The Sunday Poem: Gaurav Rajen... India: An Invitation (1988)

The adventure that is Gaurav Rajen's life began in India where he was born. This look back to his native land tries to come to grips with what has to be one of the most complex countries on the face of the planet. Packed with emotions and vivid images, this poem both dances and broods.

A short second poem, Late Night Hells, follows.

I live in Albuquerque's NE heights. I am an engineer with a doctorate working on greenhouse gas reductions and other environmental projects, such as waste-to-energy, wastewater recycling and biofuels. I have published an e-book of poetry (not the vanity press), and several short stories in my youth in national Indian newspapers and magazines. I am currently working on my first novel.

India: An Invitation (1988)

A place of sorrows
Living, free -
Of blood-red skies
On a dirty sea.

A leprous beggar, bowl in hand -
My violent and embittered land!

Drink from the bowl, Love, it's for you -
A heady, yet, unwholesome brew.

You'll see millions moving, dream-like, slow,
Grotesque and unlikely bands,
Dumroos beating, conches blow -
Yes! Shiva is dancing on these lands.

The God of Death and Endless Dance
Makes the millions leap and prance
To the dholak's hypnotic beat
They clap their hands and stamp their feet

Yet the temple gongs, the bells that chime
Cannot drown the hideous laugh of Time
Three thousand years! the joke is cruel
The millions dance and dream of gruel.

* * *

Perhaps I should not talk of woe
But of summer nights, the fireflies' glow
Gardens, peacocks, the kiss of the rains
Temples of Love that brood on the plains

With the Earth in its orbit
The sun's outward race
The Love-sculptures drift on
Through stars and through space

"All things are on Fire," they sing as they burn
The world a bauble that glows in our fist
Karma a roulette wheel to turn
Throw in the bauble love
- Give the wheel a twist!

Late Night Hells

Oh tell me why
In late night hells
The heart must cry
And sadness wells

And softly as the rasp of a snake
Sloughing off its patterned skin
Litanies of regrets have to start
Tortures of loss begin

The tragedy of life is not
That we enact what the child forgot
But that -
It lies and cheats and speaks with guile
And that is why the beast can smile.

--Guarav Rajen

Poetry submissions are accepted at

Views: 98

Comment by Margaret Randall on October 25, 2009 at 7:43am
This is a great addition to the Sunday poems. Albuquerque has so many communities of people from other countries, all of whom help make our city what it is. The mix of cultures is so rich. I would love to see more poems by Albuquerqueans from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zeland, Europe... Reading images from other cultures pushes us to seek those images born in New Mexico, and to think about the ways in which certain words, pictures, sounds relate to the places where they are found. Thanks for these two poems.
Comment by jslp on October 25, 2009 at 10:26am
Very poetic. The words are beautiful. Awesome!
Comment by Ben Moffett on October 27, 2009 at 9:01am
As anyone who has read my comments knows, I am not an astute critic of poetry. I only know what I like, which is almost everything I read here. But this is special -- the cadence, message, clarity. "Late Night Hells" is as compelling as "Invitation," perhaps because of my late own late night thoughts. I'm guessing, no forecasting, that you will be a very well known poet, if you are not already, Guarav. Along with your work with greenhouse gases, you appear to be a major contributor to world betterment.
Comment by cc on November 19, 2009 at 12:27pm
Thank you Guarav for sharing this view into your country, India, from your first poem here. For a long time your country of birth has fascinated and attracted me, and it is again fascinating to hear it interpreted from one of its native sons. Your use of rhyme & rhythm is playful, enjoyable.


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