RAM KRISHNA SINGH

Collects all of my published poetry books. Also provides an uptodate view of my poetry, especially haiku and tanka.

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Ram Krishna Singh is a university professor whose main fields of interest consist of Indian English writing, especially poetry, and English for Specific Purposes, especially for science and technology. He was born on 31 December 1950 in Varanasi, India. Apart from a BA earned in 1970, he gained his MA in English Literature from Banaras Hindu University in 1972 and Ph D from Kashi Vidyapith, Varanasi, in 1981. He also obtained a Diploma in Russian in 1972. Dr Singh started his career in journalism, as a Compilation Officer in the District Gazetteers Department, Lucknow, 1973, and a Journalist with the Press Trust of India, New Delhi, 1973-74. Changing to teaching he became a Lecturer at the Royal Bhutan Polytechnic, Deothang, Bhutan, 1974-76. Joining the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad as a Lecturer from 1976-83, he then rose to Assistant Professor in 1983 and full  Professor and Head of the Institute’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences since 1993 to 2011. He is now Professor of English (HAG).

A reviewer, critic and contemporary poet who writes in Indian English, Dr. Singh is the author of more than 160 research articles and 175 book reviews. He has published 39 books, including:  Savitri : A Spiritual Epic (Criticism, 1984); My Silence (poems, 1985); Sound and Silence (edited articles on Krishna Srinivas, 1986); Indian English Writing : 1981-1985 : Experiments with Expression (ed., 1987, rept. 1991); Using English in Science and Technology (textbook, 1988, rev. and rept, 2000); Recent Indian English Poets : Expressions and Beliefs (ed. 1992); Two Poets: R.K. Singh (I DO NOT QUESTION) Ujjal Singh Bahri (THE GRAMMAR OF MY LIFE) (poems, 1994); General English Practice (textbook, 1995); Anger in Action : Explorations of Anger in Indian Writing in English (ed.,1997); My Silence and Other Selected Poems : 1974-1994 (poems, 1996); Above the Earth’s Green (poems, 1997); Psychic Knot : Search for Tolerance in Indian English Fiction (ed., 1998); New Zealand Literature : Some Recent Trends (ed.,1998); Every Stone Drop Pebble (haiku, 1999); Multiple-Choice General English for UPSC Competitive Exams (textbook, 2001); Cover to Cover (poems, 2002). Pacem in Terris ( haiku, English and Italian, 2003), Communication : Grammar and Composition ( textbook, 2003), Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri : Essays on Love, Life and Death ( Critical articles, 2005), Teaching English for Specific Purposes : An Evolving Experience ( Research articles and review essays, 2005), Voices of the Present: Critical Essays on Some Indian English Poets (2006), The River Returns (tanka and haiku collection, 2006), English as a Second Language: Experience into Essays (ed. research articles, 2007), English Language Teaching: Some Aspects Recollected (ed. research articles, 2008), Sexless Solitude and Other Poems (2009), Mechanics of Research Writing (2010), Sense and Silence: Collected Poems (2010),  New and Selected Poems Tanka and Haiku (2012), and I Am No Jesus and Other Selected Poems, Tanka and Haiku (2014). His works have been anthologized in about 160 publications, while his editorial activities extend to include guest-editing of Language Forum, 1986, 1995, and Creative Forum, 1991, 1997, 1998, besides being co-editor of the latter publication from 1987-90, General Editor of Creative Forum New Poets Series, and service on the editorial boards of Canopy, Indian Book Chronicle, Indian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Reflections, Titiksha, International Journal of Translation, Poetcrit, Impressions of Eternity (ie), and SlugFest. He has evaluated about 50 PhD theses from various universities. He has also edited the ISM Newsletter for about five years.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I'M NO RIVER: A Tanka Collection


1

She hears the voice

of unrealized bliss in

the coos of koel

at the window sill this evening

rains love and delight

2

His message to meet

at moonrise among the flowers

sparkles a secret

on her smiling face passion

glows with charming fervour

3

She is no moon yet

she drifts like the moon, takes care

of him from the sky—

meets him for short, waxing

leaves him for a long, waning

4

Before going to bed

she looks too sad to have

any sweet dream:

the lonely lamp glints no love

and no star peeks through the curtains

5

Yearning to meet him

she turns a silk-worm spinning

love-silk in cold night—

stands in a shade melting tears

like a candle, drop by drop

6

Stains of dried dewy

tears on the eyelids tell of

the load on her mind:

clothed in spring the willow twigs

reveal the changed relation

7

Locked in the shadows

of unrolled curtains her love

in the lone boudoir:

she plays tunes on the guitar

flowers fade at the windows

8

She senses all things

changing as she passes through

the city again:

should I leave the old house or

lie in the grave before death

9

Twisting tassels

round her finger fears coming

of night in bed:

octopus grips the body

and buckles into disgrace

10

At the river

she folds her arms and legs

resting her head

upon the knees and sits

as an island

11

Is it her quietus

that she roars in herself

like a sea

waves upon waves

leaps upon herself?

