A package of fascinating poems from Shiv K. Kumar.
The volume contains selections from Shiv K. Kumar's nine poetry collections spanning four decades. Recurring themes include inter alia, temples, whorehouses, love, sex, family, streets, and cityscapes. The poem “An Indian Mango Vendor” is a typical Shiv Kumar poem.
“Through the slits of her patched blouse one bare shoulder, two white moons, pull all horses off the track/ This old man's leery eyes — idle birds, pecking at her mango-nipples.”
His best poems shake your eyeballs off, with savage ferocity, and rustic feel. His poem “Bodyguards” bubbles with universal humanity. “The country's alleged enemy, on the other side of the impregnable fence” is “but my soul mate in loneliness”. The pain of everydayness is skillfully captured in “The pain of turning keys in mildewed holes” (Returning Home).
A poem that bears the typical Shiv signature is “Adolescence”. “All I know is that you already feel the power of stone, the ligature between your wisp of moustache, and the new peril lurking in your groin.” “To A Prostitute” is remarkable for its imagistic philosophy. “On your forespent thighs, juvenile tourists who had only a glimpse of the inner shrine have left rude etchings of name, and place…” It ends loftily, “For my son will ferment the same yeast as my father's father, as what you offer me now was also my mother's gift to a stranger.”
The masculine energy in the poems comes home with die-hard truths. “Now hear me before you claim your booty” (My Son). The poem begins with the act of conception “Like a rhino gored in the groin, I charged into my woman nuzzling my head into her supple breasts, like a young calf-sucked blood from her navel till the oyster's a silver gullet opened out to receive the drop.” The son is born, and later, the father can only look on, when his son comes “With the assurance of a state warrant.” The poem “Crematorium in Adikmet, Hyderabad” almost razors you down “Here the earth replenishes itself — wipes out a name to welcome a fresh arrival… And now my father's head awaits my hand.”
Shiv reveals his sensual eye with “I wonder who awaits you at the track's end. Will he mate you steel upon flint, or just go down on his knees for a spurt of nectar from your navel? (A Young Female Jogger). Love, when it overflows, is all for “Sheila whose chequered skirt blows into life” and remains full blown in his poems. His poems are precious with lines like “hills upon hills, like snails mating”, “The coffin hunched clenches its teeth though beneath its lid the grasshopper is still poised for a curvet, I clasp the bedstead like a woman in labour pains,” and the classic“To have dominion over my woman during day, I must give in after dusk…”
“Death Of my Father” is truly touching. “After the rites, I now feel like a child playing marbles down a blind lane, with a ghost, whose hands weave in the air, patterns of a familiar sound.” Nostalgia turns to treasure “I see a little boy asking a glowworm to pilot his boat down the river of time” (Paper Boats).
Shiv's poetry remains distinct from that of his peers.There's the occasional trouble that his chopped prose stretches a bit too far. But even there, he is capable of great beauty as revealed in his poem “On Moving Into A Complex Of Apartments”.
The collection fascinates. Of Shiv K. Kumar it may be said in the manner that he speaks of love, that he forges his own poems, to defy time's scoffing.
Gopikrishnan Kottoor is an award winning poet. He edits Poetry Chain. Email : firstname.lastname@example.org. Blog: www.gopikottoor.blogspot.com