TWO POEMS by Vivek Sharma

A Missive to Ancestors, about Oil Spills in Nigeria and Gulf of Mexico
Tell us again Marlow, that saga of my wanton ancestors.
Let my grandsons know, we were like our rotten ancestors.

I have joined the tribe of world-wide-web philosophers,
We formulate the myths for our forgotten ancestors.

Like callous children, we let you deal with your disasters,

O Africa, the lost Eden of our common ancestors.

See the dead birds floating in gulfs and deltas: Oil color!
We exhibit as artists our devotion ancestors.

Oil, blood, river, mud, to hanker after fistful of crud.
Its human destiny to imitate your passion, ancestors. 

Why cry over spilled oil, why blame a naughty child?
To waste the nature’s gifts is our tradition ancestors. 

Send us Agastya again, to drink dry these polluted seas,
Again with Bhagirathi, we must refill our ocean ancestors. 

What underlies your concern in Nigeria or Gulf of Mexico?
Why is to profit forever motive of our action ancestors?

Face the mirror Vivek! You’re not a flotsam. Do something.
Overcome the grime with grit, like the best of our ashen ancestors. 

*Vivek: Samskrit word for wakeful discrimination between right and wrong, proper and improper, evanescent and eternal.


I must

              – “koyle ki khan se hi hira nikalta hai”*

              – For Africa, the lost Eden of our common ancestors


I know my words, like embers, will turn to dust,
and yet I burn, for dazzle I must.

My black skin hides, within, an anger, a fire,
even when reduced to ash, smolder I must.

Do not play with me, your hands I’ll soil too,
I was raised in darkness, dye black everything I must.

My tongue moves in hearth, my voice is loudest on pyre,
to show what I really am, martyr myself I must.

A piece, my own, glittered, a piece caught your fancy,
a piece sells for millions, for pennies sell I must.

I am amorphous you say, its my way of existence you condemn,
to be a John of Arc again, perform on stake I must.

I’ve no spark within me, sans spark I’m a stone,
such is Vivek’s destiny, to live, first die I must.


Note*: Allusion to common Hindi saying: Diamond comes from the same mine as coal.


Vivek Sharma’s collection The Saga of a Crumpled Piece of Paper (63 Poems, English) was published by Writers Workshop, Calcutta in 2009. His work appears in Atlanta Review, Bateau, Poetry, The Cortland Review, Kartika Review, among others. He writes columns and verses for Divya Himachal (Hindi newspaper in India) and his research is published in science journals. Vivek grew up in Himachal Pradesh, a state in the Himalayas, India, and moved to United States to pursue graduate studies in 2001. Vivek participated in Summer Seminar for Writers in Sarah Lawrence College in 2006, 2007 & 2008. Vivek is a Pushcart nominated poet and is currently a post-doctoral research associate in mechanical engineering at MIT, Cambridge, MA.


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