A dead cell phone

Her late grandfather came with a hobbling gait

in her dream last night. They were in a tented camp 

on the river bank, nearby their abandoned farmhouse.

He poured a large peg of Khukri Rum, drank it

with a sly smile and sat down beside her

 on a wobbly camp cot, lit a  cigarette, 

nostalgic smoke curled into the night. 

He took a sip again and through a ragged crack 

glimpsed outside and listened for hours and hours, 

the melody of his olden times. Its lyrics now hidden, buried, 

awaiting discovery as a child with several siblings, 

all forgotten, overlooked, lost.

The sky roared and the wind blew hard.

“I think I have to go now,” he whispered in her ear.

“So where do you go from here, grand pa,” she asked.

“I will continue to travel 

but now it is all about reverse travel.

I will move to a place where I’d been before

and stay maybe a week, a month , a year, 

and completely alter the way I see the future.

I see my father. I see my mother.

I see your grandmother.  I see you,”

he answered her with a somber smile

and requested her to stay connected with her past.

She nodded her head and said I will grandpa.

Next morning, she woke up late 

to a dead cell phone

beside her bed in a wooden rack.

No charger in sight. 

The Marching Millions

Every moment
the pandemic slashes us
into pieces,
pauses our heart
as the scruffiness
of industrial graveyards
against which trodden grass
and plants strive to survive.

However, we manage to
sew ourselves somehow and wonder,
when and how we would reclaim a normal life.

Anger mounts, patience wears thin.
Moths lit up our sky, our stars are very dim.
We are in the shadows; the virus is making
mockery of our misery, pandemic stinks.

We are the marching millions.
Our journey never ends.
The more we march towards hope
the more our hope moves
further away from us.

Eyes closed and hands together in prayer
we bow our heads to the ground.
Our prayers may not be audible enough
to carry messages of a people’s faith
to the gods themselves.

We have become
as insignificant as motifs
on a mud wall.
The rhetoric of normality
goes far beyond us.

How a poem begins?

Whenever I sit down to write,

they always run into each other

and fight like stray dogs 

in the weary backstreets

of the bustling metropolis.

My heart and my mind.

I smoke one cigarette

after another,

puffing furiously along

until a sequence of photographs

of my ancestors in motion

passes before my eyes

or until the sun smiles

on the fecund grassland

of my emotions

and thoughts

stomp around

in huge herds.

Then I start to write

inhaling muffled smell

of an empty page.

My words crumble,

they encircle me

then tear me apart

and disappear

blinking in the dark.

A ray of light

spins in the darkness.

A poem slowly grows

with it and without.

A beautiful

imperfectly perfect

creation.

Its lips open up.

I drink expresso

from a cup

of  its mouth.

A holy bridge.

Reading a poem to my father

One evening
to ward off the inertia
stemming out of
current pandemic
I read aloud to my father,
one of my favorite poems
from Yuyutsu Sharma’s
The Lake Fewa and a Horse.

A high blood pressure
and a chronic diabetics patient,
though he can
read only the headlines
of a newspaper,
his glare can be as rigid
as a row of commas
on a page of my poems;
he can hush us all
by just clearing his throat.

There is nothing lyrical about him.
His emotions are packed full
as the groceries on the supermarket shelves.
Often it’s not easy to recite poems
in front of him and my reading
that lonely evening was scratchy
as I was shaking from it.

Sensing my anxiety,
he grabbed the book
from my hands
and lifting it to his eyes
to discover Yuyu’s affair
with the Himalayas.
After industriously reading a few poems,
I noticed a flame of joy liven up
his dark silvery eyes.

He nodded his head and smiled,
“Oh yes, this I remember,
and this too, how we washed
our clothes in the river,
and cooked on an open fire.
We had straw mats instead
of dining tables and for brunch
we often had beaten rice flakes and curd,
and families gathered before the fire
united before the sunlight left us
for a long cold night.”

As the day’s last thumping kiss
painted the sky,
my father perched on the side
of the antique sofa,
smiled. ‘I feel as if Yuyu’s poems
has unfastened my past.
His verses have struck
in me a trumpet of triumph,
a yearning to return and
sweet smell the soil from which I’ve sprung .

Son, I can feel it.
His poems has triggered
the sensations of hope in my aging heart.
They’ve fed me with a gusto
to smile evermore.

I wish I could read
this book on and on
but my eyes won’t permit.
I have one request:
Would you call Yuyu
and ask him to come out with
a recording of his poems for his readers like me.

I was ecstatic–
a happy, hopeful father!
Can there be anything more lyrical
than a father’s smile streaming all over our horizons?

The line was drawn that day,
a turning point ensuing
my father’s newfound health.

For making my father smile
and sprouting in our
Kathmandu courtyard
the hidden seeds of his long
forgotten hillside paths.
I salute you poet, I salute you!

Thoughts

On a moonless,
cadaverous night,

she turned them off
all the lights of her room,

and stood leaning
against her window, gazing out.

Patches of deciduous rays
were visible,

and a star worm crawled
among the fallen leaves.

Perplexed, she turned the lights on
but immediately switched them off again

to watch the winds
rip across the seared Kathmandu cleavages.

Instead she saw
the trauma of empty stomachs

besieged by
a paroxysm of the Covid’s curse

as the meagre dark hills erode
on an open ocean of the hope.

“Ah! What we call darkness,
isn’t it the same thing as light

in a different set of wave lengths?”
she murmured and sighed.

Covid impasse

A clear sky, light wind,

antique curiosities, modern eyes. 

A simple house with a little garden 

and chairs to sit in and sip coffee

 and look at the people

on the streets

as a cuckoo bird all the time.

I need nothing more.

I can’t wait to break

the wall of solitude.

I don’t want to be 

 a paper flower.

I want to go out,
blossom and coordinate myself
with the world.

Nepalese poet Bhuwan Thapaliya works as an economist and is the author of four poetry collections. His poems have been widely published in international magazines and journals such as Kritya, Foundling Review, FOLLY, WordCity Monthly, Poetry and Covid: A Project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, University of Plymouth, and Nottingham Trent University, Trouvaille Review, Journal of Expressive Writing, Pendemics Literary Journal, Pandemic Magazine, The Poet, Valient Scribe, Strong Verse, Ponder Savant, International Times, Taj Mahal Review, Poetry Life and Times, VOICES (Education Project), Longfellow Literary Project, Poets Against the War, among many others.
 

You can follow Bhuwan on Twitter and Facebook! You can also view the Himalayan Verses Facebook here.  

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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