xxxxxxxi. A holy trinity of love
Both poetry and living illustrate:
Each season brings its own peculiar fruits,
a time to act, a time to contemplate.
(i) Sabtabi express
Cowpats racked up; cheap
manufactured landmines detonate
in the faces of the low cast;
history’s consensual disfigurement
of the poor. A world away in France,
‘diggers’ in Ypres strip time
of its proper regiment – the unknown
soldier of individuality reburied
over & over again in a public
concretism worthy of its own art
gallery. The private collections
of the West all dulled despite
restoration; mass produced in
the ego’s hollow shrine. India
solders; Baldwin’s eyes burn.
Thrust deep into Ganga Ma’s glacial
mouth, a red brick spikenard; remains
of a 19th century British rail-bridge,
the attempted industrialisation
of the Godhead. Now a pedestal
to post-colonialism. For the split-
second illusion of a child standing
in the mid-stream of consciousness
on the back of a crocodile, jaws
snapping at bus axles patched
with twine – arms extended in mudras;
Don’t be afraid Baldwin for I am
also your mother, extols the whitecap
witness, not a charcoal mascared
child, fool, but a manifestation
of the Supreme Truth – the One,
idiot, Varuna perhaps. Let this
reality stream from your forehead.
Build no new dams to self-knowledge,
oh, Son of Zeus-Ammon. Take all your
Western rubbish with you – don’t
throw it over the side of a mountain.
Here in the foothills of Shiva’s
‘fortress of solitude’, become your
own superman. ‘Scratch a rock
& a legend springs’1.
1. Line from Arun Kolatar’s poem, A Scratch
(iii) Luxman Julia
Behind closed ashram gates, temple
guardians (Dv‚rapalakas) morph
into Dicky Bird/Ganesha umpires;
raised fingers trumpeting as skull
cropped Buddhist boys practice their
reverse swing on a flat cobblestone
pitch. Several gods get in on
the action; the Trinity hold a mid-
wicket conference & set an attacking
field, Brahman stays behind
the stumps, Visnu goes to first slip,
Shiva to second, their 3333
manifestations ring the boundary
of potted palms & bougainvillea
(ala Mike Brearley’s one day field
setting circa 1980). The umpires note
this in their match reports & throw
up obstacles to the fielding side’s
path to righteousness all day long;
turn down every leg before appeal,
every bat-pad chance before bad
light stops all universal play.
The gods gather their gear; bats,
tridents, maces & go home – faces
red as cherries with the effort
of one day enlightenment.
(iv) The anti-kali
Baldwin adorned with his 5ft python
necklace poses cross-legged for
the eye of the shutter in Roxanne’s
forehead to open – sending a shaft
of blue light into his eyes painted
with fine Ganges river dust.
The snake recoils automatically
into the hands of its owner/manager
& Baldwin, freed of the symbolic duty
lumbers to his feet, Indian children
tugging at his Ganatapi proportions.
Hands over the twenty rupee fee;
his Fanta orange tongue hangs out
in a shameful display of earthly
intoxication. The Omega Man,
all on his lonesome.
xxxxxxxii. Padam shri nek chand
In the garden of outsider art;
Nek Chand’s world famous waste
recycled into men, women, children,
fabulous beasts of broken plastic
bracelets – 20 secret, hot years
of Duchampian experimentation
before the City Council caught him
out. One man’s private obsession
turned out – sprouted broken
porcelain, tiles, telephone
conductors, bottles, glass, stones;
a lingam of western technology
fused into an Indian Dreamworks.
A living gallery occupied by
the Chandigarh poor; more collective
ownership per square metre
of avant-garde art than anywhere
else in the Western world!
The labyrinth of an Eastern Minos,
peopled by homunculi cast from bed
springs & buttons. Padam Shri
Nek Chand – the Tom Bombadil
of the orient; a nature spirit
investing time & energy in humble
roadsides; in the found object
of the 21st century.
xxxxxxxiii. The forest brigand
Somewhere, deep inside Tamil Nadu.
Veerappan the forest brigand squats
on his haunches opposite our bull-
necked hero & studies his dissolving
Look at you, big Western fat man.
You think India is great adventure
for you until Veerappan catch you
like fly eh? What you do coming
to my jungle?
Baldwin winces, a thin jet of urine
trickles down his meaty calf as
he eyes the .303 calibre Lee Enfield
rifle slung across Veerappan’s back
& mumbles a vague reply.
I…we were on an tiger safari
& I got separated from the others.
My elephant bolted into the scrub
& then I fell off.
Ha! You fell off eh, Humpty Dumpty,
Georgie Porgy Pudding & Pie kissed
the girls & made them cry!
Who are you then fat man?
