Locust Five - October 1999

Locust Five
ISSN 1529-0832  Vol 1 No 5 - October 1999

FOREWORD


"We only accept first-class literature!" Have you ever met editors who candidly trumpet forth similar nonsense? Just a couple of questions to those gentlemen. Is first-class literature an absolute concept? Wouldn't life be easier if literature was a basket of red apples? Don't you think it's much more logical to say "We only eat red apples" than "We only digest top-notch poetry and prose"? The only reasonable thing Locust editor can say is: "If you've got fire in your veins, please send your creations to Locust Magazine! Are they the very best in the world? on the Web? on Mars?... Who cares?" Locust will always support unknown poets and writers whose work is powerful and independent.

October 1999

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From
LUNCHEON DUETS OR SOLIPSISTIC SOLILOQUIES
~ A Poem Sequence by George Samson ~

*

(RISTORANTE)


Every time I speak,
Profound, or shallow, commonplace, or learned
This girl having lunch with in an imitation Italian ristorante
Replies
With discourse
That completely misinterpreted my intentions.
I cannot seem to communicate.
I ceased linear language for a while, tried images, metaphors-threw in
Some surrealism,
But she still replied as if she had not heard a word I said.
Now, she's not a stupid, but a very intelligent girl.
She is the leading student at the university in Deconstructionism.
She has lovely dark hair, and magnificent breasts.
I wish she could understand what I was saying.


[Further pieces from George Samson's Luncheon Duets or Solipsistic Soliloquies will appear in Locust #6]

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TWO POEMS by Townee

*

TARNISHED SILVER SLIVERS


on this
moslem
mountain


i see
these small
crescents in eye


but, only one
moon has sent herself
across his driest oceans


at speeds cut through
the largest melting
stars


to bring methane,
a smell of ammonia;
just trace elements.


an asterite; or meteoid;
the fallen hammer,
forged without metal.

*

BLUE DIAMONDS


the circle
pyramid
cube
and, rod...


is
our time
frame
square?


so that,
finally,
it will
be cylindrical...


an unending line (flows);
the multi-angles of light and shadow (is external);
going in bent directions (to find control);
our purposeful spiral (is the linking of tunnels)


we're pythagoreans still into our breakfast cereal.

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An Extract from
SILENUS
Part 2 - Scherzo -
~ A Pseudo-Mythological Poem by Patrick Gasperini ~


Where the Tiber expands its shadow over vineyards and extinct volcanoes,
Especially in the long dog-days oppression,
Legendary anecdotes have the uncommon luck to be printed on bottle labels.


The earth was still flat and the skies round and turquoise,
When Sir Abraham Drakonwelt MP,
Constituency of Virgin Swamps-Northwest,
Decided to set off on a trip to the southern isles in search of the epicentre of his rheumatic problems.


He had promised himself a biblical reincarnation,
This is why a foreign hospital was but a short cut to the seventh heaven.


My backside needs soft armchairs,
My liver an immunizing elixir:
I'll die only when I meet the god who invented wine!


How bizarre life is!
That god was of quite a different kind,
Not a hairy Falstaff,
But a green-haired Circe:
Crossbow-lips,
King-size bra,
Deadly eyes.


Can an empire be demolished by a kiss and a glass of wine?
O Señorita Francisca, having visited your palace amidst an olive-field at the chirping hour,
What should I answer?


Nothing to complain about, Señorita:
The pheasant you serve is Solomon's voice,
Your breasts need neither pepper nor any other infernal spice.


Hurray for your hors d'oeuvres,
For the hypnotizing serenade of your barrel-cocks,
When the soul imitates the angels' somersaults.


But what happened to Sir Abraham
After he drank God's miracle, two florins a demijohn?


To tell the truth, I have never been very good at weaving epilogues,
On summer evenings I preferred to set traps for merino-rats in Helicon Street
And play pranks on pushers and pimps,
Dreaming of my nymphs'underwear.


Somewhere in those flowery sheets,
Drunk as a squid,
Our MP dissolved like magnesia,
Floating in the tremolo
Of a reed rustling
In the August
Breeze.


What moral can be drawn from this tale I really do not know,
Though I do have a mellifluous suggestion,
But please, don't ask me if happiness is a pearl of 30 carats
Or a teaspoonful of
Arsenic.


[Other excerpts from Silenus appeared in Locust #2]

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VAN GOGH SAYS
~ A Poem by J. Kevin Wolfe ~


Van Gogh says to God, I do not like
your gawky use of trees in your landscapes so
I made my own.


You make the starry night breathe
but do not show the dynamics except
for in creeping shadows of leaves.


