Book Four:
Gyrating Hawks &
Sinking Roads (1996)


I am happy to write these lines on D. C. Chambial’s poetry and his distinctive contribution in the area of Indian poetry in English. He is an established poet from the Kangra valley in Himachal Pradesh.

Dr. Chambial has published extensively, and his poems embody significant themes and motive. Usually, some idea strikes him, rather takes hold of him, and his poetic imagination is astir. As he admits to the present writer: “Some word or idea/spectacle strikes the mind and starts the imagination on a poetic spree.”  He renders the experience of observation into a creative piece that lilts and lilts. ‘Two Light Cups’ thus presents a familiar scene in a vivid, artistic way:

Tiffins in hands,
move out satisfied
to battle with
indifferent minds.

Similarly, the poem, ‘Waiting Moments,’ expresses in a poetic manner a very common-place experience – what one feels during and after waiting for someone dear:

passed in waiting
for someone dear
appears stretched
to eternity.
When that eternity comes
it dissolves
like icicles in
soft summer warmth.
We pray it
to stand still
between love and bliss.

Mr. Chambial is natural singer, an impressive bard of Himachal Pradesh. He chooses day-to-day phenomena, natural objects, ideas for his writing poetry. It is the poetry of intense ideas and deeply experienced emotions. He shows sure signs of maturity, consistent development in his art and craft and enlargement of his visions. He tries to discover the reality of life by concentrating on mystic themes or asking frequently a basic question: what is life?

The present environment of rampant corruption and injustice in society disturbs and pains him. Therefore, like PCK Prem, Hetty Prim and K.C. Sharma, he candidly exposes the prevalent corruption in unequivocal terms for example in poems like ‘The Tempest,’ ‘Mystery,’ ‘Without Qualms of Conscience,’ ‘Bone Debris,’ ‘Dance of Death’ and ‘Longing in Void.’ The poet often alludes to the harmony and sanctity of life, and finely holds up to ridicule what disturbs or vitiates it, what is not wise or good.

Dr. Chambial is, indeed, a very perceptive writer, a creative literary artist of immense promise and potential, free from literary jargons, rugged phrases, unnecessary allusions and burdensome and jejune images. His is the poetry of life with an inherent, incessant urge to unfold the ultimate truth. He builds elements of irony, observation and clear description into an organic whole. Poems are simple, short yet often characterized by pace, passion and clarity.

I am confident that the present anthology entitled Gyrating Hawks and Sinking Roads will be greatly liked by the readers. They will find in it considerable entertainment and instruction. The incorporation of topical themes which have eternal significance, too, commends these lyrics to one and all.

I congratulate Chambial on this excellent literary venture and wish him still greater success and glory in years to come and ask him to keep it up to remind him of Robert Browning’s advice:

Grow old along with me,
The best is yet to be.

Dr. Atma Ram
Former Education Adviser
to the Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
& Director of Education (H.P.)


Una – intelligent 
octopus ever out to
capture fittest victim.

Body full of lava
struggles to erupt
runs amuck to calm fire.

Desire at the fount
of Eros. Eyes ogle,
wink and stare like the green

snake in ‘Christabel’.
Once in grip opens layers
petals of lovely rose.

Makes the victim
plunge down to the bottom
tasting of manna-dew.

The moment one surfaces
not one’s true self
spectrum of hues.

Blood, tears, joys, sorrows
all blend together. One
left simple, stolid stone.

In moments of quakes
springs upon
one yields to fathom seas deep.

In between the moments
a sun burns, dies moment
by moment to bud.

In fission,
fusion  survive the fatal strokes
no other rule to live by.


Want to laugh and cajole
but pools of blood in front of door
cut deep into heart and find a tendon
that has become contumelious.

One hand severes the other,
tears of joy turn
into tears of sorrow
with a single burst of bullets
and compel to think
about man’s sagacity,
about Chandrasekhar limit to  swallow
this ball into black hole.

Love and compassion transpire.
Better to vanish
With a cross on shoulders
on sinking cross-roads
than to live now.


The world so good, so vast,
so fair, so sweet
that to taste
at every fount, at every flower,
at every vine
I long to tread across the limits
of time and space
to listen the music
of ebb and tide
in every heart.

