The Blog of Cafe Dissensus Magazine – we DISSENT

Five Poems

Photo: Gainsborough Products

Self-assessment

The loss of boyhood
should stir you.
After all, your numbness today
wasn’t so then.
Then your tongue was a drawer –
full of knives.
Each piece, gleaming steel,
sharpened to the hilt.
Chop, chop, chop and the
populace stood in degrees of destroyed shock.
You stood,
fire-breathing dragon like,
licking your lips,
transfixed in a Bruce Lee pose.
You were pose and poise,
Instinctive and studied,
Fire and brimstone
in your manner.
You expected to
be noticed,
to go places,
to get to where IT was at.

And so twenty years on,
have you?

What do you have to say
for yourself?

Your faux rebellion
convinced no one.
Your social conscience
was a smokescreen
for your ideological vacuousness.

You are a Nobody!
Practise that Bruce Lee pose,
paunch in tow.
Your greying nose hair
will singe in case of fire.

Retreat! Retreat!

***

Notes on the birth of a poem

It would be good to
Be over and done with it.
The words on paper
all in place.
The rhyme, neatly delineated
all fitting in.
The metre constructed perfectly,
propped up cozily.
But it’s always a bloody bother!

Fleshing words out is
sticky, messy, accident prone.
They never stick, rarely behave
all running off hither and thither.
The metre is a slithering snake
much the worse for booze.
It careens wildly, never gives
you that pensive moment.
The rhyme is a heavenly apsara
tantalizing and tempting,
but forever out of reach.
Images are blurred, blurring,
falling off their perch,
melting into the horizon.

And so one constructs poetry,
Not births it.
Construction = artificiality.
Constructions are torn down.
Poems are torn down.
Poems can’t die.

***

Poem for Diwali

this diwali, we will light no lamps.

as sunlight ceases, our home will plunge
into inky darkness.
we will mutter inaudible curses,
renew our oaths to remember forever
those that are not with us.

religions sanction celebrations
when good triumphs.
satan’s rule merits mourning.

from this diwali, we will no more remain mute spectators
to the carnage that goes on around us –
stock markets plunge,
land is seized,
hutments are razed,
stadiums are built,
car factories commissioned,
and many zip to work on the metro.

no one wants to face the music
not on diwali, they don’t.
the lamps they light,
camouflage the darkness within them.
the crackers they burst
burn to a cinder any sensitivity they have left

diwalis come and go,
attitudes harden,
greed sharpens,
love lessens
and they consume us –
our inner demons…

***

Female Foeticide

Spear me through the heart,
Invent reasons not to have me.
Blame tradition,
Blame religion,
Blame poverty,
Blame my mother,
Blame your fate.

Get the doctor to speak in code,
Connive with the matron,
Bribe the midwife,
Whisper an apology,
To the almighty.
Get on with it!

***

Lines

At 15:
Time is an unopened box of chocolates

At 20:
Time represents urgency – grab it by the scruff of its neck

At 25:
Time is here and now – move, move and conquer

At 30:
Time rapidly descends into a list of to-dos.

At35:
Time is sand slipping from underneath your feet

At 40:
Time fails to stir you

Bio:
Karthik Venkatesh
is originally from Bangalore, but circumstances took him to Punjab where he lived and worked for more than a decade. This resulted in a keen interest in things Punjabi – history, literature, culture and politics. He has written on aspects of Punjabi history in The WireandThe Tribune and translated Punjabi poetry for Raiot Webzine and The Tribune. He has also published on Mahatma Phule, the poetry of Arun Kolatkar and other opinion pieces. He is now back in Bangalore and working as an editor with a publishing firm.

***

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Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.

***

Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘The Idea of the University’, edited by Dr. Debaditya Bhattacharya, University of Calcutta, India.

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