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P Venugopal Dec 2015
Then comes the day when
I on a clay-tiled floor lie spread-eagled,
a box of chess pieces toppled over the checkerboard,
wracked by phenomenal indecisions--
should it be the rook, the bishop, the pawn?
Oh from all directions checkmated!

And at sunset,
when the birds on tired wings fly to roost
and the whole earth is suffused in a golden glow,
a door opens
at the far end of a dark corridor.
Light skids down the floor,
like skaters sliding down a silent *****.
Words vanish to open a void...
The strains of a poem
trip lightly in!

Was it long ago, or just  yesterday?—
In a flickering moment of revelation,
when the distant lighthouse swung its beam
past my windless sail,
did I quiver?
Like this, did I quiver?
Was it the chill on the open seas?
Or, was it
your soft tread on my cabin floor?
Do I remember? Don’t I remember?...

At your touch
I turn a bubble,
a bubble,
balanced on the tip of a thorn,
On this windless evening!
The game is over once you see the smiling face of the Buddha.
P Venugopal Feb 2016
All sediments settle down to the bottom of the jar
as the city sleeps
under the golden glow of sodium vapour lamps.
from the sidewalk shadows,
a chuckle—
a light churning—
someone laughing in his sleep…

All shops in this other lane
where they sell only antique vessels,
stolen idols and mementos that had changed many hands,
are shut,
ancient padlock on each door.
There is no signpost,
no one to ask which way to go.
And the wind,
P Venugopal Dec 2017
irresistibly being ******
into the void
at the other end of a dream tunnel,
I hear a cyclone
spiralling beyond...

Someone knocks at the door.
P Venugopal Feb 2016
All day up the hill
on wobbly legs we climbed
to reach the Elephant Rock
and crawl our way to the top
at sunset to look
down the final ledge
into an eagle's nest!
P Venugopal Dec 2015
Thus at this mysterious meeting place
we realize we have misplaced
the art of remembering each other.

We simply sit facing each other,
a smile glowing between us,
speaking nothing.

I have forgotten the entire way I had flowed
reaching your side,
like a river,
never remembering the meandering way from where.

Your eyes are new to me—
long dark lashes wet and beautiful!
You have my reflection there in a sprouting teardrop.
A distilled drop in a deep blue lagoon...

Shall I, dearest, kiss it softly away?
Though I know not your name...
P Venugopal Mar 2017
from the dead embers
flickering, a blue flame
leaps up and dies
the final wisp
twisting, writhing
into the night breeze
P Venugopal Jan 2016
Baffled I am all of a sudden—
Why I am I and not you?
Have you ever wondered, dear,
why you are you and not me?

I feel your fingers twined around mine,
your pulse throbbing on mine;
but I can’t say which is which—
beats diffuse as mist into mist.

You open the window and look outside—
I see through your eyes a solitary crow
high on the swaying sparkle of a tree,
preening its feathers warm in the sun. 
Its feathers all damp from last night’s rain,
it shakes its fluff in shuddering bouts—
oh how it itches, itches, beneath the wings!
How nice the sharp beak combing, scratching!

Baffled I am all of a sudden—
why I am I and not the crow?
Have you ever wondered, dear,
why you are you and not the crow?
P Venugopal Feb 2016
dont you think to believe in something is to take a position?
is it possible to take no position at all..?
you neither believe nor disbelieve in anything.
dont you think there is something different happening
in that totally blank space?
a random thought...
P Venugopal Dec 2017
the cup and the lip,
my smile!

the cup and the lip,
your smile!

Don't slip, I said.
We won't, she said.

the cup and the lip,
our smile!
P Venugopal Dec 2015
And then these convalescent, brooding,
days come tumbling one over the other
in silent succession,
talking to me in familiar gestures—
now the municipal garbage gatherer
emptying the bin of yesterday’s waste,
then the unsmiling milk vending dame
carrying light her kettle and measure,
the newspaper boy flinging the day's fare
with the same precision over the gate,
the twin-jingle of his bicycle bell
vanishing round the corner of the street...

