My Message
Cecil Rajendra

And now you ask
what is my message
I say with Nabokov
I am a poet
not a postman
I have no message.

but I want the cadences
of my verse to crack
the carapace of indifference
prise open torpid eyelids
thick-coated with silver.

I want syllables
that will dance, pirouette
in the fantasies of nymphets
I want vowels that float
into the dreams of old men.

I want my consonants
to project kaleidoscopic visions
on the screens of the blind
& on the eardrums of the deaf
I want pentameters that sing
like ten thousand mandolins.

I want such rhythms
as will shake pine
angsana, oak & meranti,
out of their pacific
slumber, uproot them-
selves, hurdle over
buzz-saw & bull-dozer
and rush to crush
with long heavy toes
merchants of defoliants.

I want every punctuation —
full-stop, comma & semi-colon
to turn into a grain of barley,
millet, maize, wheat or rice
in the mouths of our hungry;
I want each & every metaphor
to metamorphose into a rooftop
over the heads of our homeless.

I want the assonances
of my songs to put smiles
on the faces of the sick,
the destitute & the lonely,
pump adrenaline into the veins
of every farmer & worker
the battle-scarred & the weary.

and yes, yes, I want my poems
to leap out from the page
rip off the covers of my books
and march forthrightly to
that sea of somnolent humanity
lay bare the verbs, vowels
syllables, consonants . . . & say
“these are my sores, my wounds:
this is my distended belly:
here I went ragged and hungry:
in that place I bled, was tortured;
and on this electric cross I died.
Brothers, sisters, HERE I AM.”