Maithreyi Nandakumar

In living memory


And the animals stood to be shot,

in the forehead

bereft of speech or protest,

their short lives at an abrupt terrifying end.

Cremated en masse, all that meat in ashes

noxious fumes rising from pyres all around,

– humans wept.


When the waves back home receded,

taking one large slurp,

before a mighty kill,

raging forth, forces unleashed.

An ocean churned –

Gods of the underworld wreaking havoc,

on weeping humans.


The delayed Games begin,

a globe of nearly 2000 drones rises

over an empty stadium,

as the invisible virus continues

creeping, seeping, enveloping

every street, every corner of

this planet of ailing humans.


There is no God riding through the wreckage

Vishnu as Kalki, a lone rider of the apocalypse.

Forests burn in Europe, Australia, America

as the great deluge swallows entire cities.

For this is the age of darkness

they said – grandparents, sagacious aunts,

the last gasp of human excess.


I wrote this poem as the Tokyo Olympics had begun (a year late) – it coincided with the anniversary of Foot and Mouth, the first major calamitous event that I can recall this century. And then it was the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, and then of course the pandemic that we are still living through. Nature continues to strike back with forest fires and other reminders. To all, the definitive fatalistic explanation would be this was the age of Kalki, the age of excess…

Chennai beach.jpg

Bats on a tree, Theosophical Society grounds, Chennai, India