Five Poems by Ashok Niyogi


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in cupped hands
rose petals
lotus leaves
on water breeze
in return nothing
only buds of rose


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Walking About In Ajmer*


this lathe grinds fine
within balls of fire
head tonsured
on foot walks
watery in afternoon sun
this season’s mangoes
outside the vodka shop

emperors walked barefoot
the ask the sun for a son
boon granted
the corn is dull yellow

dynasties outgrew
this gate
that once led
to crossroads
of the moonlight
a huge red fort
and a hospital for the birds

let me buy you
a mirror-work skirt
in atonement for puppets
heavy on string
dew zoomed in
by the muezzin

while you grow roses
in your basil garden**
and my money plant runs amok


*Ajmer, in Rajasthan, near Delhi has the shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (1138-1225 AD), the famous Sufi saint.


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I Took Pictures


so it has come to this
hungry bulls with their balls cut off
cows who cry because their udders are dry
this is a perishing garbage hunt
without brasseries
automatons with nose rings
perky like my granddaughters are
towards grass flowers

they say the next avatar
will be a horse out of the east
not as east as we are
where horses carry grooms
calculate dowry
and then chew their emaciated food
until death does us part

your river has walked away
pitiably waterless
melons grow now
in those nooks and crannies
where you stole clothes
which melons are sweeter
the dust bears witness
to sweetness
vagabonds gambol with monkeys
and boats laugh

the immediate question is
do monkeys have enough to eat
or widows or the blind pilgrims
beggars from districts who thought
that monkeys are god


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I did not like the chanting today
the Scandinavian’s body hair
has turned from golden to white
and someone from Leicester Square
danced like an idiot spruced up
in religion and a saree with hijaab
Silicon Valley with Stanford
kept repeatedly prostrating
to emphasize
make concise and clear
and turned round and round
like a dervish who is surely not song

the nose ring took it away
from the oxen
who also had nose rings
before they discovered
you paid for the crop

I must have been demented
to titillate garlands that
can be stitched
together with fragrant flowers
in this there is no orgasm
women cross-legged beneath marble
and vermillion that tells no stories

where are you
they have opened a three sixty five day store
and the policemen drove away the papaya
you will have to pare pineapples in your old age
and granddaughters will promenade
all the things we still plan to do

he disappointed
even while coming and going
that fairies don’t fly
why should tomorrow ever begin
to sing
of water and grass
monkey-nuts roasted in a life
that stares at your
brilliant black eyes
towards the end
he cries


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in the anemia of broken roads
the parrot call
is still as sweet as the red insides
of guavas in the afternoon
when she surely sleeps
beggars on steps that tumble
upon steps are not aggressive
and ripened corn through the view-finder
is parochial
so many widows whose begging
is like selling sex
so many hunch-backed cows
so much bramble
that black camels eat

her doors are beaten silver
and she is small
with big black eyes
that she will not blink
at this wind-swept light
merciless on the cornices
the monkeys travel long distances

to his conjecture
where beggars more aggressive
and therefore get
food and money
excess flowers
and even monkeys know
it is forbidden to climb
on cell phone towers

to your house or fort
or castle where you played
exuberant pre-menstrual games
to your wind-swept heights
I give you your small black idol
I give you
your incredible eyes


* Barsana is a village about a hundred kilometers south east of Delhi where Sri Radha (Lord Krishna’s consort and prime devotee) is said to have been born and spent her childhood.

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