I Can Live and Other Poems

1

ALLERGIES

The barber sees

a potential customer

in me but I pass

the tense faces

after the long walk sunshine

a fag in the car

short carnival:

neatly hide faded vests drying

in the balcony

helter skelter

afternoon windy rain

allergies again

2

WHO CARES?

Death hides in the body

but who cares? it’s obscure

living on the edge

seeking space into swamp

they all talk about the sun

swelling in the sky

and close eyes to the spider

spinning waves on the ceiling

all alone, but who cares?

suspicion and distance

like lovers they pretend

to leave yet stay longer

dishing out luxuries

showing off generosity

on the heart’s fancy table

waiting to welcome the guest

3

MIRAGE

They say my birth was a heavenly event:

here I am suffering third-rate villains

that erect walls to stop the chariots

from Merkaba: the angels fume but who cares

heaven is a mirage in human zoo

4

NEW YEAR

The dates on calendar question

all my undone acts

and memories that haunt or fade

in nightly nakedness

stumbling toward the next day’s sun

without celebration

at 63 January jeers

my degenerating sex

a still itch: mantra and mirror

quiet God and drying petals

5

GLEAM OF LIGHT

Late August:

clouded midnight, sneezing

restless in bed

all negative vibes

well up the mind

jackals yell outside

I read Hsu Chicheng

for a gleam of light

6

I CAN LIVE

I’ve outlived

the winter’s allergies

and depressing rains

in a human zoo

I can live

my retirement too

without pension and medicine:

the wheelchair doesn’t frighten

I can live

uncared and unknown

survive broken home

the numbness of the arms

the pain in the neck

and inflation too

7

I SEE HISTORY CRIPPLED

Time’s wrinkling fingers

trivialize the sun and snow

in a crooked land

I see history crippled

with midnight dyspnoea

the green umbrella

hosts disaster:

the avalanche waits on its shoulders

the wound opens

8

DEAD OR ALIVE

My shrinking body

even if I donate

what’s there for research:

devil in the spine

abusing tongue in sleep

or bleeding anus

defy all prayers

on bed or in temple-

the same heresy

oozing and stinking

onanist excursion

dead or alive

9

CLAY DREAMS

They make my face

ugly in my own sight

what shall I see in the mirror?

there is no beauty

or holiness left

in the naked nation:

the streams flow dark

and the hinges of doors moan

politics of corruption

I weep for its names

and the faces they deface

with clay dreams

10

SANGAM

The crack in the sky

is not the rosy cleavage

to rape the body

nor is the beast any free

to escape the bloody river

that reflects stony wrath

in doggy position

they all expect their reward

for burying the noise

of sunny fire wheeling

in frozen passion

turn beggars they all

search warmth with ash-smeared sadhus

at roadside tea stall

whistle and wash off sins

in sangam muddled

with privileged few soar high

but I’m glad I crawl on earth

my roots don’t wave in the air

11

WHY DO THEY QUESTION

If hand can meet hand

and embrace is not sin

if lip to lip kissing

or cheek to cheek hugging

is not forbidden

why do they question

meeting of thighs or breasts:

divine in action

it’s spring; the body’s love

itching to bloom with soul

12

QUAIL DREAMS

I’ve lived 23000 days

awaiting a day that could become

god’s day in eden, earth or within

or even my grandson’s smile

on his first day in mother’s arms

now I sit an empty boat

on a still river

and shake with quail dreams

13

HERE AND NOW

The body is precious

a vehicle for awakening

treat it with care, said Buddha

I love it’s stillness

beauty and sanctity

here and now

sink into its calm

to hear the whisper in all

its ebbs and flows

erect, penetrate

the edge of life and loss

return to wholeness

14

THEY TOO KNOW

Flowers don’t bloom

in tribute to

builders’ apathy

the trees are dying:

they too know they’ll be felled

or the heat will kill

the concrete rises

calamity too will rise

none talk the ruins they bring

15

STRANGER

I don’t know where I lived

in my former existence

but the hell I’ve breathed

for three decades here

couldn’t adapt my soul:

