Poems by Bibhu Padhi
for Satyabrata Tripathy
I wonder why I wonder!
I wonder how I wonder!
I lie on my bed
through the day,
my head resting on
a gathering of pillows.
My children are
no longer quite mine;
they belong to
There’re of course
the things I love--
my small possessions.
The stacks of books,
the sensitive bidis*
who know me so well.
Others might not know,
but there’re times of
an unbelievable lucidity
when I laugh at myself.
That is when all wonders
come to their close.
I go back to my bed, dream.
*bidi a much smaller and a cheaper version of a cigar, smoked mostly by rural Indians.
It seems, somewhere, in California,
it hangs loose, in need of nailing
words, a long course of repairs.
Even now, long after expert hands
took notice of it in their
five-fingered, precise lines.
A gate opening to fictional voices,
straining to be heard by men and gods,
narrated with much laughter and anger
in rhyming lines of unvarying lengths--
forthright, complacent, cocksure.
How can that gate allow our cold luck
into the warmth of company, so far
from us, so much unlike anything
we’ve known till now--
a creator’s wish to be identified by
what he creates from the white noise
of San Francisco Bay, speaking to
no one except a few, meaning nothing?
We’re told, they have built a story
around the Gate, on a raised platform,
so that the strutting figures could be seen
strident accents, now maturing into
a sordid aggregate of venerable episodes.
A tour de force. A masterpiece of the mind.
The words from the dark balconies of praise
are many, uttered in one breath, neglectful
of life’s humbler modes of extension, its
darker announcements of paralysed fates.
Is there anywhere a voice of the heart, a word
of consolation, a syllable of gentleness?
Let the Gate remain where it is, artfully anchored
to its place by nails of praise. Let our failures
float about it, find their unblemished places
of sympathy, their lonely retreats into themselves.
About the poet
Bibhu Padhi's poems have appeared in distinguished magazines throughout India, UK, USA and Canada, such as Indian Literature, The Illustrated Weekly of India, Quest, Contemporary Review, Encounter, The Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, The Rialto, Stand, New English Review, New Letters, New Criterion, Poet Lore, Poetry (Chicago), Prairie Schooner, Southwest Review and have been included in numerous anthologies and textbooks, the most recent one in The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry. His eleventh book of poems Meditations on Being: Upanishadic Poems, will be published this year.