Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis
‘Still waters run deep’.
Clichés are good to begin a poem with.
I love justice and hate tyranny.
I love justice more than
I love my country, its people, my people, fame or wealth.
Sometimes, truth sounds clichéd.
Quid est veritas?
At first it seems not easy,
not quite, but then, as it’s natural to kill, so natural,
in fact, that they need to write,
sometimes on stone, sometimes on paper:
‘Thou shalt not kill!’
You shall have no other gods before Me.
He rose high, and masses, called him God.
He’s not alone, but caput gone, triumvirate kaput.
It’s unnerving to feel within a fierce, feral,
beast, unnamed and ferocious rise and fill
all the space up under the skin
of a citizen: civilized, harmless and tamed.
The masses, sheep, sons and daughters of apes,
imitate, submit, follow and yield liberty
to tyrants, despots, usurpers with power,
for their patch of pasture or bunch of bananas.
Ehyeh asher Ehyeh
You are what you are,
and masses are ‘them’, not ‘us’.
Strangely though, it’s them, not you,
who lust for blood tonight, my blood.
Bloodthirsty sheep? Lion-apes? Always?
Tiger’s fire is sheep’s death.
Thy blood my brother bought death for me;
Thy blood ‘cries out’ to them ‘from the soil’
brings vengeance, seven fold,
Insane at night, sane at dawn.
No, Caesar never cried ‘Et tu Brute’,
nor I ‘Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis’.
They want us to obey
They want us to obey, you to obey, me to obey,
all to obey them, like children, asking no questions.
The very word has a sinister hollow sound:
Pronounce it loudly: obey. Repeat: obey.
Can you feel it? Obey!
Dog is not man’s best friend without any reason.
My only hope is in those I did not like earlier.
The face maniacs. Those who record themselves
in yogic mudras doing asanas to post on facebook
for an instant wow. I love them now.
They show me the glowing fire from dying embers.
They do not resist on principle. They resist by habit.
They are not Satan or other fallen angels.
It’s human to rebel without reason or purpose.
For what is rebellion but a different perspective
My city rises
My city rises like water and breaks
bounds like a river in spate,
from within, in me, around me,
and fills everything up. It’s stronger
than any known power in range:
television sounds, the whistling pressure cooker,
the shouts of vegetable vendors, and other
Sunday concerns hovering overhead and around.
The metaphor of water 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:
that of my home, my city, my place.
I am rich in my losses
I am rich in my losses. I lost my
home, river, lanes, neighbors,
boats, temples, pilgrims, conch shells,
the sun, the moon and ursa major
pyres, umbrellas, benches, stone steps,
people playing chess, carrom or cricket,
my walks along the riverfront
my mornings and evenings,
the pushing mad crowd,
vendors of fruits, of vegetables, of sweets, even barbers
small shops and big in the market near my river,
empty lanes and full, bicycle bells, horns of autos and bikes,
I lost them all when I left.
I see them stand, chat, smile, live; I can’t.
Like me they live in a city they were not born in,
yet call it their own.
Does their city not call them?
Does it not come in their dreams?
Mine comes rarely nowadays.
All I want to do today is to lie down
and slowly breathe my last breath, like Shelley did
in dejection near Naples. No, I’ve no past remembrance
of suicidal drifts. No, people don’t see such tendencies in me.
In fact, I hate death, my mortal enemy,
and every day of my life have been happily shrinking
away from its touch. There are times I forget my city.
Like when I drive like a maniac, which I always do.
When at the steering wheel, there’s only the man-machine,
no man, no machine, that races against time
and anyone else who dares to come on his way.
Only then, when all else is erased, and eternity fits in a moment,
I forget my loss, my ‘self’ and city.
For a moment or two, my two daughters lend me
the salve of oblivion too. While I write, I faintly forget my pain,
my loss, even the city I write about,
because I live at the tip of my finger then,
from where stream my thoughts on the page.
Writing heals, or, at least helps forget for a time,
while I make patterns that suck me in and siphon
all concerns away from the system.
My richness of loss has filled me a lot.
It has filled me with a vacuum.
I don’t know how I’ll live whole again,
for fate and time don’t favor the kind
of coward-victim-exile I am.
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: https:/poetrypoeticspleasure.wordpress.com.
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