Vignettes of a South African Township called Mdantsane

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Connaught Place Blues

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We had once walked around
Connaught place for hours
Trying to solve a puzzle
Of a day in its stately columns
Holding aloft the far shores
Of an unfamiliar sky
Morning of jigsaw pieces in The Book Worm or
Keventers
Mind shopping at the pavement
For love poems
Rushing to embrace
Colors, lips
At a backthought corridor in
Dhoomimal Gallery
Our legs ached
Going round and round
Just trying to be somewhere
Until the one legged man in Dass Studios
Appeared from nowhere
As Susmit Bose’s voice from the gramophone
Bent down to pick us
Loving was an afternoon
In a season that finally fell in its
Rightful place.

Poem and Charcoal/Ink drawing by Amitabh Mitra

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remembering Tapan Sinha

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the stones remained hungry
as palaces and kothis overturned
a night crossed over from guarding
an extinct royalty
to streets of Kolkata
where the youth tore off
its resplendence
stabbed by a fury
of political landscape
yet the night survived
its heart throbbed
images grew from
white and black
fact and fiction
summer and winter
and crowded the birds
once despondent of
hope
Tapan Sinha merged
with this
night today
days of untoward resolute
in its finery
crystal eyed
he continues to show
us all.

FimmakerTapan Sinha born on 2 October 1924, left us today. He was arguably the most uncompromising filmmaker outside the orbit of parallel cinema. This poem is inspired by his two movies Khudito Pashan (Hungry Stones) based on a story by Rabindranath Tagore and Aapon Jon, a film about the Naxalite Movement in Kolkata.

January 15 2009

Charcoal Drawing and Poem by Amitabh Mitra

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chennai, after the rain

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it has been raining since morning
and carol king is blowing my mind since then...
Pritish Nandy



chennai
after the rains
takes on a new
vibrant
understanding
chennai to me has always
been the abode of gods and goddesses
pelting
words of substance
sometime in a steep incline
and from my rugged interiors of gwalior
i thought
of sandal pasted foreheads
and eyes sure
of non entities
bejewelled ladies talking of
circumstances
in uneasy words
and lifesmell
responding
only to nonbelievers
until the rains came
a carnage of green
shook the streets
spirituality
of sorts submerged
an umbrella
gave refuge
to whispers
of yet another love.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dechen

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we met at a thimphu sunday flea market
there was mist all over
the crowd spoke in gregarious tones
like mountains hunting for lost ones
there was mist on her face
her lips balanced an era
of happening
mist on her kira
hiding
somebody whispered
that’s dashoam
our princess
and i remember speaking to her in shameless
colors
curves
woven forests
even in sleep
next to the log fire
i thought i spoke of the earth
beyond  mountains
and chortens
we would leave
having touched once
sundays we met
and parted
buying always laughter
exchanged odours
when are you going to wear the boku
when would you make me a dasho
she laughed and laughed
a sky just opened up
a mist went thicker
amidst the staring gargoyles of tashikodzong
tired dragon roofs
grunting yaks
nobody saw us embracing
an unsheltered sun.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Daily Dispatch, South Africa’s premier news daily talks on Poems for Haiti

Once again, The Daily Dispatch, South Africa’s premier news daily talks fervently on the anthology, Poems for Haiti. With a forward by Professor Peter Horn who received the SALA Lifetime Literary Achievement Award a few days back, this book is not only the first of its kind in global literature on Haiti but also has the major representative voices of contemporary South African poetry. Six books are up for grabs via the Daily Dispatch to poets and poetry lovers.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Chandni

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the empty city streets that don’t dream anymore
an old midnight choir don’t sound like before
the mirror street memories of homemade wine
an elegy of old sunshine
reminds me of you.


Anjan Dutta from his song Bow Barracks Forever



that was another strange evening
the market at chandni was flooded
old landscapes
trying a takeover
old aromas remaining nascent
and an old view thought
sensed greenery
yes, it was really long back
longer than moments
turning eventually blunt
longer than lanes
i seem now to have forgotten

on such an evening
colors of sari revolted
the old lady embroidered an uneventful sky
in a din unravelled
do u remember i had suddenly
chosen to brush my lips
on your hair
my hand in your hand
we were swept deeper
belief then was never
unheard of.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Back home

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i never answered...
even when words cast
unequivocal borders
street lights
many years after
held sodium lamp halo
the overhead railway bridge
its shadows ever so busy
in such undulating nights
i had often thought of
you
a flicker smile persisted
resisting to
overgrown stars
it’s a sky
i remembered
unwashed
unheard
wrapped
i had taken home
communion
of an eyelash
dropped
in a rigid
second
of
our small talk.


Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gwalior

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when did i last see you
in an alley of closed darkness
you once said reasoning remains
an unflowering tree
stalking the mind
stalking the heart
stalking sand
in parched throat
benumbed fusions
and a rough wind
i looked elsewhere
aggression had always
been a new
dawn.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Annual Exhibition, Fine Arts Society, East London

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Some of my Poetry Art

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People viewing

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Pastel Work of Leon du Preez

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Oil on Canvas by Stuart Lavender

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Tim Glasby undoubtedly remains the finest South African Artist during contemporary times. His portrayal of photographic images as oil on canvas brings one to a jolt. It's only after a close view that one has to admit that it is a painting on canvas. Such is the work of Tim Glasby.

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Terry Flynn, Assistant Curator of Ann Bryant Art Gallery with artist Judy Fish and her sister

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Southernwood Jacaranda

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jacaranda colors in november
violet is not the river nor a street
not even an insidious sky
it’s just another time creeping up trees
at night
past dreams
and lips
a train screams down in
collateral junctions
past known faces
and uncalled remembrances
am i there
have i left
violet is daylight
seeping nerves
patterns of unequal
destiny.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Friday, November 5, 2010

Royal Gwalior Sparkling Wine

Royal Gwalior Sparkling Wine, Limited Edition is now available. The wine produced in Western Cape has a rose tinge and flavour. Wine labels has my poetry and art. Each bottle bears my signature.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Ceramic Clay Sculptures of Tamsanqa Mabo

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I first saw the ceramic clay sculptures of Tamsanqa Mabo today at the Ann Bryant Art Gallery in East London. Tamsanqa, a B. Tech student of the Walter Sisulu University in East London was still in the process of arranging his work. The exhibition opens to the public tomorrow on 2nd November 2010.

I as a water color artist found Tamsanqa’s work uniform in its dimension, the bland color of the brown clay which enveloped all his work felt almost against the colorful traditions of his community, yet a cold shudder created an abstraction, one that makes you look at his work again and again

Is there a visual narrative style which is common to Xhosa creative artists in their work or is there more than that in Tamsanqa's sculpture ? A political emblem in bold has been stamped to each sculpture which obviously has been a personal experience in the journey of Tamsanqa.

Tamsanqa’s long journey from the hinterlands of Transkei to clay modelling in W.S.U., a clay blown into an object with baggy shoes and baggy shirts, yet a cruel indisposition that shackles his thoughts remain vulnerable.

The long thin tubular neck of one of his sculpture reminds me of an illusion of a height of a black man and the insults that he had to swallow imprisoned in his thoughts, mind, body and soul. It also expresses a certain dilemma of South Africans of different backgrounds.

Tamsanqa’s work has raised a voice of revolt, the voice of the voiceless, somewhat mute yet so resonant

I won’t call, Tamsanqa’s work, innovative nor decorative, they wouldn’t adorn corporate lounges primarily because it disturbingly sends a message of an improvised hurt, it pulls you and makes you think beyond reasoning and a marginalization that still continue to flourish in this country.

Tamsanqa Mabo remains one of those rare creative artist who is driven by a thread encompassing years of understanding and existing in South Africa.


Amitabh Mitra

Saturday, October 30, 2010

1860 - 2010 Indians in South Africa

Celebrating 150 years of the arrival of Indians in South Africa with an exhibition of my art, poetry and films at Gonubie, East London, 30 October 2010.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Call for submission to a radical left poetry anthology

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and let this sun
shatter in our thoughts
shards, lets pick up again
roofless
skyless
in drought
come
lets strike
lets form
in shapeless rivers
lets ride
a multitude
star again.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Black Boy

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black boy
you are alone
south africa shimmers
in the darkness of streets
post world cup halo
finding way into veins
old trees tell tales
black is the sun
lingers long in riposte
in afterthoughts
in crippled nights
in hammering
black boy looks around
freedom birds
peck upon
an unforeseen
order
bullets still
love tattooing
a bluewhitesky.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ma Ngobo's Place at Scenery Park

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ma ngobo lives in the far stretches
of scenery park
a tiny house amidst shacks and shanties
seems to challenge still
an unburnt sky
lush greenery in abundance
has taken over the tiredness
of old thoughts
flaming tyres around necks
and a flaming jungle
are as remote
as long lost anc promises
i often drink here to
the laughter of myths
a rebellion of conscience
seems so far.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Launch of Poems for Haiti, A South African Anthology

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Poems for Haiti, A South African Anthology is to be launched by firebrand ANC activist Prithraj Dullay at the Point Yacht Club on 13 October 2010 5.30 pm onwards. Prithraj Dullay is the author of Salt Water Runs In My Veins.
Ela Gandhi has kindly consented to grace the occasion.
Please do come.

