Dion d’Souza works as an editor; simultaneously, he attempts to craft interesting verse and short fiction. His work has appeared in Kavya Bharati, Nether, One Forty Fiction, Helter Skelter, The Bombay Literary Magazine, and Muse India. In 2013, Dion was shortlisted for Creative Writing by Toto Funds the Arts. His works have been recently compiled in the Big Bridge Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry II

 

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ANGULIMALA

There came a point
where he could no longer count
their fingers on the fingers of his own hands.
He beamed with pride, satisfied.

Angulimala…
a garland/necklace of sliced fingers…
Some people collect stamps, rare books, vintage records, cars;
here was a brigand with a bizarre fondness for bodily souvenirs.

What prodded this mania to maim? Was it indeed a pupil’s
abject devotion to his master, the envy of others
that tricked him into attacking travellers, numb
in their inability to grasp…?

~
There are not digits enough to number the world’s injustices. Or to fathom the quiet,
fierce power that eventually led Angulimala to mend his ways, quit fingering around.

 

FOR T., WHO LIKENS ME TO A ROCK

You say I am
a rock
sitting on the fringe,
soil-eyed, unmoved.

You are quite right,
a right little person
blindly flashing
a torch.

In fact,
I am one
with the darkness.

I swallow the moon
and stars,
blow the sun
a fatal kiss.

You, T., see
only what
that guiding sliver
of light
(or rather the night)
enable you
to see.

I have known
your big-toothed smile.
I draw the black
curtains
around me.

In the distance,
I hear
vampires chuckle.

Garlic, blood,
fish and loaves.

A pebble is picked
up and hurled
at a passing bat.

 

KING

He takes off his head
at the end of the day
lays it aside
like a crown.

 

SNAPSHOTS

crows
flitting across the sky or
hovering hungrily
over the concrete cityscape
like dragonflies trapped in a huge grey-blue orb
listless—scavenging

* * *

a pig
manured in muck
bringing its wet, snoopy snout
to the rim of the dustbin—
corroded the rim
rapacious the creature’s mouth

* * *

a chunk of carrot
sliding
slowly—savourily—
intoxicated on oil and vinegar
chilli-seed-speckled—
down the glass edge of the pickle jar

 

THE EXTRACTION OF THE STONE OF MADNESS (CURE OF FOLLY)

(after the painting by Hieronymus Bosch)

 

Steeped for too long

tea leaves lend a bitter taste.

(Aside: What is the flavour of baptismal waters,

of the oil used to anoint the gravely ill?)

But this poem is not about beverages

(or, for that matter, precious chrisms).

It is about a painting by Mr. Bosch

who depicts a time, a people,

very nearly steeped in ignorance,

 in superstition

(which is pretty much every age

until we’ve had the good fortune of learning better –

but that is another matter).

 

See that old man over there,

that bald clown?

The surgeon with a funnel fixed on his head,

his movements slick with methodic ease;

the solicitous old woman looking on

with studied awe and astonishment, a book

carefully balanced atop her skull?

And a priest or a monk, perhaps, in a black robe.

A holy witness

to the hare-brained spectacle.

 

What should have come out was a stone.

Plain and simple: no magic trick, no miracle.

Instead, we are presented with a tulip head,

an artistic pun.

There’s another, a flourish of sorts,

already lying on the table.

Where did that come from?

(And why when the old buffoon

beseeches the funny funnel-headed quack

to excise the earthy cause of his condition,

does he announce that his good name

is Lubbert…Lubbert Das?)

 

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