Friday, November 12, 2021

Lakshman Bulusu -------------- I See You




          To my brother who passed away at age 25 in 1996


by Lakshman Bulusu




It was a sunny Tuesday morning on July 2nd

with the usual rush hour traffic.

Your day began with a cup of Assam tea and a crispy toast.

You put on your business casual work attire,

a black Raymond trouser and a checked Arrow shirt;

but there was a change of plan that day.

You had to see father in hospital for fracturing his hand

when he fell from his bed the night before.

You prepared filter coffee, our father’s favorite,

thinking fresh coffee would cheer him up.

You placed the lower steel decoction container on the countertop,

positioned the steel mesh separater on top of it,

placed the top steel container over it,

put ground coffee powder into it followed by boiling water,

and let it settle for twenty minutes.

To finish it all, you added boiled milk and sugar to the decoction

and mixed it for a frothy coffee.

You filled the insulated mug with filter coffee

and started off on your motorbike taking Cantonment Road

hoping that everything would turn out right for father to return home.




Twenty minutes into your ride--halfway--

in the din and bustle of traffic,

a white Maruti van collided with you head on.

You were thrown to the corner of the road;

your motorbike tilted sideways

with its wheels whirring one last time;

your office backpack lying a couple of feet away from you.

Our father’s favorite coffee dripped from the mug

as your heartbeats faded into silence.

No wails, no groans from anyone,

not even from the lady who drove the van.

She got down, saw you unresponsive, got back in, and drove away.

Moments later, police in a van passing by noticed you

and took you to the hospital emergency room.

The doctor in charge there pronounced you dead.

The police located your school badge,

contacted the administrator who gave our home address.

They informed our mother by phone who rushed to the hospital

in a state of shock and took your body home.

Our father still waited for your arrival.




I still see you through the lens of tears

that wet my eyes as I remember you.

I remember the many rides

you took me on your motorbike without saying ‘no’ even once.

Your whistle rendered a lilt to the breeze as we rode along.

I see you in triumph as you made it

through the interview for a graduate teacher.

You shine in the highlight as I reflect on our past:

the jokes we shared at teatime;

the rules of play you stressed,

no matter who won or lost;

the ideas you put forth as we discussed poetry;

the encouragement you gave

to turn Sundays into leisure days and take it easy.

The last smile of yours

twenty-five years ago as you waved goodbye,

still floats in my memory.

The flame of your life continues to glow,

its warmth comforting my heart;

reminding me, you are as near to me as you were,

twenty-five years ago—

your image apparent as a metaphor.

My grief of your sudden end no longer stands out.




You have done your part and made your mark,

as a teacher in a Christian middle school,

fair and good in your profession,

though for a short-and-not-too-short three years.

Your effort rewarded through the words

of the Bishop who later visited our house,

He was good, honest, and well respected.

And it was God who gave the wound,

So He Himself would heal the wound.

To me it seems like the role of death

is like darkness chased by day.

Footprints of many generations outlive it.

Its very identity turns into a dimming light.

Dear brother, from a tombstone,

you rise like a tower in pride

epitomized by your meteoric talent.

And then there is afterlife

that welcomes you into a new world—

who knows what wonders it holds.

A reality that opens gates to the infinite?

I no longer question, “Where did you go?”

For, ever you live on—

And I still see you!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Simon Perchik --- poems


Simon Perchik


Not with the light itself

lifting this page closer

though the breeze already left 

–you need glasses, the kind

crystal-gazers use

and for centuries would weep

to birds that go on living 

–cockpit-glass! pressed

against your forehead

by wings and distances 

–in the end the book too

will lose its slack, approach

with the window in front

closed and even its shadow

had no chance to escape.


You have so many arms

holding fast the way all cradles

are lowered side to side

still listening for the breeze

that comes from one whisper more 

–what you calm here

are lullabies lifting you ashore

as campfires, heating your lips

with salt and kisses

that never let go –here 

everyone sleeps on the ground

though there’s never enough brushwood

to cover you song after song

draining your heart into its arms

filling with ashes and autumn.


As if these sleeves are cooled

and that slow roll

you’re still not used to

left one arm in the open

struggling, almost holds on –the tattoo

helps, smells from flowers

kept cold though it’s an old shirt

given your bare skin

for its years, months, minutes

and the exact place held close

licking the ice from your shoulders

your breasts and the flowers.


From under this pathway the sun

brings your shadow back

the only way it knows

though what it pulls up

is just as weak, hardly pebbles

and on a plate left outside

as if this grave is still vicious

caged the way the dead

are fed with your mouth

calling out from the dark corners

for stones, more stones –step by step 

you remember things, better times 

careful not to come too close 

not raise your hand 

or one false move.


