Monday, November 06, 2006

Tonight is An Unusual Night...

Tonight is an unusual night.
I have no memory of you,
I crave no more for you.

I do not feel grand,
no untied strands
to string them in a poem for you.

But once I was bitter.
I wrote poems about darkness,
drew blood
from my sunken hollowed cheeks,
saw my apparition in the mirror
a body of a poet, a soul of a whore.
But I do not feel that anymore.

I do not see any metaphor
hinge on your pendent, armlet, tiara,
on your resplendent anklet, mascara,
on your kohl, eyeliner, rouge,
on sundry embellishments of your beauty.
Oh! What a fool, what a stooge
I’ve been to believe
in a stupidity that must,
must always poetry
be a muse’s slave?

That must I,
I must stave in
every thought, every misgiving
on which I constructed
a world for you
in my half-drunken
poetic renderings.

I think I will, I say I did.

But now when I have killed
every essence, every single conception
of what I am, of what I be
I brood – is it love
that I do not wish for love

© Dan Husain
November 6, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006


tilak smeared foreheads
with white skull caps
is not an everyday sight
but this is what happens
when our eid-spirited selves
run into diwali's bright lights

Friday, September 29, 2006


What a shame to let go of a month without a poem, so I cheat again and treat you with an old one. Oops, hope you won't mind this. Not really one of my favorites. :-)

Like betrayal
Lingers at the corners of love
Ready to stab
Just when you expect it least.

Like woman’s smile –
Bewitching, mesmerizing –
Ready to bind
Just when you think you’re done with it.

Death –
Perhaps when I embrace betrayal
Or free self from the trappings of love –
I will turn around
And embrace you too.

Death till then
Is only an epistemological hell
Three stanzas beneath my verses.

© Dan Husain
April 16, 2005

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Coffee in Times of War...

Just the other day a friend asked
Have you ever tried war poetry?
War, I said, I haven’t seen one.
I was only born in seventy-one.
I’ve often seen pictures –
Oh why pictures! Even a painting
in a restaurant once –
of a Sikh General
making the Pakistanis
sign the surrender.
And then I grew up
reading lessons, history
about World War One and World War Two,
Plassey, Panipat, Waterloo,
War & Peace, The Day of Armistice,
the ancient tales of the Mahabharata,
the Muharram majlises, Karbala.

But then who needs textbooks?
Television brings live - Beirut.
And if this isn’t enough there are movies –
A Bridge Too Far, Platoon, Killing Fields.

But no, I have never seen a war.
I don’t know what it means
to sit through blackouts, power outages,
to hold my breath and wait
for a bomb to detonate.
I don't know what it means
to have splinters of plastic and tin
pierce through my clothes, skin.
I don't know what it means
to lose an eye, to lose a limb.
I haven’t seen my child without her head.
I don’t know what it means
when a mother grieves for her dead.
The closest I have seen a man’s guts
split wide open was from a scene
in a movie called Saving Private Ryan.

I don’t know what it means
to run from desk to desk
in a dank office corridor
asking for compensation
for a son dead in a war.

I don’t know…

My words trailed in the wispy heat
of Delhi’s August afternoon street.

I am afraid I am not qualified
to consider myself a war poet.

My friend cursed himself
for bringing this topic up,
dunked his biscuit in his coffee,
as I waved to the waiter,
May we have more of these, please!

© Dan Husain
August 23, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mumbai, Mayhem & T.S. Eliot

Last night I read Eliot.
These are strange times to read him
and more to discuss him with a friend at Marriott
as we sip wine and eat lamb-steak,
expostulate (that’s a big word) against double-speak,
heresy, hypocrisy, a bureaucrat’s bid to block blogs,
America’s complacency, Israel’s capacity to bamboozle, shock.
My friend chuckles, he’s recently been to Tel Aviv,
is well acquainted with Israel’s potential for mischief.
And then, my friend burps, sighs,
“Aren’t we lucky to be alive?”
But then trains were never our aspirations in rush hour drives.
We’re probably waiting for the Metro
for us to shift to public transport,
aspire then for a workplace
between Versova and Ghatkopar.

