Three Poems by Kaustuv Ghosh


Summer comes in many ways.
One, the Frankfurt Roast, the rude awakening
From damp spring in the glass hothouse of Am Main.
Two, Beautiful People on the Beach sweating elegantly
Shot by Japanese New Wave directors.
Three, the Petrifying Stillness of the Familiar.
At breakfast, the chill yet to burn off the six-thirty a.m. dew,
The bars illuminate faces plunged into the routine of the day
And the apple, the banana, the bowl of half-eaten cereal
Sit bearing stilled witness to the bustle.
Four slices of bread with jam, dipped into black tea—
No stains on white shirt. Nine steps to the door.
School has been out for a while and I am still here and so are you;
I wish that school had lasted forever.
In houses down the street, doors slam shut and then, calm.
Goodbyes have been said; only the smell of noon curry
Will break the silence as wives tend to their assigned patches.
“Look at me, look at me,” the light seems to mock, persists
In your face and my face and the day starts to move
Towards the intense heat and dust and smell.
The flies have come and gone; public places being more to their taste.
Outside, the trees shade the grass and the footpaths are empty
By ten a.m. They will be busy again at two when the hospital crew
Ends shift and strolls to the small, dirty hotel for late lunch.
We watch life roll by from our window, listening to Gainsbourg
While musty copies of Dickens, Herge, Harris and McLean pour
Out of the almirahs that once held Shakespeare, long gone.
You and I are incomplete, unfulfilled; we touch, we smile.
Light dips as the sun crosses to the other side of the street.


On the road with the first rains
Stones tumble from petrified walls
The twist is easier on the way up
The turn tougher on the way down.
Little streams cross the road.
Another month, they will roar
Under black sky and blue bolts.
Dogs escort nomads on horseback
Watchful, like lions with kings
Descending from the roof of the world.


An ordinary ground where neighbourhood dogs test their speed limits
While their owners unfurl leather clad legs and smoke away their expenses.
Between the expressway and stacks of trees, once perhaps the romping place
Of Polish aristocrats, dissenting surgeons from St Petersburg and latterly
Unhappy Prussians in grey, dreaming of Brittany and washing their hands frequently.
This will do.
A roll on the field and then, the act of putting a single twig into the mouth,
Affected, self-conscious, vaguely remembering 60s New Wave in self-praise
And staring up at nothing, wristwatch unstrapped two inches away.
Black to black, denim to silk, shocking tartan to sensible cotton,
The grass crawls into every space between and lends its constant smell.
Thereafter, long silence while cold curls in and finds room between us.
Collect the timepiece first, brush earth from each other, put on jackets
And walk up the slope to the bus stop, three minutes exactly
For the faithful trolley.
In the warmth inside, oblivious to the curious stares, hold hands
And speak in the travellers’ creole-English, Bengali, Malay, Hokkien.
We like to switch around accents too, all who journey are pretenders.
Finally, Vingis with the broad pavements, the cinema and the pizzeria.
By warm air and yellow lamps we wait for our orders reading menus,
Elegant affairs like De Palmas’ moves, black letters, golden borders.

After a hiatus of three years, Kaustuv Ghosh has resumed writing in earnest, coinciding with intense travel to many places. He still holds Philip Levine and Robert Penn Warren as primary influences. However, he now adds Frank O' Hara, especially his poem "The Day Lady Died.”