Joy Goswami

(10 November 1954 - / Kolkata / India)

If You Must Ask Me - Poem by Joy Goswami

If you ask me, 'what have you done with your life'
then I must tell you...

One day I vomited, one day I swallowed
One day I touched the water and it changed into milk
One day by looking at me a heavenly girl lost herself
One day without telling me both my hands flew away in the wind

One day I hid in a drunkard's stomach as a strong drink
the next day I came out, in another way entirely, as the tears of a beautiful woman
and at once the muslin handkerchief sucked me in with sympathy

One day I beat her, one day I kicked her
One day I stuck out my tongue
One day I lathered myself with soap
One day I lathered her
If you don't believe me, go and ask your wife

One day I managed only caa, caa
One day I took on the scarecrow
One day I adopted a pig, Oh Yes one day a goat
One day I played a flute, Oh Yes one day for Radha I played
One day I pressed my face into a woman's lap,
while the rest of me fell to someone else
If you don't believe me, go and ask she-who-is-my-fate

One day my body was a bag full of green leaves
and my fingers were long white lillies
and my hair was a cumulus cloud---
when the wind comes, it will float anywhere
One day I was the grass in field after field,
but only because you will come and pour your body out onto it
yes, my eyes exceed all commands
they roam from river to river to river

On the river Ganges I lay my body down, like a small bridge
so people can go from this side to that, no passports
from that side to this came your own mother once,
a teenager in her first sari
While writing the Constitution of the nation, I got a bit sleepy
in that moment someone came and scribbled on it: oh, oh I want to make her

One day running out in the main street naked
I submitted this year's budget

One day I opened my mouth and one day
I shut it

In the yawn of my Yes-saying mouth there is no food
and in my No-saying mouth there is no food.

One day blood dripped down my cheeks
I looked for my torn-out eyes in the water and the mud of a field

One day a knife stabbed me in the back
I collapsed into the yard before the hut, coughing blood
the village crowd came to see me with lanterns held up

One day body ablaze, I leapt from a burning hut
and fell into a pond

The next morning I was surprised to see it in the newspapers
I got so excited tears fell, I called people, sweat dripped from our foreheads
I kept the assembled sweat in my file cabinet

If anybody comes to do research in the future
they can set fire to the documents and burn many people

Kill! Kill! Kill!

Adopt two different techniques for men and women

Kill! Kill! Kill!

Since the heart has come from the mouth
since the baby has come out of the womb

Kill! Kill! Kill!

In this place we must use screams
that break the skull

In this place we must use such intercourse
half the body will be dumped in the earth after
and turned into coal

In this place we must spit
so that when it comes from the mouth, it explodes like stars

In this place we must use a duet,
a song in which the hero and heroine will fly in the sky
and the hands, legs, head, and genitals will rip away--- all from a song

every limb will cry out for every other limb
each limb left will caress what is left

at last they will fail to know what to do next
and they will return to their previous form

Here you must use a kiss that kills---
one that seizes and then lets live, so the lips smash each other trying to unite

the lips of abandoned lovers will open to the sky for an eternal kiss

If you ask me today, 'why have you written lies in hundreds of lines?'
If you ask, 'why didn't you learn the duty of a poet
... still why didn't you learn?'

I will lecture about a particle
I will explain that I was born from a grain of sand
I was born by salt
and the anonymous drop of rain that watched me from a leaf on a high branch of a tree
and then jumped onto me
I know nothing more than this

If you ask me today, in what phalanx,
in what black hole, in what hidden drains of the nation
I wander, in what armoury do I drink a cup of tea,
against what billboard do I smash my head,
over what big bridge or dam,
what deer came and nuzzled my foot,
what swan prayed to me to come and twist her neck

Over the cloud, under the cloud
like thousands and thousands of drops of rain
I jumped & danced in the fields and the cities

If you ask me today, how many buds
do you have on your plant?

Are you shundillo or bhardwaj?
durlov or koiborto?
Are you mango tree or banana?
Do you wear shoes or sandals?
Are you Muslim or Pyre-attendant?
Are you a worshipped stone or are you alive?

Then I will tell you the story of that night,
that night on the calm grass field when a long minaret spun
and burst from the ground
mud and stones
shot out and vanished into the black heaven

From the long fire tail in the sky
I jumped arms spread into the revolving foam womb of time

Now I am in the last ocean after all the distances
and the iron wheel revolves under the water
Now I am at the very beginning of the ocean
and the iron wheel revolves under the water
What is bodied and what is bodiless? All are awakening
to the robust life through me

I am moving through time now
I stroke in two directions, past and future
I am a monstrous fish lashing my tail
the water-pillar in the ocean rises and falls
the fountain of water springs from my nose
it creates a burning cluster of cloud

A rope is fastened to the sword on my nose
the other end of the rope goes on and on
to where no earth, no solar system exists
to where the dark ether wave swells with stars and cosmic dusts
there from one galaxy-island to another
a life-craft of flame floats on

that's all, that's all
I have nothing more to say to you



[Translated from 'Aaaj Jadi Aamaake jigyes karo' (Bangla) by Skye Lavin and Joy Goswami]


Comments about If You Must Ask Me by Joy Goswami

  • Aftab Alam Khursheed (3/19/2012 11:10:00 AM)


    A true picturisation, the agony of todays, yesterdays and the days yet to come if u ask me (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 19, 2012



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