A poem about my own poetry
Rumourmongers spread many tales about my poetry
all around. Some say that there are ugly
birthmarks on my private parts, some others claim
that my wisdom tooth has not come out till now.
My poetry is said to be too much like a tramp,
roams about alone on footpaths or sits on a park-bench,
indulges in sexual pleasures in closed rooms, whistles
off and on; my poetry is shamelessly urban.
My poetry does not have an ounce of common sense, wears
a strange jacket against everybody’s advice, bravo,
travels with a dark blue lantern in broad daylight
and out of habit enters crowded taverns in the evening.
Pressing the wine bottle to unshaven cheeks or kissing
the stringed instrument my poetry sings songs about non-existence,
and a string of forbidden words fly around his brains
like buzzing bees in the morning or at the stroke of midnight.
All of a sudden my poetry lights up a thousand torches
and burns down his own house to celebrate a festival of fire;
pigeons are grief-stricken; the household god, rendered homeless
in a moment, has to travel to some other place yet again.
Prodigies of learning spread rumors all around: ‘His poems are
no special ikebana, they are petty toys of self-deception,—
they won’t last, in the end they shall
be hacked to pieces by the axe of time.’
When a fierce fire breaks out in the area,
my poetry, they say, sleeps soundly, insensible as
a tree-trunk. And even when he wakes up, he becomes
fully absorbed in drawing a bow across his violin.
My poetry lives in slums and at the crematorium,
with a corpse-bearer he shares his meals tinged with the hue
of the setting sun, sometimes he carries a wicked, dying man
a long way on his shoulders to a distant hospital.
My poetry is like the eye of a miserable man on the roadside,
stretching across to gaze at someone’s footprints,
bathing in stream-water, he dreams of the forest goddess pressing
her lips on his mouth, consumed by an intense lust for copulation.
tr. from the Bengali by Shankar Sen