I keep reciting the lines again and again
as though learning by heart
the jingle of an old nursery rhyme…
Ding, ****, bell,
*****’s in the well!
Ding, ****, bell…
P Venugopal Jan 2016
Did you,
there at the stern of my canoe,
sit with your oars gently paddling,
as a lull fell over the river
and dark clouds billowed up the skies,
the trees, leaning over the banks, holding their breath,
for the birds to return safe to roost,
before the storm?
Did you,
just a moment ago,
freezing the lull,
gently paddling?
Sometimes I feel your presence so close to me.
P Venugopal Jan 2016
Frogs vociferous
as night rain leaves—the loudest
must be tortoise-big!
What a ruckus!
P Venugopal Jan 2016
A feather spirals down,
quill first,
making a silent point that needs no elaboration.
A parrot crackles,
in sunlit flight from shade to shade,
making another point that defies all argument.
Palms climb jubilant. Half-moon sinks...

A kingfisher stalls'n rolls into a blue bolt,
shoots into the pond'n shoots up, fleeing
a sprinkle of words
on water, holding
in its beak, flapping,
P Venugopal Jan 2016
I hear the tolling of the bell,
the beating of the falcon’s wings...
I tremble expectant—
the steel claws
lifting me soaring into the clouds weightless swinging
P Venugopal Jan 2016
I turn the corner
in my car—the ‘stray’ dog! Smiles—
Makes way—I smile back…

[Smack in front! Sorry—
he said—and moved to the side—
it’s all right, I said,

releasing the foot on the brake.]
Does a dog have Buddha nature or not, a monk asked Chao-chau.
He does not, Chao-chau replied
--Zen koan
P Venugopal Jan 2016
My girl’s saree fringe
round my face it
Blow again, north wind!
P Venugopal Oct 2017
From inside this bud,
I watch myself flowering
petal by petal.
P Venugopal Jan 2016
The whole avenue unfurls before my eyes.
Buildings change shape.
Billboards, the letters of the alphabet.
Neon lights scream bedlam.
Men and women scurry hither and thither.
Faces change expression
in a swirling flux.
I looked at the scene through a wide angle lens
over a wide span of time.
Then zoomed into the particular.
P Venugopal Feb 2016
And another day—from dawn past into the midnight,
we were on a cliff overlooking a lagoon,
watching the canoes flowing out with the ebb tide,
watching them returning heavy with the evening tide
under the moon,
we found the ebb and flow,
out and in,
to the beyond.
Good times are forever
P Venugopal Jan 2016
There were eight or ten of them little boys, it was difficult to count them, for they kept swinging madly on their roller skates on the court hardly the size of a basketball court, sweeping along in a bunch after the ball with their sticks poised and stretching out tense for the strike, dispersing and twisting in wild patterns and then going after the ball yet again, straining forward for speed, navigating smoothly, dangerously, sticks clacking, shoulders pushing, shooting off the course and with maneuvers of the feet and the knees and the hips and the flailing hands recovering balance, laughing, and now from all corners converging on the far goal post to attack and defend, the goalkeeper strung bristling as a cat confronting an attacking pack, and as the whole court touched a beat to the imploding moment, there was this lady shouting from the sidelines, shoot, Rahul, shoot, shoot!
This is an attempt at writing as close to one is capable of with words communicating the excitement of something seen. It was written hot after witnessing a roller skating hockey match of children aged around eight to ten years near my home.
P Venugopal Jan 2016
Squeak, squeak, squeak...
The squirrel's tail bounds—
My heart pounds—
Where, in hiding, its mate?
Of course, you too have watched enthralled two squirrels chasing each other up and down a mango tree as you sit sipping hot tea on the steps of your home. You find your heart squeaking as it pounds in your chest!
P Venugopal Jan 2016
There is a mirror in the front,
a mirror at the back—
wedged in between,
I reel,
into a tunnel of faces,
all similar.

They smile together,
wink their eyes together,
scratch their noses together—
so cocksure
in their conspiracy together!
who might have done the crime?

An eye-witness,
sommoned to an identification parade,
I peer closely at each face—
matching it with the vague memory of a face
I had seen at the fatal scene.
P Venugopal Feb 2016
There’s this you in you
merging wide into the infinity
and seeping deep into the infinitesimal,
from your immutable stillness watching
the phenomenal you
in a very hot turmoil—

He looks me in the face smiling. 
I listen to him—his words,
like clean pebbles, tangible.
The thundersquall subsides outside
and a quiet creeps into the room,
snuggling for warmth.

From a leak in the roof drips rain water
into a copper ***.

