Come as monsoon rains
to a parched land of summer
or softly as spring
with new leaves and bird song
come roaring as a volcano
exuding plumes of gas and lava
or shaking with great force
as an earthquake
come gently as sea breeze
or stealthily as a lover at night
come playing flute as Krishna
or Kali with a garland of skulls
come exploding as a supernova
or as a black hole devouring all
come as elixir of life
or as death nectar.
Mt. Etna Wakes Up
Lava flows down Mt. Etna
Sun is on Earth today
with a rare radiance
an orange glow
in our eyes
molten lava travels
in our hearts
a poem sprouts.
To The Tiger’s Nest
Steep steps to the tiger’s nest
a cliff hanging in space
valleys after valleys filled with clouds
floating as bliss, I ascend breathless
enchanted forests in silence
leaves dangling as green icicles
stray dogs too climb slowly
the path is poetry –-circuitous, slant,
mysterious, with halts and diversions
I pick up metaphors on the way
a veil shrouds the tiger’s nest, I see
a thousand suns in her fierce eyes,
waiting for Guru Padamsambhava
lest he wants another ride.
The Tiger’s Nest is a sacred Buddhist site in Paro valley in Bhutan where the 8th Century Indian Buddhist master Guru Padamsambhava is believed to have meditated for three years. The legend is that Guru Padamsambhava flew to this place on a back of a tigress from Tibet.
Mysterious Lady of Konark
“The tree is happy because it is scarcely sentient; /the hard rock is happier still, it feels nothing.” – Ruben Dario
At the Sun Temple in Konark stone sculptures make love to each other ignoring the voyeurs. Centuries have passed. Her nose is gone, her hands are broken, her body has cracks, and her breasts have withered. She has stoically borne glare of sun and caress of moon. She has withstood cyclones and storms. Corrosive sea winds have made her skin rough. She has been physically assaulted by the invaders, the raiders of ancient sculptures, smugglers. She has handled unwanted attention. She has put up with capricious officials, whimsical politicians and narcissists. She is not stressed even a bit. She has her infectious smile.
Monologue of a Subordinate
Sir, did you call me, sir, sir, I was in the office only sir, just had gone to the loo for a while sir, I see I shouldn’t leave office without informing you or your office sir, sir, sorry sir, sir, sir, sir, sir, I’ll immediately look into it sir, sir, sir, sir, sir, I’ll do as you said sir, sir and will get back to you sir, sir, sir, sir, got it sir.
Abhay K. is the author of a memoir and seven poetry collections including The Eight-eyed Lord Kathmandu (Bloomsbury 2018) and the editor of CAPITALS (Bloomsbury) and 100 Great Indian Poems (Bloomsbury). He received the SAARC Literary Award 2013. His poems have appeared in Poetry Salzburg Review, The Asia Literary Review, The Missing Slate, Indian Literature among others and has been translated into a dozen languages. His poem-song ‘Earth Anthem’ has been translated into 30 languages and has been performed by the Symphonic Orchestra of National Theatre of Brasilia.
Abhay, when and how did you approach poetry?
I have been reading poetry since I was seven or eight. I enjoyed the energy coming out of sound of words and deep meanings the poems conveyed. I read a lot of poems in the school. We were expected to remember poems by heart and recite them. I used to do it at dawn before the sunrise. I still remember a number of Hindi poems from the school days. I started writing poetry when I arrived in Moscow in August 2005. I was twenty-five and had plenty of free time at my hand. While exploring the city I started painting and writing poems to capture its immense beauty. It seems both the muses of painting and poetry were waiting for me patiently to walk in their arms. I painted and wrote poetry and shared them on my blog. I had no intention of becoming an artist or poet, so I never sent them for publication to literary magazines. I started getting lots of comments on poems I posted on my blog. So I thought it might be a good idea to publish them as a poetry collection along with comments. Thus, my first poetry collection of poems Enigmatic Love: Love Poems from fairy-tale city of Moscow came out in 2009.
Tell us about your poetry activities, collaborations and publications.
I read and wrote a lot of poems in Moscow and St. Petersburg during 2005-2010. I used to read my poems and short stories at a cafe named Rabbit Hole in central Moscow, not far away from the Red Square on Sundays. Fallen Leaves of Autumn was my second collection of poems focusing on my experiences with the nature. I named the third collection of my poems as Candling the Light. These were mostly my meditations on the world surrounding me. I tried to write about human nature, our quest for power, concept of heroism etc. In St. Petersburg, Russia, I spent most of my free time with artists, mainly painters and wrote a number of poems on art life in the city. My fourth collection of poems Remains was born there. I returned to Delhi in 2010 where I co-founded Poetry at the Monument poetry reading series. We used to read poems at a historical monument in Delhi once a month. During these readings I wrote a series of poems on seven historical cities of Delhi, its major landmarks and people. These poems became part of my fifth collection of poems titled The Seduction of Delhi. I moved to Kathmandu, Nepal in July 2012 and stayed there till January 2016. During these three and half years, I wrote a number of poems on places and people of Nepal trying to draw a poetic portrait of the country. As a result my sixth collection of poems The Eight-eyed Lord of Kathmandu was born. ‘Earth Anthem’, a poem I had written in 2008 in St. Petersburg, was put to music in Nepal and was launched in India on the World Environment Day in 2013. Since January 2016 I have been living in Brasilia and have written a number of poems about the major landmark and people associated with the city. These were published in a book form in June 2018 in Brazil, titled The Prophecy of Brasilia. The Portuguese translation of ‘Earth Anthem’ has been put to music and the Symphonic Orchestra of National Theatre of Brasilia has performed it. It has been translated into thirty languages. I hope someday we’ll have a common anthem for our planet.
What is poetry to you?
Poetry to me is anything that sings to me, elevates me and leaves a deep impression. I am surrounded by poetry — I wake up with birdsong, look at the clear blue sky, sunshine on old walls, songs, beats, rhythms, sonorous voices, poems, the moon and stars, trees, wind, waterfalls, the whole universe. There is so much beauty and poetry all around us. Poems are just a minuscule part of poetry we have. Poetry is much more than poems.