I remain a stranger

to them and to the cold walls

that put out the candle-lights

in my roofless house

16

INDIFFERENCE

Being good

couldn’t make me know

any better

I was harmless

they sold my name

and became

what I couldn’t

in the middle of day light

I vanished like faces

from voters’ list

with no difference

to who wins

or who loses

17

I TOO DESCEND

Some fresh bones and designer dress

distorted hopes, cataract vision

hardly any better the faces of the body

and if there is a soul, the soul hears

the map guides the mind’s midnight

but the destination is different

deception is courage

they know the end of journey

and get down when the train stops

I too descend

18

ECHOES HAUNT

Sleepy roads

with or without light

tear the sky

I watch the murmur

in the misty darkness

Tao of midnight

tranquil emptiness:

breathing deceptive cold

the echoes haunt

19

QUAKES IN ELEMENTS

She trusts her reading of my horoscope

and predicts a comfortable future

even as I know my toothache

now means the fall of my teeth

and anal bleeding means sure surgery

my dying libido is as uncomfortable

as the dream of humans sleeping on the ceiling:

their flattened naked back amuses me

who knows who’ll fall first?

before I wake up I try to gauge the selvage

of restless lines, moon, Saturn, and Venus

conspiring new challenges

for the quakes in my elements

it’s already mid-November

and the bouts of bronchial allergy

tell of the cycle of incarceration

her moving lips are no soporific

20

NUDE DELIGHT

The coiled divine

renews eternity

in the body’s cells

fed on sensuous sweetness

and moment’s littleness

for years fleshly reign

seemed spirit’s radiance

in the deep pit

now suddenly sparks the itch

for heaven’s nude delight

21

LET’S MEET

Before the bananas ripe

let’s meet at least once

lest the fog dampen passion

let’s water our love

the sun is bright this morning

and night’s promising

let’s meet and unfreeze winter

of years, drink some wine

restore warmth of faith and hope

and heal the breaches

without black goggles for seeing

let’s meet at least once

22

DRIED VISION

Teary eyes

with sparks and lightning

dried vision

caged existence

seek deliverance

muttering old prayers

23

SEASON’S PRICK

Unpruned roses

and unknown grasses

make me aware

of the emptiness

the dusk in her room sounds

she searches out

her shadow in

the rising moon

I feel the season’s prick

24

DEGENERATION

When gods are out to teach me a lesson

where to go to pray or find relief?

my prophet friends predict each day good

and the future fulfilling, the palmists find

the sun, Saturn, Venus and rahu hostile:

they seek money for rituals, stones or mantras

while God gives us the best in life gratis

I can’t change man or nature, nor the karmas

now or tomorrow they all delude

in the maze of expediency and curse

stars, fate, destiny, or life before and after

degenerating the mind, body, thought and divine

25

CRACKS

The cracks on the parapet

have widened for the peepal

to stay green for once

rains too want us to drench

our heads and feel one

with cool wind

in a dark corner

shed fears and enjoy love

26

BUGGING

Each night a challenge:

suffocative restlessness

sleepless spirits’ noise

sexual starvation

anal menstruation

dingy subconscious

conspire behind closed eyes

absent healing and

wishful miracles

a clueless sun rises

bugging time and life

27

NEIGHBOR

With scheming mind

and crafty heart

loud and rebellious

a professional loser

perfumes the room

with flattering lips

and strays a preacher

to revolution

28

VACATION

Because I had no STD code to dial Heaven

I walked into Hell measuring happiness

in buried lines on palms and shrinking head:

I couldn’t know when love sieved and sank

like a ship on vacation

29

YOU CAN’T SCENT ME

In the poems I write

you can read my mind

even know when I’m blue

before the mirror

when I stand in the dark

you can’t scent me

nor will words comfort

in chilly December

when alone in candle light

empty coffee cups

deride the syllables

I spin to make haiku

my hairs in air

reveal the baldness:

wank without wad

30

I TALK TO MYSELF IN BED

After a day’s labor

they lie on a sand pile

in the basement of

a new shopping complex

rising slowly next door

like the waves at Nellore beach

that broke before wiping

my name on the sand

I take a snap at sunset:

they play with plastic bottles in water

or eat fried fish in the huts

I’m warned against placing it on Facebook

she hates my face

nor am I allowed to speak

to the drug addict picked up

from the door steps of

Varsha Apartments

his father questions

if there’s law in the country

only a street dog wags its tail

I wheeze and take a seroflo puff

and wonder if I should visit

Nimhans and get checked

to manage my sleep

she questions why I think of Bangalore

for treatment of all my ailments

and takes me to Bannerghatta zoo

for animal viewing.

A. Laptander

Author: A. Laptander

Attended Continuing Education classes twice a year to maintain licenses. Assessed customers’ insurance needs and customized policies to protect their financial stability.

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