Friday, July 11, 2014

New Lesson from Old Book: Arun Kale

Kamal, start the Maha-arati
Rijia, start the Maha-namaj
Gautam, go to the Mukhia’s house
and feed the cows
David, fly pigeons,
Karim, mark the temples
Chhagan, mark the mosques
mark each other’s religion
mark each other’s caste
and hate each other
hurl stones on each other
bring stones, hurl them on.

Translated by Swapna Banerjee-Guha

Before the Vedas : Baburao Bagul

You lived before the birth of the Vedas
even before the birth of the Almighty
looking at the frightening material world
pained and anxious
you raised your hands and prayed
those prayers went to make the Vedic verse,
it is you who celebrated the birth of all gods, and
named them happily
oh the mighty humans, you named the sun
and the sun got its identity,
you named the moon
and the moon got its fame
only you gave a name to this world
and it was accepted with honour
oh the creative, the genius humans,
you are the cause
because of you so beautiful, so lively is the world.

Translated by Swapna Banerjee-Guha

Stage Waharu: Sonawane

We didn’t go up to the stage
no one asked us, actually
only by pointing fingers
they showed us our place
and we sat there;
‘great’, they exclaimed.
And they went up on the stage
started narrating us our own sorrows
but, ‘our sorrows remained ours
never became theirs…’
in confusion we whispered.
They tried to listen and sighed
And then plucking our ears hard
‘say sorry, otherwise….’.

Translated by Swapna Banerjee-Guha

Bodhi Tree: Mina Gajbhiye

Here is a settlement.
Houses with red-tiled roofs,
planned roads,
gardens and lawns.

It is a laboratory to mold people…
Minds are being forged
        in what sort of furnace?
Smiles on faces and poison in hearts,
no harmony between thought and action.
The same old customary drill is on.

Those calculating faces,
somewhat sophisticated,
are going to change their masks and come out
singing the arati of my welcome.

I am satisfied that
I have sown the seeds
But here they have already started the preparations
     for the resistance…
I am doubtful:
Will at least one seed sprout?

Bodhi tree…………..

translated by Shubhangi Apte and Slyvie Martinezwith some changes by Eleanor Zelliot

Mother: Jyoti Lanjewar

I have never seen you
Wearing one of those gold-bordered saris
With a gold necklace
With gold bangles
With fancy sandals
Mother! I have seen you
Burning the soles of your feet in the harsh summer sun
Hanging your little ones in a cradle on an acacia tree
Carrying barrels of tar
Working on a road construction crew…………

I have seen you
With a basket of earth on your head
Rags bound on your feet
Giving a sweaty kiss to the naked child
Who came tottering over to you
Working for your daily wage, working, working………

I have seen you
Turning back the tide of tears
Trying to ignore your stomach's growl
Suffering parched throat and lips
Building a dam on a lake………

I have seen you
For a dream of four mud walls
Stepping carefully, pregnant
On the scaffolding of a sky scraper
Carrying a hod of wet cement on your head………..

I have seen you
In evening, untying the end of your sari
For the coins to buy salt and oil,
Putting a five paise coin
On a little hand
Saying 'go eat candy'
Taking the little bundle from the cradle to your breast
Saying "Study, become an Ambedkar"
And let the baskets fall from my hands…………

I have seen you
Sitting in front of the stove
Burning your very bones
To make coarse bread and a little something
To feed everybody, but half-fed yourself
So there'd would a bit in the morning………..

I have seen you
Washing clothes and cleaning pots
In different households
Rejecting the scraps of food offered to you
With pride
Covering yourself with a sari
That had been mended so many times
Saying "Don't you have a mother or a sister?"
To anyone who looked at you with lust in his eyes……….

I have seen you
On a crowded street with a market basket on your head
Trying always to keep your head covered with the end of your sari
Chasing anyone who nudged you deliberately
With your sandal in your hand…………

I have seen you working until sunset
Piercing the darkness to turn toward home,
Then forcing from the door
That man who staggered in from the hooch hut……..

I have seen you
At the front of the Long March
The end of your sari tucked tightly at the waist
Shouting "Change the name"
Taking the blow of the police stick on your upraised hands
Going to jail with head held high………

I have seen you
Saying when your only son
Fell martyr to police bullets
"You died for Bhim, your death means something"
saying boldly to the police
"If I had two or three sons, I would be fortunate.
They would fight on."

I have seen you on your deathbed
Giving that money you earned
Rag-picking to the diksha bhumi
Saying with your dying breadth
"Live in unity……. fight for Baba………. don't forget him……….
And with your very last breadth
"Jai Bhim."
I have seen you……..