Sunil Sharma, Associate Professor of English Literature at Mumbai says

On Wednesday evening, October 13, history is going to be made at the famous Point Yacht Club, Beachfront, Durban, SA. On this day and appointed hour, the assembly of the best poets will witness the launch of: Poems for Haiti, A South African Anthology by the Live Poets Society. “Poetry as Activism” is going to be on a wide-screen display from 5:30 pm onwards: For a change, the finest creative minds— instead of contemplating the world and its myriad recurring crises as is the general wont and pose of alienated souls—will be listening to and discussing the natural tragedy that affected a small but resilient island nation, and, what is more important, its recovery through solidarity and community efforts of little men and women, the marginalized of the local and global histories in every age. The poets featured in the collection talk of real problems of gigantic scales and address an entire nation in the aftermath of a severe quake that flattened the rich and poor houses alike, as nature is, mercifully, not hierarchical and pro-rich like human societies.

Professor Peter Horn in his forward -

A group of concerned poets rallied and expressed their shock and their support for the victims in their poems. While poems cannot rebuild destroyed houses, they can reaffirm the unity of humanity across the entire globe. The pain of our friends in Haiti was our pain as well.
While food, water, shelter, medical care are, of course, prime necessities in a disaster like this, it would be a misunderstanding, to believe that beyond the material needs there are no psychological, religious and cultural needs. People who survive man-made or natural disasters are in need of more than the bare necessities of survival. They need to come to terms with the destruction of their lives, the loss of their friends and relatives, the shaking of their most fundamental beliefs.

In my editorial –

This anthology not only verifies the extreme torture a single nation, a single environment and a single feeling went through that day but also unveils dehumanization of victims, death couldn’t have erased such stretched pain, such agonizing screams till this day.
The poets included here are, some as young as seventeen and others who are recognized voices of the South African poetry movement but many others who came out to share their sorrows and be a part of this minor collection, Poems for Haiti.

The contributors to this anthology are

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers
Mahalingum Govender
Anne Bebington
Peter Horn
Ben Schermbrucker
Arja Salafranca
Barbara Johnson
Amy von Witt
Carol Leff
Gona Pragasen Kathan (Danny) Naicker
Roy Venketsamy
Kogi Singh
Vivagalatchmie Ananthavallie Naicker
Shameela Abraham
Sharm Govender
Thaveshree Morgan
Sandeepa Ramsugit
Jean Cornet
Shabbir Banoobhai
Irene Emanuel
Louise Buchler
Brett Beiles
Ndaba Sibanda
Rozanne Baker
Khumbudzo Daniel Masutha
Tlangelani Ngobeni
Douglas Ntando Gumbo
Sarita Mathur
Mandy Mitchell
Kambani Ramano
Grace Kim
Tendai R. Mwanaka
Tlangelani Ngobeni
Muthal Naidoo
Crystal Warren
Pratish Mistry
Abigail George
Mxolisi Nyezwa
Marelise van der Merwe
Kakoli Ghosh
Amitabh Mitra
Ravi Naicker
Liza Smith

Publisher – Poets Printery, South Africa
ISBN 13 -9780620464734
Price – Rand 100

Friday, October 8, 2010

Scenery Park, East London

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and next to the trees, shrubs and homes
women laughed, loved and drank
a spring evening at scenery park
when seasons excused themselves
joining the revelry
nothingness is here
and the trees revere to it
a sky jumps up in nude
a chant believes in streaking
a sudden heckling
stranger is oneself
stranger is a night
here
blooms
in untold eviction.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Designer Madiba Shirts and Gwalior Ties

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Designer Madiba Shirts, Mdantsane Breathing T Shirts and Gwalior Ties are now available. Shipping worldwide

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

sudden trees

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so sudden were the trees
they too searched the sky bend
in groups of solitary living
i who have nothing left
stood within them
and thought of the dried river
and its soil brittle amongst
stars at night
did i disappoint u
did i fail to answer
did the sparrows wait long
did i touch your hair
yes
and yes again
and that was just not loving
years after the trees
grew wild and so did
a blatant sky
sunset
a far window to
your once home
still remains closed.

