James Thanickan


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On Historical Topics
Essays and Articles
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Philosophical Essays
On Religious Topics


Little Gabriella
Light from the Wick
Callus on Heart
Time Passes and Waits for None
Morta's Kiss
My Love
Story of a Tree
Freedom Angel
Story of a Loam
Story of the Tomb
Let There be Light
Waves at Colombo Beach
To My Beloved
How Happy It is to Wake Up Again
Shepherd of Bethelehem
White Death
Assembly of Sparrows
The Search
The Plougher
At Landour Cantt


The Moment




Soft and Scented You Came




Little Bird


Mary Magdalene


An Epitaph


Asked You What it Meant


Mothers of Jerusalem


My Beloved Witch


Prayer of Wayfarer


The Chandelier


The Silver Cotton


The Snake Woman


The Sparrow


I Was Peeping into the Future


Ahmad Told Me



Palming the ice creams straying over tray,

Apportioning the splitters, splashing away

And whiling the time thus in unknown way.

Disgraces grow like dung heaps where beetles

Crawl like tanks in arid sandy dunes,

Stared down by palms, not winking in breezes

But standing stern like rocks on hills.


Mysteries deepen, not unravel

Into depths and abysses

Creating black holes of fears unfathomable

And sucking splinters and chisels, all.


Chickens roost and foxes keep watch

And deserts spew up water and seas thirst.

The present is for wolves and wild dogs

Poor man to wait for new dawns.


Protons and electrons burst,

Quarks fly helter-skelter

As products of wombs are hurled up.

Conveyances take the hesitant to lands strange

And meetings are partings.

War is peace and hatred is love

Smile is toxic and touch is fatal

Everything crumbles, crumbles to dust


(c) James Thanickan 13 September 2009


Good Morning


The sun opens his lids
And the day spreads its kindness
Pushing the murk of night back
But my heart thumps and  thumps
I know not why. Yet yearn I to say
Good Morning to you all, dear chums


(c) James Thanickan 28 Oct 2009




Seven years, seven long years

Struggling, kicking, loping

Seven years, war of seven years

That brings peace, serenity and joy

At the end to the haggards.

Seven years on, seven miles by

From toddling and toothless chuckle

From namby pamby to cradle

To swing and looking whack

All the best, all the glory

You, seven year brat that I can wish.


©James Thanickan 26 October 2009




The result of a May Day Labour

A person of courage and candour

He hit the road long ago with free hands

Traversed through places and lands

With a satchel on his shoulders, in Tamil lands,

Pre-Modi Gujarat and JNU, that forte of leftists

Found his feet in the southern fort of leftists

And finally find solace in the foothills of High Ranges


© James Thanickan 1 May 2009




I know you are there, across Acheron[ii]

Then why do you remind me often

That you are there on the other shore

Waiting with the kiss for ever?


Jealous paramour that you are

How can I forget the chum of my yore?

I have not bathed in Lethe[iii]

Nor drunk Nepenthe.[iv]


Days that now asunder your

Sneaky visits are fewer, impatient that you are,

Each time you hold me closer than ever

Lest I return to my beloved faster.


My stay here is at your will

Know you not it so well?

Packed the cases are, yet hasten not Charon[v]

For Penelope[vi] also has rights of retention.


Hotel Majestic, Provorim, North Goa

5 April 2008


[i] Greek goddess of the under world

[ii] A river in Hades across which Charon ferried souls

[iii] Another river in Hades, a dip in which makes the soul forget the past life

[iv] A drug of forgetfulness mentioned in the Odyssey of Homer

[v] The boatman of Hades who ferries souls across the Acheron

[vi] The faithful wife of Odysseus.


Little Gabriella




Ere time began, thy silky silvery light smooth

Filled my heart with peace and joy aplenty.

In the consummation of time, thy desire, my law, sent me forth

In thy mission, promised, of love and redemption.




Travelled thy emissary to corners four,

To arid deserts and lazy green pampas;

Voyaged across the seven seas grand,

And ascended frigid mountains, deaf and dumb.




Much have I strived and toiled endless days,

Speaking thy words taught to beings luminous

Before man made a habit of harsh words

And, inflicting on the unwary, cruel deeds.




Seasons and ages passed; galaxies born and died;

Black Holes gravitated and Red Giants shrunk;

Species and varieties evolved and vanished;

A dull grey is all that remained of the dappled Bang.




Words have lost meanings; messages are mere words.

Lambs mewl for food; lions roar the war thunder;

Abels are slaughtered; wombs are torn;

Peace remains a far cry and happiness an elusive dream.




