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Creation and Criticism

ISSN: 2455-9687  

(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal

Devoted to English Language and Literature)

Jan-April 2020

Poetry


The Black Experience and Other Poems — Susheel K Sharma


Dr Susheel Kumar Sharma (1962) has been serving the University of Allahabad as a Professor of English since 2003. He has published four books, thirty-five research papers, five interviews and twenty-eight book-reviews. A collection of more than thirty reviews of his first poetry book, ‘From the Core Within’ (1999, ISBN: 81-85231- 27-3) has been published under the title Bricks and Bouquets (Ed. Sanjeev Kumar, New Delhi: Creative Books, 2008). Prof Sharma’s second collection of poems ‘The Door is Half Open’ (New Delhi: Adhyayan, 2012) has been received very well. Some of his poems have been translated into Assamese, French, Hindi, Lithuanian, Serbian and Turkish languages. Prof. Sharma lives with his family at Vishrut, 5 MIG, Govindpur, Near Uptron Crossing, Allahabad – 211 004, India. He can be contacted through e-mail: susheelsharma.avap@gmail.com.


 

1. The Black Experience

 

Even before

I could make out your mien

I started moving towards you.

You were a black patch

In the whites’ territory

Your tongue was red;

It spitted only abuses

And hurled curses on

That short and plump bully trader

Who called himself

A follower of Jesus

And thought himself

To be an angel of mercy.

Where was the god of justice,

When he slyly

Pushed my son away

Into a different cabin?

When I spoke Kingwana

And you Mande, could we talk?

Was any communication possible

Except about our wounds

And agonies?

Yes, we could pray to

Jesus about our welfare;

And he prayed for more profit

To the same lord.

 

2. Kabir’s Chadar

 

Unlike Kabir’s chadar

Mine was thickly woven.

Kabir’s was white but mine

Patterned with various beautiful designs

In dark but shining colours.

 

Who at a young age would like

To exchange it with a white one?

 

A white one has its own perils

One could not put it anywhere

And everywhere.

However careful one is

In keeping it spotless

It gets a spot or two

Which are pointed out

Even by a blind from a distance.

 

Mine remains spotless

Even if I put it on the table

In the evening

Or, if I put round me

While travelling in a crowded bus

Or, if I hang it

On the peg

Beyond the reach of

My innocently naughty grandchild.

Even the blood stains of abortion

The burn marks of jealousy

The blotches of over-ambition

The pigments of infamy

 

The splatter of calumny

The spatter of canards

The invectives of distrust

Go unnoticed on mine.

 

When it started smelling foul in

My closed house after the rains

I thought of giving it

To the washerwoman.

And she said

It was too dirty to be cleaned

And returned with same brightness.

 

I did not believe her words.

And put it in my washing machine

Using the powder as advised

By the fair model on my TV set

But, only to be cheated.

 

How could Kabir

Afford to return his chadar

As he had obtained it?

 

Does the clue lie in

Thinness or whiteness?

 

3. A Voice

 

I

A poem is born

When a novice places

His hand on the mouse

And the cursor shifts quickly

From one position to another.

Instead of clicking on

Love, the word lust is selected.

The movement of the cursor

Is as swift as that of the fingers

From the beloved’s curvy back

To her creamy thighs

On the screen

Flashes a small bed

On which two lovers are caressing each other.

There is a sudden power break-down

The screen turns blank.

The metaphor remains incomplete.

The poem has to start afresh.

 

II

What do you do

To make your living,

Was a question put to a poet

That made me go spinning.

 

I wander into the

Realm of monasteries

Thudding hearts and

Drumming minds kept

Carefully stacked in the frozen

 

Discontents of ancient civilizations

Under the threat of

A nuclear war.

I wonder at the artist

Who creates a poem

From a stone

In the burning sun

With no water

Anywhere around.

 

I marvel at the

Straight lines on a

Blank white page

That has turned pale

Weathering temperature

That goes up and down

With the movement of the Sun.

