Choosing poetry –
Of obscure, aspirant Indian poets –
Bookshop – comparing. Adding to the crisis:
Checking covers, flipping pages. Curves. Prices.
Tishani Doshi — Rs. 700,
Her body all over the cover
Makes — even before the opening
Lines are met — Mani
From Swami And Friends a self-declared
Mani sets aside his club
To inhale sweet Doshi-meter.
Daljit Nagare — Again, 700:
Carelessly worn out looking face
Into a thumbnail inserted:
Like a souvenir shot of a German pub
From a street corner, deserted —
Not that that image by itself is that unromantic.
Flip pages — premeditated,
Not undull, dettol-scented poetry.
Sanitized, a daub pretentious
That that face itself now
Looks as if it’s about to yawn.
Nagare? Tishani Doshi?
Or — Jeet Thayil (married to
Old Lawrence the Bookman
To a walking sausage
(On the side) in crisp whispers
Promotes a Bawa Vintage she’s unsure to buy.
Sausage has a decided opinion
And that opinion hangs, but — her
Head held taut — she doesn’t see.
She’s been there before, and she has read all the more
Of what has been told of natives like me:
To disregard, to take as glass, to distance
And of all the smug diseases I carry.
She’s decided not to purchase that Bawa — too bad.
The bookman explains and explains
In his aging bookman’s bookish rhetoric; tongue.
Sausage — you desirable granny — nor are you that young.
Tishani Doshi — there’s a second edition
Published a year later. There, too,
Her thick unforgiving lips and
Look out at the fucking Hades in you
(Wonder who took Tishani’s photos for her?
Was it her natural irresistible charm, then,
Or an effect triggered by the photographer?
Or — like I do — did Tishani go press the self-timer?)
Doshi and Nagare?
She’s got a poem on the
Kandy Museum, too — Wow! impressive.
So, Tishani’s surely in, do I get
Daljit, too? 700+700 = comes to thousand four.
An equally dote, but ugly Welsh woman poet
Forgotten in a corner could have certainly cost me more.
There’s a bitch of a bard selling for 2000 clean.
Seriously — In Sri Lanka, in 2013.
Deus Ex Machina
Spots the eye, then, from a corner
Stamped away, by poets and sundry:
A Neruda — the hand picks up
In tandem with the good eye.
The cover — not that bad, the
Poetry? Nerudite as always, perhaps?
600 — smooth scent bound; and held as a promise
By the covers and
A still of two far away distant, eternal lovers.