I sit and play with grains of sand
at the shore, stare in stupor
at the swinging swells
striking against the cliffs.

Drop by drop I melt
like a flaming candle
into the unfathomed deeps.


A woman stands waist deep
In a pool of water,
Dips her brush in it:

Brushes teeth, spits into it,
Cleanses mouth and smiles
At the morning sun.

Two white cranes
On the bank move with majesty.
The world is not

Without beauty.
A diamond bright
Sits in the heart of coal.

Needs an eagle eye
To sift the diamond
From the coal.

Like gypsies we move about,
The train of time, asleep,
From summer to south

And wade through the bog
Of battered selves oblivious
About the moor full of flowers.


Let’s make hay while the sun
Shines and shake hands with Jains,
Climb the hill of roguery.

Laws and ethos blown away
With the wind from murky
Mounts. Lungs crave for air fresh.

It tells like a bright
Painting about the filth.
Cancerous polity blooms.

This land needs select surgeons
To operate upon the sore,
Clear the body from woe.

Night can’t be long,
Dawn peeps from the eastern hill
Swan peace to knock the sill.


At midday
one eagerly awaits,
silently signals on arrival.

Both, automatically,
like robots,
take tiffins out of cup-boards,
mechanically move
towards the canteen.

“Two light cups.”

Make for the table,
tiffins strip-teased,
dainties shared
(munch the dry
Cold chapattis
With bulged cheeks),
Canteen din,
the background music.

By the time
tea on table,
are through with lunch.
Hurriedly gulp tea;
pay for it.
A look at watch:
“It’s time, it’s time
For the bell.”

Tiffins in hands,
move out satisfied
to battle with
indifferent minds.

7.      RAINBOW

Like a dream borne on breeze
walks on toes from dark corridors,
spreads before eyes a gala
of colours to feast dun nerves
after the drab day’s weariness.
The seven colours
one beside the other.
Who dabbled in crayon
with hues painted bright
on the canvas of azure sky,
compels the heart to pine and fly?

Before conscious and stretch fingers
across wide expanse between
the earth and heaven to hold
the spectrum in the hollow of palm
someone already gathered in his bag.

The joy of epiphany
not so intense
as the pain of loss
after one has touched
the lips of lily buds,
sees them wilt on finger-tips.


Always been a dry cork
Though spring budded at sixteen.
Loved. Loved at eighteen.
Loved through twenties.
Now a dry cork. Wana love
And turn the back,
That is the way of the world.

Death no more frightens
Nor do the prickly cares.

Ultra-modern mentors
Set examples to toll the knell
At the altar of Mammon,
Care a fig for men and morals;
Indebted to these caring captains’
Brain-babies: hawalas & scams.

Hail! Hail! On the safest bark skim
For they also love who rape and kill.
To love thy neighbour’s sin;
Man – a metamorphosed vermin!

Still a dry cork!


A battered body lay
on the black road
after a head-on collision.

A scooter and truck.
it lay there freed from
the pangs of life. It lay

there in the warm embrace
of cold death. Unaware
it lay there about the

fancy of his waiting
wife and waiting little
son and daughter.

They still wait for him
unaware of the fatal
stroke of fate.

How will they ’brace this bolt?
How will they face this cold?
How they, young and old?

For whom the sun has set
at noon, those whom
Harper has left so soon!


A cunning cat enters
a kitchen to eat
the cream of milk. A buffet

of intractable wind of fate
leaves it in a cage.
With bulls and wolves
in veins the train whistles,
irate at the unbent
signal. Bearded goat

Crops the wild flowers with
an eye on the other
side of the bush. Our honest

polity devoid of
morals and ethics:
horses traded; women

burnt, raped; children sold;
elders neglected,
abused. We feel safe

with whisky in pegs,
legs in plates and become
blind to everything else
even our nudity
an join the crowd like day
melting into night.


We are the denizens
of such an age which breeds
corruption like flies.

Those entrusted with
the task to give a just
and ethical rule, lead

the vice and corruption
to guillotine;
feed them instead.

