And You Poem by Ashok Niyogi

The common thread is that they
were all rough drafted on audio tape while driving a
Suzuki in the upper Himalayas up to the Maling Glacier
on the Indo-Tibet road, in April 2005. They reflect
one recurring string of thought, as is common when
driving alone. They talk about Moscow, the mountains,
the foothills “¦



The mountains laugh
at my desultory attempts
at epitaph
when all I want
is to live forever
at least until I wash away
my sinful past
present and future
make confession
and am baptized
to bless the mountains
and all the gods and goddesses
who dwell in them.

The apple is in blossom
the flower will disappear
giving way
to arrogant young fruit
and alkaline
but with immense promise
of sweet juice
on a toothless chin.

Cherry flowers fall on me
with peaches they are ahead
of staple apples
more effervescent though
lesser shelf-life
cherry flowers are like the afternoon
that all too soon
goes away.

But the Hibiscus and
the Rhododendron will stay
through the summer
they are good for alcoholic hearts
and cirrhotic livers
they look like blood
but are not occult
they camouflage
the Cannabis plant.

you are 10000ft higher
what grows at 22000ft?
Don”t give me stories
about moss and lichen
I have crossed them at 13500.
You have nothing
to throw at me
except oxygen less dreams
and edema of the lung
so what
if you are the first
to catch the sun?


It all began
as I was driving past
on a narrow street
by the Nevsky canal
I saw your morning face
in this I wanted to live.
There was this smallest garment shop
above a basement full of drunks
baby booties on a rack
it was called

The lights turned green
the car changed gear
and jumped into fear
where was the tear
in the barracks
little boys shaved nonexistent beards
their mothers whored for English lessons

Babushkas not used to toilet paper
used Izvestia for ablution
what redemption
from endless queues to gastronoms
businessmen have Finnish shops
and Le Palace Europa
Our drivers will also carry guns
we will wear the Nike shoes

Wafer sandwiches in Waldorf
and beautiful girls selling bodies in bars
language is no barrier
the driver knows he likes bolshoi
krasivaya blondinka dyevushka
Tomorrow his ship will berth
and then the port and the bribes
so today he will have a drink

Every time twice a week
he stares at the victory gate
and thoughtfully lights a cigarette
alien chimes in alien climes
and then he drives to meet the Nachalnik
perigavarit dollarov
and after the discussion of dollars is over
he has a cup of English tea

And then the ship unloads
rice for children
who carry a flower on Teacher”s Day
who sledge in the snow
and “˜fight” their dogs in early May
and rice for pensioners
without pension”¦ “˜visa denied”
for workers without wages
“˜visa denied”
but give me dollars and that Cross pen

As I write this poem veterans march
be medaled belly full of vodka
fallen teeth not replaced
just as boys were during the victory war
and Schroeder gathers wife in tow
to watch them marching past
do you want to weep or laugh
don”t waste time it is the day
for whores and tricksters

I see the fire works from our bedroom window
I am enthralled Tovarisch
When I jump on your sofa
you think I am a kindergarten child
and hold me so
your fire works are like Swan Lake
remember how the seven girls became ducks
in St. Petersburg on a “˜brandy” weekend
I wish we had two walking sticks
to negotiate the level difference
between the foot walk and the road

And your valiant attempt
to initiate me into Chamber music
in a Cathedral opposite the Moskva
and then the ultimate overdose
of Tchaikovsky at the Kremlin
I became a gremlin
and actually snored
But I took revenge
in Bengali
I made you learn
“˜Aami tomake chai”
So it is as always it will be
“˜I want you”

At the end of it all
everything is etched in fate
in hate in loss in regret
you told me you had golden years
for my offspring I fell from grace
my wife had married a god
in her godliness forsaking all
we will believe what we believe
and fool that I am
yet I pray

Now you will have to live for me
replace as do shrubs in your pine forests
now you will have to see and swim
and eat the sturgeon of the Black Sea
They have transfused with B-negative
my blood is not my own
and with alien blood I write this alien poetry
I said it better in the car
even in the presence of the chauffeur
my steed will gallop up to you
you will jump up and ride into my heaven
my steed is young even now
on your sixtieth victory day

NOTES: – Nadyeshda ““ Hope
– Nevsky ““ all canals emerging from or
flowing into the Neva
are Nevsky.

– Gastronom ““ food shop, Vodka
also available
– bolshoi ““ big
– Krasivaya blondinka dyevushka ““
beautiful blond girl

– perigavarit dollarov ““
discussing dollars

– tovarisch ““ comrade

– Moskva ““ in this context, the
hotel in Moscow, not the river.

– Aami tomake chai ““ Bengali for
“˜I want you”




Never commanding.
Never coercing.
Never manipulating.

Still pool
with one lily,
of weeping willows.

Lazy delta
churned into salt sea.



Clipped wings
that cannot fly or sing.
Bone cracking,
breath stopping,
wall climbing.

