Poems by
Duke Sekhon

A Lullaby Consecrated to Infant the Terrible

a poem by Duke Sekhon

“…. Virtue owns a more eternal foe
Than Force or Fraud: old Customs, Legal Crime,
And bloody Faith the foulest birth of Time.”
…………………………………………..- ‘Shelley’


O rock his cradle, The General is off his rocker!
He’s flaunting his Nukes, threatening with Rocket’;
Showing off an empty head, an empty pocket!
Bereft of sense and bankrupt of finance
In ‘address’ could but offer mere words of offence.

O hark! O hear!
Whatever th’ General says, with solemnity bear:
What confounds his confusion he shall make clear.
Alack, for th’ umpteenth time th’ General has spoken!
But, what did he say? – Nothing! – Nothing?
Then why that asinine sneer and nonsensical glare?
’cause he’s a blazoner par excellence – can let loose
A volley of words whose clatter adds dynamite to fuse:
Skunk like sprays around stink in his defence,
And acquires universal wrath for the nauseating offence.
Of all that he surveys he deems himself th’ Lord;
Each proclamation he makes, he th’ foremost to applaud!
His face lights up when scandalised by false praise,
Woe betide th’ one who fails a toast to raise.
Keen to pick up a fight to prove his martial skill’,
If not for some curse for fun he would kill.
Now Ego’s prisoner, now Ambition’s tool,
Now pretender to wisdom, now a downright fool.
He puts his foot in mouth and brains in boots:
In vain they cry and pinch – he cares two hoots.
Sick is the man; his psyche sick even more:
Wines and dines on blood and gore.
Crime from Sin, Right from Wrong, Cannot tell:
Merry bell th’ same to him as death Knell.
Ever fired with hatred to kill and maim,
Sups with th’ Devil yet calls himself a saint.
His Genius: a bagful of tricks trite and up his sleeve
A pack of lies: having squandered all in a spending spree,
Now a pauper with an empty bowl, without a friend or means.
A mean, bulling Bull-terrier with a Bully-rook in tow,
(Th’ Pup whose yelp echos his master’s bark in every show –
By kin a cross between a Jackal and ‘ F…kall’, you know.)
To growl, crawl and affront is all they know.
All those medals he wears, on th’ sly seem stolen;
He couldn’t have earn’ d them with head so swollen:
Maybe, kiss’ d th’ rumps of some, climb’d some backs to rise;
Kick’d some in th’ crotch, and snatch’d th’ prize!
Let me prick this self-bloated Giant to his pigmy size:
Strip his conceit of its outward shine – nay, hide,
And show him for what he is underneath – an awkward child,
Who needs to be spanked every waking minute he cried.
Is there no brave general in his ranks to make a name-
Who’ d defeat th’ monstrous brat at his bloody game?
Shut this wanton child of mischief in a caged crib
And fling it across th’ High Seas to float or sinK-
And get this world rid off this surly kid!

Do excuse th’ General’s feeble mind and general fault’
If he never looks beyond th’ foe whatever th’ cost.
Excuse, too, his blasphemies, his impudence, his blessed homilies,
And forgive all his past, present, and future follies;
Forget each provocation, intrusion, and battle, please;
Hand over Kashmir on a platter th’ General to appease;
Cringe to his every command, bow to his every demand;
Prostrate our National Prestige ‘ cause th’ General so decrees;
Then crawl to his bloody feet and beg for mercy;
Disarm and dismember our forces and sue for peace-
Then, and then only,
He may condescend to let us live in peace!

A streak of lightning bespatters bleak skies with dire bodings;
Rustling leaves are trembling with fear of forebodings;
Ocean’s wane and wax betrays its inner emotions;
Stars shun light, sunk to its depth is th’ sun;
Birds and bees have fled flowers and trees;
Insects and reptiles have burrowed underneath;
Low keeps th’ wale, th’ shark and small fish on th’ sea-bed;
All creatures have cast aside vesture and meat, have not fed;
While low lies th’ lull on earth, th’ moon has climb’d its crest;
Imponderables weigh heavy in every human breast;
Th’ owl’s screech foretells of a darkness at noon;
Dress’ d in red and lethally arm’d looms large our doom:
Th’ mad-bred General is rattling his sabre in maniac swoop’!
(There are no horses but th’ asinine General around-
That explains th’ kick’d up dust, and hoofs’ sound!)

