Madhu Singh's Poems
|Madhu Singh, New Delhi|
1. Under the moon lantern
Tonight I write with ink of the night
under the moon-lantern my quill traces a doomed star's path
its feathered plume casts indigo on barren clouds
I undrape velvet off mute mountains
pouring quicksilver on tired sketches and stretched lines
to smoothen a verse
I flow in a river of words unsaid
each wave leaps to be the first to drench the tip of my silent tongue.
Look, how coolly he lances suppuration—
with an aseptic stare meets yellow stench.
Pouring a scald of peroxide, for good measure,
and a badinage of lightly flung words
to wrap a decade of untogetherness.
The russet past will rise, will surface,
will heal, leaving a scar.
And she, rising in a tender, crimson swell,
awaits an understanding of suppressants,
a prick of forgetfulness,
scratching the itch of a severed limb.
I've birded with binoculars for so long
that now, every pore on my body will sprout a feather
fine, ecru fuzz that soon spreads all over
all winter I’ll voraciously eat meagre meals brought to me
and stayed nestled on my fifth floor perch
until dull down deepens, flowers into resplendent feathers
I'll become less and less woman
as clothes chafe my tender plumage
and soil hurts my claws
come summer, as nightly ink dissolves into fuchsia
I'll spread my ample wings and take off
into the unhindered cerulean to never return
4. Where’s all the philosophy gone?
Our world was mostly water
as were we
we unfurled into it
almost sailing through
But there were moments
when the earth stood stock-still
its dead oceans mirrored black holes above
swallowing our stars
In that unmoving air
our eyes became deep pools
and we dived into ourselves to see
atmaiva hi atmano bandhur atmaiva ripur atmanah
(*the self indeed is a friend of itself, the self verily is its own enemy)
5. The sea where lost dreams go to die.
when all the salt of sabi
trickles from almond pools
into all that's hollow and empty
to form a brackish ocean
with red-rimmed corals
sea-anemones arms flail
like swaying uchiwa fans
as seagulls fly by silently
over a Basho autumn dusk
the hundredth league of the briny deep
mirrors a rough stretch of the milky-way
and countless gemstones on the sea bed
light up the dark womb of the sky as stars
in such a fleeting moment of perfect harmony
when wordless grief is beauty
all drowned dreams surface and float
like messages in blue bottles
in the view of a passing ship
as waves lap its hull
its windless sails
carry them forth to a forgotten shore
where in an abandoned lighthouse
a lamp still burns on cold rainy nights
then on a sun-lit golden beach
a white sea-shell is picked
and its open gape sealed by the hollow of an ear
which hears all those whispered wishes.
6. Colaba’s vignette
Running on water and seashells:
The abandoned lighthouse is a short run
from the neap-tide shingled beach
she goes on olive-mossed-bare-girl-feet
comes back heavy with water of the perigee moon.
The tycoon walks his German Shepherd
Every evening his silent stride
measures the ferry-wharf timbers
straining on a tight-held leash
wind and tail thump the boards
in groans of ayes and nays.
Remo plays at the bandstand
It was three decades ago,
yet, in misty dreams
the sand still scrunches
his gravelly Goan blues.
Juhi’s Ice-cream treat
She bubbled like pink champagne
on new found Bollywood stardom
we ‘Baskined and Robbined’
our Bombay summer itch.
As the crow flies
It is seven miles to the horizon
where ship-eyes wink bonne-nuits
the night-sky devours seagulls
covering dusk with raven wings.
A column of memories
Like seven vows around a fire
we circumambulate the lighthouse one last time
its curved walls are chalked in fading coal
with graffiti of names, hearts and cupid arrows
the sea and air are salted
with the promises of young love
the inner chamber echoes
with whispers of an older vintage
long fallen to ashes and dust
nowhere else seems apt
to empty the urn of yesterday's reminiscing
back to the sea and wind.
7. Lockdown Triptych
Last night, late May rain drummed down on the tarpaulin. With each thunder-roll and restless toss it drenched my dreams, leaving its mossy imprint on my morning tongue, waking a tired grey sky.
Dawn's brief idyll done, afternoon looms. The air sears with ennui to the noise of a slow ceiling fan.
Dead leaves awhirl in dust, broken reeds yellowing in cracked marshlands, the flight of feathered things one by one.
There’s a hum of absent spring. A faint echo of daisies on empty flowerbeds. Though a smog swallowed orb seems to have forgotten its hue, remains of last night’s bonfire will paint a sesame moon.