Excerpt: Poems from Jonahwhale by Ranjit Hoskote
HT presents two works from a new poetry collectionUpdated: Feb 02, 2018 22:32 IST
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.
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