Download document

SETH, Vikram

What’s in it?

I heard your name the other day

Mentioned by someone in a casual way.

She said she thought that you were looking great.

A waiter passed by with a plate.

She reached out for a sandwich, and your name

Went back from where it came.

But like a serious owlet I stood there,

Staring in mid-air.

I frowned, then followed her around

To hear, just once more, that sirenic sound -

Those consonants, those vowels - what a fool!

I show more circumspection as a rule.

I love you more than I can say.

Try as I do, it hasn't gone away.

I hoped it would once, and I hope so still.

Someday, I'm sure, it will.

No glimpse, no news, no name will stir me then.

But when? But when?


Across these miles I wish you well.

May nothing haunt your heart but sleep.

May you not sense what I don't tell.

May you not dream, or doubt, or weep.

May what my pen this peaceless day

Writes on this page not reach your view

Till its deferred print lets you say

It speaks to someone else than you.


To make love with a stranger is the best.

There is no riddle and there is no test. –

To lie and love, not aching to make sense

Of this night in the mesh of reference.

To touch, unclaimed by fear of imminent day,

And understand, as only strangers may.

To feel the beat of foreign heart to heart

Preferring neither to prolong nor part.

To rest within the unknown arms and know

That this is all there is; that this is so.

The Fever Bird

The fever bird sand out last night.

I could not sleep, try as I might.

My brain was split, my spirit raw.

I looked into the garden, saw

The shadow of the amaltas

Shake slightly on the moonlit grass

Unseen, the bird cried out its grief,

Its lunacy, without relief:

Three notes repeated closer, higher,

Soaring, then sinking down like fire

Only to breathe the night and soar,

As crazed, as desperate, as before.

I shivered in the midnight heat

And smelt the sweat that soaked my sheet.

And now tonight I hear again

The call that skewers though my brain,

The call, the brain-sick triple note--

A cone of pain stuck inits throat.

I am so tired I could weep.

Mad bird, for God's sake let me sleep

Why do you cry like one possessed?

When will you rest? When will you rest?

Why wait each night till all but I

Lie sleeping in the house, then cry?

Why do you scream into my ear

What no one else but I can hear?”

All You Who Sleep Tonight

All you who sleep tonight

Far from the ones you love,

No hand to left or right

And emptiness above -

Know that you aren't alone

The whole world shares your tears,

Some for two nights or one,

And some for all their years.

At Evening

Let me now sleep, let me not think, let me

Not ache with inconsistent tenderness.

It was untenable delight; we are free--

Separate, equal--and if loverless,

Love consumes time which is more dear than love,

More unreplicable. With everything

Thus posited, the choice was clear enough

And daylight ratified our reckoning.

Now only movement marks the birds from the pines;

Now it's dark; the blinded stars appear;

I am alone, you cannot read these lines

Who are with me when no one else is here,

Who are with me and cannot hear my voice

And take my hand and abrogate the choice.

Prandial Plaint

My love, I love your breasts, I love your nose.

I love your accent and I love your toes.

I am your slave. One word, and I obey.

But please don't slurp your morning brew that way.