Foliage poems by Mukherjee Parnab

Commemorating Human Rights Day, 2019 with a poem and an extempore by Parnab Mukherjee.

CYCLE OF FOLIAGE POEMS

OPENING CHORUS

You can hear the whistle blow

hundred

thousand

miles

away from home

becomes

the fragrance of juin,

jaba

Kanakchampa,

Gulmohar,

Casurina

Always.

SOLO FOR TWO VOICES

Look over my shoulder

peep out

Between meadows

turning into Special Economic Zones

and orange slag skies

You’ll find a

dry tear

baby’s lament

a cicada’s call

or

the birth

of a new lilac.

POEM ZERO

To gently

To remarkably remember

The aadhar

Of all the aadhar cards

POEM INDETERMINATE

Can a tree become a poem

Or muted into a verse

Can a poem become a tree-

Shape shifts –

Post flower generation

Hashtag posts

Democracy

Dance of democracy

On our dressing table

Or all hearts

Have a tree

That is a poem

A banyan.

POEM 1

For all that is gone

And will go

For all that is past and remains

nostalgia

For all that is forward and races past

For all the fors (sic)

Fox trots, justification, notifications

And postponed wishfulness

For all that is transient,

semi-permanent,

temporary

ephemeral

ethereal, corporeal

For these todays

tomorrows,

past participates,

gerunds,

future perfect

traversed

roads

For all that and more

Plant a pomegranate tree!

POEM 2

When do metaphors shift

why do they move

in a snail’s pace

from here to there

Why do they remain lacklustre in

all its glory

and glorious in its

most mundane

Is the shortest distance between

the rose and the

muzzle

lie

between the fallen chinar

leaf

and the hangul’s walk towards it

Between

now and then

Between

in betweens

muscles swell up

muscles sag

Plant a cherry tree!

POEM 3

I know the

colour of my conversations,

magenta, ochre, deeply green, Prussian blue

I know the frame

that I wear in the eyes

do not reflect,

refract my idea

of passive resistance

I know deep

down in that

despair

disbelief

inspire

getting up

There is the

ever contracting arch

of concern

Do not call me

to hear spinning webs

of fairy tales

Instead plant a chinar!

POEM 4

Books

Manuscripts

Frayed Edges

Fading yellow pages,

rusty with time

One syllable sticks to another to complete

a word

One letter missing

fades away the smell

One missing letter

One missing alphabet

One comma there

Out there, there

One semi- colon stuck in the gut

You don’t know

how time could

fly between the

creases of the bed sheets

or soaked in the handkerchief..

lies the passion

of labour, lust, looking away, looking within

You dig into

your excess,

abscess,

bylanes

drain pipes,

flowing in their

veins

is

all that is

REM

NON-REM

slow wave

deep wave

sutures

Infarct

In fact,

the time is

ripe to plant a moulsari!

POEM 5

Roots wind up

like poems as the

tree bends…

Flakes wind up

like haikus as

the pencil is sharpened.

In a country

that has stopped writing letters to

each other.

You only see

storehouses of empty envelopes

godowns of postcards,

emptied ink bottles

letters in duress

alphabets under a perfect curfew

And stray punctuation

marks and

figures of speech

all looking

for an orchard to rest

Under the shade of banyan!

POEM 6

Dehydrated?

Drink a salt

sweet balanced

water

Vitamin B12 or D

Deeply felt shingles?

Pin and needles

squeezing and dizzy,

wheezy,

sit down.

sit up

be supine

under the disintegrating archive

of times

brick by brick

mason by mason

stone by stone

wood by wood

flooring by flooring

the entire edifice

becomes a castle

without soul!

Give it light!

Plant an Oleander!

POEM 7

Winter

is a little far

Extended summer

Prepaid monsoon

Never to arrive spring

The dried

leaves of yesterday

Tomorrow’s fences

Have all conspired

To stop the liberetto

From becoming an opera

Before the cue sheet turns into a score

Plant an oak!

Standing tall in a world that is too short.

