Robin S Ngangom

Rating: 4.33
Rating: 4.33

Robin S Ngangom Poems

I remember only the detritus of schools
which taught fear,
where only nuns seemed to believe
in the power of the written word and punishment.
...

My native soil was created from tiny sparks
that clung to grandmother’s earthen pot
which conjured savoury dishes
I’ve been looking for
...

The ignominy of geometry,
the inability to evade angles and parallels.
Living, we have to suffer that mortification
which robs the sacrifice of joy
...

I’ve forgotten acts of kindness or to wish
people happiness if they can find it anywhere. I
would, if I could, help the bereaved furtively after
the mourners have eaten and left.
...

A sleepless night, a lovelorn night, and
poetry arrived silent, to console
my wounded being.
...

6.

Hill, you and I have seen
only upheaval since our birth.
When I was torn from the universal womb
I echoed your silent cry.
...

The kite transforming into smoke lacing
The chinars is not a symbol.
The rose has migrated from the garden of paradise.
Freedom will never come
...

Having lost my independence
How could I celebrate it
Though I've sewn flags on cockeyed schooldays?
Margins are superfluous in the big centre's book
...

We believe we own them but
In the evening of a street not a soul will be found.
Only a few stars shuffling in the oily sky and
Orange trees for neighbours.
...

10.

A writer can survive without a car
but a window with his palm
feeling the breath of a street
or a garden, a few weeping pens
...

First came the scream of the dying
in a bad dream, then the radio report,
and a newspaper: six shot dead, twenty-five
houses razed, sixteen beheaded with hands tied
behind their backs inside a church . . .
As the days crumbled, and the victors
and their victims grew in number,
I hardened inside my thickening hide,
until I lost my tenuous humanity.

I ceased thinking
of abandoned children inside blazing huts
still waiting for their parents.
If they remembered their grandmother's tales
of many winter hearths at the hour
of sleeping death, I didn't want to know,
if they ever learnt the magic of letters.
And the women heavy with seed,
their soft bodies mown down
like grain stalk during their lyric harvests;
if they wore wildflowers in their hair
while they waited for their men,
I didn't care anymore.

I burnt my truth with them,
and buried uneasy manhood with them.
I did mutter, on some far-off day:
"There are limits", but when the days
absolved the butchers, I continue to live
as if nothing happened.
...

"It is never too late to come home."
But I need a homeland
where I can recognize myself,
just a map or even a tree or a stone,
to mark a spot I could return to
like a pissing animal
even when there's nothing to return for.

Although it's true
that in my native land,
children have crawled out of burrows
they had gouged under hard beds,
long after the grownups had fled and
roofs came apart
like charred heads.

You said, you didn't regret
how ethnic cleansers had palmed
your newly-built home off on a people
well on their trail back to pure blood,
you didn't mind leaving behind
objects of desire
you had collected over twenty-five years,
or, how you came to live in a rented room
with your wife and your children
in dog-eat-dog Imphal,
among the callous tribe
I call my own.

Only the photographs you mourned,
the beloved sepia of one family tree,
since you're the reason why your fathers lived;
but, who'll believe now
that you lived at all?
...

13.

Why do trees weep leaves without warning?
Why do the old choose to die in their mountain hamlets?
Why did his people turn to terror?
Why does love tie him down?
How is he a poet if he's afraid to look for answers?
...

14.

The warning disguised as a message
came before the village was up and about,
and when they left
they didn't carry pots or blankets
or even machetes.
As they went to the outpost of guardians
they left chickens running in the yard
and the dog lazing on the steps.

Flights like theirs
Do not have destinations,
And only once did they wish for wings.

The taste of the herd will return them
To dark and dingy towns where
They will sell used clothes, wild meat and herbs.
The most vulnerable will sell bodies.
Because in spite of the land mines
They still shared limbs.

Words like "the end of history"
Will not resonate anywhere in their lives.
They do not have meat and drinks left
To offer to embedded scribes. As before
Their fates will go unreported, arousing
Only a shred of curiosity somewhere.
...

