Poems (English)

To Darwin

O, the grandmaster of philosophy!
And the patron saint of biology!
I recite to thee:
I decoupled myself by performing
the most effective therapy
And the greatest meditation of all: poetry;
To observe my motionless body
In search of the mysteries of lostness,
And the paths to self-identity.
I sought that exact moment
When a species evolves into another:
From an Australopithecus to
Homo Habilis into Homo Erectus to the next.
A minute-by-minute record,
A frame-by-frame snapshot
Of the final changes in
The DNA of an embryo
In the womb of its unwitting
Heidelbergian mother that
Engendered the primeval baby-sapient.
That moment, that precious second of
The mutation is a secular miracle,
A natural yet defiled magical process
Of procreation, survival, and growth,
In pursuit of self-promotion
On this Planet Number X
Of the Galaxy Y. Voila!
Welcome to human society:
At the mercy of biochemistry
And genetic coding over zillions of years.
Each incremental incident
Producing that microscopic change
That all adds up to our paranoid existence.
The flawless scientific logic of trial and error,
Mediated by a handsome dose of coincidence,
Cannibalism, and self-preservation.
But were they, too, the naked, feeble
Hominid ancestors of ours, romantic?
Did they love to rhyme
With the opening words of
Their primitive languages?
Did they observe thunder, rain, and rainbow
With similar bewilderment?
Did they watch the night-sky
And its billions of stars and
Thought, “Is it, one giant
Piece of hanging net adorned
With gems and diamonds?”?
Or did they know not any
Precious metals and stones?
Did they see their reflections on water
And amazed at the beauty of the beholder?
Or like me, they, too, saw shabby images,
As though on a mirror, and frowned,
Groaned, mocked, and took pity
On their own souls and self?
Did they, too, comprehend that
This ephemeral body is but a vessel
For the brain: a watery, fatty creature that
Cannot walk or live outside its host?
We are at the mercy
Of that demigod and its
All-powerful courtesans:
The heart, the gut &
The nervous scheme.
But what’s the point of carrying
Around this tangle of neurons?
Oh, the mind, of course!
It is the domicile of the latter,
Which holds in its palms
The twin portions of id
And super-ego:
The constant tug-of-war
Between instinct and critique.
We know not
Which one is poisonous
And which is nourishing.
It is a great unsolved puzzle,
My polymath friend:
They both might be succulent,
Or both equally noxious.

Halifax, 28.06.21

The Gene

I carry the dreaded gene:

With millions of years of fear

And millions of years of desire,

And million wonders yet to glean.

I carry the magic gene:

With the urge to long-walk,

A need for small talk,

And a vacillating, moody spleen.

I carry the mystical gene:

With the hunger for wisdom

Withal a trust in shamanism —

A hapless slave to circadian routine.

I carry the primordial gene:

Shaped by chance and by choice.

A genteel masquerader of suppressed voice,

Oscillating from ecstasy to despair, with orgasms and penance in-between.

Halifax, 20.06.21

Travelling the Worlds of Ozymandias

I was travelling worlds new and old,
In search of the shattered stone-visage of Ozymandias
And other such toppled statues.
I went from the East to the West
And examined monuments
to evanescent vanity and eternal ideas —
All mirages of power and peace.
And I found the most titanic temples
Built to sacred souls
By earthly mortals.
Even so, like the archetypical Colossus,
They, too, lie in ruins,
Fractured yet cautionary,
For eight hundred years,
Before being melted
And turned into profane objects
Of war, craft, and commerce.
Observing as such, I recognized:
Where the spirit leaves the body
And seeks abode in solid matters,
Where the transcendental is
Not the mind but occupies dogma,
Where the holly phantom resides not
In the heart but cruel rigidity,
One may build a thousand idols,
Still not build love, trust, or society.
Halifax, 14.06.21

Waiting for the Deluge

I have not known the ambition
Of Icarus or haven’t felt the courage of Prometheus.
Neither have I seen eye-to-eye
The glowing fires in the form of a Tyger’s eyes
In the damp darkness of the mangrove forest.
I don’t pretend to know
Why they God creates and destroys!
And what God rations for themselves
And others; nor do I care.
Instead, I scale the top of a small hill
Like that of the Little Round Top,
And show my toddler son
How the cats are eating our fields,
And how the birds are picking our roads,
And have other homely, silly chatters
That only a father and his son can have.
All the while, I wait to face the mythic deluge
Of Gilgamesh, Genesis & Co.

