Poetry And Protest: 'A Cow-like Cow-eater' And 4 Other Poems That Hit The Mark

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Poetry And Protest: 'A Cow-like Cow-eater' And 4 Other Poems That Hit The Mark

5 Brilliant Kannada poems translated to English by Kamalakar Bhat.

Translated by Kamalakar Bhat.

I am a Jihadi to Conquer Myself, but also You

BM Basheer

On the way to namaaz, they call me
frantically waving their hands.
Not daring to face God,
I hide my head in shame.

The hurt in the eyes of a starving child
racks my soul. Oh! I just finished my meal…
I hang my head in shame in front of her.

The morsel I have eaten in disregard of her hunger
has polluted the whole of my body.
Is there water enough in the mosque’s pool
to cleanse this defilement?

I have to belt along breaking down the verbal idols
that demand partitioning
in front of the One and Only God.
Am I up to it?

Truth is all ablaze before me.
I will feed it, oh God, with the words of
the prayers meant for you and smelt them.
With the leaping flames will I make
ploughs to till my desert-like heart,
hammers to crack the rock inside me
and craft a route for the water to spring
… If necessary, a sword will I make
and become too its very first target.

Yes, you are right…
I am a jihadi,
aiming to conquer
myself first and then you.


A Cow-like Cow-eater

NK Hanumantayya

Yes; like electricity
I evade
your frosty touch.

Yes; like the ocean’s bed
I evade
the touch of your smouldering sight.

Yes; I am the breast-blossomed earth,
a procreator enfolded in life-loving flesh;
spawned within me are
woods and valleys,
hills and rivers.

Yes, I won’t cringe at
self-fuckers like you
who pleasure in isolation;
I would rather fear the monkey
bounding from tree to tree
guarding the baby sticking to her sides.

Yes; I won’t flinch at
the glittering eyes of
those who only cook wealth and weapons;
I would rather fear the dog
that, eating your shit, guards your homes...
dead eyes have no dreams.

Yes; I eat cow,
eating cow, I become cow-like
and romp across hills, vales and plains,
I will stand firmly on the ground
and slash at the rainbows,
poke the clouds to pour down
on graveyards.

Yes; I eat cow,
eating cow, I become cow-like
and roam around with bounteous udders
suckling babies dumped in dustbins.

Yes; I eat cow and have become one,
I will not become a man like you,
eating the fodder you give,
I will not become,
like you,
a man-eater.


Butterfly and the Teacher

Shrikrishna Alanahalli

Near the pond in my village,
or on the fence next to the well,
just in front of my home too,
such colourful butterflies!

A white one with red wings
a gray one with black wings…
golden bordered — blue, yellow
deep red, coal black, light green…

I would go catching them:
each time the colours overflow;
the colours turn into butterflies
and bloom in my eyes.

From here to there, there to here
bending, swaying, flying,
my mind following each flight
with colourful butterflies in my head,
and butterfly-like feelings
I would catch them daily,
then let them fly off
or smear the hands with gold dust
or keep a golden wing hidden among pages;
I would feel happy,
would be filled with pleasure.


Suddenly, one day,
the new bald-pated teacher says in the class
‘Caterpillar turns into the colourful butterfly'.
It was like hot lead poured in my ears.
I sat shell-shocked.

Caterpillar! chee chee! thorny all over
black like bear’s wool,
burning itch all over the body if you touch it.
If you squash it in disgust,
just puss.

Can such a disgusting insect
become my beautiful butterfly?
or is it a tall tale of the
bald-pated teacher?

The way in which the daily lessons
made true the earth going around the sun,
what if this also turns into truth?

No, I will have none of these
bald-pated teacher's lessons,
no need to learn
this lesson on how my beautiful butterfly
was only a caterpillar.


Daily Foeticide

K Sharifa

As the potted plant is snatched and flung to the sewer
Breath dies away in the layers of soil
Withered face of the discarded sapling
Now only a band at ancient eddies of the ponds
Salt-lines appear beneath the blanched eyes
As the sniffles stop
How did you endure the torture, oh, Child!

Eyes shut at the frightening demonic dance
Of the orphans being flung among us
To hide behind the pall of respectability
With smouldering embers on the lap
How did you endure the blazing fire, oh tender tendril!

Snipping off the foetus has become a daily act!!


My Daughter

Dr HS Anupama

Don’t be scared, my daughter
Not all men are rapists
Remember, you too are moulded by your father’s love

Don’t be perturbed, my daughter
No season remains unchanged, rocks too melt
Remember, no torrents flow ceaselessly

Don’t be amiss, my daughter
Body alone is not subjected to rape
With words and stares too they unclothe

Love this little life, my daughter
Cracks in the rocks too may reveal life’s spirit
Doesn’t pricked thorny cactus too ooze sticky sap?

Tread warily, my daughter
Watch what’s beneath your feet on this snaky path
Even as your eyes are filled with star dust;
True, your young body is a thrill
Yet, may not the subtle filament be tangled

Preserve your tears for the pain of all victims

Have pity even beyond the borders of just and unjust


Dr. Kamalakar Bhat is presently an Associate Professor at the Postgraduate Department of English of Ahmednagar College, Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, India. He is a bilingual writer and a translator between Kannada, English, Hindi and Marathi. His publications include three collections of poems in Kannada, and a reader in Kannada on the iconic Marathi poet Namdev Dhasal. He has translated to English the poetry of several contemporary Kannada poets. He has edited the Kannada section of the online multilingual literary magazine indiaree.com . He is presently translating to English poems of 100 contemporary Kannada poets for an anthology. His academic work is in the field of literary theory, Indian literatures, and comparative literature. A collection of H S Shivprakash's essays and lectures that he edited titled "The Word in the World" has been published by Manipal Universal Press.

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