Shrine, a collection of poems



(c) Stephen Gill, 1998


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author




Published by World University Press in 1999; Cyberwit Press, Fall 2008








I want to be me;

I wish to sing my own song

I want to say

something about myself.

Let me live

some of my own life---

the life of silent pains.


I want to ask

how I am.

Let me find me---

my smiles

my own hurts.



let me emerge alone

and look into me.

In the fire of self

let me radiate.


Other lyrics are also good,

but today

I want to hear me.

Let me breathe

within my own shell.


I want to express my self

drink my own water

flow in my own way

live in me.


I want to be

my own rajah---

my own devotee.

I want to be shut

within me.






No one can buy

nor sell

the blessings of the skies

the warmth of the valleys.


No one can buy

nor sell

the freedom of the winds

the grace of the lakes

the dignity of the palm trees

the mystery of the oceans

the sobriety of the jungles

and the songs of the seasons.


No one can buy

nor sell

the fragrance of the flowers

which is a friend of the universe;

and the inter-dependence

of all animals, nations and nature

who form a family with humans

and who breathe

the same air

under the same canopy.







My observations

have convinced me

the Garden of Eden

was a distant planet

where the flowers of happiness

always bloomed.

When Adam and Eve

broke the sceptre of the divine law

they were chased out from there;

only mother earth gave them refuge.


On the soil of her mind

they planted

the seed of the tree of knowledge

which they managed to steal.

It has yielded

the fruit of jealousy, superiority, murders,

rapes and exploitation in abundance.


The blood of Cain

still runs

in the streams of the tree.

It has poisoned

the arteries of mother.

Her fall

would be the demise of an age.


Her children

will be soon exiled to another planet

as their ancestors were.

Where will they go from here

is a question now.


They are sure

to carry the seed of this tree

to corrupt the house of the host

also there.





I asked my conscience

if it had perceived

in the eyes of humankind

the unshed tears

of hurt and humiliation.

A touch of scorn in its silence

nettled me to ask

if it had ever heard

the bricks of my cries

falling on the blades

of the environment of repression.


The lull

which descends upon a graveyard

under the sheet of a frozen night

pricked me on once more to know

if it has power to predict

that memorable knock

which would awake the mind

to alter history

caught at the honeycombed crossroads

of long journeys of violations.


The constant strikes

at the wounded nerve

stirred the body of conscience

in the sanctuary where it dozed

like the indifferent gods

on high mountains.

Its trembling lips

were an ocean of truth

which revealed to me that

conscience is blessed

with everything,

except words.





Like a prisoner

I am led each morning

by the arms of irresistible impulse

to the company of the television

that offers vinegar to silence me

as my ears remain plugged

to the song of my daily life.


Facing my avowed foe

I gallop my breakfasts

and dinners,

blinded by the dust of despicable horror.


The spice-sprinkled tales;

the bombs dropping, leaving

trails as some planets do;

the tanks striding

like giants in the Arabian Nights;

and the spray of the bullets

remind me of the urchins at play.


Alert in the bunker of panic

I lie a hostage

to the ghastly Gulf War

that raises

the high walls of the captivity

to my freedom and peace

in my own living room

though I am thousands of miles






Bodies rotting in ditches

or dumped with the garbage.

Bodies washing up

onto the beaches

like bundles of clothes

or lying discarded

in open mass graves

heaped together

in grotesque piles.

Bodies without hands

or heads without bodies.


Grenades were thrown

in places of worship

and those who escaped

were chased to be cut down

as if

they were carrots.


Who will tell

whose young body is here

and who were those youth

swallowed by evil.

All lie here

like the mowed grass on the lawn.

Who are these faces

on whose eyes and cheeks

drops of blood

glitter like pearls.

In half-shut eyes

their dreams are now stones.

Bodies wrapped with red

lie in the lap of dust.


Here is a mother

who moves the corpses

to find her son;

here is the cry of an old man

buried in the cries of the wounded.

Who are these innocents

whom the storm of cruelty

has extinguished

as if they were candles.


The earth

that drank their blood

is speechless;

The void

that danced with the clouds of horror

is crowded with vultures;

The streets

that roared with people

are solitary.

The deepening silence

stands in the shade of a shock.


The statesmen are quiet

and so those

who remember God

day and night.

No one knows the dead;

those who knew

have fallen.

The survivors cannot burn corpses

in spite of the threat from diseases


it is against their creed.


It is a familiar scene

from Bangladesh

at the time of freedom;

or a place in the middle-east,

Bosnia, Rwanda,

Somalia or Lebanon.

It may be any country in Asia,

Africa, Europe or South America.

