A. K. Ramanujan poems

A. K. Ramanujan(16 March 1929 - 13 July 1993 / Mysore / India)
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A River

- by A. K. Ramanujan 24

In Madurai,
city of temples and poets,
who sang of cities and temples,
every summer
a river dries to a trickle
in the sand,
baring the sand ribs,
straw and women's hair
clogging the watergates
at the rusty bars
under the bridges with patches
of repair all over them
the wet stones glistening like sleepy
crocodiles, the dry ones
shaven water-buffaloes lounging in the sun
The poets only sang of the floods.

He was there for a day
when they had the floods.
People everywhere talked
of the inches rising,
of the precise number of cobbled steps
run over by the water, rising
on the bathing places,
and the way it carried off three village houses,
one pregnant woman
and a couple of cows
named Gopi and Brinda as usual.

The new poets still quoted
the old poets, but no one spoke
in verse
of the pregnant woman
drowned, with perhaps twins in her,
kicking at blank walls
even before birth.

He said:
the river has water enough
to be poetic
about only once a year
and then
it carries away
in the first half-hour
three village houses,
a couple of cows
named Gopi and Brinda
and one pregnant woman
expecting identical twins
with no moles on their bodies,
with different coloured diapers
to tell them apart.

Elements of Composition

- by A. K. Ramanujan 20

Composed as I am, like others,
of elements on certain well-known lists,
father's seed and mother's egg

gathering earth, air, fire, mostly
water, into a mulberry mass,
moulding calcium,

carbon, even gold, magnesium and such,
into a chattering self tangled
in love and work,

scary dreams, capable of eyes that can see,
only by moving constantly,
the constancy of things

like Stonehenge or cherry trees;

add uncle's eleven fingers
making shadow-plays of rajas
and cats, hissing,

becoming fingers again, the look
of panic on sister's face
an hour before

her wedding, a dated newspaper map,
of a place one has never seen, maybe
no longer there

after the riots, downtown Nairobi,
that a friend carried in his passport
as others would

a woman's picture in their wallets;

add the lepers of Madurai,
male, female, married,
with children,

lion faces, crabs for claws,
clotted on their shadows
under the stone-eyed

goddesses of dance, mere pillars,
moving as nothing on earth
can move &mdash

I pass through them
as they pass through me
taking and leaving

affections, seeds, skeletons,

millennia of fossil records
of insects that do not last
a day,

body-prints of mayflies,
a legend half-heard
in a train

of the half-man searching
for an ever-fleeing
other half

through Muharram tigers,
hyacinths in crocodile waters,
and the sweet

twisted lives of epileptic saints,

and even as I add
I lose, decompose,
into my elements

into other names and forms,
past, and passing, tenses
without time,

caterpillar on a leaf, eating,
being eaten.

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Poems by A. K. Ramanujan, A. K. Ramanujan's poems collection. A. K. Ramanujan is a classical and famous poet (16 March 1929 - 13 July 1993 / Mysore / India). Share all poems of A. K. Ramanujan.

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