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.

Monday, November 06, 2006

THE FACE IN ALL SEASONS

THE FACE IN ALL SEASONS













BY










R. K. SINGH








From: COVER TO COVER, New Delhi: Bahri Publications, 2002

1

I’m no river
flowing toward the sea:
I must find my way
asking strangers in strange places
sensing soul, using insight






2

The blank space between words
is the burnt skin of time
I couldn’t paint:
they stole the colours
and brush of the eyes






3

There is no mirror to reflect the soul
except the acts one performs and motives
that guide utterances or gifts given
to remember the last dance which test fear
and sincerity in aloneness it pricks
one admits or brushes aside love shines
the face in all seasons in each land places
the self binds with its own light mirrors soul











4


I don’t know how to follow the ridges
back to the trail and the dead river
but stand for a moment to rub the sand from my feet
before worrying about the lost vitality and fear
of the approaching night and rising smoke
dissolving in the sky or conspiring with elements
hardly in balance but contorting the psyche

I don’t know what is there for me to hope
when the rains rejuvenate and flood both
the repulsive stench and the loss of pathways
linger longer than the flavour of the first drops
under the tree the puddle feeds no sparrows
but algae that couldn’t dry now trap tiny souls
that fail to swell with heaven’s breath




5

Concealing mourning
in twilight gaze he explores
the shaping nightmares:
colours of the rainbow guard
the beasts at the day’s entrance




6

They all walk with wounded feet seeking remedies
remain disturbed bargaining small pleasures in smallness
taint sun and moon and leap backward calling others turds
surrender to creatures created in impulse
unhealed, dance alone making moments more scary





7

Looking for Taj in grains
through sand-storm find history
trapped between the toes

bleeding fingers draw
new domes of betrayal in
windy matrices





8

Nobody bothers beheading women and children
with chainsaw in the name of God
Algerians torch their own watan
while in Zaire barbarians mull
sex of God and angels and soldiers loot
whatever they can to prolong war
like the Talibans who must spread
their values and shun truce for power
in the name of God turn the clock backward
imposing ordeals of all sorts
next door political fanatics
in the name of social justice
close eyes to sadhus killing housewives
teachers raping girls in classroom
and hoodlums burning women in slums















9

Their rites of burning
incense, camphor, aloes, musks
match nuptial baptism
by sprinkling burnt nail parings
three eyelashes, seven head
hairs, seven pubic hairs
on her viands while he gets
the fare of crushed lion-
penises, cock’s testicles
and goat sperm to deflower maid
with or without mantra
or sacrifice at altar
can’t ensure Shiva’s
virility uniting
all the elements through earth
nor liberate the first
night in bed elaborate
genital enthusiasm
overflowing love
tender interlude?



10

The traps hidden in the candle flame
are the cages we make and unmake
to chart the future and yet fear
the emergency light at night
dream the concerns of slinky colleagues
and how to police their freedom
against owls, monkeys and bandicoots
that howl at each move to the lee
and yet pretend our poses intact
through several byways reach victory stand
breath by breath conspire against ourselves
only to hear the echoes that rise
or die down in silence the twangs
of memory reveal the pit
dug over the year or the earth
fermented with imaginary gains





11

With sweat dripping down his legs he stands
under the gulmohur waits for the sun
to be less cruel at noon even
his shadow seethes in hot wind he thinks how
he’ll cross the whole bridge with dust blowing
over him every time a truck or car
passes by ridiculing his being
and the drying river oozing more sand
than promises of water to drink when
clouds burst in a month washing away
his shanty and all save memories







12

Telling lies as truth at my door
they plant innocent graves
and taint their tongues with messiah’s blood:
they all aspire to godhood without cross
who can redeem their acts:

I’m no god or godfather to sacrifice
sun, spring, moon, morning breeze or rain
nor any gods of love visit my house
but it grieves to see so many martyrs
awaiting resurrection the short way













13

The city shouts at anonymous strangers
seeking sojourn against puzzling hedgehog
and expectant past sticking future with choked
geniuses unable to flush their own muck
but embarrassed by lunar dust fallen from
nowhere stories prop to trigger riots all around
known and unknown faces bleed alike and they
bury histories or blame informers hired
to spread myths for non-payment cause shame to their
own kins and their own land turn epiphytic




14

The morning in Banaras
along the Ganges
is no longer fresh:

smell of urine
dried and fresh excrement
merge with smoke, sweat and
stench of the rotting river

with eyes closed or open
it’s only the sight of
sexless genitals
or half-burnt bodies
that incite no nirvana

now infested with viruses
unknown to the city
dharma is eaten
by vultures in the streets

and the river awaits new birth
dream broker promise
in convulsion of lust



15

A crow
picking sperms from his mouth
to feed anger
of an unwed mother
gang raped in the temple
dumb deity couldn’t father
the broken lives



