Paeans - and Aches

over the years

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Non-poem for the Peace Mela

I was going to write a ghazal about peace
But I woke up to the neighbour’s loud TV.

I was going to write a haiku about brotherly love
But I had to fight my way into a local train.

I was going to write a villanelle about co-existence
But I argued with my dad this morning.

I was going to write an ode to equal opportunity
But I saw late-arriving VIPs stroll to reserved seats
While others were herded to the back.

I was going to write a poem for the Peace Mela today.

A slightly different version of the one written for and read at the Peace Mela.


Illness, pain and grief are part of the ICU.
Death’s waiting too, with his net, in the ICU

An old woman screams against the dying of the night;
Her body’s giving up but not she, not yet, in the ICU.

A baby—a baby—tubes feed and drain him.
Hasn’t breast-fed or got his diaper wet, in the ICU.

Accident victim: eyes vacant through bandages.
It hasn’t got inside his head that he’s in the ICU.

My mother. Needles, catheters, bedpans.
Phosphates low, dignity shed, in the ICU

You ask me to believe? You want me to pray?
Peter’s faith won’t be rekindled. Not in the ICU.