There are Many Ways to Kill a Poet


There are many ways to kill a poet.

The best one –is to neglect him.

From the wet treetops on monsoon dawns

The brainfever screams in all delirium

The sky glows red and green all night,

He walks the streets, stands bewitched by the sea,

Rolls on the lush grass, and lies open eyed

Under the rolling skies.

You walk beside him

In silence.

There are many ways to kill a poet, remember.

He is naïve and like the parrot writing across open skies.

That is his green and red mistake.

It is easy enough to kill a poet, remember.

He hopes in the dark

Screams in the night

And keeps wide awake till all the stars go white

In a pale blue sky

He breathes in air

Walks on water

Caresses all tamarind trees

And climbs the gooseberry by the wall

He is brown

He is black

He is tall

And is everywhere

Sees beyond all walls.

He is fool, he is prophet, he is the king of Iran.

In Istanbul, Jerusalem, Papanasam, Belur, Budapest, Pakshipatalam.

You fear him, remember

Remember, there are many ways to kill a poet.

You blast him sky high

Tied to a rock. You kill him many times over.

He mocks you in your slumber.

He rocks, he sings, he dances the ramba ramba

He keeps you all wide awake while he sleeps.

There are many ways to kill a poet, remember.

Fear not fear not Wedding Guest!

Drink more water and spit on him full blast.

Tell him to leap sky high

And rock the sun like a big red fruit.

You feign sleep when he weeps beside you

You shout and laugh

When he weeps beside you

You celebrate everyday

While he weeps beside you.

He walks on water

Sleeps on a giant snake

Plays with saints and scholars

On Mount Olympus, Parnassus, Tiruvannamalai, Kodajadri, Annapurna.

In Weimar, in Pondicherry

By the sea, over all hills and peaks

You fly by and shop while he weeps beside you.

There are many ways to kill a poet, remember.

Perhaps, the best is not to listen to him.

You throw him deep down into the gorge

He bounces back like a rubber ball and stands tall.

You harness the elephants and stampede him chained

He smiles his innocent smile and bows to the beasts.

He is farmer he is scholar he sees far more

Than you or I. There are indeed many ways.

Perhaps, still, the best is not to listen to him.

That’s easy enough by our standards.

You search all stacks and rows of books

Run around with Google and Yahoo

Pick up handfuls of periodicals and papers

Probing and prying, trying to dislodge meaning from his word

You tear him to shreds in your goddamn dissertations

And debate across podiums in classrooms round the world

Of  Jack and Jill and Race and Class and Gender,

Of why he writes of butterflies and balloons

Of clowns and cacophonies

Of himself and no other.

All the while, remember, remember

There are indeed many ways. One could, of course,

Invent more fear. Silence is another.

Still, the easiest, is to stop by and ask him for a catalogue.

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