To pen! to phone! to television! to press! they run!
Th’ General has spoken! with a loud-mouth’d, smoking gun!
Bards, prophets, astrologers are a disturb’d lot!
Analysts’, intellectuals’ hearts with misgivings are fraught;
Politicians, prattlers, slanderers and such other frauds
Are too involved in personal feuds to answer th’ Nation’ s call:
All th’ above worthies, without exception, are in great demand:
(They can rave, defame and assail, you must grant.)
They daily jog-trot to every TV channel or press-room;
To and fro they hasten, crying, “make room! make room! “
They push and jostle, bribe and cajole to get there-
They crawl and creep, fall and leap, and dare
To be on every programme – here, there and everywhere:
Like Banquo’s ghost they disappear and reappear,
Bothered by some itch or bug that bit them right there!
Switch on any TV channel, or turn any press-page,
You’ d be despondent to see these worthies in needless rage,
Hard-press’ d to defend or concede remarks thoughtlessly made:
This one only despairs; that one is anguish’ d beyond repair;
To explain cause, effect and result is everyone’s care!
Some are touchingly involved, some foolishly, so; others caught unawares;
These whisper, those roar, few sleep; th’ majority simply stare:
Intemperate utterances; evasive, unpersuasive answers inform their views:
And aah, “few from th’ horse’s mouth reveal, hark! th’ asinine news!”
But to th’ Nation they owe their debt;
And they have pay’d it without fuss or bet:
Th’ Nation could not have known its clout
Had it not had th’ benefit of their doubt.

Be off! General – stop your rant and rave!
All your craft can’ t defeat Sense with all your craze!
If you have Nukes, so do we, mate?
But you are insane while we are sage!
Look Heavenwards! just indulge but one ray of light!
Don’ t just look at th’ conflict through bloody gun-sight,
But look at it, as we do, through hind and foresight.
Remember! we are brothers, torn asunder, of same blood and land;
Born of th’ same womb, fed in th’ same pram:
Please! give peace a chance! – there’s none th’ harm!
Let us be brothers in each other’s arms
Rather than enemies at Arms!
Come! quick! let’s kiss and embrace
Lest we kick each other in haste
And forever are enemies vying in arms’ race.
If you love Kashmir and th’ Kashmiries, as you phrase;
Then, mind your bloody business!
Let’ em be th’ masters of their fate!
If th’ Kashmiries live in your heart, as you swore;
We put ‘ em on a higher pedestal – and offer much more:
They are th’ emperors and denizens of our heart and soul!

You savage Kashmir not out of love or pity,
Or by th’ hapless and poor Kashmiries to do your duty;
(Th’ word is out, th’ world knows, and Kashmiries understand!)
But to plunder Kashmir and rob its people of their land!
Where have you th’ will or wherewithal
(Your pocket is empty, you beg, on every loan you default:
And your own people in penury fall sick and starve.)
To supply th’ needs of Kashmiries of food, clothing, and lodge!
Stop th’ fight! Drop th’ Gun!
We’ ve had enough! You’ ve had your fun!
Drop th’ pretence! – or else, face th’ worst to come!

Dare you invoke dead History’s dreadful Ghosts!
Ghauri, Ghaznavi, Abdali – mere spectres of horror at most!
To you: of little accord, no avail; yet full of hope!
Look! how gaudy and grotesque they look:
Tho’ painted green with Envy’s brush
Yet th’ underlying red betraying their horrid blush:
These ill-fed, ill-bred wenches are no one’s keep’
Bought with pelf and bluff; will not oblige, but freeze:
Trust them not! – they’ll shanghai your cause most foul-
At th’ most turn turtle when aroused!