12

Gods couldn’t change the rhythm

of the body and its needs:

erotic scars stick—

after three decades love waves

tense the flesh and rock the night

13

When the sun is erotic

and the moon lyric

the winds turn tempestuous

in the orbit of love

legs slide by calls of nature

14

Before the foamy

water could sting her vulva

a jelly fish passed

through the crotch making her shy—

the sea whispered a new song

15

Swirling spiral

of her skirt spills tides of dream

and memory:

I breathe fire in the dance

forgetting bends and twists

16

When I wanted to change

seats my friend said she can

only if the door’s locked

the light out and her mom

in another city

17

When I inhale in

your mouth and exhale stroking

hair or caressing

I ride you into joy and

make you hail morning like earth

18

Life limits between

whence the sun rises and where

it goes to relax:

joys of a fleeting moment

I see Aditi in your eye


19

When I have no home

I seek refuge in the cage

of your heart and close

my eyes to see with your nipples

the tree that cared to save from sun

20

The smile you weave splits

the sun I lose my direction

in clouds that cover

the banks darkening the white

of the lake moon kissed


21

Winter is caught in

waves of narrow discussions

under the blanket

fingers move by nipples erect

without sensing consummation

22

Drinking evening star

blue green patterns before eyes

no meditation

no god visits to forgive

the sinning soul in solitude



23

Exhausted she sleeps

unaware of my presence

this warm night carefree

I croon my spring song alone

and fill the void with new dreams

24

As I repose in

the wrinkles of her face

I feel her crimson

glow in my eyes her holy

scent inside a sea of peace

25

The room has her

presence every minute

I feel she speaks

in my deep

silently


26

Love is the efflux

from her body spreading

parabolic hue—

enlightens the self I merge

in her glowing presence

27

Looking at her face

for the glint of her nosepin

or rise of renku

they couldn’t finish but form

in their eyes together

28

Your vacant eyes

reveal this city:

dim, humid, absent-minded

orchestrates bronchial noises

‘quake in the face

29

Living in dust smoke

and white darkness I know

I just flicker—

stand alone like a lighthouse

lost in the fog of seashore


30

What should I do

about the mornings

that couldn’t be:

now fog controls

appearance of the sun


31

Breathing pipe choked

with coloured dust celebrate

spring in coalfield:

the moon mocks my nightly plight

I look for the inhaler

32

The chilly wind blows

to freeze my feet and fingers

tonight I can’t rise

and silence the whisperings

storming the vacant room


33

Ghosts rise to mate

in moonlight tear the tombs

frighten with fingers

rhino horns rock the centre

granite sensation

34

I lost my sleep

over a thought I could not

make my own:

the sun’s antidote changed

the voice of the wind

35

Sleeps the night with

desires wrapped in blanket—

spring in the eyes

gods couldn’t change the rhythm

of the body and its needs

36

Drugs don’t diagnose so

let’s kiss our sneezes

into each other and stop

worrying about repression

necessary or surplus

37

Watching the waves

with him she makes an angle

in contemplation:

green weed and white foam break

on the beach with falling mood

38

Crazy these people

don’t know how to go

down with the swirl and

up with the whirl but

play in the raging water

39

They couldn’t hide the moon

in water or boat but now

fish moonlight from sky:

I watch their wisdom and smile

why I lent my rod and bait

40

A cloud-eagle

curves to the haze

in the west

skimming the sail

on soundless sea


41

I thought I’d exchange

my anxieties for a bit

of peace but thinking

was easier than happening:

