Prayers To Lord Murugan


Lord of new arrivals lovers and rivals: arrive at once with cockfight and banner— dance till on this and the next three hills

women’s hands and the garlands on the chests of men will turn like chariot-wheels

O where are the cockscombs and where the beaks glinting with new knives at crossroads

when will orange banners burn among blue trumpet flowers and the shade of trees

waiting for lightnings?


Twelve etched arrowheads for eyes and six unforeseen faces, and you were not embarrassed.

Unlike other gods you find work for every face, and made eyes at only one woman. And your arms are like faces with proper names.


Lord of green growing things, give us a hand

in our fight with the fruit fly. Tell us,

will the red flower ever come to the branches of the blueprint



Lord of great changes and small cells: exchange our painted grey pottery

for iron copper the leap of stone horses our yellow grass and lily seed for rams!

flesh and scarlet rice for the carnivals on rivers O dawn of nightmare virgins bring us

your white-haired witches who wear three colours even in sleep.

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Lord of the spoor of the tigress, outside our town hyenas and civet cats live on the kills of leopards and tigers

too weak to finish what’s begun. Rajahs stand in photographs over ninefoot silken tigresses that sycophants have shot. Sleeping under country fans

hearts are worm cans turning over continually for the great shadows of fish in the open waters.

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We eat legends and leavings, remember the ivory, the apes, the peacocks we sent in the Bible to Solomon, the medicines for smallpox, the similes

for muslin: wavering snakeskins, a cloud of steam Ever-rehearsing astronauts, we purify and return our urine to the circling body and burn our faeces for fuel to reach the moon through the sky behind the navel.


Master of red bloodstains, our blood is brown; our collars white.

Other lives and sixty- four rumoured arts tingle,

pins and needles at amputees’ fingertips in phantom muscle


Lord of the twelve right hands why are we your mirror men with the two left hands

capable only of casting reflections? Lord of faces,

find us the face we lost early this morning.


Lord of headlines, help us read the small print.

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Lord of the sixth sense, give us back our five senses.

Lord of solutions, teach us to dissolve and not to drown.


Deliver us O presence from proxies and absences

from sanskrit and the mythologies of night and the several roundtable mornings

of London and return the future to what it was.


Lord, return us. Brings us back to a litter

of six new pigs in a slum and a sudden quarter of harvest

Lord of the last-born give us birth.


Lord of lost travellers, find us. Hunt us down.

Lord of answers, cure us at once of prayers.

Prayers To Lord Murugan by A K Ramanujan

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