Poetry from Rajnish Mishra

Sic semper [evello mortem] tyrannis


‘Still waters run deep’.


Clichés are good to begin a poem with.

I love justice and hate tyranny.

I love justice more than

I love my country, its people, my people, fame or wealth.

Sometimes, truth sounds clichéd.


Quid est veritas?


At first it seems not easy,

not quite, but then, as it’s natural to kill, so natural,

in fact, that they need to write,

sometimes on stone, sometimes on paper:

‘Thou shalt not kill!’


Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.


He rose high, and masses called him God.

He’s not alone, but caput gone triumvirate kaput.

It’s unnerving to feel within – a fierce, feral,

beast, unnamed and ferocious, rise and fill

all the space up under the skin

of a citizen: civilized, harmless and tamed.


Hoi polloi


The masses, sheep, sons and daughters of apes,

imitate, submit, follow and yield liberty

to tyrants, despots, usurpers with power,

for their patch of pasture or bunch of bananas.


‘But here I am to speak what I do know’


I am an honorable man, not a butcher.

You are an honorable man, no accomplice.

We are all honorable and good men.

They are not honorable.


Ehyeh asher Ehyeh.


You are what you are,

and masses are ‘them’, not ‘us’.

Strangely though, it’s them, not you,

who lust for blood tonight, my blood.

Bloodthirsty sheep? Lion-apes? Always?


‘Fearful symmetry’


Tiger’s fire is sheep’s death.

Thy blood my brother bought death for me;

Thy blood ‘cries out’ to them ‘from the soil’

brings vengeance, seven fold,

Insane at night, sane at dawn.

No, Caesar never cried ‘Et tu Brute’,

nor I ‘Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis’.




Bowl’s Best Friend


Did you know that glass can store all acids but one?

Hydrofluoric acid eats glass up.

It’s called corrosion in chemistry.

Interesting sound: co-rro-sion,

and interestingly, it reduces weight.

What’s more, this villain of an acid

causes permanent tissue death on contact.


Hydrochloric acid is harmless, comparatively.

It’s stored in glass bottles, you see!

It’s a cousin of hydrofluoric, yes but does nothing

sinister: no glass corrosion nor permanent tissue death.

It’s so harmless that it’s produced and stored

in every body of every nation, in all civilizations

where humans have a stomach.

What does it do there?

It kills microbes there and does something to protein:

‘denature’ is the word in zoology.

Interesting sound: de-na-ture,

and interestingly, it’s natural.


It’s a good friend, this hydrochloric acid.

It’s a good servant too.

It can’t corrode glass and stomach wall

but does a good job over toilet bowls.

Corrosion gives the surface sheen,

removes the outermost layer in direct contact

with the world and filth with it.


To combine chemistry with zoology,

This mild ‘friendly’ thing denatures, corrodes,

combines with epidermal water,

releases heat, a lot of it, and severely burns

the largest organ in human body.

The standard instructions for its splash (accidental)

on skin are: ‘gently wipe it off, flush with water

and cover the area with a cloth moistened with baking soda’.


India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,

Uganda, Cambodia, Afghanistan,

Palestine, France, Israel,

Iran, Zanzibar, Indonesia,

Greece, China and UK,

man’s best friend has at least one active and direct use.


Revenge is the motive that malignity cites in confessions

and statements later, much later. So proves the self-justified rage,

of the self-righteous man, yes it’s always a man

who throws hydrochloric acid, the friendly, harmless servant of mankind,

and burns layers, fifteen to twenty, of epidermis,

generally of a woman’s face, in all the countries

where its active and direct use is reported.


Nobody thought of writing instructions

against its more direct (active, planned and common) use.



The Rush


I don’t rush it through. Years, months,

days of waiting beyond the rushes

has taught me how to wait patiently,

endlessly, against hope , sometimes.


What’s the rush for? The world is exactly

where I left it yesterday and tomorrow

will not see it move a micron away.

Look at me. Don’t I look good? I’m in my prime.


I don’t rush it through. Behold me when I crouch,

then stretch and yawn, and walk silently, stalk stealthily.

I look my best today. My coat shines, my muscles ripple,

my gaze is sharp, straight and clear. I’m in my prime.


Ah, the rush of a chase,

and the high of a catch,

and the thrill of a kill!


Nature gave me fire.

Nature made them prey.

Nature made my sinews.

Nature gave me ache.


The sun is my enemy, the moon too, and

the stream that carries my scent to my prey,

or a single sound from my careless limbs,

they scare my prey and drive it away.


Tonight, there’s no light. It’s still and no wind blows.

I have waited long in the shadows of darkness for the herd

to scatter. Now is the time to spring in action.

It’ll be over in an instant: the chase, the catch and the kill.


Your eyes can’t catch my speed. I’m swift. My life depends on it.

I perform not for claps, ovation or praise. I’m beyond them.

The journey is the destination. The game is its prize.

Game over. I drag the kill to my haven, to savor in leisure.





My heart leaps up


‘My heart leaps up’, beats fast and I feel a rush.                                            I don’t rush it though, I know: ‘Haste makes waste’                                     I’ve learnt to wait patiently, against hope, sometimes.

‘The first time is always the hardest’,

yet, I don’t rush it. I know: ‘Haste makes waste’                                          ‘Time and tide wait for none’, so I must take my chance.                 ‘The first time is always the hardest’, I know that                             .            ‘practice makes a man perfect’.
‘Time and tide wait for none’, so I take my chance.                                      My gaze is sharp, straight and clear. I’m in my prime.                                   I know, ‘practice makes a man perfect’.                                                         Tonight, there’s no light. It’s still and no wind blows but


my gaze is sharp, straight and clear. I’m in my prime.                                    I have waited long in the shadows of darkness and

tonight, there’s no light. It’s still and no wind blows.

It’ll be over in an instant: the chase, the catch and the kill.
I have waited long in the shadows of darkness                                              I’ve learnt to wait patiently, against hope, sometimes.                                   It’ll all be over, the chase, the catch and the kill, in an instant

and ‘my heart leaps up’, beats fast and I feel a rush.




O Captain, my Captain


He rose on the wings of fire,

He rode on the chariot of gold.

He rose to the sun of desire,

He ate it and found it cold.


O Captain, my Captain, at last you seized the day.

You are dead now my Captain! That’s what they say.

They must know my Captain. They buried you deep.

I didn’t. So, I won’t say it ever you’re dead.


I owe you a poem for prose won’t do.

It won’t go well with my theme, with you.

You had no business dying, not at all.

Since when have gods started dying, and like that?


How do I know you? It’s good that I don’t.

I know just a spirit, your spirit burning bright.

Your body they saw and saw your body die.

Hope you were, and hope must never die.


It’s not a happy ending, when I let you die.

So, you never died, you can’t. Hope can’t die.

I saw you in glory, when your spirit burnt blue.

It shook me up, gave me hope, made my moments fly.


You were bad, yes so bad!

Bad is beautiful!

You were wild, yes so wild.

Wild is good!