Writings / Poetry

Ankur Betageri

At the Center of the Universe

The center of the universe is where my
consciousness begins to throb; or where my
stomach swallows desire and sated like the sky,
exudes sunlight.
The center of the universe is where I feel a nobody
and feel free and fulfilled at last to be a nobody
wearing a youthful body like a newly-bought sweater
-which I know will grow old
but wearing which I run around-
inhabiting the happiness on the pavements
the happiness under the trees
and the happiness over the tables
which breathe morning mist
over steaming coffee.

At the center,
the breast of no woman, the bare
legs of no lady
quivers as desire inside my finger bones
but my cheeks constantly rest on the lap
of a woman whose body I feel everywhere,
my desirebud explodes into a flower so big
that I remain only its scent,
and every seed in me gives birth to flowers
as incredibly scented and as madly invisible
as myself.

Broken shell of an egg whose mind
has eaten its yolk,
I jump in an excitement so ethereal that it keeps me still,
I crawl under the mountains of eons like a star,
I sweat like an ancient stone
which has begun to know where it began,
I fling myself like a handful of sand
over the sad limited space of the earth
and begin to grow unchecked, unrestricted, uncontrolled
like grass growing across the immeasurable space
spreading around the faces of ordinary things.

Walking in and out – of Apparitions

It seems nothing comes out of you
yet, beneath that moustache
from that unmoving mouth
something speaks; something is due
that message from eternity in you
until now, scarcely considered
dominates my mood
across your tender realms, carrying me
so often a dream, a woe of a dream
like unreal sunbeams escaping
through the real roof beams
Unable to gather them, unable to give room
and I see them extinguish in the sustaining gloom.

I’m unreal as an apparition
in mirror. Lost in your childhood
now I pass by your door. Will you call me inside?
Hey come in mister! Oi Master! Will you?
As outlines blur in the fury of storm
I’m a stirred man among the trees
I’m as unreal as him or her
or yourself in the mirror.

The looming windows of the old school
call me. I’m an apparition when I go in there.
Vanishing direct from the moving bus
what have I left there to haunt?
Only things we love are ours,
a ghost is born to haunt his home
heaven, though glorious, is not his home.

Red berries mobbing the eyes.
Strewn in the shade where my feet
loose weight
at the sight of fallen jasmines;
I inhabit this silence of pavements
listening to my own breathless delight
like a seaweed rapt in the aquarium.

What is the milk in the milk-can? Where
is it? Is milk the whiteness? Sweet taste?
The warmth? Radiance? Liquid base?
Or is it just a chip of light on eye a tickle on the tongue, a trickle down the throat?
From the living now to the dead past
one escapes like the appearances of milk
still tumbling in the tummy of the cow
or leaking down the stretched limbs of a calf -
Man is the milk spilled on the stove,
the burnt stain and the vanished steam
and the clotted cream sticking to cup
and the last stray drop on the tray.

Man thus littering his parts across lands
becomes a universe; a landscape. His purlieu
contains him, and is him.
He - walking in and out of apparitions
inhabiting him.

Picnic in the Graveyard

This place of the time
is empty of convictions
of common air between trees
and between forests and cities
everything is lonely, rooted
in a past hazy and contrived
whose days in a hurry
run past your heart
whose hunger grips you on empty roads
and shakes you fiercely
with the restless chatter of the lost

I pity you, you who occupy
this place of the time
and call it your home -
I pity you, you who dismiss
your longing for those days
which glint like diamonds
through the running film of delusion

This place of the time
which you endure with sedatives
painkillers and balms
you have to escape it, flee to someplace else
where the talk of people
still stirs the life in your gut
where words are not rehearsed, faith not false
and feeling not polished by age
to the point of oblivion

This place of the time will soon
see its end
but you should first end
your picnic in the graveyard
enough of your worship, the dead are pleased
and their ghosts are tired
of stalking you in your dreams,
rest and relax
build new homes away from the ruins
cast off the borrowed shields
heavy with hatred and wars
come now and kiss the seed
waiting to be born.

Our Desire is Disintegrating

Our desire is disintegrating
very soon it would be impossible
for anyone to have a fulfilling orgasm
everybody will be forced to buy it
and even the richest, and the most vital
shall suffer from impotence
induced by a catastrophic system
which shall castrate everyone, systematically,
even those who have not known love
even those who have not woken up
to vengeance.

