Poetry

Cooling evening air
blows in from the frenetic street
through shallow Mughal arches
to this peaceful temple precinct,
raised two flights above the mundane
trading of everyday.

Smiling men shed their sandals
and disappear – though the temple’s
closed till after six:
it’s a festival day,
the season of weddings and celebrations.

A patient guardian in green/gold sari
reminds us to take off our shoes;
scrutinises us across the courtyard.
She sites below a delicate
scalloped white ceiling.
The two oriels, half-domed, frame
five arches to the covered court.
In the background,
a pair of ancient wooden doors,
elaborately locked and bolted,
stand guard over the temple’s
inner secrets.

From open shutters,
cooking curry scents the sunset air
along with the smell of lavender –
the colour also,
of the delicate paintwork.

Intense negotiations continue
in a side office – where something’s examined
in a strong light under magnification:
hard sparkling chips from the core of the earth –
bought and sold here.

A girl brings another, in bright flowered trousers,
a red magazine – gratefully accepted.
A mangy dog barks at us angrily,
howls in misery,
bites Deane’s ankles,
till he’s fed some sweetmeats
by a plump woman clad in
green and gold.

Curly haired young man
chuckles to his mobile
as Deane paints his vision
of this tranquil, inhabited
Indian sanctuary.

Devzi Ji Ka Maindiz Johari Bazaar Jaipur                  14  November 2017


Pigeons in pairs
swoop across the red rectangle.
The boy with a giant pink flag;
the master pigeon-wallah,
waves it languidly
in the cooling air.
The waiter comes to check on progress
on Deane’s watercolour
of this brick Brutalist courtyard.
Its regular recession and projection,
each storey varied;
some recessed and some brought forward,
some with pierced balconies
covered with roses,
red, white and yellow
spilling over the ledge.

Slow swimmers measure the pool length
while I enjoy the quiet luxury
beneath me, of soft green and blue towels
draped over the sunlounger.

The sun sinks in the sky,
scissored by pigeons’ continual flight paths,
swift warp and weft -
to the sound of jangly music
while fellow guests walk around slowly,
minds far away
at their mobiles’ endplace.

Long drawn out phrases
of the eloquent call to prayer
rise and fall, slantwise
over the hotel enclave
as the sun’s light fades.

Frangipani scents the hot red sandstone
greeting us as we pass into
the wide interior.

ITC Rajputana Jaipur
13 November 6.30 pm


Indian Road Rap – Jaipur to New Delhi
8am to 4pm 15 November 2017

“Great India!”
“Blow Horn!”
“Save Girl Child!”
“Plant Trees!”

“Work is Worship”:
Yellow clad women work, crouching, planting,
backs bent hoeing,
cutting up harvested branches,
banging clothes in water on concrete
cleaning dirt out of them,
walk straight-backed to carry heavy head loads.
Men sit, drinking chai,
or lie, prone on charpoys.

Rich earth, brown furrows,
stalk stacked sheaves
in circular stooks.

On board men sell us – or fail to entice us
to part with our rupees, for
newspapers, leather bags, tea and spices.
People scooter past, one/two women sidesaddled.
Gaudy lorries, loaded: glass, cement, grain
pass us, hooting.
“Hotel King” “Hotel Prince”
compete for giant wallspace,
always one kilometre ahead!

Field dust, yellow, coats everything,
hangs in the air,
making smog, with burning stubble;
sunlight intensifies, densifies it,
making it harder for us to breathe.
Building, tearing down = human energy.
India moves itself on diesel-fuelled wheels.

Round cowpat/straw fuel discs,
stacked, circular, like flat cupcakes.
Complacent cows, grounded,
watch the frantic humans
with slow moving eyes.

“Be what you wear!”
“Live, love, eat!”
“A Complete Family Restaurant!”
“Air-Conditioned School”.
“Ashok Leyland
Mahendra First Choice Cars,
Any car service.”
“Navy/Army/Airforce/Police”.

Concrete skeletons:
Unfulfilled dreams.                           134 km to Delhi

“Raffles International School”
Giant politicians’ smiles.
“Touching Life Every Day
Sarya Ratna Prayang”.
“Take Service Lane:
Adhuik Hotel”
“Gangaus Midway:
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner”
Anushree
“4 Seasons Food Court”
“Bikana Valu”.
“Valvoline”.

