Friday, February 29, 2008

India Jaipur: The Sleepers (a poem)

India Jaipur: The Sleepers
(April, 1998)

It was a still night, in Jaipur. No clocks ticking,
it is close to two in the morning. The sound of crickets,
dogs guarding, sleepers snoring, sleeping on cots
by the streets outside the hotel: half naked
light blankets over their lower bodies and heads;
dogs nearby, itching, lightly barking, no one wakes,
a hundred people under the boiling moon,
they have no sense of time, just bull snorts,
and dogs barking, of course. I’m the only one
babbling to myself in this empty night, watching
tranquil sleepers—breath in and breath out.

—I walk by them, three dogs corner me,
they look hungry, stained somehow,
with bitter mouths, saliva dribbling, their eyes
starving to attack, yet they hold back.
I’m sweating, my teeth grinding, and my belly’s tight;
the old Hindu by the hotel, the guard, he hears
the excitement in the dark, he’s coming, running
I have rocks in my hands, and so does he.
Crash! Crash! I throw, and he throws, its
sufficient to scare the dogs off. ((I have pain in my
kidney.) We, we finish up, at a Hindu shrine,
I’m thanking God, for his immortality
(had it not been, that he was on hand,
I’m not sure what then.)(I’m thankful for
The old Hindu Guard…! That he was alarmed.))

I’m not sure what the old Hindu man was saying,
but was doing what was doing, bowing, praying
and praising…!

#2287 ((1:59 AM)(2-27-2008)) Mark Twain once said in so many words: India was a most beautiful place, it is like a circus. I agree it is most beautiful, during the day, try the late hours of night 2:30 AM (or is it the wee hours of the morning), in any case, it is a different world then. In Agra, in the late night, cows and folks sleep on the streets, as they do in Jaipur, as in Delhi, women and children eat out of garbage piles by the hotels. Thus, things are not so beautiful, unless you hide inside the hotel, or go with the flow, on the tourist bus.

Under the boiling moon, are memories of India in general, a trip the author took in 1998, and would leave the hotels in the middle of the night to walk among the city, hire a bodyguard, that was more scared then he, and walked the streets at 2:30 AM. Talk to the people, drink some black tea, get sick, and go on and do it the next day again.

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