Poem by Sunil Sharma

Sunil Sharma
Sunil Sharma is Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with 18 published books: Six collections of poetry; two of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award—2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015.
Sunil edits the English section of the monthly bilingual journal Setu published from Pittsburgh, USA:
The Blue Gypsy Camp
In the only open plot lives the wandering gypsy lot
crammed up in their temp camp.
The tents of blue flutter in the rude city wind,
and mock the tall buildings around, where
the articulate, English-spewing Indian middle class resides,
chasing their American Dream
in minds and hearts, hybrid;
The blue tents contain few utensils and a stove, an iron bed or two
and few beaded clothes, colourful, stacked in a corner.
In the tents with flapping sides, these itinerant children of the earth
rarely rest in the day, roam here and there, selling trinkets,
camping everywhere on open and hard grounds, outside
the city-limits, like the wandering poets
banned by the monarchies old or new,
—they still do in countries that do not like truths inconvenient to be told by these inspired/ frenzied souls—
always the hardy folks, they live simply and cling to the mother earth, like a suckling child, their lost way of life derisive of the life-style of the
Brown lords that invest in real estate, and consume
ale and cakes, fish-n-chips
like the prop Gora Sahibsj.
The curse of Kali
The dark-skinned girl sits bedecked outside the Kali Mandir
at the edge of the teeming and unplanned Mumbai suburb,
amid the believers going/coming out of the small mandir,
at feverish pace, throwing coins grudgingly at the frail child
with large Kohl-lined eyes that had somehow survived—
three crude attempts of infanticide; and hunger that was her only constant
ally, because her dying and battered grand-mother had warned
the famished family: do not murder the poor child, she is Kali incarnate and
can kill you all through her single curse and eye.
The workers
On the construction site, in the central suburban Mumbai, female workers work as a team, pass on the heavy red bricks to the other, every movement
graceful and precise,
like the steps of the ballet dancers agile;
these ballerinas are rough but full of life,
their heads covered with torn dupattas,
against the howling wind and swirling dust
that make the fat contractor gasp and cry;
immune to the landscape, lean bodies,
half-bent and perfectly synchronized,
do the back-breaking labour,
laughing and joking at the same time;
a young one feeds a child,
through this sisterhood of pain and understanding,
turn the dull and demanding work
into a pure and sensuous delight.
Deserted Towns
On lonely nights, when a howling wind swoops down suddenly on a cold town whose young ones leave daily for distant cities, never to return
and the wind chases the dead
and dry leaves collected
at the corners of the un-swept streets,
both the wind and the dry leaves create a
terrible music that unnerves a kid
asking for its father as the only gift,
and then—
the wind from the dark skies runs after
an abandoned cat down the intricate maze of the twisted,
solitary streets, lined up with silent homes, where
hardly anybody is there for any real talks;
the grim solitude of the gray town
spreads and finally
the elderly and the terminally sick
of that cursed town.

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