Ayyappa Paniker

(12 September 1930 - 23 August 2006 / Kavalam, Kerala, India)

Beyond Death

THIS strange morning
the spread-out feather
is charred and falls
while the earth groans!

The factory blazes
in the whirl of gas
that kills in a single breath
Death flames all around
and the headless bird
wings in circles
Foul is this water
foul is this air
foul indeed my mind
this earth and heaven
On the sprig flickers
the dripping leaf
in burnt flowers
the smell of corpse
Tragedy submerges
the poet and the poem
while the earth groans

Before the bubble bursts
man raises one hand
and for ever sinks
while the earth groans
The leader at the square
strangles the mike
aloud he shouts;
``Give me the power!''
The deluge invades
the very dais
while the earth groans;
``The son of man,
my last-born,
has he brought
but the curse of death?''
Never again will these cells
wake up alive
never will these genes
be born again

The four directions
now stand aghast
and wait for the white night
while the earth groans.
Over there:
Hunger roasts
a hundred twigs
that curl and fall
the dark continent
starves and dies
the developing ones
swallow poison
Over here;
burning citizens
draw back from hell
the clouded sky cracks
and the legacy of pain
spills over generations
while the earth groans
The sun grows pale
unable to bear this heat
the sea collapses
and the waves mumble
as the earth groans
Wierd shapes will
wander this earth,
curse the paternal seed
forgiving none
The water in cupped hands
the air just breathed in
the very universe
is under a curse
Gargoyles will arise
unable to tell
where father mother
sister died
or lie buried
Cries of lamentation
viscous on the earth,
will clot to silence
Knowing that a time will come
when one may not even cry
the earth now groans
Here the sons
cut off heads
here the daughters
scorch the foetus
Has the time come
to finish off the race
has man had enough of it?
The earth does groan
and with it every sun
every planet, every star
the celestial nebula
the milky highway
the wails of the earth
echo far away
(A planet out there
halts on its rounds
to watch the earth!)
But no one is here
no son of man
to listen or care
when the earth groans
There they hang
the powers that be
heads downwards
fluttering like bats
beckoning darkness
singing the praise of power
Adding capital to interest
adding interest to capital
flying skull and bones
disfiguring science
brandishing statistics
to vindicate untruth
They swim in these tears
they fatten up on this blood
sowing and reaping death
they challenge man's destiny.
Unless that challenge is met
this earth will go barren
so she groans till we listen
O for a million hands
a million million hands
to wipe off her tears
The hands of those
not vain about
the light of the day
nor insulting to
the dark of the night
The hands of those
that honour the past
of those that look
forward to the future
These hands
should rise
and wave aloft
These throats
should open
and sing aloud!

Submitted: Friday, September 07, 2012
Edited: Friday, September 07, 2012

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