Category Archives: Could be Verse

Squid

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A poem presented at Colours of Life 2017 – the annual poetry festival of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle.

Now I’m not vegetarian

Nor yet pescetarian

Not even a pure carnivore

I’m an eat-everything-atarian

There’s not much that I don’t adore

When it comes to the fishes

I can devour most dishes

But there is one thing I abhor

 

It’s that strange little creature

With a tentacular feature

It’s name down my throat wouldn’t slid

Although my ol’ teacher

Demanded that I just say ‘squid’

I shuddered, I quaked, I all but flaked

I felt my life, on it was staked

“Oh, please don’t make me!” I pled

 

“Why not squid, you’re so silly,” she said              

“Er…Ummm,” I so wished I were dead

“It’s so slimy, so squiggly, so terribly wriggly.”

“Oh child, it’s just all in your head.”

“No, ‘taint.” I retorted, albeit feebly

And blanched at the thought of the squid

My face on my desk I then hid

While my breath went all wheezy’n’queasy

 

Many years soon sped by

So I thought I should try

To dine on this marine delectation

So….“I’ll have calamari,” said I

With a measure of great trepidation

Along came this dish

Of the offending fish

All battered and fried to damnation

 

But…In spite of the batter

In spite of the crunch

In spite of the fact that I’d have it for lunch

The rubbery squid, it all but did

Me in… as it stuck in my throat

I gasped, I choked, I nearly croaked

And swore once more as I had before

That I’d never again eat squid!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To view the live presentation please click here.

Nothing

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So here’s another old, “dark” poem. It was written to inspire a story and then I never wrote the story!

nothing-2The silence had enveloped her

In its warm black anonymity

She was safe.

No rasping voice

No sound

Penetrated it

A gag order

On insanity.

A restraining order on life.

She buried deeper into it

A mole, escaping the light. Read the rest of this entry

Solitude

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Some poems take a lot more out of me to present to the public. This one was written more than thirty years ago. It lay among my papers, then I had to “de-clutter”, so I transferred, those I was somewhat partial to into soft copy versions. It was one of those pieces that I kept coming back to wondering if it was “naff” or okay. Finally last year, it was  published in Robin Barratt’s collection of prose and poetry titled Lonely. It’s also available on Amazon.

Robin approached me and asked if I wanted to write for his rather sad, but cathartic collection. Along came this poem and three others all written at roughly the same time.

I guess it’s time to share it here.

solitude

 

 

 

 

 

 

Such solitariness I have known

Total. Complete.

The satisfaction of being myself

And me alone.

The breezes were my playmates

The rains were made for me

Who else had I need for

And who had need for me?

 

But then a yearning filled me

Strange and hitherto

Alien to my soul.

A disturbing thrashing around of my spirit.

I searched

I called

I wept

To the unfeeling skies above me

Surely, somewhere

There was someone else like me!

This solitariness I too have known

That I live and die

Alone.

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Lest we forget

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A painting by my friend Serena Stevens

A painting by my friend Serena Stevens may she rest in peace she battled cancer as valiantly as any soldier

November is a month to remember. Loved ones lost to all kinds of battles… on the front in war, of course, but there are other battles that some folk wage against disease – that dreaded, insidious, cancer; stroke victims, who wage a daily battle with bodies unwilling and unable to respond to the simplest of their wills; so many other ailments and conditions that render folk dealing with pain on a sub-chronic daily basis, the list is a long one. This November I’d like to remember them all.

I can’t name them, but they are all my heroes.

You and you and you, who see

Life ebbing by in slow degrees

For whom there was a time, I know

When nothing ever went so slow

Today your speech is locked behind

An uncooperative mind.

And you, why half your body can’t

Respond to anything you want.

And then there’s one who cannot turn

For pain that through his body burns

And there’s another one who, while

Her spirit breaks, yet she can smile.

Some have lost their limbs to bombs

And still they somehow all limp on

We know not who has been in war

But this we know, and know for sure

There are brave soldiers everywhere

Who need to know that we do care

For them, our poppies red

We wear and still a tear or two we’ll shed.

Fight on you brave immortal souls

The day will come, you’ll reach your goal.

And for those who are thinking of loved ones lost in war I have this to say in remembrance of ‘Poppy Day’.

