The Paper Tigers

It’s another day at the newspaper
Someone’s dead. Someone’s maimed
Some are history, while others have made it
Another headline, another story
Another deadline, another write-up.

More important that the people
Are the phrases, clichés, descriptions
For the people and events are transitory
The heads roll ‘n roll ‘n roll ‘n roll
But the bodies are always the same
Every day the news is just the same
Someone’s won, someone’s lost
Someone’s here, someone’s not.

To survive, you need, what do they call it?
News sense.
Twenty killed—how boring!
A thousand down—great display!
More the gruesome, more the pretty.
The bad, badder and the ugly
Make great news.
City kills man: No news at all!
Man kills city: Wowee! Wah! Banner! Banner!
It’s the dictators, tyrants, psychos
Who rule the newsprint.

There is the occasional victory covered
The occasional good man
The stray hero that the press makes
The hero. the sacrificial goat
Fo they make him, praise him
Put him on a pedestal
(the fattening of the holy goat)
only to kill him…
…and he screams in headlines
dripping black blood all over the page
For the best story of all is the
Hero who failed
who failed the aspirations of the press
who is wiped out
and consigned to the waste basket of the news room

And if he doesn’t fail?
Declare him a God.
Then eavesdrop. peep. dig. trail.
slander. speculate. analyze.
and expose him as a mere mortal to the gullible audience.

A significant person doing an insignificant thing
An insignificant person person doing a thing of significance
A significant person…a significant thing
Insignificant p. insig. thing)

Today’s lead story is
the next day’s single column follow-up
and then it vanishes without a trace
only to be replaced by a synonym
which follows the same path
ad infinitum

The world seems so small. condensed
In the single edition of a paper
The world in your hands
and a new one each day

One man speaks nonsense, a million read sense
The writers are bigger than the stars
and the deskies even bigger.
Come to a newsroom
Mundane literature sprouts
overnight and is dead within a day
leaving each journalist feeling as if he’s
authored a thousand books
Thousands of images come and go
It’s not reality
But it is some sort of live show

Cartoons give some relief
in this comedy of errors.

What is a journalist?
A writer? A historian? A comedian?
A grave digger? A moral index?
A paper tiger? A…?

© Sunil Rajguru


No matter what you do,
The world moves on at its pace,
Break your hand or tear your heart,
Perish your body or sell the soul,
The world moves on the way it wants.
Split the atom or synthesize a gene,
Discover the cell or the basis of life,
Travel the speed of sound,
or its multiples,
The world moves on as it will,
with the same ratio of
Joy and sorrow,
The same degree, scope, quantity and
quality of,
human suffering.
For a stone, spear, arrow or mace,
sword, dagger, knife or gun,
grenade, bomb or missile,
spills the same red blood,
and takes the same innocent life,
As does the atom.
a thousand spears were raised
to kill a thousand lives.
a nuclear bomb is enough
But the thoughts behind it
and the intentions
are the same.
No matter what you do it’s all the same.
Cure a deadly disease
and a deadlier arrives in its place.
Kill the killer
and you’re branded one.
Topple the top
and you’ll be toppled in time.
Rule the country or the world.
Nothing changes,
it’s all the same,
no matter what you do.
Spend a lifetime in a penance.
God won’t come to Earth.
Create a religion of love today,
tomorrow it’ll be one of hate.
A saviour will come and save the world.
And soon it’ll be in need of saving again.

(This poem appeared in The Asian Age on March 17, 1996)


Darkness darkness everywhere
and not a light to think
Walls walls everywhere
and not the slightest chink
Loose ends loose ends everywhere
and not a thread to link
Eyes eyes everywhere
and not the time to blink
Yellow yellow everywhere
but not the shade of pink
Keys keys everywhere
and not a lock to click
Boats boats everywhere
and still we’re going to sink

(This poem appeared in a student’s publication called Cheel in Jodhpur in July 1993)

The madness of war

The madness of war
The clash of two egos
from logic afar
brings death to all ethos.
Those sleepless nights
those restless days
a wind so foul
life in a haze
death and destruction
misery and sorrow.
The rise of the sadist
an uneasy tomorrow
an unwanted bloodbath
A time of frustration
cries of anguish
a path of destruction
the horrid aftermath
a hopeless today
sheer foolishness
war’ll never pay.
The madness of war
Destruction! Destruction!