Virtue crouches in a corner
for sheer fear of being
butchered. The foxes rule

the roost, beauty, truth and 
goodness face the law.
Ugliness, falsehood,

Wickedness enjoy treat.
The land, once the cradle
of virtue and ethics

weeps and bleeds
like a cancerous sore.
The sun has set, the light

is gone. Now carelessly
we follow the fate
of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The ship tosses on waves,
the shore afar; none hears
the cry. A tempest staves in.


Sunken, emaciated faces
in peak years of life
siphoned out to the last traces.

The mighty waves in monsoon
of somnolent rivulet
debunk banks like Hoons.

Tired of day-long drab
long to lie in lap of nature,
drained of blood. Night does grab

by the neck, presses hard,
veins burst with pressure;
blood bedaubs soil, stubble, sky barred.

Think of the war, cozy dawn
buried in the rubble of thick night
that ripped many an innocent fawn.


In broad day light
a hysterical laugh;
prostrates on ground
at a bus stand;
robs – sodden, rotten rags
full of lice, fleas and bugs;
picks them up
like pearls from sea bed,
hews a hope to see
another planet in sky.

Stands upright, unrobes;
Flies and lusty eyes swarm
To her smeared body,
Bulging moons and thin thighs.

A pimple. When the moon
fails to balm the wound
sun-rays prick the marrow,
a schizophrenic is born.


I briskly bubbled on road
and thought that life –
all youth and joy. Musing

in my thoughts I
encountered old couple:
sagged skin, bent backs, diligently

dragging themselves
for an evening walk.
I stirred from my stupor:

Stood face to face with
the eternal truth. The year
marching into grave.

I looked at myself,
A sun at the horizon –
weary wait at the door.


A bundle,
held fast with nylon ropes,
of flesh and bones
with voluptuous muscles
gapes wide
at the atrocity
of human sagacity,
floats on the stagnant water.

Crowded humanity
shrieks and curses awesome
spectacle from a bridge.

Sunk into bog of human
Hypocrisy lost in the jungle
of megalomania.

Horri’d eyes turned to stones
have fossilized images
that raped and ravaged

and crushed the flower full
of  fragrance to appease devil
in Cyclopean cave.

In this jungle full
of wolves and cacti
how can we long for

some sweet music and
soothing balm to truss up
the severed and bleeding heart?


Vultures hover in the sky
to catch a glance of cadavers
scattered on the sands of time.

Time flows like gravid
river silently down
to the shores of ocean.

Ocean vast and deep
beyond the reach lies quiet
ever embracing mercy.

Mercy that all crave to fly
past the gravity of earth
and boundless space for peace.

Peace eternal within
soul but with vultures conspire
to vitiate and rape.

Rape men and morals
for momentary gains. Eat
the fruit: rise or fall.


Sun rains down fire.
Sands and stones afire.
Needles prick neurons.

Birds and beasts
Look at sky. Tongues
Droop from mouths dry.

Cows, sheep and goats
In desperation low-n-bleat
To make them heard to Him.

The skeletal heap
Rises astoundingly –
Treat for crows and vultures.

Earth cracks
Lepers’ skin. The wounds
Gape in helplessness.

Sun-singed taps grin,
Empty buckets,
Withered faces.

Augustya has drunk
The waters (thirsty,
Perhaps, since eternity).

Each awaits turn
At sacrificial fire
Like a lamb.


Sit upright
in serene silence
of mellowed meditation.

A ray of light
shoots like an arrow
from the core of the Sun
and melts into mind:
no wound, no bruise,
no bleeding but burns with
wondrous bright.

Nacre engulfs all
within its folds that pulsate
in the heart of every atom.

Self lost in selves
longs to be with Self
on the shores of bliss
and pines for vanishing
like light in black hole.


Cawing of crow atop a tree
blossoms the heart of a crony
who plods her way
out of her door
to greet the guest,
chants the names
from her rosary.

Each time she tells a bead,
ushers crow to fly away.
Green hopes turn yellow
through the flint of tears.

The silent self soars
with unknown guest to South:
birdless cage left to feed
the fire and enjoin the dust.


Night walks, snakes
writhe, horses run wild
like whales in sea.

Infinite stars
born and die
in the womb of sky.

Horses long
to gallop through the fair
daisies, pansies and lilies.

