Took me to the wrong end of the Mississippi
Blown north from the whistling blues
Dreamt that sweet sound of saxophones
Coloring St. Claude Avenue
Banana leaves melted into evergreens
Where the swamps finally ran cold
Through the mountain ranges of the lakes, and banjos of the plains
Where the countryside grew quiet and old
I grew up on the wrong end of the Mississippi
But now I’m taking that southbound train
Oh honey don’t ask me how I’ve been
It’s a restless, lonesome pain
Nature, too, is self-consuming.
Even the grandest oak
of all southern Louisiana
will be uprooted in a hurricane.
The moss that grazes the water
with gentle finger tips
from those weary branches
will be swallowed by the water.
An old man's life spent in Houma
is reflected in the river currents;
his house built on stilts
across from the cemetery
where is wife is buried
next to her eldest son.
It meets the Mississippi
A ride today in Des Moines
that appraise law and counteract
any that country may enact
where Wichita lineman forthwith
and mackinaw shall really embellish
furthermore with Granny Smith
awhile down stream on a riverboat
that foregoing is never behind
where a river is always wide
and bourgeois with a paddle wheel stride
why his atropine smile
reach the delta with such desire
and let him take the home route
in an abode of parish shanty
where river dance makes day long
a simple beast, a man
with chinchilla wrap round his neck
that sweep her off flourishing deck
these stratospheric ideals now
for sovereign witness entail campaign.
the Mississippi starts small,
at the headwaters.
A child can cross
stone to stone, almost slipping
into cold water.
Sometimes they do fall,
but stumbling and soaking wet,
they finish crossing.
Now, these blue-gray stones
and clear rippling currents still
sound like their laughter.
Day 1 of National Poetry Month.
I will never tell you how I imagined my suicide in the shower
How I watched myself take the frozen metal rails
And lifted my one shaking leg over the bridge
And stared down at the ice cold, daunting gaze of the great Mississippi
How I closed my eyes and pictures your face
While the cold pierced my skin and my woes pierced my heart
I will never tell you the effort it took to slid my other leg over the railing and step into my coffin
Watching the river crash it's arms against the ice
I will never say how terror gripped my insides knowing that this beast would swallow me whole
Yet knowing I cannot swim gives me comfort
Once I fall the water will push me under, beneath its arms and into it's belly
I will never tell you how time froze as I fell
My face casted towards the stars
The cold wind holding me suspended in air for a few granted moments as I whisper my goodbyes
Goodbye moon, my lips shake against the syllables
Goodbye love, my eyes damp with defeat
Goodbye fear, my heart thrumming in my chest
Was in the ecstasy
Of realizing that
Who liked bitter gourd curry
Cooked with coconut milk ….
Think it was
In the sixth life.
Two nascent bitter guards
On the pandal
Spread in the northern corner
Of the farmland
Belonging to a grandmother
In a village in Mississippi
Who used to attend to the orchards
Sitting in a wheelchair.
At the sky
Hanging from the same stalk
The scar left
From your tight clasp on my thigh
After spotting a double tailed pest
Is still there.
The pleasure of that pain
Makes me tearful now.
I am like the faces
In the house of deceased
Bursting into tears
The next moment
After a while.
I am all the faces
In the house of the dead
Nothing to do with them.
The wedding house
Will laugh and laugh
Till its cheeks hurt.
Just like you.
My dear bitter guard,
When will we
Go back to that
Pandal in Mississippi
Where we had pulsated
From a single stalk?
Aren’t we the ones
To offer obsequies
To that grandmother
Who looked after us
Of wholehearted love?
Translator - Shyma P
Shyma P : Works in Payyanur College, Payyanur. Translator and film critic. Has translated poems and articles in Malayalam Literary Survey, The Oxford India Anthology of Malayalam Dalit Literature, online magazines like Gulmohar, Readleaf Poetry as well as scripts and subtitles for short films.
Pandal - natural roof made by plants
On that frosted January day,
you and I hiked north
along the Mississippi shore
on a trail marked well before us.
Footfall tapestries etched in snow
wove tales of assiduous commerce
of hosts of fur-cloaked cousins:
the playful step-slide gambit of an otter -
rabbit paw tracks by the score.
A bald eagle soared above singing ripples
in quest of a mid-day meal.
The distant staccato cadence
of a pileated woodpecker
echoed off the limestone bluffs
on that January afternoon.
Dusk-light washed the western sky
in pastel gold and crimson hues.
A coal barge heading south
thundered against the floes,
scattering ice across the channel,
then vanished beyond the bend.
And we like bargemen at their tillers,
set our southward course
retracing footprints in the snow -
back to the world of clocks and enterprise.
Please consider checking out my book, Unity Tree - available from Amazon.com in both book and Kindle formats.
Father and son.
Both verbs when you abbreviate their names.
Share a last name of course.
Even a first letter.
One, the current homophobic governor of Mississippi.
The other, a happy interior designer of Austin.
I wish in my Mississippi public school I could teach,
That Shakespeare ain't got nothing on this kind of irony.