This happens

when ethnic feuds

or religions 

are taken to the streets

and homes.

It is repetition of the lust

for a few acres of land

or to eliminate minorities

to please their god.





She was sexually abused

from the age six.

The problem was compounded

at school

where racist ruffians roamed

with their concealed weapons.

In the season of carefree nights,

when teens go to slumber parties

and giggle about boys

she was struggling to survive.


She had no one

to turn to for help

and no where to escape.

When not even fourteen,

she ran

burying the fetters of her home

in a grave of her past.


The urchins

of uncomforting memories

she carried wherever she went.

She went through

the valley of denial

thickened with the cactus of shame.

She hated herself

now she hates society.

She is entombed

under an uncontrollable storm

of anger and resentment.


The years of abuse

has damaged the delicate nerves

of her relationship with God,

men and herself.

The carpet of her trust

has worn out,

the plant of her love

has gone dry.

She is a burnt out candle.


The deranged beasts of depression

stress disorders

and insomnia

frighten her.

She passes

the brief hours of her sleep

in the stifling jaw of nightmares.

She dies a little each day,

fighting the lingering demons

of her deep, deep pain.


Though she feels

the pleasing smell

from the fragrant spring

of the age of thirty,

yet, she trembles within

when she sees strangers

and Halloween masks.

The sand fortress of drugs

affords her a quick shelter

from the persistent raids

of lonesomeness,



and the dark.


She never held any job

for more than six months.

She is a divorcee.

A bum

in the eyes of her neighbours

because she is fed by welfare.

Several times she attempted

to cut the racking cord of her life

but the twinkle from the eyes of her son

warmed her

with a fire of hope.


Her soul is scarred

by self-mutilation.

She turns to self-affliction

through an eating disorder.

She passes her time

visiting psychiatric wards.

She doesn't know

who she is.

The feelings of being worthless

often overwhelm her.

She appears normal,

but at heart

She is an amputee.


Her Dad was a violent alcoholic,

large, sad and lonely.

He told her repeatedly

if she ever complained

she would be sent to a foster home.

Buckled to the safety of her house,

she was drowned often

in the murky lake of his urges.


He was the Susan Smith,

the murderer

of the infants of her happiness

or a carjacker who seized

the summer of her days.


The counsellors

told her

that he have had assaults

of severe depression

or an unbearable pile-up of stresses.

He might had suffered

from low self-esteem

or a personality disorder

that resulted in the central palsy

of his dark impulses.


What good does it do,  

she asks

while the soft fingers of pity


with the strings of her heart.


For help

everywhere was a waiting list.

The therapists

built a dusty web of enigmas

around her


opening the door of her heart

to the police

was not a dish to relish.

The justice system

had roadblocks and legal wranglings.

Her mental trauma grew worse

when her friends

showed disbelief

in her story.


The trial was

emotionally straining.


the beads of her tragic episode

before the judge

was a drama of agony.


With tears

welling up inside of her,

she went through the corridors

of pain at court.

While her Dad gazed out

the courtroom window

the judge called him depraved

for breaching

the trust of authority.

He was imprisoned

for stealing her innocence,

her childhood, and her youth.


Will it do any good to her Dad,

she asks?

Is it going to free

the encaged wolf of tension

in her;

will it melt the iceberg

that freezes her up

whenever someone shows

softness to her?



is it going to uproot

the trees of rejection,

anger and frustration

from the yard of her days?



is it going to fuse a life

in the sepulchre of her emotions


end her endless battle

with herself?

Trying to pick up

the pieces of her life

is the emotional roller-coaster ride

that has deeply

drained her.


She often cries out

why? why?

She wants to know

how to be healed

from the wounds.

She wants to be free

from the clutches of grief

and guilt.

She wants to be forgiven.


The court victory

did not give her the expected light

at the end of the tunnel.

She still hits the bottom

enveloped in crisis.


Her journey

on the rugged path of despair

surrounds by a jungle

of loneliness

that leads to nowhere.

The vision for the glorious sunrays

remains an immovable framed picture

and the hands of indifference

humiliate her

at every step of the social ladder.


She has reeled

from fury and frustration

jammed within with the fabric

of a crippling chaos.

She conceals

a saga of untold misery.


Her soul is a cage

where the hurt crawls,

swells and sobs.

Scenes of childhood lock her

behind the barbed wires

of her fragile hopes.

She cries

for the dreams unrealized.

She feels worse than

battered wives.


Why is she punished

for the wrongs of others,

she asks?

Don't talk of compassion

for a sharp, vicious slap.

How to break loose

from the shackles of the past

is a never-ending question

for her.


her road

seems to be ending.





