poetry picks

Five poems for a rain-drenched June

The fourth in a monthly series of selected poetry on different themes.

Rain

Kazim Ali

With thick strokes of ink the sky fills with rain.
Pretending to run for cover I secretly pray for more rain.
Over the echo of the water, I hear a voice saying my name.
No one in the city moves under the quick sightless rain.
The pages of my notebook soak, then curl. I’ve written:
“Yogis opened their mouths for hours to drink the rain.”
The sky is a bowl of dark water, rinsing your face.
The window trembles; liquid glass could shatter into rain.
I am a dark bowl, waiting to be filled.
If I open my mouth now, I could drown in the rain.
I hurry home as though someone is there waiting for me.
The night collapses into your skin. I am the rain.

Art by Jai Ranjit
Art by Jai Ranjit

It’s Raining in Chennai

Deepan Ramachandran

It’s raining in Chennai.
And it’s not just the skies that have opened up...
Many homes are letting in water, but quite a few are letting in guests.
The First floors are embracing the Ground floors.
Malls are welcoming footfalls, and that too without wallets.
Movie halls are counting box office numbers differently.
Hotels are giving out foods that aren’t leftovers for a change.
Marriage halls are solemnising more marriages of souls than ever before.
Social Walls are tearing down their Civil counterparts.
140 characters are travelling faster than a ‘108’.
Taxi services are plying boats, MTC buses are plying like taxis.
Religious differences are being doused in a relentless downpour.
Politicians are knee deep in water and politics has sunk.
But Leaders are being born at every waterlogged junction.
Soldiers are being born at every dangerous turn.
And humans are being born at every deserving instance.
It’s raining in Chennai.
And it’s not just the skies that have opened up.

Art by Jai Ranjit
Art by Jai Ranjit

Malabar Monsoon

Smitha Sehgal

I cup the sonorous Malabar monsoon in my palm
Brewed, distilled
At every sip it breaks into an orchestra
The mayhem of
Drumming gods reverberate the Earth
The maestro traces bursting silver lines across the sky with a flourish
Boisterous rain children steadily pour
Inundating the ponds where green fish meditate
Beneath the mulch a mango seed cracks open
And then
Dusk draws curtains to the waltz of fire flies
The reticent bamboo puts forth shoots and leaves, wind wheezes and whistles
Chorus of frogs pierce the night
I lie upon the red tiled floor beneath the gleaming rosewood beams
In wait for the deluge

Art by Jai Ranjit
Art by Jai Ranjit

Bombay Rain in a Norwich Dream

Vasudha Chhotray

And the bleak winter sky tore apart
when thick, warm rain
hurtled down
one cold February morning
in that quaint English town,
inches away from the North Sea.

Barely had the snow settled
on the lonely grounds,
bereft of casual walkers, or snowdrops.
Barely had the naked branches
assuaged themselves
that spring would come.

All they knew
was the orderly pitter-patter
of grey English rain
constantly in the background,
like a sad woodpecker.

This hefty rain
abundant, intrusive
and impossible to ignore,
fell swiftly.
Even the cathedral
looked up.

And in minutes,
what a total transformation
of colour and scent.
Gone was the ivy,
too fragile
for this Indian tempest.

Old lady with her cup of tea
sitting by her window,
broke into a soft smile.
And I knew,
this rain
was welcome,
and not just in my dream.

Art by Jai Ranjit
Art by Jai Ranjit

Water on Ink

Nabina Das

Kilokri, Delhi

Shadows quarter the rain
You’re wrapped in yourself
The street flows on. Slivers.

Faces squiggle in ivory ink
Bush-birds stare at our eyes
The slants hurt similes. Slow.

Kilokri wets her palms
Streetlight on the henna
Night needs a mirror. Whole.

She word ties her hair
Petals think, slowly fall
Morning drops its step. Quiet.

All sketches on water by ink
All words on lines by language
All these un-fairy faces are I. Me.

Art by Jai Ranjit
Art by Jai Ranjit

This selection is curated by Rohini Kejriwal. She also curates The Alipore Post, a daily newsletter stemming from a love of​ art, poetry, music, and all things beautiful.

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