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Half-inch Poetry

Reluctant footsteps
at my door
should I ask him in?

****

Unfinished poems
at my bedside
I will miss evenings like these
smell of virgin rims

****

Unfinished bedside poems
know
to pause,

    sometimes,

is to end

****

I write
to remember
to forget

****

I live life
life lives me
Both lives-
are they mine?

****

A thousand
suns
rise
set
inside me
blinded.

****

Last Night
I made a wish to
a flickering bulb
far away

Sky was thick with black clouds.

****

Read Archana Sahni’s He Loved a Poet

He Loved a Poet is one of my favourite poems by Archana Sahni. It brilliantly explores the theme of unrequited love from a fresh perspective. It is a plea of a woman-poet to her love,

Metamorphosis by Tina Banerjee

who loves her ‘poetry’ more than the ‘woman who wrote it’. The reader-beloved cannot see through the duality of the poet’s persona- the woman writing poetry(the poet) and the woman in love; He cannot read the poet’s mind in her words.

For the woman-poet, poetry is a vehicle to reach out to her beloved-reader. She is a woman first, and a poet later. She is not born a poet, it is her love for her beloved that made her one. “ This vocation is given to me by you”…” I would never have become a poet/if you could have been mine” , she admits. But to her dismay, her beloved “ love(s) the poet/ he could have also loved the woman”. But he does not, will not, cannot. Poetry for the poet becomes more than a play of words; for the reader it is ‘just another poem’.

For the woman, “each poem is (not) just a poem’- it is a plea, a mirror of her state of mind, a mode of communication. She writes for him, with a brutal knowledge that he cannot read through her words. Yet, she writes with a hope; she writes because she loves him enough not to stop writing for him, she continues to remain a poet, even though the poems come in the way of the ‘woman who loves’

The poem subtly questions many issues that lie at the heart of poetry writing and reading: it re-analyses the relation a writer has with her/himself and with the reader, it is an odyssey in search of an ‘ideal reader’*, a delineation of the pain of not having found one. On the surface, the poem appears to be a woman-poet’s plea for love to her reader-beloved. However, the undercurrents run deeper.

Poetry, or any work of art, comes to life only in the presence of an ideal reader- a reader who reads beneath and beyond the written word and can understand the true emotion that brings forth a work. However, an ‘Ideal reader’ may not be available. The woman-poet is in love with the reader-beloved and yearns for an ‘ideal reader’ in him. However, to her disappointment he isn’t/cannot be the one. She continues to write with a hope that someday he will read through her poems, and will bring them to life by truly understanding the undercurrents that run beneath them.

The reader is however not the Romantic reader- the one who dissects words and emotions to unveil the persona beneath the poem; he is a Modern reader who has announced the ‘death of the author’ and is happy to see his own reflection in the poem he reads. The Romantic poet is mercilessly tied to the hands of a narcissist Modern reader. The fate of such a marriage is gloomy; making the poet yearn for love, understanding and acceptance not as a poet “in books” but as a “woman in flesh”.

The poem is a plea for an ideal reader. A writer always longs for a reader who can understand a work in its true sense and context. An Ideal reader is a writer’s true love. The title of the poem, He Loved a Poet, can be read as the unideal reader’s self-love. He loves the poet who writes poems because the poems are a reflection of himelf. He is a narcissist who loves to see his own reflection in others; and in the longing for self, he continually evades the voice of  ‘the other’.

The poet, like Echo, is in love with Narcissus, (Read the legend of Echo and Narcissus here) who is not the ideal reader. She longs for him to read her love and longing in her poems, but he has “close(ed) his pores to them”. Like Echo, She would not stop responding to the calls, she would continue to write with a hope that someday he will “throw the book into the fire and set (her) free”, the book that is “in the way of the dreamer”.

The poet does not wish to remain a poet anymore. In fact, she wishes she had never been one. She longs to be a woman who is loved as deeply as she is loved as a poet. But, the poet in her will always come in her way. she will  have to learn to live with the acquired identity and suffice with love that grows with every poem she writes.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

*Ideal Reader: The imaginary audience who would, ideally, understand every phrase, word, and allusion in a literary work, and who would completely understand the literary experience an author presents, and then responds emotionally as the writer wished. Term coined by Wolfgang Iser.

Read another poem written on a similar theme, In response to Sahni’s >>

Copyright, Tina Rathore.

Time and Time Again

Puppets by John Martindale@http://www.paintingsilove.com/image/show/20158/puppets

A-g-a-i-n
the Shake
speare stage
is set

an
other handker
chief mischief

an
other harm
onized madness

another
yet another
war over
poetic justice

The Trojan Battle
The Lankan Army
Henry’s politic-o’-love

another
yet another
haran
agni pariksha
pyre sacrifice

same questions
same answers

- of love
that lasts
unlasts.

Copyright, Tina Rathore

My mother always says, “It would be difficult growing up, but you must.”

“Don’t Grow up … There are too many rules and restrictions” -   Hugh Hefner

“It was then that I declared, resolved, and determined that I would never under any circumstances be a politician, much less a grocer; that I would stop right there, remain as I was–and so I did; for many years I not only stayed the same size but clung to the same attire.”

Oskar Matzerath, the protagonist of Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum recounts his third birthday when he decided to “stop right there”- in that moment of time and space, in that year. Oskar willingly stops himself from growing above the age of three. His unwillingness to grow during the times when losing innocence was vital for survival justifies his resolution.

We too, like Oskar, have moments of personal insights when we wish we could keep the day to ourselves and stop where we are. The feeling gets stronger with every passing year and often a part of us resolves not to grow. While we confront every next birthday that marks another year gone, we choose not to keep track of numbers anymore. B’days become redundant, uninvited, burdensome.

Growing up is difficult, I agree with mother, but why “must” we grow? Can we not seize a part of ourselves, and keep it entirely to our own?  And as we keep losing ourselves in the process of ‘growth’, can’t be become less careless about things we have and want to have?

Time grows; and grows fast. In the moment of (in)decisiveness of growing and not willing to grow, we are huddled into the mechanical process, often losing track of ourselves. As we grow, years appear to shrink and days pass by like a freight train. When I was a kid, every single day seemed a thousand years long; every year, a light year apart. Every moment offered a life altering vision, every experience was life itself, and every other person appeared to gift something irreplaceable. Every day was a birthday.

Sometimes, while sitting on my favorite childhood bench, carelessly observing the surroundings with overburdened eyes and reading the daily newspaper, I suddenly hear the chirping of birds and the distant dog barks, the rattling of kitchen utensils, unexpected chuckles of my grandmother, and the sound of a silent wind, and for a moment, I am in the time which I thought to have left far behind,  I am a child patiently imbibing the world around me, listening to the careless sounds, at peace with myself and the world.

Such fraction of moments, which get rarer with age, are life altering; they bring upon a realization that time is stagnant, and so is the world, and we are growing up, and growth is taking away everything that was once beautiful. In that moment of time travel, I want to be like Oskar- stay where I am; seize time and care no more about losing it; retaining innocent vision and watch the world outgrowing its apparel.

With another birthday, I am not sure whether to take heed of my mother’s advice and resist my irresistible passion for immobility or succumb to my world that refuses to grow beyond this year.

Painting by Debra Hurd @ http://debrahurd.blogspot.com/

To
day I
have

bailed out

that
day

clouds held back your tears
thunder outcried you
lightning hit flashes
in your eyes
sky wore
colors
of your skin

brown
black
yellow
grey

Will you
not
today

come out
play with me
raise castles of wet clay

I
I am
drenched
in memories
of days
that never were.

Copyright, Tina Rathore

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