He developed thrush in his mouth

and a lesion in one ear

that seriously damaged his hearing.

He got pneumonia in both lungs.

His every breath became a battle.

The disease slowly

destroyed the body,

attacking his spinal cord

and central nervous system.

Cataracts filming

his eyes,

made every movement more difficult.

He was beginning to hunch

as the disease ate him.

His shaving kit bulged

with containers of pills:

he took thirty-six a day.


He was a throw-away person--

pale, week and lonely;

for his mother,

the rotting disease

was taking away her dreams.


Both knew time was short

but hung on hopes

for a cure.

During the first three months

it was hard to deal with

the death sentence--

Doctors gave him six months.


She constantly comforted him

as they discussed

flowers for funeral

with tears in their eyes--

carrying a pain

that tore her insides.


In such days

of anger and despair

she was still bonded with her son.

She quit working

as resources dwindled.


She is not wonderful

as some letters suggest--

only a mother.

She gave him months of her love

as she watched

the horror of his dying.


She wants to hold him

in her arms once more.

She has now

sorrows and memories to own.


She did not cry

rather was deeply mad

because of how he became infected

and mad at the lifestyle

he was forced to live

and mad because every minute

a haemophiliac in the world dies.





I congratulate

the freshness of the dawn

for cheering cheerless hearts.


I also congratulate

the rain drops

for effacing

the futility of dryness

from the womb of the earth;

and the young branches

for changing the mantle

of the barren trees;

and also the fire

for strengthening the cowards;

and above all

the forge of friendship

for producing meaning in life.




I am often greeted

by the bursting flutters of the dove

while rambling the rayless resort

of the fears

from the scamps of my surrounding.


I hear

some unknown voice calling her

to be above the confusing cries

of mindless feverishness

and the hounds of alienation

from the houses of infamy

of social upheavals.


I see her fleeing

from the blinding fog

of unfulfilled human dreams,

blank eyes

facing blank walls of the present,

half-blossomed flowers

of the youth of aspirations,

meaningless pledges of our leaders

and above all

those concerns which lie

in the locker

of the anchored ship of memories.


A soothing glow

from a fireplace of compassion

that would radiates

the redness of young lips

from the future,

burning the decaying stems

of the buds of the past,

should entice my dove

before the last star of the evening

bids her farewell for ever.






terrorists profess

their targets are not innocent

yet they engineer sneaky devices

to awaken the dogs of gloom.



all that runs

opposite to their fabric 

is unholy for their mind.

Why do they hold

their book in one hand

and a sword in the other.



hiding behind

the fungus of hate

they rape

the sanctity of life.



their road to bliss

litters with lingering bitterness.

Why they are

merchants uncivilized.



they are trained

in the school of anarchy

that blooms

as deadly nightshade

on the fringes of fallacies.


they talk of harmony

but plan genocide.



they cannot see

the ecstatic dance of peacocks

and across a borderless horizon

the dove flying.


do they promote the twisted agenda

of insanity.


do they love

the catechism of ruin.

Why do they commit outrages

which are futile.






the shores of youth

I have raced with the winds

emptying bottles of Scotch,

appeasing delights

for spicy foods,

tormented by a longing

to slake my thirst

to sleep soundly

under the reign of

the calm morning


my hours with the muse.


I hopped human homes

and roamed in the Sahara

to breathe leisurely


hear melodies of comforts


a nightingale of compassion.


I toiled

tangling and untangling

the knots of questions

and aches

with the frail nails

of reasons

in my silent search

guided by the Moses

of my shadow.                                                                                                                                                                


I slept, while walking

and dreamt realities

in the night.

The dreams

which danced in my galaxy

were the pearls,

scattered on the sand.

I passed my life

gathering them.


I often wonder

who will trust a poet

who has been eyeing woman

from a flying carpet of lust

and why the reliable muse

should keep visiting a soul

whose body of vitality

was lashed 

for lacking money

a companion

and time?



It all started

when I was enamoured

by the muse

on the bend of the road

of a cold night.


While walking hungry

I saw an unlocked house.

I tiptoed

into the kitchen of the books

to grab warmth and nourishment

for the baby

I carried inside of me.

From that day

I never looked back.                                                                                                                                                   


Relentless robot

I kept walking.

I heard doors closing behind me.

Dropping tears

on the breast of the dust,

I heard another door banging

and then another.

I kept walking

because of the baby

I had inside.


Outside the chamber of comforts

I set the child free.

I used the drugs of my pen

to repose

beside the fireplace of fancy.

Sitting within the walls

of my writing,

I forgot the cold.



(C) copyright Stephen Gill