16

Drinking evening star
blue green patterns before eyes
no meditation
no god visits to forgive
the sinning soul in quietude



17

Seven times he moves
round the vermillion god
under the peepal
sprinkling water to escape
the malefic Saturn



18

Preaching Hinduism
they’ve lost God for politics
pull down churches

shed crocodile tears
killing the priest they kill truth:
pseudo seculars






19

Naked children crowd
as I pass through the alleys
between smelly slums:
dogs bark to alert them to
the presence of a stranger




20

Wild flowers everywhere:
out of the cracks in the cement
and plastic-covered tin roofs—
drains demarcate their spread

no matter uprooted
again and again they’ve nowhere
else to grow in a city
sinking under its own weight



21

The bamboo garden
we picnicked and made love in
is now a concrete
managing environment
and pollution control



22

More wintry shades
with sudden end of the sun:
the roof leaks again

unmasking the match
clouds play with the dying each day:
piles of frozen heads


23

Their loose tattle
or loitering on the street
changes nothing
not even the hand they wave
to penetrate the body

surging like a wave
they image in the air and
end up wriggling worms
hiding through the thick hedges
digging the dark undergrowth



24

He couldn’t change his caste
so he changed the religion
yet they didn’t change
nor could his small world:

the jackals, foxes and crows
couldn’t comfort the unease
of enlightenment with sky
as a coverlet for gods

the cage still pursues
in search of a bird and he
fights his battle alone
in hope of the sun












25

It hurts to see my country die
slowly and steadily after
50 years of self-rule
many look back to the late ‘40s
even now it smoulders
may burst into flame
it hardly matters
the new rulers are blind
to common man asking
a fair share and honest rule
everywhere obscenities stare
I worry my country is dying
with too little democracy
too much Hindu and Muslim
too much rich and poor




26

The site readied for
another test on the sea
a Hiroshima

in the name of peace
politics of dominance
poisoning the poor




27

A slice of my sex
forcibly cut
I can’t void the fear
nor explain
what it means
to be homeless
in my own home








28

The otter watches
a duck walking on
the frozen river
icicles drop bit by bit
from a lone tree




29

The lone fish
unmoving at the bottom
meditates

depth of the pond
height of the sun
or length of my shadow

I can’t stand
the heat and look for
the boudoir



30

The painted paper-god and Christ on the cross
stand on the dawn-coloured wall of my bedroom
watching sex, prayers and restlessness each night


31

Stretched between son and daughter
the mother has no time
to sleep with husband:
crying alone in pain after
midnight peeking out at stars




32

He takes out the letter
and writes a poem on its back
recalling the last words
wind whispered through the few stars
still shining in the sky



33

The sun of knowledge
shining through the beer bottle
under the neem tree:
carousing, singing in praise
of gods and ghosts that never drank


34

The heat inside will
reduce with the flow of blood
and cactus may bloom
in desert of flesh again
the heart may feel the wave



35

Taken out of me
the bone of my bones
I grow into her and be

each night discard the covers
seeking each other
return to the ancient nest




36

I wake up
with longings of night
memories


of love melting
dropping between
secret images

becoming
still-born poems
at midnight

redefine
her feminine hold
in lonely sun



37

The truth of our
togetherness is more real
when we lie filling
our body with each other
silencing sensation


38

Waving arms of trees
conspire with overcast day
to drench again
the two of us look for shade
under leaking umbrella


39

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


40

Sifting days
from the past 50 years
we two reveal
secrets to each other
unshared over a drink



41

The nude reads his skin peeling eyes
and curses the crumbled canvas
the wrinkling hands couldn’t set:
she suffers naked burial
for simple art crudities



42

They descend from the ship
anchored on her navel
to paint sexact on thighs
and flowers and vines on breasts
before sailing backward
tattooed a lingam
devouring the sea





43

Looking at her face
for the glint of her nosepin
or risk of renku
they couldn’t finish but form
in their eyes together









44

She thinks a tight bra
Makes her look younger:
my touch pains the breasts
I seek to caress each night
she puts me off saying
I’ve ruined her figure
authored wrinkles and marks
on the thighs and belly
with my lust made her
suffer back and knee ache
et cetera, et cetera
and avoids those long kisses
that turn her on during
the periods challenging
my testosterone level
for a flush of relief
tonight she unhooks
whispering the season’s end


45

She complains
I’ve dropped her from my album
fragmented memories

I wonder how to
fill the space between corners
with fresh images



46

Before the foamy
water could sting her vulva
a jellyfish passed
through the crotch making her shy--
the sea whispered a new song


47

Her eyes wash the kitchenware
and the fridge painted last year
there’s no water but stains
impatient as ever
even whispers annoy

she wipes vermilion
over-dusted in alcove
incense unuttered prayers
the goddess smiles her blessings
a hand splits the sun’s layers





48

Raja Rao rightly said
“ Women, all women, speak poetry
whether they are talking of
houses or aluminum vessels….”

