Tuesday, May 30, 2017

5 Newspaper Headlines Re-Written for Greater Clarity

A set of five poems inspired by newspaper headlines in recent times.

Five Newspaper Reports Re-written for Greater Clarity

1.  All Eyes on HSC Results

how many eyes are trained
on the higher secondary exam results,
hard to say but eyes are slitted sleek
with yesterday's failing

eyes follow monkey eyes gibbering
through a bazaar, rubbing neon
out of the black lids of night

eyes are fixed upon a street gone
grey with too much going away

lost foundlings blinded by concrete,
eyes wait on the road divider
holding the skeleton of a bunch of red roses
that grazed the shin of a passerby
who looked but saw nothing
except a flower pot that he used
as a spittoon

eyes are intent on sum assured
insurance plans and a new toffee car
bought by a semi-friendly neighbour
with good skin

eyes are wildly careening between
yet, most days they are fixed upon
the luminous face of a PhD guide
who won a gold medal for every exam
he ever sat and comes to uni in blue fleece
and real leather sandals.


2.  Nation Outraged After X gangrape in Y town 

forty one percent of the population
recalled other instances of mutilation,
murder along with the caste and age
of various name-changed victims.

twenty point five percent of the population
silently measured their hemlines against
newsprint inches devoted to the said crime.

roughly thirteen percent of the nation
was looking at a girl of eighteen
crossing the road.

an unknownable fraction of the nation
was buying bottles of acid.

zero point five percent of the nation
roared about state culpability and blocked
two arterial roads that led to a jam that will
occupy the front page tomorrow.

the rest of the nation was busy watering
money plants, relieving itself
between stalks of sugarcane,
changing diapers and being rocked
to sleep.

less than one percent of the nation
had the stomach for details of intestine,
perineum, bladder, womb and the neck
of a girl who swung from a tree
that did not belong to anyone in particular.


Call us Munna.
A single name will do
for both, and for either one.
No, we don't have school names.
Who went to school?
BA-MA-Doctorate in
loading-unloading, huh?
About that red carpet,
there was actually more than one.
Twenty feet long, each one and six feet across.
Before all this loading rolling unrolling
there was the weaving.
Carpets, yes, much nicer than this junk.
No, don't ask how long that was.
There was no calendar in the room.


4.  Year on, dead couple not forgiven

Forgiveness is a trick,
a dirty one played by children
who have not learnt to wipe
the green stain of love from their eyes
after they have been thrashed.

Forgiveness is an exposed brick house
with no boundary wall to stop the man
who answers the call of a she-wolf
wearing a plaited rope of debt for an anklet.

Forgiveness is lovers hacked
for their art of caress undress 
the exhumation of soul from under flesh.

Forgiveness is a foreign thing.
A denim jacket with rivets thing.
A plastic tweety bird ring that nobody 
in the village had ever bought and 
if the young had any thought of such things, 
they'll think twice now.


5.  Two Palestinians Shot Dead After Attacking Israelis

Two people armed with knives
were killed after they (separately)
rushed towards (different groups of) Israelis
armed with guns.

Two people set out from home (or whatever
remained of that feeling called home).
It is unclear if they kissed anyone goodbye
but preliminary imaginings indicate
they held that thought awhile.

It is unclear if their homes had been bombed
or if any children died in the shelling.
It is unclear whether they rebuilt or relocated
and if they had, whether they were bombed
a second time.

It is clear they had access to kitchen knives.

It is clear they rushed towards wielders of guns.

It is clear the guns would be used.

The colour of their skin is clear.

Their olive trees, their pets, their throaty
mother tongue, their last words were
not so clear.


(C) Annie Zaidi

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