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POETRY OF SANDEEP KALATHIMEKKADPOETRY OF SANDEEP KALATHIMEKKAD


The Dark Blue Line On a Jazz Night in Leytonstone A Lake is Not a River
End in Itself Paradigm Shift For Builders
Following Allegories Hymn to Harmony Raphael, Before You I Kneel
Scare Torques Tempting to Science Embarassment
Gathered Stones Speak Again I See an End on the Road Wages of Neglect can Haunt You at Midnight
Shift of Frame Invitation to Hatred (not Hate Red)
Go to Page 2









The Dark Blue Line

I’ve always felt bad on Friday and Saturday nights --
No misunderstandings, no excessive alcoholism
On my way home on the fast Piccadilly Line --
Maybe due to the absolute lack of such spirit aids.
Even from South Kensington, the Imperial freshers
Just out from swimming long in pools of beer,
All rolling tongues straight from the ‘student union’,
Long-sought freedom enjoyed in lager and cider.
Then when the snake crawls into Piccadilly Circus,
Enter short skirts accompanied by loosened ties,
Faces swelling with imaginative, poison pride
Brushing blond, or coloured hair very often --
With trembling fingers, holding closer and closer
To Gucci's or Louis Vuitton's with golden chain straps,
Some screaming, many whispering all sorts of lies.

The same acts unfold again in Leicester Square.
Missionaries of the holy communion of clubbing,
Kisses where all but true love is exchanged.
Those ‘pretty’ legs were always pretty ugly to me,
Bringing fake accents even with unstable tongues.
Is it admirable they never forgot to moan their wishes
With courtesies and false expressions of friendliness?
All passed in haste while leaning over each other,
Some adjusting hair, applying a bit more make-up
To ask the next shoulder, “what d’you think, dear,
I may be looking awful”; “No, you are not, darling”.
I had given my reply to that in my mind many times.
Then again from Covent Garden, more skinny legs,
Tampered waistcoats, torn denim with embroidery,
High heels taken from feet and held in their hands,
Some music mad from stuffing their ears with iPods
At loudest volumes to let everyone inside hear.

They have never known the coldness of the walls
Where thick bellies push fragile bodies to the stones,
Thrusting their stinky and dirty meat in dark corners,
Teenage girls forced to mortgage all their dreams
For getting their flat stomachs full at least for once,
Of buying coloured pencils and old books for learning
And frocks with butterflies from second-hand markets
In exchange for getting their white clothes muddy
And bloody from the cruel blood-sucking vultures
Disguised as fat men well past their prime, and youths
Wearing black, white, grey and brown underpants
Tearing tender skin, rejoicing in their prey’s tears.
The bloodstains the prey carry deep inside their hearts,
The pain they would ever keep just to themselves,
The wounds which pierce deeply and never heal,
The shame that could never be shared with anyone,
The shadows that many sunny days cannot dispel,
The foul smells that no perfume can wash away,
The nail-marks that no coating of cosmetics can hide,
Left on the inner sides of soft skin.
The frightening stillness they reluctantly embraced
For the crisp currencies that smelled, rich cigarettes,
None of which can be drowned in weekend drinking.

Put it down to the disparity that has always existed.
Blame the rulers, the rich, fate or give any damn reason
Or act as though you are asleep, closing your eyes,
Or turn partially deaf to all these unpleasant noises.
I cannot help but at least give a last look of contempt
As I ponder again in my mind the ever-widening gap
When squeezing through to get out at Holborn, I hear
“Please mind the gap between the train and the platform”.







On a Jazz Night in Leytonstone

The Portuguese barmaid was running around
My friend was finishing his cider
The saxophone was passionately rising
I didn't understand a word of its intro
The old player had heard a lot of intros
So had the bald trumpet player
The rest of the band was young
Guitar and bass brought up the tone
The Danish drummer was vibrant too
And the long-haired chap on the keyboard;
I played my instrument of silence,
Making the candle flame dance to the music.

Fingers danced on white and black keys
Like spiders walking over the ripples of a pond.
Was the drum-roll like the clutter of bamboos -
No - more like my excited heart beating.
Bass was like the blue bamboos of my village
They were my earliest music teachers.
Guitar strings were vibrating in my veins
While trumpet blew for all yesteryears
Often followed by saxophone.

