in life as in a strange garment

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

For the Anniversary of My Death, WS Merwin, 1967.

Those who will serve time in prison

If instead of of being hanged by the neck
you’re thrown inside for not giving up hope
in the world, your country, your people,
if you do ten or fifteen years
apart from time you have left,
you won’t say,
“Better I had swung from the end of a rope
like a flag”-
You’ll put your foot down and live.
It may not be pleasure exactly,
but it’s your solemn duty
to live one more day
to spite the enemy.

Part of you may live alone inside,
like a tone at the bottom of a well.
But the other part
must be so caught up
in the flurry of the world
that you shiver there inside
when outside, at forty days’ distance, a leaf moves.
To wait for letters inside,
to sing sad songs,
or to lie awake all night staring at the ceiling
is sweet but dangerous.
Look at your face from shave to shave,
forget your age,
watch out for lice
and for spring nights,
and always remember
to eat every last piece of bread–
also, don’t forget to laugh heartily.
And who knows,
the woman you love may stop loving you.
Don’t say it’s no big thing:
it’s like the snapping of a green branch
to the man inside.
To think of roses and gardens inside is bad,
to think of seas and mountains is good.
Read and write without rest,
and I also advise weaving
and making mirrors.
I mean, it’s not that you can’t pass
ten or fifteen years inside
and more —
you can,
as long as the jewel
on the left side of your chest doesn’t lose it’s luster!

–Nâzım Hikmet, Some Advice To Those  Who Will Serve Time In Prison, May 1949 (found while interviewing him.)


vo log bahut Khush_qismat the
jo ishq ko kaam samajhate the
yaa kaam se aashiqii karate the
ham jiite jii masaruuf rahe
kuchh ishq kiyaa kuchh kaam kiyaa

kaam ishq ke aa.De aataa rahaa
aur ishq se kaam ulajhataa rahaa
phir aaKhir tang aakar ham ne
dono.n ko adhuuraa chho.D diyaa




All love letters are
They wouldn’t be love letters if they weren’t

In my time I also wrote love letters
Equally, inevitably

Love letters, if there’s love,
Must be

But in fact
Only those who’ve never written
Love letters

If only I could go back
To when I wrote love letters
Without thinking how

The truth is that today
My memories
Of those love letters
Are what is

(All more-than-three-syllable words,
Along with unaccountable feelings,
Are naturally

Fernando Pessoa. last Pessoa poem found in Ranchi.

Firayalal shaam

When I reached the control room, Upadhayayji (from Special Branch) was the first to have arrived. He put his phone down, ending a conversation with, “So, it was full of clothes, was it?” he chuckled. When I enquired what had happened, he said the bomb squad had been called in Lower Bazaar. “A black bag with wheels had been found”, he told me, “One of those bags with wheels, a trolley bag? All afternoon, there was alarm.” No one knew who had left the bag, and it could be a bomb.
The bomb squad arrived, and found the bag stuffed with clothes. Someone must have stolen the bag with a lot of hope, Upadhayaji speculated, and it turned out to have merely clothes!
“Have you heard of Kaka Hathrasi, of ‘Transistor Bomb’?” he continued, laughing. And then he recited this poem, he said he had first read in 1970: 

“Transistor bomb par likhi ghatna ek sunaayein,
agar mile koi cheez toh usse hargiz nahi uthaayein.

Hargiz nahi uthaaye, hamara Ullu bola
Bus aade pe chhuuth gaya Kaki ka jhola

Kaka pahunche bus aade pe lekar asha
dangh reh gaye wahan ka gajab tamasha!

Bheerh darshakon ki lagi, “bomb! bomb!” ka shor
kharha hua police dal iss jhole ke chahun aur!
Jhole ke chanhu aur, kissi ne nahi tatola
Visfoton ke visheshagya ne jhola khola.

Jhola le thane chale InspectorBhagwan
jaanch wahin pe karenge, tab chorhe saamaan
Tab chorhe saamaan, chale jhola sang aise
Gaaya chale karti bachde ke peechche jaise

keh Kaka unka shaq nikla thotha-chchichchla
Saare baingan kaat diye bomb ek na nikla!

Jhola le kar ghar chale prasanntaa ke saath
Kaki bhi gadgad hui, daala jhole mein haath
daala usme haath ek dam uchchli aise,
maar diya ho dank kissi bichchu ne jaise

“Buddhi ho gayi brashtha tumhari, sathiyaayein ho?
Kati-phati sabzi le kar ghar aaye ho?!”
Haath jode, hum ne kaha, mat kijiye aakrosh,
sabzi kaati police ne! nahi hamara dosh!

Baingan kat teh samay agar ho jaata dhamaka
roti rehti aap, jail mein rehte Kaka!”

One of the very few people I have met who seems to be able to recollect, recite an entire poem (:)
The activists, journalists gang arrived at the chowk soon after, beginning long gupp about election, AAP, friction among vaampanti dal, Advani, aur Chirag Paswan.


spring/ sun

1. Get me flowers from the tree now
Get me all the flowers right now
All of them will fall to earth at dusk
I will not be here either at dusk
I will go away somewhere at dusk
I will never stay here at dusk
Get me flowers from the tree now
Love me close so you can be free now

Get Me Flowers From The Tree Now. By Shakti Chattopadhyay tr. by Arunava Sinha. october/february find

2. From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

From Blossoms. By Li-Young Lee. found in Amdavad balcony.

A day’s wait