Dare not throw
pebbles into serene lake
on Freud’s horizon.


Don’t singe
with the heat
borrowed from sun.

Don’t wet
with the water
borrowed from clouds.

Don’t placate
with the manna
borrowed from heaven.

Don’t blow up
with the fury
borrowed from the whirlwind.

Don’t make swoon
with the juice
borrowed from mandrake.

Don’t rock
with the lilt
borrowed form the waves.

Make one swing
with the song
borrowed from the birds.

When Orpheus sat
with his lute
on the bank.

Come closer, touch
the nipples of buds,
press cherries against palate.

22.  A NUDE

A nude
on her knees;
a pink flower
in milk-white fingers
raised upwards.

at a winged horse
flying in abysmal deeps
of azure skies.

Thinks of
divine seed
in fertile mind.

Clouds thunder,
lightning blazes,
blizzard ravages,

bends and lashes,
plucks and mutilates
virgin valleys.

Will Helen
spring forth
like a bud?

(written after seeing a painting at a friend’s house)


Morning, instead of being cool,
clear, calm, caressing, is dark.
Smogged. Lightning sends spears
through sky. Thunders rocks rocky mansions.
Enraged storm cries, roars,
furiously blows, bends and uproots
idée fixe rooted deep in mind.

Past lull, it rains, sleets, blows,
thunders, flashes, groans.
All hopes of opulence hung
on apexes and golden ears fall down.

Blood floods the soil,
washes away pearly hopes,
diamond aspirations
to mingle with ashes –
ashes of body, mind and soul.


When time and again
you remind me about time;
there’s a hard hammer fall.

Falls on my consciousness,
and needles prick sore heart,
I get desperate.

Desperate to undo obsession
I cut asunder all the chains
held fast by conscious time.

Buried my watch deep, deep
under the debris of time; not
to let it prowl and intimidate.


As I sit in cellar bolting door,
I feel severed from the world
like a shuttle lost in space.

 When I come out of cocoon,
begin to thaw and go
down into the thick

crowd with blood and bones
meticulously mixed,
aurorean light does the dark night.

Heart, the sole casualty,
palpitates, bleats and bleeds on
the table for an autopsy.


A guest smites unannounced,
minuses miseries, caresses wounds
and escorts on eternal voyage.

Strip-teases, humbles many.
True judge. With a blink takes
Away the sun, leaves behind:

a bag of ashes
hung from a peg –
green memories.


Visibly invisible,
Invisibly visible,

Enigma. All attempts to bridge
Gap go down the drain;
Spurns Physics’ long arms.

defies laws, knowledge; yet
law and knowledge present

In bubble, sand grain,
fire-tongue; highest and lowest;
fills void,  life, death and all.


Day smogged, rain
plays dulcet music,
water drops on wires mimic
metropolitan traffic.

Din settles. Hills and trees
don fog. Myna flutters wings
in the hollow of a tree,
dreadful serpent hisses.

Rain drops carry cargoes
on electric wires; words
sing in mind and struggle
to be free from the prison.


With soft words of messiahs
Blood trickles down
From pendent fingers.

No songs can catch ears
That slept late at night
After a hearty cocktail.

Pricking thoughts grow
Taller and taller to pierce
The heart of sky;

Choke lungs filled with
Smoke of odium engendered
By the lamps of hate.

Canker sips nectar and drills
A hole in heart. Can’t they live
With love than spread bad blood.


When I saw her first,
She was a little tulip
Bud. When I met her, she

Was hard as nut and full of
Life as a mango ripe
Hanging from the branches.

She wore burden
Of a mountain great. Now,
A rut uneven and

Full of ditches looking
At the horizon
In the evening sun waiting

For some silver lining
Budding forth from the bright
Silence of divine dark.


Who is the third man
you and me?

He always
accompanies us
without fuss.

He warns us
as we stray
on our way.

A ray of hope
to the tired soul
from the distant goal.

His shadow
always leads us on
the cobbled stones.

It winds through
hills, woods and snow,
makes us grow.

Your very self
in dark I see:
tat tvam asi!


Varied-hued blossoms bloom bright
In the darkness of the night
And fall down in the basket
Like the ones falling in
A tornado in March
And fill the air with fragrance.