I have never seen you
Even wanting a new broad-bordered sari

Mother, I have seen you………..

translated by Sylvie Martinez, Rujita Pathre, S. K. Thorat, Vimal Thorat, and Eleanor Zelliot.

Sounds: Jyoti Lanjewar

What sounds are these?
Do fish in water weep
or waves sob?
We lost the way
but kept on, hoping
the way would end
but it's we who will end…
Look at the trees on the shore
lip to lip, whispering 
about us, but the birds
have closed their eyes
with the sun.
The sky garbed
in dark,
searching stars
heart swayed
by swaying waves
now aflame.
Let's plunge in 

and drown then.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New Delhi, 1985: Namdeo Dhasal

New Delhi, 1985

The needle probes for the artery;
Enemies of poetry gather in your city.
Your town is cursed with power;
Roses flow in this stream of blood;
The waters of your Yamuna stand exposed.

India Gate:
Over there, the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
How ruthlessly has this city been combed and groomed!
White elephants sway at the gate of the past.
Goldsmiths mould replicas of peacocks.
Your well-carpentered glory.
Long Kashmiri carpets are rolled out in your streets.
Armed regiments on alert;
The showy itch of culture;
Wooing guests, dancing before them;
Parading cavalry;
Anti-aircraft guns;
Nuclear missiles to frighten off enemies;
The President accepting a salute from those hanging between the sky and the earth;
The Prime Minister shaking hands
With the glorified blemished.
What a spectacular festival.

Arsefuckers Park-1: Namdeo Dhasal

From Gandu Bagicha, 1986
(Arsefuckers Park)

Arsefuckers Park-1
There are neither flowers
Nor leaves;
Neither trees
Nor birds.
All this is mimicry by mercy of His grace:
Sealed fragrance of musk.
Thus the chains on one’s legs are transformed
Into music…
O revealed friend! O gardener!
What shall I recall?
Tears flood the soil of your sensibility.
In the morning and in the evening,
On your sterile field of silence,
Home Guards perform their drill.
On some festive day, a pederast politician
A Councillor preaches here.
The dancing water-pot of goddess Yellamma.
And an all-India women’s conference…
Pimps confessing
To a study group of streetwalkers.
Politicised crows listening to the proceedings.
Charas smokers, ganja smokers;
Pickpockets and thieves.
A mortal forest in the hurt heart.
O Arsefuckers Park!
What sad hour you’ve chosen
To strike at my roots.
Praise and curse;
Arousal and ears.
An eternity of darkness
Lined by a golden shore.
The deluge and all hell breaking loose;
Diamond garlands.
The stigma of concealed love and
The harried soul;
The Inferno of lovers’ separation and the graveyard of compassion;
Extreme loneliness and the magic of the frightened;
Behind every word,
There’s a naked face hidden.
How can I yoke these slaves of the bed to my plough?
Arsefuckers Park!
Your city of insatiable angels.
I bear a crown of agony on my head;
A luminous fountain of African anguish;
A wound has found its home in my heart---
Even words cannot open its doors.
A bear made of sunbeams is walking around with a banner.
No complaint can be registered here.
A wretched derelict of a poet like me
Starts dancing to corrupted words in a saint’s festival.
There are neither slogans nor shrieks of pain.
Every face of compassion wears a black veil.
You are allowing your downtrodden life to swim
In the hell-water of self-alienation.
What more can even the trees do now
Except scratch the armpits of bygone times?
Let me fill into my eyes
The darkness in the womb of the soil.
Allow me to listen to the counterfeit jingle of the coin
Of my distraught, sleek-necked dreams.
Allow me just once
To plaster the cracks in the sky of contemporary anguish.
Wearing a white shroud,
A formless silence sleeps in your courtyard.

And the sarcastic scrawl of the bleeding piles in the alphabetical chart swells up;
A mottled piglet tries to fondle grass…
The impotence inherent in good and evil;
The supernatural fingers caressing tresses of hair;
Female buffaloes of a high-yielding breed go on a rampage
In midnight’s outburst of ejaculations.
The master physicians handling them find themselves paralysed.
In a hall of mirrors there’s a chaos of mocking reflections…
How many images of oneself can one see?
Horses are being tattooed on my arms.
The creeping plant of my penis is about to flower.
Ibsen’s Doll is about to get married.
All this pining is to get out
Of this circular battle-trap.
The black truth seeks to ride the tortoise.
I see you on your moral path with the cataracts and the tear-peals in your anguished eyes.
After that, I remember your silent lips;
The distressed insect of your distorted body
Getting its wings painted.
The owl in the hollow of a tree intones its drone.
And you, you refuse to open the door of your perception.
Shall I now put on the boot of amazement on my lame foot?
Shall I now bell the cat?
Or shall I scrape off this intolerable grotesquery?
Shall I put out the flame
That glows between the beginning and the end?

