arunansu banerjee

 

Masaan’ (the Burning Ghat)

i.

offerings
dangling on ripples
the scent
of a yellow afternoon
borrowed from memory

ii.

askance
in the look
of a clay goddess
where does life escape
after death

iii.

blending
into the unknown
my mortal life
the bird is now a speck
in the sky

iv.

in the final scene
a drop of blood reddening
the horizon
stars die out
from the embers

v.

scripting
the last line
makes me ponder
am i counting shingles
in a sea of despair

 

Love Tanka

i can no longer
feel you, either by love
or by reason –
the end of a bridge
fades into vagueness

why must i be
the falling leaf
of winter –
lovers and flowers
blooming in the roadside

i saunter aimless
without you…but with you
by my side
a quick spell of rain
paints a rainbow

 

Tanka

Poet
(a tribute to Pablo Neruda)

rummaging
through a jungle
of beliefs-
i run from house to house
chased by a raging bull

***

how do i
describe you
in words alone-
all the words in me
are ‘stolen’

***

hidden under
a white brimmed hat
i read faces
bricks and lanes
burnt by Santiago sun

***

when the end came
six and half hours later
i was envisioning
the army searching my house
for a man named ‘poetry’

***

treading on a planet
snapped from all modes of return
the soil
coloured with blood
of perished revolts

 

On the Beatles’ trip to Rishikesh Ashram in India:
‘We’re trying to sell peace, like a product, you know,
and sell it like people sell soap or soft drinks.’ John Lennon

One February we were selling love

the thrum
of a tranquil guitar
at the Beatles Ashram
we’ll meditate
along with butterflies

***

what can you offer
to the morning breeze
the chorus
of four bright boys
merging with the fog

***

bloodied 
by twilight
one black bulbul
tells you the tale of a god 
selling peace in packets

***

freed
from the hubbub
of money machines
this spring we’d sell love
to the babblers

 

Haiku

1.

origami rose
carefully folding
the turns of the story

2.

peeling an onion
the way I got to know you
tonight

3.

goodbye kiss
unsteady moon
in my glass

4.

our meetings
moon’s shadow
on earth

5.

morning glory
opening up to the sun
her radiance

 

Tanka

Sama

1.

the ney flute
a slow serpent
entwines me
I shed my black attire
to bathe in luminance

2.

spinning
in my orbit
i sense vastness…
a bud sprouts
giving birth to a fountain

3.

let me fly
somewhere between here
and nowhere
no sound reaches me…
only the opening of doors

 

Haiku

1.

our laughter
and quarrels …
cherry blossom blizzard

2.

Buddha’s eyes
on all sides
cherry petals drift

3.

deer grazing
in the cherry blossom park
my bench empty

4.

Hanami …
the smile of a child
touching cherry flowers

 

Tanka

1.

the sapling
planted by father
has grown into a tree:
‘remain unruffled
by storms of distress’

2.

the traveller shows
pictures of remote lands
to his love:
‘clouds rarely part with
a crumb of their wealth’

 

Homage to Panditji

fog
clearing up
at dawn
melody of birds
startles the friar

floating in
and out of the window
— afterfeather

 

Haiku: A Short Love Story

1.

the black horse
jumps over a hurdle
our first words

2.

don’t you love me
a dove cooing
in autumn

3.

slim trees
in the fog
could that be you

4.

train whistle
I just remembered
her old song

5.

fresh breeze
calendar pages
unsettled

 

Haiku

1.

no moon tonight
a steady rain doing
the talk

2.

November
coercing myself to live
without you

3.

the leaf falls —
changing my mind
just before ‘submit’

 

Tanka

1.

bumping into
an old chum
at the market
a dump trash getting filled
with stale flowers

2.

no respite
from the nagging rain
this autumn
her staring at me
with moist eyes

 

Tanka

1.

the mewl
of afternoon cat
in the quiet…
holding you in my arms
the first time

2.

my seat mate
immersed in the newspaper…
how could he know
I’m on the run with someone’s
battered heart

 

monsoon haiku

1.

gathering clouds —
the contempt in the corner
of her eye

2.

