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Long Walk, Jacques

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Jacques Kallis retires from Test Cricket.

All stern-faced those who held a bat straight
Are leaving, one after one:
Brother Jaques — rock-solid
Unattractive mountain standing at the wicket, that I disliked —
You, too, are gone now, you emotion-less tin
Man of a gift.

Not with a whimper. With a bang:
A nerve-held hundred on the last outing
Until the last moment, all emotions held in check:
A signature, one last time,
The steady cannon you were; before your enemy’s deck.
They are leaving, now — yes: one after one,

To be commentators,
Politicians, money-clad
Media icons — how sad.

Where you walk out, Jacques,
Other Jacques — like in Dickens’ book —
Will — perhaps — come and take over the good work,
Though not as good; not as as done by that
Whipping blade with a muscle to match;
Giant hands that scoop off from millimeters to the grass

And a number 3 who runs in steaming
Over after over; And bends his arse.

A rainbow sets
Of the Rainbow Nation.
Farewell, Brother Jacques —
Your willow, now breathing easy.




Awaiting the Supremo

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What one waits for is a
Colonial Authority
To walk in and to take a look around
So that you can lay down your weapons
And surrender with harmony:
So, no more do you have to think,
Make decisions, or fret for the sun;
No more would you have to lead, but be led
By the benevolence of empire and
The feigned vigour of a wooden gun.

Where you will be laid down and told to
Close your eyes and to shut down all thought
And to let memory cascade into a seamless void
To the salvation of what to think, one may ought.



Custody of Death

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If you try to shoot ’em and if you are
Shot back at and dies, or if you
Jump in some bog with your handcuffs on,
I will mute the TV, not bother what the
Police guy says, cos we already always know
That they killed you eitherways.

If you led them to some inevitable copse
Where granades, Chinese rifles, bullets,
Machets you had hidden with care
And if you tried to throw a granade at them
After leading them all the way there:
What other rational thing are you meant to do?

Police Spokesperson is a curious act to play:
Sit there under a switched on mic
And to repeat a script in an unrehearsed way.
Quite Stanislovskian — Fourth Wall and all,
From the Fourth Floor from which sometimes people fall.
A Keheliya in Khakhi is something to be.

But, people are happy — that these “suspects”
Jump into rivers, get their brains blown out
In ill-strategized escape plans. If they are killed
The crime wave goes down, the illiterate reason:
So, to kill crime they lead us to weapons hidden put.
They reveal the armoury and then, turn around to run away.

Let crime triumph crime and legitimate criminals
Walk “suspected” criminals to death by
Criminal jury and by criminal verdict
In criminal conditions by crime-mongering arms.
“Suspecion” be conviction, in criminal definition,
And us — the unconcerned, viwers of the sick drama unfold.



Sit and Start Talking

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After your rehearsed words have
Done their work — and after
You are no longer of use to me —
There’s no need anymore to prolong the act,
Or act flirtatious over a cup of tea.

Then, we should sit and start talking facts.
Or, better still — not talk anything at all.
For, there’s no audience, no critic for such
Drama or a stab scene of an opera:
Let the final drop to the indifferent earth dissolve.



Channel 5 Documentary of Sri Lanka

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In 1990, when the mothers, wives
And beloved others of those disappeared and dead,
Candles in hand lit miles and miles of clay oil lamps,
When mass graves were uncovered of those butchered,
Decimated, cut in two and discarded into the ground,
A younger Rajapakshe stood by the horrified crowd.

A younger Rajapakshe — no Gota, no Basil,
All sons, mere cubs —, as half decomposed,
Visible horrors of Torture Camp brutality,
Carried out by paid militants on the whim of
Corroded poli-trickery, patiently watch as once
Mutilated stories emerge of Southern lives lost to Southern guns.

So, today, when mothers, wives, beloved ones have
Stories to tell — stories that are incompetent
As to beg a listener to listen to —
With sub-humanity their de facto status
In a de facto state that is not given as home,
Should tears blot out, for they are Tamilian tears alone?

In that sour divide of who is “Patriot” and not,
The sad truth is that the government has too much left for
Too late to conceal. That they have collected the dead bodies
— While others are still counting the dead — and had
Carried them along with it, covering the gruesome collection with lies.
Now, it takes too much to keep a dead limb from falling, a cracked
Skull from dropping brain, all the while.

And in that lie that is spoken, promoted as truth,
We have been made to be liars, too; and on that is thrown
What the “dignity” of the “nation” they call. Has made
All of us Funeral Directors, and an “enemy” of any person who
Carries a spade. Those highways and concrete layers on which the
“Nation” is made are shallow coatings — unconvincing; just laid.

So, to do what works best with the infirm masses
— To distract (where you can’t force, buy or share) —
All milky CHOGAsMic dancers rock the boat with midriffs bare,
And swirl around and around to the speed of sound
As he sits by Old Charlie’s Chair while Outside, the Opposition’s
Attacked, Channel 4 is hounded: this is why you shouldn’t ever power-share.

Journalists followed and waylaid in the very heart of the week,
— Even in unfamiliar democratic jargon the assembly speaks —
The apple cart being pushed with many turns to negotiate
And each apple that threatens to topple with a halt to compensate.
Everything Channel 4 does, state heads say and questions asked are
Seen as magic and as unreal, as from democracy we are far,

For, by ignorance, blood, iron, lies and small kicks
Are we being ruled: those are our five-fold faith.
As our tragic journalists — the detrius retained —
And uneducated thugs sing songs where the regime is sane.
So, history repeats, first as tragedy; so, now as farce
As the emperor and his new clothes roll in a house of glass.



Spotting You In a Crowd

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They said that you were stuck up,
But that was not good enough for me,
As I waited for you by a half covered drain
— With the ill-prospect of unprovoked rain –,
While they were walking towards me, past me,
Desultorily — you, I kept an eye for,
Sweating underneath my clothes, in that heat.

It was January, then,
And ten years later,
We agree that of you a verse I must write.
But, we are strangers now — like voters in a polling booth —
Though your angel-like image is yet half dissolved to blot.
My feelings have long crumpled, as I felt for you back then,
Only scattered souvenirs of your youth remain.

But, I remember, how you mattered to me,
How there was about it an innocence
In that love with which I thought your mere breath I held.
It was a matter of mattering that would only happen
Back then, when you are spirited and lost to your own;
When that moment’s fragrance will stay on and would linger
Long long after that touch you’d scorn.

Undated file photo of Etan Patz

The Letter Never Read

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Depression and hurt often made her dramatic,
And it was something she had written to me
In one of her traumatic depression moods:
Now, lately discovered, a decade later,
Placed among some letters, receipts,

As safe as I — ten years ago — had left it,
Other dull, unimportant irrelevant things have since
Accumulated on top of it. I was not that keen
In reading a letter — as she told me — would tell me
What a heartless prude devoid of emotion I had been

And as I read it today, way past the deadline and its author,
I tell myself, well, this — this cannot be about me!
Not that I’m misted by narcissist self-importance
— Well I am, I am: but, what I mean is — not now —
But, this document is a pure disgrace to the lover in me.

Whom can I show this to, just for a second opinion?
This slander on who I am, what hurt, pain, cold-hearted
Neglect and past-caring-nonchalance I am said to give?
Perhaps, her frustration had driven her to morbid insanity,
But, that is what the men said of all women who riled to live.

I return it to where it was left for a decade,
The paper tinted yellow, now, guttered at the crease;
I still don’t think, in spite of what she says,
That I could have been what the paper states it is:
But, then, of course: we were wrongfully attached all the more.