 

Where are the seven

Horses that drive the cart?

What colour do they have?

How heavy are they

What is their mettle/metal?

 

The clouds are so light

How can they carry

So much of water?

Can water fly

From one continent

To another?

Can prayers fly

To another sky unaided?

How do they bring grace

That pours on the sinners

From various sticks?

I am no Buddha

Nor a Christ

Nor even Hanuman.

Why should someone

Pay me for

Such thorny questions

And sedimented foot-falls?

 

4. The Unborn Poem

 

I’m looking for a plumber

To check the leaking of symbols

Which may be stored in

The tank up above in the sky

To be borrowed and

Used at afternoon tea-time

When images have to be

Boiled along with rhyme

And rhythm to be served

With cookies laced with

Black and bitter-sweet

Like chokola memories.

 

The traffic jam of emotions,

Lines – sweet and sour

And the collision of ideas

Don’t let the pen move.

The poem remains a mirror,

A shadow, a mirage, a stain.

Irony, satire, humour, jamboree

Stare at the enjambment.

 

The unsoiled paper

Has silver hopes.

 

The epitaph needs

To precede

The poem.

 

5. Stories from the Mahabharata

 

I

Cacophonies of lectures.

Thousands of feet fall.

The fish play under the bridge.

 

II

Sinners come in hordes.

Vyas bows down to Krishna;

Vaishampayan narrates to purify.

 

III

Janmejaya decides to live.

Lord Vishnu rests on Sheshnag.

The yajña cannot annihilate cobras.

 

IV

The sun turns northwards.

Winter descends on Hastinapur.

Ganga is ready to receive her son.

 

V

Dharma and moksha hang on a tree.

Seers watch avariciously.

Vyas fathers three sons.

 

VI

Pandu kills a deer.

Kunti becomes a mother.

Gods oblige Madri too.

 

VII

Blue blood occupies throne.

The maid’s son reads books.

History is rewritten.

 

VIII

The toddler needs milk.

The mother fools him.

The teacher turns a tutor.

 

IX

The dog can’t bark anymore.

The tutor shows loyalty.

A Bhil’s son loses his thumb.

 

X

Is Krishna around?

The princes do not believe.

Draupadi’s honour is saved.

 

XI

The braid is flowing.

The conch is blowing.

Horses are whinnying.

 

XII

Thousands of tents stand.

Dharma is discussed every evening.

The queens continue to wail.

 

XIII

The disciple shoots an arrow.

The Guru blesses.

The battle is won.

 

XIV

The son is entangled.

The helpless father decides to burn.

The sun shines again.

 

XV

To make out water in land is difficult.

Suyodhan turns Duryodhan.

Krishna keeps on smiling.

 

XVI

Arjuna pierces the eye of the fish.

Krishna suggests abduction of Subhadra.

The eyeless king loses hope.

 

XVII

Karna cheats Parashurama.

Shiva accepts Arjuna as a disciple.

Dushyasan disrobes Draupadi.

 

XVIII

Keechak is killed with his brothers.

Dharma is re-established.

Balrama does not react.

 

XIX

Defeated Dharmaraja is a pauper.

He gathers a great army.

No news is a great news.

 

XX

Krishna is to be imprisoned.

Kunti stops Krishna’s chariot.

Bhishma blesses Pandavas.

 

XXI

Arjuna abjures his Gandiva.

Krishna displays his cosmic form.

Bhishma reveals the divine secret.

 

XXII

Abhimanyu dares.

The great warriors rejoice.

Dharma stares into eyes of the eyeless.

 

XXIII

Sanjay becomes the eye

To trace the layers of silt

In Dhritarashtra’s mind.

 

XXIV

With eyes bandaged

The queen stood nearby.

Disrobing wasn’t witnessed.

 

XXV

The prince becomes Brihannala.

Dancing is necessary

To the tune of the flute.