Halifax, 13.06.21

Name-dropping

I, like Keynes, have
Only one god: Philosophy.
Critics may say, “it’s just
Name-dropping.”
Nevertheless, if you know the
Meanings, history and
Ideas behind those names,
Such as Russell and his
Esteemed protégé — Wittgenstein,
You, my friend,
Know a lot.
Halifax, 29.05.21

Plea in Plain Words

We forget that
The whole point of life
Is to achieve death.
A peaceful, predictable,
Expected, normal, relatively painless,
Timely, Controlled death.
There was nothing before this,
And there is nothing after it.
That’s all, that’s the essence of life:
Working our whole lives To have a minimalistic
End of life.
We don’t need or want
Further complications.
To Yahweh and al-Ilah,
And to Eloah and Kyrios,
And al-Uzza and Manat,
And al-Lat and Ba’al,
And the Devine Lamb and Oromasdes,
And to other minor gods and spirits,
And to major saints and Archangels,
And yada yada;
And to Eblish and al-Khannas,
And Lucifer and assorted Satanic forces
(Just in case!);
We say: please,
Leave us alone;
Please, let us be.
Don’t complicate
Our deaths anymore
By giving us unnecessary
Anxieties about
The after-death.

Halifax, 28.05.21

Confession

“I will take you to the place
Where the rainbow ends,
And build a little hut
Right at its colourful base.
You know my dreams,
Don’t you?
Haven’t you been there?
Haven’t you felt the salty
Waters of the Caribbean
Splashing on your skin?
Haven’t you been
Inside the deep, deep
Cavities of my brain?
Haven’t you floated
With me in the tanned atmosphere
Of Mars or wandered about
The sinuses of my heart?”
— I could have said all of this
To you, yet I didn’t.
Instead, I have chosen
Nostalgia as my friend,
Enterprise as my poem,
And the pursuit of power
And pleasure, my favourite
Pass time.

Halifax, 21.05.21

Of Life and Death

The pangs of loss morph from
A Norse battle-axe’s hacks to
Thor’s Mjölnir clobbering away at the ribcage to
The stabs of a Swiss Army knife to
A sharp steel floss slicing the flesh.
Each additional death makes me
Marginally less myself, a stranger to my soul,
A lonelier first person
in an otherwise ever-increasingly
Populated world.
With each passing away,
The shape, structure, orientation
And the speed of my orbit change
Slightly yet abruptly
Like the inevitable
Redirection of a warship.
Death is as consistent and persistent
As an unbulwarkable Himalayan glacier.
Nonetheless, it feels like a sudden
And quick lightning from the fair sky
Due to our subjective ignorance,
Objective relativism, spatial distance,
Temporal myopia, recreational depression,
And interlocutor bias (not here, not me), inter alia.
I figure: emotional dissonance and
Expectation gaps in expressions could be attributed
To differences of the personal profit-loss delta,
Social capital, or the lack thereof,
And perceptions of affectional discrimination (s/he didn’t give a damn about me!);
Such was the calculus of Princess Maria Bolkonskaya
During the last days of her father, the Old Prince.
I get that; I know where one is coming from.
However, somewhere halfway between the heart
And the brain lives a strange being,
Organic or metaphysical, only trained
Professionals can tell; all I know
That it is there, the ‘object’ that induces
Stuff like love, passion, hate, greed,
Grievance, and yes, sadness, melancholy.
That entity, fleshy or aerial,
Throbs like a gaping wound,
Every time I see one of my kinsfolks go,
Or every time I hear of a new massacre.

Halifax, 16.04.21

Cynical

I come here at the pre-primary

And the daycare every day.

I look at the children and their faces,

And I see death, destruction, war, riots and hunger.

These boys and girls, these toddlers,

To whom we smile and wave our hands;

Whom we see struggling to stand and walk,

And follow their teachers’ lead,

Maybe carrying the worst racist traits

And the worst authoritarian tendencies.

Are they would be war criminals? Dictators?

Frauds? Rapists? Mass murderers? Mafia dons?

How do we know?

How will we change that?

Did Adolf’s mother know better

When she gazed at the innocent smile

And confused, curious eyes of her son?

Did Joseph’s dad saw the vision of the gulags

In the twinkle of the little Joe’s eyes?

Whom should we blame for it?

Whose fault is it?

The school? The Church?

The patriarchy? The generals?

The king? The ministers?

The bureaucrats? The bankers?

The industrialists? The landed aristocracy?

The merchants? The colonialists?

God? Gene? Culture? Society? Ideology? Economy?

