Culture & Society

Sukhtel: A Love Poem

'No need for the kindness of someone/ no need for the forgiveness of someone/ I’ve thrown off the black cloth of your/ nationality from the backbone.' The strong voice embraces the realities and rises beyond it at once. Love is mid-night solitude and voices raised against 'set ablaze everything they have'.

Representational image

You’re the mid-night solitude, sputtering before the
sunrise, there’d be standing a wall of dame 
in your currents and in between you and me.
That day the fields, the forests encompassed by
the sunflowers of the morning with the verdant
villages and their nose-ring would be submerged.

In the midst of the reservoir of tears,
the skeleton of a tall tree and an insane phantom
of yours and mine would be laughing
why so our love? We’re submerged from the very start.
To leave the land and go—hanging the notice
at the tip of the gun with the bulldozer’s roars
a swarm of khaki dogs are here throughout
the day with the cuckoos’ coo.

You’ve giggled to wash the mountain full of the
bliss of mining with tears; forget about the brokers,
the poets are indulging in masturbation and singing
at the marketplace at the scene of a bleeding
river being dragged, hands and legs tied up.

Why so our love? Objected to the submergence,
we’re submerged from the very start; with starlike
winking the sunflowers, the Indian rollers, 
over-bouncing ivy guards, pointed gourds, 
innumerable field creepers kenduand mahuajungle, 
children, adults and the young men and damsels.

How could I separate myself from myself?
In love, how intense is the earthy smell
how intensely poignant and warming, ah!
The next day in the sky of the prison,
the fluttering wings—-your face wink-less with
tiding smiles of silence, how couldn't I flow?

Annihilation of the Wretched

Spotting from the map, burn their houses and villages
Gods are raining flowers from up, here it’s,
take the fire and make Tirlas dance in the fire
stripe them naked all along the road
there’re no heavenly clothes from up for them
rob, whatever you can.

Catch hold of the neck of a foetus and ask
to chant, Bharat Mata Ki Jay
set ablaze everything they have—-
the soil’s seedling letters
the great fluttering saffron is our culture
how far is Ram’s kingdom which is embellished
with the chopped heads of Sambhukas
tread upon village after village and city after city.

Stoop them down to let them lick the mythology,
our saliva, phlegm and spittle
would the fate of the predestination change
if converted to another religion to emancipate
from the halter rope, would our rule alter
which is birth-centric and caste-oriented?

Wipe out their wretched religion depriving them
of their rice, kicking them; obliterate the
patron system, they’re born to clean our
excreta and lift the throne of ours till their death.
Here, take the fire, ommlechhayaswaha—-
let it be so, annihilate the wretched.

(Bharat Mata Ki Jay means victory to mother India

This poem depicts the striking facts of casteism in India, how caste hatred kills the Dalits and Adivasis, and how the so-called upper caste Hindus celebrate it on a daily basis.)

An Idiom for Oneself

I’m naked in the fire and in the sun
taken off from the body of the desert
a map multiple times, sewn up.
In my ten thousand throats, I’ve sung
the song of being burnt and burning.
wiping the mucus of the eyes of the flowers
from the thorny jungle of Rundhana
I’ve painted storms and waves in the sky.
You’ve axed the cloud and the wings
of the birds on the edge of the horizon
with the green blood,
I’ve got the forehead of the cracked soil

you’ve gone writing, dragging the 
auspiciousLaxmi’s feet to some harem.
Everywhere a vacuumed house
the yelling of the phantom
in the cot of bones—-the lullabies of fate.

No need for the kindness of someone
no need for the forgiveness of someone
I’ve thrown off the black cloth of your
nationality from the backbone.
I’ve dripped the sweat to the mouth when
I’ve been thirsty, I’ve spread my hands
to the red sun; when I’ve been hungry
I’m alive to lit your pyre 
in the throne of the morning.

The Hamlet

Gasping in the loo, the alleyway ends
in the thistle jungle—the empty thatched shanties
tiles and bones, the face of a white cloud
and a stretched tongue from a bald mountain.

Dusk in the face the freshest serenades are silent, 
no fire in the hearth place—-
with the utensils Cheru, Budhu, Veersha
and Ukiah have gone missing somewhere.

With the tattered clothes of bones, 
enveloping the naked hunger, 
the darkness is full of scary vultures. A stone 
on my way squirms to be thronged into the gloominess.

The Cycle of Time

Lumps of flowers have rained from
the sky, bloodied with blessings—
I’ve grown the crops of hunger.
I’ve bordered the fields with thistles
but I’ve stumbled down myself.

I’ve driven the green forest away
in grief-filled melody
andmy own horned shadow.
In empty terror, I’m sleepless
night after night
I’ve cohabited with the scarecrows.

Who has robbed the earth from beneath
my feet, the greenery from the sweat
the sun from the morning, the chirping
from the blood, and the wings from
my soupy dream?

The past, the present and the future
are speechless
the crops of hunger are the cycle of time
I’ve got a sickle in my hand
is it to chop off my neck?

Translated from the Odia by PitambarNaik

(Lenin Kumar, though he studied AMIE, Electronics & Tele Communication Engineering, he ended up being an activist. He's been active in various people's movements in Odisha for the past 2 decades. He has one collection of poetry in Odia, Bhokabhuin and 2 collections of translated works Rohini'sMadakaruSadaka (poetry) and UdayaPrakash's Paul Gomarara Scooter O AnyannaGalpa (short fiction). He is the editor for Nissan Magazine and lives in Bhubaneswar, India.


PitambarNaikis an advertising professional. His work appears or is forthcoming in The McNeese Review, The Notre Dame Review, Packingtown Review, Rise Up Review, Ghost City Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Indian Quarterly, and elsewhere. The Anatomy of Solitude (Hawakal) is his debut book of poetry. He grew up in Odisha and lives in Bangalore, India.)