Sreekanth Kopuri

Content Warning

Mention of sexual violence

Whose Ayodhya is it Anyway?

after the Supreme court’s judgement 9th November 2019

At the Charminar square 
my brothers celebrate the 

government’s promise 
of lord Rama’s temple. 

Under a question, that hangs 
over our heads, I take a fistful 

of history on the banks of the 
Sarayu. It only scents of the  

Earth, that hasn’t a religion as is 
the River. We fix the boundaries 

to limit the freedom of our Gods 
for our faith’s sake, while they
 
never come to the rescue of our land.  
If my neighbour’s ancestors owe 

me five rupees, generations back, 
and I kill one today for the same, 

can I still be outside the prison?
When our faiths, the first and most

beautiful temples are still strong and 
so are our beliefs in the omnipresence

of our Gods, why then rupture this  
ancient scar some fanatic emperor left?

Maybe it’s time our clenched fists
of fanatic determinations became 

sober for a noble cause for it is  
hunger and injustice that still mock 

the power our electoral promises
gave us. This is that Good Earth 

brothers, once conferred with the 
earthly honour for its non violence

and today too for a mother’s love 
and her sacrifice for the hopeless 

and the dying. Our televisions blare
the debates, tirades and the bloodshed

we invest to win our faiths unlike for 
that tragedy of a poor man shouldering 

his dead wife home, miles away as the 
government has no ambulance to provide. 
PS: On 6th December 1992 a great historical monument “The Babri Masjid” was demolished by a Hindu Nationalists, claiming that it was the Ramajanmabhoomi, the birth place of Lord Rama. As a sequel of this demolition, on 9th November 2019 the Supreme Court of the Government of India ordered the land to be handed over to the Hindus.

Palm Root Truth

the Sower’s parable from Machilipatnam

Suri walks back to the old palm 
lines after school, to search for
 
those seeds kernelled with secret 
meanings in the shells hardened
 
against the sands of time but are
discarded in invasive shrubs and
 
some by Manginipudi high road 
as from a farmer’s hand. Perhaps
 
they hold some meaty promises 
inside, fulfilled if planted with 

diligence, and watered with natural 
rain of love for root that proclaims
 
the truth in the way of life. So he 
brings his siblings to plough the 

heart of their fields before the Sun for 
more for the harvest is near at hand.

It’s time today, small hours now, the
timeless eye of the Light waits for the

the clock’s first crow to raise the still 
resting folk to dig and dig the faithful

unsoiled soil till they feel the pulp of 
another season – the end of grace period 

–  to pluck them, cleanse, pot its mouth
sealed to preserve these roots, the pure,

life’s unfading signatures that still hold 
the strong hands of clock, and then gather 

all those dead fruitless branches and wheat
chaff to burn these ripe faithful pulps of un-

paged meanings till their bright blackened 
faces lit the silicon valleys of dying metros. 

A Bazaar Scene

french peta square, Machilipatnam

The first tuk tuk un-tucks the village women, 
arranging the cane baskets of 

fresh vegetables along the pavement, the 
farm-fresh colours smile, 

like the prisoners being released but, 
only draw the cow,  

the same trespasser again they whisk 
off she humbly moves to the

just arrived Huassain’s pushcart of bananas 
for consolation and gets one, 

the squint-eyed Gopal watches 
from his grocery, opposite, 

while he makes pious gestures 
at the wooden money box 

for an auspicious start, when the newspaper, 
the paper boy suddenly flings hits, 

the headlines being "High Onion Prices" 
which news the television 

in Rajastan tea stall too blares. 
It swarms with 

the morning walkers and hawkers who 
abuse each other in a lighter vein 

over sips and cigarette puffs. As some are 
too inhibited to complain, grumble and 

quit for the nearby Hanuman temple, 
being drawn towards the

broken bits of chalisa, emanating from 
those long-defective speakers 

the endowments department
never bothers about 

nor about those beggars who 
diligently form 

a cross legged line at the temple gates 
for the day's certain alms 

from the more diligent devotees 
with their firm faith 

in salvation through good deeds 
unlike the ogling nature 

of the priest at the sanctum sanctorum.
Inside the fly-swarming, 

shabby beanery beside, 
his son hand-mixes 

the rice batter while his beautiful daughter in law 
sits at the cash counter,  

and watches the butcher on the other side 
calling the customers, 

displaying the fresh, blood-dripping meat torsos, 
pointing at their plump scrotum, 

as most folk believe the male ones are tasty, 
and a stray dog diligently stares 

at his hand for his regular fling of bones
in the stagnate drainage canal beside

that adjoins the town's police station 
where a raped youth waits 

another day for the justice that lies in the 
inspector's greasy palms

while the municipal worker collects the 
garbage the town heaped 

at the dilapidated Gandhi statue stained 
by the bird droppings.

Sreekanth Kopuri is an Indian English poet, an Alumni Writer in Residence, Athens and a Professor of English from Machilipatnam, India. He has recited his poetry and presented his research papers in University of Oxford, John Hopkins University, Heinrich Heine University and many other countries. His poems and research articles have been published in Heartland Review, Nebraska Writers Guild, Poetry Centre San Jose, Underground Writers Association, Word Fountain, A New Ulster, Synaeresis, Wend Poetry, Vayavya, Ann Arbor Review, Halcyon Days Magazine to mention a few. His book Poems of the Void was the finalist for the EYELANDS BOOKS AWARD Greece, 2019. He is the recipient of IMMANUEL KANT AWARD for his collection of poems on Silence 2020. Kopuri did PhD in English from Sri Venkateswara University and Masters from Andhra University. He is presently an independent research scholar in Contemporary Poetry, Silence, and Holocaust poetry. He lives in his hometown Machilipatnam with his mother teaching and writing.

May 2021 / Marco Abuyuan-Llanes / Connor Fisher / Sreekanth Kopuri / Praniti Gulyani / Dennis Hinrichsen / Michael Rerick