Halifax, 07.03.21

Homo Sapiens

Our limbic system always
Gets the better of our frontal cortex;
That’s why we go to places
We shouldn’t be in,
And be with persons
We shouldn’t be with;
And we savour the acidic taste
Of the female flower so illogically.
We vote against our interests
And remain enchanted by
The imaginary cohesion of nations.
We double down on aphrodisiacs
and opium, shunning the
“Holy” waters of the Zamzam.
We worship anthropomorphic beings
And follow prehistoric constitutions;
Blooming heck, we even fight to appoint arbiters
To conserve our mental constructs!
We invent states of nature and Social contracts, and “free” hands
Of the market that constantly, and discreetly,
Extracts surplus fiat money.
We dig up dirt, dead bodies, and geophysical
Instances valued at millions.
We waste ourselves, reminisce,
Write prose and verses, mount the Sinai,
Run between the Safa and Marwa,
Wish the dead became alive,
And time didn’t fly.
Yet, at the end of the day,
We are as helpless as an abandoned
Fowl egg in the middle
Of a crowded downtown.
Eventually, we all hit a wall of grief
Even after a decade since Karma;
The world comes crumbling
Down on us along with
The bulldozed ancestral homestead.
Still, will you come sit at my table,
My friend, and try to understand
Where I am coming from after travelling
All these thousands of leagues?

Halifax, 21.02.21

Tiredness

I am tired,

I am tired like a French dragoon giving his last charge at Waterloo;

I am tired like an Italian gunner’s last push to move an artillery piece

Up the mountains at the Isonzo Front;

I am tired like a Jewish child’s struggles for the last gasp of air in the gas chambers of Auschwitz;

I am tired like the emaciated hands of a homeless destitute begging for

A bowl of Desi rice congee during the Bengal famine of ‘43;

I am tired like the final steps of an Armenian woman hounded by an army of Turks;

I am tired like a Native American on the Trail of Tears — becoming foreign in her own land;

I am tired like the black slave in the South just offloaded from the ship

That had voyaged across the Atlantic from West Africa;

I am tried like the hopes and dismays of a Parisian revolutionary who witnessed ’89, ’30 and ‘48;

I am tired like a priest of the Cathedral of Reims the morning

After the day it was shelled by the German Wehrmacht;

I am tired like a Russian peasant who had to face world wars, famine, and civil strives;

I am tired like Siraj-ud-Daulah after the treachery of his kith and kin at the Battle of Plassey;

I am tired like the bricks and steel beams of the air-raid shelters

During the blitz of London or the bombing of Dresden;

I am tired like a perpetual companion of the communist ideologue Che Guevara

In the mountainous forests of the Andes;

I am tired like the heavy breathing of a buffalo pulling a cart-full of logs along a muddy rural road;

I am tired like the hungry and sick POWs of a Japanese military camp;

I am tired like South Asia was in 1947 after the swarm of riots stung up her whole figure;

I am tired like the battered structures of Stalingrad, like the tanks at Kursk, the machineguns at Somme, The vessels at Midway, a hussar on the plain of Borodino, the partisans under Tito,

Like the Viet Congs and villagers of Vietnam burned by Napalm;

I am tired like the refugees from Baghdad or Damascus trying to cross the Mediterranean

On a rubber boat under the thumbs of traffickers without food and water;

I am tired like the Bamyan Buddhas were of Afghan warlords;

I am tired, tired, tired,

Like an industrious escort or a cabby at the end of their long and busy day;

I am tired of carrying this enormous baggage of lungs, intestines, neurones, bones, veins, and glands;

In short, I am tired like J. Alfred Prufrock.

Halifax, 05.01.21

Serial Poems

№1

It’s the wee hours of the morning, I look for two blue diamond stones fixed on a sea of expressions, a row of pearls giggling in calling me “silly”. I try to touch her delicate nails and hold her expert hands, but she remains distant like the reflection on a disturbed pond. And I fall asleep listening to the footsteps of her long-awaited coming. Halifax, 08.08.20.

№2

Aloof and alone, like a hidden gem in a secret silky cocoon, waiting to be free as though a newly minted butterfly, only the truth of her heart outshines the glow of her buttery velvet skin. Halifax, 08.08.20.

№3

I met Ms. Monroe today, in all her melancholy beauty. Her lips gripped me like the hands of Aphrodite, hence this little tribute to the soul of the goddess. When she returns from the alt-world to dream away the night, may the holy trinity comfort her home and toil. Halifax, 11.08.20.

№4

Though I knew the road was long and treacherous, I thought I had found a companion in you. It was a good start while it lasted; however, the morning doesn’t always show the day. By no fault of ours but in our stars, your inertia and my incompetence made a deadly cocktail. Now we doubt, hesitate or avoid; money can’t buy peace of mind forever. Should I see you again or take a hiatus? Would it be wiser to forget before confronting our mutual fears? Or is it prudent to try until the Great Wall falls in tatters? Halifax, 15.08.20.

