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Bishnu Dey

(1909-1982 / Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India)

Bad times


He was walking behind me in the alley.
I see him again at the intersection
where four roads cross,
and plunge into a lane on my left.

Under criss-crossing lights and smoke
the more turns I take, the more I notice
the eager intent greed, like that of a fox,
in the lines of his moustache.

At the end of that lane I turn into
a street on my right, wide and spacious,
like turning from a canal into the Ganges,
I think, if we meet here maybe
there will be a confrontation.

But there is not. He keeps pausing
in the dark shadows under street-lights,
sometimes he lights a cigarette,
maybe he buttons his shirt,
he follows my shadow.
I don't know what claim he has on me.

I turn in fast through the west gate
past the posters by the cinema-hall
then through the tea-stall on my right
I walk through to the next street.

He will not leave me alone.
He doesn't stop to eat or drink,
just like me he feels no hunger or thirst.

As soon as I take the paved road along
the east, he follows behind,
like a shadow, but whose ?
Wearing rubber shoes
from far-away they fly toward me in groups
like groups of cobras - or they could be
just harmless grass snakes.

Straining my senses to listen and observe
at the edge of exhaustion,
finally I push in the open door
into the moment when I look into your eyes
and knit my fingers into yours.

The darkness of this morning eases and lightens,
grows in passion,
let the clock tick,
those who pace outside
and wait to pounce,
those who talk in the calendar

life will forget them;
on the wide sandy beach by the ocean
where all alleys end
that endless blue sea of time will
carry them away,
those wily bad times.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 24, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

- Duhshamay, from 'Tumi shudhu panchishe baisakh'

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