amit parmessur


The Season of Colors

Nature’s eternal, its face,
eternally fickle.
It’s a full moon;
see how charming India is –
beautifully organized chaos.
After all, it’s Holi.

It’s the season of hope and joy,
inside and outside every nook,
with big bonfires in the little village,
with half-awake kids and adults
cheering evil burning into ash.

Everywhere’s going to be
a friendly riot of colours;
powdery mountains on pushcarts
are set to spring and scatter
in the spirit of forgiveness.
And the birds will surely
smear their melodies along the wind.

I must buy my water jet
full of sweet mischief,
get religiously drunk with bhang,
paint my wife’s dull face and
change my garb like a chameleon.

And in the midst of faith
and fun and frolic,
walking rainbows, loud bees and I
are going to spread the hues
that would usher spring’s green stage.
After all it’s more than just Holi.
It’s chaotically organized beauty.


The Dragonfly

Why dragonfly? To fly
among fire-breathing dragons
on the way to mythical adventures?

My little brother spots
the dead dragonfly
roasting alone in the sun
in the middle of the road.

A colorful orifice in the tar
in this drought of sincerity.
I hesitate to hesitate
and pick it up.

Maybe an arrogant car
has slapped it down.
Or a jet of smoke has tragically
stroked it to its demise.

We continue our way home,
my brother with his new haircut,
I with our dragonfly.

I think of writing a poem about it.
A police van veers.
Tell them a valiant dragonfly
is dead says my brother.
You are trapped,
I tell him,
now you are going
to be in the poem too.

At home I give it to my grandmother.
She is not frightened.
I am quite surprised;
she has other worries, maybe.

 Then, I put it on my desk
and write on it:
 The Dead Dragonfly.
 Quite a simple title, I think,
but keep it for its alliteration.

Better fly, I tell it.
Drag on or fly.
 It does not
and has to eat the bruise of my pen.

I then look outside, feeling the curse
of some unknown force.
I keep the dragonfly in the Bible
one of my friends gave me,
closing it carefully.

The book closes as if nothing has been.

I try to find the dragonfly
 again, but cannot.

Which page? Where? 
Where? Which?

I close it again
and put the book back.

In the afternoon,
having nothing to do,
I open the Bible to the exact page.

The dragonfly’s alive.


Mole Hills

We scratched the cute moles
on our hearts and the hills
of our past friendship erupted.
Pine trees grew on the slopes
and their sharp leaves
were like the words we used
to sew our differences and dreams.
We both saw red tongues
in the rocks along the jetty
and they would hiss
the same secrets into us again.
Our tears would meet, taciturn,
inventing a cruel ocean of innocent joy.
Remember, I once tried
to learn needlework and you Hindi.
I could only thread;
you could only swear at humanity.
Someone could’ve taught me
some needle magic and you how
to make the guitar in your mouth talk.
Now, let’s scratch our hills
into mountains. Let’s dare
and learn a bit more about
the wonders of being one again.
We’ve frolicked too much
inside the long, long books
of short love.
It’s time to ride up an exciting hill
and come down a mountain.



What’s between your black land
of broken hearts from the west and
my bright bubbly beach from the east?
An ocean of hybrid barracudas?

I have written your unfair past
in a perfect circle around my navel.
I know you aren’t made of eternal iron
but I think of you as a second mother.

Why can’t we love fearlessly,
as the green sea making love to
the slushy sand with its frothy fingers?
Are you scared of motherhood?

I have written your short name
down my long spine.
I have taught my heart to jog on and on
past the scars of this odd friendship.
A patient explorer may go
all the way while a too passionate
fox tires after half a half mile.

What’s there between my firm desire
and your sweet jelly-like lips?
Are there just silly gossips?

Beautiful shepherdess of my heart,
I’ve written something on my tongue
to make me speak your urban language.

It’s written that one day I’ll be
the sole shepherd of your beauties;
I’ll give up on my grazing flock
to gaze at your eyes and I’ll turn
so thin, so thin that the wind will blow
me somewhere between your fingers.


Monday Fasting

In the serene temple of our village,
the lingam sits as a magical mountain.
My father advances, focused, but pours
the milk thinking of starving children.
And he then murmurs a prayer.
Mother bows worshipfully;
with soft fingers, she drops a datura
before Shiva’s emblem.
My brother approaches, with bright eyes;
he tosses fragrant flowers on the stone.
He cannot pray when not alone.
Then, my wife and I too come near, in awe.
No-one is really looking at us:
My wife sees Bolenath, purple, powerful
and so real. I smile vaguely,
seek His blessing, retreat and
go out with the same old feeling
of being God myself.


Local Life

I sugar daily responsibility with love
and brew and offer the cool combo
to my garden; I wonder what’s the use!

