Other Poems by:

Ashok Niyogi


the cage thinks 
it has imprisoned 
an imaginary bird
the bird thinks
the cage is make believe 

such is comprehension 

without her
we cannot quantify
his grandeur 

dazzled by the infinite
we stand
pupils magnificent
opaque white
eyelids donít blink 

now all is revealed 

without him
she would hardly be
load bearer for divinity  

this is immersion
we dredge deep
for lake weed
bearing algae for fish 

our puddles stand exorcised 

in the lake swims
a reflection of the sun


roaches scurry frantic
bodies on fire
upturn or plummet
legs frenzied
dance at a cobwebbed
ceiling heavy on horizontals
crisscrossing the sky
roaches spawned in pesticide
stiffen and die 

incessant mindless sing song
of your name behind darkened eyes
panicked wrestling with doubt
festering in want of 
some amputation a little gangrene
to spice up a cloistered day
torture with red hot tongs
of frail widows in submerged white
cymbals clash taut on string 

while breaking out
into spontaneous praise
of the sweating sun
on smelly bed sheets
at midnight
one more trough
between pinnacles of faith
hysteria is a terrible weight
on a crushed chest
the grinding
of rib cage into spine.


this elephantine conceit of an ant 

with endeavor
we will conquer
or buy
we will possess
forever forever 

and imagine
itís all about grand stockpiles of fuel
strewn across this universe of sand
white dwarfs or red giants 
collapsing into holes so black
they eat light 
and sundry astronauts set afire
long back 

while we orbit
always minor
with our pretty lakes and mountains
cracks of thunder
inside arctic ice
on Travel & Living
mice suffocate
on Animal Planet
roaches have ozone cancer
on their National Geographic wings  

while we assimilate
defecate and fornicate better and better
as time moves on like a swarm of locusts
that will decimate our grandchildís child
and let others orbit and boil away
even as gas giants perpetually engage
in an orgy of moons 

evolution and devolution
like the spasms of an anaconda
and mind you
this is just the manifest
what then of all our convoluted thoughts
our collective soul always at holy war
a huge ant hill
in which lives a philanthropist and a rock star 

these too will wither away
to nurture simpletons in communes of hate
amidst all that is yet unmanifest
while we view our beautiful planet
with our autistic eyes
through the portals of a space station that
and comfort ourselves with the millions of years
for which our sun
yet will burn                   


no wonder then
that he sincerely felt
he should beg your forgiveness
walk up the hill burdened
and get himself nailed
to a simple wooden cross 

and then stay aways
omewhere in the Kuiper belt


you impress me so
with your e-mail about bare feet
on grass
beneficial for old age balance 

pebbles on a mountain river bed
weathered by water
shift with the flow
words weathered by life
strive to hold on 
to what they meant long ago 

an unknown black bird flies low
over water flow
itís that time
very early in the morning
when black is faded black
and white
is apprehensive
when the fish are dancing
when the wind rustles 

in Fremont
I walk the Blind School grass
the Mexican gardeners came yesterday
and trimmed the weeping willow
now she looks
like a very small Chinese school girl
no children
in the Deaf & Dumb playpen

what was not
and will never again be
all temporary
like wars people wage
even old age
and rage


Yellow-brown leaves on the grass
Wet with night time dew
Low rain filled cloud
Smashed rear car window
Propped up with duct tape
Ash tray on the porch
Overflowing with butts
A rent of pink on the horizon
The sun must be rising over Martinez Bay
Yellow-brown leaves detach from the branch
And float onto the grass
Towards the sunrise I will make my home run
Over slippery yellow-brown leaves
Wet with night time dew
No birds as yet
Only noisy old-model cars


Yesterday night
They doused a homeless man with gasoline
And set his clothes on fire
When they see my festering sores
I am afraid for them
They are afraid of me
Their fright will propel them
To beat me to death
Let me bathe and shave
Let me confuse them with a coat and tie
It will not matter
For the pavement corner at Market Street
It will not matter to the garbage dump
It matters to me
And so I wear Roman robes
To prop me up in my ceremonial hunt
Of the half eaten hamburger bun
And so I throw poems 
At imaginary shadows on the ether
They travel from chip to chip
And festoon some imaginary sky
Largely unsung


