Rabindra K. Swain earned his PhD with a dissertation on the poetry of Jayanta Mahapatra and has had poems published in Weber Studies, The Kenyon Review, Times Literary Supplement (U.K.) and Ariel (Canada). His fourth book of poems, Susurrus in the Skull, is forthcoming from Authorspress, New Delhi. His recent work includes Silent Tongues: Writings in Contemporary Indian Poetry (2006). He is managing editor of Chandrabhaga. Read other poetry by Rabindra K. Swain published in Weber: Vol. 15.2, Vol. 17.0, and Vol. 19.1.
Had our lives been less silent, Manu!
What if we had not known each other!
Like people being arrested,
we were displayed like spiked fast food.
As for you, I understand, if all
clandestine lovers were to be arrested,
a jail would have been a much visited site.
As for me, it could not have been
otherwise, as the palmist once warned.
Maybe I should not have provoked him
to predict something negative for me:
"Into the pit shall you fall and out of it shall you rise,
though with a bruise," and he added,
"For no fault of yours."
At least a grace mark, I thought.
But one cannot plead innocence, ever.
It is not certainly your dream moon.
You could see a crow sitting all alone
on the compound wall of the jail.
I was in a file of strangers who looked like any day
they would renounce the carnal world.
You wish you had not built any dream,
your own house was one such.
What if Rajendra Kishore Panda
had refused to listen to the call of his heart
and not made art out of our fate with his
"At Any Point of Time I Could Be Arrested."
I have not checked with him
the genealogy of the heirs of suffering,
as I have not asked myself why there are nights,
like this one, when I cannot sleep.
But this much I know:
imagination can be a limb,
can be maimed yet be lived with.
Turning the Page
Turning the page of your notebook
makes a slight rustle
to which you’ve been reduced.
On your tongue is the glue
of your ancestor’s curse:
rumble, you hyena’s filth,
not here, but across the dwarf hillocks.
You cock your ears
for a faint sound within you—
of a star imploding,
the black hole being sucked up
by your furious tongue
strangely tubular like that
of a purple rump sun bird.|
Like a potato or onion
love is perishable.
Not delivered on time
in the oblivion
borrowing on it,
Love is perishable
like perishable goods.