I want some delicious drumsticks
to beat the acid off my stomach
but my tree has only tender leaves.
Wonder what’s the use of such tenderness?

I want a few rugby balls
to taste some natural sports drink
but my coconut tree is too tall.
Wonder what’s the use of such arrogance?

And when I monkey around
for some future joy I see
my banana blossom sleeping profoundly
on my neighbour’s garage.
I rather watch myself slip over grass dew
and bear the noise of Indian mynas fighting.

I rather listen to that demented foreigner
climb the stairs a hundred and one times
instead of watching photos
of Miss Universe’s glittering smile;
it might make me find my worth.

I rather watch that one-legged rooster
sing on a thirsty Thursday
instead of tuning in to local TV;
it might colour the day more democratically.

I rather close my eyes in a solemn place
and marry my laughter to the stars;
it might unlock some key.
It might stop my ancestral fear of nothingness
and make me afraid
of nothing cheap and local.



This apple isn’t
any Edenic forbidden fruit.
This apple consoles a condemned Adam,
for whom life’s poorer than
the king who rolls a sweaty boulder up
a dirty hill for finite eternity.
It’s his never-sleeping,
hundred-headed dragon.

This apple isn’t
the poisoned one offered to Snow White.
This apple is the last thing
my dear grandmother gave me
before she left my heart
to beat alone in this beautiful world.
It’s the soul of a weak man
who concocts no evil soup.

It isn’t
any Desperate Housewives Apple Mug either.
This apple is the harbinger of hope
in a garden about to be deprived
of a sinless Eve and lingering first kisses.
It’s what becomes my kettle
and golden spout at night.

I might not share it with the world
even if only an apple is what remains
one sunless day
because my grandmother’s love
is not for you; this apple will stand
on the square table
my grandfather never gave to me.


My Sister’s Rebellion

is like wanting to sit on the tip
of the pine in our yard
and wear its crown
instead of taking it to be
a symbol of our father’s kingdom.

It’s like seeing a fountain of flowers
that would escort her
onto the road of freedom
while it’s just a train
that whistles by puffing.

It’s like envying the stars
and seeing red tongues
in the lifeless rocks in our aquarium;
they are even supposed
to tell secrets to her only.

What a sister she is!
She breathes the clouds
and nourishes thousands
of illegal thoughts by the window.
To forget philosophy, she sleeps
on the windowsill listening
to her favorite, Michael Jackson.

For her, death is ugly
but the end of dreams is uglier.
But she knows that if
she has received the phone call
of tomorrow she will receive
the voice of tomorrow too.

She can be an instigator,
an innovator, an inspiration.
She can be a trickle,
a torrent, a violent flood.

Her greatest rebellion is believing.
It can be murderous.
She can’t be everyone’s sister.


The Red Umbrella

It’s been raining aloud on my car again all night, like bullets on tin. But there’s still nothing moving on your beautiful face. And there aren’t any calls on your dark phone. I’ve bought a red umbrella if you want to come with me. Why cry silently near the same bench again?

For me, you are one of those golden obelisks from Egypt, getting more and more svelte the further we go. In this world’s careless eyes, though, you are just a slut. You are the city’s most distinguished dais, a sort of stuffed Eiffel Tower, one upon which men mount to win trophies of their shame.

I’m too helpless. I can’t reveal my feelings. There is no way for me to go up there on your clean mountain for now. I know you are not uninhabitable. I know you are not inhuman. Are you, clean slut?

Hey! The rain is murderous and I’ve bought this red umbrella if you want to come. I know something wrong carried those rainbow eyebrows, that golden bun and those lips with a most bizarre African curl into the lucrative tornado of promiscuity. I should have loved you. I know that too. So, when your mobile rings tonight, you’ll hear my breath and something’ll move in you.

For now, take the umbrella if you don’t want to come or let’s bury the hatchet under this wooden bench while it rains aloud like bullets on your beautiful face.



I would love that poetic moment
of seeing your chocolaty ponytail
cascade down your naked back:
some yummy yin and yang.

I would love to see that shy buddy
of mine break into a sensuous smile
and make me feel her cool flames;
my fingers are quivering in bliss, already.

If only the abandoned space
between your virgin breasts
were a blank page, I would write
a poem on your coveted eyes there.

I would erase the words whenever
they go wrong and blow their dust
from the side of your bulging breasts
onto the gay spring grass.

And as your lips soothe my forehead,
my voice, suddenly silky, would spell
out the unspoken desires shouting
in the depths of your bosom.

I would love that poetic moment
of taking your belly button
as a moon, perched in a milky sky
and draw orange, purple and pale red

clouds all around it,
while you lie half-dressed in bed,
eyes fast shut, waiting for me
to write our epitaphs in blue ink.



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