I have decided to take this aptitude test
For aspiring poets
Let's call it PAT
If you rhyme
You will make a dime
But to rhyme 
Is a crime 
So you can 
a.	chime 
b.	mime 
c.	wallow in grime 
You must comprehend the following
'Ecstasy potions from a frog's warts
lead on to the sublime'
Is the poet referring to
a.	nature 
b.	god 
c.	perfume 
If five people and one dim wit
Read a two hundred twenty page poetry book
How much of his wits
Does the fool gather
Depending on my grade point score
On Chaucer's 'Fairy Queene'
My PAT score
And my verse essay- 'Why I want to become
A Poet' they will teach me
At some University
And then give me tenure
And I will propagate
This crime against the rhyme
In paid time


She brought his armor
For him to don
Shining sword
Into his scabbard slid
Adjusted the helmet
Just so
Polished his sunglasses
On her night gown
And with nary a tear
Send him forth
To battle the Bedouins
In his armored Hummer
On someone else's desert sand
He caught a sniper's bullet
And lay on his belly
She sat in her office 
Painting her nails
Children in day school
Enough time on her hands
To worry
About how to get rid 
Of her preposterous double chin
Before her husband wins


Having crossed the river
And uncrossed it then
I wait for fresh waters to flow
And erase the swathes 
I cut across the river's chest
In alien city in a foreign land
I sit apart in gloom
Even as my shadows confront me
With all the naivete of fresh flowers
Proudly spewing forth axioms
From the limited waters of a vase
Wanton destruction
River changing course
Meandering across corridors
Only to settle and flow
While bathed in my own blood
I try to make new sense
Of a new life
With a new red-hot iron
Beneath the skin
Of my decadent chest


Abandoned railroad signal shed
Roof caved in on shoulders
Walls imploded
No air
No freedom to breathe
To act to dream to fly
The railroad travels
From east to west
Parallel track from west to east
Changing topography of the breast
Bloodline flows into water hydrants
From an unmitigated past
Even as bush gives way to forest
To hills and meadows
City sprawls and vineyards
You must break free of the tracks
The locomotives sits back on its haunches
And knows the story of the sleepers
And the cinder blocks
The children know at the railroad stops
And yet you chose this monitored travail
So as to hide in the tallest grass
Bridge over water
A loop to gentle the incline
A star to follow on a moonless night
Different noises on different tracks
Like the eerie howling of wolf packs
On the flats the hyena will win
Because scavenging is the need
Of this momentous hour
When you decide to shed the walls
Throw off the ceiling
And stare at the sky
From the rubble of 
The ruined signal shed
With eyes embedded in 
A patchwork of opaque lead


It's three
Time for their afternoon walk
Come let me put you on the leash
Don't pick and prance
I have to unlock the front door
And double lock it after us
On our way out we check the mailbox
For credit card bills I want to hide
Electricity bills and phone bills
And Diwali greetings from sari shops
Don't pull at your leash
See how Annya heels
How can it be interesting to sniff at what
Another dog has left behind
And Annya sees how nonchalant Vodka is
Why do you chase after turbaned Sikhs 
And other dogs and stray cats
Vodka ignores even the dragonflies
Between your ablutions 
Time for pranks
A little adventure
Some memory to hoard
In your doggy head
Until it is time for the evening meal
No guilt no long-term memory
No falling in illicit love
No ostracism from off-spring
No need to get ahead
To move on
How candid
How stark
How poetic can
An afternoon stroll be


To diarize
Distance from a changing sky
Is some kind of relative movement
Some disturbance
Of molecules within a personal cosmos
To record the thousandth falling leaf
From an autumn tree
Hummingbird what hymn do you hum
In your fury
Amidst the mercurial rise and fall
Of fortunes that enthrall
Some kind of movement
In the everyday of life
What death do you stall
I can hear the trumpeter
I can hear the clarion call


I entered the Concord Safeway
In my shirtsleeves
The frozen vegetable shelves
Were cold
Vaporizing tear-drops 
In the neon lit air
I bought a packet of French cut beans
Back in the apartment
I forgot to refrigerate the frozen beans
Today I opened the packet
To cook myself a mixed vegetable
And lentil soup
Indian style
The beans had rotted 
They reminded me of a corpse
Awaiting cremation
In India's sweltering summer heat
A queue
In a overcrowded crematorium


