I enjoy solitary walks on the side of the murky
lake with its gluttonous fish and their unthinking feeders.
It’s therapeutic, I tell myself.
The grey-green grass, dew kissed leaves and dark marshy footpath-
They’re all part of the poet’s parcel.
I’m supposed to love these kinds of places.
Some days, I pay the men with the horses exorbitant amounts
so I’d have a pony to pretend was mine.
The ones I got were always ordinary,
ordinary as the dull grey pigeons that shit all over the city
buildings in New Delhi.
In Shillong, the lake is more alive
but the fish have dull eyes as they gather beneath
the bridge, fighting for their bread crumbs
and corn chips.
The water reeks of death
like someone was murdered and drowned
as naive fish watched and waited.
This poem was written in response to the ISIS bombing of Palmyra, a major historical site in Syria. Many say that this terrorist group has destroyed the ‘Venice of the Sands’ and some would even go so far as to say, that the heart of Syrian history has been ripped apart. As a lover of history myself, it was always a dream to go see Palmyra. But now, all that’s left is bombed rubble and stone. But what is even more heart breaking is the people that have lost their lives to ISIS. On the first day, when ISIS captured Palmyra, I read that seventeen people were killed. I am not sure whether that is an accurate figure but I know that innocent blood was spilled. I realize that more than anything, the heart of Syria has been ripped apart because of the people that die in the name of religion. I wish people would go beyond differences and learn to love each other simply, without complexities. This poem reflects my aching heart as I think about the middle east and the blood that is shed. For now, I can only pray. (more…)
Where the birds of steel land and take off all day
Where seagulls glide on the wings of salty breeze
Where sailboats of blaring techno drift on waters
Of ancient history and few respond to the call to prayer
Beer and laughter are not enough to set the slaves free
And the cries of sexual pleasure are soon followed
By screams of fleeing friends drowning before the eyes
Of their mad captors who had made much already
On buses of air-conditioned relief ride men with faces
Determined to earn a living and skimpy women with hair
Bleached into blondes and sunglasses like tentative butterflies
From sidewalks of cafes and retail headscarf mothers window shop
And talk with string-topped adolescent daughters
From parks on cliffs wrinkled men with walking sticks watch
A sun dipping into the ocean of the other side of the world
On the fringe of the city lives a dying community
Where the drug peddler grows his marijuana
On a terrace and buys a second hand car
Where the wounds of a diabetic man are not healing
And the fingers of his arthritic wife are crooked
Where the good hearted foreigner goes to help
And he takes his friends with him and they wash
The children’s hair and give them chocolates
From America and try to speak their language
Beyond the haze where water ends and mountains begin
Between verdant ranges where cotton-clouds waft lazy
Shepherds with their virgin sheep feed on healthy earth
They tread the paths of yesteryears and know a little
Of life across the sea where buildings and parks
Men and women from countries that have lost hope
Supermarkets of yoghurt, lamb and things processed
Cobblestoned streets of trinket sellers and ruined churches
Breathe like a middle-aged man knowing half his life has gone
This is a guest post by Almond Syiem. He is passionate about poetry, songwriting, jazz and Jesus whom he has been following for two decades in weakness, mostly. His works have appeared in several journals and magazines including Indian Literature, The New Welsh Review and Poetry India’s Soulful Whispers. He recently brought out an e-book, Sleepless which showcases a few of his poems set to stunning photography by Tim Wallis. He is married to Bameri and has two teenage children, Beth and Hamesan. Originally from one of the creative hubs of the country, Shillong in north east India, he now lives in West Bengal. (more…)