You pottered a flawless conch shell
a billion years ago but


what were you doing during post impressionism?


[Van Gogh Says first appeared online in Gravity.]

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THE DANCE OF THE CENTURY
~ A Story by Anirban Basu ~


"When did the pain first...?" asked Dr. Choudhury frowning at his patient.


"Nearly two months back," replied Molly. "I did not bother about it at first, but of late it has become quite a pain. In fact", she added with a sigh, "it's becoming difficult to walk properly."


"Did you have an accident or...?" asked the doctor.


"No", replied Molly vehemently, "I have always been fit as a fiddle. You know me. Regular exercises, balanced diet, no problems at all."


Dr. Choudhury kept quiet. He always found it difficult to speak a complete sentence. Even when his diagnosis was correct or otherwise or in any other situation regardless of his profession, he seemed to be at a perpetual loss in framing the words. His patient, Molly Chatterjee apart from the being the daughter of his friend, Arindam Chatterjee, was an upcoming Bharatnatyam dancer. She had carved a name for herself in the fiercely competitive world of dance, and at the young age of twenty-two she was quite a phenomenon. Dr. Choudhury remembered attending a performance of hers where he was struck by her grace and poise. Dance seemed to flow from within her soul and her face glowed with an inner radiance when she performed. Things looked bright for her and a career in dancing seemed the right choice, when suddenly this pain in her right leg appeared as an ugly barrier. Dr. Choudhury twirled his moustache. He invariably did so when he had a faint idea of the ailment yet he did not know how to put it. Besides, he was worried about Molly too. Molly was aware of this habit of his and immediately asked in a low voice,


"What do you think it is?"


"Well...players have complained, but..." Dr. Choudhury's voice trailed off.


"Oh, come on Manish kaka, please do not hesitate," she said. "I just want to know what you suspect. Never mind me."


Dr. Choudhury gave a thought. Molly was a spirited girl. She used to have her own way even as a child. He looked at her. She was looking at him with expectant eyes.


"Tendonitis," said he slowly, "Something to do with the tendons you know."


There was no change in Molly's eyes. Obviously she wanted to hear some more. What could it be?


"Er...I would not suggest any medicine," said he slowly.


The expression in the eyes changed. They had dilated further and they spoke of incredulous surprise.


"What!" cried Molly, "No medicines? Not in the 21st century?"


"Oh yes! We have progressed in the last five years. But..."


"Yes?"


"Exercises."


"Exercises for a cure?" exclaimed Molly. "Whoever heard of such a thing in the 21st century?"


"Exercises," repeated Dr. Choudhury. "Medicines are good but exercises are better. They are the only answer."


Dr. Choudhury took nearly a minute to complete the sentence, possibly because Molly had not said a word. At last she spoke the thought which had been piercing her.


"What about my dance?" she asked almost in a whisper. Dr. Choudhury did manage to speak at last.


"Why don't you take some rest...?" he put his suggestion mildly. He watched Molly's eyes. They had been open, wide open with surprise and incredulity and now as he watched, he noticed a look of scorn. Molly's lips did not move, but her eyes betrayed her feelings. He knew she would fight it to the last and not give up dancing. Very soon, as he had expected, there came a hard and determined look, and a cold thank you greeted him as Molly left his chamber.


A couple of weeks later, Dr. Choudhury rang up his friend Arindam. Although a social call on the surface, Dr. Choudhury was keen to know about Molly.


"No good," replied Arindam dryly when Dr. Choudhury enquired about her. "We had taken her to a specialist, Dr. Hazra, who suggested steroid injection. I promptly whisked her off."


"Exercises? I had..." asked Dr. Choudhury.


"Yeah I know. In fact that is what has kept her going, otherwise she would have been limping by now. But she has been very upset, very depressed," continued Arindam clearing his throat, "after she missed two performances in a row. Why, today morning she was trying out her basic half-sitting pose when she cried out in pain. I had to ask her to stop it."


"What is she planning to...?"


"Can't say. Don't know. Really don't know. She has become quiet, broods a lot. At times she says she will do the madras with her fingers in a sort of a shadow-play. Or sing maybe. I don't know really. What I feel is", here Arindam paused for a moment and then said,


"She needs company now the most. Not ours, some one else's."


Dr. Choudhury remained silent on the phone. After a while Arindam spoke up.


"Hello?" said he disturbed, "What do you say?"


"Marriage?" asked Dr. Choudhury.


"What else Manish? Frankly, I don't see anything wrong. A diversion of mind, new habitat, it will do her good."


"But what about...?"


"What about? What about what? Molly?"


Dr. Choudhury nodded.