(…the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table

The conversation shifts to extra-marital affairs, orthopedic surgery –
Professor Matuknath Chaudhary’s love discourses for his paramour Julie.
(I think Matuknath has balls
to turn his life into a brawl
and stand for what he believes
while the news channels gloat at this sleaze.
But it is politically correct to take pot-shots
at him and I further it with parental duty, guilt.
I talk about my mother’s rheumatism, her knee…
Why is it that women suffer more from arthritis?
Has there been a medical research on this?
My friend shrugs, I don’t know though my mother also suffers from it.

(We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

The bill is paid. We step out in the early morning rush.

(Half-past two,
The street-lamp said,
“Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter,
Slips out its tongue
And devours a morsel of rancid butter.”

I am grateful to my friend, and
he says thank you for that rib-tickling performance.
This is the best we can offer to each other –
Moments like bric-a-brac, friendship as a tag –
A mathematician and a stand-up comedian.

I stand smugly satisfied at this sight.
The rain assumes the muggy Mumbai night…

(Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

© Dan Husain
July 19, 2006

*From T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
**From T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.”
***From T.S. Eliot’s “Rhapsody on A Windy Night.”
****From T.S. Eliot’s “Preludes.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dances With Hope

Like a glistening street
on an autmn day
hopes play mischief
with my dreams,
make them sway
and I let the moment ferment
its own sweet little tale
as it gels with the afternoon sky -
ephemeral, azure, refreshingly pale.
They make me drown
in eidetic images
of a life unlived,
your beautiful face,
a balmy smile,
and a dream unfulfilled.
And I may take a day off
or perhaps a lifetime
to string these pearls
in an eternal rhyme.

© Dan Husain
7th January 2001

PS: I thought the whole month will go without a post. Didn't have anything new so I pulled out this old poem. I wonder I'd write like this anymore. I don't fully approve this. :-)

Saturday, May 27, 2006


There is a thought on my tongue.
Wonder what it would’ve done
had it cloaked itself in words
but I remain clammed up
and let my silence burn
her stately veneer’s hem.

But many moments later
this moment will unfurl upon her.
Poised on the Metro escalator,
with the sweat breaking over her brow,
she would not know what hit her
or on her tongue tastes bitter.

© Dan Husain
May 27, 2006

Friday, April 14, 2006

Death of A Poem

In a few hours from now
they’d pull down the shutters
and leave a stark street
to a poet’s imagination
as he’d grope in the dark alleys,
burnt on cigarettes
and cheap whiskey,
where in this pool of scrap
he’d find the foetus
of his once deserted poem.

But I’ve known many a poet
who in the stench of their thoughts
have lost the serendipitous joy
of constructing unsuspecting metaphors
that would cense the bosom
of their once shared love with their muses.
They stumble back now
to this scrap
of what the world was, what it could be
rummaging for their once aborted themes.

© Dan Husain
April 14, 2006

Saturday, March 25, 2006

These Days...


These days
I find everything staged:
the words of comfort you plant,
the concern that I fake,
the platitudes that we toss,
twirl, throw into each other’s face.
How brittle is our truth
that we wrap it with pretexts
believing love holds good
only in certain contexts.


The other day
at Carter Road,
when the Sun was
a speck of orange in your eye
and the world
a soot covered portrait,
I felt I had a poem for you
but then, these days, I don’t write poems.
I look for words instead,
words that would miff the silence
you puncture our conversations with.


In the quietness of the night
when you twirl next to me
I hear shrill screams
of our unsaid thoughts.

I then strain, strain
to hear your silence...

© Dan Husain
March 25, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Line...

