Bhisma Upreti

When I behold this river
I am both cross
and sympathetic.

In the flood last year
my parents were lost to the same river
and they were subsumed in it;
I, the ill-fated one, survived
being away to my maternal home in the other village.

Since then, I have haunted its banks
stared vacantly at the river
and listened to the sounds—
like Mother’s, when water strikes water
like Father’s, when water strikes a rock
When water washes off a stone
I feel, it’s Mother wiping sweats from Father’s forehead
and the white foam therein
is to me the smiles they displayed.

I see my dreams and future
flow seaward in the river
and stare in loss.

When I behold this river
I am both cross
and sympathetic.

a car,
ambitious plans,
bungalow, bed,
and a beautiful woman.
I have none with me.

But I have sleep
and that is truly sweet
and comforting.
If I lie down on a tattered sack,
by the road, in the portico of a house,
under the shade of a tree,
that comes all by itself
and touches me softly
like affectionate fingers
of my mother.

I do not know
whether those who own
all other things,
do have sleep.

A caravan of mules
just went past this way
stirring dust as lovely as longings
and now,
a band of weary porters
is scaling the trail in the same way!

Both have pain
piled on their shoulders;
both have had no time for a bath;
both are hungry and tired too.
Cold has been tickling both;
no dream decorates their eyes.
A foul odour fills the nostrils of both.

What a commonality!
The two share the same exhaustion.

Perhaps, you have been to the Himalayas too.
Have you ever noticed any difference
between the mules, and the porters?

One day
news sailed to me
riding on telephone—
My grandmother suddenly
emerging out of human body
entered a frame
and became photo.

Reaching home in panic
saw it all and wondered.
How could she move in photo-frame
just abandoning the
ninety-year old human body!
didn’t she have feelings for us?

For the last chance
I looked
with a heavy heart
and offered garland
burned incense
and bowed!

Oh, how sad
this human life
leaving the world
loved for so long behind
so glibly becomes a photo!

Love Song
Wished I were away from them
Who treat woman a pair of shoes
Just goods
And manipulate her for fun

Your arrival at dusk in my life
Slowly on your wings
Close to me as if I were the tree with your nest
Asked my wishes
A woman too harbors desire
And a colorful dream
Lo, you are the first man.

You are not someone I should miss
Like warm and intoxicating dream
That I should carry you as my womb
But your visit on my memory makes me think twice.

The dance of your curly hair with light breeze
Your way of humming love songs
I have started to care
In the light of your eyes
I see the route to my last destination.

Feel these soft and warm hands
You are yet to realize
The difference between a statue and a life.


Bhisma Upreti  is an award winning Nepali poet and wuriter. His 8 books of poetry and 6 books of essays have been published. His works have been translated into English, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Serbian, Slovenian and Tamil and have appeared in various international journals, magazines and anthologies.. He is Joint Secretary of PEN Nepal and also a Coordinator of Writer’s Peace Committee under PEN Nepal.
He lives in Kathmandu with his family