Ra Sha’s implosive poetry

POETRY COLUMN

 

POETRY EDITOR ANANYA S GUHA’S NOTE:

 

The poems of Ra Sh (Ravi Shanker) are implosive realities about life, death, god, questions that have eternally haunted mankind. Their brilliance lies in their use of experimental language and sensuousness.  They question, the answers are the reader’s! Each poem builds into a crescendo though an inherent logic. Each poem surprises but fulfills – truly he is a brilliant, original and gifted poet.

 

Faith and Fact

 

 Faith and Fact went for a walk.

Faith, a dry leaf. Fact, a clod of earth.

 

As they walked sharing

ideas concepts thoughts hypotheses

sermons commandments premises conjunctures,

A heavy sand storm approached them.

The storm was about to whisk Faith away

Flying in a wind of uncertainty

When Fact pounced on Faith and pinned him down,

Keeping him from being blown away.

When the storm passed, Faith thanked Fact profusely

And they continued their walk.

 

A heavy dark rain approached them now.

Fact, the clod of earth, began to dissolve

In the lashing rain of uncertainty

When Faith pounced on him and unfurled like an umbrella,

Keeping him from getting diffused.

When the rain passed, Fact thanked Faith profusely

And they continued their walk.

 

Now, dark clouds gathered and a heavy wind blew

And an ugly rain storm approached them.

Faith was blown away in the wind

And Fact dissolved in the rain.

 

Nothing remained on earth

Except the shadow of the moon.

 

* Based on an elementary school lesson

 

Ka Kha Ga Gha

 

 River, effervescent,

Froth, rocks, rough cut sun,

Crematorium, half burnt body,

Me, cool sand.

A girl crosses the river.

Moon spotlights her.

The curtain of stars rises.

Her feet, ankles, shin, knee,

Resurrect inch by inch,

Sink into the current once again.

Tangerine thighs, pubis, the vermillion gash,

Reverberating belly, two globules of mercury,

Resurrect and sink.

She emerges, a walking rain.

The rainbow cloud erect above me, seeping.

An old question, I ask her.

 

Ka Tvam Bale? / Who are you, girl?   (1)
Kanchanamala / Kanchanamala.

Kasya putri? / Whose daughter?
Kanakalatayah/ Kanakalata’s.

Kim te haste? / What’s in your hand?
Thalipatram / A palm leaf.

Ka va rekha? / What’s written there?
Ka Kha Ga Gha / Ka Kha Ga Gha.

 

Crematorium/ body/ me

She floats next to me

Like a rippling soul.

I begin to scrawl Ka Kha Ga Gha

On the knots of her silver spine

With a fiery finger.

 

(1)  Beginning Ka Tvam Bale and ending with Ka Kha Ga Gha, it is a rendition of a famous Sanskrit poem by Kalidasa (5th cent AD).  Legend has it that King Bhoja wanted the court poets to write a poem that ended in Ka Kha Ga and Gha, the first four consonants of the Sanskrit language. Seems Kalidasa,the most gifted among them, met a girl on the street and asked her these same questions and got the same answers which he made into a poem and presented it to the King next day. To me, the poem brings out the girl’s openness, friendliness,innocence, her readiness to learn and her level of freedom in the society. Her name is Kanchanamala (a golden necklace) and her mother is Kanakalatha ( a golden vine). Note that she gives her mother’s name and not her father’s.

 

Using this poem was not a deliberate act. It came to me as soon as the girl emerged from the water.

 

In the beginning was the Worm

 

 Am only worm only crawl only.

Yesterday, a tank rolled over me, James Bond driving it.

Almost came under the caterpillar wheels.

The tank hit a wall, the wall hit a mall, the mall rolled like a ball and exploded like a booby trapped doll. 007 died young.

 

Then, the humans with their trampling feet shod in hide.

Armoured in KGB gold, MI 5 silver, CIA thongs and Mossad shells.

Birds flew,  jets, drones, balloons, mushroom clouds.

Armies marched over me, marines clashed with legions.

Vanguards of revolution, drummers, bankers, flag designers.