The famous poem by John McCrae is reproduced below:

IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

With so many wars that have been fought since that poem was written, I’d like to change it around a bit

Forget that quarrel with our foe

‘twill only lead to e’er more woe.

And who is foe may in the end

Turn ‘round and some day be a friend.

The only faith, that we need keep

Is, to try and end each day in peace.

 

Let the poppies, sweetly blow

Lest we forget those laid below

And should our leaders want a fight,

And rant and rave about what’s right,

Let’s hide the guns and send them in

To face each other in the ring.

Note: This post was first published a year ago. I have reworked it for the reasons above.

A poem presented at the Colours of Life, Bahrain

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Two of the poems I presented at Colours of Life are already on FictionPals. I guess the third one should join them here.

Apologies to Maya Angelou

I will not go down in history

And no one will write lies

About my daily mystery

Or if, like dust, I’ll rise.

 

Am I sassy or even sexy

Do I upset you in any way?

The chances are you haven’t noticed

I’m wallpaper plain today.

 

But like the aged dying tree

I once was young and green

I’m not like the moon or sun or tides

And yet I shall be seen

 

Though my hair is white as hoar frost

Though my limbs hang loose with flab

Though my voice is hoarse and rough

You know, I have the strength of words

 

And if you will, or won’t or can’t

Hear what I have to say

Above the noise, the static chant

I know I shall be heard

 

For I speak of your tomorrows

Your coming ills and ails

Your aches and pains and hollow

Moans, just as your daylight fails.

 

So listen to me young ones

Hear what I have to say

No matter what you dream and hope

Just do it right away.

 

When you think that you have lots of time

The sun sets on another day

The hundred little things of life

Keep getting in your way

 

You think this will not happen

Who me? Oh, no! No way!

Your tomorrow it is coming

And that is me…Today!

Memories

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In search of material from the past one comes across a mood that suddenly finds resonance in the present. It’s not prophetic but it stirs an old emotion and I wrote it when I first knew we were going to Canada. I was apprehensive at the time, not knowing then, what I know now, that I was embarking on one of the best times of my life.

Having said that, I feel that those of us who come to the Middle East, even if we put down roots here, imbibe something from the shifting sands that enters our spirits and stirs a restlessness within us that eventually makes nomads of us all. Where, beneath this great dome of sky, will I eventually pitch that tent that never needs to be unpegged again? I have sand in my toes.

A Farewell

Goodbye people of this clime

It’s time to leave you

My watch is over

The grains of rice

Destined for me, are eaten.

No more grains on these plates

Come with my name written on them.

 

I have drunk deep

Of your waters, and long.

A thirst in my heart

Has been quenched.

And now a gnawing hunger

For other pastures

Feeds at my soul.

 

I must leave

The writ has been sent

Am I manumitted now?

Or do I go to another master

Another slavery?

 

The only freedom I yearn for

Is the final escape from life

When I will hunger no more,

Nor thirst.

 

I see your trees your wastelands

Your messy beaches, your prim hotels

I know your petty interests

Your magnanimous natures

I’ve grown to love them all

And I’ve grown to love them well.

 

But I must leave now

For I can hear the sirens calling

Midnight beckons

With its own sweet, soft music

Which I must follow

Towards the harsh light

The unforgiving break of day.

Seven dangers to virtue…

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And five verses on one!

I have a very talented bunch of school friends and every day we exchange a rather large number of emails. Sometimes there are short little exchanges at other times we have long and serious discussions, we share jokes, tease each other, occasionally we have violent (and vociferous) differences of opinions and occasionally these take the form of impromptu verses.

Here’s the result of a recent exchange.

Our friend Rajpal, in the spirit of the passage of the past year when thoughts turn to introspection, sent a post that claimed there were Seven Dangers to Virtue attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.

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This was accepted by the group with sage and solemn agreement. One friend, Pavan, decides he’d add one more danger to human virtue, claiming that, “One could add another. Desire without rationality.”

Well, I thought, desire is irrational.

And so I challenged him with the following comment, “My dear friend the trouble is Desire knows no reason; it is, and therein lies the sting.”

That last phrase set off my rhymester bells and before I could control myself, out came this verse:

Heart and head they will not meet

Heart responds just to the sweet

For often when the head says no

The heart, dear heart, it will say ‘go’.