They come down from Elysian
Heights continuous, one behind
The other in red-hot haste,
Imagination and fade away like cinders
In rain when left unpicked, insecure, open.


far off in ethereal sphere
within the bony walls

words caterwaul
like the boiling water
in a bid

to come out
as welcome guests
on the papers;

at the apogee
they arrange themselves
like soldiers in march

and step out
in rhythmic dance
from the core of sun;

land in an epiphany
on the hard ground of reality
as captives

unable to abscond –
the second self is all agog
to shake hand with  you.


Smote at the door
to give surprise,
a big surprise

in store for me. The one
who answered the knock
wasn’t so aghast

to hear his name, as I.
when, he, with
choking voice, looking

at the crimson Sun
at the horizon and dark
swallowing all, said:

“He has left for from where
none ever returns
to tell about the voyage.”

Stunned, I gazed at
the bleeding Sun, light filtered
 through the liquid flint

in search of the face
lost in void
in the valley of maya.


A witness
to the falling
three-sixty leaves,
dark and bright,
from the twelve branches,
one by one,
smeared with innocent blood.
Leaves witness to many a change
Green and crimson.

History busy
recording fall of each leaf,
each drop of blood shed,
frozen cries and strangled sobs
for the posterity to ponder,
Leaves continue to fall;
even the last leaf
could not escape the wheel.

The moments thaw
like an avalanche
melting under its own weight,
with the tolling of knell.
Bell tolls,
the new born stares
at the rut of wheels
to decipher
the mystery encoded there.


My dear friend
I know, you
thousands of miles away
sitting by a river
dream. Dream for long.

I’ve seen:
my love, your love,
love together under the old banyan
where lay buried deep
in the bowls of the earth
all dreams, longings
of Buddha’s past,
Socrates’ present,
Shaw’s future.

I shuttle between
blood and bone, stop to feel
the pull between you and me.


You’ve witnessed:
a voice strangled,
a silent river
strikes against the banks,
a rain of bullets,
a ploughing of warm flesh,
flood of blood.

You’ve borne:
a blizzard of oppression,
a lightning of terror,
a flood of coercion,
a stench of power,
a frost of brutality,
a massacre of bodies and minds.

You’ve been dumb all the time,
silence has suckled
many a revolution.
You wait and watch
the seeds planted here,
nourished with blood,
to bud into a rich crop of cacti
to prick the tongues of iron.

(This poem was written after reading the news of Chinese oppression on the demonstrators for democracy at Tiananmin Square, China, on June 4, 1989.)


Big basket of wheat chaff—
Golden as the morning sun
Peeps through a hole in the clouds.

Sun shines bright
on the face. Her
a little blush, he makes.

Sparrows twitter, koels sing,
cocks crow, cows moo.
She walks in dreams.

Invites to help her basket down
Ignorant about the world
She unknowingly bears.

The fatigue, the tension melt.
Single smile like one wave
Washes the beach off the debris.


Behold them marching
heads drooping; pick-axes
and spades on shoulders.

They march naked
crying for a piece of bread;
bones rattle, feet bleed,

bellies sunken. They stagger,
fall and rise with weeping brats
about their breasts,

shadows linger
like the slough of snake.
Shed blood to raise heaven

on earth for masters;
for them: honking
horns of holocaust.

Living ghosts,
they walk drained
every drop of blood.

They fall dead,
dead they fall:
life heavy as lead.

Listen the cry before the fire
blazes and razes castles down
to ground in its furious dance of death!


Crow do not caw. Someone
awaits my notes
with closed eyes far away.

Now, how can I hope
for someone to press lips
in sweet rapture?

The heart beats with love
and is aloft
gyrating in azure sky.

I know you to be far away
without any hope to meet
soon, yet poised.

At the end of a
filament we spin
on the bank of fiery seas.

(for Carla Kraus)

Time washed out in waiting
for someone dear appears
stretched to eternity.

When that eternity
comes, it dissolves
like icicles in soft Summer.

We pray it to stand still
sandwiched between love and
bliss till the world melts.