The Day She Was Gone:Namdeo Dhasal

The Day She Was Gone

The day she was gone,
I painted my face black.
I slapped the savage schizophrenic wind hard in its face.
I picked up small pieces of my life
And stood naked in front of a cracked mirror.
I allowed me to wreak vengeance upon myself.
I stared condescendingly at the Sun and said, 'You screwball!'
I showered choice curses upon all artists who paint dreams;
I walked from the East towards the West;
I picked stones I found on the way and hurled them at myself,
How boisterously flows this water in its fit of laughter
Through mountains and gorges.
What ocean is it seeking to meet?
Or will it seep
Into the soil at sea-level?
Did even I belong to myself?
I could not even embrace her dead body
And cry my heart out.
The day she was gone,
I painted my face black.

Cruelty: Namdeo Dhasal


I am a venereal sore in the private part of language.
The living spirit looking out
of hundreds of thousands of sad, pitiful eyes
Has shaken me.
I am broken by the revolt exploding inside me.
There's no moonlight anywhere;
There's no water anywhere.
A rabid fox is tearing off my flesh with its teeth;
And a terrible venom-like cruelty
Spreads out from my monkey-bone.

Release me from my infernal identity.
Let me fall in love with these stars.
A flowering violet has begun to crawl towards horizons.
An oasis is welling up on a cracked face.
A cyclone is swirling in irreducible vulvas.
A cat has commenced combing the hairs of agony.
The night has created space for my rage.
A stray dog has started dancing in the window's eye.
The beak of an ostrich has begun to break open junk.
An Egyptian carrot is starting to savour physical reality.
A poem is arousing a corpse from its grave.
The doors of the self are being swiftly slammed shut.
There's a current of blood flowing through all pronouns now.
My day is rising beyond the wall of grammar.
God's shit falls on the bed of creation.
Pain and roti are being roasted in the same tandoor's fire.
The flame of the clothless dwells in mythologies and folklore.
The rock of whoring is meeting live roots;
A sigh is standing up on lame legs;
Satan has started drumming the long hollowness.
A young green leaf is beginning to swing at the door of desire.
Frustration's corpse is being sewn up.
A psychopathic muse is giving a shove to the statue of eternity.
Dust begins to peel armour.
The turban of darkness is coming off.
You, open your eyes: all these are old words.
The creek is getting filled with a rising tide;
Breakers are touching the shoreline.

Yet, a venom-like cruelty spreads out from my monkey-bone.

It's clear and limpid: like the waters of the Narmada river.

Speculations On A Shirt: Namdeo Dhasal

Speculations On A Shirt

Crossing over a period of painful love-play,
Let’s reject the traditional garden of conventions.
Let’s change the sex of Eve.
Let’s make Adam pregnant.
Let’s speculate beyond animal anxieties.
Hell’s quagmire.
The Moon acts like a pimp
In the history of human bonds.
The bull of sexual passion masticates
On a disembodied heath.
We sail in a sinking ship
And turn into savages.
Even just plain cloves burn our tongue;
And we are afraid of light.
This is how liberation itself punishes a human being.

A human being shouldn’t become so spotless.
One should leave a few stains on one’s shirt.
One should carry on oneself a little bit of sin.