Between the here and there,
between courage and fear,
between love and longing,
between knowing & belonging,
between fisticuffs and handshakes,
between letting go and heartbreaks,
between knowledge and wisdom,
between thoughts and action,
between inertia and initiative,
between certain and tentative,
between criticism and mudslinging,
between ignorance and awakening,
between you and me,
between they and we
there is only a thin line
dwindling somewhere in your mind;

step across it!

© Dan Husain
March 2, 2005

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

For Freedom, We Fight

“For Freedom, We Fight” -
fluorescent words
glimmering under car lights
on a wall
against which we once leaned,
our lips entwined
in a life-giving kiss.
Oh! I so much wanted freedom then
to break free from the shackles
that fettered our unsanctioned love.

But now my moist eyes
only see fluorescent words
glimmering under car lights
on a wall,
that’s just a wall
in this ugly city;
defaced, an eye-sore,
mouthing metaphors –
mere slogans from history –
and then it dwindles out of sight
with a vague phrase prancing in my head.

“From Freedom, We Fight”.

© Dan Husain
August 30, 2005

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Peace & Its Discontents*

Here! Right here!
Let’s draw a line
and reach an understanding
albeit hesitant
that we will not
step across it.

But then who is to decide
what is righteous?
The loose ends, the cul-de-sacs
in the labyrinth in our heads
often spill on to the other side;
barbed spaces
where our tolerance resides.
And then the discontent,
fermenting underneath with gnomic intent,
like Azaan at the crack of dawn
will pierce through this uneasy peace,
shattering it
long after stillness has settled
in our clattering teeth.

© Dan Husain
February 11, 2006

* A tribute to Edward Said. It is the title of one of the books he wrote on the Israeli-Palestinian Peace accord. This is for the passing away of a truly great scholar.

Monday, January 30, 2006

A Long Evening Walk...

Under a cold-blooded sky
pigmented with your thoughts
I walk from stillness to motion

but with each step the truth peels off
as colors do from mildewed buildings,
as the skin does from freshly healed wounds

and I wonder,
in a mist-gathering hug,
was the world more colored at standstill?

© Dan Husain
January 28, 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Two hundred years from
The first aerial bombing
We would have burnt
All the earth’s gasoline
And yet our thirst
Be unquenchable.
We may then slake it with blood
Flavored with our own hate-fables.

© Dan Husain
January 21, 2006

Saturday, January 14, 2006


There is this little boy
Who stands everyday
At the same intersection
Selling the usual ware.

He smiles at me, winks,
Taunts, even pleads
But I just ignore.

But then I wonder
It can’t be hope alone,
Someone must be buying too
For him to stand there
Day after day
And weather indifference.

© Dan Husain
January 11, 2006

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Fan

In your head
There is violence,
Malice, jealousy,
Unquiet silence.

And you think
The same for me.
It strains your
Casual repartee.

How you wish a knife
Twisted into my guts.
Spit on my face, see it
Sullied with your insults.

But when we meet,
“Oh! I love your poetry!”
“Ah! Just wordplay!”
I quip with feigned modesty.

©Dan Husain
January 7, 2006

Friday, January 06, 2006

Mother: The Idea of A Poem

The poem generated much discussion at a writers' forum Caferati. Finally, I thought the debate merits a response from me - the poet: the original mischief-maker. I am posting my response here for your perusal. Thanks & best regards.

The Idea of A Poem

I think I had some inkling that this poem will generate much discussion. And I also knew that the reactions would be varied.

I am not into lengthy post-creation discussions. They bore me to death. I think they’re best confined to classrooms. But often there is a widening gap between the instinctive gut-felt acts of an artist and the informed nitpicking of a critic. And I guess for sake of fostering understanding (I am not sure what ‘understanding’ I refer to here!) it’s best that the artist speaks for his or her act.

The Genesis of ‘Mother’

Yesterday, I had some time at hand before I had to leave for my play’s rehearsal. So, I picked up Amitava Kumar’s book ‘Passport Photos’ and continued reading from where I had left last. The book is an insightful peek into post-colonial literature, the travails of immigrants, and language and the idiom that it acquires for people across social, national, economic, psychological, religious, racial, gender, et al barriers. The book is innovatively structured. Each chapter reads as an entry in a Passport.

