Three Poems

Anvar Ali

Dis Helluva World

Pappy precious, do de guts
me cut-a-way b’come mine?
Sonny b’lovd, de gut-n-heart
ye rip-a-way is everyone’s.

Wasn’t it all good ‘oney, papa,
de juice ‘n sap me sucked up?
Son, dat ‘oney ye slurped-own
is ya blood, ya red hot blood.

Pap, where-es gone de stalky bund
we’d mudded up amid our paddy ?
It melted ‘way with de steam-hot rice
kiddo, ye just grubbed down ya gut.

De big mountains afar
ain’t ours at all, mi-son;
De backwaters ‘n shores
too ain’t no one’s, sonny.

Creeps, beasts, bugs-n-birds,
sea-lions, beings of de wild;
potent gods of many ages,
join us, dancers in de soil;

Here, where we kick alive, sonny,
in dis helluva world, on de earth.
Mi-blessed son, dis damn world,
where we fret-n-fight-n-fade.


The Han, a loom:
upon the surging water’s Yin,
the warp of Yang emerging
from the night lamps.

Memory of an era of weaving.

Yin-Yang Yin-Yang,
One had sung incessantly on the loom:
the Yang of the starfish laying its yarn
upon the Yin her canoes strummed by night.


The harvest came: Season of blood.
The Yin-Yang turned into wailing and bellows.

Wrapping the rags of Seoul about her,
gathering the top-burnt Sans in her hands,
she roared towards the Yellow sea.

No one ever saw her afterwards.

(Lee Si-Young says: She is there,
in the cage of her son's apartment in a huge block,
breathing only the breath that she holds, and
her grey hair resembling the leek root)


she will come tonight, and
read the curvature of my Malayalam
in the Yin-Yang of her Hangul.

We shall weave,
a Yi-San poem, a prison uniform worn by mistake,
a Kim Ki-Duk film, a reckless nightdress,
the Bharathappuzha, a threadbare bath towel.


Ye Trees, Swaying Ramblers

Ye, ancient tales
that once cast shadow tents
along the blue grassland’ trails

who dived into every drop of pyre
to seize a thousand suns

Stiff blocks, tough to the chisel
Young shoots ignorant of the tang of soil
Drifters that mount every wind, go begging

Ye, uprooted states

swaying on to ramble
and, there
one day . . .

couldn’t ye’ve gone
with a ‘see ye ‘gain’?

if the proletariat Kerala came
as per the projected target
weren’t these the ones
who would have lasted
to turn into great forests wild,

swaaayiiiing-oooon-to-raaaamble . . .
theeereeeee . . .

translated from the Malayalam by Rizio Yohannan Raj