And when the heart heads for a fall

The head it says, ‘I told you so’.

Philosopher friend Pavan bats this back at me within minutes:

Crave on dear heart, for life is short
Let not the head, thy zing abort.
To fall and hurt is also gain
For what is life without some pain.

A third friend nicknamed ‘Kandy’  jumps in with:

The head and heart are never in sync
But do not let your spirit sink
Go ahead with all your zest
Get what you want and like the best.

Now I had to respond to these two and at least try hold up my end of the argument. So…

Love it!
And therein speaks the heart
For versifying is an art
Well said dear Pavan you are right
And so say artists, with all their might
’tis better to have loved and lost
To have your heart in tempests tossed
To give your might, your main, your all
Than never to have loved at all…

But…
That’s the crux of my lament
Love and desire know no reason
Nor do they follow any season
And so you prove my argument!

In leapt Avinash – not in verse – reminding us that in a battle of wills between head and heart, most times it is the heart that wins. Finally, Mallika, our master poet, counsellor and chorus all in one, rolled out the final poem in the series…

Rajpal is our conscience keeper, he
Brings us our daily homily!

To the seven evils the Mahatma bade
Us save ourselves from, Pavan could add
Another, and as is our wont, you’ll see
Our ever youthful gang of G&G
Concentrates our talent on the eighth
Far more meat in that one, i’faith.
But Avinash made the connexion plain
Desire and Pleasure are brethren twain!

But Love – that’s a whole other ball game;
And that’s the one Rohini’d blame
For the Human Condition (with apologies
to Hannah Arendt, for her treatise
Placed procreation at the level of Labour –
But Love’s a task none would abhor!)

Arun Kandy joins the team, with yours truly
Bringing up the rear, with many a rhyme unruly!

Twixt Head and Heart, both, we must agree
Are ruled by our chemical inputs; verily –
(Like Pavlov’s dogs) what we eat are we,
And our choices are really not that free!

Superb argument. Case adjourned… unless of course our readers wish to add their views here!

Of Woods & A Woodpecker

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E-mail exchanges give rise to some goofing around for me. Here’s a little joke that is perhaps doing the rounds,

Two Woodpeckers

Mail Attachment10This Mexican woodpecker and a Canadian woodpecker were in Mexico arguing about which country had the toughest trees.
The Mexican woodpecker claimed Mexico had a tree that no woodpecker could peck.

The Canadian woodpecker accepted his challenge and promptly pecked a hole in the tree with no problem.

The Mexican woodpecker was amazed.

The Canadian woodpecker then challenged the Mexican woodpecker to peck a tree in Canada that was absolutely ‘impeccable’ (a term frequently used by woodpeckers).

The Mexican woodpecker expressed confidence that he could do it and accepted the challenge.

The two of them flew to Canada where the Mexican woodpecker successfully pecked
the so-called ‘impeccable’ tree almost without breaking a sweat…

Both woodpeckers were now terribly confused.

How is it that the Canadian woodpecker was able to peck the Mexican tree, and the Mexican woodpecker was able to peck the Canadian tree, yet neither was able to peck the tree in their own country?

After much woodpecker pondering, they both came to the same conclusion:
Apparently, Tiger Woods and Shane Warne were right, when they said,
“your pecker gets harder when you’re away from home”.

This resulted in the following rhyme from yours truly:

Mail Attachment9How much wood, would a woodpecker peck
When a woodpecker pecks a tree?
As much wood as Tiger Woods would
When Tiger Woods drives off from a tee!
And the ball, as happens to many a ball,
Goes whizzing into a tree.
And knocks out a piece as big as yer fist
While Woods, of course is pissed!
So is our woodpecker pecking the tree
For he’s been struck in the head like a tee
And his pecker’s been put out of joint
So he screams at the top of his voice and says
“Yer s’posed to get to the pin ya git!
Don’t you know that that’s the point?”
“I know,” says Woods who’s in a bit of a dither
“But my iron’s not as hard as my pecker.”

Black by Oak

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Looking back through my folder and in an attempt to clear it of its clutter I came across this little gem from our philosopher poet Omar Ahmed Alkhulaqi, aka Oak/ OAK. He is now creating his own style of Instagram Verse, if there is such a thing, the appellation is mine.

