israel, Pesi uncle had bragged. Some more hunting stories, and penetrating queries from Minu aunt about his bachelor-hood followed. Gossip was traded. Suddenly Ronnie remembered , he had not been to the loo... and sure enough, after some time he felt the need to go and visit the toilet which was at the far end of the house. The leopard's roar seemed uncomfortably close from there... but he summoned up strength to go. " Take this," said Pesi uncle, thwowing a rifle at him. " Why?" asked Ronnie, " the smell of shit attracts leopards?" " Har har har... " went the half drunk uncle, " when in jungles you do what we ask you to do... " Ronnie argued right back, and left for the toilet. It was built outside the buildimg! When the servant led him to the loo, it turned out to be a tin box on top of about five steps, with a steel tube connected to the bottom of the ancient commode which was the Indian style basin-like pot, connected to a U-tube shaped steel pipe to keep small animals out. The excreta fell into a ditch below, cleared daily by another servant. He hesitated and argued with himself. Should he sit inside a dark loo with tigers and leopards prowling outside without a gun? Or ask the man servant to stand there? It would be tantamount to losing face-he decided to go and shit without clinging on to a rifle. He asked for a torch, and the servant promptly got him a huge one. He switched it on with the sliding switch and pointing it up to the roof, left it standing in a corner. He relieved himself, wondering if it was constipation. The process turned out to be a long one, for he had been sleeping in the train for almost twenty four hours. At first he thought it was his imagination, for fear plays tricks with human mind. But when it happened twice or thrice, he grabbed the torch and pointed it below his butts, he froze in terror. A huge python had crawled up the steel tube and was darting its ominous tongue here and there. Twice it had licked his bottom, accidentally. Ronnie lost his nerve, and screamed in terror. He sat there screaming his head off, barely able to move. He dared not look below -the creature may be already inches closer... Luckily for him, he had kept the door ajar, which was now brutally torn open by Pesi uncle, pleasantly drunk holding his dear rifle in his hands. " Where is the leapard?" he asked. Ronnied pointed to his bottom. The hunter, disbelievingly repeated the query. " Ajgar... . Maari gaand nichay... ! " Ronnie whispered. Pesi uncle, instead of shooting, started laughing his manical laugh. Ronnie wanted to kill him and chew him up raw. But right now the python was more of a danger. Again he screamed with all his might. Minu aunty came running down. He made quite a spectacle. " I am going to shoot the bastard -" said Pesi and leveled his gun. " And if you miss ?" asked Minu aunty. Now a new terror gripped Ronnie, what if he misses? He would shoot the balls right off me ! " Don't shoot! " he screamed, " I still have to get married, and raise children... . " Pesi froze for a moment. This was the devils' alternative what with whiskey shots and this crazily dim light, he could miss too; it took him a second to decide, the born hunter that he was. He aimed hard at the python's head next time it came bobbing up and pressed the trigger. The noise of the blast made Ronnie come to his senses, who jumped out with or without balls, he didn't care. By then some men had run around the other side and were pulling the lifeless python out from the steel tube that held onto him like a well fitting vest. Pesi uncle stylishly blowing smoke from the barrel looked down at the cowering city youngster, hald clad and hald dead with fright. "Wipe your arse son, and join us for some drinks."
[Notes on this piece] [Writings Top] ===================================================================

shubhadha dharwadkar

Loneliness As the shadows lengthen, I long to run away From that pit of darkness from which Uncoils the Serpent of Loneliness I tremble, I quake, I stand motionless At the thought of the inky blackness That seems to breathe life into this slithering form. I try to run away but my leaden body is too benumbed To protect myself from the Serpent's fangs. Bemused, I stare blankly as the venom swiftly and surely Enters my body, turning my blood to ice. I watch in silence as Life ebbs out of me Leaving a solitary tear frozen on the tips of my eyelashes.
[Notes on this piece] [Writings Top] ===================================================================