Darned socks
and boxer shorts.

in untamed violence.



All is a call.
Across ether
words wither.

death will bring.
Until then
frogs croak,


A stray bull gored a stroller,
hunger, thirst, heat,
but bulls cannot retreat,
Hindus dictate so.
No slaughter houses,
madness is OK.
There was a man
called opportunity
who swore by connectivity,
brushed thoughts under carpets,
rolled sleeves,
and sweated in activity.
My pets cannot
think for thinkers,
cannot plan and implement.
No ‘self helpers’,
they pray to the good Lord
for their master’s sanity.
Judge me not with geometry,
Arithmetic is hours
in television days,
intimacy is people
who brush your shoulders
and pass you by.

Or the bull’s horns
in your entrails.


Deciduous tree
Empty branches
Crawling with black ants
Who eat into white bark

Death decides to die
And die again
The cinematography
Of past folly
Ad Infinitum Ad Nauseum
Rolls past mind”s flat screen

And then
The stars awaken
It will be good
As long as it lasts
Vultures are steadfast
In their motion before takeoff
Disdainful ungainly in their

They work
With cellular phones
Others gather
Torture torment tear hard
Pick at maggots
From beneath yellow skin
While the Black Raven shrieks

Just to see what will be
Fun and games and sundry names
All defecate to death
From dust to dust
With insatiable thirst


The mist is like a beggar”s clothes,
gaping holes.
Somehow hiding the valley”s shame,
moonbeams slant
like a digit less leper”s crutch,
bandaged with pus and blood.

Once there were Sisters of Charity here,
now monkeys beg.
And roadside stalls blare vulgar songs,
messages to tourist buses
that belch at delicate spring flowers,
divinity has been re-found.

Here I lay in a shallow stream,
two young decades ago,
twiddling my toes at tadpoles.
Vodka chilled
in mountain water tinkling by,
sunlight on the distant peaks,
brightness, that I wished would stay.

Now I am prosperous, I travel the world,
amidst corridors of creativity,
and yet,
I grope for mountain treks, in which sanity prevails,
gaps between “˜outages” and breakdowns.
By that mountain stream,
in rents in the mist, I still look for tadpoles.


Over this chasm there is a railroad track,
two rails with intervals of nuts and bolts,
there, where the valley ends
they will meet.

Over that one is a wire rope, chain and pulleys,
passengers sway in the mountain wind,
primitive gondola transport,
there, on the other slope
is the rhododendron track.

I drive by this abysmal abyss
and think of railroad tracks I have traversed,
junctions I have met and crossed;
if there is a god,
let him put me to pasture
beside a rarely traversed railroad track
with a snack.

I will light the signal lamp.
I will bring the barriers down,
I will ask the cars to stop
before I cook my evening meal,
of lentil.

And I will see the seasons turn,
I will fear the clouds that gather,
I will herd the milk less cow,
I will guard against the fox.

You will come and watch me work,
tend my garden for a tourist walk,
you will walk my walk with me
down your favorite Novy Arbat.

And when the sun has finally set,
you will tend to your railroad man.

NOTE: Novy Arbat ““ a Moscow shopping district


run that half marathon
halves matter
like a cellophaned
half watermelon
or half a life
in half snow
between foot walk and
squelched road
half baked gold
from Dubai
the diamonds of the Czar
half a war
in a half vodka glass
drunk by a half priest
who is half orthodox

we half kiss
in an elevator
that is half closed
we half grope
because the chauffeur
has half a rear view mirror
we half live
and make believe
that we each own
half a quilt
we half snore
cotton wool in our ear
we are half age
half retired
half in love
half planned half impetuous
half in ecstasy
half in fear


And so,
the journey goes on.
Quite a drive this,
between daffodils and cacti,
on the car stereo, that same song.

A little tired in the spinal chord
from the hunch I carry on my back,
you call it life, I call it wrong.
There are moments though,
when amputation can be postponed.

And yet,
it began so innocuously,
one more birth with digits intact,
organs healthy, responses true,
proper oxygenation to the brain,
normal stress and strain.

Then, a virus crept in and enveloped all,
the hills made their sinister call,
“˜do not take that next turn,
drive on straight,
in ashes in an urn,
we will show you colors
you have never seen, music you have never heard,
souls you have not encountered”.

“˜And what about damage to life and limb,
what about my precious hunch,
what prognosis for heaven or hell?”

Fortune hunters is what we are,
gazing at a lonely star,
let me fight this one more war;
the next turn in this mountain road,
I just want to see
what new vista does unfold.

Wait until then.


Sometimes on me
sometimes on mine
tears flow
and your cheeks glow
on our way to Shyeremetevo.