POEM 8

Just a rhododendron tree

Would have turned

this lacklustre

ultra-designer

courtyard into

a flexible

shape-shifting

inverse

converse

obverse

space into a

breathing space

for theatre performance

Bonus: the play

would get a smell

As it is performed.

POEM 9

If you

care to look,

gaze, linger

across all that

is simply

called passe,

ingenuine

sanguine

unfixed,

normal

You will notice that

the mucus

the polyp

the migraine

the heady smell

the claustrophobia

all gets into the skin

Cure: Pick up

a jasmine, smell

inhale and exhale!

POEM 10

Tomorrow’s poem shall not

repeat today’s

lines, phrases

or even the

line-break between

the sentences

but tomorrow’s

poem will

remain indebted

to the

redness of

the past, present

and future

for the poem

will not be loose

the lives will not be naïve,

they shall grow into a rose.

POEM 11

Just this time

you have to

allow the

deodar to

leap out of the

sidewalk

and populate

our senses,

our ambience

our disappearing trees,

our seed, weed, ferns, flora

our bio degradable

our bio-degradability

our apologies to ecology

to be

held accountable

as a promissory note

Let Deodars rise

tall, swift

and become

the wand of

our tweaked todays.

POEM 12

A dozen

Dahlias

Would have turned

Your hair into

A river of smells

POEM 13

All letting go(s)

All goodbyes

All ushering in

All sunrise

Clamour

All celebrations

Bouts of laughter

All shaking up

All shaking through

All fumigated

All solstice

All excess

All shadows

All reversal

All brightly lit objectifications

All looking for

All upsides, downsides

All onwards

Progressive

All evenings, dust, journeys

All equinoxes

All can begin

With a crisp petal

of a palash

that fires the imagination of an autumn

POEM 14

Spot the light

Form circle

Unrelenting

The ever increasing orb

All falls on that

hyacinth- memories

Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice,

Rodney King, Jamil Robertson

Black lives always matter

Even without a hashtag.

POEM 15

You vow

row

the boat

across green

of desire

to another shore

only to realize

that a little more has to be covered

actually,

a lot more

from where you started

to the island

which houses a baobab.

POEM 16

You have to tell me

how the sunflowers

leapt out of Van Gogh’s painting

and for some seconds

rested on your table

only to go back to the painting again.

POEM 17

Transfixed

Look

Iris

Or

Irises in

the field

Najeeb, come back home.

POEM 18

Lillain,

Lisa,

Lal Salaam

Lute

Living

Luther

Lijjat

Lothario

Lysander

Lice, loss

Liberation

Liverpool

Laxative

Laughter

Lesotho

Lumding

A lily in water

A water lily

POEM INDETERMINATE

Ferguson,

You’ve got to tell me

How black lives get reduced to

Solidarity hashtags

And not into

consciousness

POEM ZERO

To be loved

Is it present continuous?

Or future perfect?

POST SCRIPT-

Krishnachura

Ashwath

Bel

The names

ring a bell

inside corridors of

vernacular memory.

Memory means

memory signs

memory montage

memory morphs

into a fresh

Radhachura flowers

towards the horizon

towards

the faint embers

of reds, suffused

with saffron

as a sunset

spreads onto the water.

You can see

the birth of a new lilac

I can rediscover

What story telling

sermon

talks

analysis

mean to you

and then ask

yourself

Is there a democracy?

SOLO FOR ONE VOICE

Thorn

edgy

sharp

resilient

waves that fall back

one after the other,

yet the boulevard

holds onto the

cactus plant

or

in the shanties

across budge budge

railway line-

there is still

the struggling sign of hope

in the form

of a frangipani.

FINAL CHORUS-

Can you jump

three sentences

Trek your way across

two unevenly spaced out paragraphs

crawl your way

across a dangerous apostrophe

that threatens

singulars and plurals

and

make your way through

a thicket of similes

to reach a point of

high on nadir.

Nevertheless,

waiting for you is a blue lotus

or

heightened consciousness

or

a low down.


In Difference by Parnab Mukherjee

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