Poems by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih
O the ignominy of my lovemaking!
The marble-chipped kitchen floor,
the cold linoleumed living room,
your narrow bunk, my double bed,
the dark corners,
the sitting, the standing,
even the bathroom with its shampoos
And I offered you nothing
but these moments:
incredibly mad and passionate;
incredibly obscene and delightful;
incredibly mean and generous;
incredibly cruel and tender.
And I promised you nothing
but the remote possibility that one day
the sourness of lemon might change
to the sweetness of orange.
And yet you opened everything to me:
your lips with their succulent taste,
your breasts with their acupuncture nipples,
your thighs with their ultimate gift;
even your simple soul
that I afterwards condemned
to prowl the town’s sleazy hotel rooms.
O, the relentless nights of remorse!
I offer you the accursed prayers of a pimp.
Yesterday one of my people
Killed one of your people
And one of your people
Killed one of my people.
Today they have both sworn
To kill on sight.
But this is neither you nor I,
Shall we meet by the Umkhrah River
And empty this madness
Into its angry summer floods?
I send this message
Through a fearful night breeze,
Please leave your window open.
About the poet
Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih (1964) has published a number of books in Khasi (the language of his tribe) and English besides edited volumes and translation works of poetry, short stories and drama. His collections of poetry in English include Moments, The Sieve (Writers Workshop), The Yearning of Seeds and Time’s Barter: Haiku and Senryu (HarperCollins). He is the author of Around the Hearth: Khasi Legends (Penguin) and the co-editor of Dancing Earth: An Anthology of Poetry from North-East India (Penguin).
His awards include the first Veer Shankar Shah-Raghunath Shah National Award for literature (Madhya Pradesh, 2008) and the first North-East Poetry Award (Tripura, 2004). He teaches literature at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong, where he lives.