Vaisakhi {a poem}

Guest blogged by Preeti Kaur. Preeti wrote this poem for The Langar Hall in commemoration of the 312th anniversary of the birth of the Khalsa this week.


ive never seen a wheat harvest
never worried over winter punjab frost
monsanto seed or otherwise grown into grain
carried tender on the heads of women
to grind into a thousand rotis to feed the family

ive never seen jallianwala bagh
garden of colonial blood bullet 400+ bodies
a small boy at the bottom of the well the only hope left alive
the patka on his head a flag
our flag

ive never seen 13 Singhs standing
their blood the ink to keep the record straight
holy is the water which sheds from the mothers eyes
began with the first bullet into the belly of amritsars shaheeds
ended with flaming tires around dastars in delhi
or never ended at all

ive never seen
ive never seen

all ive seen a phulkari of gulabi firozi
turban tractors atop john deere
sift california san joaquin valley silt
almonds pistachios raisins oh my
ive seen saag paneer packaged spacefood
five dollars on the TJ grocery store shelf
ive seen gossip fly continents
aunty-to-aunty gupshupper network to chachas pateeja to you-know-who to me to you
ive seen lines of taxis at the san fran airport
spot the pagg to pick up my overstuffed luggage
drive me home

jugni jaa vari umreeka

kaljugest of kaljugs
where winter is a saturday afternoon spent
in costco to emerge victorious with a cart
full of EverythingNothing from EverywhereNowhere
kaljugest of kaljugs
where winter is my brothers face kicked in
because he wears a turban. at night. alone. in the city.
before 9/11 on 9/11 after 9/11 beyond 9/11
kaljugest of kaljugs
where a jamdoot hides inside the signature of the check to pay the tax
which funds the sky machine
which mistaken identifies every man in a turban a terrorist (most of all in other countries)
which blesses the bomb which
blows apart the lost lover
lodges his limb into the hillside where she lived
kaljugest of kaljugs
where winter is a cavalcade of five thieves driving on a highway in minnesota
straight into the caverns of my heart
which i chucked into ten thousand lakes one morning
when i thought i had lost my father
my mother my sons

when i thought i knew
when i thought i had never forgotten

eh jagat dhooay da pahaar
this world is a mountain of smoke
five thieves to blind from the sun

above the mountain rises the moon of truth
daya dharam mokham himmat sahib
out of thousands only five
seeds of light to sow everyday

to root sprout bloom wings
sparrows into hawks

seeds to shovel into that lost chucked heart
seeds whose flowers i will wear in a garland around my neck
on the playground office cubicle hospital corridor
seeds to chew as the final cure
when i have collected every disease in the galaxy into a glass jar
and taken a swig
gambled the stars in the night sky away for a chance to see my name
in print
seeds to meditate on in the dark night
when i sleep alone with my dirty breath
when i have lost even my shadow
when i have lost even my grandfathers shadow
daya dharam himmat mohkam sahib
the seeds i will sow
until i see

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4 Responses to “Vaisakhi {a poem}”

  1. Empowerment Engineer says:

    This poem is beautiful, very heartfelt and touching; poetry that speaks from one heart, but tells the tale of multitudes. Thank you Preeti.

  2. brooklynwala says:

    yes, thank you preeti! it's a refreshing change of pace to have poetry here on TLH, especially this powerful piece

  3. Bandana Kaur says:

    this is so powerful, preeti kaur, thanks for sharing!

  4. annu says:

    love this poem just read it on my radio show frequency feminisms (*women powered radio) on