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The Bastards

by P. K. Vijayan


Sing, decrepit muse, your senile voice
cracking, sing -
Muffled in middle age,
Cautious, careered, care-worn, consumed,
corroded by the succulent seductions of satisfaction —
Sing, senile muse, yet sing —
For your songs, silenced, sunder you,
cut you into well-proportioned offerings
to your deities of dearth.


Friend, reader, bastard brother and sister,
we are contracted, you and I, in these words,
where we meet — anonymous, unknown siblings,
consanguinated by our contracts of bastardy,
bastardized by our contracts of blood money.
You and I, in the mirrors of these lines,
in the mirrors of all the lines we
draw, draft, denote, notate, notify, enact,
contract to ourselves our selves, our images
of legitimacy in our mirrors of each other.


But who is this third who walks between us?
Slouching, crawling, mewling, dying, her
shadowy mouth satiated with want,
her disinherited blood seeping over our lines,
into our lines, bleeding our lines into a blackness
bereft of anything but our bastardy —
mine, yours, hers, his, our common bastard ancestry
revealed slowly in the blackening of our mirrors?

She crouches beside me here, her vast form
shadowing my lines; her cavernous eyes,
destitute of light, reddened with rage,
watch me write her to you; her gaze
on me burns my eyes, my hand, my ink, my lines, till,
like a disembodied limb, it reaches into
this mirror between us, curls its burning fingers
into the insatiable hunger of your eyes, so
you will, I will, she will, he will, we all will
know that her darkness is our common blindness
as it bleeds over these lines.


On the margins of our words, in the dark
unvisited by our sentences of contract, hover
teeming multitudes of ghosts,
sentenced out of our sentences - they are
children of dearth,
neglect and deprivation
spelt out in the broken limbs
of their corpses; they are
women turned cunts, men turned stone,
a nation of bastard backs, legs, arms, heads, bent
to the service of a nation of
bastards contracting to keep them out.

Reader, sister, brother, bastard, she
who crouches beside me, she
who walks between us, she who
reaches through these lines to you, she
has breached the walls of our words, she,
mother of all the ghosts we smothered, now
pours through our lines, our lies, our lays, our lands
to possess our proprietary selves,
a necrophile on our necrophilia.


So sing, destitute muse, as you
soar into my voice, sing through my senility, sing
so that the lines I write turn red
with your rage, and through my blindness I see
in the mirror of these lines
the beast of bastardy.

* *

[Author’s note] The background to the poem is the enormous industrial and big-corporate program to grab lands belonging to tribal communities in the western regions of India. The regions in question have huge repositories of mineral wealth, amounting to trillions of dollars, and the stakes are very high.

This situation has led to various laws being enacted that essentially violate and deny the legitimate claims of these tribal communities to their lands, apart from sponsoring heavy state military action to drive these people away from these regions. Incidentally, James Cameron is supposed to have been inspired to some extent by this conflict for the film Avatar.

Copyright © 2014 by P. K. Vijayan

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