The raven opens its beak;

My wings are glued tight;

And legs cannot hold; nor do head spin not.

Lord, failed as I have, take me back.


(c) James Thanickan 23 May 2008, Trusteeship Council Chambers, UN Headquarters, New York.


Light from the Wick


The evening breeze grazed me gently,

The fragrance of chameli  wafted around,

The chirping of the little sparrows greeted me

And the stream down sang a mellifluous song.

Still, lost in a dream I walked along the little path

That nature kept for its wayward children,

Knowing not where my steps take me.


The small hill across glided sideways

And I could see yonder a little wick

Swaying its flame in the waft

And a petite girl in a half skirt

Holding the lamp in her tiny hand

Moving slowly in front of her hut

Showing the glow to the four demons

Praying, “Spare my little house

Today and in the year long.”


Memories sweet and bitter heckle me:

Gone are the days when we burst crackers

And lit streamers to no end,

And ate sweets in mushy ghee,

And played around the big Neem.


Gone too are the days when we sat

Under the banyan and dealt in cards

And quenched the thirst with wine

To the music from the loudspeaker.


Memories are of days gone

And dreams are of days to come

When Now is what I have,

O, little maiden, will you show

The light to me

That I know where I go

When in turbulence?


© James Thanickan, New Delhi  7 November 2007


Callus on Heart


When marigolds bloom in my garden,

Or when wistfully smiles the coy little maid

Across the hedge, or when after work done

My hungry bulls relish the fodder field,

My heart does not leap up or thump down

For rusty callus covers it hard.


Time was there when angels smiled

On mother's face, and father's fingers led

Through the village path and paddy field,

And pretty mud cakes sister dear made,

And friends in score to play rolled leaf balls,

When my heart leaped up in joy.


Days had I to see when sun poured cold

And heaven's tears blazed hot

Like molten wax on butter rock,

When solid jade melted like snow clown;

And my heart thumped hard.


I have seen frost in burning summer

And fresh green in icy winter

And dry bones in torrential rain

And wet mushrooms in sizzling lane;

When my heart throbbed in pain.


Here where love turns frigid

And vile lust rules the beast,

Where to be civil is to be servile

And to smile is a flaw,

Callus on heart keeps the flow.


© James Thanickan, 30 September 2007, Hotel Lido, Geneva


Time Passes And Waits For None



Souconna flows to the sea and looks not aside

Till Oceanus meets her, caring not for Poseidon.

Cloud arises from the ocean and wafts to the mountain

Where he kisses the nipples of Ertha

And caresses her navel deep.

Fearing dark Geb's wrath,

Sophia's snarls and Gaia's moanings,

She snaps him with her flash.

Moving, he whispers in her ears

Time passes and waits for none.


© James Thanickan, 15 September, 2007


This poem is dedicated to Vijay Kumar, my long time friend, whose birthday falls today.


Souconna is a Gaulic goddess of river

Oceanus is Greek god of ocean streams and fresh water rivers

Poseidon is also Greek god of ocean.

Ertha is Germanic goddess of earth

Geb is Egyptian god of earth

Sophis is Greek goddess of wisdom

Gaia is also a primeval goddess of earth.



Morta's Kiss


Death stands above me, whispering low

I know not what into my ear;

Of his strange language all I know

Is, there is not a word of fear.

Sang so Walter Savage Landor

Poet who thought of experience low

And knew not man from woman.


Morning breeze whispered in my ear

Death is like the air gone from a billow;

Evening gale thundered loud and clear

Death is the tapering of lightening.

Whom to believe is my dilemma;

All I know is, I know not from where

Comes she or where to goes the beauty,

But Morta plants a kiss stealthily

When one expects not, on old

And young, friend and foe alike,

And then it is time to bid adieu.


© James Thanickan, 13th June, 2007, New Delhi


My Love


My love is not a red red rose

It is the thorn in the bush

That protects the red rose.


My heart does not ache for you

It beats ever and ever

In twain with the throbs of your heart.


My eyes do not long to see you

They are blind to all sights

Except the sight of you.


My ears do not wait for your voice

The sounds that they hear

Are only your voice.


I do not love you

There are no two, I am you and you me

That’s all I know and that’s all ye need to know.


© James Thanickan Valentine’s Day, 2007.




How do I tell the story of a sapling

Grown out of a riverside seedling?

The music of gurgle thrilled her

The soft light of heavens sheltered her

The sand dunes smiled at her

From across the lilting paddy the zephyr

Greeted when daystar slyly eyed her,

And told stories of giant trees

Housing monkeys, and lithe palms

Where trilined squirrels moved freely.

