Three new selections from our ongoing series of Sherlockian Poems: A Rare Friendship, The Dark Valley of Fear, and Breakfast at 221B Baker Street.
A RARE FRIENDSHIP
To the Memory of Arthur Conan Doyle
All this was a long time ago.
They lived together, day and night,
in heat and winter, as if
they didn’t care for anything at all.
I have met them at their rooms,
thinking of the cases which
occurred while I counted my fingers,
waited for the two friends.
“The game is afoot!” one said,
while the other was calculating
the odds against the case which
had brought them together.
Baker Street seemed like an oven
in the August of 1889.
The rains had stopped
and the heat seemed to have come
from Afghanistan, along with
Watson, who bore it cheerfully.
Holmes played on his violin,
with the tobacco in his pipe.
Who cares to go back in time,
except me? Who spent the mornings
with the Baker Street Irregulars
while Lestrade watched the drama
that was being played purposelessly?
The two friends were reading
each other’s mind, while
the morning newspaper waited
to be used carefully, the eyes
picking up A Study in Scarlet.
Friendship it was and remained so
for days, weeks and years.
“Excellent”, the detective said
even as his friend held out possibilities.
At this time, one wants to go back
in time, be with the case in hand.
The hound still sounds at night
somewhere in the countryside.
The Valley of Fear is designed
with all its intricacies of fate.
Here, in London, no one wins, no one
loses, except Lestrade and his team.
I was in London in 1895, watching
every turn and twist that fate
had presented to me with.
Who else was there? Who tells me
that he was there too, among
books and trophies, letters
and other memorabilia.
Let the stories float at this time,
live with us, concluding problems
that chose to be there.
Who wants to look at friendships
as if they were the rarest of the rare?
May we dream of those events
that were making up stories.
May the friends choose to be with us,
during the rest of our broken lives.
THE DARK VALLEY OF FEAR
For Roger Johnson
I can only see dark faces
returning homes from the mines.
There is fear in their eyes,
in their sluggish walk.
Here, everyone thinks about
the future, of uncertainties and fears.
The houses are small, their interiors
waiting for new arrivals.
The club house is the only place
where bright lamps take away
the evenings to gossip;
the strangers are not liked at all.
Somewhere near it, a young girl’s voice
speaks of love and compassion.
Here, lovers are few. They spend their time
talking of distant places where
there wouldn’t be any fear.
There is death here, walking
hand in hand with life, like
the sun and the moon, day and night.
Death is discussed in close circles
and decisions are made regarding
how exactly death should come.
Someone is assigned the task
of clearing inconsiderate faces.
The sound of bullets rushing
through the nights mix with the sound
of walking feet in the slush
of clay and death, past and future.
There are bodies that open out
in the morning, waiting to be buried;
the end has its voice too.
Let us stay here for a while
and watch everyday things.
We may not wait for a long time though;
here the walls can hear our voices.
Who takes care of this town, offers it
the much-needed shelter from death?
The dark valley is full of noiseless
lives, their moments too precious
to be forgotten, too large to be
a part of honest lives.
Who waits here to be spoken to
in the middle of the nights about
the plans for survival, death and life,
as if nothing was lost, nothing gained?
BREAKFAST AT 221B BAKER STREET
I have been here for sometime.
our talk has carried us
to India, Afghanistan ,
Salt Lake City, the magnificent islands
of Andaman and Nicobar,
supported by old stories of stone.
Holmes finishes his cigars
one after one, till the end of time.
Mrs. Hudson brings
our coffee, waits at the door,
asks if we need anything else,
then quietly departs, her footsteps
sounding on the stairs.
I don’t talk, just listen to my friends.
An hour passes, and then, another;
the wall-clock ticking away
towards future and crime.
It is time for butter, cheese and toast,
orange juice freshly made.
Watson has lost himself in thought.
The street below shows
the Sunday crowd moving towards
their familiar destinations.
Holmes is deep into the Daily Mail,
exclaiming from time to time.
“The morning is so dull,” he says.
We finish our breakfast, get back
to our resting places, thinking of nothing.
So then, finally, I’m back in 1895.
This is the end of my world.