I don’ t flatter th’ General to deceive or make him retire;
Nor, like a fool, I’ll beseech or bellow his Ego’s fire,
Th’ which, with his Ambition ‘s crave, can set th’ world afire!
Th’ General can exude charms beyond guile’s reach
When for something desired he performs curtsies to please:
But why not drawn us, th’ enemy, under its enchanted flood,
And prove beyond doubt his good intent and good blood:
Prove to all he possesses sense all done and said,
And, contrary to general belief, is not a complete dud!

Those who to subjugate mankind combine Sin with Crime,
Neither please wretched fanatic not serve their Gods divine:
Religion ought unshackle humanity and not in blindness bind-
True faith shall unite th’ races and shall not divide!
Human failings, fallacies, and follies have an eventful past:
Neither Time nor Learning nor Experience this to man has taught.
Still, a few sanguineous eccentrics and debauch’ d beings crave
The boast of posterity to call them, “The all time great!”

What about our homebred, Bajpayee – our Ruler, Poet, and Sage?
Well, he’ s an ol’ political horse, well-versed in kicks of th’ tirade;
And, tho’ wobbly at th’ knees, still trudges around th’ State,
Dragging along his onerous burden in his own lethargic haste.
His oratory is so ‘sublimely bad ‘ that it leaves a huge gap
Between pause and speech: mouth agape, tongue-tied, eyes at
Half-mast: and right under his nose an unsecured space
Th’ terrorists to mount strike and unhindered escape!
And his stance so rash, so true, and so wide,
As to allow a train of desperados to dash through and deride:
His every stand is casually rigid and foolishly wise;
Th’ Army knows not whether it’s to withdraw or to strike:
Brave to offend but coward to fight-
A twichild twiddling his fingers and heaving sigh-
With one eye on votes and both eyes on throne:
But, he’d deny it, of course, and swear by your life;
And then go on to demolish truth to uphold th’ lie!
Be it a bomb blast or a deafening sneeze,
He is secure in his complacency and wakeful sleep:
You think, he’ s any match for th’ General’s somersaulting Feats
When his shaky, zigzag stride will tie down his feet?
Only a dope will hope; th’ wise will not agree.
He, a lost poet and a lost leader
In a world of make-believe; as it were,
Lost to the People, lost to the State:
A living testimony to every deaf and dumb statue.
In his foremost Minion, witlessly, th’ Nation He has bless’d:
George, never shy to disappoint, is always in town to press:
Always ploughing a lonely furrow on some godforsaken Steep;
Sowing in th’ wind pearls of wisdom the laurels to reap-
Instead, fructification finds fugacious fruits turn to weed’-
It’s their crown he wears in testimony to foolish deeds.
George deserves a special mention in military dispatch’
If I survive th’ General wrath and ‘ POTA’ s ‘ fell snatch,
You shall hear me serve him back all his trash!
And his Foreign Minister is foreign to his own land;
All speak for him, but him, on his stand-
If at all he gets to speak, he’ s hard to understand:
For, all audition is lost in ensuing charade of clash
Between monotone and monotonous words at full bass.
His home Minister is at home only to “Sant Pariwar”
Now riding a tiger, now a ‘ Rath ‘ perch’d atop a car:
His onerous task: to oversee Communal Goons run riot every season;
And, when challenged, to raise a storm to blind reason.
Before I run through th’ entire gambit of th’ Cabinet’s run,
Surely, I’ d be charged with treason or silenced with gun:
Prudence teaches us all discretion – discretion in some
Example will find to emulate a lesson-
But you! O Dire Satirist! will learn and heed none! – Amen!

Opposition! be not unduly pleased!
If anything, you are th’ worst of us, three!
Another day, another time, we, too, shall meet!
” When the hurly burly is done “,
The battle is not lost but won!
For the while, keep offering and withdrawing support:
No one is fool’d; not one is pleased – people are simply bored:
They neither want you nor him any more!

If you find my fare gross, insipid, and with truth bitter;
Don’ t take it with a pinch of salt-
But, shove it down your gullets with a dash of Attic salt.

… – Duke the Muse