The favonian whispered the vespera

And sang a lullaby about a teary lass

Who lived by a garden of jasmine.



How do I tell the tale of a young tree

Looking forlorn under Phoebus’ chariot?

The austral brought her news of flowers

Which bloomed at Jupiter’s bidding.

He did not know of any giant tree

Or of perky squirrels; the forsaken fields

He traversed were dry and parched.



How do I sing the dirge of a gnarled granny

Standing by the road alone and a river that was?

No draught wafted in telling of scenes far away

Or of golden fields by streams

Or of the music of sparrows and minas.

No traveller waited under her branches scrawny

And no school kid climbed her trunk tawny.



Days pass away eating our sap

And taking music from the fields.

Never to return nor letting us pause;

Winds tell trees that story time is over.

Old are to die forlorn

New may not be born.

Silence of the still now for us;

Time has for ever the melody, amios.


© James Thanickan (conceived in IC 166 on 16th March, 2007)


Freedom angel


Oh, you freedom angel

You hovered us for long

From times when hordes from East

Came with swords drawn

And fire in their eyes and poison in heart

Scorching our fields and our women,

Occasionally perching on branches,

Slippery and shaky, never settling.

Church bells chiming reassuring

By command of the maximus pontiff,

You heard and flew up

Striking squatters on branches

And peering into recesses dark

You speared the cowardly.


Scared you were when from the West you came

The king’s men with glasses  clanking

That was the last of our drinks

For a century and  a half, not ending

You flew away terror stricken

When we thought we were right

And all world wrong

Grief stricken years stripped us

Of our land and people

And then the tanks rolled from North

Our cries were smothered

And flaps of your wing

Not heard for decades

You are back, our hope

Our assurance, cover us

With your protective wings

From the heights of


I flow like water in a river

Not knowing whereto the river saunters

In its chartered course.



January 3, 2006.



Story of a Loam


The river in spate made me;

Silt and sand laid the base

Topped with soil rich.

Aeons I waited for the tiller

For the plodding of his hoe.

Flowers sprouted on the thought;

Butterflies zoomed around.


Ached I still for the plough

That would gently part me

And plant the seed for the future.

Suns umpteen heard my sigh

Heavens watered my clods for ages

Yet, came he not, came he not.

Desperate I longed for what I know not.


And then…

Then the sky darkened in mid-day

Bursting cloud, thunder and lightening;

I laid bare in hellhole shuddering.

Unknown hoe slogged; strange feet trod

And Hades took my sap away

Making me barren forever.


© James Thanickan. Conceived in flight No. 165 from Kochi to Delhi on 28th January, 2007 and translated into words on 4th March, 2007.


Story of the Tomb


Hark, hark, whispered the angel

Twit, twit, twittered the sparrow

Shoo, shoo, shooed the leaves

And why a murmur inside

Like in the days of rockiness?


The mason spoke about a noble

While chipping and chiselling me.

Others were also getting hewn

That the great might sleep in peace

For our hardiness only matched their rigidity

And kept their sins safe from poor.

Passers by said I looked fit for a king

And a thrill pulsed my veins.


Lying in wait watching the births and deaths

Of days and nights was my hobby.

Legions marched by me with slaves

And prisoners looking alike

With burdens weighty on their back.


That day it was too noisy

Afraid I was that sleeping souls

Had broken loose the lids heavy.

Shouted the well heeled,

Crucifige, crucifige illum[1] 

It was a long march.


The sky darkened early

The earth shook

The trees danced wild

Awful sounds were heard

And my lid was lifted.


My womb received

The Prince of Love

And pall of peace

Covered the Golgotha.


Why the poet sings early,

"The sun is rising and the nightingale

Is singing, and the myrtle is

Breathing its fragrance into space."[2]


 Why the commotion within?

Why the hark, hark again?

Who is lifting my lid gently?


What is this fragrance of light?

What is this radiance of myrrh?

Who is wafting away

Like the scent of a rose red?


Glances He back and raises his hand

To the Heavens and says, "It is done.[3]

You have happily your duty done

Peace and happiness to you my tomb.

Wish the world will receive me

Like you in your womb."


© James Thanickan, Easter 2007.


[1] Luke 21:23

[2] Kahlil Jibran

[3] Remember John 19:30



New Year 2007


An year goes, an year comes;

River flows to the ocean

Yet knows not the time

To meet the deep.

Life too streams in a vision

To meet Time

Yet knows not when.

An year goes, an year comes;

Have nice new dreams

To share with dear and near ones.