"Molly's my girl. I will speak to her. Get a good boy will you? Just spread the word."


And so it happened that within six months of Molly's ailment, a young man named Rahul Mukherjee was found to be a suitable match for Molly. Molly was furious.


"Arranged marriage!" that was the first thing she said when she came to Dr. Choudhury's chamber.


"Whoever heard of such a thing in the 21st century?" she asked at the top of her voice.


"Your father..."


"My father does not know me. He doesn't care a fig about me. Why..."


"Oh yes, he does," replied Dr. Choudhury in a stern and loud voice. He was surprised that he could speak so. Molly too looked at him in surprise and stopped. Dr. Choudhury checked his tone and started to explain to Molly the conversation he had had with Arindam. It was a cold eye that met his, and a colder bye; that greeted him when Molly left his chamber.


Arindam however was in great spirits.


"I say that guy is a good one," said he after a few weeks. "Comes from a good background. His father is a highly learned person. He himself is a brilliant academician, done some research in robotics from CALTECH and now has taken a job in the Silicon Valley. Has good looks, appears to be a chap who can take care of my Molly. What more could I ask?"


"True. True enough," nodded Dr. Choudhury. He wondered how had Molly been pacified.


"Oh, that was easy," said Arindam, "I did my part and then gave an opportunity to Rahul to play his."


As Arindam went on, Dr. Choudhury wondered who had been the first one to succumb to the boy's charm--Molly or Molly's father.


And so within a few weeks, the marriage between Rahul Mukherjee and Molly Chatterjee was solemnised, and after a few days, a tearful farewell was given to Molly for she left for the United States with her husband.


Days passed.


Dr. Choudhury was immersed in his work and he saw less of Arindam. Whenever he enquired about Molly, he was told that she was fine and happy.


After six months of Molly's marriage, Arindam came in with the news that Molly was coming for a month. It was not only a homecoming trip, a solo performance was also on the cards.


"Would you believe it?" asked Arindam his eyes glowing with pleasure. "I knew my son-in-law would cure her. Now," added he, "You must come to the show with Tapati."


Dr. Choudhury needed no second provocation. He wanted to see Molly, talk to her, watch her perform and above all find out from her how she could cure herself so fast which he had thought would take at least another year. However, a hectic schedule of appointments kept him busy and he could not meet her in person at Arindam's house. He just about managed to squeeze out time in the evening of the performance and so on the 25th of November, he and his wife Tapati found themselves sitting in one of the first rows of the prestigious Birla Sabhaghar, a hall which only the wealthy could afford for a solo performance.


At the stroke of six, the curtains parted and a beaming Arindam appeared on the stage.


"Ladies and gentlemen," began he, "I thank you all for attending this show tonight. For reasons known to some, this show is a special one. The danseuse Molly..."


As Arindam continued, Dr. Choudhury noticed with a slight amount of surprise that there were no singers and percussionists present as they usually are in a typical Bharatnatyam recital. He had expected Molly's guru to say a few words on this happy occasion, but he was nowhere to be seen in the audience, let alone the stage. Another thing which struck him as odd was the conspicuous absence of the idol of Lord Ganesha on the stage.


"Maybe its the influence of the West," thought Dr. Choudhury.


His attention turned towards Arindam for he was saying, "And now ladies and gentlemen, may I present the performing artist on stage."


The lights dimmed and in the shadow, as the curtains parted, Molly walked to the centre of the stage on to the spotlight. She looked wonderfully hale and hearty and with her traditional make-up of the dance, she appeared younger.


A clear voice announced over the mike, "Saraswati Vandana, composed by Molly Mukherjee," and the dance recital started amidst a recorded voice and music.


As she danced, Dr. Choudhury noticed with a slight amount of discomfort that Molly was still not back to her usual self. She did dance well, in fact she was definitely better than the dancers of today, but she lacked the inner grace and poise which she had possessed before her attack of tendonitis. Her movements, though near perfect, were slightly delayed and one could almost make out the pain which she was undergoing in doing so. But all this seemed of no importance for there was a perpetual smile of satisfaction on Molly's face as she danced from one composition to the other and the minutes flew to an hour after which, amidst a spontaneous applause, the curtains fell.


Dr. Choudhury always felt lost after a show and this time also there was no exception. He was wondering which way to go when his wife Tapati told him that they must congratulate Molly. Quietly he followed her, making up his mind to say something nice and enthusiastic to Molly. No, it was not the quality of the performance, but her willingness to fight and not to succumb to the onslaught of tendonitis which...


"Robotics," Molly was saying.


Dr. Choudhury found himself standing next to Molly. She was having an animated conversation with one of her school friends.


