Two Poems by Sumit Ray

Dancing Girl, Mahenjo-daro (source: Wikipedia)

By Sumit Ray 

Dancing Girl

Beads of perspiration had gathered on their brows.
Those who were merely watching,
They knew they were not of this plane any longer,
For she had long ago captured even the air in her swirl.

She was possessed like the Lord of Dance
Striking the universe with her mudras,
Shattering the Earth with the sure
Assail of her feet.

It was a performance so spectacular,
A performance so octacular,
A performance so stupendacular,
That no language could sufficiently define.

And then, she stopped.

Like throwing water on a sleeping man.
Like lightning striking a playing child.
Like the first sight of a starry mountain sky.
Like that, the audience was shocked into silence.

She stood there, breasts heaving with her power.
One hand resting on her waist,
The other hanging by her side,
Her body leaning back from her divine kala.

No one knew what to say,
So they began to mutter.
Some with anger, others with fear,
And some who said her time was near.

Her eyes trembled behind closed curtains.
Her mouth twitched like she was conversing
Beyond the pale of this world. Her feet
Created rhythm with the ground.

Slowly catching her breath,
The Dancing Girl, she said,
“I put on the greatest show for you.
So great it was that
I had to stop to admire it myself.”


He Who Is Without Sadness

The great king, greatest perhaps,
Surveyed the battlefield.
The red of victory covered every inch,
Rapidly turning to black.

Triumph would be trumpeted in all
Corners, songs would be on every mouth.
Tributes would flow in on the bent backs of
Ambassadors with allegiance in their heart.

But, what would that mean to the parent
Without a son?
The wife
Without a husband?
The child
Without a father?

Can this be righteously considered
A commensurate price to pay?
Can one man’s glory not be measured
Any other way?

What cost ten thousand yesterday,
Costs a hundred thousand today,
And, who knows, a million tomorrow.
That’s the inflation of the ego.

None of those watching knew what was different
About that day when their liege
Got down on his knees and silently sobbed,
“There has to be a better way.
There has to be a better way.”

Sumit Ray is an author and photographer living in Mumbai. He believes the world is messed up beyond repair, but it’s still worth trying to be decent. You can read more of his work at


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