My wife said this morning
Sudha gave birth to a girl-child
as she ate tamarind too much

the other day when I said
she’s still a raving beauty
she smiled: “ There’s life in the old bag yet”



49

Wrapped in colours they wave the full moon
sipping tea in kitty part whisper
fresh rumours to share in bed or confound

fellow seekers in mushroom field next
morning curse the sun for rising early
end of mossy dreams dripping new puffballs


50

To mark or conceal
his identity he leaves
the fleshly signature on night
and blames the sun after years

mulching between bites and laughter
he boasts he’s his own person--
no maso or horny-- but

he’s no different in restroom
if she doesn’t mind it between
peasoup, pee and staple of breasts





51

Grapes, gin, lime-cordial
and poetry of semen stars:
it’s a changed cocktail

before lunch to kill love or
touch the heart to change
the snake into bird



52

Unable to clean
the cobweb of years he eats
the passover meal
but forgets to wash the feet:
now drinks good friday prayers








53

Swallowing capsules
he trusts in absent healing
seeks intercessions
to cure allergic asthma
and the cyst not contracting


54

It is not the form
or disposition alone
but the expression of thought
and the movement of body
that make her dear
to a man of art
whose love nature multiplies
each time he seeks her congress
with worries of an age
and ejaculates pleasure





55

Sharing darkness in more real
than action on the screen
we stay unfocussed in a corner:

whisper the lose lingam on stone ring
in the old temple and pink and grey
laughter, shafts of sunlight, rain and
muddy rubbles, squeezing, curling arms
scanning inside, sensing voiceless changes
again plan for the day after two hours

the same old thoughts and never-ending acts
keep flowing like the stream through stones learn
the tongues water speaks in clutteredly


56

I miss the sensuality of night
in icy bed the noisy breathing
holds no hope: there’s no drug to hoodwink
time that’s ever young or climatic

now the needle stabs each time I try
to sew the earth and sky or the waves
crashing on the belly that was truth

the seeds have dried inside no rains
can revive the lost world or create
anew I can’t hook fish with changed
position can’t push invaders

riding the chill to seek meaning
in chaos hurt depth of fluid bones
that could become magic warmth of sun







57

I don’t know the constitution that happens
but the makeup matters: they see her novelty
or measure her from the bra over the top

I see the rain take off her underwear outside
the trousers that challenge liberty and pride:
she curls around to hide what she wears inside

and reveals much more, her flame and fragmented being
the day’s fabric in frail linen, dying night and
an absence: I see the colour change to cover

to make distances from the moral remains
and shadows of lowing cows in dried pasture
mate with throbbing dreams that look for space in the eyes



58

I kept watching for some stranger
to come and execute one last miracle

my hair grayed but no one came
I couldn’t push time locked in my room



59

A fear always lurks
shapes into nightmares
through sleeplessness image

loss of love haunting
since birth shadows chase
featureless but squeamish

now hard to make out
watery squiggles
swimming across the shore



60

I don’t like to get lost in the crowd
or remain a non-entity feeling low
in my own eyes even if my host
is too high to shake hands with I know
he won’t remember my name or face
after reception he’ll go west and I’ll
turn homeward with numb feet in shame perhaps
cursing myself for smallness or shrunk
before fawning connections and banal shows










61

Life doesn’t end with joys
of a day or two: it’s long
long time of living

ups and downs and forgetting
the happy and unhappy
in a short span and aging

with memories that become
self in action, our karma
moulding the life to come



62

In the stillness of morning
hangs fog like smoke veils
her waiting in street

I watch my window
wavering shadow
announcing death


63

Where will I reach running
with gluey feet on gashed earth
a relentless sun licks
leftover or a dying day












64

Not that the world I see
is different from the world I dreamt
or I forget that I’m part
of my mother who scolded
in love it’s often late
to realize truth through grains
of wheat and petals of blood
here the crooked trees and stones
dictate the length of fire
not extinguished for ages
now awaiting justice
of the earth and its scammed owners



65

I wasted my life
weaving it into hopes
that could never become
love or faith: now coping with
signs of degeneration

there’s no magic wand
to bring back the lost years
-- howsoever unhappy--
the dreams of living were true:
even now I seek freedom

of a wider world
eloped with reality
I couldn’t change with wishes:
the destiny shackles
and anonymity shrouds










