I’ve tried my best, to fit in as I can
In crowds of rust and wrinkled old masks:
I’ve dotted all the ‘i’s and slashed all the ‘t’s
Smiled just so, and wore what I must,
And nodded all day at players on stage
Who rant their lines and paint in the air
And vomit into wind all verbiage of dross
Seeking yet still all statues of gold
With glass-loaded eyes and dimples of grace
That wrench in the entrails with force,
Questions of unacknowledged spleen.
But what would be the point of it all?
What would be the point, if betel-smeared lips
Ruminating hard, with greasy little palms,
Pick out that meat from yellow-coloured teeth
And slaps on my face “Later, we will see”?
Festooned in parti-coloured papers I lie
A papier-mâché puppet of academic dye.
Tight, more tight; the buckle’s still loose –
Mine too the distempered cause
Of Lilliputs in Brobdingnag cloaks.
Could I have known that things would be thus?
Could I, after all the books and medals and praise,
Smiles in the hallways and pats on the back,
Could I have known of backstabbing moves
In petty little cliques of inflated selves
Where we make ledgers of insult and gain
And deck up as straws with leather-lined coats
Tattooed with love on eczema-tic necks?
Down in dreams of unforeseen woods
Mine are the paws that pounce.
Yet still I glance at mirrors and mend
Wrinkles and crease and entangled curls
And rehearse in mute my silly little lines
To flatter that ‘him’ or cajole that ‘her’
And speak as cats might purr.
Boxed in the chambers of uncertain hope,
Mine are the moves of extras on stage
With paydays that flutter and leave.
Listen to the band, checking their set
And wired for blast – hours on end
Of stereophonic drugs!
Don’t get me wrong – I am not a drudge;
When the lights darken and songs are unleashed
I too will join the headbangers’ gang
And trample into puddle with insistent feet
Thoughts that’ll never be discreet.
Think this is why, I’ve dwelt so long
On tigers in wild or eagles in flight
Or poured over Eliot at
midnight and more?
Questions now clutter, and pile up in vain
As these do I sweep and broom into bins
And burn into ashes of unholiest grain.
The wind in the west now halts and waits
As evening expands its tentacular steps
And strangles all glimmers of twilight in spring,
And spreads for us all, its bountiful shroud.
Clock’s ticking down to that auspicious time
When more and more puppets, with finery and glaze
March into halls with punctilious pomp
And wine and dine with calculated ‘blah’
Sprinkled with mergers and shares and dates.
Here do I wander and cling to those coats
Which I have hope will show me some threads
To weave into being my pocket full of dreams.
O, do not ask what they are!
Cramped in pockets for years on end
Burdened with gallons of ‘yessir’ and ‘nosir’,
I no longer know what creatures they are
And pickle them blind with fear.
Who knows what ropes have stalled my feet
And choked my dreams in quicksand of files
Which others elsewhere have quickened into life!
Now they’ll leave and stagger into cars
And leave still a trail of mobil and rum
That others might smell or speculate and sell.
I’ve smelt them out. I’ve smelt them out!
Enough of that, enough!
I don’t have the guts to be Lear in the heath
Nor do I dare to be Job reborn.
I am just a cog that turns as is turned
And leaves all the rest to time and place
And hopes for a dose of rather good chance.
Judge me as you will, why should I care?
Rocked in the desert of cactus and bones
Ours are ships without shores.