Mirrored walls
Mirrored ceiling
Mirrored floor
Reflecting the convexities
And the concavity of days
And nights
When I curl up
On the sofa-cum-bed
And cuddle the light
From the first floor window
Across Laguna street
Through venetian blinds
Silent TV 
In the pitter-patter of
The winter rain
Behind my head
A refrigerator starts up
The dishwasher sighs and
Goes to sleep
They key open a door
Across the corridor
Evens as night settles down
By my side
With the tide


Ashok Niyogi was born in Calcutta in 1955. He was
schooled all over India in Irish Christian Brothers'
Schools and graduated with Honors in Economics from
Presidency College.
Ashok spent 30 years in the world of International
Commerce,15 in East Europe and Russia and the CIS. His
work has taken him all over the world and he now
divides his time between California where his two
daughters live, Russia and India.
He is currently unemployed because writing poetry is
not considered gainful employment, but does have a
timber plantation in Goa, India.
Ashok has two books of poetry in India - 'Crossroads'
and 'Reflections in the Dark' (both from A-4
Publications) , one book of poems from the USA -
'Tentatively' (iUniverse) and numerous chapbooks from
He has been published extensively on line and in print
in the USA, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada
in magazines and Anthologies.


ship without rudder
but condemned to float
buoy in mid-ocean
rusted in sunset
so incredibly red

lonely as
the Northern Lights
from iceberg to iceberg
distant whales
sadness is a grizzly bear
I trail entrails

in Ulan-Bator
blinkered camel
on a sandy sea
no trees 
for leopard nests

how will I die
this promised death
in my igloo
where are the hyenas
where is the laugh
the slouching back
the bloodied fangs
the lit-up eyes
cracking twigs
in forest rain
where is 
the immediate pain


No metaphysics, this,
no poetic tradition even,
I have been hit on the head
with the Yale Shakespeare,
and will limit myself to memories,
but it is a story, 
because it happened to you and you...


In this underground pub,
on a 'winy' afternoon,
you sang like a lark.


Temple Toads crowd onto 'designed' pebbles,
sound modulates the waterfall, 
in carefully orchestrated grammar. 
dead lilies float on Narita,
 just so, in afternoon sun.


Nipponski More in Nakhodka,
your boat bobs up and down,
one moment you are there,
one moment you are gone,
catch your fish, my love.


The soil is red in Incheon,
people glide, as they do
in Monterrey Bay,
and strawberries and cream
on the way,
see how the artichokes grow.


My daughters lure me back with Crater Lake,
they will throw me into the Canyon,
or make me walk shards of salt
near Badwater, after elk steak,
they will make me trudge the snow
around 'General Grant'
as if I haven't done enough circumlocution in Moscow. 


I saw the stars, my sweetness,
let me show them to you,
they were there in that Moscow boat,
they were hidden in the disheveled pillow.
You ask Amy, she will know
what it is to walk in the snow.
On snow slides, children play,
we wait for the avtobus, you and my shadow.


poem 1

tin soldiers
toy householders
paper flowers
stupid signals
across ether
body language
emotional turmoil
boundary walls
dykes to safeguard
oceans of pain
incessant waves
my dinghy braves
waxing and waning
of the live moon

poem 2

tree tops shaved flat
to meet blue sky
too long
on the car stereo
the same Rod Stewart song
pop blues

big land
small houses
little lakes
manicured banks
obese colored girl
smoking near a bus stand
weekend shouts
evening settles
like a lively blanket
on Laguna Street

poem 3

affection swirling
eddies of concern
friendly people
from alien lives
pat on my shoulder
brush my cheek
'get on with it then'

where is love
protect me
from desolation
in your lap
I curl up
eyelids half open
look at the setting sun
twin aircraft warning lights
up in front
jasmine smell
rubber blow horn
ice-cream vendor
children run

poem 4

'have you taken your pills?
shall I switch off the light?'
I negotiate one step up
furniture silhouetted in TV glow
I will take my pills
and wait
for one more day
in the dark of night
my corner 
of large empty bed
snuggled like an embryo
one more visit to the toilet
and then hold the minute hand
I will keep this night

I have nothing tomorrow
'do you have a morning meeting?'