I couldn’t even sleep

42

Standing at the edge

I long to float with waves and

wave with instant wind:

on the dream water’s breast

I read tomorrow’s wonder

43

My hand held out

in the dark remained empty:

no one reached it

to give joy of

the meeting hands

44


The heat inside will

reduce with the flow of blood

and cactus may bloom

in desert of flesh again

the heart may feel the green wave

45

The truth of our

togetherness is more real

when we lie filling

our body with each other

silencing sensation

46

I fear the demons

rising from my body

at midnight crowding

the mind and leading the soul

to deeper darkness


47

Sleeps the night with

desires wrapped in blanket—

spring in the eyes

gods couldn’t change the rhythm

of the body and its needs

48

Awake in dream time

he looks for the candle—

love’s invitation

lighting up in the dark

and sings the body’s song

49

The nightqueen fragrance

seeps in through the window

coupled with full moon

adds to my delight though I’m

alone in my bed tonight

50

The sleep is buried

in sex for diversion

yoga or prayers:

the dawn preserves bitter eyes

in the day’s bleak passage

An insomniac

weak with desires and prayers

hears the heartbeats

rising fast with dark hours

survives one more nightmare

51

Seven times he moves

round the vermillion god

under the peepal

sprinkling water to escape

the malefic Saturn

52

He watches the mound

of dead leaves in the backyard

to grow dreams after

the end of summer and drought:

rains nurture seeds birds buried

53

Muttering Tablet

of Ahmad in TV noise

he lies on the sofa

by window seeking

post-lunch nap for change

54

Bored with politics

and news of falling sensex

he folds the paper

and flips through the old PLAYBOYs

to see the nudes seen in youth

55

She receives my call

complaining why I didn’t go

to see my father

while he says it’s alright

only gums bleed and joints ache

56

Gentle like a dove

love was graceful a night away

on the white wave it’s

a sea searching ways leaps to

eternity tonight

57

The bamboo garden

we picknicked and made love in

is now all concrete—

managing environment

and pollution control


58

The power goes off

suddenly summer heat chokes

in bed sleepless she turns

undoing a hook or two

of her tight bra


59

Greeting the first rains

after months of soaring heat

the lone rose flutters

little petals to the ground

echoing our first embrace

60

Shining on rose leaves

silken layer of dew drops:

gloss of her mauve smile

she blushes when I tell her

beauty of the blooming rose

61

Roses await

sun and wind to clear

the baleful fog:

I fear she’ll say no

to my love again

62


I’m no romantic

turning sufferings to bliss

and delude in

heavenly meeting with god

or life’s grandeur and greatness

63

I’m human and feel

their meanness every moment

get angry and lose

my sleep as the earth writhes in

the pain butchers knives inflict


64

There’s little save

poetry and prayer

to put up with

rising darkness in and out

and god too is silent

65

Couldn’t be happy with

my present nor could realize

any dreams all these years—

there’s nothing to look back

to say I lived my life well

66

The chart predicts

I must keep the company

of the righteous

but how to find one among

the wicked that write our fate

67

Psalms or no psalms;

workers of iniquity

shoot their arrows

with praising lips and god

flees to see their shrewd schemes

68

Recedes into self:

crooked trees and leaking roofs—

the city conspires

swarmed with listless spirits

young and living, slowly dying


69

Hiding or waiting

it raises its head when least

expected, a snake

glitters in the eyes, looks for

the moment to reveal fangs

70

Crudity

of the stone conceals

grace of nudity

the image of Kali

reveals to her devotee

71

The sun

on a mountain

grave illumines the path

to divinity unrealized

in soul

72

With steel flow

the rolling water

pierces the rocks

shapes them into stars

turned into river’s song

73

She visits

a beauty parlour

to erase wrinkles

and returns with the same

wintry darkness

74

The lips in her eyes

and long hours in the mouth—

no moist secret

between us to reveal:

now our backs to each other

75

All her predictions

could come true had I paid her

the fees for her writing

psychic reflections on dreams

I failed to realize in life

76

Wrinkles on the skin

remind me of time’s passage

year by year traveled

long distances renewing

spirit and waving good bye

77

Stray fungi grow

on the broken window frames

beside my bed

watery smell swells as if

a corpse in the river


78

Feeling the difference

between a tin house and

a weather proof tent:

on the Yamuna’s bank

Kumbh deluge to wash sins

79

With black and white marks

and nest of ants on its skin

the tree grows taller

shining through the geometry

of sun, moon and halogen

80

My voice

brown like autumn

crushed in noises I can’t

understand days pass in colours

buried

81

Layers of dust thicken

on the mirror water makes

the smut prominent:

I wipe and wipe and yet

the stains stay like sin


82

In the forest of your hair

my finger searches

the little pearl of blood

that stirs the hidden waters

and contains my restlessness




83

The sun couldn’t help

nor fish protest:

river has no sex

so it dried up

trapped in its own banks

84

I’m no river

flowing toward the sea:

