The Peregrine Muse
 

Grasshopper


late morning in an artist's studio 

half-baked clay models looking back

blankly at him as he browses through

a pile of thoughts


life is a rusty iron door 

with squeaky windows that greet light 

through moth-holed curtains


in his share of skyscape

he can see rabbit clouds at play 

which makes him envision 

a youthful grasshopper 

leaping with verve from autumn 

to autumn


once in a summer's noon he indulged 

the whims of an Aphrodite 


a mocking smile reproaches him 

and he returns to the doleful hour

as he swallows the bad taste in his mouth


no locust swarms

nothing more than a helpless gaze

of Hephaestus in the mirror

one who hears none but his own hammer

in the last tinge of spring





Haiku


1.


smell of earth

a butterfly flickers

by the grave


2.


again, your silence

the gloom surrounding

a poet's grave


3.


the hollow

inside dad's cupboard ...

cologne of sundays


4.


unblown rose ...

her smile floats

all around us





Haiku


1.

giggling girls --

sparrows on the hunt

in spring


2.


plop

the moon breaking into

memories


3.

lighting a fire --

your eyes turn

stone cold


4.

prattle of rain

althrough the day

a nagging dream





Tanka


1.


'I'd carve out

six thousand steps

for love' -

a butterfly soars

higher


2.

surrounded

by the fragrant bloom

of wildflowers ...

our home has no fence

our roses no thorns


3.

waterfowls

would some day hit upon

two graves

lying side by side

in the silence of the woods





Haiku


1.


quick coffee —

the sparrow’s flutter

in a puddle

 

2. 


illumined globe

the shadow line catches me

at your  dawn



[A tribute to Pandit Ravi Shankar]


sitar thrums

why  some tunes dry up

with autumn





Tanka


tsunami siren

in the middle of the storm 

making me shrink -- 

is god breaking up 

the Seventh Seal?





Haiku

 

1.

 

growing sun

softness lingers

in your eyes

 

2.

 

last night’s rain

settling

at all corners


3.

 

preening dove --

don’t shake off the dream

you’re tangled to

 

 

4.

 

glistening  troughs --

stories of conquest and

upright mast

 

 

5.

 

moon glow

chalking out the route

to the treasure






Haiku in  Autumn

 

1.

 

croton leaves

the boy’s face lit up

by a mellow sun

 

2.

 

a puff of breeze

the cat turns on its belly

in afternoon

 

3.

 

the bench

your absence

in a fiery garden

 

4.

 

a woodpecker calls

from a distance throughout

the woods

 

5.

 

the path narrows

I lose you in the middle of

 golden ruins

 




The day Albert died


1.


afterfeather

floating in spring breeze

a  violin sound


2.


the tobacco smell

hanging in his study

particles of dust


3.


the trail of a jet …

speeds towards the horizon

a hearse


4.


last song of the day

a song-bird

at the cemetery



5.


fading

in ether, the echo

of  footsteps



(In memory of Albert Einstein)






Tanka


1.


a reunion

of rain clouds

at twilight

each droplet echoing

my solitude


2.


leaping

in and out of their pool

tail-less thinkers

reveal the quote of the day

‘Life is… bringing the inside out’






Haiku inspired by  Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Potato Eaters’


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Potato_Eaters


(Starting from the left)

First Man:


    had I been...

    the soft clutter

    on a dinner plate


First Woman :


    his eyes

    gathering  pearls

    in a dream


Second Man :


    the dim light

    my extra effort

    to  smile


Second Woman :


    another night

    feeding those mouths

    all open


Fifth Peasant :


    voices

    dying slowly

    the flame






Rural Haiku


sun above

grass tips; a rooster

cocking its head


tribal dance —

the scent of earth

after a shower


playground

the searching eyes

of a squirrel






In Memory of Helen Keller:

 

I. The Child


punching away

holes on a cardboard...

the train starts

 

magnolia leaves

falling in an afternoon

old Belle and I

 

no lessons learnt—

the doll with no eyes

lying on the floor

 

November night

an onlooker by my open

window

 

3rd March 1887...

piercing through dense fog

a voyage of light

 

feeling the chill

of water against palms

my first words

 

a  conjurer

pulls up a trick--

the fresh sea breeze

 

piano hammers

working up and down—

rhythm of waves

 

Love

the sweetness pouring

from clouds



II. The Grown Up Helen

 

sailing away

to distant lands

Ivy Green summer

 

canoeing

a little fish slips

through my fingers

 

bird songs--

geometry classes

in Braille

 


III. The Philosopher


earthquake—

the news of Hiroshima

muted

 

i embrace

the child in a burning city

we’re the will of god

 

walls crashing down

on all sides

the final light






Haiku (7)


