THE ARMED POET
Homage to Wallace Stevens, the poet thrice armed
with faith, language, and Law
The language of the ever-drafted ephebe, contingent
On his perception of the sun as the sun before
It becomes Apollo or the custodian of the poet’s initiation
Into an ever-changing language leaves the poet
With a paradox. Expressed in innuendos, derisions,
And metaphors, that’s his war between the earth and the sky
A hero’s death on quasi-virtual war-fields hindering his tears.
Our chrysalis-minds, double in vision, since early childhood,
Contain objects as objects and project them while in maturity,
We reach for their metaphysics while we stand on a misty mountain.
The poet returns from the flux of the ocean and is refreshed
Within a moment’s epiphany while walking among the city’s
Buildings like the reflections of Blake’s Jerusalem governed
By order and grace where gang warfare is a treason forsaken.
In the city, the poet loves a shapely woman as a mother eternal
Who gently conveys a laser transparency to her children,
Granting them a self-burgeoning into reality through corporeal
But flawed words within the peace of a kept room.
The poet’s sublime fiction, the Imagination, renders the magnolia
With its fallen leaves, fresh through childish candour. He hides
The desire of what he lacks but invents till infinity, his evasion.
Two poems on William Hogarth whose etchings of the ills in 18th century London can be an analogy for the pandemic-stricken society of the 21st.
In Hogarth’s forlorn night, the drunk freemason
who forbid gin in town stumbled home
through the old cobble-stones. The bonfire
in the centre burst into flames when a horse
carriage with its huge reversed wheel crushed
down on the fire, glowing like a volcano.
The fire warmed the homeless huddled
to sleep under a rough badged shelter
like new-borns in a maternity. Counterpoint.
Some terracotta dishes stood aligned on the roof’s
edge containing some patients’ blood like the molten
candle-wax of snuffed-out candles drawn out
in the same vein as the hair-shafts of his client’s
nose by the barber-surgeon. In dire curiosity,
the beacon-boy glimpses on the fire-struck street.
THE GIN EPIDEMIC, 1751
A mother’s syphilitic leg is separated from
a dying poet by the dog of despair. The skeletal
poet personifying Death stares blindly before him,
his ballad “The downfall of Mr. Gin” lying near him.
Clasping the breasts of his phlegmatic mother
with his small legs, the gin-soaked toddler topples
down the banister to his untimely death.
The Covid-19 pandemic now sprawls
through the dark entrails of our cities
like the cocaine-crack for which passers-by
are violated for a few gratuitous wanton pounds.
In Hogarth’s pawnbroker, a woman trades
her tea-pot to buy the gin that will gnaw
her vital organs like the acid that corrodes
the caustic incisions of Hogarth’s etching.
The interferometer that chronicled terrains
in relief, conceded mapping the ignorant anger,
empathy, pity, and impotence I had felt
as a young girl, when you, father, were
harshly threatened by exclusion.
The letter I wrote you on the boat
travelling to the Aegean island remained
unachieved due to high seas. I remember
writing the letter while waves surged into a storm
thinking of you and my grandmother,
a tall Caucasian lady, who kept black
moleskin journals in her native language.
Our close bond kept me in the security of home.
The boat journey turned out to be
as unsettling as my fugues’ fantasized
mutability. Like the currents that moved the seas,
the letter was again amended when my son
suffered trauma as a fugue-child
and my husband was transferred
to a city with a foreign language.
The letter that brought the passengers
back to the port outside the capital, father,
remains lost. Ironically, my architect boyfriend
whom you had met presaged I would
solely become a lay-astronomer.
The telescope would temper my apperception.