(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal
Devoted to English Language and Literature)
I. K. Sharma (1932) is the first Indian English poet of Rajasthan. His first collection of poems The Shifting Sand-dunes (1976) earned praise from critics, and a couple of its poems were included in Voices of Emergency (1983) edited by John Oliver Perry. He is the first translator of contemporary Rajasthani poetry. His poetry collections include The Shifting Sand-dunes (1976), The Native Embers (1986), Dharamsala and Other Poems (1993), Camel, Cockroach, and Captains (1998), My Lady, Broom and Other Poems (2004), End to End (2008), and Collected Poems (2010) and Nirantaram (2016). He was invited to attend All India Poets Meet, Asian Poets Meet, World Congress of Poets in India, Thailand, and USA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are a perfect poem in pink
in five sensuous stanzas
gracefully drawn, precisely punctuated,
each word of a line
soft, gentle, and light—
rises rhythmically to a tune
flowing in waves between the restraining banks,
fuse finally content and craft
into the golden crest.
Each stanza has an element of its own:
earth, fire, wind, water, or sky—
all growing into one another
blossom at every sunrise
look three ways with myriad eyes
open, tender, and kind—
at the rolling ripples of mankind.
A bay window of the poet’s mind,
the standing vision of joyous poetry.
Desert is a grand epic briskly composed
in free verse at night. Dunes
are the irregular lines of its form.
Their height depends upon the weight
of emotion and intensity of feeling
they hold within. They rise
with the tempo of making.
The hero of the epic is camel—
tall, handsome, fearless,
who moves between spaces,
and blunts the assaults of thorns
that lie in ambush or otherwise;
distance collapses beneath his feet,
water shrinks into its private bowls,
the sun on the horizon kneels down
and offers apology
at the end of the day;
the lotus of the land—vipers and scorpions,
show up in the backyard
to practice their sins,
he lets them;
he comes back home
to hug the folds
of his trusted sand
amid moon and stars.
An epic you can’t slam shut!
3. Missing Point
Years passed we didn’t reach
the place at hand, with ease,
each day widened the breach.
What was Moon is now Mars.
Long we journeyed in maze,
went round, lost our ways,
never to reach the chosen place.
The Sun defined the home far off.
Howlers caught us, abound,
raised dust, haze and sound,
heavy, tempting, unkind.
Lost our antennae—the mixed-up mind.
We could not smell the point,
hopes gone, broken joints,
the ghost simmered in mind.
The smoke sent its relevant points.
Words died before the speech came.
Tears froze before the moon went home.
The caravan marched through the night
in the desert catching missing point.
The doomed city:
never known for harmony and peace;
hear you may the lamentations of girls,
cries of old women, weeping of dimple cheeks.
The city in which the first gang-rape
conceived and celebrated with ‘elan
on the floor of a ‘running’ court.
No word flew from the sterilized clan.
The tower of strength e n l a r g e d into a tower of silence!
In the city of Dushanan
the watchman uniformly sleeps,
and the sinner roams the streets,
toying here, trying there, in style.
His soul, stubborn, dwells here,
adheres to its own pattern, design,
blesses its soil without raising voice,
whether rags or silk, day or night.
His blood, mark, lies at its root.
It rises many a time from dust
but refuses to leave the ground.
It neither rusts nor dies.
5. The Taming of a Poet
With his head in the clouds, he asked:
‘Where does this path go?’
‘It doesn’t go anywhere.
People come and go along it’,
said the old woman at the spinning wheel.
‘Who are you, by the way?’
carried she on mockingly, knowingly.
‘We are Travellers’
‘Travellers! Travellers are Sun and Moon.
Tell me who you are’
‘Short-lived human beings. Fleeting, momentary—
‘Treasure and youth’ are momentary. Not to be relied on,
say our Puranas’
Face lost colour. Gathered, he said
‘We are Kings’
‘Only two kings: Yama and Indra’
Nervously he added:
‘I am that Magnanimous Soul that pardons all’
‘Oh! Can you be more magnanimous than the Earth and Woman?
No, no, You are someone else’
‘Mother, I have lost—
‘No, Son! He alone loses who loses his character, and also
he who borrows money’
Felt he as if thrown in a pit.
She resumed, ‘I know, Mahapandit, who you are—
The Learned Poet Magh—
‘Modesty, not arrogance, becomes the learned’.