SS Prasad

Tamil Poems

Have you read Nakulan?

The singer elaborates a single line.
Have you read Nakulan?

Meeting Nakulan

You don’t have to meet Nakulan
to know him. You know him
through his students.

You don’t have to read Nakulan
to feel close. He touches you
through Sivakami.

You see him.

Performing Poetry to Nativists, Madras

He landed at Anna Salai
riding a peacock,

spelling the word,

L- U- Z Luz,
and not L-U-X lux.

For him, taking risk
was like eating rusk.

B-O-Y boy,
boyyunna payyan;

G-I-R-L girl,
girlunna ponnu.

Silk Smitha is not
Marilyn Monroe,

Marilyn Monroe is not
Silk Smitha:

He wagged his finger,
I nodded my head

In his voice,
I heard a Saviour:

“Brothers and Sisters of India!
I’m back from America.”

On a Temple Chariot

She pounds rice;
he pounds her from behind.


Someone knocks at the door.
Quick! Hide your boobs
inside the book.
I’ll hang my cock
behind the coat.


One slip
between the cup
and the lip.

One alphabet
from idiom
to idiot.

One syllable,
moolaigal (brains)
become mulaigal (breasts)

One number
to fiddle your head,
and you scream:

mandaya nondina,
pundaya nondina

Lesson for a Poet

Suppose you go to a concert,
you like the singing;
you want to tell the singer,
she sings well.
The Sabha secretary
permits you; you interrupt.
You tell the singer,
she sings well:
"Maami, neenga nanna padarel!"

When the concert resumes,
the singer won't sing
at a higher pitch,
holding her breath
to try and sound even better.

Dhum katti, sruthi yetthi,
maami innum nanna paada
try panna mattal!

Good singers don't caw.

Lunch Hour

A dot in the desert,
the bus
is a mirage

on the road.

Lunch hour. Wrong time
to wait for the bus.
You think of seasons

other than summer.

If one bus crosses
left to right, won’t another cross
right to left?

A dot enlarges;

it doesn’t make a stop.
Another halts,
but it isn’t yours.

One by one,

the buses in your imagination
to trucks, tempos and cars.

You almost die

of thirst,
when your bus arrives,

It eats you alive.

The poems in this selection are from SS Prasad's manuscript in progress, "Tamil Poems". More poems from this sequence have appeared /are due out in The Journal of Literature and Aesthetics (Kollam, India), The Journal of Indian Writing in English (Gulbarga, India), New Quest (Pune, India), The Journal (UK) and Otoliths.
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