All the wind that had blown in the far deserts
Of the storms I loved, with their rains
All the breezes I received in the meadows
Of the countryside which was my childhood -
All that had poured over my sorrows and glee
Washed me out, blew me out.

I rediscovered what I had lost with those winds
Reflected in a saxophone's golden glitter
Shining more than much longed for sunshine
Creating more tremors inside my mind
Than the glances of a thousand eyes;
I rediscovered my heart beat in those drums
My childhood in bass
My lost happiness in trumpet and guitar.







A Lake is Not a River

The day was unusually sunny
I had an afternoon off, free from labs.
Green Hyde Park was tempting
Albert Memorial gleaming.
My friend said, “Let’s walk along this river" -
“Thames is too far away”;
He had mistaken Serpentine for a river
Experimentalist inside said, “I’ll prove it”.

The lake was also bathing in the golden rays
Its ripples swimming with busy ducks and coy swans
Water kissing the rays, ripples hugging the shine.
(Sun is such a broadminded gentleman
He will not disappoint any of the lasses
But shines brightly, giving them warmth
Then takes their cool caresses to his heart.)

A lake is not a river, my dear friend
No matter how happy the birds
Or how much glad sunshine.
The honour of river comes from its birth
From the bosom of mother earth.
Times in the cradle of loving villages
A cheerful childhood in mountain laps
A peaceful youth in serene valleys
Growing on, but never growing old.
A river remains like a vibrant young maiden
That can seduce the Sun, or even a poet.







End in Itself

He knew it was a special evening
There was an unusual red glow in the sky.
He usually walked along the river at sunset
He did that day too, but felt some strange difference.
At the door of his house he saw a couple quarreling
Who had loved each other dearly.
A cat saw him then and ran away, crying loudly
As if it had seen a ghost.
He saw a child through one window
Staring at him, her face emotionless.

Red cherries he saw hanging from a tree
He felt had turned red from being dipped in his blood.
By the riverside, between the high grasses
Bees he had seen on flowers at a grave
Hummed around his face as though to frighten him.
The root of a fallen, half-buried tree
Seemed like the leg of a lady’s corpse.
The Sun seemed only the river's reflection.
He sat down and drowned his past with it
And all that had happened to him in that place.

He had come there a year ago looking for light
And in that year had gone down many paths
Many with curves he had never taken before.
He had poured his blood through his fingertips
To mark every path he had wandered through.
Some days he just waited by the riverside
And saw his hopes drifting like froth on the water.

But this evening he decided to call a final shot.
With ink from his weeping heart he wrote a poem
Folded it and made a paper boat.
After setting it afloat, he didn't wait to see it sink
But fell asleep into a frozen dream
With stars alone giving him warmth.
An unknown force led him into the river
And that was the last time he was seen on its banks.
That last poem he wrote was lost in the depths.

   





Paradigm Shift

Hair tied back looks like snakes mating
Untied, it flows down like a stream
Blinking eyes turning into gold fishes
Lips turning into a red lotus in the middle.
She herself transforms into a river
Needing an ocean to flow into and join.
I open my hands wide and form waves
Cry all my grief and broken trusts
To form a sea of tears into which she can merge.

She leaves and I draw in my breath
Pulling some stars from a nearby galaxy
To lay before me as mirror-pieces.
In their reflections lie a million worlds.
When I bend down they scratch my hand
And a drop of blood turns into a ruby.
The glass pieces turn into diamonds
I arrange into a prize necklace
I give to her when she comes back.

(This climax is only for strong hearts.)
Then the necklace turns into a python
It strangles her, she blinks her eyes
Causes lightning to strike me to death.







For Builders

When you build a house
Do not use the first bricks you see
Take each and every one of them
Observe them carefully
See if they fit into your plan
Now start.

The bricks for a house
Are not the ones for another building
They are not fit for a mansion
None of them would suit a palace.
Though all the bricks look similar
Find the ones for the house
Then begin.







Following Allegories

Today I look for the meaning
Of a word that has perplexed me
Perhaps the most misunderstood
The most misinterpreted word of all;
Let art and colours be my teachers
For it is the most artistic word
And the most colourful.

In the ‘Wohl room’ of the National Gallery
My lessons begin with Veronese.
His first allegory only adds doubt
As one letter held in a woman’s hand
Stands for unfaithfulness and infidelity.
If that is the beginning of pure emotion
All notions I've had of it are false.

