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Translated from the Punjabi by Hunardeep Kaur

Marx in the Park  

A chief police officer 

In his track-suit, walking fast 

in the circular track of the park 

Behind him – At a distance of five feet 

A sipahi, in his uniform 

On a run like a hobbling horse 

Adjusting his pace to the rhythm of the officer’s 

Step, he unsettles his own rhythm 

All at once, 

In the interspace of five feet between them 

Comes in Marx, 

Schooling the sipahi

I do not pity you – I am angry at you 

Why do you not walk alongside him?

At the same level, 

Both of you are humans – equals 

Walk on an equal footing 

The only difference is that 

Between a fat purse and coins wrapped in a rag 

I will go snatch a purse for you 

You will start walking on par with him 

The sipahi has become tensed 

No, Comrade, No! 

I have been walking behind him for three centuries 

I know everything – don’t indulge me in your talk 

After the duty, I have to go buy an admission form 

Of a good school for my child!

When I Become Gorky 

I am in a small city – awake 

The night is half there – half the other side 

Sounds rattle from the boilers in the cotton mills 

This is the Gorky night of the seventies 

I am standing below the dim, sad, wintery 

Street lights that are alive above the 

Large waste heap from the mill 

Soiled, rough, weather-beaten hands 

Appear before me 

The workers start walking inside me 

I start to become Gorky.

Modi Back on the Throne 

This is Chambal Valley one 

People say – 

Dacoits live here  

This is the Supreme Court of the tormented 

The trees are the judges – the lawyers 

The drifting sand – a hiding place, 

The bushes appear as witnesses 

The decisions are not announced – they are done 

You are blameless but not acquitted – remain here 

Turn your face towards falsehood and remain standing 

Till the day you are alive Keep shooting the lie 

This is Chambal Valley two 

Don’t call it Chambal Valley 

You will become an anti-national 

You will be shot at 

Without a sound 

The walls are made of electoral rolls 

Courts – brick and stone 

The decisions are announced 

A murderer is not someone who has murdered 

But someone who is called a murderer 

The one who kills a person 

Is a murderer

The one who murders a thousand people 

He is called the saviour of lakhs 

I am standing outside the second Chambal Valley 

Inside me is a tunnel 

That goes into the first Chambal Valley 

For the dacoit to pass through to come have a meal with me

Devneet (1951-2013) was a Punjabi poet from Mansa, Punjab. He contributed four poetry collections to the field of Punjabi literature, namely, Kagaz Kandran (Paper Hearts), Yaatri Dhyan Dain (Passengers Pay Attention), Pathar Utte Payi Saxophone (Saxophone on the Rock) and Hun Stalin Chup Hai (Now Stalin is Silent). His poetry embodies socio-economic realities, cultural landscapes that mark human life and captures in depth the subtleties of the everydayness of human existence. 

Hunardeep Kaur has completed her Bachelors in English Literature from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi and is pursuing her Masters in English Literature from Ashoka University.

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