Canto 91: Bleeding Streets

The most persistant sound which reverberates through man’s history is the beating of war drums

Arthur Koestler

Random Murder

I will walk these streets
without fear of whatever unforeseen
may lunge at me when I’m lost in thought
Miguel Barnet

A taxi stopp’d for Laxmi Narayan,
A businessman now several minutes late,
With hindsight ‘twould be better if he’d ran.
& put escaping death down to good fate;
Seconds to slow
Kasab’s black bag was seen,
That with a bull’s  bellow proceeds to smithereen!

Five taxis had quite random fann’d,
All thro’ the conurbation,
Each setting up a firebrand
To spread the devastation,
A Muslim Iman lost a hand
In a petrol station,
Proving how conflict in religion’s name
More ploy by power delegating blame.

She was a happy citizen
& now she has no legs,
Another sundown denizen
To join the gutter-dregs,
Like blind & tuneful eunuchs or the waddling leper-pegs.

Wadi Bunder
November 26th 2008


And will future generations
recite these stories by heart, hand
over chest?
Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

The call came in from deepest Pakistan,
“Brothers, you may commence your killing spree!”
But nothing in their multi-layer’d plan
Prepar’d them for such pangs of luxury;
Wild opulence
Blows peasant minds aback…
Gathering their senses they went on the attack.

Splitting their murder squad in two
One vaults the cantilever,
& every movement, in their view
Soon dying non-believer,
Into my own life-space they flew
Like the swine-flu fever,
Unwelcome & unwanted & unwell,
We sweated til a bullet broke the spell.

Shot ripping thro’ mine upper arm,
Dropp’d I, death-pretending,
No magi psalm, no pagan charm
Could prevent death’s pending…
So held my breath until I heard those murderers descending

The Golden Dragon
November 26th 2008


Through the view of the city
In flames, we rewound times
Of executions at beaches
Ben Okri

With policemen reeling like headless chickens
Ismail & Ajmal leave the groaning hall,
Such sad sight of sticky bodies sickens,
This was no movie-shooting, not at all;
A baby wail’d
Beside its dying kin,
As when the Ak-Ak fail’d to save wargrave Berlin.

By GPS these gunmen roam,
To perpetrate further crimes
Moving thro’ lamplit monochrome
As if marching under limes,
Loosing three potshots at the home
Of India’s own Times,
Then passing Hazad Madan Police Force hide
Gates lock’d & lights switch’d off, all terrified.

They choose a hospital instead
To carry on the cause,
The hurried spread of slurried dead
Across the city’s floors,
But found their prospects block’d by doctors locking all the doors.

November 26th 2008

Death of Heman Kukari

Anguish, anguish is my heritage
my throat’s wound
my heart’s cry in the world
Par Lagerkvist

Ajmal felt Ismail was a Hashemite
& Mumbai a modern Acaladama,
Sad trails of bumbledom bled thro’ the night
& now, as they exited the Cama,
A car appears,
Four policemen trapp’d within,
As turkey chassis nears its shot into a spin.

Mumbai’s first counter-terrorist
Flung unbreathing from his seat,
Two more top cops dragg’d by the wrist
For to bleed out in the street,
The fourth cop quickly got the gist
& barely breath’d a beat –
Awkward, wounded, pretending to be dead,
He hoped he could be useful as he bled.

As Ismail sped a getaway
Ajmal got out his gun,
A silver spray, a ricochet
Cuts down a Cath’lic nun
These might have been his ending-hours, but  god damn he’d have fun!

November 26th 2008

Modern Battles

For it’s order & trumpet & anger & drum,
And power & glory command you to come
The graves shall fly open & suck you all in
WH Auden

The terrorists secured room 632,
A perfect stronghold for the coming fray,
For India’s fury at them, they knew,
Would soon be flung as Cossacks heckl’d Ney;
Steroids, cocaine,
Syringes, LSD,
All weariness will wane aface the enemy.

