B R Nagpal

THE WORD

Across the twists and intersections,

through the slums,

and paved, motorable roads,

a lone apartment opens up

where a lamp and a table are held together

by a sheaf of papers, calligraphic pen.

 

The computer, internet

CCTV and the tightly bolted door,

adorn the select points.

Trees unseen do not hiss,

Honest author, like a patient

regales himself with reportage

pining for league with Dostoevsky, Sartre, Camus,

Venus and Apollo

whose portraits hang awkwardly.

 

Alas! The void,

The void that pervades, persists.

It is the chaos that reigns.

Sensations, contingency, accidents

override.

Riots, rapes, atrocities, suicides

are not ominous.

They are everyday occurrences.

 

The sombre outside-inside,

pursues the writer’s ghost.

Gods and devils take their positions,

holding to ransom his nerves.

The muddle headed gentleman jolted,

folds his hands beseechingly.

 

The artist stumbles for words,

The Word flees.

The deftness in strokes is gone.

 

The veil strikes,

between the stinginess of demented psyche

and the colours of Imagination.

Images, ideas do not crystallize

in visible, subtle forms.

 

WORKMANSHIP

The art student on probation

shrugged off his assignment

sat on the stairs

precariously

boiling over walls, bricks

institutions

The drawing was nowhere in sight

 

Between the real and the unreal,

His discomfiture shook him

His body, legs, inner vitals

were drooping towards paralysis

The painting did not come off.

 

Raman, the delinquent

returns to his room

The portraits of his masters, fellow-artists

fills him with awe

He bows, prostrates before them all

Praying, he gathers his energies

holds his brush tight

 

The next day opens up

in resurgence, enviable brightness

clouds, earth, heavens

present intersections

between the concrete and the abstract

this world, the other world

 

Raman, like a disciplined disciple

applies his skill

to colour, oil

generates geometrical shapes, sketches

His craftsmanship turns tangible

drawing out

the mystery of invisible

 

RESONANCE

Lalit, they derisively accented

Lalit, making mock signs

an illegitimate child

abandoned

by neighbours, relatives

after the death of his father

killed in an accident

 

Mournings, memorials

heavings, chest-thumping

did not enchain him

The forest of his existence

opened up before his mind’s eye

upon streams, lakes

distant hills, the starlit sky

 

Ill-clad in an olive-green pyjama

He was fumbling, faltering

but a doughty lad was he

He sought

to leap upon edges

he would indulge in kicking, jumping

like a warrior in the game of football

 

Somehow, he was hooked in silences

Disowned as a vagabond

hounded as a villain

He sat wonderstruck

near the ripples of a river

that resonated

The waves spoke to his arteries

consummated

 

Lalit made a resolve

He would mitigate his circles

to climb, climb

to reach the peak.

 

 

THE CHILD RAN

Clutching straws, petals

toiling to hold the rock,

Frail, forsaken child

vessel of limbs, bones

withdrew, reversed

began running like a sightless bird.

 

Knocked down by fates,

He was abandoned by parents

in the devastating earthquake.

He was oblivious of his surroundings,

the book of illustrations, his comb.

He did not tumble down

in the rubble of a hut.

 

In the sepulchral arc

where graves were rotting,

crowds were palpitating,

The senate and the assembly

were only fuming, roaring with spleen.

 

The child ran

unaware of the viewer’s gaze,

The media’s lens,

Heat and dazzle of the sun,

The tides of water.

He stifled with the dust,

nailing down his feet.

 

When the winds did not howl,

The sunset arrived,

darkness descended.

Lord’s presence, raised his hand

saluted the guard of an inn,

marched towards harmony, quiet and hope.

 

Mainak’s photography

B R Nagpal, Retired Associate Professor of English, University of Delhi.Published two volumes of verse and three critical works on Modern British Fiction.Published poems in journals like “The Poetry Society of India,”Muse India,” “AsianSignature.com,” Ïnduswomanwriting.com,” “The Hindustan Times” and “Indian and Foreign Review.”Published several critical articles in national and international journals.