I listen to him—his words,
like clean pebbles, tangible.
And then each word you hear and each word you utter feel like clean pebbles, tangible...
P Venugopal Feb 2016
When I see you thus in tears, dearest,
I place myself in the context of everything
that had happened in the history of existence
and everything
that is yet to happen in the millenniums to come,
as the stars, the sun, the planets and the earth
swift-sail down the Milky Way,
on their journey to some mysterious destination.

I place myself in that context
and curl
into this moment and vanish
along the umbilical cord linking our heartbeats
into the throb of your pulse,
the taste of the salt on your cheeks,
and the pain of the little toe,
you have just now stubbed,
against this sharp stone
by the wayside.
P Venugopal Feb 2016
Long journey, bad cold—
the girl in the facing seat
smiles each time I sneeze!
P Venugopal Jan 2016
When the chill was on
and light, a fluid movement,
I heard a hornbill...
then its echo...
P Venugopal Jan 2016
This moment I share with the child just born somewhere
taking its first breath wailing
and my friend here in the hospital bed
gasping out his last breath.
His children chant the glory of Ram.
The room resonates.
Beyond the window the sky resonates.
An eagle circles unhurried
among the rainclouds.
A duster over an old blackboard
erases all jottings.

The first rains of another monsoon
come pouring down.
Together we set paper boats sailing,
over a pool in our backyard,
away somewhere.
P Venugopal Jan 2016
Moth-eaten poems
in my trunk—inside, brittle,
an old love letter…
and the handwriting, so familiar...
P Venugopal Jan 2016
Night breeze
over the moonlit valley—
a bat wheels, slow-winged!
P Venugopal Jan 2016
Quiet, the bamboo grove—
from each drooping leaf-tip hangs
a drooping dewdrop...

The same footprints,
coming and going, coming and going,
along the long trek path,
changing shape,

Naked feet tapping down the steps,
I halt—the pond in dawn-chill haze...

Mynahs a dozen—
hop, hop, hop, pick...hop, hop, pick—
dewdrops on wet grass...

And in the visitor’s room,
the chair tilted at this angle,
I see,
reflected on the window pane,
the entire stretch of an empty corridor—

Surely, a great omen!
P Venugopal Dec 2015
For days it was as if I never existed.
You have flung me out of your world
like a wilted flower from your vase.

I have treasured our unuttered pledges—
rising with your name as a prayer on my lips,
breathing the morning breeze,
oh God, isn’t this the same fragrance my dear one breathes!

I waited beneath your window last night,
heart aflutter under the moon,
for a rustle at the curtain,
a fleeting glimpse of your shadow...

Throughout you kept it shut.
P Venugopal Jan 2016
Each time he slows bike,
spring blossoms, succulent fruits—
her coy, joyous hug!
cityscape haiku?
P Venugopal Jan 2016
vanishes into thick ether,
swimming ripple-less.
from far away,
the drumbeats of Onam.
Onam is the time of nostalgia for us in Kerala, stirring memories of all those bygone times of happy gatherings of loved ones at home...
P Venugopal Feb 2016
A formless remorse floods in…
I count backwards from hundred to one
and find
an unending procession of ants across my porch,
on some timeless mission,
this morning.

And yet,
I find myself
as spontaneously unpredictable
as a dynamite, lit lead pausing,
on the edge of spark contact—
dead…or sleeping. 

A guttural sound from the backyard—
a cat, back to the wall,
claws drawn out,
whiskers on fire,
tail sticking up,
like a deliberate finger,
No, no, no, no!
Have you tried monitoring yourself very closely? Going intensely into what is happening to you, feeling each moment magnified? By and by you learn to detach yourself from the individual experiencing the thing. It becomes like watching a movie on the screen.
P Venugopal Dec 2015
It rained the whole of last night, dearest.
The banyan tree beyond my window
swished and swayed in the storm.

How bleak the wet luminance of my wait!
No streetlamp blinked
on the riddle of your returning trail
over the desolate stretches of the night.

My eyes stood sentinel,
the whole night, dearest,
for the faraway flicker of your torch
hurrying home...
Only fireflies wheeled lost and hopeless in the gale.