66

I couldn’t find a charismatic guru
so made the idol one looked at the red face
any time I needed help and guidance

in the silence of my restless mind searched for love
and life’s purpose my ersatz faith couldn’t give:
the professional spirituals enraged the soul

as I ran into the cave to come out
of darkness tricksters encircled the exit steps
I could feel the shadows spreading their wings

my heart trembled at the shock of the ringing bell
now I fear opening my eyes to the sun
no iron hands could hold to burn the years’ garbage


67

How long can I grow without roots
or make way for what is approaching
in digital noises I can’t be
inheritor of arrant cowards
smelling the arse on their fingers

nor can I be the priest checking
the burnt tongues to test criminals
stiff with cold I’m tired of animal
struggle for survival and last rites
in candle light digging cursed
treasure for night songs others croon

I can’t decipher names in smoke
nor forget the faces emerging
from the matrix of tremors
that are islands to shackle
feet in silence close the cycle
of the waters that feed the sea

I feel the lumps hinder and pain
now its time to break off and bury
the ash in the earth and plant afresh
foliage for rains or sun to nurse
a destiny I could take pride in
68

My years upon me
keep me from finding myself

in joys of love-making
under a groove of trees

or walking down to the stream
for a swim together:

the valley in greybrown
is now a burden

I must throw off before
the woes of collapse


69

I want to burn the fallen leaves
but fear the flame will hurt the trees

I can’t stand the stench rains bring
the backyard is too big to clean

I can’t rescue my habitat
nor trim the trees for better light

this all reflects the shambles made
for disco of convenience

why regret burial by
taunting helplessness now?


70

The earth won’t wait for my dust
nor the sky hold rains till I descend
and someone places a stone

to remind how I couldn’t live
my wild ambition and destiny
couldn’t leap to being I was not

71

I wish I had the freedom
to breathe a moment more or less
but I live my ignorance
each moment challenging myself

its no spiritual claptrap
but a blind can’t lead the blinds:
my poems without body can’t
breathe the spirit I want to feel


72

I seek images for
my wordless experiences
in loneliness commune
for meaning in the world
lessen lonesomeness
for a moment and again
suffer the same angst
and frustration of failure
in haiku silence


73

The poet doesn’t know
when words become poetry
or what he intends to say
he just says what he says
knitting together thoughts
ideas, feelings and
memories into a form
which looks good at the first glance
creating more meanings
in readers’ consciousness
that each one sees different sense
denying complete absorption
yet thrilling the spirit
so much that they read it
again and again and be
one with the poet


74

Frazzled at the day’s end
when I smell her flesh
she curses my knots

and the two decades
of living the same routine
in kitchen and bed

and nowhere to go
in shameless convenience
I release my tensions:

she kicks my image
in the little pool of blood
and buries sex


75

What is this world
with PCs, internet, e-com
robots and cloning

the moon and mars
remain lifeless as here without
roads, power and house

they dream I T
satellites, aerospace and
silence cries for water

honest bread and peace
the hungry billions seek
no hi-tech slavery

the global cheats promote
liberal economy
stealthily purvey

rights and environment
with politics of control
doom the future


76

They die of mother’s milk and
passions that flow in post-
modernist exterior
it’s the same nature in
a handsomer disguise
the unchanging inside:
sewing up the slashed sleeves
we are where we were, or
as Cowper said, an ancient
in a different dress


77

Her site spurts changes
hands plead for a little more
space to feel presence

map out the concealed parts
rehearse performances
again and again


78

Raising each child--
a test of patience, learning
each day to live
and smile her innocence
through aching arms and shoulders


79

She receives my call
complaining why I don’t go
to see my father
while he says its alright
only gums bleed and joints ache





80

Bored with politics
and news of falling sensex
he holds the paper
and flips through old Playboys
to see the nudes seen in youth

2 Comments:

Blogger Synn said...

What a difference personal experience makes in molding a poem. The more varied the experiences, the stronger the poetry. The only thing I would do differently is to use punctuation as a comma shows the reader where a pause takes place. A period gives a thought that stopping point. It gives a more dramatic reading to use punctuation. After a period, use capital letters. And always use spellcheck. Seems fussy? Well most poets reading other poetry, feel distracted by the small things. And if distracted, it takes from the strength of a poem.
While this poem is long, it is so interesting and so captivating all the way to the end. Beautifully done. I truly look forward to reading more.

Synn

11:57 PM  
Blogger Nurse Fusion said...

Wow! Thank you so much for noticing my tiny endeavors. I am honored.

Thank you.

3:57 AM  

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