Bulging yellow stacked sacks
pass us, heavy, on loaded lorry.
Wingless, two planes are being dismembered.
How did they get there?
Abrupt hills loom over the dead flat plain,
others blasted apart, destroyed for building stone.

“Hotel Grand Tara 24 x 7:
Luxury rooms in Budget”
White sheets and towels draw lines in the sunshine.
Tower blocks appear in thickening haze.
“North highway Xpress”.
Suddenly the coach slows its progress
veers violently leftwards
under the flyover.
We go slowly back again,
stop by piles of bluish cement dust,
heading for a motorway café.
A man cracks nuts on the flat-roofed
Walnut Company.

“Raata International School:
huge complex in the middle of nowhere:
“Future ready schools” at Dughera.
“Amity University Jaipur”
“Motimahal Restaurant”
“Muskan Mindway RC Restaurant”
“Any Time is Icecream Time”
“KKP Cement, Build Safe”
“Great Weekend Getaway: Tree House”.
Tower blocks and sheave stacks.
“Stop! This project is worth a visit”
“Heavy Vehicle Keep Left!”
Neemrana Moterbike Factory: Industrial Area.
“County Line Logistics”
“Slow, Horn”
“Greenlan Laminates”
“Pepsi Miranda”….                 And these are just the signs in English…

Giant concrete pigeon’s
poised for flight
from the top balcony
of pink/grey multi-storey house.
“PayTM Accepted Here.”
“To pay the toll
Scan payTM QR Code
At the Counter!”
Smashed up car…
No getting out of that one.

Giant Hindi signs, tops joined together,
form a horizontal architecture
I cannot read.
Shahjehanpur:
Industrial area.

“Dream Marriage 150 Lahks”
= Lovers’ Hotel?
Parked khaki lorries – by government decree
their loads and drivers marooned
110 kilometres from Delhi
to combat the capital city’s smog.
“Have to take right turn here
because of jam further down.”
“Horn, wait 4 side please”:
Lorry full of sacks.
Blue brewery, “Herbal tastings”.

Now we’re going the wrong way
down the motorway.
“Saving Lives:
In Case of Accident, Dial This Number”
Lorry overturned
concrete piles spilled
in awkward heap
blocks the sideroad.
“David is leading the way”:
small white car
“for Goliath [us] to follow.”
“All India Parmit”
“Tax Collection Point”.
Giant steel cylinder, parked,
going no further.
Lorry, headfirst into a bushy side ditch.
“Hero Corp”.

“Ladies and Gentlemen:
I’ve never seen anything like this.”
We’re now driving directly into oncoming traffic
veering across lanes,
roaring over ruts and potholes
and deepsided ditches.
Square brick kiln chimneys
rear behind dense vegetation.
Sudden horn noise…
“Golden education”.
People crowd round a dusty red field space:
broad-chested men
wrestle in quick bouts.
Maeve consults her dictionary
doing her French homework.

A tethered buffalo raises its head
over the roof of the lorry it’s carried in.
A man’s perched, resting,
on the roof of his truck, tarpaulined,
going nowhere, like all the others.
More miles and miles of state-stalled lorries:
No end of waiting for them in sight.
Another checkpoint
manned by the army
armed with big sticks
aimed to keep order.

Now huge industries
In sheds on both sides:
How are their workers getting to work?        95 Km to Delhi
On the side road
we veer round a tented holy shrine
with a central blue draped mound:
is it a body, lying in waiting for burial?

“Asahi India Glass Ltd.”
“Tot Copper Ltd.”
“CRRC Pioneer”
“Jindad Buildas”
“HSIIDC Welcomes You To…”
Khaki-wrapped canvas covers
a train carriage on a low loader.
A factory pours its thin stream of white smoke
into the already foggy air,
as we rear and rock over deep ruts,
back confronting the oncoming traffic
behind another loaded bus:
maybe a bit safer that way?

We overtake a red tractor
pulling a trailer loaded with orange bricks.
“Mannot Veg Dhaba
Just a 25 Minute Drive”.
“Bolt express”
“Police Assistant Booth” – empty.
“OM Logistics Limited,
Making Business Simple” –
Not when it's stuck
In the middle of a traffic jam.
Another shrouded stalled railway carriage.
Rows of red tractors lined up on a trackbed.

