leaving calcutta

here is a poem i wrote upon leaving india, and which i have now given up on. hence i can publish it. it’s not good by shakespearean standards, but it’s probably better than most of the other things i’ve stuck up here for public consumption:

leaving calcutta

the stench of
naked men shoveling whet shit out of sewers
as emaciated mongrels the size of untouchable
rats tossed back into hell from the high rack of life’s tortures
ignore them and
loud wretched rickshaws displace overgrown mamijis,
splashing urine-colored seepage into
the blaring and fetid air that strong-arms its way into
your naked nostrils.

… in the street too many people come and go,
shouting at michael`s baffled toe …

young-bosomed girls fair as ginger-scented chai
saunter in small posies over secret lotus leaves
under the migrating shadows of ingratiating trees
as they giggle in light saris that embolden the wind
to carry them off
to non-resident spouses
in swell-sounding places.

chinese-indian restaurants serve swet and sour pork
or something cho mane to fatherless families of two
or raucous families of ten as himanshu
and i imbibe the same old future talk of past meals
with suspicious waters and blood-spattered forks
invariably re-assigned to the same old receptacle
for here, we recycle.

… where the roads diverge many cars come and go
honking an unwitted marc polo …

empty men in godawful temples
hand out cakes and red petals
to the masses for a bribe
as holey politicians preach peace,
prosperity and fuck
with everyone on the side
during friday bandhs when pretty boys
worship cricket in empty streets
deserted by communist pride.

… through the ‘mortal sun i came and went
gasping in the arms of mother india’s scent …

tomorrow or yesterday ganesha
found me and vice versa
at the tourist’s store as i pressed him
to my sole
heart with a fistful of bucks.
We strolled down proud streets, raising envy
and dust, our hands impossibly mixed
and dripping to the tune
of mythological rhythms ‘vented in bollywood.
His large ears flapped
and i,
feverish mosquito or sadist rat,
leaned over his bosom
and bit them.

***

books and brushes
only will conquer
(the wretchedness of)
this continent.

***

who am i
to open my mouth and
speak disparaging sounds
to you, india, the greatest of mothers
and divine of nations,
to point out your failings with a splinter in my left eye
(and desire your women with a throb in my sinister heart)?
i am ashamed at my truths & yours –
and what has become of us:
in your vast indifference you
spurned my advances and left me to rot
in a putrescent suburb;
and i died the death of the foreigner,
the death of unbearable truth
and unrequited hope. India! you
kill your own and then some,
you despise your poor and me,
orating lofty towers with shit on your boots.
you beckoned, i came, and you bruised me;
so i whine and whimper and soon
scamper away, india!

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