I was at the chapter titled ‘Sex’ when I stumbled upon a discussion on the Dalit (I hate this categorization here but I think it is relevant in the context of the point that I wish to make) Marathi Poet Namdeo Dhasal and his collection of poems called Golpitha. Amitava was talking about how Dhasal brings forth a whole host of issues in his poetry – brahmanical hegemony, patriarchal family structures, gender repression, violence, etc. He intends to shock and at the same time throw it in his readers’ faces and disconcert their smug social superiority and indifference.

The poem that particularly hit me is Dhasal’s “What Grade Are You in, What Grade?” In Amitava’s words, “In this poem, almost in a ritual manner Dhasal very powerfully details what the Brahmanic Hindus consider defiling: a menstruating woman, a dead cow, meat, sex.” I quote the translated poem for you.

“Fucked a menstruating woman? Fucked her?
Dragged around the dead cattle? The dead cow?
Rubbed the grindstone? The grindstone?
Known what hayale is? Cow gut?
Saved stale bread? Ate it?
Sucked the marrow? The marrow?
Fried the giblets? The giblets?”

It also serves “to document what had been the duty of the Dalits, the pariah castes condemned to the outskirts of Hindu life, performing the tasks of traditional scavengers.”

While all this was having its effect on me, my thoughts kept hovering around the violence against women in recent times that few of you have mentioned here. Strangely, the poem also reminded me of a line from a dialogue from my current play “Where did this come from? I thought we had guzzled every drop of alcohol in the house!” And also about the Ummayyid Caliph, Yazid, who allegedly raped his mother in an inebriated state and about the movie ‘Gladiator’ where Nero is making advances towards his sister. The violence of these thoughts erupted inside me and everything strung together as a poem.

The Post-creation Blues

There is again a lengthy discussion as to how the original version got transformed into its current form. I do not wish to get into that as this apologia of mine has already run into two pages.

Nevertheless, at times art is a conduit for importing larger issues from inaccessible, often intellectual and elitist, spheres into more knowable territories of mass cultures. I guess I was attempting to weave in a grave issue like gender violation into something as perfunctory as an act of reading newspaper and sipping our morning tea. And shock ourselves in seeing that apathetic face of ourselves where we feel by maintaining a steely veneer or an ostrich like attitude we’d get the better off the situation.

But the last I am looking here is poetic brilliance or an attempt to resort to sensationalism to promote my poetry.

I am only experimenting with ideas, issues, forms and see how wider perspectives, that may serve some purpose, be incorporated into my poetry.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Best regards,

Dan Husain

PS: Oh! One last thing. Poets and Actors don’t have any morals or speak from a moral hierarchy. We can’t burden ourselves with such weighty things. :-)

Thursday, January 05, 2006


The Original Version

Have you ever guzzled
The last drop of alcohol
And raped your mother?

This is what we do,
When we grease a palm
And cut a tree.

© Dan Husain
January 4, 2006

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Have you ever guzzled
The last drop of alcohol
And raped your mother?

This is what we do,
When we read
The morning news
About a woman’s rape
And sip our tea

© Dan Husain
January 4, 2006

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A New Day

The street yawns a new day
Pouring soot that smells of hope
As it slithers and wakes slowly
To grimy walls and early morning smoke.

We stretch in slanted morning sun,
Hanging freshly washed dreams on clothesline
Peeping just above meshed wires, neon signs
And kiosks selling fortunes for a dime.

The groggy flight down the stairs
To pick milk, news and the bread
Is greeted with swirling eddies
Of dust, scrap & stench instead.

Amidst morning tea stall stoves,
Mendicants & gaping passageways –
Life draped in diesel fume
Is a Hobson’s choice, a shifting sand dune.

© Dan Husain
March 9, 2005