Flames

Published  in the Yercaud Poetry Festival 2020 Ignite Poetry Anthology

Water! don’t try to put me out

I can turn you into vapour invisible

Wind! do not try to blow me off

I can spread to turn a city into ashes.

 

There is no light and warmth without me

Friendship dances in joy around the bonfire

With my name you describe your love

You turn yourself into me in rage, wild.

 

Volcanoes liberate me and I run down the slopes

Lightning claps aloud and I brighten the dark clouds.

My heat has kept wild beasts away and saved man

From stones he made me, friend and foe he knew not.

 

Invaders, plunderers and heroes marched with torches lit

As cities burned, people fled, but the emperors feasted.

Flames rise up in prayer, but no match for a burning heart

Incense fills the air; only pure souls win the test of fire.

 

Often, I burn in vain beneath an earthen pot of water

Boiling rapid, waiting and much await they too

Each second, as flames rumble in their stomach

Money they seldom had, to bring home rice grains.

 

Costly it was not much, but I cursed myself

Fine silk on her, his dream for his daughter beloved

Not her merits, they sought much more money

My flames gave her freedom from their enormous greed.

 

 

Wisdom never dawned on them, furious

They protested, marched and shouted

My head bent in shame, my reluctant flames

Devoured page after page, knowledge mounts

 

Could a man kill himself and others?

Seeking pleasure in puffs of smoke

When borrowed time ends, lips part

Dropping last breath and the lighted killer.

 

My breath envelops green world, ablaze

The birds, their small chicks and the nest

Look up to find smoke sailing, like

 In a war-torn city; flee if you can, fly away.

 

Fire is pure and holy

Love is true and divine

As elements of life

Man needs both

Eternal are those

Sensibly use them.

CHRISTMAS GIFT

Judge not a pine tree with its small flowers, yellow
nor the needle leaves moist, in the morning’s dew
Firs, spruce and cypress trees waited every night
for the great gifts laden sleigh, this December too.
Eagerly the bigger gifts will be taken soon;
smaller ones desperately wait under the tree.
The happy faces smile and the conifers sigh
the stars twinkle pondering over the size of love ‘s gifts.
The colourful wrappers like cherished memories
the valued ones; that dim not in minutes.
The time engulfed in your presence; leaving
your kind words; the words put into one’s soul.
Pine cones did easy math, to find
how much you shine for me, with a heart whole.
With dry branches how can a pine live?
the snow will fall, bend and break it.
A warm gift a caring heart, kept below
my wish, new leaves sprout, on every branch.
A Christmas gift, a promise, a word as you shine
I be in your thoughts.
You search for my missing cheer
among the pine trees and you find it.
Shine for me, affirm to be back next Christmas.
My heart rises like the pine
the scent of pine soaked in the mist
renders soft music, merrily the pines sway.
The cones slumber in the frost;
the gifts await the lucky ones.

The Vendor

The colourful balloons kept gazing at the sky
Does the wide grey cloud make them sigh?
There was no wind to let them dance
I stood across, away, seeing Him, offering my silence.
He was alone, so was I with no man to visit
My balloons idled, so did He; the laments did He miss it?
Was I hearing the drum beats, the cymbals?
Are the elephants nearing in slow rhythm, their faint bells?
Water drops fall on my face, not tears of joy
A mother rushes past, tugging her little boy.
“Want a red balloon!” will he turn and say?
They hurried into an auto* to my dismay.
The mask has by now trained well my mouth
To stay shut more; food a luxury, a new cruel truth.
The banyan tree, a mute listener of those sorrows for long
Will the prayers be answered? weeping hearts returned a song?
Many have only hope left to hold on
With uncertainty folding in as life’s own
Balloons had always been with happiness
They were needed for celebrations of innocence.
Wonders hardly happen, but I wait for it to appear
My wait continues, I know time will give me despair.
Crawling, a day reaches its end
Everything is slow, a pace unable to mend.
I carefully untie each balloon from their stand, set them free
I lie down, waiting for the moon, not the same; under the banyan
tree.