1.

poking

embers to life —

the anger in me


2.

flooding waters —

the sound of a distant

piano


3.

a ripple

on the lap of a ripple

loosened leaf


4.

the holiday bus

screeches to a halt --

second glance


5.

your letter

pleading innocence —

slanted rain


6.

early autumn

the change in the tone

of her voice


7.

speaking with self

right through the day

summer's  tree






Haiku (8)


1.

cemetery yard --

eyes blurred with

last spring


2.

the child

calling out to a star

Daddy


3.

calloused fingers

wrapped in new gloves

the dying flame


4.

flying red ants —

how her words sting

afterward


5.

fourth date —

showing her the letters

of a love lost


6.

a tramp

summing up his laurels

New Year’s Eve


7.

picnic

by the  waterfall -

Ganesha bathes

 

8.

yelling  amidst

my unrestrained coughs

the neighbour’s dog






Haiku (12)


1.

a murky

anniversary morning--

the red table cloth                      


2.

our third date

she studies my

palm lines

 

3.

toying with

pressed rose petals

early winter wind

 

4.

summer end--

the fan blade knocks off

a butterfly

 

5.


dinnertime

at the hospital, I wait

for sedatives

 

6.

at the crossroads

a tramp speaking to himself

my lost poem

 

7.

shadows

bringing back the anguish

winter without you

 

8.

summer …

village boys plunging

into the pond

 

9.

the pensive face

peeled off a tree trunk—

autumn…

 

10.

the hospital smell

still following me

their forced smiles

 

11.

the new sedative…

she disappears behind

a veil of thick mist

 

12.

hospital window—

firecrackers lighting up

Diwali sky





Keeping them warm


An old-time air
stuffed in a mahogany cupboard
brought the odour
of a chestnut-colored coat,
a bundle of ties
and a neat stack of cotton shirts.


A cricket started chirping somewhere.
I breathed deep, my fingers fondled
one wind-up watch, one rusty fountain pen,
long-lived greeting cards, bills
and a half-torn diary of 1972.


I tied them all together,
then baked the mixture …
the way I prepare a hot milk cake.


Numbness


Through the window, I watch
a variety of words and phrases
standing in a queue, outside my door.


The telephone rings ... I listen
to your unreasonable silence.






Blues


Walking towards
approaching waves
my feet cool off
muddy waters here
murky sky above.






Carbon dioxide


As I breathe my poems,
flowers take the place of bullets.
An ancient rain
flirts with their perfume.


I exhale
third season of a year, adding
some amount of carbon dioxide
in the background.






Zubeida


Mehndi adorned her slim
fingers; chosen gems decked
her ivory charms.


She was a rose
in her bridal shawl
and fragrance.


Lips were parted
in expectancy, downcast
eyes followed
intricate embroideries.


The needlework entices
her even now. She traces out
an artwork of henna.


Locks have grayed
within folds of time. She trails
those motifs.


Neither today, nor tomorrow... yet someday


I’ll wake you up
and throw open the gateway
to my irrational imaginings. You’ll find
a path leading to a flight of stairs,
taking you inside a door hinged with
my ventricles. You might wonder
how could butterflies flutter within
my morbid veins, why a cuckoo calls
amidst a stale fog inside the cranium,
why a carpet of deceased autumns
do not rustle under weighty loneliness.


I don’t intend to disrupt
the brilliant view of a diamond ring
in your sky. I just want to show you
a glimpse of an eclipsed world.






The rain, and after

(Two Sevenlings)


She’d sky-dive with succulent drops,
frolic upon leaves of a rare foliage
and plop into a puddle.


She yearns to flirt with a young Nimbus,
get drifted by a stubborn wind
to unoccupied isles.


She’d compose a symphony for the dripping moments.


*******


When the curtain lifts, the haze clears,
she watches her dream-globules evanesce
like rain-dots on warm sands.


One green tree frog warbles,
a wasp spider limps out of its secrecy
and starts to weave a labyrinth of sunrays.


A tune jingles inside her.






A schizophrenic’s soliloquy


This isolated month of May
appears so different with its jaded roses
and mophead hydrangeas, entangled
in bluegrass weeds.


The bloody herbs have spared nobody.
Look, they have grown on my limbs even!
Grasses have covered half of your face
- didn’t the mirror tell you?


They’ll try to choke us to death,
though the winds must have cautioned them.
They might be aware
that I’m unassailable.


See them stare at us like that!
They’ll gently exhume obnoxious fumes
- go get the gas masks ready!


