Wit of an Idiot
poems by Rakesh Rampertab


See Poetry & Art: The Headless Soul

Other poems

The Return of my Love

I did write
my love a poem,
which she refused to read.
I did write
my love another poem,
but i found it under the Chester drawer.
And once,
when we quarreled as all lovers do,
my love did say to me;

"Fuck your poetry!"

Guyana and the Magician

A magi is the miracle

that is needed.
Not a con artist,
the kind that people vote for...
but a bona fide Christ—
with magic to disappear,
first the politicians
and thereafter, the miracle.

Obrero en Huela* (version 2)

I was there.
I have always been there.  

I was there when he died his death,
as colossas as the man who fell,
not in extravagance
but with a grace to be found
only among the most beautiful of the dead.

Blood as red as a fiery sunset
from his dry lips,

from earlobes swollen from gun butts

onto the unsympathetic earth.

If only you were there,
to see him sprawled, arms outwards
a Christ, betrayed and left to die.

Whatever the cause
w hatever the protest,
the dead lost its reason to be alive.

Long after the firing ceased,
those among us rested our guns,
and cleansed ourselves by touching his toes,
trembling before those eyes

that seemed alive
and watching,


* an assassinated worker

Rainclouds over Hunts Point

I have seen rainclouds
but i never saw clouds like these,
and may never see this again.

such monstrosity—a lanscape of dark softness
driftig effortlessly over the Point,
water down a road ramp.

and then, before i could be off
it changed its shape
weaving spirals and elaborate designs
passing over a lonely Bronx River

and then, just like that—it was gone!
grey, cloud, vastness
leaving only a drizzle
that fell and awoke that river.


There is blood in our stars
and revolution on our table.

And under it all,
sits a great vulture
the people refer to as "blue eye bhowjie,"
counting the diamonds and flipping the dollar notes
before shipment is made across the ocean.

How much money will she take
to end the revolution
for which she has no stake?

I can hear the thundering moans
of this political apparatus,
each time someone decides to breathe and resist.
I can see miles and miles of aftermath
lingering with the stone fury of this old beast,
as it croaks its religion into new converts,
the children of tomorrow—
for whom there is no relief.

There is
blood under our stars
and revolution on our table.

Immigrant Song

every immigrant is a beggar
every beggar, an alien

some came to ameria
some never arrived
some returned home
some were left behind

some became fat,
swollen appetites that erased their forgotten memories,
but like stuffed hyenas
with drooping tongues,
they keep circling the community for more

some became thin,
weary from the unemployment office,
and like hungry vultures wearng long faces
they just can't seem to get through the door.


Here in America
the immigrant will lie
and dream of being a native
back in the old, faithful country

There in that old country,
the native will speak the truth
and dream of being
an immigrant in America.


frog men...frag-ment

if i smile @ U
it is not B-cause i luv yah.
it just may be that I am having a happy day

or had a great night.


dance of immortals

come my love,
come and spread your hour
like a leopard's skin
under this spurious well of white ash!

let me swim in your volcanic stream
like a star supernatural,
and dance the feverish dance of immortals.

Guyanese Tyrant       

How do we deal with this tyrant?

Do we offer him the children for dinner
And whisper "democrasy"?
Do we let loose the dogs
And smash his skull against a prison wall?
De we needle-and-thread his mouth
Or shoot him down when he shows his scales in town?


Matilde and Ronaldo

Y would she
having loved him more than her self,

and knowing that his child and wife
left his hands tied,

Y would she,
even though Phillipe, her devout English lover,
left her a house and so much more,

Y would she
after her fit and eventual discharge from a hospital,
have him over at the "house"
where she opened herse;f for him
so that she may rid her self

and thus, breaking the silence of their silence.



every day

The past is the past.
Let it rest
Like fallen dust
Lying on the ground

...only a fool
would break into a tomb,
disturbing the remains
of a spirit gone away.

The future is the future.
Let it ascend
Like hot air
Into the terrible universe

...only a fool
would stay awake
in need of seeing
the morning sun rise.


The Tragedy of the Face


A man wil fool a woman's heart
by falling in love with her face,
A woman will fool a man's face
By falling in love with his purse.


What is a face
B ut a mask behind which
Another face hides?


she's tired of being smart
it's a fatigue.
she has had enough of her heart,
don't need any more push starts.
she says she's on a plain like an Indian chief
she's turned on by signs of grief.

why why why?

is lonliness so warm
when an arm's hold is cold,
love can sure be a harm
when the truth is a corner-store joke,
and suicide is a charm
when friendship is a choke.