PRICELESS MOMENTS

PRICELESS MOMENTS
Rivers flow silent among the rocks
Way down in the woods green
Birds sing their song, fly around
Unaware of a world boiling hot
Where chaos òut number leaves
Problems arè more than flowers.
Ever weighing the scales of pride
Erring thè steps that must be right
Taking decisions that cannot reverse
No time to waste, blood not to spill
Earth is too beautiful, yet we forget
To enjoy the priceless moments.
NEW DAYS
Waiting for the Sun to rise
The blue bird tried to remember
An old song it had once hummed.
That would throw the buds open
Then fill them with honey sweet .
The light was no more golden
No trees swayed in the garden
The birds longed, but no more flowers-
bloomed there; Times have changed.
Now evenings end late, very late
Dawn hardly showers any dew
                                                            on days new.

Merge, Emerge

Different Truths publishes the poem MergeEmerge in the KavyaKumbh anthology

 

Turn twist and tumble I did, long have I travelled

Memories get in the way, yet my golden drape shimmers

My eyes tired, blazing sunlight vaporised my soul

Past, that is me in an endless journey to meet present.

 

Alone I flow, forward I go, call me not from behind

Face the reality that is today whatever I have got

So fast I rush to catchup with ever elusive tomorrow

Unhampered by load of plans, future escapes from my sight.

 

Me the now, with view blurred, unable to forget the bygone

I want to fling myself into the arms unknown unseen.

Give me the fruits of yesterday only to remember

They were sour then, now ripe sweet tender and juicy.

 

The seed dreams tomorrow to burst into a new cycle

When time flows in all directions, life completes itself.

With the same waters a river never flows, it changes

It evolves, dries, swells, awesomely splits, confluences.

 

Rivers tie themselves together yet keeps self intact

Time runs, time stops but never waits, it flows wearily

When life pulls along, reflections merge and tug

Fog alights, voices unclear, move but with the waves.

The Charka

My soul tells me to sink, to give up
But my wheel continues to spin, frail fingers slump.
I am made from some odd piece of wood
But I spin the yarn to make a nation free and good.
Making the country stand on its feet
To give the poorest an honourable seat.
The half clad saint made me his tool
A weapon that shed no blood, a leader cool.
The formidable empire utterly shuddered
The most diverse people now stand united.
Rallying under the tricolor flag
With one aim, Indian for Indians, to tag.
A simple machine, my cloth is rough
The women struggle, their determination tough.
My movement repeats, nothing new
But to make history, done only by few.

Trees

Woods are lovely

Dark and deep

Wrote Robert Frost

A poet of fame.

 

Mist and rain feed

The trees on soil bed

Winds rock them

To sleep tight

With their hum.

 

Some reach out high

To the clouds

Murmuring the stories

Down on the ground.

 

While the thick vines

Hold the trees close

Like a girl crying;

Holding her mother.

 

Termites wear away

The old trunk

When branches are

Dancing with flowers.

 

Where will the birds nest?

Where will the fruits grow?

Bees buzzing aimless

Their hive is no more.

 

No fledgeling chirped

When the green roof fell

Down, flying to the ground.

Axe makes trees or not.

 

This poem was  included in the 5th annual ‘art and poems for peace’ project by The Art of Autism  a community from the USA to empower autistic people through art.

https://the-art-of-autism.com/the-art-of-autisms-5th-annual-art-poems-for-peace-initiative-2020-series-iv/

Firebird

Life had been gushing like a stream in those days when my age had not crossed thirteen. Among my family’s young members, I was the worried one. Worried about my future. The future that I wanted for myself.
My parents thought that I was crazy. My brothers and sisters thought that I was an idiot. My teachers thought that I wanted to escape my class work.
When most children spent long hours bent over their books my mind would drift into the woods often dragging me behind. The woods bordered our town. A small river bordered the woods. A wide pond was there in the middle of the woods. Lotus bloomed all over the pond.
The woods always lured a wide spectrum of visitors.
**
Some came in search of food- fruits, nuts and honey. Some came to hunt. They wanted to catch fish or lay traps to catch parrots. Some people are so selfish and greedy that ignorance and indifference had overcome their common sense. Careless are they who shout and sing loudly, beating drums, in the woods that embody nature’s harmony. More people bear no thought about the river and pond turning into waste stores.
Meanwhile I used to go into the woods in search of a bird. A mystical bird.
A bird that flies all over the world among all woods big and small.
**
Once I had heard a very sad song by a bird. It had come from a garden near the woods. A song from a broken heart of a wounded soul. But I could not see the bird. This had happened about two years ago.
I told my grandma about this unseen bird that was weeping for some unknown reason.
“Ask the reason to the bird. It will hear you even if you can’t see it.” She said.
Believe me, one day I was resting under a mango tree in our urban forest and I heard a bird sing. Why should the bird be so mournful when the tree was overladen with ripe mangoes on every branch? I decided to move around the woods to find out the bird and discover the reason for the sadness in its tweets.
But the bird was not anywhere to be seen. Not high up the tall trees not hidden by the thick foliage. The wet ground had not collected unique feathers. Was I searching for an invisible bird? A life unreal?
Waiting for the unhappy voice to echo among the trees one day I received a shock in the form of another sound.
Flutter of wings!
As if a bird had alighted briskly on the branch of a tree that was there in front of me. The leaves shook suddenly and had become motionless in a few seconds. The branch jerked once. Everything was quiet; soon.
My mind raced with time trying to sense if an invisible creature was there, that might have seen me.