Punjabi Urban Dhaba.
Police force us off the flyover.
“We got caught by a volcano once.”
“At least we’re moving”.
Green water channel beside us is static
green slime; black banana skin
floats in concrete compartment.
We’re not moving, lorries inch past us;
now we’re as stalled as the opposite lorry jam.
We’re stationary behind another coach
full of Westerners.
A fancily dressed lorry suddenly rears towards us, side-on,
Gasps of horror from the people who see it.
“Just look on the bright side, ladies and gents.
We’re not flying out until tomorrow…”
The other coach turns back across our track.
The boy goes ahead to check what's happening.
Ambulance siren.
Now our guide’s got out…
What’s he going to do for us?
“Supply chain solutions”.
It’s a broken down lorry blocking our progress.
“Use dipper at night.”
O Kara’s red/gold tassels sway in the dust.
A crowd of men could push it out of our pathway.
Driver’s back, looking resolute,
moving cautiously forward.
“Visit Again Travel Tourism”:
another crowded bus sways past us.
“Shree Amber Karni”

Our boy bravely stops the traffic
past a menacing lorry
loaded with sharp steel girders.
We’re on the right/left side again!
Good speed ahead!                              77 Km still to go.

Nearing Delhi, a white car with dead roses
fixed all over it
passes us on the left hand side.
Six horses, sideways on, look over
the wooden edge of their lorry.
A turbaned man tends a large flock of sheep,
moving slowly along the side road.
A crashed lorry, front stove in,
Is towed to a repair centre full of others.

I’m losing the will to continue
this real- time record…                       2.25pm

Entering Delhi:
“This taxi respects women”.
Soldiers in face masks
guarding the barracks.
Two sit in the bus stop
holding their guns.
Gkurkas in barracks
Flash kukris in unison.
“Foot Over Bridge”.
“Speed Calming Go Slow”.
Man in a silver suit
walks the highway.
Man asleep on the pavement
toes pointing our way.
Jungle in the city.
Eternal monkeys leap and preen
oblivious to passing traffic.

We made it at 4 – at last.

Celia Clark



Water: still mirror –
reflects our upper world.

 

It also moves:


solid rain, rushing torrents, unceasing tides, welling springs, seeping rills, sprinkling mists,

snow: powder and crust, melts….


But what’s underneath the surface/skin?



Our bodies:
water:

blood pumps, lymph swells, menstrual red flows, urine gushes,


saliva and semen spurt, sweat drips;


eyes, fluid bathed, cry

and smear – brine tears.




Immersed in sea,


only our skin

holds us in;


not dissolved, but moving through


that vital element we share


that primal soup

we lived in, gilled.




With my curved shape,


I connect


with my amphibian,

bathed,
rocked, supported, lulled -


though, lunged only for air,


confined to surface.




But what’s below, terrifies..


Beautiful depths:

Glass clear,
shimmering green, turquoise,
aquamarine, indigo…

What are those shadows?


Powerful currents, churning tides, swaying seaweeds,
flashing fish, transparent jellies:



Another domain,

unknown,


like the fluids

beneath our skin.
Water: still mirror –
reflects our upper world.

 

It also moves:

solid rain, rushing torrents, unceasing tides, welling springs, seeping rills, sprinkling mists,

snow: powder and crust, melts….

But what’s underneath the surface/skin?
Our bodies: water:

blood pumps, lymph swells, menstrual red flows, urine gushes,

saliva and semen spurt, sweat drips;

eyes, fluid bathed, cry

and smear – brine tears.

Immersed in sea,

only our skin

holds us in;

not dissolved, but moving through

that vital element we share

that primal soup

we lived in, gilled.

With my curved shape,

I connect

with my amphibian,

bathed, rocked, supported, lulled -

though, lunged only for air,

confined to surface.

But what’s below, terrifies..

Beautiful depths:

Glass clear, shimmering green, turquoise, aquamarine, indigo…

What are those shadows?