I will take the serpent road
between the camel bushes
and  buy my 'fifth'
bring it home
top up the glass
with refrigerated water
and stop counting
that tomorrow is one more day
out of limited days
like limited rupees in my purse
but let me count
I have enough for tomorrow.

Poem 5

why is it
that the relatively poor
have richer voice

social constipation
is such a middle class disease
don't cry out loud
what will the neighbors say!

to have to be weird
you have to be
very very rich
wrought iron gate
graveled drive
sprinkled lawns
suppurating skin
gangrenous brain

that is what
we are working for

Poem 6

naughty wind
not sure
where to go
torments the lowest leaves
on the tall tree
Mexican children
sunlight crawls up the foot walk
to play their game
there that young tree
is fully in sun
the flame
has died out
of yesterday's glass window
cars start up and swish away
inside it's still dark
by lamplight I write
of a morning
full of a myriad birds
the insanity of the floating man
agitated about something
that has to take root today
now the wind picks up
it will be a windy day
in the California sun
bike riders with flowing mane
take the synchronized turn
up the ramp to the freeway
we are fallen like fallen pine cones
that fat squirrels 
roll down the wet grass
from square to square
of dappled sun.

poem 7

drink water
brush your teeth
on the road
the bus releases vacuum brakes
with a hiss

out with begging bowl
in the ether
gathering meaningless 'yays' and 'nays'
that will shape and guide my poetic day
blinkers on
I draw out memories
shamelessly twisted to fiction
full of conviction

I waste the morning justifying
when all I want is evening and night
and the odds on tomorrow's fight.

poem 8

guitar bum at Ghirardelli
Inca flautists march
to Cortez's drum
 from the square a sliver of sea
yatching sails march up and down
baking histrionics at Buadin's
waves of frolickers
with hot dogs
dogs on leash sweating in the sun
pavement dwellers gesticulate
in metallic paint
begging for beer

outside the 'safety net'
in ironed cotton shirt
loafers and tailored trousers
on neatly folded blanket
the alcoholic sleeps
against the pavement grill

serendipity in blue water blue waves
Labradors swimming for a frisbee
lovers kissing thigh to thigh
holstered breasts just spoiling to brawl
tourist launches in fancy dress
melted ice-cream and cigarette filters

these are first world bums
with third world bums

leprous bandaged stumps
smearing car widows with dirty blood
drunk eunuchs clapping away
with mutilated organs
at someone elses childbirth
the alcoholic puking into dog turd
swollen bellies thin legs
malarial eyes lined with coal-dust 
pot-bellied lust no kisses just coitus
urchins wait for rotten mango
at unhygienic juice stalls
mongrels wait for goat entrails
outside meat shops
thirsty mad cows
gore ragpickers
knick-knack vendors walk barefoot
at crossroads in one-thirty heat

serendipity is in jasmine flowers
small dirty fingernails
sizing up immature breasts
for mother's milk
in the gloom beneath
a newly constructed flyover
as people rush
in autorickshaws and buses
and Japanese cars
to run 'call centers' in fake accents

or to pimp for food
-	drink
-	education
-	vacation
-	lifestyle
-	fashion
-	religion
-	service
-	love
-	marriage
-	immigrant visas
-	disease
-	death 

for a third world bum
it's a long way
to graduate into 'bummery'
in the first world.


Deciduous tree
Empty branches
Crawling with black ants
Who eat into white bark

Death decides to die
And die again
The cinematography
Of past folly
Ad Infinitum Ad Nauseum
Rolls past mind's flat screen

And then
The stars awaken
It will be good
As long as it lasts
Vultures are steadfast
In their motion before takeoff
Disdainful ungainly in their

They work
With cellular phones
Others gather
Torture torment tear hard
Pick at maggots
From beneath yellow skin
While the Black Raven shrieks

Just to see what will be
Fun and games and sundry names
All defecate to death
From dust to dust
With insatiable thirst


In my evening, 
Evenings fascinate me.

Seven Saints,
I see you twinkle in serenity.

One tiny satellite
Infiltrates your infinite domain.

Stars are suns,
Is there water in that dimension?

No mossy wet stone,
Now, where is my moisturizer?

Terraced measly crops
Are ghosts tapered down by poverty.

