Poems by Bogan Sankar

Pic courtesy: Flickr


Translated from Tamil by Nakul Vāc


Prophet for Twisted Times

I had put the wrong foot forward
I went back a square.
“Retreating not allowed for a pawn”
mocked the queen laughingly.


As long as
we were in a relationship where
Yes meant Yes and
No meant No
day followed night and
the clock’s face was round.
Everything’s awry now.
That feeling of
not having spoken at all
after having spoken much
and the euphoria of
having said something
without saying anything.
Moon or sun?
Always in this well
an undiscernable light
that even as it intensifies
one could with certainty
darkness call.


A Dream

Long shot;
An enormous fortress wall
scaled by a dot-like form.
It’s not a wall.
It’s a peanut candy bar.
The climbing figure an ant.
It’s not an ant climbing.
It’s me.


In love
the mind’s contours
the body
Hips smile
your chin resolute
ears playful
and the bosom a drop of tear.


Although some run
better than others
everyone comes to a halt
And that game
halted forever
lacks both
king and pawn.


These days
as much as you misunderstand me
that much I let you be,
not setting you right
makes this love, alright?


Beside the cat
its shadow
beside my love
this hatred for you.
After lying down
body over body
this emerging emptiness.
The musth spent elephant
lets out a deep sigh
wakes up its mahout
and chains itself
with the chains it had thrown off.


No miracles are wrought by poetry.
Simpler matters it prefers.
Though not sown by you
yet hesitantly flourishing in your garden
It’s that new plant.
Legs over wall
head aslant
watching you play ball
It’s that neighbour’s dog.
On a train, one hand holding a book
the other patting the daughter
asleep on her lap
It’s that mother reading.
Following the street-hawker
selling vadas
It’s that crow.
Poetry works no miracles.
It snaps its fingers to reveal
the huge miracle
that’s already transpiring.


Poetry is:
The Leaf of memory
rustling long after
the breeze passes.
The picture
sliding down the wall
before the earth shakes.
The drool
of the fish
quivering ashore.


Ensuring I don’t become a God
was the job
entrusted me on this earth.
I did a good job of it.
Finishing it
I went back to my Maker who
fondly ruffled my hair
like I my dog’s.
I was rewarded a blackhole
named after me.
I went in and
making sure no one could see me
I cried.


Note: The original Tamil version of the poems can be found at: https://tamizhini.in/2021/02/27/திரிபுகால-ஞானி/

About the Author


Bogan Sankar is a noted modern Tamil author, with numerous works of both fiction and poetry to his credit.



About the Translator


Nambikrishnan writes and translates in English under the pen name Nakul Vāc. His English translations have appeared in Sahitya Akademi’s Indian Literature journal, the on-line translation websites Madhuram, Modern Literature, and the on-line webzines Padhaakai and Tamizhini. He translates both fiction  and poetry and hopes  his translations will “convey in a language that is not one’s own a spirit that is one’s own.” Nambikrishnan’s first collection of Tamil Essays  Pandiaattam was published in 2020.