Anjan and Arunima Ray

(read by amit mukerjee) A poem by Nalini Ranjan Bera Translated by Anjan Ray and Arunima Ray 5. Chilika Estuary Solitary child in a golden-green playground Sheltered by the hills Sprinkled by monsoon showers Tanned ochre by a sweltering sun Giggling ever so often to yourself In private delight. Perfume drifts across in the breath of the zephyr Calls me in whispered inebriated phrases But you hide your face as you steal my mind And your maids-in-waiting dance in attendance Beguiling me beyond belief When you shed your gossamer gown Of clouds and mists that shroud your lair The sun places a golden crown In swirls of your wild windblown hair My heart beats in unbearable joy Happiness awaits the stillness of night Upon your breast the stars are mirrored Within the dreams of this bewitched knight.
[Notes on this piece] [Writings Top] ====================================================================

Raamesh Gowri Raghavan

Divorce "Sir, with these words, I commend the Budget to the House", with these words P. Chidambaram, Finance Minister of India sat down, after a raucuous parliament session, which saw him repeat "Thus a person" over and over again because the opposition was, well, opposing him. Prema took her eyes off the T.V. She had heard the happiest news from the government in a long time. She earned Rs.1,17,000 per year, and thus fell within the 1,25,000 per year tax-exemption ceiling now. Sathish was somewhat indifferent, and looked forward to the detailed analyses that would follow in the next day's papers to find out how much lighter or heavier his wallet was going to be. He found out that he was to pay ten percent of the 1,20,000 he earned every year, or had to save it up in some tax-free savings scheme. It all seemed fine. Nothing was going to change after all in their lives... the same humdrum existence was going to continue. The daily rush to catch the bus, his wife's bitching and nagging when she came home from her office, and the perennial anxiety that she would get some increment or bonus that would raise her income above his. Both were government servants, and this anxiety was not justified really since he was a year senior, but then a male's anxiety is known only to the male that suffers it, be it human or leopard or papaya. Then the analyses were read over and over again, and the implications internalised. Sathish made a painful realisation. He was required to stash away Rs.12,000 every year as 'Investment' to outwit the tax-man, and his wife had had to save similarly too. Now however, while he had to save as he did every year, his wife was free to keep or spend her money whichever way she wanted, and no anxieties would dog her anymore. The idea of a worry-free life for his wife galled his sense of superiority. Earlier they had spent and saved in exactly the same way, which left his wife worse off all the time. Apart from the thirty thousand each that they saved and the family expenses they shared equally, they kept a small fraction every month for what they described as capricious expenditure - money they could lavish on themselves. He blew Rs. 1000 every month on cigarettes and entertaining friends and so on, while she scrimped and scrooged her 750 a month to buy herself silk sarees and other adornments which she fancied. He insisted "I have the right to spend more because I earn more, dearie" but an argument for proportional expenditure on other heads fell on deaf ears. Secretly, as husbands do, he enjoyed her slight discomfort. "Now that fool Chidambaram had ruined everything" he thought to himself. The 12,000 that was Chidambaram's share in Prema's salary was no more his. She had the entire freedom to use the dough the way she felt like. Like a woman, though, she was parsimonious. She said to herself "I would stash away 6,000 for my future, when I'm going to be a white-saree wearing widow, given that I cannot expect Sathish to live long the way he goes about chain-smoking and driving rashly, but the remaining 6,000 is now going to be mine, and I am going to spend it the way I want to. No need to save up for sarees and stuff now. Those lovely Bentex ear-rings I saw on Gokhale Road the other day. I don't have to wait till next month." She descended half-way from the bus on her way home, stepped into the shop, and bought them without a wince. She hadn't behaved like this in years, and felt happy about it. Sathish was indifferent when she showed it to him, but livid secretly. "Stupid woman. Here I am, trying desperately to make ends meet on my thousand a month - what does she know of beer prices. And that idiot has raised taxes on cigarettes again. Ha! And she now gets to spend 1750 every month on silly sarees and fake jewels and all that. Just how much jewelry would a woman want?" Prema hadn't told him about her widowhood plans, but nevertheless, she did have more pocket-money, and that hurt. A man may bear physical pain more easily than a woman, but the slightest prick to his ego will inspire in him the passion of the Christ.. Life became unbearable for him as the months passed. Every month she was buying some trinket or the other, either golden or silverware, while he had to manage somehow. Expenses were rising, and he sometimes had to borrow money from his friends to pay off his bar bills. He tried reasoning with Prema, and tried to suggest that she should save up her money for the future, or use more of it for household expenses, which were shooting through the roof. "Big deal! Why should I be the one to adjust my finances? You change your contribution first. The money you spend on daru you can buy your children's schoolthings. You remodel the way you spend your income, and I'll match you." So reasoning was not working. By now it was time to file returns, and then the pain really started. The mad rush to obtain saral forms, filling them up, attaching proofs of his expenses and savings to justify why the government had no right to pick his wallet. Then came that absolutely unendurable queue at the income-tax office to file his returns, the office being at Teen Hath Naka and his position in the queue was at Malhar. He was several yards away from the counter, the 5:00 PM deadline was just three hours away, and the clerk was fighting with an assessee. The end-of-March Sun was trying desperately to get the bitumen on the road to boil, trying perhaps to make a special dish made of humans and pie-dogs stewed in tar. It couldn't get any worse. And Prema needn't undergo any of this anymore. The honourable finance minister had given males no relief in the next budget, and Sathish was hoping that someone would get a contract-killer to put all males in the country out of their misery. It was terrible. Though he actually earned more than his wife, he couldn't spend more than her. And in his office, when other chaps found out they teased him. "Hey Zuralmare, heard your wife earns more than you!" "No Baba, I earn 250 more than her every month, I have one year's seniority you see" "Yeah but she pays no tax, and you have to, right? She can actually spend more than you?" It wasn't quite true, but he couldn't bother to explain. Two years of this state of affairs wore heavily on his mind, and he finally appealed for divorce. The case was heard with interest may therefore be dismissed." After very careful consideration, the judge, who was a salaried government-employed male with an earning wife himself, announced "Plaintiff's case is justified and divorce is granted". - Raamesh Gowri Raghavan, 2005
[Notes on this piece] [Writings Top] ====================================================================