In gathering darkness
It is the reign of chimney smoke.

The voltage fluctuates,
Cable TV scowls with distorted breasts.

Beneath mushroom frames,
We block out the starlight
And play nightlong games,
Chiropractors with dominoes,
Why can't we wait
For the ambulance? 


One small black bird
above white cloud.
Peaks are inverted prisms,
ice meets ice
reflected in puddles
on my roof top lawn.


first the sugar, then the tea.
Streaming sunlight
shows up your curdled milk,
the jackdaw caws.


After the last turn,
this road is steep;


Cease and desist.
The mind must sing,
no more poems please.


In its madness, the river is mad.
Still magnolia awaiting the breeze,
without sleep.


Here she birthed me,
here she will un-birth,
into her womb, 
where Time can see.


Don't peddle me
your pedestrian snow,
I know
how it looks in morning light,
or with afternoon cloud,
even in sunset rose.



It must have deep meaning
for posterity to have to ponder.

This wait
for that one last shadow
to wither away,
for just that one chasm
to glisten white,
what meaning has this wait?
when all my peaks
are already on fire.

Now is the time
for cinnamon tea
with Yak milk,
and then toothpaste
with clove oil.
Before the sun, before the sun.

You I will meet  
in afternoon shadow
on the plateau.

I will roam the snow
for the Leopard's footprints,
no birds, no tree,
just me and the Yeti.

Even the car is short of breath,
but I have to plant markers
on your midnight side.
I will not linger,
unless you promise
your sun will be warm 
once more

Blame the sun
for having won.
The sun gives definition.

NOTE: The Kinnaur mountains range from 12000 to 22000
ft. They are near the Indo-Tibet road and are best
seen from Reckang Piu and further on. The car will
normally go far unless a wooden suspension bridge is
down and the road is good by Himalayan standards.



Gorgeous afternoon sun
showers violet, flame and white
flowers on upturned camera lens.
Catch a temple on the run
from rushing cloud,
trees see 
and are tense.

Flies hover over
olive green sugarcane juice,
stray cattle fight,
mongrels are in retreat,
garbage fumes in summer heat.

Candy shops have aired
patch work sunshades,
fragile, they billow in gathering wind,
respite from stifling cares.
Tourists drive by,
but no one here 
goes anywhere.

Up the road it will be cold,
so they have been told,
therapeutic rain for prickly heat,
and then even numbing snow.
And so, 
lives go on in summer sweat,
shirt collars are smelly and wet.

Buses come and buses go, 
meaningless bargains
perpetually struck
with tourists they will never befriend.

For a hundred years,
this has been the trend.

Beneath the bridge,
the river flows
fast and noisy,
and promises the hills,
a battle of wills.


The pebbles are humble,
they do not hurt my soles,
all about my feet,
ice water flows.

I stand and gaze up
at the morning peaks,
they look grey 
and really old.

I can see the 'needle'
dwarfed by sheer majesty,
in a third dimension,
between two giants,
and yet I know,
the 'needle' is truth
like a tear drop,
intact on a lotus leaf.

Balanced precarious
on a precipitous ledge,
it changes color,
'needle' on edge.

As ice changes color,
moves inexorably forward,
a glacier forms,
carries along debris
towards freedom.


He has one pumpkin
and seven cabbages to sell.

He stands beyond the turn
on the mountain road by the temple.

Are these definitely his
or stolen from a neighbor's patch?

His sweater looks borrowed 
but his shorts are his own above spindly legs.

The rose in his cracked cheeks
is 'trademark' hill child, a little wild.

Where is there any logic
in wearing socks with protruding toes?

 But I don't have to act
my shoes wouldn't fit him anyway.


Cactus in this roof-top desert!
Large robust flower,
the color of blood,
shown off by the white and slate grey
of desolate countryside,
valleys are wide,
the glacier is a slow conveyor belt,
you are driving against the flow.

In your headlights,
the ice takes on life,
hostile, animal eyes,
the snow walls glow.

All is occult that can be,
your puny ears 
hear the monster river down below,
road shoulders are rock and grit,
one wrong turn and your skull will split.

And yet,
all you think about,
are the split-ends in your shampooed hair.