(c) James Thanickan, New Year 2007



 Jesus event is a major turning point in the history of human kind. At Christmas time, we recall and relive that moment. It is also an occasion for retrospection and for renewal of resolutions. At the first Christmas, what could Mary have recalled?


Toda raba [1], you are here !

The long wait is over

Since the sheep of the slopes had whispered

In my ears and the doves had murmured,

And nodded in unison the flowers

Of Esdraelon valley [2] across the little path.


Waters of Quishon [3] streamed by

With stories of your coming

And the breeze of Nazareth [4] hill

Brought tidings sweet of you

Though in haze, for I knew  not

The radiance that you are now.


The day of betrothal passed by quiet

Like the winter fog over Judea [5 ];

And he looked nice and caring.

Sweeter was the furtive embrace

When the ewes looked the other way.

And then at Jebel [6] I met my Adam.


Dreaming of him that night

The sleep was different;

The archangel looked like him.

Did I hear some greetings

About you being with me?

How blessed I was that night!


Months of expectation;

The doubts and the whispers;

The times with my cousin;

The long journey to the city of peace [7];

All now behind; what matters is

You are with me, my hope and guide.




[1] ' Thank You' in Hebrew

[2] A plain at the foot of Lebanon range near Nazareth

[3] A river near Nazareth

[4] Nazareth seems to have got the name from N azara ( neser)  meaning shoot or flower

[5] Southern part of Israel

[6] Jebel es Likh is a slope on the north western boundary of Nazareth

[7] Jerusalem = the city of peace

(c) James Thanickan Christmas 2006




Say gracefully gracias my friends vast

For the crimson dawn in the East,

For the auburn sun in the West.

When the clouds weep in torrents,

When the heart of Earth heaves up in waves

That sucks in thousands to the depths,

Say gracias, for know you not the reason;

Lurking beyond may be the wolf’s fangs,

Or in the dark alley the wily pig’s jaws,

Or around the corner the glistening blade,

That may slice the throbbing flesh.

A being expires, yet Life continues,

Moments strand into permanence.

Say gracias when you can,

Tomorrow Morta may kiss you.


© James Thanickan, Hotel Intercontinental, Geneva, 1st December, 2006


Let  There Be Light


When dark clouds gather in the sky

When fierce storms lash the surface

When tornadoes swirl the sea

Let there be light.


When innocent devotees get butchered

When unwary shoppers get slaughtered

When tired travellers don’t get home

Let there be light.


When passengers in air get scattered

When trains collide and ships break

When buses fall in gorges

Let there be light.


When shells pierce bystanders

When children’s clothes get burnt out

When mothers’ breasts are torn out

Let there be light.


Here where hard is soft

Where dense night is day

Where hell is heaven

Let there be light.


Here where to speak truth is crime

Where to do favour is stigma

Where to be humane is weakness

Let there be light.



© James Thanickan, October 21, 2006, Deepawali day.


Waves at Colombo Beach


The elephant jutting into the Blue

Spread its massive back for me

To lie and ruminate over an year gone by

Since I left the shore far away

Amidst thy tears and others'  joy.


The flocks of white lambs

Came from far  in the South

Looked eager to be sheared

But sidling on the shores

And breaking their heads

For reasons I cannot fathom.


Heaven’s couriers spied behind the veils

Little knowing that poor

Have nothing to hide or shelter

Except what is bare and meagre,

And what they need is in their bags

Laden with all that the seas sent up.


Months have I travelled

Across sleepy hills and bustling gorges

Crossed fiery deserts and hoary barrens

Visited offices smelling toilet water

And hospitals reeking cadaver

And learnt nothing about you or me.


Waves visit the shores

Never to return

Yet more come

Yet more come

And the rock remains where it is.



© James Thanickan, Colombo, 14th October, 2006.




Brunette eagles perched on dry reeds

On the converging banks of the oval pond

With beaks jutting out of dull heads,

Round eyes glowing in mid-day glare

Searching for fish that fleet in water bound.

Each team’s concern only to out grab the other

And drop to store-pouches that will never fill

Ever like a magician’s sack.

The kingfisher dives in and rises with the bait

What an affront! scream the eagles

And form a circular phalanx  mighty

Round the poor Alcidinidae

Its bills open and the prey falls

The passing crow unseen picks and away flies

Brunettes close in, concern gone

And little bird now becomes a ‘was’.


© James Thanickan May 30, 2006.

To My Beloved


Days have I wandered in search of you, knowing not where to look for,          

Walking across the sunlit roads that to unheard towns meander

And rain drenched back lanes that, God knows why, go in circles;

And waited for you on blazing beaches that have their own lives,

And dreary foul smelling teashops serving the work force.


