Borrowed Verses

Wherever you go whenever you travel
There is always something to unravel
Freedom is an unconscious quest
To stay away from the daily unrest
It’s about continuity of time on water
Separated from senseless slaughter
Of the shared spirit in our common skies
Obscured by silence, half-truth and lies
Crafting vicious geographies
Death does not knock or says please
Forsaking the cultural cloak
In ashes emanating stringy smoke
We take shelter in imaginary skin
Counting every loss as a rightful win

In places heard but not seen before
On the hills valleys and the sea shore
I walked quiet and I walked alone
Seeking meanings in the unknown
Shunning realities as I understood
Thinking thoughts carved in wood
Throwing my dream worlds in the air
It wasn’t easy but I did dare
To leave my home to reach a verse
In the unreflective galloping universe

Sorrow stubbornly shadows us
But we cannot know or guess
Its presence while it may be there
Forever ready to find a prayer
From all madness and maladies
From nations or natural calamities
We have to be forever ready to die
Not knowing how where or why

I found these verses that I do not own
The words evolved and have grown
Into warmth of cuddled expressions
From myriad travel trodden impressions
Of death as either an uninvited guest
Or something to be worn, a victory crest

Moving between destinations
With or without clear intentions
Carrying homecoming and exile
Through every conscious mile
Collecting tears from the stars
Prayer-calls floating from towers
Grief wrapped in resilience
Verses that seethe with incense
Lost worlds away from ours
Hopeful seas and desert showers
The sudden silence of papal bells
On days strung between earthly hells

Through unintended journeys
To the cities mountains seas
Hundreds of forlorn islands
Desolate people contested lands
I have accumulated these
Words that remember and seize
The on-going irony and melancholy
In our cumulative memory

I have visited homes shared food
Listened to narrations lucid shrewd
Dreams waking up with stark smiles
Extracting images from my exiles

I return to where I began
But will I really be back again
Followed by smells and echoes
Pleading an escape from gritty blows

These verses born from earth and water
Swept away tears and lost laughter
Dying roots and falling leaves
Patches pasted on my dusty sleeves
This much travelled aging coat
As I felt remembered and wrote
These songs that visited
Mocked implored and teased
Decided to stay on with me
Sorrows swelling in poetry
Having said that dear reader
Let me fade away disappear
Leave these words garnered for you
From sorrows sufferings some rue
Glowing eyes of the children
Historical hands rubbed in vain

The darkened water trickling down
Of hate fear disdainful frown
The spring recedes, the sap clots
The stifling summer routinely rots
Among bodies ideas and desires
Waves of water rising or raging fires
Souls desperately clinging
Scorching sinking still floating
When the final path is paved
Still something has to be saved

On the morning of the Boxing Day
The earth shook the sea swept away
On a deathly journey of no return
Sick or simply sleeping children
Lovers daughters brothers sisters
Professionals paupers and visitors
Before the bells after the muezzin’s call
Receding sea and its violent recall
Among the unwavering believers
The day changed for all the years
It was the hour of a fuming nature
To leave its indelible signature
On the death warrant
That would once for all recant
Guarantee of lotus-life
Water frozen in a sinister knife

In another time and place
Death had fragmented face
Redrawing circles every day
Going round and round on its way
Men had drugged it guided it
To mould it occasionally hide it
They’d kill and they’d die to kill
Mindlessly abandoning any other will

I am at a loss trying to tame the breeze
Unable to be with grains of salt on seas
Or discarded leaves on the fresh snow
A little farther the riotous poppies grow
I am unable to understand the reason
Of the greater glory of god and man
Why the waves came a killing
Why men want others kneeling
Why it came without an invite
Why swords sought an endless plight
Same result different locations
Equipped or sudden insidious invocations

I have returned to the start
With a smouldering heart
Hoping to unwind
But here I only find
That the nights are lonely
In the bustling bursting city
With the ghosts on my rhyme
From places that are lost in time
I have to give away these images
From the flooded and burning villages
I have to spread them wide
Away from those who have cried
To those who are in peaceful luxury
Away from nature’s or men’s fury
To feel them and own them
As if you’ve always known them
From the safety of your land
Caressing the destiny in your hand

The deaths in the distance
Are also about us in the sense
They may creep up gradually
Memories amassing slowly
To live with us in every plight
Like a distant simmering light
That would neither let us sleep
Nor unabashedly weep

Subash Misra is a poet, development worker and UNICEF staff., Subhash Misra's book Gangasmriti & Other Poems was published by Writers Workshop, Kolkata, India. Columnist Khushwant Singh wrote, "We have a new talented poet joining the band of Ganga worshippers. Subhash Misra was born on its banks at Mirzapur, educated on its banks at Varanasi and made his livelihood in Calcutta by the Hoogly. In his collection of poems, Gangasmriti & Other Poems, he goes ecstatic in praise of Srishti: The Creation, I was born on the banks of another river/ Another name for self and all of us/ I was not born in these plains — watching your slide/ Nor did I arise where the barriers to meditation/ Are left behind. If you are looking for the root/ You will find it in 'I' and Us. That is where/ My ancient land was before it became country, / Nation, state, date and repeatedly rewritten history., Later, from the maturing rhyme/ From the earliest of all times/ You awoke us/ Making your own sand and smiles/ Creating your own gods, grains and grass/ Gliding gently, dashing wildly, turning seductively/ Reclining piously on flowers and brass/ From sweating snows to sleepy morning dew/ From hot and humid days to a regional blue."[1], Subhash Misra has worked for UNICEF and has headed the Tsunami Recovery Program in Andaman & Nicobar[2] and then contributed to the Afghanistan National Development Strategy as an adviser with UNDP, Kabul. He started the development organisation OASES in 1982. Subhash Misra has also contributed personal experiences to various Indian newspapers. He is currently working for UNICEF, Iraq.

Last updated September 30, 2011