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Vivid and Vibrant - 5

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Men may come and men may go … but poets come, stay and live forever. The examples are ubiquitous. Telugu poetry has been growing, flowering and blossoming. Like poetry in any language, Telugu poetry too lives for ever and good poetry remains - everlasting. Poets like the kavitrayam, Nannaya, Tikkana and Yerrapraggada and later poets like Sreenadha, Pothana for centuries, and are being read with adoration even today. Recent poets like Gurazada and Sr Sri and the very recent C. Narayana Reddy, to name a few, are being read and would be read with enthusiasm for long. I must mention the illustrious poetry lover who held poets’ meets regularly. Sri C.V. Krishna Rao (now a nonagenarian) started Nela nela Vennela – Moonshines every month. (It went on successfully, till CVK had to shift house.) In 1995 I brought out Voices on the Wing and More Voices. Recently, I began asking for poems from the Telugu and the response is satisfactory. Poems have been coming from other countries too. More translations of post- year 2000 Telugu poems are going to be added on to the existing Vivid and Vibrant in the next part of this publication.

Looking Back A Little
‘Tomorrow to Fresh Woods and Pastures New’, John Milton’s ‘Lycidas’

Me in you...

I pleaded with you
To soften your heart gone hard
Fashion it as a mirror clear
-Not to throw back rays of my love,
To reflect in you

(Acharya Phaneendra, 1994 Kavita rasa gulikalu, 1998)

You alone


Losing its way in the ocean of heart
A drop became a prisoner in the eye's inviolable shore
If you smile, it's the effulgence of a rainbow
If you're cross, a rain cloud showers in my heart

In my garden
Where Spring has not come even after winter's gone
I dug and dug
Squatted flat and tired on Time's pyol
Then found I
Sparkling at the end of the hoe of memories piteously
In the wastes of my heart

Though I spat in mouthfuls time and again
This darkness did not dissipate
The dawn's heart I could not reach
Until between the peaks of your eyebrows
Like moonrise in a vale
The sun showed up a hint before dawn
Dispersed the darkness
Then sang this dawn


When charmed, a teardrop
Becoming a brew and
Spilled into a flower's heart
When alphabet is invoked
Becoming beastly cruel
Nibbled at the leaf buds of dreams
When I tried to hug Spring
Night crept noisily under my feet
Only when all bridges of experience I burnt
Could I realise what you really are
What if we two are lines parallel
You in the pain mirror of your eyes
Can see reflections of dreams infinite
Your cold heart cracking, the little amity spilled out
Rendered the lone darkness of no-moon night
The very festival of lamps

(Nisapati - M.H.V. Subba Rao, Kalakalam, 1992)

Two lives for me

For tender leaf buds
And grown up red flowers
I conceive great liking
Tenderness for leaf buds
Came, not knowing the world
Redness for flowers
Came, knowing the world

For little infants
I conceive great liking
That guilelessness for infants
Came, not knowing the world
that selflessness for brothers
Came, knowing the world.

(Indravelli Ramesh, Pramadasangeetam, 1992)


Donning Gandhi caps frogs are croaking, croaking, croaking
Their birth place a pool of stagnant sewer water
Their residence stench of ordure
Eating earthworms and insects small
Belching, they croak, croak and croak all night
The night doesn't seem to have an end
In Night's womb
No way of knowing how many months the Sun has grown
Movement is felt
With hoarse dissonance
With mutual divergences and dichotomies
From their holes frogs make a racket

(Vijayachandra (Rokkam Chandrasekara Rao), 1995 Ahwanam 1998)

Flaming darkness

A match stick
Lights the wick of a lamp
Or, a stove
Tough it burns for a short while

Two such things
Cannot be done
By the forest fire
Though gluttonously
It rages for days on end

Bhandaru Parvatala Rao, Nenelavennela-3, 1993)

Liberty, a hanky I lost

Liberty is a hanky I've lost
Perhaps it slipped in a meet of empathising ones
Or, perhaps while looking
Helplessly in an amphitheatre of murderers
In whichever international shanty
It was sold to whichever strategy
I am not able to understand

Liberty is a hanky I've lost
Having shown resentment and expressed dissent
To the excited dance of the night inebriated oxen of poets

In this wide worlds
I roam around as a wound uncovered

In the streets of the European heart
The loud mocking laughter of American nuclear arms