On the way up this darkness

must sense it’s more wax

letting the varnish take forever

though you count how high

a second time –these shelves

aren’t restless enough, here

for the fire all wood is sent for 

–in every room! caskets

stacked as if from behind

the wall would reach around

smelling from bark, roots

and the uncontrollable embrace

heating your cheek the way rain

returns to lower its face on the dirt

that never moves :these boards

kept open for a dry rag 

all night rubbing your forehead

darker and darker, almost there.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

David Gilmour ---------------- two poems

 David Gilmour is the host of Sound Poetry on 101.9 Radio Tacoma

Tobacco Ode


The days of acorns, walnuts and horse-chestnuts--

The husks, shells, and cups we bored for use, then,

Eight of us, if memory serves, we smoked as pipes,

As clear as yesterday in an old and beautiful world.

The fields, we walked through the fields to woods,

The countryside spread out for miles, far out

Beyond construction sites and smoking factories,

Leaving behind slag dumps and rock hills

Bulldozed and ready for new roads out of town.

Out by the shire farms where trees still stood wild,

A bull watched a tribe of boys tramping through

Its grasses.  There was a house, a dark gamekeeper

And his dangerous dogs--so long ago, folk tale time.


The trees, those ancient oaks we spiked to climb

When tawny autumn gave its sign the nuts were ripe.

Old gaffer and his dogs just couldn't grasp the why.

We would risk to climb the oaks, to join the birds

And squirrels in their nests.  He'd scratch his head and

Hang his bent pipe in his jaw and keep the dogs at bay.

‘Twas pipes and the sheer beauty of filching golden acorns.

Conkers he could suss the need, the game was all the rage.


Stiff straw was pierced into an acorn cup, old fag-end crumbs

We’d stuff into the bowl, and puff in awe till black like gold

Cut from a stub of Uncle’s choicest briar-pipe Turkish plug.

Oh, the heavens so filled with aromatic spice, gods laughed.    


At home I'd raid the trays about the house for longish ends,

Even stole the odd one or two, Senior Service navy cut,

Or beauteous packs with names like Passing Cloud,

Familiar Players with the Jack Tar pictured on the face.

They smelled so sweet before the smoking and then came

The choking horror of the smoke.  Dead hard to get used to.

But there was nothing, nothing sweeter than the camaraderie

Of two or three bosom pals with stolen tobacco having a choke,

Pretending to smoke, cupping the lit end in the palm

Or flailing the hand sideways from the lips, longing to savor the smoke in throats,

In their lungs, through their noses, casually releasing it in streams

As we had seen our brothers, our parents blowing plumes

Into the blue foggy night air.  How important to start young.

To start the silent drawing of breath in acknowledged secret,

Forbidden togetherness in which talk was all you had,

Big talk, things that needed to be said together

While the air was thick with awful breath and the face changed

To its new mask and stopped the clock.

A Significant Thud


At present the ink is not flowing true.

The blue ran out two days ago

And the red cartridge I loaded

Has yet to come through in its own flow.

I am sitting at the round table on the deck

As I used to years ago; in those days

The table was yellow; now a faded green,

The very same table we sat at, you and I,

When you just knew us in Seattle, the times

When we dined on simple fare, drank cheap wines.

The same table we recently sat around

For breakfast, coffees, and smokes

And at dinner for laughter, with the Pinch

And paté and the crude rolled doobies

Pushing our humors to ludicrous limits.


These days are bogged down with quandaries.

The wedding is past; the nest is --- oops!

--Out back there in the deep shady green,

Under the trees, a significant thud --

The pears and the apples are dropping ripe. Out there

Out in the grass, I see another golden lump

Has been added to the mass. --Where was I?

--The table—on the table before me—yes,

I return to the original theme.—On it

Stand two golden pears on end,

Next to them, the 400 milliliter beaker

That held the three top heavy flowers -

Blue hydrangea blossoms.

The candles we burned were obliterated

By a night’s catastrophic wind and rain,

Sunday or maybe Saturday night.

I’ll light one - there!—They’re both lit now.

At my right elbow rests a book,

Against The Grain - wouldn’t you guess it?

Mmm! The pears gleam in the candlelight—gilded almost...

Shit! The hurricane glass just shattered.

Well, after all, what’s glass for?—but breaking.

The monotony: it’s a void, a blank, emphasized

By the intermittent thuds of falling fruit.

--David Gilmour







Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Heather Sager ______________________ poem

Bring the night I, the poet, did walk around that day living like I was actually alive. And the next day, I the poet lived rather like I wa...