Life's so heavy, she thinks she'll sink,
the baby's coming,  she's too confused to think,
for her mind is a loaded gun
a bit too heavy to carry around...

yes yes yes!

liberation must be good
if only she could...
get over her "hang"

Bang! Bang!


The Man and the Child

I once saw a baby,
And his father, I did see too,
The baby, I tell you truly,
Was leading the man.

Now, thirty years to that day,
That father truly died,
And leading that brown coffin,
Was a thity-year old child.


The Price of Beauty

I know of a place and it is not Hell. I read of a place where the only law
is that which forbids a woman from being beautiful. For if she is so,
she is certain to suffer a tyranny of the flesh; her body would be
plundered once and twice, sometimes twice at once.
And thereafter, some would be bayoneted,
others thrown into a well.
And those would be the
lucky ones—


Out of the threatening Night

she came.
into my room
where i lay alone,
except for my decency.

Standing erect beside a broken window,
a robe slipped from
her geometric nakedness
that stood silhouetted, as the silver of moonlight
invaded through the window,
disturbing our privacy.


El Dia de los Muertos

is not for the displacement of bones
that dare not speak,
or the hour to make room for those busy dying.
The day of the dead
is for the hopeful and greedy alike,
for you and I and in between,
the indifferent.

Upon the alter where the Son radiates,
arms outstretched in a dust-laded crucifixion,
a favorite comb
perhaps photograph
red wine and coxcomb
are assembled to arouse the dead from their slumber.

Old men sprinkle whiskey,
opening the pores of their memories,
and watch their wives,
wardrobed in neclaces and semiprecious glitter,
rotate before earthen ovens
so that they may give birth to
el pan de muerta.

Descending upon the forgotten city,
amidst a crowded scent of colored wax and incense,
to ressurect memories of lovers and loved one
who lost everything but their worthless bones,
the women wore papier-maches
hiding their beautiful faces.
And men, some young with age,
carried calaveras and empty coffins,
disturbing the business of the dead
with their dirty fingers that tugged at weeds.

And still,

too old or too weary for this anxiety,
a solitary figure found his lot,
and there, hummed himself a tune ,
counting headstones and crosses that compete
for another kind of immortality.

*Habas, beans; pasteles, cakes; calaveras, skulls; papier-maches, paper masks

a struggle inside a struggle

before the struggle
people would dream
during the struggle
people would fight
after the struggle
people grow old and die

Gypsy Woman

Out of India, she came,
The queen of Romany
in her tightly-knotted shirt
overburdened by heavy breast.
She moves,
Her hands arched towards the sky,
Teasing our gods.
On her ankle
jingles a litter of bangles,
and she swivels—serpentine waist
measuring the circumference of the earth.

She is the lady of memories,
a reader of fortune passing between
her colored fingertips,
of Jack of Hearts and the Queen of Spades,
but not the past.

Everywhere along the streets of Europe,
she is raped in alleys and murdered at will
Because she has no flag or country
Inside those caravans that burden the roadways.

(poem undone)


first version:

All of your sorrows
           furnaced in debts
All of your hopes
Christened in sweat,
Shall save no civilian
          If the Truth is not met.

second version:

All of your politics
           furnaced in debts
All of your history
Christened in sweat,
Shall save no Tomorrow
          If those leaders are not put to death.

The Moon and I

I have seen the moon
  sneaking into my room
    through the window
      and silently dwelling there,
        transforming the room
          into a holy place,
       and i took refuge in
    its warmth as if
 the moon and i
were mother and child...


The Nun

I need shelter from rain and yonder spite,
F rom all the unholy things they say about me
I need arms around my weary ehart,
And to kiss them that their eyes may see.

I need a cloak made of their gentle touch,
For what I feel at my side, a thistle or thorn,
I want to look at this unthinkable universe,
And feel my smell of this earth.

But naught have they taken from my pain
Except to mock my Master—who died in vain.

The Prostitute

I need shelter from rain and yonder spite,
from all the unholy things they say about me
I need arms around my weary ehart,
And to kiss them that their eyes may see.

I need a cloak made of their gentle touch,
For what I feel at my side, a thistle or thorn,
I want to look at this unthinkable universe,
And feel my smell of this earth.

But naught have they left in my name,
Except these stretched hands that tremble in shame.

Prelude to Peace (aka Prelude to War)

can a man hang a prophet
as another joke,
without strangling himself
and using a fat rope?

can a prophet crucify man,
in another liberation tale,
without dragging another cross
and using iron nails?




all poems by rakesh rampertab, circa 1996-1998


© 2001