7 poems from The Alphabets of Latin America (2020),
by Abhay K.
I, Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor,
born a sovereign, died a prisoner
mercilessly strangled by a garrote
under the cunning friar’s watch
then burnt without a dignified
Inca burial, to prevent my rebirth.
Spaniards brought a strange disease
to the Andes, that killed my father
his successor died soon, plunging
the Inca empire into a succession war
Huascar and I fought for years,
subduing him, I emerged victorious
soon armed intruders entered my empire
with sixty-nine horses and a hundred more men
being ingenuous and benign, I called them
for a dialogue falling into their trap
the deceitful friar offered me a breviary
asking me to convert to Christianity
disgusted I threw it down in rage
Pizarro ordered his men to charge
a handful of them, heavily armed
butchered my army of five thousand
none of them was wounded or killed
they captured me alive in the battlefield
to be set free, I offered to fill
my cell with silver and gold
but Pizarro conducted a mock trial
and sentenced me to death by fire.
Huascar: half-brother of Atahualpa
bare colossal delights
out of proportion
political at times
quetzal like resplen-
-dent rotund satirical
but not fat.
The old man rose
from his deathbed
one last time
with good conscience
searching for the place
where air was clear
to breathe free
and the ever hanging
he closed his eyes
who was already dead
died again this Thursday
all men, women, and children
on the earth
could not save him
from dying again,
he wished to get up slowly
at least once
to embrace the last human
before dying again.
Time changes everything.
The skilled, agile runners
who kept the Inca empire running
carrying quipu – talking knots in one hand
and pututu – conch shells in another
balancing themselves on rope bridges
over gorges and valleys
transporting presents on their backs
running over two hundred miles a day,
now rest at the Larco Museum
with a long nose like Pinnochio
wearing a sun shaped crown
and a garland, all made of gold.
What are you
waiting for Moai?
Your eyes always open
what’s so urgent
in this world,
do you await?
If you are looking
for a saviour
there is none,
no one will come
this far to save you
even by chance
you’re on your own
we’re all on our own
close your eyes,
go home and sleep.
After Lo Fatal
Man is happy for he is alive
like a Quetzal full of colours—flying
no greater joy than to live and thrive
no deeper despair than dying
to be, to know, to find one’s way
the bliss of having lived and to hope
that tomorrow will be better than today
why worry about what we don’t know
to live every moment, laugh, travel
to indulge in the pleasures of flesh, revel
for death is certain for everyone who is born
from void we emerge, to void we return.
*(Bihar-India, 1980). Poet, editor, diplomatic & Ambassador. He published in poetry Enigmatic Love: Love poems from Moscow (2009), Fallen Leaves of Autumn (2010), Candling the Light (2011), Remains (2012), The Seduction of Delhi (2014), The Eight-eyed Lord of Kathmandu (2018), The Prophecy of Brasilia (2018), The Alphabets of Latin America: A Carnival of Poems (2020), between others.