No, no, I don’t need your help!
Get your hands off me, wretched worm!
Squirming invertebrate!
Just listen to me and do as I say
- Get the gas masks ready!


And see my hands, my palms so soft
I’ve freed them from the weeds
- they look so different this year,
don’t they?






Haiku (5)


early spring


early spring morning -- 

a vendor arranges 

the funeral wreaths



raindrop


raindrops 

held in a spider’s silk -- 

the glitter in her eye



through the fog


through the fog 

winter trees re-appear -- 

sleep-talking



leaning on his stick


leaning on his stick

he gazes at the front path --

wilted sunflowers



the road


the road, forked -- 

a white dove eyes East 

and West






Daughter of a Wildfire

 

(A Solo Renhai)

plumes brush the sky
a ballerina performs
peacock-dance

her wine-filled garb
kisses clouds near oak-shoulders

she pirouettes
euphoric wind warns
one dwarf birch






Paupers

(A Solo Renhai)

full moon
held between cloud-fingers
lark misses a note

weaver bird
hides a coin in its new home

sluggish sun
shines on morning pearls
buds, gratified





Taj beckons…

 Taj beckons…

When the night thickens with a calm,
rose-filled zephyr builds up a sigh

the moon views its face in a pond, a soft
shehnai rebounds off silvered marble

a river whispers esoteric secrets
treasured within cenotaphs

two white doves observe a play
of shadows, and count the hours

in silence





Himalayan  brook


 I peel off my shadows
hide the rinds in Blue Sage shrub
Pink Lilies smile
soft-spoken rivulet
cascades over rocks


filtered sunshine
lights up Waxflower umbels
fragrant flames
attract birds and bees
busy stream takes no notice






Six dwarfs and a Monster

 

1.


incessantly

I knocked on her door

a mongrel stared at me

an old man raised his eyebrows

--kids stopped their play


2.


one milkman inquired

whether I’d need empty bottles

to crash her windows

to voice my angst

--I mumbled some ugly words


3.


beside the fence

amid Bleeding Heart flowers

I found her

a piece of whitish paper

trembling in a spring-laden breeze


4.


she hasn’t remained the same

as she was

when I scripted her

on a stifling mid-noon

under a coconut shade


5.


her skin has loosened

adjectives cannot hide wrinkles

she’s an aged muse

with a matured bluish sparkle

in her eyes


6.


I folded her with care

tucked her into my pocket

sluggishly

the dog went back to his sleep

the children resumed their match



Each 'dwarf' has a Tanka form (informal)






I’m not writing any poems today!


after i stitched
my hundred and tenth poem
the aged loom stiffened :
a comic dwarf tries in vain
to leap over a wall


to leap over a wall
he brings a wooden step ladder
takes a minute’s rest
smirks at the bricks
and whistles


he whistles
steps squeal under his weight
he quiets down --
the barricade has grown
the top is inches above


the top is inches above
he stands on his toes
still it’s inches above --
he brings a cast-iron cannon
and a pile of cannon-balls


a pile of cannon-balls
to pull down the woes
he cleans his sweat
wipes his brows
and fires


he fires
one after another
in rapid succession
(but) the wretched cannon-balls
each falls into pieces

each falls into pieces
and a Tyrannosaur Rex
watches with glee
adorned in a garb
decked with paper currency

currency notes
sneer at the dwarf
across the boundary wall :
I keep a safe distance
and munch through my bread






Oh, for the speckled leaves!

 

Today, the canvas is packed with flamboyant
croton shrubs: an assemblage of mauve,
lemon and jade; shiny dreams
invite me for a trip beyond
my realm.

I wonder whether the veins and ribs are set ablaze
with the fury of a frustrated spring. Leathery skins
appear to be dappled with blood-print,
each leaf seems to bear the agony
scripted in wearied pages
of a poet’s memoir.

Yet minuscule stars dangle in racemes,
hold out hope, perhaps content
with a life that doesn’t need
sunshine to boost
their splendor.

I fondle them, try to understand them, and feel
their silence; precious fabrics they are,
spun with a mother’s mind.
Ever- endearing.
And evergreen.






Neither today, nor tomorrow... yet someday

 

I’ll wake you up
and throw open the gateway
to my irrational imaginings. You’ll find
a path leading to a flight of stairs,
taking you inside a door hinged with
my ventricles. You might wonder
how butterflies could flutter within
my morbid veins, why a cuckoo calls
amidst a stale fog inside the cranium,
why a carpet of deceased autumns
does not rustle under weighty loneliness.

I don’t intend to disrupt
the brilliant view of a diamond ring
in your sky. I just want to show you
a glimpse of an eclipsed world.