I must find my way

asking strangers in strange places

sensing soul, using insight

85


The otter watches

a duck walking on

the frozen river

icicles drop bit by bit

from a lone tree


86

I couldn’t understand

what’s Hindu about having

fish and onion

after prayers by the river

in the temple courtyard

87

Fears to see

his own image in

her eyes so

avoids seeing her again

betrays his cowardice

88

They watch her bare back

to feel the body through crotch

thank engraving pen

she loves the etching on skin

to enhance nudity

89

Dancing on

the car top a girl

holds the mike

to express her love

twists the audience


90

Slung-jawed awake

two grinning skeletons sit

bolt upright in bed

hear the shrieks next door but

too scared to call the police

91

The nightly ghosts crowd

my mind’s passage to forge

gods’ names in disguise

I fail to scan the face

of thought and life in the dark

92

The chill outside

deprives me of the bright moon

I breathe in my fears:

asthmatic bouts haunt and

jealousy itches the throat

93

Night’s prisoned friends

keep me awake with planes

flying over the ashram

every now and then I watch

the directions matter

94

One thousand miles

traveling together

in tense silence

he and she contemplate

the next round of duel

95

I can’t cement cracks

nor save the frames from collapse:

the wreck reveals the myth

I need not knit new dreams

if truth’s so cold and stingy

96

The yellowing patch

on the lawn won’t green with

pesticides—

the water infects the roots

even if I am drying up here

97

Each night speaks to me

in flatulence, wheezing

and pain in the legs:

god intervenes at times

in momentary union



98

With years of rubbish

he reeks of aborted dreams

lives a stagnant pool

cut off from the running source

rots in the marsh like a frog

99

They own little earth

and seek to auction the sky:

excel by default

god too becomes a party

to their flight with wax wings

100

Lying all day

with pain in the heels

and sinking heart

I read tanka and wait

for miracle to sleep

101

Burning without warmth

one more hot and sweaty spell

of summer, restless

down with stroke, without light, fan

exhausted, alone in bed

102

Ageing he thinks of

the ashes and the long trip

ahead in spirit

feels the earth he would

become celebrating life

103

New leaves welcome

his shadow near the window

the telephone rings

perhaps to greet Naw Ruz:

I didn’t pray or keep the fast

104

Like tramps and dogs

they piss and shit I see

I’m sucked in my own cracks:

now curl and cry

but none bother

105

With moral twists

name of god or religion

they fly planes to bomb

sheep of his pasture and

expect grace for humankind


106

Preaching peace

explode ‘plane bomb, car bomb

human bomb

and bluff the living corpses

with politics of terror

107

They claim to kill satan

mass murder innocents

and blow themselves up:

I wonder how god condones

vague prophets and their cult

108

From the border rings

he’s stationed dangerously:

any moment war

may break out for their follies

he must kill and live…to kill

109

In my impatience

I werdle or opup more:

they take their own time

here waiting is more aweful

than meeting or going


110

Vibration of thought

with their venom in groups

my spirit disturbed

I lose desire to live here

conceal my angst in tanka


111

Concealing mourning

in twilight gaze he explores

the shaping nightmares:

colours of the rainbow guard

the beasts at the day’s entrance

112

Their loose tattle

or loitering on the street

changes nothing

not even the hand they wave

to penetrate the body

113

Surging like a wave

they image in the air and

end up wriggling worms

hiding through the thick hedges

digging the dark undergrowth

114

Naked children crowd

as I pass through the alleys

between smelly slums:

dogs bark to alert them to

the presence of a stranger

115

Swallowing capsules

he trusts in absent healing

seeks intercessions

to cure allergic asthma

and the cyst not contracting

116

Is it the water

or sweat flowing from the cleft

they queue up to drink?

not far away the masons cut

rocks to build a new highway


117

The sun of knowledge

shining through the beer bottle

under the neem tree:

carousing, singing in praise

of gods and ghosts that never drank

118

He takes out the letter

and writes a poem on its back

recalling the last words

winds whispered through the stars

that still shine in the sky

119

Waving arms of trees

conspire with overcast day

to drench again

the two of us look for shade

under leaking umbrella

120

Over the dried moss

rains have grown new layers

making the path more

slippery for all of us

falling is a postscript now

121

Laden with new shoots

the trees promise mangoes

to celebrate summer:

the dust-storm and rain shatter

all hopes hanging by snapped wire

`122

Waiting for the remains

of sacrifice vultures

on the temple tree

stink with humans and goddess

on the river’s bank

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Copyright:

R.K.SINGH, Professor & Head, Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad 826004, India. These tanka are included and published in The River Returns(2006) published by Prakash Book Depot, Bara bazar, Bareilly 243003 India.

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