Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Poems by Vijaya Singh

Vijaya Singh teaches English Literature in a college in Chandigarh and writes on cinema, and literature. Her first volume of poetryFirst Instinct is due for publication soon. She dwells on memories and relationships in today’s world. Using crisp and simple diction she can surprise you with the total effect. The Third Eye is a delightful poem describing the feelings when you reach an impasse and the last three lines offer a solution full of surprising energy. On coming across your photograph I, II & III leave you wondering whether they are all about the same person but the poet retains the mystery quite well. Read and enjoy! - Sadeqa Ghazal

The Third Eye
Having walked into a dead end
what do you do?
after staring at it?
Unable to believe this is where
you were headed to.
Kick yourself for not seeing
where it would all lead.
Blame the lack of something
in your childhood for what you have turned out to be.
Accept that all your life you have only prepared 
to walk into dead ends.
Seek directions from strangers.
Finally, nudge your sleeping instincts
to guide unsure steps.
Concentrate in the middle of the forehead
to awaken the third-eye
the opening of which will burn down forever, all distraction.
Mobile Phones
They have memories.
the numbers you dialled
how often
how long?
They store messages
as templates of pain and pleasure.
Phones, they die
and refuse to ring,
or receive a message
that is only in the mind.
No network
taps that nerve.
Who waits past these arrives
Even if I could, I wouldn’t know
where to find you?
Moving always 
you are hard to trace.
I had thought 
a call was enough.
A number
two numbers.
They ring
but never reach.
I have put away the phone
no longer, the speed dial of emotions.
A neon yellow envelop
awaited past all arrives
Is locked up 
in a mind fire-walled.  
On coming across your photograph I
In the interlude years
when my eyes have not scanned your face
it has grown harsh 
(didn’t you always have something of a granite will?)
and filled up  in places
where love once softened your poet’s brow
and quickened heart to a tattoo pulse on the temple.
Your eyes are sad and withdrawn
your tight-lipped half smile does not reach your eyes. 
The body is treacherous
it reveals more than we care to share,
the camera more so
it freezes us exactly where it should not.
On coming across your photograph II
The frame has not changed but the picture has.
Your defenses are unimpeachable,
like a good soldier
you are covered from all sides
right, left, up, front, back.
You can never be covered enough though,
isn’t that what Sun Tzu taught?
But you don’t go to him for love.
What did he know of desire anyway,
he killed upfront the king’s 100 or more concubines
to drive home a lesson in discipline 
he couldn’t bear to be laughed at by women.
On coming across your photograph III
You are standing with arms crossed against your chest
in your characteristic defensive posture
as I first remember you.
Your eyes are watchful, like a cat
even if there are bags under them
suggesting poor sleep.
Your crimson shirt does not soften the pallor of your face
your mouth is clamped shut without a hint of emotion
except a brusque tension.
You are all there, solid.
Not about to fall apart
held together by a sheer will for life.
Sunday in your city
You were still half asleep
dreaming unrecalled dreams
when I entered quietly
your city of ports
through the south gate.
Half asleep myself
my mouth open
inhaling the morning breeze
coming in waves towards me
from your sea-facing house.
I imagine you in your veranda
one hand resting on the iron railing
another holding a cup of tea
you walk towards the swing 
sit down to take a look at the morning newspapers.
No, it doesn’t announce my arrival
not that you would have guessed. 
An uninvited visitor
is marking your address on the map 
calculating the distance from her hotel to your house.
Holds a compass that points only in your direction
knows by heart all the routes leading to Highland Park.
But she will not stir from her iron bed
her legs are lead, her shoes wooden
the road to your house, a quicksand of time.