Now to the second
Where a cupid beats one naked man
While women with purity’s ermine
Escort her companion away from her.
That white ermine is afraid of the cupid.
Purity is afraid of such an arrow
But the woman’s eyes are fixed there
With little intent to run away.

The third allegory makes a better picture
As cupid respectfully leads a soldier
To a sleeping beauty (or is she acting?)
But that man, in spite of the temptation
Speaks out silently to the student in me:
‘I am as worried as you are, my dear lad,
As I know not how long I can withstand
The call of body, let honour help me out.’

The fourth and final one strikes a fatal blow
As Venus crowns the heroine (is that herself?)
Presiding over the prosperous horn of fertility.
Onlooker is a dog and a chain of fidelity.
She bows down, her hand out-stretched.
Is a twig of wild desire and delight
Being snatched away by a man of might?
But I see doubt reigns on his face too.

Bordone, with his ‘pair of lovers’, teaches me
The same over-whelming cloud-covering light
And Bronzino’s allegory is a bold statement
As cupid is disarmed by an affectionate kiss
By his mother Venus, in fabulous style
As eyes of jest throw petals of a rose
And fraud and jealousy play their tunes
Frustrations shown by the pervasive mood.

In Garofalo, there are two pairs of lovers --
One in tight embrace with high enjoyment
The second looking into each others’ eyes --
Contrasting active and meditative carnal forms.
A nice landscape background with goat and lizard;
Like its clouds, my mind too floats.
But finds no clear answers in any of these works.
Allegories fail yet again to quench my thirst.







Hymn to Harmony

{tribute to Kuzhoor Narayana Marar, a great maestro instrumentalist and conductor of panchavadyam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panchavadyam)}

The waves rise, leap rhythmically
Topped with foam, arrivie to kiss the shore
Allowing their milky froth to find its form.
Water enjoys its union with the land
Then embraces my tiny, trembling feet
Half-immersed in thick, wet sand.
I am that child on his first visit to the beach
Listening to the symphony of the sea.
After gentlly nuzzling my fingers
Waves retreat gradually, followed by others
High and low, arriving to share their ardor too.
Though a child, I perceived the novelty
In each approaching wave, sharing its beat.

As my feet become more and more immersed
My mind submerges into a mellow dream
A boat comes closer with a wave
On which I see a large, curved, blowing horn.
I am taken on board that musical boat
Sweet horn blowing with the waves' beats
I row deep to sea with waning waves
Where I see their teacher, a humble heart.

It is this heartbeat of the sea that imparts
Sublime rhythms to its disciple waves;
Only the sea has known the breadth of life
Through the extended notes of the tides
And can understand the pupils' minds
And the desires of all the others.
Pouring the elixir drop-by-drop is different
From spraying joyful showers on spectators
Only such a maestro can attain a balance
At the height of a measured performance.
As I stand amazed at the beats of genius
I find myself returning back to the beach.
The grand symphony of the drums goes on
Accompanying high waves coming again
Like a jubilant applause from an audience
For the waves and for their preceptor.







Raphael, Before You I Kneel

In the giant room dedicated to Raphael
In the Victoria and Albert Museum
I sit in front of the giant painting,
'Christ's Charge to Peter'.

Raphael may have looked like this Jesus
Giving orders to his favorite disciple
I myself identify with Peter, 'the Rock'
Kneeling beside his master with awe.

Let me kneel before you, great master
In this marvelous temple of pure art.
You make colours and shades talk
For those various characters' parts

In every detail - from the grass on earth
To the innocent lambs eating it,
From the trees that give shady grandeur
To the mountains far away in the future.

Let me show as much respect as Peter
Let me be prudent in ardour for you
Let my prayer be pure as that stream
That you have allowed to flow on.

Let my kneeling be forged by pain
To turn into a rock like Peter's,
Let my focus be like his, despite
Ten other disciples standing behind.

On every wrinkled cloth that they wear
I read your supreme art of genius,
On their uncut beards and long hair
I see my way towards reverence.

And you, like a Jesus pointing to me,
Giving me your command of tasks,
I listen to your words that are drawn
With tone variations as large as life.