[Arusha is Natasha's daughter, age 6] Sweet Memories (read by Amit Mukerjee) Sweet memories Touch our heart And make us happy They make our day sweet Because we all love each other If we love each other There sweet memories Touch our heart Like when we spend time with each other Then when we are alone We miss the sweet memories But they still touch our heart But if we don't spend time with each other We become angry And then we end up with sad memories So let us enjoy this moment And let the sweet memories Touch our heart
[Notes on this piece] [Writings Top] ===================================================================

manisha lakhe

exploding toads [This attempt at Gazal is inspired by Max's post on exploding frogs and Sonia's passion for injecting glow-in-the-dark stuff into mice genes. ] When mutant mice took to the roads, Sonia created those exploding toads! Cells mutate, so do our woes Just like those exploding toads! Not for money, but Al-jazeera shows, Are those incredible exploding toads! They slighted my talent, now everyone knows Says Sonia of the exploding toads! UNSC at her feet, how her power grows, Because of the damned exploding toads! Revenge complete, how she glows! The lady behind those exploding toads!
[Notes on this piece] [Writings Top] ===================================================================

Ashish Gorde

Cafe Serendipity unbelievable aesthetics glanced at me across the murmuring tables, she seemed cinnamon to my latte lips with a hint of sugar that her companion could not recognise; tumbling dow jones defined his frame of mind and her silence a pertinent question that hung in their air like the in-house jazz tunes no one else but the lonesome bother to listen. like ocean deep her eyes looked, blue as the crying thought that often wails like a saxophone and watery translucent like a thought yearning to express; as if to say life really needs to be more decaf sometimes, an idea so alien in this place where we sat like formless steam that disappears from quenching mugs into the nether world of casual glances and the paradise of what-ifs.
---- A love poem I hear that you weep alone: waiting and watching, looking for something different which you know you have felt and understood, which you can see and experience making you happy but there is something else which you feel that needs a correct and concrete expression, something that defies questions and explanations, something which makes your heart your very own but not totally, something which is part of your very own substance that renders different and scattered bits of this and that into something one, which is unique and whole. But I know and I have heard that you weep alone silently in the dark night whispering to yourself thoughts and words that reach out to the prying atoms waiting to snatch the substance you are made of making me think and look at you with a different kind of illumination: you whisper, I hear; you reach, I hold; you look, I understand why words of laughter spring suddenly on your face almost like a ripple, no, a wave that lashes on my rocky surface and then dissolves becoming one with the thin air. But shall I ever know why you cry so quietly alone within yourself, making me admire the soft features your face makes when you suddenly burst out laughing? If tears are a consolation or of some value which you alone know then shall I hold your weeping eyes in the silence of my grasp so you can find your comfort in the unspoken assurance of my love. ---- Topkapi i searched for comfort in history's forgotten backyard, a reckless debris it was: angry stone and mute granite cobbling together in an ornate dance, and the wind like a swirling dervish swaying with the fury of a woman scorned. the ottoman walls wailed over memories of miseries enacted here, and over pleasures that were played out by the banks of the nearby bosporus - a pliable backdrop, if ever there was any, to this decaying palatial harem where eunuchs and courtiers conspired to stretch an empire beyond the marmara. i was all alone when i witnessed all this from my zephyr burnished perch, an impossible privilege in the days of the sultan and now a mere salutary stop in a tourist's itinerary. i was perturbed, to say the least, at what this meant and found no comfort in pitying the significance of this moment as i saw before my eyes centuries of conquests collapse into a parable of the inevitable. [Notes on this piece] [Writings Top] ===================================================================