While passing by a log-cabin
in the evening, I see
her standing outside her hut,
her eyes on the snow-capped
peaks. Smoke in the chimney.
A boozy prattle inside the hut.

She is out lest the boozers
begin to pry into her.
Outside, too, the ravaging eyes
incise deep into her heart.

In the corybantic dance
all taste the flesh,
as the flesh recedes
the wolves steadily slither away,
the yellow moon is left to sigh:
the cloud of dismay envelops
the fog of helplessness.


India – the land of Lords:
Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Buddha.
They preached their philosophies
To make a heaven of this earth,
To redeem man of his misery,
To blaze the torch to show the path.

New lords now tread on this land:
They teach an ultra-philosophy
Of corruption, scams and hawalas.
They mind not action, but fruit:
No fruit is forbidden for them,
No action low or base.

Once this land of the Gita,
Hailed as the holiest land,
People revered it.
The perfidious new lords
Find it their sacred duty to suck
Like vampires each drop of her blood.

People died for their land.
No sacrifice greater than life:
Martyrs honoured, held in high esteem.
Men have learnt to murder and live,
To loot and ravage  money and morals:
Ethics, virtues silently sob in cells.

The true heirs of Satan,
Ever conspiring to molest women,
Sacrifice children to their deities,
Lit fire at the altar of Dowry
With the blood of newly wedded brides.
Man is lost! Devils thrive like wasps on hives.


A black snake
comes dancing.
Wings bud on sides,
transform into petals.
The snake is a blossom
with exotic beauty.

People with round caps,
sacred threads and Crosses
sit together
in mosques, temples, churches
sans any walls and fences.
In raptures enjoy the words
Of Allah, Bhagwan, and God.

Darkness and doubt
stay out of door.
The sun slides down.
Fresh air blows in.
Trees dance in delight.
Blooms laugh in spree.
Silver smile of peaks high
soars beyond the blue sky.

Let’s, let’s all
give it a welcome warm
and, before our minds
begin to stink,
dance in harmony
to this call Supreme!


The world is an altar
where all are garlanded
in proportion to their
merits and demerits.

Unconsciously, perform
rituals and live victims
of fate until the unknown
guest knocks at the door.

46.  A WISH

Let us, you and I,
saunter beyond
the murky lanes and by-lanes.
I see two yonder hills
endeavour to embrace
in winter. The river grows
jealous: thunders,
roars in rains.

Man builds bridges
to solemnize
the marriage of hills.

Here and the Great Beyond,
the two hills, separated
by eighty-four lakh yonis.

Let us, you and I,
build a bridge to reach
the great Beyond,
leave behind the desert
that surrounds us.
This is a barren land
littered with carcasses.
Vultures gyrate and roads sink.

Let us, you and I,
saunter beyond
the murky lanes and by-lanes
in search of moon
of tender lullabies!


Let us come and sit together
In this fair and lovely weather;
We’ll look at the distant mountains fair:
The soft wind blows, birds glide in air.

Like the heart, water flows unquiet
Full of passion and full of might.
Down there where the Sun sinks
I can see the earth blinks.

In this pleasant grove, my love!
My leaves flutter like a dove.
Come, open and go through these leaves,
Pacify the pace of heart that heaves.

Let us come and sit together
In this fair and lovely weather.


I saw her first in Summer
Beside a temple door; I felt –
I’ve known her for eons
Walking through galaxies.

Night in her skin,
Sun in heart,
Roses on cheeks,
Tulips on lips.

I gaped at the artistry,
Plunged deep into the pools
Dark in search of myself
And a new heaven pink and green.


Seen sowing fertility in Spring
Despite staying sterile during the year,
A little earth solemnized burial,
A glass of water, rain for ablutions.

What sweet spring sprouts
In the dark forest
Beneath the mount
Where buds blush in pink.

Orpheus draws sad strains from his lyre
At the spectacle of blood in holy places.
The complacent politicking goes on
Like dogs over a heap of debris.


In the white chill without
Sun rays mere stalactites
To freeze the blood in veins.

Bulbs in soil look ahead
To the spring warmth
For new tickling scorpions.


You and I
shall forever be all, all alone
swinging up and down
the bulging hills,
the low lying vales
full of hyacinths.