(This poem appeared in Femina magazine on March 8, 1991 in the Teenage Section)

Man Machine

The daily routine. The daily rut.
We all do the same things
again and again
and again
Each day is a carbon copy of the previous day.
The same mornings
the same work
the same evenings and the same nights
We live in a world of action replays
Life is a Xerox machine
photocopying a single page
Each copy stands
for each day
we represent
the machines we create

© Sunil Rajguru

Punching Bag

Did you have to treat my heart
like a punching bag?
You used me like a handkerchief
to wipe your sweat
a handy bag
to carry your things
a vehicle to transport you
to your destination
I thought you loved me
but you just needed me
A need is satisfied and forgotten
unlike love… which goes beyond
Our relationship was like
the last rays of the setting sun
The sun sets only to rise again
but our paths shall never cross again

© Sunil Rajguru

Strong Love

My love for you is so strong
that I would hold you in my arms
crush you
kill you.
and love would do the same to me.
For in this world,
Everything perishes,
save death
our love can live only through it

© Sunil Rajguru

Where times meet

Mountain Lake

It’s always today
Tomorrow and yesterday are two worlds
which are equally far away
only the directions differ
or perhaps they meet at the same place
As the beginning of time and the end of it are two times
which are equally far away
only the directions differ
and perhaps they too meet at the same place

© Sunil Rajguru

Senses Better Left Senseless

I open my eyes and I see darkness
I close then and a blinding light
I open my ears and hear sadness
I close them and it’s joy in flight

I open my nose and smell decay
I close it and find a new freshness
I open my mouth and breathe foul air
I close it and feel no breathlessness

I open my heart and feel the treachery
I close it and find hope and faith
I open my mind and reach a dead end
I close it… an eternal road with no hate

© Sunil Rajguru

A Piece of Freedom

There is so much suffering in my heart
so many tears that I have held back
so much that my tongue has to say
so much substance that my words lack

My memories strain under the burden
my thoughts are too heavy for my mind
my feelings slowly sink into the past
as my very self I fail to find

I stare at the empty darkness
as I’m locked in a door less room
the four bare walls, floor and ceiling
all together spell my doom

I years for a small free space
and just one breath of fresh air
I yearn for just one moment of life
a moment I can live without care

© Sunil Rajguru

We are our Ghosts

Life is an elephant’s burden
on an ant’s back
The punishments outweigh
the rewards
Nothing is worth living for
or dying for
All around is misery
increasing by the second
and time passes

Life is a game of chance
but God is the Gambler

We live in a world of dreams
Each thing around us
is a mere phantom
Just an image of the real thing
which doesn’t exist
We live in our own houses
of imagination
and we are our own ghosts

© Sunil Rajguru

Where is my song?

My blood rushes as my heart recoils
My body convulses as my head boils
My conscience shudders as my soul awakes
My mouth vomits as my stomach aches
I fall down as my legs can’t carry
I don’t look up as my eyes see a haze
My hands are stiff and self unwilling
The burden of guilt is slowly killing
My self, my depths and my soul
God… save me from this hellhole

My tongue doesn’t speak—it’s been too loose
Too late. What now? It’s no use.
My shoulders are crushed under the burden
My back has been totally broken
I speak no more, do no more
Think no more. Hope no more.
I’m like a grave. Dead and lifeless
The heart is full of pain yet expression painless
What is right? What is wrong?
God! Where the hell is my song?

© Sunil Rajguru