To your uneventful death, Pacha,
the stones hurled at your demented name,
and the doors closed on your life
it is fitting that none mourn
the face of your memory they slapped;
from booze artist Pacha, to lunatic Pacha.

There are no more tears to shed
in this withered country where they
kill pregnant women and children; its
nipples have long gone dry, and leering
death walks your homeland. And why should
anyone weep for your lonely alcoholic end?
Young boys and soldiers are butchering each
other by the dozen, in the hills, the angry
streets, day after day, and too many heroes
and villains are not worth remembering at all.
Death is callous, Pacha, in the land of your
innocent birth.

Consummate madman, unknown comrade,
you were the best of them all;
whether you mapped the geography
of your stricken town, pen dipped
in your drunken blood, or portrayed
old men hard of hearing. Breaking heart
of roots, savage lover no woman would tame,
existential hero and fiercely proud pauper.
You laughed yourself insane in the teeth
of the gathering storm.

Hovel-dweller amidst concrete and iron,
anachronistic mendicant, and embracer of
manuscripts in pounding rain, angry star
which burned in our skies, what were
your dreams? Reveal them a little for me,
anonymous brother. Poetry in your
homeland must die a natural death
when one must "sew up his lips and
clog his ears with mud," and to be a
man, first of all, you must sell yourself
to the highest bidder.

Immaculate madling with resplendent dreams,
you refused to sell them in your land
where villains strut as the pure in streets.
You only said: "One's homeland is dear. I
have not seen all of this land. I have not
been able to tread the grass that grows there."
For a long time the tramps and lunatics
beckoned you, and only they shall
honour your name.
...

What kind of a poet is he, they ask.
I said: "I am a poet of earth and space,
possibly water, but not fire. I know
my limitations, and there are many things
between earth and sky I cannot name.
I have an ancient desire for understanding,
meaninglessness frightens me.
That is why I love simple things
such as sunlight on our shoulders,
or women with firm breasts
and hills quiet in the rain."
They whispered among themselves:
"How come his poetry is riddled with bullets then?"
So I said:
"I wanted my poems to exude a heady odour
but only the sweet taint of blood
or burning flesh emanates from my poem."
Then they said:
"His poems are always falling from arrogant heights."
I answered:
"I've always wanted to see them fall
like leaves which turn beautiful before they die."
But they said:
"When they fall his poems would shatter
because he drops them on stony ground."
I only said:
"I wanted them to fall like pebbles
into a pool. I'm sorry I always break
my words on hostile surfaces."
Finally they said:
"That is why his poetry is guarded.
He courts death and freedom but his words
need protection by an armed escort.
He could not speak and allowed
muteness to bind his heart.
This is the origin of his fear."
...

17.

Because I couldn't examine it from close quarters
Like Burton with his magnifying glass
I worshipped it from afar.
The body is never free of the human condition
And either weeps or sings, or becomes restive
If denied bacchanalia or tragedy.
Time is not its enemy as Ovid would have it
But the mind with its dark pledges.
If you kick it as Descartes demonstrated
It reacts violently, for it isn't the soul which replies
But flesh and bone with their
Entire moral and philosophical apparatuses.
The body is the key to Adam's children,
Heathen matter that mystics want to defeat.
Serial killers want to destroy it
As it often turns up in court as witness,
Rapists in uniform want to reduce it to pulp
Because it conceals intimate evidence,
Poets want to disembody it to elegize fallen man.
But the body is the sum of its parts,
Sever an organ but the tongue takes over,
Remove a hand and the foot starts painting,
Deny eyes and fingers are already on the keys.
...