The mist is like a beggar's clothes,
gaping holes.
Somehow hiding the valley's shame,
moonbeams slant
like a digit less leper's crutch,
bandaged with pus and blood.

Once there were Sisters of Charity here,
now monkeys beg.
And roadside stalls blare vulgar songs,
 messages to tourist buses
that belch at delicate spring flowers,
divinity has been re-found.

Here I lay in a shallow stream,
two young decades ago,
twiddling my toes at tadpoles.
Vodka chilled
in mountain water tinkling by,
sunlight on the distant peaks,
brightness, that I wished would stay.

Now I am prosperous, I travel the world,
amidst corridors of creativity,
and yet,
I grope for mountain treks, in which sanity prevails,
gaps between 'outages' and breakdowns.
By that mountain stream,
in rents in the mist, I still look for tadpoles.


You say this one more time
and I will weep,
like the pine trees do,
after an afternoon shower.

Tears have dried;
like blood
from an absently swatted mosquito,
and yet I sob.

This is how all sunsets are,
the afternoons
is what you should dread; 
they go away.

As do years in myriad flowers,
farewell bouquets,
and promises made amidst a crowd,
'until then'... when?


A proper word for this sheer drop
of five thousand glacial feet,
you would not have found
in your Russian-English dictionary;
The Americans call it - 'awesome'.

As was Baikal in January.
But no fishermen drilling holes;
ice is rock, both here and there,
only no vodka, no fresh water fish.

And the road goes up and up
until my chest hurts, like it did
when you cried.
But here there is no respite,
no laughter to take the pain away.

wouldn't you say?


Over this chasm there is a railroad track,
two rails with intervals of nuts and bolts,
there, where the valley ends
they will meet.

Over that one is a wire rope, chain and pulleys,
passengers sway in the mountain wind,
primitive gondola transport,
there, on the other slope
is the rhododendron track.

I drive by this abysmal abyss
and think of railroad tracks I have traversed,
junctions I have met and crossed;
if there is a god,
let him put me to pasture
beside a rarely traversed railroad track
with a snack.

I will light the signal lamp.
I will bring the barriers down, 
I will ask the cars to stop
before I cook my evening meal,
of lentil.

And I will see the seasons turn,
I will fear the clouds that gather,
I will herd the milk less cow,
I will guard against the fox.

You will come and watch me work,
tend my garden for a tourist walk,
you will walk my walk with me
down your favorite Novy Arbat.

And when the sun has finally set,
you will tend to your railroad man.



One of my editors in his pedantry,
told me pine needles can't be pink.

Have you seen a forest of pine
shadow a carpet of yellow 'down'?

Have you walked this forest of yours
just one step ahead of dawn?

As pink as carpets of silk can be
woven by some sun god in Astrakhan.

The pine cones are darker highlights
in divine design ( not from Connelly's
on a discount).

Come away from your outlet malls,
nature calls.

------------------------------------------------------ ' Ashok Niyogi was born in 1955 and graduated with Honors in Economics from Presidency College, Kolkata. He has been in international trade and has traveled the world over including a 10-year stint as an expatriate in Yeltsin's Russia, where he was Managing Director of a Singapore based Commodity Trading Company. He has been and will be published in innumerable magazines and anthologies (print and on-line) in the USA, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe. He has not been published in Africa, or the Caribbean and this rankles. Ashok has two books of poetry published by A-4, India---'CROSSROADS' and 'REFLECTIONS IN THE DARK' and one 225 page paperback/E-Book of poems ---'TENTATIVELY' from iUniverse, USA, (with Amazon, B&N, Borders etc. distributing ), out in March 2005. He also has chapbooks published by Scars TV - USA. He has recited and read his poetry in many forums and his readings are available in India in CD form. Ashok was schooled in Irish Christian Brothers' schools and writes in Indian English, with whiffs of Russian, inevitable Americanisms and the odd Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali turn of phrase. He claims to have basic survival skills in these languages. He is an avid reader and traveler and this finds its way into his poetry. He is unemployed since writing poetry is not a gainful occupation, and lives off his savings, charity, inheritances, gifts and his wife's earnings (she is a senior corporate manager in Delhi). He divides time between the Bay Area in San Francisco, where his daughters live, India, Russia, airplanes and wherever his poetry takes him.' Send us your comments on this article
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