Unstoppable

 

Unruly gusts of a March wind
blow an oboe, bringing to me
the dialects of a waterfall;

I watch exhilarated droplets
form the wavy tresses of a young maiden.
She keeps rushing down
a flight of stairs, ever since
vowing to meet the sea.






Expectations

 

One open window
beholds a road…
a minute arm
an hour arm
switch places

(Tanka poem)






Inertness

In pungent isolation
dead branches hear
a ripened dream’s recital,
scrutinize
a lone caterpillar
creeping over stiff cells
for ages.






Our words have died …

 

You are
a cluster of forget-me-nots
beside the teak garden bench.
A chameleon camouflaged itself
into your blueness, much like
our yesterdays.

You are in my mornings,
brightening the sunshine.






Drying out

 

Lizards wriggle
on the wall.
Trees outside, mute
in the absence of parrots,
I hear a leaking tap.

Gray afternoon
one desktop image
ten fingers
around a candle flame,
a cursor creeps in mouse clicks.


(informal double Tanka poem)

 

 




Cenotaph


Memories are malignant cells
clogging my lungs. I no longer feel
the old shiver, as winter brushes by.
Yet for you, Mumtaz, I'd be born again
within a soft womb of spring.

 

Salaam Mumbai

 

Blood
thickened
on your streets,
eerie silence
engulfed the last cries of a mayhem.

Penetrating an early morning fog
a lean sweeper
cleaned the track
of stains
left.


(double Tetractys poem)






It was a summer in Varanasi


On a sundown, I waited for her
amidst temple bells and prayers,
watched her descend
time-worn steps of the riverbank.
In the tranquil waters
she floated her wishes.

One such evening, I lost her
within a fragrance of incense sticks, flowers
and a horde of earthen lamps.

 



 

 

Guitar

 

One late afternoon
rain poured quietly.
Your face was crimsoned,
eyes had a strange gleam.
Something was odd
about my sheepish smile, too.

My voice nestled inside,
purred like a drenched kitten,
as we exchanged silence.

Today, the water-drops
have found a lonesome melody.

 




Suicidal


Taiko drums pound.
A honed blade dangles,
my tongue writhes.
A kamikaze pilot -
lost in sky.



(Tanka poem)

 

 



Beginnings

 

Light
clears up
vague alleys,
sleepy wishes
glint.


Mind
explores
hidden pelf,
age-old troubles
brood.


Stars
depart
cherry sky,
a crawling orb
burns.



(Lanturne poem)

 

 


 

Grief 


She arrives
draped in morning's mist.
Dreams, burrow further
among pillows,
taste the last verse.

 

(Tanka)


 



Breeze

 

Come

near me

don't whisper

yet make me feel

you came unknowingly to gift a sigh.



(Tetractys Poem. Syllables : 1-2-3-4-10)





 

Dust to dust

 

(A Tanka poem in memory of 9/11 victims.)

Waves crash against
tiny skyscrapers
upright twin towers
sculpted in sand,
sweep out the toil.





 

Dewy eyed morning

 

Transparent
oblate spheroids
snuggle, brush the skin
of lotus leaves,
a pond shivers.


(Tanka)

 

 




Divine

 

A brush paints
the three brightest eyes
over cold clay.
Light watches darkness,
folded hands cling to prayers.


[(Tanka) The appeal of Goddess Durga lies in her eyes. The artist's rendition of her eyes are thus almost at par with drawing forth her soul, so an auspicious moment is chosen for the painting of the eyes on the image.]




 

Artifact

 

Reveries
hunt for fossils
Pterodactyl wings
visit your garden
- I'm a living dinosaur.

 


(Tanka)





 

Hope

 

Underneath
a canopy of sorrows
I envision
Resurrection of Jesus,
feel the cold mighty trunk.



(Tanka)






Culprit


The thief has confessed at last,

at the end of a lengthy interrogation

that it was he who had stolen

your smile

at last night’s dinner party,

when everyone else was busy

with their own share of the world.


How did we nab him?
Elementary, Watson,
your lipstick had stained his collar.






Arunansu Banerjee, from Calcutta, West Bengal, India, has been writing poetry only a few years but the art and craft were rooted in him long before his work appeared on web forums such as Poets International, Here & Now, Kritya and The Peregrine Muse. Arunsansu is a teacher by profession, with a degree in physics and a specialty in softwares. His primary love is listening to Indian Classical music. Favorite poets include Emily Dickinson, John Keats, Rabindranath Tagore, Li Po, Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda and Matsuo Basho. Arunsansu blogs here.





Poetry of Arunansu Banerjee