Bijoy Krishna Handique

Waiting for the birds

All birds must die

like humans.

Some die gorgeous, some unsung for

just like the routine lay of a neighborhood whore.

Some die even violently, at the height of excitement.

This is the broad line of fare division.

To class-conscious academics, the turkey

ranks high among his companions

in pomp and grandeur

always on choicest occasions, a delight to the epicure

illumination, percussion accompany

as in a gay Chinese funeral.

Then comes the second category: Chicken.

Just a quiet ritual. Occasionally, a gourmet’s delight

on the table lie more bright than in their own run.

Birds which die by violence, extraordinary,

ever in their tragic associate with mock heroics

thrills of chase and flight. That’s what makes a pheasant

siphon out its own aura,

memory out of the way, aroma.

Turkey, chicken or pheasant, whatever decoration

post mortem, on the table’s spread they share

a common service, a common cause, a common fate

sacrificed at the altar of gastronomical high.

There is only one bird, cock; bold, daring, belligerent.

Eloquent in protests and challenges

crest-high, even on gallows, he is arrogant

like his human counterpart, ignorant.

more keen on credit than on result. He gets soon

liquidated sometimes as a turkey’s substitute

before cancer spreads to the table

he fights in exclusion.



Spring is an interpretation

- A beholder’s mood

Fables of time

A catalogue of colours

Bloom and joy

Colour, always, is not about bloom

Bloom is not always joy

For some colour is a bloody tale

Of suffering, pain in its trail

Bloom grows on the grave.



We all ail

With a perpetuation syndrome

To leave a mark hereafter

In stone, in marble, bronze.

Just to be commemorated

In anniversaries

Though you’re not assured against

Your admirers’ memory playing tricks

A bird does not hang a plaque in sky.


Bijoy Krishna Handique was a member of Lok Sabha for six consecutive terms and a former Central minister. His interests encompassed Assam and northeast India, where identity, immigration and ethnicity form the bedrock of politics and division.
A few of his poems are being translated into Assamese. An anthology, in English, is expected.

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