Sunday, September 27, 2009

No One - a Poem

No One
By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
September 27, 2009

He built the largest building
Pyramid of concrete and granite
Middle of envious kryptonite
No limit and no holding

She traveled the world in eighty days
And nights like Jules Verne’s story
Getting love, endless glory
Her passion weathers rebuke, dismays

The group of four astronauts
Gone and returned from landing moon
Walking the vast empty space swoon
Conspicuously bail outs

Lifted their souls from purgatory
Of economic depression
Right into wilful oppression
Hell fire in Friedmanite gory

No one was spared from judgement
Of threshing laughter and jeer
Economics voodoo’s clear
Acceptance, sheer fraudulent

No one spared!
No one dared
To croak words
Of sanguine flare

Market goes up
Market goes down
The gloomiest clown
Drowned in speculative burp

Friday, September 18, 2009

Science Fiction or Historical Fiction?

This article published in the New Scientist this week is engaging. I have not read any of the writings by Kim Stanley Robinson before. The Guardian writes that "Kim Stanley Robinson, one of the greatest science fiction authors writing today", therefore giving the writer's name a respectable meaning to me. Robinson attached the Booker Prize juries for not selecting any science fiction novels, and especially this year, when five short listed novels are all historical fiction. Here is a snippet of Robinson's argument from this article, "This is important, because you need the literature of your time. You can't get the meaning of our life in 2009 from historical fiction, nor from science alone. Novels serve us, and are treasured, because we want meaning, and fiction is where meaning is created. Scientifically minded people could perhaps conceptualise novels as case studies or thought experiments, both finer grained and wider ranging in their approach to meaning than cruder genres such as religion, psychology or common sense. A literary life is an ongoing moral education, a complete geography of the human world."

Robinson's arguments have good points. Doesn't it seem too bias seeing all the short listed novels are historical fictions? Aren't there any good writers in any other genres' in modern world?

The Guardian quoted the chair of this year's Booker judges, James Naughtie, "There has always been a debate about whether the prize is sufficiently sensitive to all the forms of contemporary writing. He may well have a point," he said. "We judge books that are submitted. The fact is that the science fiction component this year was very, very thin. If it is the best contemporary fiction in this country then most publishers haven't yet tumbled to the fact."

Perhaps, that is it. Good science fiction novels were never submitted to Booker Judges', perhaps because of perceived notion that submission would not serve any purpose, judging by historical trend in Booker selections.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reflection on Harmonium – a Prose Poem

Reflection on Harmonium – a Prose Poem

By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

September 12, 2009

Once it used to be the lifeblood of a musical lore. Once it used to lighten up the room with impeccable tune playing the auditory dance with a classical voice of a singer. Pumping the below in one hand, and the other to play the plastic covered black and white keys, harmonium player raced the musical field like a man in a battle. Striking the keys with force, pulling and pushing the below with vigour, matching the tabla player’s fierce tempo in bayan while leading the singer’s vocal to crescendo perfecto. Now as it lies abandoned, replaced by glittery synthesizers and digital gizmo, harmonium’s last breath extends: not giving up! Not giving up! Unlike its brethren accordion, you don’t have to strap it on your chest. Unlike the cousin violin, you don’t have to place it on your shoulder. No bow is needed. No feet pump is required. Harmonium, the maestro, sits in a forgotten corner of locked up closet. Too majestic, humble dislocation. One day as the evening was quietly slipping into glimmering twilight, a seasoned inferno raged the storm on its keys, jolting the dozing listeners, ushering in old memories, tune of distant past, poetic credulous and luminescent flare, as if the promised divinity is resurrected, as if all the bombs and disguised hatreds metamorphosed into poetry virtuoso.

Inspired by poet Al Zolynas' beautiful prose poem Considering the Accordion.

Classroom - a Poem


By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

September 12, 2009

A rainy and cold morning

Of waning summer. Boys and girls

Wearing the blue sky uniforms

Reading the poetry of Tagore.

The classroom looks serene. In the blackboard

Imprint of white chalks

Measuring the rhymes and similes

Dissected stanza’s rustic glamour.

The teacher with neatly parted receding hair

And large spectacle hanging from nose

Is pacing from one corner to another

Reciting the pleasing poem in soothing voice.

The boys and girls are following the teacher

Each word, each pause and tribulation

Bouncing off the rhythmic lyric

Shouting and murmuring the opening words:

“It’s the morning! Open the Door!”

(Bhor Holo! Dor Kholo!)

A rainy and cold morning

Of waning summer. Boys and girls

Wearing the blue sky uniforms

Reading the poetry of Tagore.

Dedicated to the Bangla and English literature teachers of University Laboratory School at Dhaka. Inspired by poem Memory from Childhood by poet Antonio Machado, translated in English by Robert Bly.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Slippery, Silvery Fish - a Poem

Slippery, Silvery Fish

By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

September 11, 2009

I had no sense of dying

I had no sense of the God divine

Or the screechy scream of a slaughtered

Negated swine

Water was filling up my lungs

Was I wheezing?


Can one cough while drowning?

Silvery fish were swimming by,

But the river, down there

Cold and shady

Impish bungs

A boy of year two

Even death seemed an escapade

My flailing fingers grasping thru

Water charade

The swarming fish

Slippery as they were

Sinking as I was

In the depth of that murky swish

Of waves looked jovial

While water filling up my lungs

Twirled tongue, not trivial

I looked up

Splintered rays from heaven

Slicing the shadow of a dingy boat

No stethoscope, no white coat

Someone grabbed my shoulder

The right one,

Trembled, deaden

And pulled me up

There I was

On the boat

In cradle of patriarch

Beside sobbing matriarch

Coughing and wheezing

All the river water from my sinking lungs

Impish bungs

At once, taking deep breath

As if that was an exploration

This drowning

And saved acclimation

From the river of

Silvery death

The old tin suitcase

Was floating away

Or perhaps sinking


To save his son

Unlike the patriarch Abraham

The tattering machine gun from the river bank said

Tat tat tat tat tat

“Kill the infidel! Kill the heathen! Kill the rat!”

Flashes of light could be seen, water rippled more

As the bullets swerved and flayed

We were clinging on that dingy boat’s floor

While he was gasping for air

Propped up on a bed

Many years and an ocean apart

He looked at me, misty glare


With silent depart

While my stooped struggle sunk

Before that tall, lanky doctor of white coat

And unwilling stethoscope

Rebuffed the life of a terminal

Invalid? Expendable?

Like the slippery silvery fish

I slipped away

In the depth of a murky river

Uncharted sway