Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry

Rumjhum Biswas

Cliffs of Moher on Alien Lips

A vision is calling. Lone woman held by Lir. Stone-faced Neptune like things emerging from the sea. And the sea greedily taking in the sun. The sun surrendering every day at day's end. Not as liquid fire, but as slush - gold shavings of ice - crunchy between conical teeth. Air circling with eagle intent above cries of riders long past. And then, there is also you who have never seen nor touched nor smelled nor held that earth. That earth standing eternally free of hissing sinews. How did you make that leap, skittering down gull-clawed rock faces? The scree spitting foam as cold as dead fish. How did you jag your heart on the fishing nets cast out to the deep with bitter song lingering above water as mist? How did you dare spirits of rock embracing waters? When you are nothing but a tropical butterfly. Fragile beneath the lash of steely winds, skimming over the words of poets and playwrights, whose ink is nectar, making you another drugged-colonised alien on a sacrificial stone turned bone dry with disuse. Carved out from within you will go. Though none has come forward to bid you Slan Abhaile. You will go because the name is crouching underneath the skin of your lips refusing to leave. They whose shadows come from the songs of heroic deeds, and the sadness and the longing and all the world's myth are here already, and brimming with infection as their histories flit above skimming distance of the haunting line, turning your mind to wool as it cries, "Who were the tamers of the Name? Pray, who?" And you with the veins that tug and roar, your tongue is taboo.

We Met for Beer and Metastasis

We brandished politics like scabbards
and impolite gossip as shields. We took
the girls like plums shaken down
from a generous, if untimely, tree.
A blemished summer moon watched
the scum rims of our mugs.
A sly beast shadow-played
on the waiting road beyond.
The day before a mate had dropped
down cold from our lives. And we,
fighting our fears, were desperate to hide
from our own hearts what our tongues
squeezed down, cauterising
our wounds with our own lies. 

Black Tar Road

at a certain stance in the cusp of day when rain has fazed stare of sun black tar road bereft of men speaks to no one at a certain nook in the arms of night when rain has blunted blades of light black tar road bereft of men speaks to no one at a certain pause in the shy of dawn with earth's heart beat in its breast black tar road meditates fire's retreat from men retreat from sunlight retreat from stoves retreat from burnt egg and toast black tar road remembers earth's buried ghosts burdened by drudge of feet burdened by wheels burdened by harried men black tar road dreams of the sun in earth's breast made from fire torn from earth fanning earth flames in its heart black tar road seeks retreat from the embers of men.