A selection of poems from HQ issue 21, by William Ayot, Gabriel Griffin, Andrew Nightingale, Satyendra Srivastava, Coskun Yerli
Copyright © 1998. Copyright remains with the authors.
Poems from earlier issues * next issue * To index * Back to HQ.
Suits collect in corners. Preening themselves,
they congregate in navy worsted groups
to practice competition and their golf-swing.
Suits are strong on imperfections. They know
that other's failiings, pointed out, can only show
they are themselves a cut above the rest.
Suits in mode like sudden shears, rip and slash.
Instinctively feeling out each others weaknesses.
When it comes to friendship, suits make sacrifices.
Suits triumphant, sit in buttock-clenching fear,
designing neat revenges, hounds-tooth ploys
to serve those they've striped and checked.
Suits, when pressed, admit to loneliness. Racked
at night by intimations that their lives, their plans,
their very dreams are meaningless and hollow.
Like a neutral card from Smiths
Detail: Waterlilies (Monet)
I leave this poem
blank for your own message.
For the children of Nagpuri
The cobra did not have
Any ancestral value
Yet the womenfolk left
A bowl of sweet milk every night
Near the women's bathing place
And the children's curiosity
Took them at the crack of every dawn
To find out if the snakes had come
And drunk the milk
In the night
And after finding the milk still
Unconsumed they laughed
And taunted their mothers
Why do you waste milk like this, Ma?
There aren't any cobras now
They are all dead
My mother with wet tears
And rolling eyes thereupon would only say
My dearest you don't understand
You are not a mother
A mother knows the pain of carrying
A child in her womb for nine months
In this old village one mother
Carried a cobra baby as I carried you
Thatt mother was bathing right there
A cobra passed by
Folded her palms and prayed
O cobra, please don't hurt me
The cobra stood erect for a moment
And looked at her as if spellbound by her beauty
Spat out a white liquid that fell
Almost between her legs
Nine months later she gave birth to a cobra baby
In this family by providing milk
We say to the world that babies are babies
Human or cobra.
(Translated by the author and Ronald Tamplin)
futile! Behind the hill
only silence in the pines
and the harvest on the plain.
See, on the Ferris
Wheel, the girl, as she looks down
and smiles, ascending
with melodies and with lights
to the full moon in the sky.
feast, the boy, lying in bed,
frowns, a kiss, money
in an envelope. Fathers
take their daughters to the dance.
Orta San Giulio, Italy
long after the child's gone
a silver balloon
playing on the ceiling
leaving, you forgot
to take the warmth
out of your handshake
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