Poetry Here & Now: Martin Underwood, Shail Agrawal, Rod Dungate.

Witch
——-

The witch lived down our street
They all said she was, so it was true
–And I believed it more than anyone
(being the youngest).
Her house was dark, the curtains never pulled
And every time I passed it
I knew she was casting spells just then
Because a nasty feeling ran my back.
I knew she was watching.
She had a cat as well, which sat and looked.
It wasn’t like other cats, who wandered up
And rubbed around and purred and went away.
This one sat and looked.
It looked right through you, thinking–
And then it went indoors to tell her.
(It didn’t run, it turned and walked away,
Tail up, no looking back:
Down the alley, up the steps, to her door–
Which always opened just as it arrived
And closed again as soon as it was through.
Once they dared me to go and knock.
As I reached for the bell, the door opened.
I could see her white smile in the gloom.
” I’ve come to———–”
” Yes, I know, she said,” come in.”
I didn’t
I ran away.
What was she waiting for?
The voice of a child once again, perhaps,
Brightly, chattering in her kitchen?
An old lady with her cat.

Martin Underwood

On the ghat
———–
Half submerged bridge stood dead silent
Hidden behind its own shadows
Like a heron on the pond

Watching a burning pyre
That beam of light
A passport to a journey beyond

Heaving and frothing
Muddy waves danced in the night
With each and every sacred chant

Some bright yellow marigolds
Floating out of a leafy boat in that moon-lit night
Paid their last tribute.

They swirreled and swayed
With a broken earthy vessel
Beside a half exhumed pyre

Bent and broken crumbling on his knees
He tried to hold his head high
Picking up whatever was left of his father

Handful of burning memories
Exhausted and knotted
Now all in a red little cloth

Some Japanese tourists
Perched high on a rocking boat
Like the hermits descending from a hill top

All smug and bemused
Decked with their expensive gismos Shooting this black video

Suddenly that shaven lonely figure
Turns and begins to smile for the picture
His only big day in ‘focus ‘
Shail Agrawal

Unlocking
———-
A long day and late home: sharp wind and drizzle in the air,
Through my thin jacket a sharp pinch from a reluctant English spring:
A weary turning of the five lever mortice, a stooping for the bottom lock
And then the sudden shock of it
On the chill night air the most fragile scent
So natural i’d nearly passed it by:

A long time I stood, idiot like, at my front door
Not even trying to make sense of it;
An unruly clump of rocket planted the year before.
When I was eighteen, reaching home one summer night,
I was halted at the front of house
By the heady scent of honey suckle growing at the back
That night in my youth I sang out loud.

-Rod Dungate

Home
—–

Going home again,
I mean, to your country? ”
He asked and smiled

“ Home ”
standing at the doorsteps of my own house
I searched my soul .

“ My country, my home—–
Where I need a visa even to enter
My birth place, a far-away house Mine no more!
A far away town where
Hotels are perhaps the only places
Welcoming and comfortable!

This lush green England , this recluse of mine
Where I shut the door and leave world behind.
Yes, this is my home for last fifty years. ”

I heaved a sigh of relief and smiled
But before I could turn and reply
This friend of mine, a thorough gentleman
Comforted me in his most soothing voice

“Worry not my love.
Ignore all discrimination and abusive blabber
We British , after all, are a very tolerant nation
Always so nice to all foreigners.”

Shail Agrawal