In Delhi, milk is sold like gasoline.
Milk's morning addicts dock small self-owned
tanks to pale blue stations, where machines
fill them with foaming jets of double-toned.
Maids, slow pajama'd men, queue up for more,
as air-kissed amateurs loaf round the line,
appalled by their uncool and vernac chore,
their there-but-not-there air declares in mime
to passing anglophones, the maid's day off.
The next day, in a nursing home, an old,
anaemic dowager lies just transfused
with priceless blood that can't be bought or sold
but must be bartered, newish blood for used.
Son, nephew, son-in-law, bare willing skin
like donor cows, but she needs more than three:
the truant maid, redesignated kin,
is milked for mother's sake then given tea,
and while it's drunk she's almost family.
Look and Feel
Why do poems have short lines
And inches of white around them?
Shouldn't they track print across
A page's width like stories do,
Try not to seem spin-dried and shrunk
After their vellum is sized?
And those ragged edges...
Would you read a story with a fringe?
Poems look knowing. They sit there,
Each one moated on its page,
Collected, a bunch of runt skylines
Stood on their sides, hinting
In their arch meagreness, that
they have designs on you. Novels
Are maps you scramble through:
Poems are stalkers, their readers, prey.
If modern poems were formatted in rectangular shapes,
Long breathing lines justified into neutral blocks of print,
People might read them. Square poems can be taken unawares,
Happened upon; they won’t come-hither you, nor put you off
Like their shapely cousins do, by loitering with intent. The sly
Show-offery of verse shall be tempered by its four-square form;
You might even find the room to be unhurriedly seduced
By the rare verbs, inverted feet and just-minted metaphors
That are part, of the enamelled inlay of this (minor) art.