poems by Aditya Shankar

The Stray Dog’s Tail

For a stray dog,
the curvy tail
is a dangling noose.

A tail that assumes shapes:

A sickle,
for the one on the run,
weeding a flourishing debt.

A flag,
for the one
haunted by a political hitman.

A vine,
for the hungry tribal
out of the parched wild.

The duration of a dog’s liberty
is set to the count of his wags.

An equivalent to a human nod perhaps,
or a feeble yes sir or will do,
perfected over centuries of subordination.

And if forever, he grins through
a kettle of boiled water
scorching his back,

or a frustrated walking stick
skinning his thighs,

or if he just belongs,
another urban survivor motoring
along the streets in agreement to
the collapsing human scape,

then his tail entitles itself
(may be just as much as a green card or PR)
to remain a proud tail.



Peeling Onions


Five minutes* of peeling onions
is what it took

to feel I was peeling my own MCP** skin,
not the onion.

That I am part of a shameful lineage
of forefathers and their emptied teacups,
waiting for hands that know chores.

The two and half onions I managed
to skin, stared at me with
the wounded eyes of girls
forced to strip by their lovers.

All the onion that I consumed till date
and pooped into the septic tank, or
added to the silence of deep soil, or
to the manure that we again turned into onions:

It felt as if an army of dormant voice
was revived, to spiral up my throat.

A fiery shot of acidic reflux,
a reminder from hell,
a bout of obscenity from past.

Together, they reduce me to
a mere pipe of transmissions –
a stinky drainage that flows beneath
all my glorious steps.

My onion tears masquerade as grief
for media and courtroom trials of victims,
we wish to excrete from our happy lives.

Note: * – The average duration of an Indian film song with happy family cooking sequences.
** – Male Chauvinist Pig.

poems by Aditya Shankar

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