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Poem by Dilip Chitre  

Tukaram in heaven , Chitre in hell

The needle is expertly
Jabbed into the vein ;
The innermost stranger
Wakes up again .
My mask has fallen ,
It grins at me ;
I go out forever
On a faceless spree .
In a milder light
And a colder sun ,
Absent minded ,
I reach for the gun .
A whole country
Is vanishing now ;
What's left of love
Is my own forehead .
The skull's architecture
And the fading formation
Of reticular frescoes
I bequeath to you .
I bequeath to you
My fossil and my dossier .
And I join the saints'
Immortal choir .
Tukaram in heaven ,
Chitre in hell ,
Sing the same song
Centuries apart .
Their bone derives
From the same stone
That stands erect at Pandharpur
In the shape of a God.
Both gentle and rude
And always
Unmoved . The river flows by
Like so many people ,
While this stance
By itself is
A spire
And a steeple .
History is dust
In this kind of summer .
The heat is
The lasting truth .
Man spreads
His own rumor
In the form of God
To seize a creation .
Not his own .
This kind of summer
Is the brain's
Own blaze .
It is Vitthala
Who creates
Sun and rain ;
Tukaram's joy
And Chitre's pain
Are two faces
Of the same coin
Counterfeit and divine .
The sovereign currency
Of generations
In the same plain .
Let us speak of God
Since man cannot be spoken of :
Let us infer from the image in stone
The mind , the hand , the chisel , the stroke .
For the Lord is infinite
Sleep from which we wake
And , in the grinning granite ,
We carve Him out of the night.
Into this muscles
We invest our souls ;
For his heart is of stone ,
His heartbeat our own .
Our voices are hoarse with God :
He is our scream , our cry , our moan ,
Tukaram in heaven , Chitre in hell ,
Turned to the same truth , centuries apart .
They dance in the same place
And celebrate
As the only art .
Our voice is a village
You have never visited ,
Where God lives
In silent huts .
You have not seen
His million faces ;
For God resides
In uncivilized places .
He is the hunger ,
And he is the food ;
He is the grain ,
The only good .
God is crushed ,
God is ground ,
So thoroughly milled
That He's never found .
He is all we have
From harvests to famines ;
It is Him we praise ,
And Him we curse .
He is our neighbour ,
He is our enemy ;
He is our ruler ,
And He is our destiny .
He is our slave ,
He is our landlord ;
But for our sword
He'd hardly be brave .
God is our village
Idiot and sage ;
He is our convict
And our judge .
Him we worship ,
Whom we whip ;
On bent knees ,
It's him we beat .
He is our sinner ,
He is our saint ;
We begin in Him ,
In Him we end .
Come back pock-marked poets ,
Join Tukaram and Chitre ,
For the song of heaven
Is one helluva chant .
Ask and you shall be refused ;
But do not leave
Your voice unused .
It's all you' ve got .
Remember , our best
Poems were always
As bald as facts ,
As bare as hills .
Because our spirit
Has aspects of stone ,
And because our stones
Are lasting mirrors .

Reproduced from
Copyright Dilip Chitre
Stranger Time - An Anthology of Indian Poetry in English .
Edited - Pritish Nandy . Publisher : Hind Pocket Books, Delhi . Year : 1977 .