Man, You Should Explode:Namdeo Dhasal

Man, You Should Explode

Man, you should explode
Yourself to bits to start with
Jive to a savage drum beat
Smoke hash, smoke ganja
Chew opium, bite lalpari
Guzzle country booze—if too broke,
Down a pint of the cheapest dalda
Stay tipsy day and night, stay tight round the clock
Cuss at one and all; swear by his mom’s twat, his sister’s cunt
Abuse him, slap him in the cheek, and pummel him…
Man, you should keep handy a Rampuri knife
A dagger, an axe, a sword, an iron rod, a hockey stick, a bamboo
You should carry acid bulbs and such things on you
You should be ready to carve out anybody’s innards without batting an eyelid
Commit murders and kill the sleeping ones
Turn humans into slaves; whip their arses with a lash
Cook your beans on their bleeding backsides
Rob your next-door neighbours, bust banks
Fuck the mothers of moneylenders and the stinking rich
Cut the throat of your own kith and kin by conning them; poison them, jinx them
You should hump anyone’s mother or sister anywhere you can
Engage your dick with every missy you can find, call nobody too old to be screwed
Call nobody too young, nobody too green to shag, lay them one and all
Perform gang rapes on stage in the public
Make whorehouses grow: live on a pimp’s cut: cut the women’s noses, tits
Make them ride naked on a donkey through the streets to shame them
Man, one should dig up roads, yank off bridges
One should topple down streetlights
Smash up police stations and railway stations
One should hurl grenades; one should drop hydrogen bombs to raze
Literary societies, schools, colleges, hospitals, airports
One should open the manholes of sewers and throw into them
Plato, Einstein, Archimedes, Socrates,
Marx, Ashoka, Hitler, Camus, Sartre, Kafka,
Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Ezra Pound, Hopkins, Goethe,
Dostoevsky, Mayakovsky, Maxim Gorky,
Edison, Madison, Kalidasa, Tukaram, Vyasa, Shakespeare, Jnaneshvar,
And keep them rotting there with all their words
One should hang to death the descendents of Jesus, the Paighamber, the Buddha, and Vishnu
One should crumble up temples, churches, mosques, sculptures, museums
One should blow with cannonballs all priests
And inscribe epigraphs with cloth soaked in their blood
Man, one should tear off all the pages of all the sacred books in the world
And give them to people for wiping shit off their arses when done
Remove sticks from anybody’s fence and go in there to shit and piss, and muck it up
Menstruate there, cough out phlegm, sneeze out goo
Choose what offends one’s sense of odour to wind up the show
Raise hell all over the place from up to down and in between
Man, you should drink human blood, eat spit roast human flesh, melt human fat and drink it
Smash the bones of your critics’ shanks on hard stone blocks to get their marrow
Wage class wars, caste wars, communal wars, party wars, crusades, world wars
One should become totally savage, ferocious, and primitive
One should become devil-may-care and create anarchy
Launch a campaign for not growing food, kill people all and sundry by starving them to death
Kill oneself too, let disease thrive, make all trees leafless
Take care that no bird ever sings, man, one should plan to die groaning and screaming in pain
Let all this grow into a tumour to fill the universe, balloon up
And burst at a nameless time to shrink
After this all those who survive should stop robbing anyone or making others their slaves
After this they should stop calling one another names white or black, Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, or Shudra;
Stop creating political parties, stop building property, stop committing
The crime of not recognising one’s kin, not recognising one’s mother or sister
One should regard the sky as one’s grandpa, the earth as one’s grandma
And coddled by them everybody should bask in mutual love
Man, one should act so bright as to make the Sun and the Moon seem pale
One should share each morsel of food with everyone else, one should compose a hymn
To humanity itself, man, man should sing only the song of man.

You who have Made the Mistake:Baburao Bagul

Baburao Bagul

You who have Made the Mistake

Those who leave for foreign lands,
Embrace other tongue, dress in alien garb
And forget this country
-them I salute.
And those who do not forget,
And don’t change even after being beaten up for centuries
-such hypocrites I ask:
What will you say if someone asked you-
What is untouchability?
Is it eternal like god?
What’s an untouchable like? What does he look like?
Does he look like the very image of leprosy?
Or like the prophet’s enemy?
Does he look like a heretic, a sinner, a profligate, or an atheist?
Tell me,
What will your answer be?
Will you reply without hesitation:
‘Untouchable- that’s me?’
That’s why I say-
You who have made the mistake of being born in this country
must now rectify it: either leave the country,
or make war!

Translated by Vilas Sarang

Ancient Mother Mine:Shiva Ingole

Shiva Ingole

Ancient Mother Mine

None but I
Have tattooed songs of liberty
On the bare torsos
And planted drums of defiance
On the lips
Of womenfolk here.
From then on, my ancient mother
Conceives not the progeny
Of the sun and the moon.
At such a juncture
Even the aged cows
Are not sold to the butcher
But here-
In the polluted atmosphere
Of vedantic wrangling
All Draupdis are
Auctioned in the bazaar
I run a school for bastardized mothers and sisters
Since then, my ancient mother
Scrapes together
Rags of freedom
To cover
Her naked bosom.

Translated by H.V.Shintre

Ultimatum:Yashwant Manohar

Yashwant Manohar


See this row of sunsets in the cracks of my eyes
Tell me how to live if at each moment one dies,
In this decisive darkness I seek for words,brother
Like one enclosed in a forest of flames forever I smother
And what if raise a piteous cry
In this well-appointed cemetery
Or rage against this settlement
Of leafless cannibal trees
On these accursed lips summer fires arise, brother
Set aflame by stormy winds
And each vein is alight with lamps of deadly venom
Tell me what seas would cool this burn
Or tell me how to live as I die at each moment’s turn.