Poem and Ink Drawing by Amitabh Mitra

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ann Bryant Gallery, East London, South Africa

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Ann Bryant Art Gallery, St. Marks Road, East London, South Africa
Built in 1905
Ann Bryant left her collection of art, building and the grounds to the City of East London when she died on 16 September 1946

Pen and Ink Drawing by Amitabh Mitra

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

mdantsane far off

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far off from mdantsane
the hills rose in unison
over another thought
the earth here is a mere straggler
memory is bestowed
as unseen remains the fog
and our meeting in distant
breaths

a train seems to have
left from somewhere
else.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Saturday, August 28, 2010

buried sea

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west bank
east london
the sea closes in
departure
sun froth swings in
long lost tales creep back
moist grass makes up
for the lost time
a sky shifts back
to old alleys
my face wet
i can almost hear
a call of
muzzein from
the dargah of
khwaja khanoon
at home

and
the old and buried
remains the
sea.


Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Thursday, August 26, 2010

forest

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words and feelings grew rampantly
in a forest of distant thunder
in sleep
in corrosion
only the eye flickered
catching a ray
sometimes
strange is this time
stranger is you
strange is unresolved
mindful
of
tomorrow

dawn
the fort banks off
at another
angle.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gwalior ravines

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summers and ravines
a banditry of a sworn
sky
and beyond that....
your laughter took strange hues
this would always remain gwalior
a dusk pervades the seeming
closeness
and eyes droop
to your warm touch
cold is the marble sheen
cold are your tears
cold is the ravine earth
gwalior sleeps
an angry sky stalks
the night
a river
long lost to
tales.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Monday, August 9, 2010

baba

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baba passed away in a strange land
stranger a scientist wept at his loneliness
ashamed he turned his head away
the final light clasp was unearthly
he passed on his dreams to a son
a contract of constellations
kolkata, benares, kanpur, gwalior
lives unlived for
baba
i whispered in a galaxy of darkness
death could have been lot kinder
who would now tell me to come back home
who would listen on the phone in deft attention
although he hardly could hear anything
his ashes were poured in the ocean at east london
the priest told me
it’s the same
the same ocean goes to the ganges
the earthen pot containing his ashes toppled on to the sea
but always came back with the waves
the priest pondered, baba wants to come back

and i live
wearing a second skin
living in churning motion
of broken suns
living encountering
many non life forms
living a zenith of
foretold ideas
and i live for ancient
words i can never share

only baba’s outline
sink in cohesion
his voice far shadowed
than before....


Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Sunday, August 8, 2010

sleepless...

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there is no sleep
and these bloody sleeping tablets
brings back always the pain
addiction is pain
blackening the moon
blackening the dreams
black is where i live and i ask
you in wakefulness
why straying is combat
in an approaching desert storm
and lives just happen during that time
of birds, dogs and trees
restless
as another culprit night
demises in ardent failure

i deny another day
think of you
and throttle my car
towards a land
unheard off

again.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hiranvan Kothi, Tales of Gwalior

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chotu angre was murdered
in a swarm of swallows
in a red rain
his laughter
shattered
myths of unsteady walls
hiranvan kothi
remains trapped in the present
a clutter of hens and houses
seem to be catching up with a
forest on concrete cacophony
a rusted royal insignia
was hanged without
judgement
decay remains fresh
embroiled
in
memories

loving you
seems to have
happened
only
yesterday.


Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Monday, August 2, 2010

when everybody had left

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when everybody had left
you
me
and even the despot ruler
of
our fate
the fort one night came down
and touched us
it hid us
in its wrinkles
from an unruly horizon

nobody dies, it declared
the lust of this tree
our porcelain past
the breakaway season
conspiracy unhinged at nightfall
your names etched in the first drop
of a gwalior rain

nobody
really dies
here

nobody.....


Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Sunday, August 1, 2010

old fort

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the blistered road to the old fort
goes on and on
like all tired summers here
scrappy greens try to hold on
to its last outpost
an uneven sun tries to breakthrough
the northern walls
invasion has always been the rule of
a mortal day at gwalior

only
you
remain
unknown


Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Exiled

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east london on a bleak winter sea side
exiled
or did i run away
when nothingness
surmounted gwalior
a fortitude strung
of lingering summers
with your name no longer
tied up
when you were no longer there
an eye refused the absence
of your silence
when the sea shared thoughts
random talks of an unsure emblem held
in a night just before the dark
winter overbearing
many years since
why does then
your name
waft
so deftly on a seascape
horizon
still.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eyestorms

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sardar shitole’s palace
was the last to be ransacked
by a sudden gusto of time
creepers ran taking over a ruinous
sky
i didn’t
know
even when you had left
its just a matter of moments
you said
stones only remember
the violence
of eye storms.


Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Knives

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knives i love in quiet submission
a sheer habit
a linear stabbed dermis
an ooze turning into a
splash hits the words
i incise into each night
breath streaks
a slash and then a murmur
of spent needs
sleep eludes unspoken lust
i cut my dreams often wide open
a night walker perhaps feels the wound
a dog yelps

in suggested desolation



Poem and Drawing by Amitabh Mitra

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

old gwalior

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many aeons back
when rock changed faces
many a times and clan men
resisted irrefutably
time
the sky always gave way
to unhindered horizons
to newer lives
in dust torn
revelry
each time we passed the long
languorous tunnels of
waking
each time we found
ourselves on ledges
of looming betrayal
the fort grew taller and higher
overlapping many a skin
many a shadow
many a summers
and i thought that
perhaps one day
you would tell me a secret
of holding the lizard
in my grip
of a moment
knee deep in a drying river
of your breath
navigating a stronghold
of refute
you told me
the ruddy earth would also change
the peacocks would be no more
fungus and fern would darken
such agreements
such love
insisted
and we would remain torn
answerable only to the wind
why did we run away each time the
sun changed surfaces
why did we cross eye storms
ensnared long hidden stars
why did we eclipse in patterns
of lip talk on your neck
why did we turn one and only one
burnt one single night
why did we then never die
why did the fort
kept silent
why


beneath us
deep down
stayed the dargah
the mad man danced
looked at us
in sightless eyes
we had seen him before
much before
when the hot wind
blew away advancing
and departing reasons
a maratha willingness to melt away
at each nightend
we saw him still
shaking his head
his hands sang the song
of the next blitz
the dead around in cavernous
holes never slept
we knew
the rainriver
would storm down
in crypts and crevices
in sultry memory lanes
weather broken thickets
on to those
living and buried
we knew then
it was the moment
of a quiet dismissal
of unhastened departures.


families left for far shores
and houses sprung up on
rusty dreams
a dishevelled robe dragging
a far innocence
hands sought to hold a
belief
and eyes stored tears
unbelieving
on your lips i saw a murmur
loves disparity rootless in
undefined times
i told you the stillness of the fort
stillness of our drifting
stillness of the riversong
stillness of an everydaysky
yet
we lived
shattering long drawn thoughts
in strange dawns
in
old gwalior.

Poem and Ink Drawing by Amitabh Mitra

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Afternoon

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july afternoon
an unbridled river rushed
down the fort
on to the chironji trees
a battle cry rose
eyes and steel
glinted in forsaken
shadows
a cloud burst galloped
in many a steed
on the dead and dying
the green turbaned man who lives
with bats in the cave
came out again
touched the rain
his eyes swirled
birds screamed
imprisoned
in stronger silence
we had held on to
stones
your hair closed me in
your hands held my thumb
palms caught the language
of rage
a maratha rain
a tale as old as this fort
you said
is a slaughter of rumination
you and me
would still grow
in this broken sun
in a fallacy
of such a gwalior noon.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

Saturday, June 26, 2010

East London

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east london
an african sun suddenly stood
still
in the midst of rain
people
and thoughts
unseen
a song climbed
another tenor
splashing you
ferns of laughter grew wild
a patter of rainsteps
ran amok
shadows
tugged
whispered
of distant shores
long lost touch
wet with a shiver
of dawn.

Photograph by Kaustav Mitra

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rain

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Steady patter of summer that swung into your
windows
eyes that begged me to keep quiet
and wait for a promised
rain
again.

Silk Screen Print and Drawing by Amitabh Mitra
From my book, A Slow Train to Gwalior

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Haiti 4

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yes, it seems just like yesterday
there were many tomorrows
after that
and many tomorrows
really never lived
a man who survived
asked
about the sea
and the stillness
of a zealot sky
voices had been crushed
long before that
an aging earth
in an unforgiving
corner
never breathed
that day.

Poem and Ink Drawing by Amitabh Mitra