For the Death edict Earth is writing
Missiles are signing as witnesses
For this poem contaminated by atomic fallout
Don't announce any awards

If ultra-modern civilisation
Reduces you to a beast
Repent for that
Then only you'd realise
Liberty is a hanky you've lost

(Ramathirtha (Y.S.Rambabu) 1987, Gonthuluchigirchayi, Ranjani, 1989)

Price of blood dirt cheap

Having broken the water pot on head
Everyone is crying “Thirst! Thirst”
Hands becoming ropes hang the neighbour in street corners
Past becoming a cock crow wakes him every moment
When the two streets become one
Men become deadly weapons
Old politics, wearing a new face
When appears on the stage, man walking along
Becomes a piece of charcoal
Children playing on the streets become tyre-vehicles stowed

Farmers gone afield breathe their last in furrow lines
emotion embodied putting fingers in the mouth
Throws in bobs of blood
Innards becoming live wires get scattered then and there
With the siren of the milk centre, village woken peacefully
Before morning ablutions becomes a graveyard

A moment after a holocaust or a massacre
Price of blood would be dirt-cheap

(Beeram Sundara Rao, 1990, Ranjani 1991)

On the other shore

Go to the seashore on a moonlit night
The manas is transformed into a wave of joy
Butterflies of memories perch all over the garden
It's always soft-butter touch-the sea's
Even the breeze the sea makes ecstatic:
Making so much ado as if it were sea itself
The moon becomes a boat swaying on the waves
We, opening ourselves totally, gt into the visual
Offer the wave welcome to the approaching boat's lamp
Moonshine is a silent typhoon
It pushes the sea sky high
A transparent feeling bursts into fragrance
One into the other, and into Nature we flow
From us both drops of satiety sprout
The dampness of moonlight runs dry into the sand

When it is morning: as usual once again
You with total, exclusive imperial rights as husband
Me into the role of a totally devoted wife
How much is the comparability between the sea and co-habitation!
Always stink of fish!!

(T . Ravi, 1991, Gamanam, Ranjani, 1994)


Loom lives

On the hands that move gracefully on the loom hunger marked lines
Poverty, like a promise gone to mould, hatched and hatched
Those two hands that clad naked bodies with radiant rainbows
Deceived once again are beating breasts
My country my witness,
Those hands that plied cloth now ply hanging ropes
Life is dilapidated...dreams destroyed
Penury drawing coloured floral designs before the front yard
Hung banners of grief from heart to threshold
Cloth woven by those hands is now a pall over those very bodies
In this wicked culture which rules now
If people talk now it should be about deaths and untimely hunger
For hunger deaths no witnesses needed, no need for post-mortem
Hunger 'encounters' hundred year lives
On the little hands that turn 'laddies 'poverty flowered as henna
It's true that the man who trusted the loom went to dust
Truth to speak, we should talk about termite eaten authority
If long ago Gandhi who fought the white spinning khadi was a hero
Now the one who weaves for a black man for a handful of rice is a zero
Yes, if we talk, we should talk about weavers
Weavers who become a prey to invisible cruelty
There's no poison worse than hunger
No conspiracy meaner than penury
No lie worse than a loud promise
Penury is our national property
Our natural wealth hunger deaths
How many a starvation deaths have those hands recorded?
How many coloured worlds those hands have created!
Little one who wove a sky wide cloth that went into a matchbox
The one who lost both his hands,
The national-flag my witness lost his life

(P.Vidyasagar 1991, Gamanam, Rajani 1994)


Palm from the Banyan's middle stretching leafy arms
Looking at the sky, quietly grieving
Branches coiled round her waist,
Thrusting their feet for a tight grip in the underworld of sins
In the civilised human wilderness, caught in traps
Choking breathless-she is wailing pitifully
Birth pangs becoming unbearable-like mother with patience infinite
She pulls her cracking body together
As though grumbles and mumbling are not enough
Peeved about dowry being inadequate
Of those who took her are not enough
Those who bore her too are cross for bearing a female
Even then-melting the hardened heart of her mother
She proffers her nipple to the new born baby girl
Arrived afresh on this earth

(Indraganti Janakibala, Amma, Ranjani, 1997)

At nightfall when mother died

For the glance of tears
For the call hiccups
Not responding
One by one they disappear
Breast milk...some blood
Leaving the meteor dreams
In us
The season of tender leaves
Or season of falling flowers
For a moment all
Feeling the emptiness
Not accessible to forefingers
Memories alive ailing
Everyone at home in bed
At last
When knocked on the door
With a start
Mother woke up with a start!
(Namadi Sridhar, Amma, Ranjani 1997)

Non-singular number

Me from out of you
You from out of me
Both of us from somebody else
From a thousand divisions of collective souls!

