April 2013

poem15 Apr 2013 08:00 am


At the dawn of the world on a tree-sheltered road
an agreeable cat met a horrible toad.
When the cat saw its neighbor it fearfully shook
for in those days all creatures would act as they looked
and the toad was all warty, and bulging, and slimy.
The trembling cat mewed a terrified “Blimey!”
(more vigorous oaths had not yet been discovered)
and looked at the evil made plain on the other
one hideous sin for each hideous feature.
“Oh please do not kill me, most wicked of creatures!”
it begged without hope. But the toad thought awhile
then it gave what might almost have been called a smile
and it said “You may keep what you carry within
but if you are to live, you must give me your skin.”
Now the cat had no choice, though it bitterly cried
but to take off its fur and to put on the hide
of the venomous toad, and no creatures had made
such a villainous threat, such a terrible trade.
Then the cat hopped away where it once would have strode
for the toad was a cat, and the cat was a toad.

This explains why the toad, though so utterly charmless
is gentle in nature and totally harmless
while cats appear graceful and splendid and good
but would murder us all in our beds if they could.

poem08 Apr 2013 08:00 am

The world on the backs of elephants 

standing room only on the Great Turtle, Akapara
praying she does not dive again
into eternity

but not the Brahmin
riding on the roof of the train car
smoking a cigarette and looking down
on the Ganges, the world-source
choked with sludge
and affluence.

We take the subcontinent and divide it still further
into plots of earth, looking for sustenance
the oil seeping from its wounds and our own
the Gupta regime with its gold trim upon the pyre
a suffragette, a Sati widow
Libertéégalité, fraternité
burning as the L40 boosters explode
the Satish Dhawan Space Center, on Sriharikota Island
taking with it our mended limbs.  Our many-armed nation
bursting at the seams as it reaches upward
striving for equality in the cosmos
made hostile only
by the approach
from the west.