Sunday, April 12, 2009

the sculptor

the sculptor

once upon a time
a mad sculptor
(great artist, though),
created a masterpiece.

from a block of anonymous marble
he carved a form
of infinite beauty
and all who looked upon it
felt great joy in their hearts.

there was a certain
vibrance, in this form
that the sculptor could not explain
something beyond stone
and chisel
and an artist’s dream.

for days and nights he pondered
sleepless and disturbed
at nights
with a lamp in his hand
he would steal into the studio
to gaze
upon his creation.

he felt the tension in the air
as if something alive
were locked into the confines of
immobile stone.

and then, he understood.
the discovery broke
his last link
with sanity.

in a rare moment
he had stumbled upon the ultimate -
his creation throbbed
with a life of its own.

he blew out the lamp.
in the starlit darkness
he climbed upon the pedestal
embraced his handiwork
his face streaming with tears
heart breaking
with the pangs of separation
and breathing upon the marble face, he said,
“i give thee life.
go forth in freedom
fulfill in freedom
the beauty and the joy
that is yours.”

he stepped down
and trembling in anguished expectation
waited for the first marble breath
the first twitch of the marble finger
the first flicker in the marble eye.

the sculpture stirred
then spoke,
is my destiny”, it said,
“not freedom,
for freedom is too scary.
here i am secure
and timeless
and there is no pain.
these are the last words i will ever speak
so listen well,
i am but your handiwork
i am but a sculpture
i am only

“speak to me again”
the sculptor cried.
there was no response.
he took up the hammer
and struck off an arm
there was no pain
he took up the chisel
and pierced the breast
there was no blood.
just silence
and the immobility
of cold, frozen

broken in heart and mind
the sculptor fell
and lay dead upon the studio floor.

his creation stirred not.
it was unaware
like stone.
as dead
as the other blocks of marble
stacked lifeless
in the corner.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . paul mathew

the drink

i walked into a tavern
exhausted with life
for a drink.
from a corner of the bar
i picked up an empty glass
and placed it before the barman.

“a drink please”

he said, “sure”
then holding a wrist over the glass
slit a vein
and filled my cup.

i drank.
asked for another
drank again, and then
asked for the bill.

“there’s no bill, sir”
he said,
“there’s blood a-plenty
and it’s free.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . paul mathew

Valleys . . . .

valleys, before me
lying open like a woman
unfolding towards distant skies
with a certain charm
of elemental

i walk forward
with the same confident
as of the suckling's eager hands
on his mother's breast
and it is mine
all of it
each rise and fall
each mound and groove
each crevice
each erect countour, rising
like taut nipples
each bush
that bristles like pubic hair
all mine.

i am overpowered
by this sense of possession
as i sit here and write.
but soon
i see this shepherd walking by
staff in his arm and his flock before him
on her flesh
and i know
the valleys can never be mine
fori am just the passing lover
and he
the eternal

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . paul mathew

Thursday, April 9, 2009

the mono-act

i was here last night
faceless forms glided across the stage
to the tune of wordless songs.
i sat on a plush leather couch
away from the crowd
and heard the applause –
the sound of autumn leaves in the wind.
there is no one here
and particles of ancient dust, sparkle
in the shafts of sunlight
oozing down the vents.

(sometime in the night
something happened)

the leather has split
and rusted springs protrude
and the few scattered chairs in the hall
are cloaked in cobwebs.

i rise.
the couch creaks.
i walk down the aisle
(there are expectations of great things
to come)
my footsteps echo
like heartbeats
as i step on stage.
i bow
the applause bursts in my head
like a million hammer blows.

there are no lines to speak
just, a fantastic poem
to live.

i await with longing
the last

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . paul mathew

to a mad woman

(written to a seemingly insane woman whom i often saw wandering around cochin. she looked more radiant and energetic than all the 'sane' people who passed by, often grimacing in disgust)

there is certain
in your stride, mad woman!
the majesty
of a forgotten queen
as you walk along the highway
- people and traffic whirling you –
covered with dirt and grime
breasts bare
matted hair
threadbare loincloth
swishing to the rhythm of your stride.

what pain made you thus?
what unspeakable desire?
or was it a dream
that you dared not dream
of freedom?

where is he now –
the man who loved you once?
the child
that once grew within you?
what songs do you sing
with your incessantly moving lips?
or are you searching for words
long forgotten?

mad woman!
child of nature,
as you lie on the sidewalks
under the stars
as you sit on the grass
by the waterfront
and examine your nakedness
where does your dignity come from?
wherein lies your pride?

at times i see your eyes wander
then focus
on a woman following in servitude
the slave before her
carrying his burden
and his child.
your eyes flash with contempt
for a moment
than are glazed over again.

speak, woman!
you have repented enough for the slaves.
climb up on the pedestal, woman!
cry out your admonition.
tear off their garments too
and their shame of servitude.
lay bare their breasts too
their dignity
and the power they are afraid to know.
whip them !
bleed away their fear
and then
let them walk with you on the highway

with the dignity of an equal
and the majesty
of a queen.

. . . . . . . . . . . . paul mathew

the barbecue

i was walking back last midnight
and cold
when on a distant valley slope, i saw
curling up from the trees
as though from a solitary fire.

i left the road and headed for the smoke.

i stumbled over stones
and fell into ditches as i ran
blind and mad and
and as the first rays of dawn spread in the east
i reached
the cave.

i stopped a few feet away
and saw
sitting by the fire
his back to me.

his matted hair was long
and filthy
and tufts were missing
from his bleeding scalp
his gnarled fingers were spread over the fire
seeking warmth.

there was something strange
and i stood rooted to the ground.

the fire began to ebb
and soon
there was but a wisp of flame
rising from the embers
he raised his withered hands to his head
plucked a tuft of hair
and fed it to the fire.
it blazed again.
i gasped.
and he turned.
and the shock of recognition
was like a universe
for there beneath the blood and filth i saw
my face
my eyes
my lips.

for a long moment
his blood red eyes were fixed to mine
then they filled
and boiling tears streamed down his cheeks.

he spoke.
“its you”
a statement.
sit by the fire”
a command.

we sat for a while
he spoke again,
i raised my eyes in query,

he looked at me
then smiling slowly
wrenched a handful of flesh
from his thigh
roasted it over the fire
and gave me to eat.

i ate.
it tasted delicious.
this flavour
of death.

we ate.
and as we ate i saw
my hair was getting matted too
my skin wrinkled
and my fingers

the fire was dying again.
he looked at me from under his bloody eyebrows
his eyes like hot, gleaming coals, and said,
“the fire
is dying”

i nodded.
plucked a tuft of hair from my head
and fed it
to the fire.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . paul mathew