Cartographers and golf players navigated over me.

Bullet trains, submarines, lara croft choppers.

All rushed past me.

 

Split me. I become two.

Am only worm only crawl only.

I worm through your cities.

Sometimes, through your intestines.

 

Buddha goes fishing

 

In the beginning or at the end

Buddha was making or unmaking

An only universe

With an only sun

And an only planet

With an only lake

In which swam

An only fish.

 

One day/night/dawn/dusk,

The fish swallowed Buddha who

Saw in its belly another Buddha

Who was striving to make

An only universe

With an only sun, planet, lake, fish

And so on and so forth.

 

Now that it is again the end or the beginning,

I, the final disciple,

Squat on the shore of a blue lake,

Hurl in a line with the hook and the worm

And draw in the catch of my life –

A string of fish, lake, planet, sun, Buddha

Linked in an unending cosmic thread.

 

Dry Run

 

I hate the dryness of things.

Dry kissnesses /wellnesses /sandnesses.

 

Can I borrow from your soupy mouth

The rich saliva lashing in waves

In the ocean beneath the ocean,

Frothy/perfumed/sweet?

 

Can I worm into your deepest nodes

And suck out the lymph of life?

Can I dig into your hardiest veins

And siphon out the plasma of life?

Can I crush your finest bones

And extract the elixir of life?

 

Kisses are wet bombs

D r o p p i n g from outer space

On a lake of fire on a loony night.

 

My wet girl/my wet bomb girl

My girl/my juicyjuicygirl,

When can I sip from your wounded womb

That love, that dream, that other life,

That salted bloodliness

In your bombed mouthiness?

 

I am a missile seeking your warmth.

One touch. We  e x p l o d e!

 

ra_shaRa Sh (N.Ravi Shanker) is from Palakkad, Kerala, where he lives and works. His poems have been published in Bhashaposhini, Kindle Magazine, Gulmohur magazine, Journal of Literature & Aesthetics, Malayalanatu Webmag, Baroda Pamphlet Bimonthly, Poetry 24 Blog Magazine, Art in Society International Web Mag and in an Anthology of love poems `The Heart only Whispers.’ Fifteen poems appear in an anthology ‘A strange place other than Earlobes’being published by Brown Critique.

Ra Sh also translates from Malayalam and Tamil to English and vice versa. He has translated works by Dario Fo, Paulo Friere, Freidrich Durrenmatt, Bertolt Brecht and Badal Sircar to Malayalam as theatre projects and published works. Published Malayalam translations are ‘Marditharude bodhanasastram’ (Pedagogy of the oppressed) by Paulo Freir, Badal Sircar plays and ` Arajakavaadiyude apakadamaranam’ (Accidental Death of an Anarchist) by Dario Fo.

Published English translations include Harum Scarum Saar and Other Stories by Bama (from Tamil), Mother Forest- The unfinished story of C.K. Janu by Bhaskaran (from Malayalam) (published by Women Unlimited, Delhi) ,Waking is Another Dream, an anthology of Sri Lankan Tamil poetry (along with Meena Kandasamy) (published by Navayana, Delhi). Also translated plays and poems from Tamil which formed part of an Anthology of Dalit Writing in Tamil and articles from Malayalam which formed part of an Anthology of Dalit writing in Malayalam ( both published by Oxford University Press, India). Translated stories also formed part of an Anthology of New Dalit Writing from South India, under the title ‘No Alphabet in Sight’, published by Penguin. He has translated a collection of poems by Tamil poet Leena Manimekalai from Tamil to Malayalam published by DC Books in October. Has written English subtitles for five feature films in Malayalam and Tamil. He has been a columnist with the English National daily newspaper The Pioneer (Kerala edition) and Headlinekerala, a web daily.

 

 

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha works in the Indira Gandhi National Open University, Shillong (Meghalaya) as an Academic Administrator. He has over 30 years of teaching and administrative experience. He has six collections of poetry and his forms have been published world wide. Some of his poems are due to appear soon in an Anthology of Indian Poetry in English to be published by Harper Collins.