Dan Husain

The Trivia of A Brooding Mind - The Complete Series I The Trivia... Perched on a mountain top With icy winds Against brazen cheeks And a writhing river Amidst mottled green Life perhaps is a spectacle And a handful of perspectives That we bequeath Our hearts’ each twist. II The Brooding... In the middle of A dreary afternoon I woke with a start. My throat dry Bruised with a thousand sighs With voices within Like a million cries – Enough! I plug my ears I wish to hear Your euphonious voice Before I slide into sleep again. III Falling Apart... Lost somewhere In our efforts To carve Our separate worlds Is perhaps That nascent feeling We lovingly nurtured To drape Our days with. IV A Spanner in The Works... It was just a face No more than a pattern An entity in space Of many seen in a tavern That waits its end At the corner of a shabby street - Morose, moribund - Epitomizing mediocrity's defeat. And though it reflected much, It said nothing. An average man's fate is such; It's sealed before the morn begins. V A Scene at A Café... Epilogue I place my hands on yours. You quietly withdraw: unsure. Our silence engulfs A million wishes unsaid. I wish to say But you place your fingers On my pouting lips – “Don’t ask! I have no answers.” But when did I seek an answer, I only pose the question – What is life If not A glimmer of love In your gaping eyes?
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Thunder Conscious suddenly of the stirrings within of the clinging clothes of even the brush of your hand against mine. Scared to glance up, lest the eyes speak. The breeze, even though gentle, ruffles the hair and your touch as you smooth away the strands from my cheeks, is gentler still, but unleashes a storm. Your breath on my forehead, where your lips linger long enough to kiss the dew. Was it the thunder or just my heart? As the rain beats down upon the umbrella beneath which we walk silently together!!!
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Tommorow's Dreams Saunter into your dreams Give in to your whims Whisper sweet-nothings Kneading love's magical potion Kindling a fire of passion Swaying together in motion Giving the heart yet another chance Rocking into a seductive trance Gazing into your eyes perchance The truth they speak is sublime Entwined together with time Your heart melts into mine --- Words Words could play hide and seek Too wary, too meek Lest the unheard speak Words could create a commotion Dispelling unfathomable notions Giving way to random thought potions Words could slash like a knife Creating much pain and strife Spreading bitterness all around life Words could simply propel smiles Changing the course of many a lives Leaving their imprints in mind's archives
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Amit Kapoor

use me I lie alone; - Huddled in a corner, With millions crossing me Without a glance, Without any regard. Those who do, Garland me With dried flowers And leftovers. I accept these Showers - And thank them For aiding me fulfill my aim - Of taking away the Dirt, Of cleansing Life Of the sickening stink And troubling trash. I thank them For they read, And followed my plea - "Use Me, Please!"
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amit mukerjee

