Wednesday, May 1, 2019




Gem of rarest beauty
calls in waking dreams
morning sunset moonlight
still black night
so I must set out in quest
leaving all I own.

The way may lead me through
sacred grove
encircled by forest-walls
silent as the dead,
cavern deep and dark
washed by water’s constant lashing
churning eddies never ceasing,
mountain top
ever frozen ever white
where blue spirits sit dreaming
unmindful of ages rolling,
sky above clouds
unreached by lightning flashes
dwellings of celestial beings.

Wherever it may be found –
sea-bed earth’s bowel
beyond twinkling stars –
the treasure I must pursue.


On the bank of the Pampa
we swap stories and songs
throbbing with life, rainbow coloured
glimmering gold shimmering silver
sky-blue sea-blue
grass-green river-green
rose-pink hibiscus-red
dark red of poured out blood
midnight black
The green river watches us
scattering pearls born out of pain
gray sky rains abundant tears
on the gem-strewn ground
a snake boat slithering by
curious peeps through branches
to see the wild revelry
laughter songs and laments
then quietly sails away.

I’m drunk on the heady brew
images music and tales
told by various bards
sung in a hundred voices
some soft some loud
some high some low
altogether blending rising
grand harmonious chorus
joy and sorrow light and shadow
altogether chanting
cries of human hearts.


In the garden reverberates
songs of morning stars
heaven’s own symphony;
hearts in harmony clap
rivers dance in ecstasy
merry mirror a clear pool
reflecting true image.

Alas! In the garden
we embraced the serpent
shut out heaven’s song
desecrated the image
polluted the rivers
muddied the pool
serpent’s foul breath clouded
the mirror cracked

dying of serpent bite
trapped in cracked mirror
how can we get back
into the garden?


Mirror, mirror on the wall,
tell me honest, tell me true;
am I fair or am I foul?
Tell me mirror tell me, do.

“Fair or foul, foul or fair—
it’s thinking that makes it so;
think yourself as fairest fair
when you look that’s what you’ll see.”

In that case my mirror dear,
need I look to you at all?

“Sure you do because I’m here
to confirm all your mind says
make you see what you want to see
help you feel you are all right

“Should you wish to run after
forbidden profit or pleasure
that leaves a question mark
in a corner of your heart,
I can soothe that niggling doubt
blunt the pricking thorn
wipe the unease off your mind
set you free to run full speed
chasing desires, fair or foul
till at last you grow to think
foul is fair and fair is foul.”


“Why have you gone political?”
they ask, “Why don’t you just do
your thing?”

Sure I’d love to sing of roses
blooming in the garden
and on my baby’s cheeks

It would be fun to tell
tales of sun and moon
invent fanciful stories
how they once were friends
then quarrelled one day
and parted ways

The ink I write with
should be blue as sky
flowing out freely
on paper white.

But our land is smeared with dark deeds
crimes so beastly no beast would commit

So my ink becomes tar
sluggish stinking sewage
oozing slimy lies you tell
generation to generation –
lies that justify
treading down
part of humanity
spilling blood

So my pen flows with blood;
today it is someone’s
tomorrow it may be yours
then you will find
the colours all same.

Bloom away, roses
in your ruby beauty
though blood and tar meet
in the street.


MALSAWMI JACOB writes in English and Mizo language, and occasionally translates from one to the other. She has written two books each of poems, short stories, children’s books, narrative non-fiction and one novel, besides contributing to anthologies and journals. She has lived and worked in different cities of India – teaching English to undergraduates, freelancing with newspapers and magazines, etc. She is now based in Bangalore but is still footloose, always willing to fly to Tbilisi to baby-sit her seven month old only grandchild.

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