Archive for poetry

Kanti

Posted in My Poems with tags , , , , on January 19, 2015 by James Munro

Kanti pic

Priya was from some village in Nepal.
They told her she would be a Deva Dassi,
tied a pretty red cord around her neck
and shipped her off in a covered wagon
filled with little Deva Dassis.
Now she is old and scrawny.

Ma Hla is from a town in Myanmar.
There, they don’t bother with the Deva Dassi
story, not now. Besides, they’re Buddhists.
They just buy them, load them on a lorry
and take them to the airport.
She has grown tall and slender, a dancer.

Lali is from here, Sonagachi.
Which means that unlike Priya and Ma Hla
she is not officially a victim.
(As nor am I, for though I am not local
I came willingly, stay happily.)
Still, Lali is leaving soon. Poor thing, Priya says.
She’s getting married.

I’ll be leaving soon, too, I say.
I wiggle and twirl to the blaring radio.
Ma Hla starts crying.
Alright, I won’t go – decide to stay
another year, another couple of years,
see Ma Hla married too. If any man
will have her. They don’t like an ex-whore
to be beautiful. Priya says any mother-in-law
worth her salt will very soon
do something drastic about Ma Hla’s
Burmese beauty. Lali is lucky,
she is plain and a local girl.

I am luckier. I can leave.
But shall I, ever?

© James Munro

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Redundant

Posted in My Poems with tags , , on November 7, 2014 by James Munro

BTS cover

I don’t produce milk
or wool
or eggs
I don’t have claws
or fangs
or fur
or feathers
I can’t hunt
I can’t flee
I’m just me, bare flesh
meat
on the hoof, or trotter
or whatever they call my feet
I mean
I’m fat, well fed, a bare skin
full of fat and blood
ready to be bled but
redundant, it’s as if
the whole world had gone vegetarian
unwanted
unsaleable
no use, I mean
no balls, I’ve tried the bacon factory
and the charcuterie
and the sausage makers
and the undertakers
but there were no openings
they won’t ring me
I know
and I’m still on the hoof
on the loose or whatever
and I can’t make it alone in this jungle
they should have some reverence for life
even the tiger
is almost extinct, perhaps I’ll wander
down to South America
redundant
as a penguin on the Amazon
out of place but
I
am
outof
place
and maybe I’ll appeal to
an anaconda.

Shelti Forest

Posted in My Poems with tags , , , , on February 21, 2014 by James Munro

grunge image of dark forest, perfect halloween background

Whispering in the breeze
the trees sway gently
sun-dappled paths
lead to a warm, grassy
open space beside a stream.

But in harsh moonlight
the trees mutter
and creak ominously
jagged shadows warn
keep out, stay away.

© James Munro

November Here

Posted in My Poems with tags , , , , , , on November 29, 2013 by James Munro

Annas Seagull

For Anna, who is Sixty today

November. Here grey skies, wind and rain,
greet your birthday, then a great storm in the night,
the ancient gods arguing on the hills.
‘I love this weather!’ you cry.

When we wake, the rain has stopped, but the wind
still moans at the doors and rattles the windows,
and I recall its rage as hour after hour
it howled out its grief for the passing years.

Or seemed to. That is me, though, not the wind,
not the autumn weather. Perhaps the wind
howls as the wolves howl, to celebrate
another moon, another season,

or as the wulcat yowls,
in a sexual frenzy, seeking a mate.
No grief there. And no grief where
the seagulls soar and call – call – call,

while the chickens cower in their coops.
The heat and dust all washed away
the mood outside now is winter beach
after a storm. ‘Let’s go for a walk, watch

the waves crash in, the seagulls float on the wind!’
You were always a seagull, your soul
soaring out over the open sea,
never a stay-at-home chicken or caged canary.

Glyfada, Greece, 20th November, 2013

© James Munro

They will return, the dark swallows

Posted in Favourite Poems, Favourite Poets, Translations with tags , , , , , on October 20, 2013 by James Munro

Adolfo Gustavo Becquer

(from the Spanish of  Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer)

They will return, the dark swallows,
to hang their nests on your balcony,
and tap on your window-pane with their wings
once more as they play;

but those that paused in their flight
to contemplate your beauty and my good fortune,
those that learnt our names …
they will not return!

You will see once more the honeysuckle
climb the walls of your garden,
and the flowers open, even more beautiful,
as the sun goes down;

but those we saw beaded with dew,
the drops trembling and falling
like the tears of the day …
those you will never see again!

Passionate words of love will
thrum once more in your ear,
and your heart, it may be, will awake
from its deep sleep;

but kneeling, silent and absorbed,
as men worship God at his altar,
as I have loved you … do not be deceived:
you will not be loved like that ever again!

Translation © James Munro