“Who are you? Where are you? I want to see you. I can hear you. My heart tells me that you have come to see me. You wish to tell me something. You can rely on me to help you. Please come to me and tell me why you are sad”.
I began my conversation with a vacant looking branch.
“Worn out remains the earth and the sky
The animals and plants are saying goodbye”
I could hear a song loud and clear.
“Memories of green earth will haunt you
Something right unless the humans do”
The bird was trying to warn us.
Evening was covering the earth and sky in shades of orange and red. Slowly the woods were being enveloped in darkness. My eyes spotted a fiery glow on the tree in front of me.
Was it a glow worm?
Slowly the glow grew and took the form of a bird.
Fire bird!
“Waiting was I for a kind soul
To care mother earth from burning whole”
My eyes stayed open that night. I kept wondering about the words of the Fire bird. The bird had wanted me to lead a mission to save the earth. Our next meeting was to happen soon.
The firebird narrated how she would fly from places to places with woods and forests over countries and continents, whenever a tree fell, a forest wiped out or woods caught fire.
Calling out to other lives in the vicinity, she would ask them to escape, but only after each one collected enough seeds which will be taken to the orbit of creation by the seed train.
“The seed train is within the rainbow. Birds fly high with the seeds collected and put them in the seed train. With the animals and plants getting a cruel deal from the humans the quantity of seeds collected is going down. Many centuries later the green colour of the earth may go away if we allow people to exploit nature without preserving some of it. The seed train takes the seeds to the orbit of creation where they remain safe. After long spells of drought anywhere on earth, the rain clouds bring the seeds back to the earth and they sprout when it rains.
But nowadays I worry how many wetlands will remain on earth. Seeds cannot sprout without moist soil. Collecting seeds alone is not going to restore the greenery of the earth. Water is needed for life to thrive.
How can we birds collect water in large quantities? We had asked the elephants to help. But the jumbos were not ready. They were not sure if they could make it. They feared the men and women who used to come to get water from the waterhole bordering the forest and the village. They said that they might be attacked with crackers and they did not want to waste time and energy running for lives. That is why I am looking for kind and sensitive youngsters like you to conserve water.” The firebird flew up singing
“Plant a tree or two
The earth the rain should go into
Seeds are needed and water too
To keep the earth in good green view.”
A lightning ripped across the sky. My thoughts drenched my notebook with my plans to save ponds and rivers. To create action groups for rain water harvesting, cleaning water bodies and to stop wasting water.

It was easy for everyone to nod in agreement. Posters and short films circulated much. More people joined us in our efforts to make the earth greener. Governments actively ensured that development would not be at the cost of lost plants and ponds. We were happy and proud to have been part of the world wide movement to protect mother nature.
World seemed to move along the path of hope. More trees and rivers survived the changing times. The earth once again began to change into green, slowly.
This was the future I had wanted for me, the future I had wanted for our earth. A safe and peaceful future.
**
A couple of years had gone by and why was I not meeting the firebird? I grew anxious.
It was a dry sunny afternoon. Soon the sky faded and a wind blew in a few dark clouds. It drizzled for some time. Then a rainbow showed itself gently over the horizon.
My eyes filled with glee when the firebird alighted on top of a lamp post beside me.
“Only to see you I’ve come
To bid farewell it is time.
The last train to earth goes back
With no seeds collected in a pack”
We had wanted a world that would sustain itself. My questions seemed to go unheard as the fire bird chirped with no pause.
“We have now seen that to award any creation with the bliss of existence every life should allow coexistence. No more species should go extinct. Such devastations could be prevented if humans would care about nature and why should there be seed trains any more. We leave earth to earthlings.”
What more was there to learn? This was the most important lesson of survival.
My gaze went skywards.
The rainbow had vanished.