A Holus-Bolus Odyssey

May 13, 2017



The page remained
unblemished across the night,
waiting for letters.

But then why sniffle a haiku
When one can weep a sea?

The peepal tree has a new, green sheath.
It shimmers and quivers in the
barely felt breeze.
Everywhere around it is nothing
but baked dust, caked fields,
and brittle blades of what
once was weed.

I roll my sliver-grey buggy
off the freeway, into the pebbles.
An old companion, it wobbles
at the flaccid pull of limbs,
pining for youth that
once was in oodles.
I may wrap a dozen yarns
on the trunk of immortality,
but I am a leaf,
not the tree.

And I must walk the miles
under a fervid sun.
But in the lot, there are wheels
named Mercedes, with attitudes
fatter than their tubeless tyres —
tax thugs are a cumulus multitude.

Multitudes, cloning gold.
And I bloom folds on my hide
to further the legacy.
Truth be told: best states on the
planet are a banana democracy,
and best blogs a holus-bolus odyssey.


About umashankar

I am just a watcher then. Sometimes I watch life. Sometimes I watch death. Many times I watch in between...

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47 Comments on “A Holus-Bolus Odyssey”

  1. The Hook Says:

    My thanks for the cerebral odyssey, my friend.
    This was a trip my consciousness sorely needed.


  2. willowwrites Says:

    My favorite line:

    But then why sniffle a haiku
    When one can weep a sea?

    Why indeed!

    I hope your car gets fixed 🙂


    • umashankar Says:

      Actually, I was about to slink away after that frail attempt at haiku when it occurred to me I could go ahead and let loose much more. 🙂 As for the car, how I wish! Thanks Vicki.


  3. Shubha Athavale Says:

    Beautiful, Uma Shankar! And I want to compliment you that when I was reading this, it reminded me of Cynthia. I can say no more than this.


  4. Bruce Goodman Says:

    Oh to wrap a dozen yarns on the trunk of immortality! I thought this was a contemporary version of a Hopkins’ “Terrible Posthumous Sonnet”… Everywhere around it is nothing
    but baked dust, caked fields, and brittle blades of what once was weed. It’s a strange thing but I’ve had two spurs of late to get off my creative backside and do something: one was a CD that a former pupil sent me of his piano music (which I would describe as Shostakovich composing in the style of Erik Satie!), and the other inspiration is this, your Holus-bolus Odyssey. I want to re-begin. Your landscape of dry dust is more fertile than can be imagined – as the peepal tree suggests.


    • umashankar Says:

      Bruce, you stun me with your supernatural sense of closing in on what hurts a human. I am feeling giddy with your invocation of Hopkins here. That said, the despair, the desolation and the darkness tormenting me are not very dissimilar from what the towering figure may have felt towards his closing years, sans his vision and greatness of course. I am an illiterate when it comes to music and while Julian Barnes did introduce me to Shostakovich in The Noise of Time briefly, I am a stranger to Satie (forgive me, if possible). But I did Google him out and I believe I have a hint of what you mean when you said that. Now, who else than you would have talked of the holus-bolus of a catchpenny in the same breath as that? Your encouragements may goad me to prattle away endlessly.
      Bless your former pupil (and the one writing this note to you). Do re-begin. Like the peepal tree.


      • Bruce Goodman Says:

        I wouldn’t be too worried about having to Google Satie – I had to Google “peepal” – even though you’ve used the word before!


        • umashankar Says:

          Peepal tree is an inalienable element of Indian cultural consciousness. Sacred to Hindus, it is symbolic of shelter, solace, truth, enlightenment and eternity.

      • Good Golly Miss Molly Says:

        Blood, Sweat & Tears used Satie often…you’ll recognize his work when you hear it…You’ll know you’ve heard it before – but where? A conundrum wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a Pendleton blanket (I’m being impish now…)


        • umashankar Says:

          One of these days, Molly, I will listen to Satie and then I will never be the same again. You and Bruce are about the best online Music gurus I have!

  5. derrickjknight Says:

    A superb descriptive poem. And to remind us of Cynthia is a real achievement. The picture hasn’t loaded – perhaps following the haiku’s message?


  6. derrickjknight Says:

    As I was about to leave the page, the picture appeared 🙂


  7. Abhai Mishra Says:

    you may be the leaf, not the tree, but it’s you who signify life, the symbol without which the tree will be dead…


  8. Good Golly Miss Molly Says:

    This is a truly jazzy poem! A+….!!


  9. Durga Prasad Dash Says:

    The odyssey, though seems to be short, is related with a sea of stories.
    Was a little curious about Cynthia after coming across references to her in the comments.
    Of course discovered the link right on your side bar.


    • umashankar Says:

      You have aptly captured the nerve of my malady —I have managed to whisk the froth of several seas thundering within my bosom. I am glad you found Cynthia Jobin.


  10. ladyfi Says:

    How wonderfully poetic!


  11. raju070 Says:

    Sheer brilliance! You have packed gold in every verse in a way only you can.


  12. themoonstone Says:

    “why sniffle a haiku ..When one can weep a sea” .. Beautiful lines !


  13. subroto Says:

    We are people who need peepal. Sorry had to say that 😉


  14. Renee Espriu Says:

    I found your site through Blue Bee’s so thought I would take a look around. You write well and have a gift and way with words. I like this poem that says so much and causes one to take notice of their surroundings. I, too, feel as though I am an observer but what a wonderful thing to be.


  15. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder Says:

    “why sniffle a haiku/ When one can weep a sea” Haha…I often do that.

    I love the humorous and satirical aspects of the poem…


  16. inesephoto Says:

    Nothing like a beautiful poem. Love the conclusion.


  17. Pleasant Street Says:

    Wow, that was a great trip. I still have to come back to these lines:

    But then why sniffle a haiku
    When one can weep a sea?


  18. T F Carthick Says:

    That was rich in metaphor. Through your beautiful words you have aptly captured the sorry state of blog-o-sphere and a genuine artist to come to terms with this unreal world.


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