Only the glance with open eyelids is possession
Lids closed everything non-possession
One lies down sleeping
One gets up and sits back leaning against the wall
One woman comes and passes the hand
With palm like a cloven moon's orb
Shapes and figures in the face would be changing
Stage by stage
In body cloven as glances
A tear-wound or a song
Intuits only myself

It should be decided once for all
As to who in me bowed down to her yielding
It should be decided once for all
Who in her wanted to ruin whoever in me
And whoever to make accomplished whom
Like this many a thing
To be decided definitely
The five senses
Genitals as though you own all, what's all this?
Is it just a sixty-kilo mass of flesh?
Or, spread wide over extent of many miles
Is it just a natural scheme?

Addressing in the singular
Isn't there that much of respect for a human?

(Pasunuri Sridhar Babu 1994, 1999)

Razor-sharp rain

Sky is infested with black spots
Clouds stricken with ascites appear
Drained of water with tubes

From the musical tap tap
Rising into a crescendo of fierceness plays rain
On one side no drop to quench thirst
On the other a typhoon with politics for support
Tearing down curtains of basic rights
Breaking doors, rowdy rain waters gushing in
Transgressing drops coerce, slaying people
Cloud rain deposits to be managed with care
Are drained in a day by overdrafts
In a transparent four-sided aquarium
Homeless people float with children and animals
The episode of green flag being drawn into a quagmire
Water surface has the quality of a mirror
With rain that ought to slay famine, inundating
Goddess of Toil herself gets a watery grave

Chanting the protective song of Arjuna, Phalguna, Parthiva
We ould write Unity as our refrain
Co-operating dances like a peacock with its flag unfurled
For rain umbrella is a remedy
For flood abscess, boat treatment
On the reservoir rays of co-operation shed
Slanting reflection on the wall
Making it a mere movement without wetness
We would render the inflation of rain ineffectual

(Kolakaluri Swaroopa Rani, Air 1985)

Roadside Ravivarma

Pieces of black bones from the starving choolah, charcoals,
Chalks coloured white, red, blue, yellow seeds sown
For birth of god non-existent that night on the road
When day breaks the immaculate born Hanuman, Kodanda Ram
Murali-wielding Gopal, the merciful on the cross, or lotus-eyed Gautam
Would weave himself like a child to the road mother
Not the father feeding the son, the boy in many-coloured shirt
Surprisingly, with the portrait, fends for the father
Short-lived though, for a little while, makes history
The earth and the bag with holes for his pillow worships he his father
Brings in gifts, grows coins golden. The next morning
He'd be blowing the memories of father fleeing the shrunken cage
Creates, then and there, artistic taste and compassion as a bubble
The form of dust-laden Mahatma
Redeeming parent's debt, bowing, offers worship concluding his tale
And like a dutiful departing son he returns to dust
Then the father, an earthen lamp gone dry in a ruined shrine
Body like walls grimy, eyes swaying like cobwebs cut down,
Feet like fallen ornamental flag-post fallen. As for himself he is starved
He is the tear-eating Ravi Varma delivering a god on the road everyday
For the ever-busy city dwellers he is the word “fate”
In the meantime-the moment pity surges as humanism made king
That moment fingers dance into pockets like sparrow's wings for coin
When rumblings in the stomach become insistent he moves forward
Filling his breath with hope of coins big and small
Transmitting a god every day on the road
Dreaming of tomorrow's god and tomorrow's small coin
The roadside Ravi Varma who just has cold and no taste of life
Would go on like a leaning bag of charcoal swaying
Blowing his breath to clear the dust on the road to draw god

*Note: Raja Ravi Varma was a great south Indian painter who pained portraits of gods and goddesses

(Y.Sambasiva Rao, Satyanjali, 1995)

Continued to Next Page


More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

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