Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales, UK,
from Methodist Church ministry, has had pieces accepted by Nine Muses Poetry; Voices
Poetry; Eunoia Review; Runcible Spoon; Ink Sweat and Tears; The Poetry Village; From the
Edge; Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry and Allegro Poetry Magazines.
Protesting, strain motor engines scream,
bearing torque, outside of bends
edge-fenced by cliff-hang fall
outstripping unbroken unspaced trucks in line.
Not losing face, or screen, but hooting lean,
as calling on the dashboards garland gods,
to slip them back in pack again
the drivers vent, exhaust their fumes.
Bravado's wrecks raze valley floor,
reek, with jasmine hint, the strangest fuel.
Silver years on, road rites comply,
so first-time travellers adopt
hooded view, climbing Western Ghats
to Pune from Mumbai, stale breathing with
grocer's paper bag encasing head,
custom in follow weeks suspend.
We come across the scene
when even rickshaw route
is blocked and time is stopped.
Busy worship, festive shout
and dancing crowd beside
old Sanskrit blood, Angsi ice,
the Brahmaputra, barefoot
these families, though fateful, laugh.
Traditions mix the iconography,
death, or life superiority,
ebony, necklace beaded heads;
foot-stepped Shiva underneath,
calm, prostrate, but knows his place.
Kali waving from the tree
black glossed, armed, tongued
in shame and modesty, shocked
arched eyebrows red,
like some crazed Marx,
brother, not beard.
The Qibla, compass bearing point
shows where the earthly plant took root,
as does a dome, a long-lost cave,
foundations for a nurtured rage.
When prophets speak of kingdom's rule
in minds and hearts, the border tool,
outworn, no payment toll, new map,
changed paradigm removes the heat.
But not our scene, this paradise;
we fight for garden, babble tower,
go hang the terraces below,
prefer to listen to the snake.
In this bazaar, bizarrely served
unleavened bread, a pass over
for generations, cruelly led
by law, lore, genesis of myth.
A sibling act able to strike,
in Cana's region, at the heart,
the cordial hope is drained away,
blood spilt, common territory.
I sit in dark mud wattle hut, bemused few
on rope bed by shared pipe and curious goat,
toddler turned, door guarded by cake pile.
We take tea, brewed over dried-dung fire,
wondering where we are.
Before it dawned
we had bussed to Bulandshahr,
a plain drive, resting beside
horse carcasses while sloe-eyed lads
jump aboard offering, for their banana content,
algebra and trigonometry papers;
they will not bring together broken parts
of these knackered mounts, whatever angle.
There is scrabble for quack cures
sincerely efficacious, but then lurching on
the bus sweats us out by the dried
sweltered river and we stumble, dragging feet
towards the outcast village.
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