We stare at ice
piled up outside factory gates
and we know
we are snow
de-iced from aircraft wings

Did it happen
because winter was long
was it lack of sun
or was it fun
like wooden toys
and children”s slides
and summer breasts
hidden in winter minks
hot-dogs in Park Kulturi
falling leaves
on the University
lovers kissing
embankments below
hanging cloud
children loud
in afternoon cold

We were told
that this is love
as dialectically defined
and yet we know
that this is love
as in holding hands
in taxi stops
possession in a Renok
shoes from Reebok
the twists and turns
that life takes
from metropolitan Moscow
to an American outlet mall.

Why do we stall
this shooting in the head?
We have the money
to buy a bullet
as yet.
Still we hit these alphabets
search in emptiness
journey through countless bottles
of the cheapest Vodka
made from rotting molasses
and make believe
we go to sleep.

God forbid
we are almost shackle-free!

Ganichka is a word concocted by me”¦ Honey is
pronounced Gaaney in Russian,
and “˜ichka” is endearment.
a Renok is a traditional Russian market.
No more footnotes.


If we keep these trysts
destiny will rule
and then
what will you do
if you”ve just come
and you have to go?

You brought the spring
let the air smell
let everything sparkle
let me live
for a little while more
let me quaff off
one more glass of Samagyon
and then I will permit
the sun to rise
and listen to all
that is wise

don”t go just yet.

Samagyon is 80% v/v, no more footnotes.


You say this one more time
and I will weep,
like the pine trees do,
after an afternoon shower.

Tears have dried;
like blood
from an absently swatted mosquito,
and yet I sob.

This is how all sunsets are,
the afternoons
is what you should dread;
they go away.

As do years in myriad flowers,
farewell bouquets,
and promises made amidst a crowd,
“˜until then””¦.. when?

except for the introduction, I attempt to develop this
poem in expanding paragraphs, the first para starts
with 3 lines, the second with 4 and at 8, I got bored.

No metaphysics, this,
no poetic tradition even,
I have been hit on the head
with the Yale Shakespeare,
and will limit myself to memories,
but it is a story,
because it happened to you and you and you”¦.


In this underground pub,
on a “˜winy” afternoon,
you sang like a lark.


Toads crowd onto pebbles,
sound modulated waterfall,
dead lilies float in Narita,
in afternoon sun.


Nipponski More in Nakhodka,
your boat bobs up and down,
one moment you are there,
one moment you are gone,
catch your fish, my love.


The soil is red in Incheon,
people glide, as they do
in Monterrey Bay,
and strawberries and cream
on the way,
see how the artichokes grow.


My daughters lure me back with Crater Lake,
they will throw me into the Canyon,
or make me walk shards of salt
near Badwater, after elk steak,
they will make me trudge the snow
around “˜General Grant”
as if, I haven”t seen enough in Moscow.


I saw the stars, my sweetness,
let me show them to you,
they were there in that Moscow boat,
they were hidden in the disheveled pillow.
You ask Amy, she will know
what it is to walk in the snow.
On snow slides, children play,
we wait for the avtobus, you and my shadow.

NOTES: – winy ““ a word concocted by me to mean ,
full of wine.
– Narita ““ the airport for Tokyo, a small town with
wonderful walking streets and a Temple.
– Nipponski More in Nakhodka ““ Nipponski is Japan,
More is sea, Nakhodka is a sea port on this sea which
officially exports timber and through which you can
get in virtually anything as confirmed to me by the
Customs and Coast Guard Chiefs.
– Incheon ““ I may not have the spelling right, Korean
words do not lend themselves to English spelling, but
it is the airport town for Seoul.
– Amy ““ is our Cocker Spaniel in Moscow.
– Avtobus ““ these are buses that run on electricity
and tires.

“˜ Ashok Niyogi was born in 1955 and graduated with
Honors in Economics from Presidency College, Kolkata.
He has been in international trade and has traveled
the world over including a 10-year stint as an
expatriate in Yeltsin”s Russia, where he was Managing
Director of a Singapore based Commodity Trading
He has been and will be published in innumerable
magazines and anthologies (print and on-line) in the
USA, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and
Europe. He has not been published in Africa, or the
Caribbean and this rankles.
Ashok has two books of poetry published by A-4,
one 225 page paperback/E-Book of poems
—”˜TENTATIVELY” from iUniverse, USA, (with Amazon,
B&N, Borders etc. distributing ), out in March 2005.
He also has chapbooks published by Scars TV ““ USA.
He has recited and read his poetry in many forums and
his readings are available in India in CD form.
Ashok was schooled in Irish Christian Brothers”
schools and writes in Indian English, with whiffs of
Russian, inevitable Americanisms and the odd Hindi,
Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali turn of phrase. He claims to
have basic survival skills in these languages.
He is an avid reader and traveler and this finds its
way into his poetry.
He is unemployed since writing poetry is not a gainful
occupation, and lives off his savings, charity,
inheritances, gifts and his wife”s earnings (she is a
senior corporate manager in Delhi).
He divides time between the Bay Area in San Francisco,
where his daughters live, India, Russia, airplanes and
wherever his poetry takes him.”