Our desire is disintegrating
because the experience of ultimate oneness
is being sold through the parts of its
material double.
I see a ‘For Sale’ board at the mall
I see breasts, thighs, hips and the neck
vagina, the knee, the ankle and the lips
inviting from their impeccable glass cases
heads and hearts sickened with desire;
everyone returns with a frozen parcel or two
sticks each part on a pole
lit by the glittering TV
and its presence fills the room coldly,an yet-to-be-finished mannequin.

‘I suffer from a feeling of intense unfulfillment
please give me some medicine to fuck
my most expensive mannequin
all my life’s savings went into buying it
and I have brought it in installments.
But now when I touch, try through it to attain transcendence
I feel nothing, not a whiff of desire -
its skin stretches like a long, arid desert
and I grope on like a lost traveller
hallucinating deep forests dripping with green light
and butterflies of Spring dreams
flitting across -
Please doctor, you are my priest, my guide,
my link to the Ultimate, my light
please give a pill to fill this hole
in the head, fix the heart back
in its place
please make me like what I’ve been sold
please make it work as I’ve been told.
Please make me potent, please make me feel
please make me feel, oh please make me feel.’

Our desire is disintegrating
we create the quilt of living
stitching patches of sterile operations
offered to an omnipotent Machine,
which deftly handles our daily hopping
and plays us like shadow-puppets
to a crowd which has lost all sense
of sight and hearing.

Our desire is disintegrating
and we are watching ourselves being played out
head, heart, hairstyles, under-wears and earrings
grabbing at this river of incessant occurring
we find our hands eaten up
by hungry mouths rendered useless
by ceaseless chattering.

After Rain

It has just rained
the light drips down the lampposts
and a yellow puddle of light
gleams like molten gold.

The assiduous sky
in flashes of blue,
reveals a great heart in its act
of giving its all;
and gravel chipped of broken roads
carried by the current of rills
lie heaped up at the corners
where roads intersect.

And abandoned cars
washed clean of squashed berries, leaves
and droppings of birds
like ancient boats of a forgotten time
smell of deep-sea and fishes in heaven.

The rain cascading down six successive floors
like tributaries join the river by the curb
and the confluence of rivers at the main road
volleying into the darkness of drain pits
steadily make it to the subterranean sea.

When the world was reborn

I heard the dull throbbing of the earth
beneath the hotel lawn
I heard the night calling to me
‘hey, hey, hey’
I heard the twilight whisper to the wine
in my ears
I heard the bells ringing in the eyes
of a lovelorn dog.
I heard a wolf howl out from the inside
of a hibiscus
I heard the rose squirm red in the joints
of my knee
I heard the smile of Jeju blazing through
the night like a torpedo
I heard the warm blood dripping from the temples
of a black poet.

I heard the guitar strums floating in the wind
over the windswept steppes
I heard the mad noise of centuries
washed away by the laughter of fireflies
I heard the breaking of glaciers and the ahs
of ribcages touched by the honey of the sun
I saw that kisses were not kisses
but fragile balls of blood-pollen dropping on the soul

and, I saw, the ecstasies of this heaven,
dreaming in the sullen sleep of a stone.


Stone-deaf, frostbitten Norwegian sun
I offer you this bowl of my thoughtful blood
drink it up and smile upon the world!

Shy, solitary monitor lizard of the desert
I give you tomatoes from the kitchen garden of my childhood
come out from your hiding and laugh with us!

Sharp-beaked, silent eagle of the crags
I give you the diamond-tears of my first heartbreak
sit with us and pluck the stories off your feathers!

O mercurial squirrel of Mt. Halla
I offer you the dream-suffused shadows of my summer walks
teach us how to speak to the leaves and the stream
and to cuddle happily in the warmth of our skin!

O my mysterious beautiful friends from the stars
I have whirled madly around you, and you have whirled madly around me and
we’ve all whirled madly around each other
with many other crazy unknown stars -
I welcome you now into the flame of my being,
into the immortal lightning- truth, into the swimming pool
of eternal youth!

About The Author


Ankur Betageri (b.1983) is a bilingual writer and poet, , based in New Delhi writing in English and ‘Kannada’. He has two collections of poetry in Kannada (Hidida Usiru, 2004 and Idara Hesaru, 2006) and one in English (The Sea of Silence, 2000). He holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology and is presently the Assistant Editor of Indian Literature, the literary journal published by Sahitya Akademi and the Contributing Editor (India) of the Singapore-based e-zine Writersconnect.org.

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