Tag Archives: Sri Upadhyay

Gold

by Sri Upadhyay


Young man, go west
to the land of lions,

where the brave roam free,
in a home of corn fields
through silos of grain

on the wings of eagles,
by a wind of the east

born of white birch ash
make friends with the deer.

Wind down through the hills
of New Germany,

bury those sour grapes
with memories of the war.

There I’ll be
waiting
with a letter
and
a horse.

Then go to the river
that carves through snow,
and in the avalanche
of rabid white foam,

sink your steel pan
down,

into
that
water,

and pray.


(Previously published in Luna Negra Magazine, 2011)

Advertisements

Journeyman

by Sri Upadhyay


The journeyman waits at the old bus station
in the middle of the New Mexico desert
for one bus, the same bus, in the red clay South,

When his feet touch the steps,
he crumbles into dust
that a woman gathers in Colorado.
Each day, every day, without fail

Fine, red powder,
mixed into paint
for her pottery.
This piece is special,
it holds ashes of a love.

But when the warm, wicked, west wind,
tips the jar, he carries with him the ashes,

Sprinkling them with raindrops
that tease a child’s corn silk hair
in Nebraska,

In these sweet spring rains,
tears have no place,
you cannot tell the difference
between a droplet of
joy, laughter, or pain.

Even the strongest of men can cry
without fear or shame, and let go.
No one will ask if he regrets his life.
It is only his secret and the rain’s.

These waters bring together, in California,
both the young and the young at heart.
All great loves are born of this magic.

And when such bonds are tied by nature herself,
the west wind obliges with a loving caress,
sweeping through the spaces between
the fingers of these fragile hearts,
leaving behind the scent of pine needles and juniper leaves.

When the skies clear, the summer dew makes everything green,
and brings color to the mountains. The birds know what this
means. The crisp bite to the air, says it is time, and together they
band their feathers, cradling a newborn child, to bring her east
to her mother.

My dear daughter, this is how you came to me,
one Sunday morning, four summers ago in June.
I tell you this story, so you will know, I love you,
and so you will always remember.


(Previously published in Luna Negra Magazine, 2011)

Moon Bug

by Sri Upadhyay


When the wild onions are in bloom
sparkling, scenting the summer air
vinegar, shining in the sunshine light

of June, of all that is right with April
and about May’s thunder and rush

rainstorm lips

I find you

new

and aching and
waiting, raining
and spitting

the fire
you forgot to douse

in your December
heart that withers

and quivers

full of arrows
couldn’t save
can’t help

if they are broken
and don’t point
true and north

little field mouse

surrounded by wild

vinegar in the flames

of June sun and the
purple blooms cool
with the dusky blues of

the setting night when
the round onion orb
turns into the moon

in the dark and
flys to the sky

little moon bug
my June bug

dance

Songs of Wolves

by Sri Upadhyay


Today I felt the rain,
the same way I always do.

Flowing through my veins,
lingering under my bones,
creaking in every crevice
of the knots in my back.

At twenty-one, I am old.
An ancient soul in a world
that does not recognize wisdom.

I can taste thunder,
it leaves me restless,

snarling,

with the fervent passion of wolves
that howl incessantly,
at a frosty moon

and,

are teased,
by every flash,
of white-hot lightning,
that streaks across open desert skies.

Behind the humid air,
I listen to the crackling dryness,
of a northerly wind,
that whispers advice,
(few people ever hear)
carrying the words of sages, kings, and mothers.

And in these desert winds,
I am guided like lone Tumbleweed through a ghost town.

I will not know where I am going,

but I am never alone,
and I am never lost.

This is what they tell me,
to tell you,
to tell us.

Steel glasses, and clay pots

by Sri Upadhyay


My father told me,
in the village,
when the humidity of monsoons
clings tight to you like a second skin,

Our hot-blooded relatives
would churn fresh butter,
under roofs shaded from the heat.

And at nightfall,
when the sky donned robes of pink-gold
everyone celebrated with a glass of free,
sweet, cool, buttermilk,
and sang songs,
and told stories,
by only the light of blinking fireflies,
and a winking moon to accompany them.

Sea Glass

by Sri Upadhyay


Forty years ago, by the coast,
my father and his brothers
stormed the beach at Juhu,

lapping up the shores,
with their visions,
pinning them to the sand,
like soggy notes,
plucked from bottles,
of ripe mango juice,
picking them up with persistence,
to savor the nectar,
every time the fragile glass slipped into water.

Dripping, tumbling, excited, words,
I wish the tide would carry me back,
let me hop on board a floating bottle,
to listen in, and laugh, for just a little.

You showed me,
a cramped alleyway,
where crumpled tin roofs,
welcome in raindrops
clinking in pails like coins.

For one brief moment,
this tired little Mumbai
street was my treasure.

This street never changes,
A fossilized record of you,
and what I’ll become,
I need to know these things,
before there’s not a chance.

Homemade goodness,
All natural,
Shake well,

mix sense of adventure,
with Juhu beach carnival,
and street bazaar food,
and South Indian filter coffee,
the best, anywhere on this earth.

The grass doesn’t seem as green,
Without you around, dear dad.
Miss you, and mum.
I’m coming home, soon.

I write the last lines,
seal the envelope,
affix the stamp,
before the mailbox
swallows it whole.

All my visions, I realize,
no longer depend on if
my father is proud of me,

They depend on whether
he knows how proud
I am of him.

So we can sling arms around shoulders,
and find that Bombay beach town again,
hunting, for sea glass, together this time.

Wedgewood Blues

by Sri Upadhyay


I harbor
a love unknown
and untouched.

A labor of an eye
for aesthetics and
a mind for broad
strokes

with one
paddle stuck in a puddle
and an ocean still to oar

I carry in my pocket
a piece
of smooth sea glass
and a pebble
in my pocket, so soft
as water.

These are the fossils
I carry, the weight
of the only burden
I have.

I keep a good life
clean and kind and true,
so these capsules I have
only encapsulate you.

The only vision, a version,
a version of you, of the ghosts
in my past
who come to haunt me
until my very last.
Though
they’ve tried to weigh
me down, fill me with dread
until I’m dead
leaden and laden
drifting under water
crushed by the rapids,
currents of grief.

I am
swift and I am smart
enough to know I keep
alive to keep moving
from the things that
aren’t real
from the things
like you.

But
ghost vessels and ships
at a distance have lost
all charm, even when
the horizon is the line
I need to follow to
keep moving on.

I
keep docked in the harbor
for a day or two more, and
because I’m not sure how
you can help something
and someone you cannot
recognize or understand.

That’s enough questions
now
I just listen, to the waves
rocking in and out
and I age one more day
by the silver light of night
under the stars and the moon.