Excerpt: Poems from Jonahwhale by Ranjit Hoskote | books$excerpts | Hindustan Times
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Excerpt: Poems from Jonahwhale by Ranjit Hoskote

HT presents two works from a new poetry collection

books Updated: Feb 02, 2018 22:32 IST
Ranjit Hoskote
Eight Rules for Travellers to Thebes is based on Oedipus Rex. This picture features Laurence Olivier as Oedipus and Sybil Thorndike as Jocasta in a 1945 production of the play.
Eight Rules for Travellers to Thebes is based on Oedipus Rex. This picture features Laurence Olivier as Oedipus and Sybil Thorndike as Jocasta in a 1945 production of the play. (Corbis via Getty Images)

Eight Rules for Travellers to Thebes

Beware of babies left on hillsides with their feet pierced.

Don’t fight with old men where three roads cross.

Don’t marry a queen twice your age.

Don’t ask oracles what they mean.

Leave fallen brooches alone.

Keep a list of sanctuaries handy.

Try not to answer riddles too quickly.

The sphinx keeps the hardest questions for the end.

Read more: Review: Full Disclosure: New and Collected Poems (1981-2017) by Manohar Shetty

The Atlas of Lost Beliefs

Without waking up, turn to page thirty-seven

in the Atlas of Lost Beliefs

and surround yourself

With apsaras, kinnaras, gandharvas, maenads,

satyrs, sorcerers, bonobos, organ grinders,

Stargazers, gunsmiths, long-distance runners,

gravediggers, calligraphers, solitary reapers,

beenkars, troubadours, rababias, ronin,

nagas, pearl divers, Vandals, Goths,

Mummers, snipers, collectors of moths,

hobos, dharma bums, bauls, drifters,

djinns, mahjubs, marabouts, qalandars,

griots, mad hatters, speakers in tongues,

Trippers, star angels, batmen, punks,

eggheads, buffoons, lay preachers, agitators,

Friends of the court, friars, minorite, agents provocateurs,

bird-spangled shamans, fainting oracles, screeching owls,

wise men of Gotham, and women who run with wolves

all blessed by the blue hand of a reckless dancer

who spares a thought or two for the world but no more

as she poses, heels in the air, Cossack-kicking on a crumbling

reef.

Ranjit Hoskote (Nancy Adajania)