Dilip Mohapatra

You stand in the red corner
and I on the blue
your front toe and back heel in line
and your head behind your gloves
you size me up through
the corners of your eyes and I you.
You step forward with your left foot
and drag the other
and then pivot to position yourself
to deliver your punches straight at me
I mirror your moves
and keep myself out of harm's way.
You throw your jabs your hooks
and your uppercuts
through your opprobrious glances
and scathing silences
through your vituperative utterances
and oppressive mails
and I try to block and parry
your sardonic punches.
And then it's my turn
to throw the counter punches
return the rights for the lefts
more acerbic than yours.
We fight till one of us or both of us
are beaten to a pulp
and knocked out or we decide
to reach the point of inflection.
Our fertile attacks and counter attacks
multiply exponentially
and we trace on the mat
hyperbolic paraboloids.
We had forgotten that we were not
meant to be in the ring
and life breeds life while
death gives birth to new deaths.


You start sensing
His presence
in the stories that your granny tells you
in the rhythms of the hymns
in the meters of the mantras
in the cadences of the incantations
in your meditative silence
and in the five elements of Nature.
You sing His praises
you seek His intimacy and blessings
you scan all the spaces outside you
confined and constrained
by your perception of time and space
then look within too
searching for Him
while you grow in your spirit
and grow towards Him.
The seeker seeks the sought
And the finite seeks the infinite.
You ascend.
The absolute
the un-evolved
the shapeless
the timeless
the indivisible and
the part actual
part potential
sends down fragments of Himself
to hold your hands
and journey with you
as you move along your lives
and to lead you through
the shadow of death
to the paradise where
you came from
and you reach your destination
the ultimate kaivalya*.
The sought seeks the seeker
the infinite seeks the finite.
And God descends.

*Kaivalya is the supreme state of freedom from all bondage.


The bejewelled and bedecked bride
in her new home
still waits with her god-sisters
for the immortal moon to descend
and dance on the ripples of water
imprisoned in a clay pot
and to view her husband's weather-beaten
face through the sieve
and for him to offer her
the first sip of water so that
she may break her fast
that she kept to confront and defy death.
The Hadith still dictates
the sightings of the crescent
that mark the beginning and end of
Ramadan fasting.
The mothers in the remote villages
still sing to their little children
the glory of their brother moon
while feeding them their daily gruel.
The lovers still look into the soulful eyes
of their fair maidens
in search of a moon on fire.
But a soul-less moon no longer breathes
nor does its heart beat anymore
its carcass still doing the routine
rising setting and crossing the meridians
in tandem with the earth's spin
its white skull half buried in the grey ashes
that carry the footprints of the assassin
the imprints of man's small steps
defining the big leaps for mankind.



A blur of brown
darts down
in a whoosh
slashes the sheet of blue
and swoops up
the next instant
leaving a broken trail
of splashes of red.
The warbler's song
wavers and stretches
into a melancholic shriek
and is lost
in the recesses
below the ledge
in the cacophony of
the staccato ee-chups*.
A lone and unsure
drifts lazily
doing a slow waltz
in step
with a somnolent and
oozy breeze.

•    ee-chups are vocalisation of the falcons at feeding time.



The capricious clouds
cruise clandestinely
on the territory of
the absentminded
and unpretentious stars
staking their claims
to patches of the blue
for brief moments
and drape them
with their grey veils.
Night is their accomplice
that gives them cover
and they sneak into
the soul of the sky
through the chinks
of its vulnerabilities
while sun
and moon
stand witness in
helpless silence
and the wayward wind
has the last laugh.
Somewhere else
the candle burns
and we continue to blame
the suffering flame
in sympathy
for the fugitive moths
that dare
their death
and fly
into the forbidden zone
into the hot molten wax
only to be imprisoned.

The Author: Dilip Mohapatra, a Navy Veteran has been writing poetry since the seventies, and his recent poems have appeared in various literary journals like Muse India, Helix Magazine, Chiaroscuro Magazine, BlazeVOX, etc. His poems have also found place in the World Poetry Yearbook 2013. His latest collection of poems, ‘A Pinch of Sun and other poems’ is currently under publication by Authorspress, New Delhi. He did his Masters in Physics at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. Post-Navy, he held senior leadership positions with the Tata and Suzlon groups of companies. Currently he is the Chief Mentor and Strategic Advisor to KIIT University, Bhubaneswar. He lives with his wife in Pune.
Illustration: Portico, photography, by Ishmael Annobil, 2013

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