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Daniel Trevelyn Joseph

Opaque, thank God!

One woman is gossiping with her husband
How another woman is all the time
Complaining about her husband about
All small, small things: and this husband
Nods his head, and agrees to what his wife says,
Thinking all the time, “What about you, my dear? ”

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Incestuous relationships,
Inspired by asking
To read specific poems,
Can lead to defective progeny.

Comments made on one’s poems
When reciprocated
Can swell numbers or
Lead to introspection.

Hunting for the poem,
Or praise, or recognition,
Within ourselves?
Manipulation is not
Too far in society.

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Arbitrary

I am in my Honda Civic car at Haji Ali:
Boy of thirteen knocks on window screen,
But I turn away from this beggar, sure,
Not knowing how to go about it always.

In the morning however at Worli
I had asked driver to slow down
While I took out a ten rupee note
And gave it to that young beggar.

There is no difference between the two,
Both are begging by tapping on car window;
One makes my hand to open a wallet
And the other make my eyes move away.

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Learning Marathi

We were in Jambhle saheb’s car
It was a Fiat, and he was ExN, NRBC
The year was 1970, place Phaltan,
In Satara district, State of Maharashtra.

Another vehicle crossed, speeding.
Mr Jambhle turned and told us
The occupants in the car,
Thyani tuntunith shivya dhile.

I didn’t hear what the speeding car said,
I don’t know still what were the words
But ‘tuntunith’ as a marathi word
Took root in my mind, and is evergreen,
‘Strongly, with force’.

D T Joseph
02.02.08

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Inner being

It quivers inside and is worried
All the time,
About offending anyone.

A London taxi-driver
Pulls up a senior IAS officer
Counting coins for payment.

A shapely young foreign girl in Ladakh,
Comes into our room early morning
Where we stayed on way to Numra valley.

She complained that we spoke loudly,
Were making too much of noise:
We heard her out in silence, ashamed.

Could it be that such instances
Have churned up my inner to pulp
And it keeps, jelly-like, quivering always?

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Dharma Chakra

What Buddha set in motion,
The Wheel of Dharma
Was already, always in motion.

We used to discuss, with scorn,
The retired officers charging fee
To procure a meeting with us.

Now after retirement while
Doing consultancy, we charge
A higher fee for meeting officers!

I do feel sorry that I thought ill
Of them then, and so now if others
In the chair think ill of me, let them.

The circle will complete for everyone:
Only there is a season for everything,
As laid down in the Ecclesiastes.

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Take-off

Swallows in the month of January
Flying one foot above the grass,
Yellow mostly, and some green,
While Air India queues up,
To leave for Chennai:
A wedding in the family beckons me.

I am reading on
Contemporary poets
Tom Gunn, Ted and Thomas;
I am enjoying it after gap
Of decades in which
I was just the Administrator.

Air-travel, and touchdown too, is sexy.
We are now on runway, speeding up madly,
Ready to take off and land with a thud:
Isn't that what the wedding is all about?

D T Joseph

[...] Read more

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Queen's Flowers

During the month of April
Tree after tree in full bloom;
Mauve flowers, pushing out in plenty,
With copper pod yellow flowers on top
Here and there - taller, larger trees.

A solitary bread-tree flaunts its pretty leaves,
Bunch of bell-tree flowers intruding through;
Nearby a frangipani tree with white-streaked red flowers
Bougainvillae and railway creepers on the fence
Along the pavement where I walk.

Line, color, motion, light and shade
Thrill me: what my eyes see each moment
Constitute a better painting than
Any of the greatest of Masters.
Alas, it is evanescent!


13th April 2007

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Lecturer

He wrote on the board
“The husband said the wife
Is having an extra-marital affair”.

He asks the class, “Who is having the EMA? ”
Shout comes up loud, “the wife”.

He takes a piece of chalk, and puts two commas
One after husband, and one after wife.

It now reads, “The husband, said the wife, is
Having an extra-marital affair”.

He asks the class, “Who is having the EMA? ”
Confused murmur of husband, wife flutters.

“Not a word has changed, but the meaning has reversed
With just two commas.” Eats shoots and leaves, eh?

May I start the lecture on grammar, he said.

[...] Read more

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Mom No Exception

Good women after menopause
Are so jealous, I say.

I have seen mom-in-law getting
Upset, and covering up
With put-on laughter,
When her husband talked a bit more
To his own daughter-in-law
In the drawing-room.

I never thought Mom was like that -
Shocked I was to hear in Chennai
From Seline and Rajiv separately
That she made hell for Dad in sixties
Because young women in church
Circled him for counseling.

Eldest, and away in Maharashtra,
I didn’t know: Mom is dead 17 years now.

[...] Read more

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