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Gopalakrishna Adiga


Lord, plying the well-known pumps of heraldic praise
your hirelings bend double; others, gouty wagtails,
lick the land for crumbs; one snuffs his candle out
and seeks like an eunuch leech
the warm marshes in the cracks of light;
another sissy gives his back to the time-fed rumps
and sheathes his dagger deep. Lord, I am not of these.

Here's one who grins inside,
triumphing that his lifted lantern lit the face of dawn;
he cannot bend, this fat-faced cock of the walk :
Lord, cut open this dropsic bulge.
Sleepless water skins join night to day in his belches
drawing long paean-notes with each : run thy sickles
clean in Thy kindness through this miasmic crop,
and turn his daily bread into turning blood;
give the poison-vapours natural vents
and give every one outlets into privacy,
lest they vent their gall on paper-virgins.
More that all, teach them the first lesson
in the hygiene of mastication, two and thirty times
processed and blent in the saliva stream :
even if you do not teach them this, teach them
to learn that they have not learned. Shear the illusion
that onions bring their throats the smell of musk;
O, whenever words are blown to balloon in the Mind
pinpoint O Lord the precision of Thy truth.

Arrest the automation of the dream-sense
as it switches open all the sluices
while inaccessible giant thighs
play fast and loose; do not rouse us to self-abuse
when peris, jostle in a disembodied striptease
in the wind, and in thy infinite mercy
send us frequently reality's women; for the self
to wrestle with and nuzzle in, send real thighs and taut new skins.

At every retreat from the winds outside, do not send
for your guerrilla packs of extinct selves.
Let the guests come home with their bodies full-fleshed;
save me from the pest of the skinless guest.

See every ship to its haven, let no whale-hips swallow
the vessel, keep them going from harbour to harbour.
Keep the going poised against the coming to the very end.
Still, keep the ancestral flames of the wisdom of desire
burning clear and high, untouched by the English pox.

The taper wavers in the wind. Even electric lamps
are vulnerable to a blow. Your mountain of vapours
condenses to a seminal drop and digs into the earth
in its arrogance and spills itself everywhere.
For liquefaction's ecstasy even thorn is as grass.
For a moment's fulfilled desire, days, months, years,
even aeons of desire evaded, turned wrong side out, twisted.
Father, teach us to produce the full nine-month carnal marvel.

Teach us not to bend, and to bend;
to let the flame dig against the cheek of dawn
and to stay in patience wavering with the wind.
Teach the neighing pride of the wild horse
never to become a hackneyed colt,
give it the habit of bearing upon its back
the airy thighs of the immense world.
Forgetful of the little bedchamber upstairs,
you are the one, the only one with the seminal sap
rising to burgeon in no common loins, nor
waking to pour it between compatible legs.
Awareness such as this, my prince, is an egg
half-brooded over; let the Great Hawk
come bursting through his shell
churning the winds like a silver-gleaming staff
while the burdens loosen under your haunches.

Translated by A.K. Ramanujan

Left right

Left, right; right, left;
damn the adolescent mind that makes a drill.
This is not the time
to blindly fix attention on the beam of the balance
and accept the reproaching eye
that concentrates on the indicator.
You ass of a dead tradition
look with your left eye:
This is 20th century, the time of sending satellites
and who has got the time to scratch his brain ?
Now is the time to leap a century in a day.
Therefore the left hand ritual is chosen.

Let the right, the right side,
the rightist party be paralyzed.
Take a conch that has turned to left and blow it;
let the Akshohini army turn left and further left;
let it rush the left flowing river
drowning temples, multistoried buildings and religious mutts;
let them be razed to the ground.
In the 20th century itself, O friend,
if the 25th century arrives;
I will be a sputnik and you will be another;
let us go round the earth from the left side;
to destroy those who sit on the right
you Arjuna, string an atom bomb to your bow;
throw a gadfly into the right ear
and throw magical ash
at those who are in between.

Lift and bend your right leg - O man, damn it --
What would have been lost if it were not there ?
The extravagant Nature needs an operation:
the left scientists have taken a vow
to remove the right and do the right thing;
they watch every minute so that one doesn't lean to the right;
they examine every minute whether one is not
concentrating on the key words of the left.

Now stand on your left leg; learn to stand;
limp, o soldier on your left leg:
Fix the rocket on the path of progress.
Is it impossible? Yes. But think that it is possible,
thinking that way, go on preaching.
The more you preach, the more tight will be your dress.
What is important is the canon available to the
left hand.
the canon ball:
All this leftism is a purdah to hide.

O sir, life is a matter of balancing:
when the monkey who has weighed the butter
is on the tree
from the right some cats will attack:
the right that is swallowed
will become Vatapi inside the stomach.
Even if it expires, how can you show any concession ?

Birth and death, day and night and seasons
follow an order.
The sun's wheel turns from the tropic of Cancer
to the tropic of Capricorn;
the turns left and right take
is this world's chariot.

Translated by S. R. Nadig

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