“I pop my eyes out at vegetables”: Three poems by Arihant Verma

Vegetable Market Pantomime


As you raise your head up
in the vegetable and fruit market
watch – mud filled aisles become hermetic
with hands protecting jute sacks
lest they collide with a leg
of a fellow purchaser
dissolved in the search of the perfect taste
through visual and touch inspections.

People bargaining margins of 10 rupees
becomes a pantomime, a story
written with feet pens on mud canvas.
Extra vegetable leaves cut aside,
the open backs of mini trucks in tandem
with the vegetable serving tables,
is a sight to smile at but also
a word softly stirred by the air
in sneezes of the winds and sunset.
I pop my eyes out at vegetables
I do not know the names of
and smile at myself,
infantilising my lack of savvy.

In one cramped lane,
sweat smells ooze
in another, signature fragrances,
like the air was mixed juice.


Today, the market had a weekday,
meek customers at the whims of
seemingly fixed and imbalanced prices.
₹ 30 per half kg but ₹ 50 per kg.
(people bargaining margins of 10 rupees)

A Sikh woman gaunt as a twig
with a kirpaan hanging fast,
dangling at her waist,
hopeful, that the plastic utensils,
the plastic strainers and the muddlers
will find their way to adoption.
The cheapest jewellery in town
laid on a rickety wooden table,
covered with a plastic sheet
that sticks like dirt on sweat
in the summer heat.

A touch of senility on her face,
as I look back to see her once more
she turns at the same time,
eyes exchanging a glance of uncertainty.
I move towards the rush of cars
And she, goes back to arranging
plastics of disbelief.


The Birthday Curse

Like the gift which gets clothed,
as soon as it gets denuded,
passed on unused in festivals,
‘Happy Birthday To You’ gets onto nerves.


Limbo Before A Kiss

A spider is crawling between the rows
of stacks of books queuing up to not fall,
spider the size of an open palm, footloose
on the makeshift tables for cupboards
you can’t afford to purchase.

It counts on its awareness of your lack,
to make its living, like the limbo
that settles before a kiss
pisses you off by its existence
yet you can never be sure.

But like silence that fills the nights
day after day and night after night
you can not be not sure either –
is it still lingering around,
or has it gone out of the room?

The limbo lies on the bed,
waiting to be nursed
by the sight of the spider
the size of an open palm

or by the constant haunt
of the anticipation
that it’ll walk your forehead
in the middle of the night.


Arihant Verma is an occasional poet and a short fiction writer. His writing has been published in Visual Verse, and elsewhere. He’s a TEDx speaker.

Read more poetry on Bengaluru Review:

“You must be proud of the scars”: Four poems by Cat Dixon

“I remember my brother’s sudden screams”: Three poems by Yvonne Morris

“Bones are not love-handles”: Four poems by Kuhu Joshi



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