And there was lightning too, dearest—
white stallions carting the chariot of faceless shadows
down the valley of my gloom. 
Did I hear,
muffled in its rumble,
your fumble at the gate,
knock at the door?
P Venugopal Jan 2016
The stray bull's eyes glint,
watching, heart all aflutter,
the red-frocked stunner!
P Venugopal Feb 2016
And yet another day,
I open the creaking doors of the attic
at our abandoned home,
and amidst the cobwebs,
old trunks, broken furniture and brass vessels,
find the masterpiece,
rolled up and neatly tied.

I unroll the canvass,
stretch its corners straight,
and the painting hits me like a blast and I reel,
struck by a resemblance
engraved in forgotten memory.

at the art gallery,
I linger long looking for faces
lighting up with recognition...
But the women come and go,
talking of Michelangelo.
No one bothers, ha ha ha!!!
P Venugopal Dec 2015
And nothing happened, dearest,
the whole of this evening too—
there was no sunset,
the rainclouds,
heavy in the skies...

You didn't come; it didn't rain.
Only the sea...restless.
P Venugopal Feb 2016
The next evening,
when the showers came,
I saw countless ripples on the surface of the lake,
each running in concentric circles
against the outward pushing circles of those around…

And when the rain intensified,
I saw the ripples dancing themselves into some frenzy,
pushing themselves harder against one another,
harder against one another...
And he said:
Only the drop not with the ripples
know the depth and spread of the lake.

Alone, that night, long after the rain had gone,
I found not a speck of the real
reflected on the lake.
Neither the stars, nor the moon.
Everything went out of purpose
into a slithering, twisting, rolling,
dance of the unreal, as the wind continued to howl.

I waited for the ripples to dance out their dance.
The myriad things take shape and rise to activity,
but I watch them fall back to their repose,
like vegetation that luxuriently grows,
but return to the soil from which it springs.
---Lao Tzu
P Venugopal Jan 2016
A hooting whistle
on her full red lips, she books
me for wrong parking!

Burly constable,
sipping crimson lolipop,
mustachios bristling!
P Venugopal Jan 2016
Nuns inhale the sun,
sea-cast pearls around their feet—
O giggling penguins!
P Venugopal Jan 2016
stop pecking...listen—
temple bell!
oblivious of the music in the air, he goes chatter, chatter, chatter!
P Venugopal Dec 2015
You will never tell me,
will you,
what blessings you sought,
what silent wishes,
hands folded in prayers yesterday
in the sacred grove of our illusions.

You merely smiled.
The peacock spread its plumes
and danced for me.
A whole constellation of stars,
P Venugopal Jan 2016
How aloof his pose!
Up my friend's clean shirt collar,
a beetle!...Should I?
P Venugopal Jan 2016
Full moon night,
jasmines all love's
tresses silver-streaked!
P Venugopal Feb 2016
No, no, not this tap—
ants busy winter hoarding
yesterday's tidbits.

                             Who, knee over the knee,
                             in my porch on rainy morn,
                             reads the newspaper?

Step lightly beneath
this cherry tree—feasting time,
seven nightingales!

                             Keep those gates closed please...
                             don’t you see?--
                             ants troop dancing on its top!

Rainclouds gallop high
fast we run laughing, panting...
who will reach home first?

                             On my palms the kitten
                             purred, snuggling—pulse
                             upon beating pulse
                             we purred.

Slumped the mahout sleeps
astride the tired elephant—
festivities done…
Some of these pieces i feel may be haikus...
Wish you like them...
P Venugopal Feb 2016
Knock knock knock!
A speckled moth!
Wanting to come in!
P Venugopal Dec 2015
On my windowsill,
flapping, a dove perches still...
Ooo too close I freeze!
Feathers glistening
metallic, yet soft-crooning—
our eyes meet spellbound!
P Venugopal Jan 2016
Sometimes I am as eloquent
as a tomb in a merry park.
Revelers fall silent in my presence.
And when they walk away,
their footsteps on the gravel path,
dumb with forebodings!

At other times I am a wild lily
that had escaped the gardener’s notice,
waltzing with the roses and dahlias,
to the pitch and fall of the breeze.

It disconcerts...
to be thus
P Venugopal Feb 2016
A hundred crows flutter,
in a cawing, cawing, flutter—they wing
up and down and up and down and round
the crow,
vacant-eyed, shiny-feathered,
lying on the tarred road,
under the sun,
after a hit and run on the highway.
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