MEMORY BOX

1.
“The picture in your
memory box
is far different
from the photo you took
some time ago,”
the bartender says,
quoting a neuro –study
to the fellow barfly
in the violet evening
at the wayside cage.
“It has changed
like the shifting plates
of the planet
in the seismic tremor
of daily existence
that has jagged
the certitude of your senses,
the emerging visual
polluted by the TV scenes
& films
stored in the caverns
of your mind,”
O remember Marcel Proust’s
Madeleine?
A blur of the Real
once upon a time?
O ever are we in the prison house
of imaginary delight?
Who recalls truth perfectly?
But a certain sadness
overwhelms remembrances
of what is forever gone…

2.
The leader,
a spoiled brat
in his reclusive youth
who had secretly
counted on his subalterns & gofers,
to project his sainthood
Is now undone
by his hollow words?
Did he think
the mourners will spare him
for his involvement
in a James Bond incursion?
Is he worth being the
Leader of the pack?
O so much expectation,
so little patience
for his truths
O is he virtuous to a fault?
His circle hears
the beat of a different drummer!
Does he read the blazing
signs on the wall?
Trapped in the silence
of his sanctum sactorum
he is oblivious
of the crowd massing
at the gates…
O pretenders to the throne
he bewails
through the fog of his witchcraft.
3.
O Summer
& all that it stands for:
Neon lights blazing
that love is in the air!
Bronzed women naked
in the sun;
hikers trekking up
the mountain peak
to pull down the sky;
scholars poring over books
to pursue the pleasures
of the mind —
colorful flowers studding
the countryside
& leaves falling down
to settle on the forest floor,
hastening the earth’s decay…
O the convex memory
of Time & Space:
but always something
is lost
in the blink of an eye:
a certain sadness
creeps up the heart…
& we are left undone
by empty dreams
& empty desires…

4.
April
Is the cruelest month
of the year?
O every moment is heir
to ravages of
“water, wind & fire”
The sun in the equinox:
but the horizon
is heavy with rain
in the gray horizon.
Then the oceanic deluge!
The Guy on the hill
laments His fatal fate,
but it is not for
Him to make —
O the Father whose divine
decree He must consummate!
Every month
is Arthur Rimbaud’s
Faustian journey
on horseback across
the Somali desert,
as if fleeing from
the demons of his adolescent
poetry…

5.
Where is the piece of
earth that has not been
touched by human blood?
O where must we lay
our hearts
to gently rest
from the mordant turmoil
Tunisia is the green, green
leaf of the Arab Spring
now reeling under the
shadow of
marauding Islamists!
O do we hear
the howl of wolves
on the perimeter
while black birds
circle around
in the vulturine air!
O who reads this strange
omen?
Every place is rained down
with blood-soaked
tears!
Huntsmen are quick
to raise their swords
for the slaughter
of the innocent!
Who cares about the
nameless dying,
like the kitten
rotting in the gutter?
O where is the alcove
to hide against
man-made disaster?

6.
O How can he
minister to the brats
who troop into dusty rooms,
full of wild banter
& juvenile chatter?
O will they only repeat
the errors of their elder?
O who shall they betray
with their pestiferous loves?
O who shall fall prey
to Koranic warriors?
O who of the brats
shall come of age?
O shall the world perish
in the onrushing flood
& freezing winter?

7.
A.
The coconut fronds.
for Palm Sunday
have dried up —
but he is not wont
to burn them
for Ash Wednesday!
His prayers for his
faithful cats & loved ones
are floating in limbo,
as if waylaid
by human vanity & errors.
Is he asking for
a miracle?
Can he will the universe
to suspend its natural
Law?
That he should accept
the unforgivable loss
is good for the soul,
devotees counsel.
Acceptance is the cure,
they dutifully chorus.

B.
They are fresh converts
to Islam —
but under duress?
They have to survive
the terrors of the camp?
& be spared
the ritual beating?
Since then,
they have been allowed
free time to fast
& pray to Allah
who watches over them
with their captors
[But they were kind
& reportedly compassionate]
Are they primed
for martyrdom?
No, says Cardinal Amato
of the Vatican,
“no Christian is obliged
to be a martyr of the cross.”

C.
O how barbarous
are the barbarians?
They spout verses
from the Koran
like prophets of old…
& knives to slash
the throats of unbelievers.
O how they affirm
God’s inhuman truth —
& bestially so.
The history of capture
& carnage
Is fresh on the mind:
who mourns
the widows & infants
of unmerciful times?
The old sins surge back
& we dare face
the apocalypse
with eyes half-shut.
O how they seek heaven’s guidance
In the name of the Caliphate
& evangelical faith

8.
His mother at 61
passed onto the light
victim of the scourge
that afflicts womankind.
[Angelina Jolie underwent
mastectomy, had her ovaries
& fallopian tubes removed
to stem the genetic flow
that sent her mother
to the grave]
He never let on
his familial grief,
coming back to the office
as if pain is a natural
rhythm of things.
He doesn’t wear his
heart on a sleeve?
Possibly he’s comforted
that she’s finally at peace,
secure in a place
where the holy mediatrix
lives.
O the Lenten season, after all,
is resurrection of conclave’s belief!

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