Scare

As on every other night I walked home
A cat tiptoed along the road,
I copied its pace and we walked together.
Suddenly it stopped and I stopped too.
I looked at its glowing eyes,
It turned its head and looked at me.
Our eyes met as endpoints of a lightning string.
Then I started to walk a bit faster,
It began walking at the same speed too.
I stopped again, so did the cat
And our eyes met a second time.
I suddenly moved towards it and it ran away
With a flash of immense fear.

Then I saw a hedgehog at the edge of the road.
I went closer as it took its eyes from mine.
In the cruelest way, I flashed my camera,
One, two, three flashes -
It lived some of its most fearsome moments.
Then I walked past.

We all have such moments of blood chill,
Feet being frozen to ground
When we meet fear face to face
Or plain terror up close.

Then I walked past a low branch,
My head brushing the leaves.
My hair felt wet, I ran my fingers around
Evening's rain?
But when I look at my hand,
Not water, hands are red
Cat's blood, hedgehog's, or is it mine?







Torques Tempting to Science

Him
Madness
He thinks a lot about himself
But more about others
About other things, mind and mentality
Complex routes selected by a chariot
About long hair, his and others’
About desire, for fame and for her.

Her
Dream
She is beyond the most beautiful words
If descriptions could restrict her
She is not suited to someone like him.

Him
He takes the same routes again and again
Following in his own steps,
Smiles several times while looking at her.

Her
She sings with melodious voice
Repeats the same lines again and again
Elaborates with some special words
Using her expertise in music
Mixing disappointment with it
In not being able to hear her notes
In not having a mirror for her melodies.
She sings about that in front of him.

Him
He praises her beauty, hiding his desire,
Explains that taking in her music
Is like the surface of a river's water
Reflecting the sunlight’s glitter.
He says his admiration for her is deeper
Than the deepest river, deeper even than an ocean.
In between his praises he thinks of
What else to say to raise her interest.
But he says nothing more.

Her
She dances with her music
With steps like those of his pet peacock.
She is so moved by his words
She realizes that even her sadness
At not having a mirror for her music
Is masked by his poetic words.
But she shows nothing to him.

Him
He is a bit worried by her lack of reaction.
Due to his lack of concentration
He draws no squares, only curves and circles
And colours his sketches with her steps.
His drawing, every detail of it,
Is the raising and lowering of voice.
Every different colour he chooses
Is governed by the steps of her dance.
But he does not want to portray her in the flesh.

Her
She forgets all her despair and disappointments,
She never looks at the vast fields
Or green grass, pools of the present.
She gazes endlessly at the distant hills,
At the high mountains that engage themselves
In constant conversation with white clouds
That talk without pausing and drift freely
In the blue sky, those clouds that put on a frown
And turn dark when the sky is angry,
Those clouds that make the hills wet
By falling as rain; she loves that rain,
She sings a lot about the rain of the future
But never contemplates a situation where
The nearby fields are flooded by the river
Due to torrential rains, due to the clouds.
The mountains block the clouds
But the clouds never complain, nor does she.
They fall down as rain, she falls down for him.

Him
He looks at the flooded fields too
But instead of drowning in them
He shows her a rainbow that is born
Between the mountain and the sky.
He talks to her about such a union
Where mountain and sky form a rainbow
By shedding the clouds that carry rain.
He reveals some of his wishes to her.

Her
She is unaware of what in her resembles clouds,
Those that have turned from white to dark
But she likes his comparing
Her with the sky,
Having vastness,
Having different coloured clothes
At different times of the day.
She also likes his comparison
Of himself with the mountains
Where evergreen desire grows as tall trees.
She sings to that satisfaction,
Dances to that delight,
Conveys her agreement,
Sacrifices her pride for him.

Him
He embraces her.

Her
She enjoys the comfort of his cuddle
But is doubtful about his comparison
As sky cannot be held by a mountain,
But then forgets about that
In being inseparable from him.

Him
He flies now in that sky with birds
The ones that were sitting on tall trees,
Those that flew into the sky all together
In the sound of their flapping wings,
All that combines to form one sound
One from combining dream and madness,
To be born as an exuberant child.

Child
Science
With all the whirlpools of the father’s mind
Like curls in pretty hair
Its colour as black as the dark clouds
Which are nothing but the mother’s pride
Crying in symphony with mother’s music
Chuckling in verve with mother’s dance
Waving small hands like father’s brushstrokes
Closing and opening eyes with father’s words.

