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Comments on Gary Girdhari's Collection of Poems
if only the gods were awake

This poetry collection, if only the gods were awake by Gary Girdhari, is like a plate of spicy hot curry served with a cold glass of coconut water. The honesty in this work singed my throat and brought tears to my eyes. It gave me hope that one of the gods had whispered in the writer's ear and he had answered her call to action.

The poems forced me to reconnect with my own nostalgia for our homeland and to lament all that I have lost and can never have again. We are trapped in this land of plenty, of unrestricted greed… (and) uncontrollable lust (Civilized Bondage). Gary Girdhari sums up our plight so well in “My Psalm of Life”:

What is life is we do not care?
if we are mute out of fear?
To stand idle and just stare
is failure I do declare.

To care is to take action, to answer the call for help (We Are Not Involved!).

Giving serving praying
Expect nothing in return
This is seva.

(Seva)

There are so many poems that I like that I've decided to comment on them by their respective segments:

Nostalgia

These poems deal with the immigrant's loss and yearning for his/her homeland: a place, time, and people that live only in his/her memories.

I yearn for home
No where else in my heart
can replace
childhood memories
and dreams
I can only dream …

(Rootlessness)

There are memories of a genip tree, the ploughman's foot, getting ready for school, the false names of childhood friends, of the love and dream of a young couple (Cheddie and Janet) who changed our lives.

It's a love of home with all its beauty and imperfections, as expressed in “Matri Bhumi,” my favorite poem in this segment. In “Ill-Legacy,” it's the loss of love, integrity, self-esteem.

Emotion, Love, Regret

While many of these poems are an outpouring of desire and yearning for one's beloved – so beautifully conveyed in “In My Heart” and “Empty Soul” – the immigrant's nostalgia creeps in again. But this time, they are laced with regret.

Lost years, unrecovered productive years of play and work,
Helplessly, sinking in the sofa of complacency.

(Lament of a Migrant I)

Consumed with worry and concern
for family

dislocation
disruption
separation
degeneration…

Was it worth it?
Is it ever worth it?

(Lament of a Migrant II)

These are questions only each one of us can answer.

Nature & Society

Sharing concern about the issues raised in this segment, I thank the writer for the depth and sensitivity with which he brings these issues to our attention.

I love the rhythm in “Faces” and its conclusion:

There is no real difference among races.
“Their Flowering Faces” is topping on “Faces.”

I like the way “If” is written from the viewpoint of a youth, reminding us adults to act like responsible citizens of Mother Earth, to lead by example. Instead, as we are reminded in “De-Greening the Planet,” we exploit our Nature… Killing ourselves in the process.

“Trapped” together with “Lost in the System” describe so well the nature of our existence in the USA.

Today, tomorrow, and so it will be
In this confounded prison
To drive this mindless economy
.

And for what? We become “Lost in the System.” We do everything. We work hard. Only to lose the people we care about.

Lost!
No family, no friend.

The immigrant's sense of loss and regret again invades the poem, “This Land of Plenty”: loss of tradition, food, dress, speech, culture. And there's much more:

Remembering loved ones in a land distant and forsaken
Regretting the cracked linkages sometimes broken …

“Johnny” accompanies the plight of the faithful, honest, hardworking worker who is laid off during the financial crisis and the injustice of what we continue to witness and experience.

Poor Johnny
has to tie his waist. So tight
to help out with his gloomy plight
picking up cans and bottles. The crumbs from tables.
Johnny still waiting… waiting alone


War & Peace

No stone is left unturned. The wars being waged in the name of peace and democracy are also given due attention. There is so much insight in this segment.

“War. War. Everywhere is War” (Bob Marley) calls our attention to children after by war:

They are born in violence
What is their future
If they know nothing else?...

Too much hate
Stop
Before it's too late

But, as we are reminded in “Sacrilege,” we who make war have closed, detached minds.

We demonize to hurt to subjugate
to satiate our arrogance to obfuscate
to justify our greed
and rob those in need.

The warmongers are unmasked in “Bombs to end my hunger”:

Tell me not that you care for me and my soil
When all you want is the forbidden oil.

And the depth and sensitivity continue in the Philosophical section.

Closing Remarks

Our world is in a sorry state. We cannot wait for the gods to awake to save us. We Are Not Involved!

Today it's him or her
friend, stranger or neighbor
Tomorrow it may be me
It's not that we do not care
It's the reality of a fear…




Rosaliene Bacchus
Writer and Infopreneur
www.rosalienebacchus.com

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