Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By Prathap Kamath

Photo by Plato Terentev on


the dog came around
the pile
at the same hour
sniffed it and fell in a trance

the pile had been there
from the beginning

the dog was
a later happening

i was watching from
the balcony
and to my bourgeoning sense
of finding

the dog added
a tale that was
to unfold
in my dreams
the noons of high summer

in later years
the dog’s trance fell
on me

as heavy as the pile
from which, upturned
faces with dry lips
and sunken eyes

assailed the skies and
the neighbourhood.


The wayside Buddha

A man lies on the footpath on his side,
in the sleeping lion’s position

one would say if he were a Buddha*,
knees bent, left hand on left thigh,

right elbow pillowing his head.
Amidst the choppy seas of the city

an isle of stunted growth and time
where nothing that is living moves.

No paraphernalia of the Enlightened,
street dogs and ants his acolytes.

The daily grind, an unmanned vessel,
drifts by never registering him once.

Poet, parasite living off contrasts, grabs
the moment, scrawls these lines.

*Buddha is believed to have died lying in the sleeping lion’s position.



Birds wake early at dawn
every day of their lives;
you know them by
their twittering –
there is no question
of oversleeping for birds.

There is no reason why
it should be so,
this punctual waking up,
why it shouldn’t be at noon
or why they should be
silent as caves at nights.

They build their nests
and fend for their little ones
with ridiculous urgency
as though something terrible
is held at bay
only by their activity.

I live in tandem with birds
from dawn through night
stringed to a plan
the provenance of which
I know not, nor want to know.


The gardener

The wind laden with moist scent of plant-life,
scooped down from the city’s sky.

Wading across a river of sun light
it swept through the little garden,

licked the sweat off her brows, sowed
kisses on loose strands of hair.

She was selfless like a mirror – the plants
thirsted to be seen in her eyes.

She was the gardener of a home too
where invasive trees clamoured for her care

and sucked her dry for flourishment.
The sap her home dried out

the plants returned and the flowers restored,
the wind and the sun silently propping.


Prathap Kamath is an Indian poet who has published three collections of poetry namely Ekalavya: a book of poems, Tableaux: poems of life and creatures and Black Spring. Blood Rain and Other Stories is his short story collection. His poems have appeared in several international magazines of repute and have been anthologized in The Dance of the Peacock: An Anthology of English Poetry from India and Witness: The Red River Book of Poetry and Dissent


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