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Ajmer Rode

Ajmer Rode has published books of poetry, prose, drama and translation in English and Punjabi. His works are included in several English and Punjabi anthologies and prescribed in Punjab and Delhi universities. His poem “Stroll in a Particle” is one of the 8 international poems inscribed on a public wall outside the new office complex of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. He has written and directed about a dozen plays and is the founder of Canadian Punjabi drama; has served on the national executive of the writers Union of Canada, and on juries for Canada Council and British Columbia Arts Council. Among his more than dozen awards are, University of British Columbia Lifetime Achievement Award, Punjab Government’s Best Overseas Author award, Guru Nanak Dev University’s Best Citizen (literary) award, The Anäd Foundation’s (Delhi) Anäd Käv Sanmän award, and Darpan Magazine’s Extraordinary Achievement Award.

Mustard Flowers

If you see an old man sitting alone
at the bus stop and wonder who he is
I can tell you.
He is my father.
He is not waiting for a bus or a friend
nor taking a brief rest before
finishing his walk.
No, he doesn’t intend to shop in the
nearby store with marble doorstep.
He is just sitting there on the bench.

Occasionally he smiles and talks.
No one listens.
And he doesn’t seem to care
if someone listens or not.

A stream of cars, buses, and people
flows on the road.
A river of images, metaphors and
similes flows through his head.
When everything stops
at the red lights it is midnight
back in his village. Morning starts
when lights turn green.
When someone honks his neighbor’s
dog barks.

When a yellow car passes by
a thousand mustard flowers
bloom in his head.

A tall man passes with shadow
vanishing behind him. My father
thinks of Pauli who left village
for Malaya and
never came back. A smile appears
on his lips and disappears.

When nothing of interest
happens he starts talking again:
where were you born, and where
have you come?
Shall you ever go back?
It is all destiny, yes a play of
destiny, you see.
He muses
and nods his head:
and where will you die my dear?

The thought of death is most
interesting and lingers on
He stops talking and thinks of the
Fraser Street chapel where he
has attended many funerals:
He thinks of the black
and red decorations and
imagines himself resting peacefully,
a line of people
passing by looking at him
for the last time.
His eyes are lit. Perhaps
this is the image he enjoys most
before it disappears
with the rude arrival of a bus.

Passengers get down and
walk away like ants.
The bus leaves.
He looks
at the traffic, again to see
if a yellow car is passing by.

Once She Dreamed

Once she dreamed she was Mileva,
the long haired Serbian girl
who married Albert Einstein. She
quietly watched when Einstein twisted
the absolutely
flat space with his hands.
She watched
when Einstein broke the absolute
flow of time into pieces and
spun them around at different

She was there when Einstein
reconstructed the universe he had shattered.
He grew greater and greater
grew modest and tender.
When finally the world came to
touch his hands
Mileva left.
She said she still liked to live
in her absolute space
and move at her own pace.

Once she dreamed she was
Francis Gilot
the young woman who married
Pablo Picasso.
She saw
the uneasy calm on the canvas.
She saw faces turning into cubes
and cones.

When finally Picasso was engulfed
in cubes of fame
Gilot left.
She said she wouldn’t become a cube.

Then she dreamed of Jeannie,
who married Karl Marx.
Jeannie read stories to her
hungry children
as Marx fed the hungry of the
world in his imagination.
His beard curled more and more
and Jeannie saw Marx grow into a
prophet trying to unseat the lords.
When infuriated gods came
upon him Jeannie stood at the door,

Last night she dreamt nothing
but a vacuum that
expanded and burst to wake her up
The man lying beside her
had quietly disappeared. She said he
was confused saw things heard voices
needed care.


From Poems at My Doorstep
by Ajmer Rode
© 1990, 2017 Ajmer Rode
Published by Ekstasis Editions