Take My Hands
Take my two hands
make eight feet of them
give them to the spider
I soaked in hot water in
my kitchen sink.
I will hide my arms
in long sleeves, will
finish the last painting with
brush in my teeth
but take my two hands.
If the spider
curled up into
she will weave her next web
in my soul
will travel with me
through all the lives
eighty-four hundred thousand
Stroll in a Particle
If you can find
a path into it
there is enough
space in this
to stroll for a lifetime.
If you see an old man sitting alone
at the bus stop and wonder who he is
I can tell you
He is my father.
He is not waiting for a bus or a friend
nor is he taking a brief rest before
resuming his walk.
He doesn’t intend to shop in the
nearby stores either
he is just sitting there on the bench.
Occasionally he smiles and talks.
No one listens.
No body is interested.
And he doesn’t seem to care
if someone listens or not.
A stream of cars, buses, and people
flows on the road.
A river of images, metaphors and
similes flow through his head.
When everything stops
at the traffic lights it is midnight
back in his village. Morning starts
when lights turn green.
When someone honks his neighbor’s
When a yellow car passes by
a thousand mustard flowers
bloom in his head.
Kalli followed me eight miles
to the market where
animals were traded like slaves.
Cows goats bullocks camels
Kalli was black beautiful and six
prime age for a water buffalo.
She was dry. Repelled bulls as if she had
decided never to go green.
Hard to afford, my father decided
to sell her.
She obeyed as I led her
by the steel chain, one end in my hand
the other round her neck.
I was fifteen. Her nervousness was over
soon after we entered the market
where sellers occupied
their given spaces like matrimonials
on a large weekly page.
Kalli sat down with no emotion in her eyes
like an ascetic close to nirvana.
I sat stood walked around like a
neglected calf. Nobody bought Kalli.
She followed me 8 miles back home
I wasn’t sure if Father was sad
or glad to see her back. He just
looked at her like a family member
who had missed the train.
If you have forgotten your dream
I saw it with my own eyes.
The figure that stood before you
with a bouquet of fresh roses was
The arm that wrapped round your
waist tightly was not mine, nor the fingers
that stroked your hair.
The umbrella that suddenly escaped from
your hand and disappeared in the sky
leaving you free
in the rain
to walk, laugh, run and slip
before you awake.
Ajmer Rode has published books of poetry, drama, prose, and translation in Punjabi and English. Most of his poetry is included in his 1224-page book Leela (co-author N. Bharati) critically acclaimed as an outstanding work of the 20th century Punjabi poetry. His poem Kalli is included in a recent anthology, 100 Great Indian Poems, published by Bloomsbury, 2017. His poem “Stroll in a Particle” is one of the 8 international poems inscribed on a public wall outside the office complex of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle (2013). His poem “Mustard Flowers” was included in “11 Groundbreaking Works of 2018” published by the NY based international magazine, Words Without Borders. The American Academy of Poets published “Mustard Flowers” on their widely read website, Poem-a-Day | Poets.org. He has served on the executive committee of The Writers’ Union of Canada and chaired its Racial Minority Writers Committee. He was honored by the Punjab Arts Council and has been the recipient of several awards including Lifetime Achievement award by the University of British Columbia, Canada, and a lifetime achievement award by the Language Department of Punjab, India.