The day attacks, a terrorist in the land of my brain
And nights never cease, the soul is aflame
Serried ranks of bone confront me at every step;
They surround me, laughing hideously,
Throughout my generations.
Tell me what place of rest this barred breast can earn
Or tell me h live as I die at each moment’s turn.

The sky here owns not a spot
That would afford a shade
To my beheaded breaths
The roads look strange, brother,
And so is the air
The rains do not let me
Break into a moonlight clear
What kinships should I dwell on for a moment
As I draw a covering of ocean over me
I feel a foreigner among the people
Bearing the burden of such a bastard life
Steming lava has dashed against my lips
O tell me what answer I should return
Or tell me how to live as I die at each moment’s turn.

Translated by Charudatta Bhagwat

Mute existence:Yusoja


Mute existence

On the roads laid out according to the plan
breaths thwarted till yesterday, crawled and sped along
And with each swing of these orphaned breaths
my mute existence was moved
and swayed as a pendulum.
The unscrupulous pundits awaken desire
in the stillborn womb of civilization,
flaunted overhead, naked placards
with slogans of purity and holiness
their metaphysical gymnastics trampled and
scattered my life, unbalanced already,
the life of the Dalits crushed
by tyrant stones of grinding inequality.
When it was hung upon a peg by the long leash
they had twisted and strung
Each angry wound faced by my blood turned
to speak with its neighbours
the language  of revolution.
Maybe in future to quench the thirst for triumph
each wet bloodline etched upon my heart
will scream and wail
And the evening will collapse in death
which is here burning in flames
Then to patch up the light of dawn
I will need some ruthless stitches
and perhaps to attain unity
the bleeding light in pain may try to befriend
every sun which has set
on this part of the planet.

Translated by Charudatta Bhagwat

A Poem: Umakant Randhir

Umakant Randhir

A Poem

Flourishing on your head
The gold crown of high caste birth
wrought by yourself alone)
to the throne of unquestioned supremacy
you cleaved very hard
through centuries together
like a pale house lizard!
Extolling the ratiocinative maze
Of the shastras and puranas
Belching fumes of fulfillment
You drove in a chariot
Drawn by horses three
Extracting obsequious servility
Of the obsolescent century.
But the blinded centuries
Lying prostrate at your feet
Are burnt down to ashes
In the funeral pyre of time
Now, in this space age
Your intellectual vanity is bust
And your throne? There it lies
Pulverized into the dust.

Translated by H.V.Shintre

White Paper: Sharankumar Limbale

Sharankumar Limbale

White Paper

I do not ask
For the sun and moon from your sky
Your farm,your land,
Your high houses or mansions
I do not ask for gods or rituals,
Castes or sects
Or even  for your mother, sisters, daughters.
I ask for
My rights as a man.
Each breath from my lungs
Sets off a violent trembling
In your texts and traditions
Your hells and heavens
Fearing pollution.
Your arms leapt together
To bring to ruin our dwelling places.
You’ll beat me, break me,
Loot and burn my habitation
But my friends!
How will you tear down my words
Planted like a sun in the east?
My rights: contagious caste riots
Festering city by city, village by village,
Man by man
For that’s what my rights are-
Sealed off, outcast, road-blocked, exiled.
I want my rights, give me my rights.
Will you deny this incendiary state of things?
I’ll uproot the scriptures like railway tracks.
Burn like a city bus your lawless laws
My friends!
My rights are rising like the sun.
Will you deny this sunrise?

Translated by Priya Adarkar

Blood-wave:Daya Pawar

Daya Pawar


My ear pressed to your side
Heavy with child,
I hear rumours of the ocean.\the waves of blood swelling out
From a body fulfilled.
The mine nudging the seaward is
eager for its first glimpse
Of the universe.
Fists tight..clenched for a blow,
The life small as a fist
is aflame with ardour.
But you are so desolate…why desolation?
Do you fear-
As our generations gave lifelong battle
Battered by wind and rain
Our birthing bed arrayed
Under a palm leaf thatch
Feasting off gruel
Boiled rolling on our cooking fires
Do you fear,
As our generations grown bull-strong, bull-bumped
Pulling the village like a cart,
Became lifeless lumps worth mud,
he too will be mud?
Truly , if he is to be
Thus crushed and lifeless
Then-remember the Greek Myth?-
As soon as the cord is cut
Let’s burn, scorch, hire-harden him
In leaping flames. This phoenix
Feeding on live coals
Will brave the powerful skies
And all that this nation never offered
To you or me- the joy, the glory-
He will pull down to his feet.

Translated by Priya Adarkar