Robin S Ngangom Biography

Robin S Ngangom is an Indian poet and translator from Manipur, North Eastern India. Biography Robin Singh Ngangom was born in Imphal, Manipur of North Eastern India. He is a bilingual poet who writes in English and Manipuri. He studied literature at St Edmund's College and the North Eastern Hill University Shillong, and serves as a Lecturer in the Dept. of English at NEHU. He is the Editor of New Frontiers, journal of the Northeast Writers' Forum, Guwahati, and is Nominating Editor for Manipuri for Katha Translation Awards, New Delhi. He was conferred with Katha Award for Translation in 1999, was invited to the UK for the UK Year of Literature and Writing, 1995, and the Udaya Bharati National Award for Poetry, 1994. His significant publications are Words and the Silence, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1988, An Anthology of New Indian English Poetry, Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 1993, Time's Crossroads, Disha Books, Orient Longman Ltd., Hyderabad, 1994, Khasia in Gwalia, Alun Books, Wales, 1995, A New Book of Indian Poems in English, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 2000, Anthology of Contemporary Poetry from the Northeast, NEHU Publications, Shillong, 2003, Confronting Love: Poems, Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, 2005, The Desire of Roots, Chandrabh'g!, Cuttack, 2006 His work has been featured in The Telegraph Colour Magazine, Calcutta; Debonair, Bombay; Chandrabh'g', Cuttack; Kavya Bharati, American College, Madurai; Poetry Chronicle, Bombay; Poiesis, Bombay; Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi; The Brown Critique, Maharashtra; The New Welsh Review, Wales; Kunapipi, University of Aarhus, Denmark; SWAG Magazine, Swansea, Wales; New Statesman & Society, London; Planet: The Welsh Internationalist, Aberystwyth, Wales; Verse, University of Georgia, Athens, US.)

The Best Poem Of Robin S Ngangom

Primary Schools

I remember only the detritus of schools
which taught fear,
where only nuns seemed to believe
in the power of the written word and punishment.
There was a boy in the middle of it all
who once forged his father’s signature
in order to dodge a maths test
and spent the whole day in a World War II cemetery
sleeping between roses and epitaphs.
The intimidation of books from Glasgow
made him steal small notes and coins from his father
which admitted him to a mystic circle
of titbits, cannabis, and adult tales
far away from pink rooms and uniform handwriting
or ‘eena meena maina mo’ by rote
after clambering walls that grow glass-creepers
to the freedom of cork trees and frogs and egrets,
a stinking marshy world of catapults and running noses
which grappled with black polished shoes
and moral science, to return home
on cloudy evenings brewing storm-fuelled nights
exiled on a reed mat and only a hurricane lamp
with slate, chalk, and as the years grew up
inkwell and bamboo-pulp paper
were the keepsakes of his childhood.
There were mosquito storms and
cool dirt floors polished with cowdung and clay,
ruined walls and lizard myrtles and moss
which reminded elders of neglect
near a big water tank left behind by British soldiers
where vipers came to drink, and
gaudy walls of goddesses.

I can see the naïve boy
who couldn’t read the dirty word
spelt on the ground by his older friends
in the calligraphy of randy boyhood,
and, later, obsessed with that moist idea
explored his girl cousins fervently.

There were long delightful, convalescent afternoons
of illustrated classics without
the stress of the school bus when he heard
only the sleepy clang of hammers
in the nearby smithy, when life burnt slowly
like calories even when he was sleeping,
without the solemnity of anyone’s life
coming to an end.

Robin S Ngangom Comments

Kabirajtudu 28 April 2018

A poem for mother

1 0 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 03 October 2021

Most deserving to be chosen as the Poet Of The Day. CONGRATULATIONS, dar Poet Robin Sir!

0 0 Reply
Sukla chakdaha college 20 March 2019

Great and powerful poet...

1 0 Reply
Sukla krishnagar,Badkulla 02 February 2019

Great poet

1 0 Reply
Nilanjan Chatterjee 19 November 2018

powerful poet. use of images are striking. the bitterness of tone is casually hidden in the seeming casualness of attitude. loved reading the poems

1 0 Reply
Susmita Ray 27 May 2018

I love this poem. I want the text.

1 1 Reply

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