fragmented words I (original in Bengali: shudhu kathAi by namita chaudhuri, This poem is from the book of translations, The Unsevered Tongue. ) the broken-wing alphabets are crying on the stairs at my touch they shrivel and shrink. They slither down breaking into fragments at the bottom of the flight lovingly I lift their chin but they wail louder what a bother this is let me shut my door then but they slip out from everywhere twisting and turning through fairy tales breaking stories from newspapers their ink dripping on my sari I sit here helpless - a prisoner of my own words
[Notes on this piece] ---- Faiz Aj ek harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal (the original below, read out beautifully by Dan) Aj ek harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal Mad bharA harf koi, zahar bharA harf koi Dil-nashin harf koi, qahar bharA harf koi Aj ek harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal harf-e-ulfat koi dildAr-e-nazar ho jaise jis-se milti hai nazar bosA-e-lab ki surat itna roshan ke sare-mauja-e-zar ho jaise sohbat-e-yaar me AghAz-e-tarab ki surat harf-e-nafrat koi shamsheer-e-ghazab ho jaise Aj ek harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal tA AbAd shahre-sitam jis-se tabAh ho jAyen itnA tariq ke shamshAn ki shab ho jaise lab pe lAoon to mere honTh siyAh ho jAyen Aj ek harf ko phir dhoondta phirta hai khayal (translation: by amit mukerjee and kadambari sen) once again the mind seeks a word a word intoxicating, a word poison-filled a word that endears, a word fearful once again the mind seeks a word a word of love, gazing like a lover a kiss hidden in the eye, a sparkle like burnished gold on the wave once again the mind seeks a word an eager word, waiting for the lover's touch a word of hatred, raging like a scimitar razing cities, razing people living in tyranny once again the mind seeks a word a word of silence, raging like a storm like night in the graveyard, a black word a word that blackens my lips when uttered once again the mind seeks a word --- even this was possible night brings the touch of your voice perhaps a shiver perhaps reproach night brings a tide of dark memories like castles in the sand night soothes them over in new waves of trust interspersed with blackness. and then in the real light of day we look out on the lost sands somewhere, skeletons remain but we discover that at least even this was possible. [Notes on this piece] [Writings Top] ===================================================================


Starting Over Don’t fill these empty spaces, Leave them alone for the moment, Close your eyes, Seek comfort in nothingness, Finding reassurance in Spartan starkness. This clutter of disguised insecurities, Sweep it all aside this instant, Absorb the clarity, Of this pristine space, Reveling in a momentary state of grace. Now swirl your paintbrushes, In hues unseen, step away, From a monochrome destiny, And create a terpsichorean vision, Of twirling, twinkling, dancing passion. No longer hesitant, Nor afraid anymore, of new beginnings, And life at its unrehearsed best, Of leaping into the unknown abyss, And taking final aim at everlasting bliss.
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[a.k.a. "twisted humour"] blind i can see it in her smile as she reads from a book and then unknowingly lets loose her cascade of black satin hair with her other free hand i can see it in her eyes as they narrow and look out of the window oblivious of the reddening on her neck caused by the warmth of my stare i can see it in her fingers as they pause over the backspace key hesitant, shaking, scared to undo what has already been done in a dimension parallel to mine i can see it in her gait as her hips sway to her forceful walk trying to keep pace with time that is blowing through the scented fabric which hugs her i can see her pain -all that she wants me to see without her showing it I can see all of it and she will never know...
---- Vinod silent sins As I lay breathing heavily and watching her happy and spent skin touching skin lovers at their best my lips snuggle to her ear to whisper pure breath and weave the best of phrases but all I manage is closed eyes and my nose on her nape I smile a curse to my lack of words because i want to tell her about the sun and moon and stars and about how this is so delightfully wrong but I say nothing at all because our conversing breath leaves me speechless in verbatim voids with the universe that makes love to me through her [Notes on this piece] [Writings Top] =====================================================================

Vijay Nair

Wait - some snippets I. Those forlorn eyes, riveted on a distant dream, She waits for a tomorrow, uncertain. II. Sun beating down his brow, he looked at the clock. Another long wait for his turn to arrive. III. Mustering up courage, he threw open his heart’s predicament. The seconds seemed hours till she smiled and took his hands. IV. Pacing up and down, all he could see was disease and pain. For the door to open, he waits, for the operation to be over. V. Waiting in the shadows, for the target to come in sight. To fire that prized bullet and obey the master’s command.
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This Read-Meet report compiled by Amit Mukerjee April 30, 2005