Poems by Sivakumar Ambalapuzha



Translated from Malayalam by the Poet


Abu Salim the Actor

She introduced herself as Vismaya
While parting with a handshake
You called her Maya
In a short time you got close
She invited you for dinner
As always as it begins

You are sleeping now
They can stab a dagger
Into your chest
They won’t do that
But without waking you up
Will grab your wallet
From under the pillow
Pierce a hole in the coins pouch
And place it back

You wake up when the Moon shines
They know you stroll in the moonlight
Will calculate the time
Drug your juice
You are unaware

A girl black and pretty
In a gown top to toe white
And transparent too
Seeks your help queries
Which pathway leads to
The garden in front
Facing the moonlight she walks
You behind make it by heart
The curvy swaying of her body lavish
The rest of the walk
You don’t realize
There’s none in front

In the garden you meet Abu Salim
The actor in yellow suit
He picks up the hanky you drop
While you pay him tip
Coins pour from your wallet
Picking them all you don’t see
Abu Salim throws in more
Making sure you collected all
And the Copper coin your luck
You resume your walk
Down on the knees was you
They didn’t stab again

At the next curve
In a guards uniform blue
Abu Salim asks you ID card
You pull it from the wallet
Coins scatter again you pick all
The copper one too
You don’t see but
Abu Salim throws in more
Still they don’t pierce your chest
Squatting down was you

For the first time you see
Coral Jasmines bloom and shed
In the night itself
You shift the wallet
To the shirt pocket
Drop the coins again
Comes the gardener in attire grey
Abu Salim spreads more
Collecting the coins and your Copper
Relieved you move on
Bending on the ground was you
They didn’t stab you

Have only heard some time
The secretive birdcall
Of the elusive ever bird Nightjar
You see it cry and cry
Crouching on the moonlit ground

Without blinking you watch
At the horizon shown and gone
Like an arrow a shooting star
Evacuated fireflies flock and fly
From the roost trees of birds
To make you wonder
Trees seem to travel

Passing visuals make you cool
Fetching your spects, hanky or camera
You ignore the coins dropping again
You reach the spot where Maya waits
Put your hands on her shoulder
Realize she is moonlit shadow
Smell of danger spreading now
From those flowers intoxicating

You expect now as read more often
Appears Abu Salim himself
Thrusts a dagger into your ribs
That ironical denouement
But here you come to know
You were walking through the paths
Of poetry you have never been
And the poetic tact to make you walk
Those untried winding ways

You open your wallet now
To your relief everything safe
Coins dropped somewhere are past
Take out the Copper lucky to kiss
But you don’t see
Watching all sits here
Abu Salim the Poet


The Bulbul

In the greenery of the courtyard
Nested the Bulbul
Always in hide, but at times
A shine of the black beak
The crested headgear
Or a glowing red garland

A flash now and then
Of the crimson tail-vent
The bird of menstruation
Of the rustic legends
Said old granny
The sight of the bird brings
Cyclic periods to woman
Bathe bathe bathe
Babbles the bird

Before the tomcat wakes up
From the ashy hearth
Into the nest everyday
I steal a peak

Soft and tiny, dotted pink
Two cute eggs

Later with slit-open eyes
Open beaks sticking out
But with no wings

Today the nest is empty
Slaughtered by the cat
Or the wings bloomed

The women, announced the wonder news
With the auspicious festive chorus
The neighborhood twin girls
Attained puberty together

The crook tomcat
Should be exiled
In a gunny bag
Out of sight afar
Across the river


The Abandoned Well

Holiday in the Gulf
The intimate ones
With the night shift worn face
Of Uwaisi hospital nurse Clara
The queen of spades
In the attire of
Althaf Hotel boy Kassim
The king of clubs
With the face of my dad
Waiting for the postman
At the verandah of
The half finished house
The king of hearts
With the face of Abu
Staring at my young sister
When he comes to collect
The cut throat interest
Of the never ending debt
Hiding face down
For a full hand sweep
The trump diamond jack
Cornered in the hand
The waste twos and threes

The jobless gang home
The canal side cards play
Unaware to the opponent
With a scratch mark
Or a creased edge
Hinting the card in hand
The foul-trick playpal…
Breaking the trap
Jumping a fence
When the police ambush
Making me hide
In the abandoned ghost well
The saviour friend Ravunni

Keeping in mind friend
On the next home visit
A job visa for you

Here tonight when I am
Losing games one by one
Behind the opponent stands who
Invisible to prompt his cards
To make me win round by round
By honours and by fulls

On the phone at odd hours
Who is that from away home
What’s the news so urgent

In the abandoned ghost well…



The twilight pyre still burning
Across the sand-bed
Towards the slender stream
He led his mother
It punctured his sole

Should not hurt somebody else
Plucked out that bone scrap
Damp with his blood
And set afloat in the river

From the tulsi bush
Shed a bunch of leaves
Into the stream gleaming
With dripping sandal paste
From the dipping Sun

On the son’s wound
She dripped the soothing sap
An end to the long waiting
Rubbing the mother’s shoulder
Whispered the Calotropis
“Though you hid it so long…”

Sharp Spiny tips concealed
Beneath the scorching summer shoal
They rest in waiting
The destitute fatherhoods


About the Author

Sivakumar Ambalapuzha was born in 1958 and is a resident of Trivandrum, India. He writes primarily in Malayalam and three of his poetry collections have been published, Panikkoorkka, Pazhaneerandi, and Pavale En Pavale. He is also the recipient of various literary awards, including Ayyappa Panicker Award and Mahakavi P Foundation Award.