I search for
my best excuse —
a preening duck

3.

slipping between
our squabbles…
the rain

4.

drenched crow —
you’ve never left me
feeling so stupid

 

romantic haiku

1.

whirlpool —
losing myself
in your eyes

2.

caught off-guard
in the rain, our smiles
coalesce

3.

her faded form
in cherry blossom blizzard
my despair

4.

deer park —
searching for your footprints
over snow

5.

wrecked ship
tasting the salt
both of us

 

Haiku on Bhopal Disaster, 1984

1.

gas cloud
dying down
the cries for help

2.

fading into fog
river Betwa
choked with corpses

3.

falling all around
the loosened kites
his last sleep

4.

recalling a poster
of unclaimed faces
the horror in her eyes

5.

‘No more Bhopal’
children play hide-and-seek
by the factory wall

 

(reference material)

 

Tanka on Buddha sculptures, Ellora caves

1.

whose strong hands
carve out the ribs of time
I seek an answer
in the middle of pillars
and Bodhisattvas
 
2.

a full-moon night
with the breeze carrying
an ancient scent …         
a god with broken arms 
remains all smiles
 
3.

ravens
intent on lifting
the mountains —
have we learnt to keep peace
with our own shadows?
 
4.

crickets call out
to sounds of a missing       
universe …
nothing moves here
save the lone moon

 

Notation: Ellora, also known as Ellooru, is an archaeological site 29 km. North-West of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The Buddhist caves there were built during the 5th-7th centuries.

 

Tanka on Trimurti sculptures, Elephanta Cave

1.

(The left face – Rudra avatar of Shiva)

i wonder what
the other side of his face
might reveal
— the molten ire
— razing roses to dust

2.

{The front Face – Yogeshwara)

i can hear
sober sounds of a bell
deep-seated in me …
Shiva listens
— looking calm, yet rigid

3.

(The rightmost face – the Young Shiva)

He smiles delicate
like the supine bud
he holds
— a world would unfold
— within the womb of spring

 

Notation: Another tanka series, this time on the famous three-headed Shiva sculpture in Elephanta cave, at Elephanta island near Mumbai. This series has been three years in the making. 

I feel the concept is universal. The three moods of a human being – the destroyer, the creator, and the sage – get depicted through the three Avatars of Shiva, the prime God.

 

Tanka on Buddha sculptures, Ajanta Caves

1.

how gentle
the eyes of a Buddha
carved in stone
an earthen lamp blazing
at his feet

2.

unknown
self-possessed gods
around me —
did a shadow move
to the sound of a pebble

3.

the whirr
of a bat’s wing
over my head —
echoes of human voice
after centuries

4.

morning brightens
the massive arcs
of the prayer hall
a group of invisible monks
meditating

5.

time
has stopped flowing
ever since —
Buddha at peace
with his eternal sleep

 

Notation: The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India, are 30 rock-cut cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to 600 CE.

Notes:

Tanka

The ghoul
beside my hospital bed
scrutinizes me …
two nurses speaking about
their childhood

It stirs me up
the converse of
rain clouds …
your piercing through
yarns of caution

 

haiku

1.
full moon
behind a veil
the young bride

2.
in my dreams
our deserted home
a ruined nest

3.
multiplying
without answers –
malignant cells

4.
angry voices
at the market –
a child cries

5.
picking up
the greener pea pods
grandma’s fingers

6.
peeling the onion –
what keeps her
from speaking

7.
garden Buddha –
the hummingbird hovers
over a bee balm

8.
paper cranes –
unfolding her letters
after a decade

 

Tanka

sipping
a cup of lemon tea
this winter…
a butterfly seeks refuge
in my dreams

 

May Tanka

I.
pollen-laden bees
enter my idle room
roam about
one round table
and a circle of chairs

II.
ants carry
tiny bread morsels
I stand in a queue
a dream trickles down
sweaty shoulders

III.
humming bird
hesitates
at my window
a hint
of her fragrance

 

The rain, and after
(Two Sevenlings)

She’d sky-dive with succulent drops,
frolic upon leaves of a rare foliage
and plop into a puddle.

She yearns to flirt with a young Nimbus,
get drifted by a stubborn wind
to unoccupied isles.

She’d compose a symphony for the dripping moments.

***

When the curtain lifts, the haze clears,
she watches her dream-globules evanesce
like rain-dots on warm sands.

One green tree frog warbles,
a wasp spider limps out of its secrecy
and starts to weave a labyrinth of sunrays.

A tune jingles inside her.

 

 


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