I could have just said, or written one line:
‘Madness and dreams give birth to science’.
You can accept this decision of a fool
You who have read all the previous lines
Or from me who have written them instead
But bear in mind -- the child is still with him and her.







Embarassment

This one has no mother-tongue
Translation is not necessary.
A wind that touches nearby trees
Swaying the branches of empathy.
The tender leaves offer music
Maybe unheard in the angry storm;
But breezes embrace the whispers
Played to silence by the trees' fingers.







Gathered Stones Speak Again

Mist lingers around again
Even in this late afternoon,
A thin veil over the face
To hide guilt and insanity.

Frequenting these ghettos
With dejection’s lampposts,
Searching for the apologies,
Listening to one's own footsteps.

Most painful are not words -
But hard stones of silence.
One particular stone from there
Caused a deep mortal wound.

As the best place to hide a leaf
Is in a forest, I decided to throw
That stone back to the dead earth
But then, earth started to bleed.







I See an End on the Road

Roads after the rain formed mirrors
But travelers moved too fast
To put their reflections in them.

There weren’t any trees by the roadside
For a mirror's reflection either.

So I sat down by the road and looked
At my face in its shine -
Partly out of sympathy for the mirror,
Also to see the frown on my face.

Then a truck that most loved a fast pace
Skidded on the slippery road and hit me;
I am sure I saw no fear on my face
In the reflection, just before I died.







Wages of Neglect can Haunt You at Midnight

They woke me up
Ghosts of my poems
It is only half past midnight
Half an hour ago I went to bed
Their screams woke me up
It wasn't a nightmare
Real screams
I can see each of them in front of me
Some have folding marks on them
If you fold them again along those
You will not make a paper boat
Instead
Forms a paper-ball rolled up, of anger
Or angst.

Some of them were wearing masks
Not Venetian, but from the plays
Some of them were scary
That I may have watched
From some countryside
Some with painted faces.

I know my poems never would have come
To frighten me
Unless the riot was instigated
Or organized
By a master brain
He was the one who hung an advertisement
Inviting actors to his plays
He was a playwright and director
I know, he was behind the rebellion
Of the ghosts of my poems.

I never cheated them by selling promises
If I had put them in a book
And that book had won some award
I would have thrown that award at a fox
To hear it scream in pain
Inspired by an ascetic.

Then one of my poems
Or its ghost
Started to speak, ‘There
Under the riverbed
Where we all lived our afterlife
We saw the wings of a dead butterfly
Its wings were mostly dark blue
Like the milliseconds before dusk --
Turns into night
It had a yellow round spot
Like a ripe lemon
We saw that and we felt hungry
Like waking up at midnight
Due to hunger
We had not much food inside us
You did not feed us well
Hence we decided to wake you up
At midnight
Are you hungry now?’

Anyone who does not feed his children well
Will be woken up at midnight.







Shift of Frame

The dark fell upon the earth
Not night or fear
Not the clouds as rain
Not the constant pain
Not the hopes in vain
But the darkest of imaginations.

A tree was growing upside down
Roots piercing into the sky
Taking water from the clouds
Branches spread all over the earth
Wanting to grow to the depths
To get free in compact mud
To find freedom amidst the rock
To open a thousand hands wide
Into the heart of a loving mother
To apologise sincerely
Letting the leaves bring tear drops
For all the life that has been taken in
Through the many roots before.

Then the flame of the candle lit
Had the blue of night sky on top
The red of the mother's blood --
Just below that
The yellow of a daffodil
Tender like music from a fiddle
That had the innocence of a child
And fragrance of the new
Way below in that burning flame.

Light ascended to the space
Not day or courage
Not the water from the rivers
Not the glowing glee
Not optimism either
But the brightest of dreams.







Invitation to Hatred (not Hate Red)

Let's get together
Let's get together to argue till the break of dawn
Let's do it once again
To be jealous of each other
Envy pouring oil on the fires of self-suspicion
Let's join hands to feel disgust
At the very touch of another’s skin
Let's look into each other's eyes
For hours, changing often
To enjoy aversion and fuel animosity
Often hug others to sniff another’s bad orders
Or entangle in a dirty kiss to share bad taste
It is almost time now,
I presume,
No, I am quite sure of it
High time to form a brotherhood of universal hatred
(To let love triumph over us
For we always end up defeated).




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