Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry

Jerry Pinto

I Want a Poem

I want a poem like thick tropical rain
Dense green spatter of syllables
Drumbeat consonants, fertile with meaning.
Sudden. Short. Unforgettable. 
Afterwards, jungle silence.

I want a poem like a Russian circus
You should know it has been trained.
No ordinary everyday poem could leap like that.
No quotidian poem could shimmer, spangle, exult like that.
Oh satin, yes, and yes, fakery, and then
Popcorn applause and a lonely child,
Big-eyed, dreaming of running away to the poem.

I want a poem like an animal.
You should be able to eat it. Or domesticate it.
You should be able to befriend it. Or behead it.
You could carry it around or make it bear your burdens.
You could, should, oh should, so should, clean up after it.
Afterwards: Skeleton poem rides in night terror through icecream cloud cover.

I want a poem. 
I want a poem.
I get instead this poem.
A poem of clanking wants like a pile of bhaandi-bartan going over a waterfall in a barrel.
A poem of whispering needs like a tree whose branches scrape plea-bargains from the pavement as it is dragged 
to the bonfire.

I want a poem 
       like a chorus of angels, 
       a chamber of horrors, 
       a block buster film, 
       a sexcapade with candlewax, 
       an anaconda adventure, 
       a ride in a Batmobile, 
       a contessa in a fountain.
       I want a poem.


So easy to delete, backspace, or even
in extremis
Alt-Ctrl-Dlt all at once.

Against the parallel universes,
the parallel possibilities
the parallel lives.

The illusion
slips away
if you look at it

Does not exist.

House Repairs

All it took was the flick of a chisel,
And the bathroom wall came sighing down.
It wasn't quite what we had hoped for
But we took it for what it was:
One more act 
in a prolonged dramaturgy 
of cement. 

The new wall came up quickly.
Overnight, it was back in place
It was all that a new wall should be
Or so we hoped. 

Only the next morning and the next
When, sleep-clogged, we lurched into it
We found it was our old wall. 
With a suicide note still scrawled on it
With blood still fresh splashed on it.

We paid the masons anyway
And learned something about renovation.