My…my name is Baldwin. I’m
Australian. My wife’s name is
Roxanne. She must be very worried
You Aussie eh? I like Mark Waugh &
Shane Warne very much. They are very
bad man like me! I have killed twenty
policeman with my gun, you wait until
you Aussies come to India. We will
show you some cricket eh? Ganguly,
Tendulkar & Dravid will beat your
Shane Warne & Glen McGrath. You
Aussies haven’t won in India for
thirty years, you know that my
Um…no I didn’t know that, but my
favourite cricketer is Steve Waugh.
Ah… Steve Waugh yes he is very tough
man like me, when there is big
problem for you Aussies in batting.
He saves your team all the time!
Yes… he does I suppose. Australia’s
on a sixteen test match winning
streak you know, Mr…
Nice to meet you Mr Veerappan.
Do you get to see much cricket out
No… unfortunately not. I do not
leave this forest. The authorities
have orders to shoot me on sight!
Why is that? What have you done?
Not very much. For ten years
I kill government men who steal
sandalwood & shoot every tiger. Then
I kidnap the famous Bombay movie
star, Mr Arjuna Kolatar & hold him
here for a hundred days.
I…I see. What happened to him?
Arjuna? Oh, I give him back after
his family pay big ransom! Eh, now
how much you worth Mr Baldwin from
Me…um…ah I’m not worth very much
at all. I’m only a public servant
back home. For the Taxation
Tax man eh? I think I shoot one
of them before. Ha. Just kidding
Mr Baldwin, Steve Waugh number one
ok. Is your wife very beautiful eh?
She…she’s quite an extraordinary
woman. Tough like you Mr Veerappan.
Takes no shit from anyone.
No shit eh? She a very good cook
too? Nice blonde hair & ankles?
Ah….yeah I’d say she cooks a mean
curry & has it in all the right
places. She’s very fit you know?
Ha, very fit like sportsman eh? How
do you keep up with her then? Mr big
tax man Baldwin?
It’s not easy but I try. She’s an
ex-kickboxer but now she’s at Uni.
University in Australia eh! I think
you very lucky man, Mr Baldwin.
Oh & she writes poetry to relax.
POETRY! By Lord Shiva, so do I
Mr Baldwin. Here, I show you my work.
Don’t move please.
Baldwin doesn’t move an inch
as Veerappan dives into a humpy
made of palm fronds & strangler
vines. His sweat & urine hatch
a plan to gag Baldwin’s mouth
as the forest brigand re-emerges,
a triumphant look on his face.
xxxxxxxiv. The forest poet
Here they are Mr Baldwin, who
looks like Lord Buddh_vat_ra. Ha!
My poems of struggle & defiance;
‘The Veerappan S_tras’.
Handing Baldwin a thick folder
of loose leaf paper, Veerappan
squats at his feet & urges our bull-
necked hero to open the package.
Please, Mr Baldwin read it
if you want.
Baldwin flicks through the illegible
handwriting until he comes across
a neat typed poem on thin
Ah…you have chosen wisely
Mr Baldwin. That is my very best
poem. Please read it out for me.
Baldwin picks the poem out
delicately, from the slush pile
of semi-mouldy & rain eviscerated
text. Holds it up reverentially
like a rare archaeological discovery.
Yes, there is a quote there from
a famous poet Mr Baldwin. Read that
too. suggests Tamil Nadu’s (&
probably India’s) most wanted gun-
toting bard. Baldwin takes a huge
breath before launching into
the brigand’s magnum opus.
xxxxxxxv. The forest tiger
“The forest tiger is restless.
He prowls about very careless.
In the jungle with his English gun.
Never at home always on the run.
He is the Lord of Tamil Nadu.
He will not be kept in a London Zoo.
His stripes hide him in the bush.
The government always try to crush.
Steal the very best sandalwood.
But we know that is not very good.
They cannot shoot the forest panther.
He is as quick as Sachin Tendulkar.
All follow Veerappan for you must.
Or you will die and come to dust.”
Baldwin looks up, notices
the moisture in Veerappan’s eyes.
Mr Baldwin Sir. If I give you my
poems will you please publish
them in Australia?
Um…well…I’m sure my wife’s got
a few contacts with magazine editors
& publishers. Yeah, I’m sure she can
show them to somebody back in
This is my big dream, Mr Baldwin.
For my poems to be publish in England
or Aussie & your wife a poet too!
I cannot believe this Mr Baldwin,
I cannot believe it! Lord Shiva
has led you to me & the world will
know my name. Veerappan the poet!
Thank you Mr Baldwin, thank you.
Come, now I show you the way back to
elephant safari camp. Please follow
Baldwin lumbers after the brigand
cum bard, clutches the forest
of poetry to his chest; hugs the most
fabulous words he will never read.
These poems are from the Samsara section of Universal Andalusia and are previously unpublished in any form. Universal Andalusia is a discontinuous verse novel that satirises issues of masculinity, tourism, nationalism, Western cultural hegemony (?), Australian national identity and ockerism through a humorous travel narrative in Southern Europe and India.