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Isthmus of Time: Poems by Anshuman Gaur

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anshuman-poems1An Anthem for the Fallen

Once the storm has passed

Once the dust has settled down

Who remembers the blood-sworn vow?

The cloud serpent

Again, steals the water-womb.

The sacrifices made

At the altar of trade

An uneasy head wears the broken crown.

 

On the banks of Yamuna

A little girl writes feverishly.

Red lines on blank sheets drawn

We can’t hear what she says

We can’t read what she writes

Her unseeing eyes hold

The panic of a closing gate.

We act bold

But the weight,

Of not knowing what she meant

Strangles our hope.

 

We know how urgent this is.

We know how urgent.

We know how.

We know.

 

Why won’t she tell?

On the land is cast an imperious spell.

The old covenant has since been torn,

Slow-moving, tortured every thought

A python engorged on its kill

As it crawls-off, to spawn.

No light we see, though it is dawn.

Was this the blessed, signaled morn?

 

I dreamt of snakes

In a dance of love

On the floor of our terraced gardens.

Desquamated

Born again

Fangs bared

She rushes in

Her hot thighs beckon

The promise of instant nirvana.

Her bosom hints

The lusciousness of enduring youth.

 

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu…

Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu…

Why does her indulgence scare you?

 

We all must now conform

With an old, aphoristic norm.

For obeying your commandments,

What have we to show?

We exchange,

Old fears for terrors new

Some keep searching for their garnets blue.

 

The eulogies we wrote

To those ordained chaste,

The songs we sang were born in hate.

We must assign our myths a date

History will make those murderers great.

 

Matinee

 

You are speech and I am the breath.

I am Saman and you are Rig;

I am heaven and you are earth.

-Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

6.4.20

 

As dusk mops up the blood

Of a day not yet dead

In a lane that goes nowhere

Your fingers slip from mine.

We say our goodbyes

Better unheard, better unsaid.

In that cheap hotel room

The sheets dampened by our lust

Beyond the wavy window panes

Hangs the dust

Rising from a thousand tired feet.

You sacrificed your breath

To tell me what I almost knew

Noises from the street filtered through.

 

We browsed through the burdened shelves

For the most ridiculous title.

A stolen glance; A shared smile

You wore oversized shades

Feeble attempts at anonymity.

The move was not suicidal

But in defiance

You decided, to take a stand.

A brief but very public embrace.

We were strangers, in a strange land

It raised no eyebrows.

Your laughter still tinkles,

When one opens the door

of that old bookstore.

 

The bridge between now and eternity

The narrow isthmus of time.

A past without your thought

A future without your memory

Just the burning now.

We are not free not to desire

Choose, without a choice.

A walk along the razor’s edge.

‘Don’t be so dramatic,’ you say

As you turn back and with half a wave

drive to the airport for your flight.

I take the next ferry out.

It is over, we shall pretend.

A story has no beginning or end.

 

Anamnesis

 

We were like young lovers

Breathless, feverish,

Teasing, laughing.

 

Now I watch your face

Coarsened by lard

Your once sweet breath

Laden with the nicotine

of too many clove cigarettes.

 

I could not hold on,

I was a fool

I was not strong

I had no help,

Against the storm.

I was not the barnacle

That clings to rocks in the tide pool,

Un-dislodged

Lashed by wave and kelp.

 

I hold the rosebuds

As they turn to ashes in my hands.

Run across,

The blood swept lands and seas of red

As they stain my thighs.

 

I lay on my bed

Dismembered.

I cried that night

And became one with the pain.

Anamnesis

Fragmented, Refracted

More felt than remembered.

anshuman-photo(Blending meditations on time and the human condition in these thought-tormented times, these poems are part of diplomat Anshuman Gaur’s debut collection, entitled “Isthmus of Time.” Termed “a voyage of exploration” by the poet, Isthmus of Time comprises 28 poems, which flit effortlessly between free verse and experimental rhyme to illuminate a rich repertoire of emotions, ideas and myths, modern and ancient).


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