Rajnish Mishra – Five Poems
Never met you but miss you Shahid Ali.
Never been there but miss you Lahore.
Never lived then but miss you old times.
Miss you poet Ali, homeless, exile.
Never met you the person, but met the poet
of Kashmir, pain, and loss.
Yearning for a time and a place that never could be;
never yours again.
Miss you Lahore pre-forty-seven.
Never been there, in person, but felt you through
pages on you with ink of pain and stylus of loss,
in the land of Punjab, times bright and happy
never yours again.
Miss you olden times on sepia: black and white.
Never lived then, when you were in full bloom
had colors that never can come to my eyes and times.
my land of romance, escape, dreams –
never mine again, ever.
What Do I Call It If Not Beauty?
What do I call it if not beauty?
Though, you are not the play of colors
in the sky with rising sun, my one year old.
When I keep your soft, small right palm,
yes it has to be the right palm for reading,
with mine, and look at the three thicker,
longer lines with their tributaries,
narrower, shorter, many;
when I take pride at the similarities,
and am happy with the differences,
then I can see only beauty.
When you O little one, climb my back
to ride horse and gleefully shout tica-tica-tica
in your own tongue, and bend a little time and again
to look at me
and smile when our eyes meet;
When I rock you gently to sleep,
stroke your forehead softly, comb
your soft, thin hair with my fingers,
touching your scalp with all the affection,
that I never knew was dammed in there somewhere,
that my being can hold, dripping
from my fingertips as blessing,
as love, upon you all the time,
I can see only beauty.
I’m not very sure whether I know
what beauty is.
Let’s say beauty is
what it does to us,
and call you beautiful,
for you make me feel blessed,
just by your presence, at least sometimes.
Angels, even God, cannot do better than that.
No, they can’t make me feel blessed in their presence,
All old order is subject to decay,
they say, and when fate summons,
old ways free fall. Heart-held loves,
friends, hatreds, foes: all. Yes, all
give way to mighty time’s sway.
Bright, fearless, grand, green youthful years
With each passing year grow
thick wisdom layers, while marching on its way,
time fills with fears the cup full of joy
and life eternal. Wisdom and fear
almost lose their powers when time is stretched
and moments go eternal. For lost is that fear
overhead that hovers, and wisdom unwanted
unused lies there, where heart burns deep
sans flames infernal.
My City Rises From Within
My city rises from within,
filling everything up.
It’s stronger than any known force in the range:
White noise, television decibels,
the whistling pressure cooker,
the shouts of the vegetable vendor,
and other Sunday concerns hovering overhead and around.
The metaphor of water,
and the guilt of its knowledge,
rising slowly up, touching the skin every inch up
and the skin registering it all
closely, completely, clearly –
translated to the abstract,
of a slow and sure rise
of memories, thoughts and emotions.
It may have happened with many other losses,
but happened with only one loss of mine:
of my home, my city, my place.
The Flow Breaks
Under my skin lives a menacing stranger.
He is not the man I know I used to be,
or am, when free.
There from the mirror he stares back at me.
When you want to meet me, choose your time
wisely, and place too.
The time: neither now nor tomorrow,
nor the day after.
The place: neither here, never;
Nor there, nor anywhere
other than my city.
I like the man who walks by the river nearing dawn.
I like the man who breathes his liberty in, is free
to sit on steps of stone, no watch ticking.
This was my cue to fill in those things little:
the faint tinkling bells,
cymbals clanging, gongs and conch shells loud,
the wafting incense streaming slow
and floating plates of flowers –
red petals (rose costs a lot)
and yellow (marigold is cheap).
The flow breaks, the flight lands,
and home comes the pigeon.
Nor will I ever have that day of mine.
Author’s Statement on Beauty
Beauty is not singular. There are types of beauty. The two broader categories that I can see are natural and man-made. I generalize to say that natural sublime, like a very high peak or a very deep water body, creates awe, whereas natural beauty gives pleasure in an instinctive manner. I don’t know about other living things but human beings are surely affected by the sight of either the rising or the setting sun. Man-made beauty gives pleasure too, but it needs human cultural mediation for its realization, so its appeal is neither universal nor instinctive but culture and milieu specific. I think man-made beauty pleases because it appeals to heart, intellect or both. It is created by a human mind keeping with or acting against a tradition.
Rajnish Mishra is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India. He is the editor of PPP Ezine, a poetry ezine. He has a blog on poetry, poetics and aesthetic: pleasure: poetrypoeticspleasure.wordpress.com.