Powerful currents, churning tides, swaying seaweeds, flashing fish, transparent jellies:

Another domain,

unknown,

like the fluids

beneath our skin.
Glendalough Ireland  19 October 2012

Robin Hood Gardens Poplar 30 July 2012
Two giant walls:
Tall concrete honeycomb
Wrap protectively
Round the green pointed hill,
Its winding paths
Overgrown now,
No longer trimmed;
Its mosaic turtles, fish,
Still sparkle
In the long grass;
The rose pergola
Still lovely, blooms in red and white.
“Gather round!
Our Olympics is about to begin!”
Children leap over hurdles,
Their parents serve
Strawberries and cream in glass bowls;.
The playcourt vibrates in vibrant hues.
A community of many colours
In their holiday gear
Celebrate summer together.
Indifferent towers
of Canary Wharf and cheap
Blank-eyed flats
Glower to the south –
Is that what’s to come here?
A faded picture says:
“Here’s your new homes…”
But this patch of earth
Is where we live
Happily together!

As the world competes at Stratford
just up the road,
Is this vital communal flame
Condemned to quenching -
For greater profit?
The Smithsons’ ideal vision
Of city living
To be lost – for ever?
Obliterated –
Its people blown away?

 

 

 

 

 

 

America's Cup

Sea's slosh and suck
slam the concrete steps,
throwing up heavy white foam:
Bubbles cool my brown legs.

Shark-shaped sails,
towering verticals,
giant black wings,
narrow wind-catchers
slice seawards,
fly the shining hulls,
lifted on slim aerofoils
to slice through
neon green water.

 

 

 

Water: still mirror –
reflects our upper world.

 

It also moves:



solid rain, rushing torrents, unceasing tides, welling springs, seeping rills, sprinkling mists,

snow: powder and crust, melts….


But what’s underneath the surface/skin?




 

Our bodies:

water:

blood pumps, lymph swells, menstrual red flows, urine gushes,



saliva and semen spurt, sweat drips;



eyes, fluid bathed, cry

and smear – brine tears.





Immersed in sea,



only our skin

holds us in;



not dissolved, but moving through



that vital element we share



that primal soup

we lived in, gilled.





With my curved shape,



I connect



with my amphibian,

bathed,

rocked, supported, lulled -



though, lunged only for air,



confined to surface.





But what’s below, terrifies..



Beautiful depths:

Glass clear,

shimmering green, turquoise,

aquamarine, indigo…

What are those shadows?



Powerful currents, churning tides, swaying seaweeds,

flashing fish, transparent jellies:



Another domain,

unknown,



like the fluids

beneath our skin.

Water: still mirror –

reflects our upper world.

 

It also moves:

solid rain, rushing torrents, unceasing tides, welling springs, seeping rills, sprinkling mists,

snow: powder and crust, melts….


But what’s underneath the surface/skin?

Our bodies: water:

blood pumps, lymph swells, menstrual red flows, urine gushes,

saliva and semen spurt, sweat drips;

eyes, fluid bathed, cry

and smear – brine tears.

Immersed in sea,

only our skin

holds us in;

not dissolved, but moving through

that vital element we share

that primal soup

we lived in, gilled.

With my curved shape,

I connect

with my amphibian,

bathed, rocked, supported, lulled -

though, lunged only for air,

confined to surface.

But what’s below, terrifies..

Beautiful depths:

Glass clear, shimmering green, turquoise, aquamarine, indigo…

What are those shadows?

Powerful currents, churning tides, swaying seaweeds, flashing fish, transparent jellies:

Another domain,

unknown,

like the fluids

beneath our skin.

Glendalough Ireland  19 October 2012

Robin Hood Gardens Poplar 30 July 2012

Two giant walls:
Tall concrete honeycomb
Wrap protectively
Round the green pointed hill,
Its winding paths
Overgrown now,
No longer trimmed;
Its mosaic turtles, fish,
Still sparkle
In the long grass;
The rose pergola
Still lovely, blooms in red and white.

“Gather round!
Our Olympics is about to begin!”
Children leap over hurdles,
Their parents serve
Strawberries and cream in glass bowls;.

 The playcourt vibrates in vibrant hues.
A community of many colours
In their holiday gear
Celebrate summer together.

Indifferent towers
of Canary Wharf and cheap
Blank-eyed flats
Glower to the south –
Is that what’s to come here?
A faded picture says:
“Here’s your new homes…”
But this patch of earth
Is where we live
Happily together!

As the world competes at Stratford
just up the road,
Is this vital communal flame
Condemned to quenching -
For greater profit?
The Smithsons’ ideal vision
Of city living
To be lost – for ever?
Obliterated –
Its people blown away?