They gather’d silken mattresses
& set the Taj aflame,
Giving the world such images
As to match Bin Laden’s fame,
The sixth floor burning glorious,
Alight in Allah’s name,
A vision strewn from London to Lahore
An instant twitter’d shore to distant shore.

I stagger’d in a bloody daze
Up to the rooftop high,
Watching the blazing fingers raise
Their angers to the sky,
& waiting for my rescuers sat down & wondered why?

November 26th 2008


I ask’d a dying sinner, ere the tide
Of life had left his veins, – “Time!” he replied;
“I’ve lost ot! ah, the treasure!” & he died
Joshua Marsden

Finding a bullet had a back tyre blown,
Ismail & Ajmal a fresh car  hijack,
Behind, a bleeding cop took drags out  his phone
A witness to their terrible attack,
“But that was then!”
He cried, “& this is now!
Warn all the men, yes warn them all, they’re headed for Gilgao!

His comrades built a strong blockade,
As Skoda toward it sped,
Spinning before the barricade,
Like a weaver works a thread,
As Ismail finger’d his grenade
A volley blasts him dead,
Ajmal stumbles out feigning surrender
Gun hidden for final, senseless murder.

Noble Ombli leapt on Ajmal,
& took shot-after-shot
& as he fell his comrades yell,
Ascrum the gunman got,
A vital living clue for to unravel this foul plot.

November 27th 2008


Well may the cavern depths of earth
Be shaken & her mountains nod;
Well may the sheeted dead come forth
JG Whittier

Far from a local policeman’s lethargy
Delhi’s commandos flown into the fray,
The bullish fervour of the NSG,
Design’d to keep Bin Laden’s dogs at bay;
Relief at last,
With the hardware grounded,
Before an hour has pass’d all flashpoints surrounded.

Mumbaikers bolted every door,
Their streets are mostly empty,
They’d never felt such fear before,
Tho’ fear they’d had & plenty,
Incredulity thro’ them tore
As down at CST
Bodies betow’d away by porter cars –
A city under siege & under stars!

Old tailor sat glued to his set,
Etch’d head held in wise hands,
Weary & wretched sensed the threat
From window-smashing bands,
A Muslim in the Hindu sphere, ‘Revenge!’ Mumbai demands.


Mumbai Musings

When this is all over I’ll make it up to you,
we’ll sit down and talk, as normal people do.
Evasiveness and half-truths will be a thing of the past
Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa

I stood upon the rooftop of the Taj,
All fire & brimstone in the floors below,
Strange place to find my soiree round the Raj,
A seat no other man would surely know;
Art lock’d in synch,
My subject & my song,
& I the living link, some lyrical King Kong.

As helicopters overhead
Went swoop-a-hoop like dragons,
I saw the discs & cable thread
Of pressmen in their wagons,
Wonder’d how many then were dead,
Lives fell’d by terror-guns,
In stiffen’d heaps of twisted sleeping piled,
It seem’d as if Laxsmi on me had smiled.

I watch the sunrise in the East,
Thank Surya for it,
Alive at least, the day’s deceas’d
Speaking to my poet,
“Remember us forever, sir, let your verses show it”

November 27th 2008

Sandra Samuel

I hang on the edge
of this universe
singing off-key
Nikki Giovanni

When morning broke the Rabbi clung to life,
His hope the hand that clings to clifftop ledge,
“As hostages,” he soothes his antsy wife,
“Why would they ever cast us ‘cross the edge!”
Just one phone call
Demolishes their dreams,
Shot parents stain wall while little Moska screams.

His nanny left the hiding place
As the gunfire moved elsewhere,
& charging up the back staircase
Took the baby in her care,
Stared awhile atdaddy’s face
That blankly back did stare
Then rush’d outside quite antilochus-fast –
Thro’ courage & quick-thinking dangers pass’d.

The operation’s master-throne
Watches events unfold,
Then telephones, the gunmen groan,
At slackness he did scald,
To hear, “You’re very close to Heaven, brothers please be bold.”

Naruman House
November 27th 2008

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