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Vasant Abaji Dahake

Superman In A Jar

In the see-through jar of this century,
you see preserved
a Larger-than-Life Figure.
A row of jars, a Great One in each.
The character of each as pure, as unsullied
as a virgin’s gaze,
the lines on the upraised hands of each
tracing a harmonious road-map to peace.
All you who sorrow, all you who suffer,
come bathe yourselves in the vision of these supermen.

Please maintain silence.
Please do not spit.

A boundless crowd gathers
for a glimpse of the Great Ones in their jars,
the kind of crowd that goes to watch parrots
in their cages, or stares at bedraggled circus bears,
those same heavy, cold, silent people,
those restless, anxious, violent people
chew, with their wide-open eyes,
yet another superman.

I’m one of those supermen in their jars.

Around me, these airtight, see-through ramparts,
Impregnable walls.
I suffocate,
I thrash about,
gnawing away at myself,
turning, restless, in this glass jar.

The dumb curator of this museum
has just vanished.

Translated by Ranjit Hoskote


One by one, we left the black-shadow cities behind
and yet I’ve seen the gutter-yellow eyeballs
of high towers fixed on you.
And as we walked these unknown roads, my unholy ears
have heard, bubbling inside you, a shameless aria of lust.
And I’ve felt the roses in my chest
wither, dropping their petals one by one.

Translated by Ranjit Hoskote


No mortal tree, you will keep growing
inside me,
branching in my veins.
Inside me I hear
the rustling of your leaves.

Translated by Ranjit Hoskote


Like a wild bull the moon
charges headlong
through green unearthly thickets.
Sharp-teeth-torn, the water
shivers all night.

All night
a broadsword strokes,
from base to nape, the spine.

Translated by Ranjit Hoskote


Like the harsh flapping of a cruel bird—
frenzied wind,
Evening light—
like pale, darkened wings.
Over red-bricked walls,
having dug their beaks,
in wings and stilled—
these mysterious trees.
The claw of an invisible, cruel bird
pierces in the heart—
sharp nails,
I collapse and get scattered—
like a stuffed bird.

Translated by N. C. Mahashabde


Near the priest's house,
a white horse, lifting up one leg precariously.
Requiem-like, a sombre, sad evening—
An emaciated saffron sky,
Over the church, stretched,
reflected in the eyes of the white horse
The plaintive sweet music of the organ from the church,
like withering leaves, is encompassing the evening
and somewhere, the sound of an axe, the shovel's stir.

In the evening's saffron-black light,
the mysterious eyes of the white horse—

At midnight, the priest hears, below the window,
the anguished sigh of some unknown being.
Beyond the window, there, in the dark, he sees
the still-burning, feeble dots of candle lights.

Translated by N. C. Mahashabde


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