"Robotics," Molly repeated again smiling excitedly, "Rahul has done his research on that you know. In fact before our marriage we had talked about. ...Oh! Manish Kaka," said she coming towards him, "I am so glad you could come. How did you like it?"


Dr. Choudhury looked at her eyes and found they were shining with joy and happiness. They did not have the anger or the indignation of her previous days. Molly indeed was a happily married woman. But there was something odd. Where was her make-up? Where was her typical Bharatnatyam dancer's dress with the resplendent long hair and the arms covered with bangles with anklets on her feet? Surely, she did not have the time to change her dress and wash her make-up so fast? And why do it anyway? He looked at her with a puzzled look and then his eyes fell on something that lay nearby propped on a stool. He stared at it unable to believe his eyes. Molly followed his gaze and then burst out laughing.


"Oh Manish kaka don't look so amazed," said she. "It's nothing really, just an idea of Rahul's. You all know he is good at robotics. So when I told him about my predicament, Rahul did this."


She lovingly pointed to the life size robot replica of her own self which lay there complete with the full dress and make-up of a Bharatnatyam dancer.


"It was really very simple," said Rahul walking up from the stage. "The only problem was programming the compositions of Molly's into the chip. When we did one, the rest was a cakewalk," said he looking at Molly affectionately.


Dr. Choudhury watched them with a feeling of surprise and happiness as more friends and well-wishers gathered around congratulating the couple.


"I feel so happy now," cried Molly "to think that till such time I am able to dance, there is someone who can dance the way I want."


"Something, not someone," said Rahul, with a twinkle in his eyes.


Dr. Choudhury couldn't help asking the question which had been troubling him.


"When do you think you can...?"


Molly looked at him and smiled. Her eyes spoke of a different language now, it seemed apologetic and full of gratitude. She walked up to him and softly thanked him for the exercises he had told her.


"Those exercises are wonderful Manish kaka," said she. "They have indeed helped me a lot. The doctors over there also suggest the same. With these exercises and Rahul's constant monitoring, I think," she paused reflectively and said, "I should be able to dance after six months."


Dr. Choudhury suddenly remembered something. With a mild smile he drew very near to Molly and surprising everyone spoke the following sentence without the impediment he was so famous of:


"Whoever heard of such a thing in the 21st century?"

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A 21st CENTURY MIRACLE
~ An Enthusiastic Eulogy by Patrick Gasperini ~


We, writers and poets, must be conscious that we are very fortunate today, much more fortunate than writers and poets some decades ago. We have the Internet and the World Wide Web at our disposal! And we should pay everlasting tribute to the power of technology, which has enabled every Mr Smith to have a voice of his own.


What happened when there was no Internet and no W.W.W.? Well, poor Mr Smith, who thought he was a poet worth reading, started sending off his poems. If he was lucky or in conformity with the editor's tastes, no problems; if he wasn't, then, after years of frustrating rejections, he could only think of self-publication. Someone may easily object that perhaps Mr Smith was rejected because he was a bad poet! Could be. What if Mr Smith was rejected because he was too original to be fully understood? It would be an outrageous act against the essence of humanity! Sometimes, time manages to make up for those atrocities, though. Let's think of Emily Dickinson or Gerard Manley Hopkins, but I shudder to think of all those as gifted as dear Emily and Gerard who might not have been as lucky, and whose work, consequently, was swallowed up by oblivion.


We can hail online publishing as the angel that will crumble the cultural power of some almighty book moguls. Some optimistic prophets have even hailed it as a harbinger of a new era without traditional books. Although, personally, I still like the touch of a paper book before falling asleep, undoubtedly book publication is a perverse mechanism in which everything seems to be ruled by God Profit. Do you really think book publishers will ever take the pecuniary risk of publishing an unknown poet's collection just because he or she is a talented poet? Dough, first of all; art, eventually! Hey, Mr Smith, are you Prince Charles or one of John Paul II's cousins or President Clinton's chauffeur? If you are not, sorry! your poems will never attract enough readers, i.e. buyers, i.e. sweet-smelling dough! But, as said above, we are fortunate today because online publishing can set us free.


All those people who dare to regard online publishers as second-rate publishers should be flogged. Faber & Faber, London, is certainly on the summit of Mt Olympus, but, believe me, they too have dustbins in their courtyard. Online publishers are really the free expression of a new world of words. They may be lodging with some voracious net companies, but they are free all the same and ever so willing to take risks. Yes! They are free from what torments every book mogul and makes him unable to imagine anything beyond his fat wallet. So, please, worship the World Wide Web and trust online literature!

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