Sunday, November 30, 2008

Poet: Pramila Venkateswaran

Two poems from: Behind Dark Waters, by Pramila Venkateswaran, which will be released by Plain View Press in one week. Pramila was raised in India and has many family members in Mumbai. There have been so many violent images from there these last days, we offer this beautiful music and poetry as a balance.


Krishna’s Reply to Arjuna

Krishna, do wars make sense?
Why fight against my own kin?
Krishna, restore my balance!

Arjuna, have you slept through my lectures?
For you are still at the beginning,
asking if wars make sense.

Look at war with a spiritual lens.
Do warriors think of me often
to restore their balance?

Among their mind’s inhabitants
am I number one?
Only then ask if wars make sense.

Am I more than a passing glance?
More than the stars that blink
to restore the traveler’s balance?

I am the woman who held the infant,
also the man who held the AK-47,
so, certainly, wars don’t make sense
if I am absent to restore balance.

*Krishna and Arjuna are the protagonists of The Bhagavad Gita, which is part of the epic, The Mahabharatha. The Bhagavad Gita is Krishna’s advice to Arjuna on life. It begins with Krishna persuading a despondent Arjuna to pick up his weapons and fight his hundred cousins to get his kingdom back. As the dialogue progresses through the eighteen chapters, Krishna unfolds the philosophical questions central to Advaita or non-duality, such as the meaning of reality and the way to liberation through non-attachment, right action, and devotion.

our little lives

you wonder how one lives after horror

but we do

as if something old inhabits us
and we have done this before
picking up where we left off

without hope, without dreams
to simply dwell in the gap
between opposites

as a little girl in the hub of bloody hands
or the one in a crossfire
in an antiseptic city

each picks up her little life
and walks toward some uncertain

©Pramila Venkateswaran, 2008. For ordering information email:

Pramila Venkateswaran, author of an earlier poetry collection, Thirtha (Yuganta Press, 2002), was a finalist for the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. She has published poetry in the United States, Canada, and India, in Paterson Literary Review, Ariel: A Review of International English Literature, Atlanta Review, Prairie Schooner, Kavya Bharati, Long Island Quarterly, Calyx: Journal of Art and Literature by Women, Nassau Review, and other print and electronic journals. Recent anthologies, A Chorus for Peace, en(compass), The Light of City and Sea, Long Island Sounds, Letters to the World, and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery include her voice among poets from around the world. She has participated in multimedia presentations of her poems with dance, music and visual art and has performed her poems nationally, most recently in the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. Her essays on race and gender have appeared in Women’s Studies Quarterly and in Language Crossings. Her next book, Wild Syllables, is due shortly. She has a doctorate from George Washington University and teaches English and Women’s Studies at Nassau Community College, New York.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks you Susan for poems that ask the impossible questions so that after
we read we are instructed in beauty. I hesitate here but a spiritual
awareness that like the poems is beautiful in how it gives us something to


11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely presentation, Susan. So calming.
Thank you.

1:30 PM  

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