Poem by Arun Kolatkar (1932-2004)

Yashwant Rao


Are you looking for a god?
I know a good one.
His name is Yeshwant Rao
and he's one of the best.
Look him up
when you are in Jejuri next.


Of course he's only a second class god
and his place is just outside the main temple.
Outside even of the outer wall.
As if he belonged
among the tradesmen and the lepers.


I've known gods
prettier faced
or straighter laced.
Gods who soak you for your gold.
Gods who soak you for your soul.
Gods who make you walk
on a bed of burning coal.
Gods who put a child inside your wife.
Or a knife inside your enemy.
Gods who tell you how to live your life,
double your money
or triple your land holdings.
Gods who can barely suppress a smile
as you crawl a mile for them.
Gods who will see you drown
if you won't buy them a new crown.
And although I'm sure they're all to be praised,
they're either too symmetrical
or too theatrical for my taste.


Yeshwant Rao,
mass of basalt,
bright as any post box,
the shape of protoplasm
or king size lava pie
thrown against the wall,
without an arm, a leg
or even a single head.


Yeshwant Rao.
He's the god you've got to meet.
If you're short of a limb,
Yeshwant Rao will lend you a hand
and get you back on your feet.


Yeshwant Rao
Does nothing spectacular.
He doesn't promise you the earth
Or book your seat on the next rocket to heaven.
But if any bones are broken,
you know he'll mend them.
He'll make you whole in your body
and hope your spirit will look after itself.
He is merely a kind of a bone-setter.
The only thing is,
as he himself has no heads, hands and feet,
he happens to understand you a little better.



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Poetry by Editorial Team The PoetBay support member heart!
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Written on 2020-10-19 at 00:05

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Ann Wood The PoetBay support member heart!
Such a lovely poem, but a bit sad and make me cry. I love the beginning with that question " are you looking for a god"? Thank you for sharing it with us Isabelle

jim The PoetBay support member heart!
He sounds like he'd be a good friend. Thanks for posting this, so nice see a new poet's name pop-up.

Lawrence Beck The PoetBay support member heart!
This is fun, biting poem. I had to look up Yashwant Rao and discovered that he was real person, an Indian emperor with whom the British signed a peace treaty because they could not defeat him on the battlefield.

Editorial Team The PoetBay support member heart!
Of course I posted it :) I liked it so much that I sought my husband out to read it out to him! It's not something I do much. Thanks for the introduction to this wonderful writer.


Bibek The PoetBay support member heart!
Kolatkar is one of my favorite Indian poets who wrote in English. I love reading many of his poems over and over. This one, Yashwant Rao, is an old favorite. I like how the poem begins with a casual, tourist-guide, vendor-buyer-like question: "Are you looking for a god? / I know a good one." The tone of the poem is quite tongue-in-cheek, which greatly contrasts with the grim subject matter.

Thanks for posting this one, Isabelle. :)