in that place i bled, was tortured

Motivation is a tricky thing. At times, I can trick myself into thinking that I’m not writing this epic novel, that this monumental task is not a big deal; I can do this in my sleep… This is something I tell myself to keep going, to keep writing, even without any external reward. The very act of writing must be enough to sustain me, but I also find that surrounding myself with hardworking people who are brimming with passion is key. I also try to make time for the quiet moments, and I’m slowly learning the gift of gratitude.

My Message, Cecil Rajendra

And now you ask
what is my message
i say with Nabokov
i am a poet
not a postman
i have no message.

but i want the cadences
of my verse to crack
the carapace of indifference
prise open torpid eyelids
thick-coated with silver.

i want syllables
that will dance, pirouette
in the fantasies of nymphets
i want vowels that float
into the dreams of old men.

i want my consonants
to project kaleidoscopic visions
on the screens of the blind
& on the eardrums of the deaf
i want pentameters that sing
like ten thousand mandolins.

i want such rhythms
as will shake pine
angsana, oak & meranti
out of their pacific
slumber, uproot them-
selves, hurdle over
buzz-saw & bull-dozer
and rush to crush
with long heavy toes
merchants of defoliants.

i want stanzas
that will put a sten-gun
in the paw of polar-bear & tiger
a harpoon under the fin
of every seal, whale & dolphin
arm them to stem
the massacre of their number.

i want every punctuation—
full-stop, comma & semi-colon
to turn into a grain of barley
millet, maize, wheat or rice
in the mouths of our hungry;
i want each & every metaphor
to metamorphose into a rooftop
over the heads of our homeless.

i want the assonances
of my songs to put smiles
on the faces of the sick
the destitute & the lonely
pump adrenaline into the veins
of every farmer & worker
the battle-scarred & the weary.

and yes, yes, i want my poems
to leap out from the page
rip off the covers of my books
and march forthrightly to
that sea of somnolent humanity
lay bare the verbs, vowels
syllables, consonants… & say
“these are my sores, my wounds:
this is my distended belly:
here i went ragged and hungry:
in that place i bled, was tortured;
and on this electric cross i died.
Brothers, sisters, HERE I AM.”

Rajendra, Cecil. “My Message.” The Poetry of Our World: An International Anthology of Contemporary Poetry. Ed. Jeffrey Paine et al. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.

There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.
– Celia Thaxter

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