Poems by S Chandramohan, a Dalit Writer

Volume 17, Issue 2  | 
Published 07/10/2020
  |

KILLING THE SHAMBUKA 

(Inspired by a famous poem on black lynching) 

Jim Crow segregated hostel rooms

Ceiling fans bear a strange fruit,

Blood on books and blood on papers,

A black body swinging in mute silence,

Strange fruit hanging from tridents.

This poem draws is inspiration from the poem STRANGE FRUIT(1937) by ABEL MEEROPOL and is on suicides of Dalit-Bahujan students in institutions of higher education in India. RohithVemula is one of the recent victims (Jan 17 2016).

 

THE IMMIGRANT WORD

The immigrant experience for

A word in a poem

Is like being subjected to numerous enunciations

At poetry slams

To rhyme with rest of the poem.

 

The immigrant experience for

A word in a poem

Is to sound like ‘Prufrock’,

To be conspicuous

Like fly in the buttermilk.

 

The immigrant experience for

A word in a poem

Is to be accompanied with a footnote

Like the entire poem has a GPS tag

On one of its ankles.

 

The immigrant experience for

A word in a poem

Is to be a paper boat on the

High tide of strife—

Washed ashore like the corpse of a toddler.

 

The immigrant experience for

A word in a poem

Is solitary confinement

In the prison of syntax.

 

The immigrant experience for

A word in a poem

Is an undecipherable tombstone

in the war memorial.

 

LICENSE TO KILL

Not a morsel of food down her throat

An act of protest against licenses to kill

Her periodic crimson stopped

To stop the crimson rivers flowing down the streets

Of her seven sisters.

 

Plus-sized poem

This poem refuses to be

The world’s wife.

 

This poem is not pimple-free,

Is printed on rough paper.

 

This poem has cellulite in its rear end,

Its rump outsizes itself off the market.

 

This poem walks the ramp with a self-edited gait

Without introduction or foreword from veterans.

 

This poem does not opt for offshore liposuction

To make oneself eligible for international prizes.

                                

This poem eludes the trap

In the hourglass of time.

 

A LOCAL TRAIN CONVERSATION

        As the station moves

        I glance at the
        Elderly man seated opposite me
        Still like an inanimate cog in a wheel.

        His religious mark between his eye-brows
        A one-eyed search light
        Patrolling for moon-light indiscretions
        Down the ages as the train furrows
        Through a dimly lit tunnel.

        His insidious queries
        Incised with his Swiss-knife tongue
        Are like a handshake
        Prolonged to probe
        The pulse of my wrist.

        He tries assessing me with an 

           in-swinger first
        ‘What is your full name?’
        

         Then he tries an out-swinger that seams a lot
        ‘and what is your father’s name?’

        By this time, he loses his nerve
        And tries on a swift york-er
        ‘What is your caste?’

 

SERVING QUARANTINE

After SERVING TIME by Charles Simic

I was locked in a prison cell

The size of my smart-phone screen

Before being remanded onto the death-row of the sick.

 

While serving my time.

I read many books.

Firstly they are on pathology and medicine.

Then on the Indian Penal Code.

 

I was assigned to compose loud

Straight-jacketed with a lexicon

Of only synonyms of ‘necessity’

adhere a rhyme-scheme between

‘greed’ and ‘need’.

 

Then books of behavioral- economics to choose between

Two nightmares

One was death preceded by a sensation of drowning.

The other was death from hunger.

A little ventriloquism lingers around me.

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