The following came into existence as part of an exercise at one of the BWC’s (Bahrain Writers’ Circle) Creative Writers’ Workshops. We were all asked to express the word: Black, and this was what our poet created.

“It is the absence of all colour, the abode of secrets in the night. It is the domain and perpetuator of mystery, rooted from the ages by man’s fear of the unknown. Its ambiance resonates from its ambiguity. A frequency of doom that sets in motion the strings of terror, while the mind expands and the senses retaliate, the strings shudder and vibrate. A resonance grinding to sweep away the dusty soul and awaken the inanimate and the forgotten. An instigator of curiosity that leads to questioning, a descent of light into nothigness and the defeaning of sound into silence. It removes security and familiarity and induces a pulse of danger and vulnerability. Like a veil it blinds the eyes unbiased and unmerciful , the senses arise to fight for their survival, the terror smitten rationality struggles with irrationality. All that is grave and evil lies waiting, offering a freedom away from the light of day either to better understanding or tribulation. A menacing darkness that pervades the spirit, announcing its menace with banners of an insulting army whose motto is ‘Woe to the conquered!’.

It is a dream that finds purpose in its existence because of absence in things, taking the shape of unanswered questions and stalked by their immortal King– Death. A dream writhing to and fro, in and about and exciting the senses to the mystique. Black is of danger, freedom, courage, contemplation, vulnerability, sorrow, pain… It is bitter when denounced and sweet when marvelled. It is shadowed by darkness, and there all forsakes you, even your own shadow. For it is a colour that excites many things and is as deep as our peaceful sleep, and above all–indispensable.”

Note: You may find more of this delightful poet’s work on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/omar.kuladi?fref=tl_fr_box&pnref=lhc.friends

And on Instagram follow the handle @b.t.oaktree and check out more here:

https://instagram.com/b.t.oaktree/

 

The Sandwich Thief

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Yesterday I read a post on Facebook (someone else’s post) that I then placed on my FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/RohiniSunderamAuthor

The post is an amusing account of two colleagues and a spat they have over a turkey & rye sandwich. I mentioned that it reminded me of some of the poems in Corpoetry, like The Water Cooler. One friend said she’d like to see what I’d make of that situation in a poem.

And so, here it is!

‘Twas in an office, I heard tell

Of a prankster ne’er do well

He stole, it seems, a colleague’s lunch

And the outcome was a bunch

Of laughs for folk like me and you

But from the posts, it seems ‘twas true

And this is how it went:

 

“Oh sandwich thief, I know you keep

Stealing my sandwiches, why oh why?

The latest one’s turkey on rye.

Grow up you thief, you sandwich thief!”

 

The thief replied, “dear Turkey ’n’ Rye

I have it here, I do not lie,

Ten bucks is all that it will take

To get it back upon a plate.”

 

The victim lashed back with a threat:

“Return my sandwich, thief, or else!

To HR I shall take my ‘plaint

And then let’s see how you will faint!”

 

The Sandwich Thief, did threaten back

“Alas, my dear, alas, alack!

For every hour that you delay

Bite by bite, I’ll eat it away.”

 

Threats then turned to psycho chat

“Why oh why are you doing this?”

The sandwich ‘napper, not remiss

“Tick-Tock” he sent a photo back.

 

But in an office, as we know

Don’t push your luck for it can go

As in this case, to HR’s top

And HR weighed in with a ‘Stop!

 

“Cease! Desist! Return the food

And we’ll not take this any further”

But sandwich ‘napper he’s a boob

Demands a pizza, silly joker.

 

Next he adds an insult in

Threatens not to eat but chew

And then in little mouthfuls spew

The sandwich in a bin!

 

“You’re the worst” our Victim sighs

“I’m not” Our Sandwich Thief replies

And in eloquent prose outlines

The corporation’s ills and its demise.

 

Now, thanks to IT and what not

HR tracked down the wicked sot

“Francis!” they name and shame the chap

“Come and see us, now ASAP!”

 

Now Sandwich Thief, he ain’t so bold

(In fact it almost makes one sicken)

“Please don’t fire me,” he folds!

The turkey made him chicken.