№5

She had a few stock English but just enough to communicate passion and pleasure. Like a bohemian Gypsie-lady, she stops from townships to townships; her dedication to the trade makes the sudden feelings last much longer than the shadows of the sun. I am not the one to judge by her accent for I utter a heavy one as well, but I will surely judge her eyes. Are they benign or do I see the red eyes of the devil as though the constant brake lights of the preceding vehicle on the plains of the Canadian prairie nights? At times I detect love in her eyes, sometimes I find the fires of greed! Halifax, 18.08.20.

№6

Iwas alone for a long, long time, lost in the chain of my own thoughts. I was trying to discover something that always came to the back of my mind but never to the tip of my expressions. That ‘thing’ I saw in my dreams, that feeling during feverish deliriums, that taste that I carried over as if from my previous life; always just above the surface like the nostrils of a crocodile underwater, but never to be seen unless one is shaking hands with danger. I was looking for that ‘thing’ in the yonder when I suddenly remembered a verse from Tagore. Like a bolt of lightning, I understood the true meaning of it and I understood the ‘thing’. I know now what it means to find something that is hidden away in the vaults of one’s own mind, I can fathom what looking inwards entails. I have discovered ‘you’ finally, the radar of my life; and all my doubts, trepidations, confusions, disorientation, and unhappiness have melted away like the winter ice under a brilliant spring sun. Halifax, 20.08.20.

№7

She is beautiful yet horrible, which makes my spirits gay yet miserable. I guess I failed to understand the subtle differences between the tunes of a Sitar and a Sarod: the former stringy and wavy while the latter like a coin in an empty tin-pot. I see that Acadian beauties are often tall and precarious. However, my secret companion, which one of Tolstoy’s four lives are you living: suicidal, epicurean, ignorant, or wretched? Halifax, 21.08.20.

№8

Ittakes a lot of calories to make a mental connection; at times, far more than physical labour. Sometimes, we fall into the sunk cost fallacy and stay in a relationship due to the fear of losing that established, predictable, safe, and comfortable connection. Worse still, we are gripped by the greater fear of having to form new ones; for there could be no ecstasy without intimacy. Every so often, I wonder, how does a promiscuous person find the mental agility to move about from connections to connections as if a glider in the air: with effortless acrobatics? Perhaps, they have a depository compartment in their souls to store away the innermost memories like the embalmed corpses of ancient Egyptian tombs. Halifax, 24.08.2020.

№9

Toher, I said, “how do you do?”

Replied she, “might forget thee, I too.”

That’s alright, so far as you treat me

Like the king of the heavens and with glee.

Though with you my audiences are short,

Accept my tributes and sincere thought.

At the sight of your brunette and of my coming,

when testosterone and estrogen cometh running,

Promise to kiss and stiffen me by thy caress

And allow me to enter the sweetest recess

Of your Temple, and I shan’t complain,

Even if you throw me out like damaged grain.

Halifax, 25.08.2020.

№10

They say thou have moved on from here;
But where have you vanished to, my fair?
I lied to myself that I didn’t write for thee,
And my poems are dedicated only to me.
Now I realize, o my shooting star!
My verses shall be elongated far
Unto your abbey, where you contemplate
A discreet future and shred
Thy past’s negative template.
Your departure has been one that is strange,
Sudden, and made me sorry;
For no one so willingly gives up one’s glory.
I knew your ilk was not
The most responsive or reliable,
Yet I thought our interviews were tenable.
Now you’ve fleeted as though candy made of floss;
Never to be heard from again,
Never again shall I watch your eyes gloss.

Halifax, 27.08.2020

№11

Iknow I matter to you not.

I am but a number for you,

As if a dollar bill in the hands of a bank clerk.

Like flipping another burger at a fast food joint,

You care not for me, I know that.

I’m, as though, a snail on the rocky shores

Of a sea that children pick up in wonder,

Play with, and throw away carelessly.

I am that cold sales call,

The rat in the barn,

The ant on the sleeve,

The bug in the backyard.

If you wish you can make

Apple pie of me or can

Dump me in the bin like

A bag of rotten okra.

I know I don’t exist for you,

Like the spam email folder of your Yahoo.

Halifax, 27.08.20.

№12

Isaw you through the window;

There weren’t any blinds on.

You were wearing a pair of shorts

And a t-shirt.

Next time, when you invited me,

You were standing behind the door,

As is customary,

Wearing a long black gown

Matching your long black hair,

And dark, piercing eyes.

Now, whenever I am in a crowded place,

Jolly or otherwise,

I always excuse myself

And walk away for a bit;

Pretending to climb the hill,

Or observe the oaks,

Or examine the tiny grass-flowers,

Or listen to the sweet, soft rhythm of the waves,

Like the ones Alexa fetches from the air when I sleep.

Under the guise of such innocuous activities,

I, actually, take the time to remember you,

To mourn you,

To imagine you,

To converse with you,

To taste you again,

And to long for you.

Halifax, 16.09.2020.

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