Nights have I wandered in search of you, among places not familiar,

Strolling on moonlit pavements, glistening with unwarranted pride

And dew clad forest paths, blessed with fallen leaves of weeping trees;

And waited for you on the banks of gurgling rivers who sang lore of the past

And at sloppy beer pubs that attract boys of fuzzy moustache.


Then you came in a golden chariot of late afternoon refreshing breeze

Clad in a pink shirt and pastel green skirt woven by the mermaids of yore.

We moved around in motley buses that reached fast their destinations

And sauntered in gardens filled with whispering groves,

From morning to dusk of meteor like fleeting days.


All those times are in the distant past now, making reminiscences

A matter of effort, yet missing in, may be, essential details,

And life moved from routine to routine, in its own rhythm

Days and nights alternating, yet you remained what you are

Queen of my heart and me a beggar for thy benign glance.

On board IC 439 from Delhi to Chennai on 22 Jan 2011



How happy it is to wake up again

On a sunny morning with birds chirping

And green leaves fluttering in the breeze

And the beloved with the cup cheering

Telling with a smile sweet and beaming

That the year of pains and suffering

Of regrets and triumphs grudging,

Of illness and short merry making

Bade farewell and year of hope is here

Wishing only love flowers blooming

In gardens of mind everywhere.


© James Thanickan, New Year’s Day 2006.



The lyre throbs on its own

And divine music flows

Filling the red and white light

With a tremble that slivers

The silence of skies from sound of earth.

A pause and Lethe gurgles

Taking Dune’s élan down

The slopes of Magyar land

Mingling waters of seven notes.


© James Thanickan 11 November 2005, Railway Museum, Budapest


Shepherd of Bethlehem




How bright it is in the land of Nod,

Or has the daystar reached the high road?

Overslept? The wine couldn’t cause it.

Looking for fodder we had a hard day

No grass near in these chilly times

My fold had to be taken a long way

Against a vicious kadim.

Poor things they must also be tired

To wake me up by their blare.

Yet it is dark in the sky away

And my colleagues are still

Under the spell of Hermion.




What is this boom up in the heavens?

Who is this bright thing that descends

On golden wings and in white robes?

And what melody is this, not a pastoral,

“Glory to God in the highest

And peace to His people on earth.”

Halleluiah to Yahweh God

Glory to Him forever be.




Did you say, “a Messiah is born”?

Oh, how long we have been waiting for Him?

The Lord has finally heard His people.

These Roman infidels!  They must go

And our own lords with long tassels

And broad waistbands in crimson

Who are worse than tax collectors,

Save us lord also from that burden.




Tell us where we can go and worship

The Messiah; distance matters not

Walking we are used to miles in hard terrain

We will go to Jerusalem to the palace of Herod

Or is it at the house of Ananias, the head priest?

Be quick, we want to kneel before our Saviour.




What do you mean by near by?

Where in this desolate valley?

Near is no good Bethlehem, the poor hamlet.

And what is this gibberish,  “in a manger”?

How could it be? Saviour has to be powerful,

Not a mere prophet; we had lots of prophets

Action time has come, my Lord

Words are meaningless in this reign

Soldier’s spear, not shepherd’s staff

Is the need of the dire hour.




Is that the stable where the wick lamp burns?

And a kindly lady with an old man sits?

Oh! There is a little star in her bosom.

Indeed, He is born! the saviour is born!

Bow I before thee, bless us, lead us

To times brighter and calmer

Where men can live with dignity.


© James Thanickan, Christmas Eve 2005.


White Death


Lost key found below ashes buried

In right (?) time to open cask of ammo

And take out lethal weapons covered

In white cloth like a corpse humano

To toss up bodies galore dead

Of mice and men, flora and fauna

Of all hue, in a chilling moment, draped

In an eerie innocence spread wide.


No pestilence of nature brought this

But wanton cruelty of homo sapiens

Claiming crowning glory of evolution naturalis.

Progression not of agape but of hatred

That will expire under the white shroud

In the black box, aeons ago secreted

In the abyss of primordial passion.


© James Thanickan, Geneva, November 27, 2005.


Assembly of Sparrows


Head sparrow, with rolling eyes

Thought it fit to call the Assembly

To order so that all can say yes

On the question of the wolves’ Assembly

Deciding to fight all sultry jackals

With no reservation, and armed fully

With fangs and teeth bared.

And did that coolly and promptly.

Dutifully trooped in all zombies

And moved, bound and said ‘aye’.


©  James Thanickan (2004)

The Search


I search for you in the depths of the seven seas,

In the heights of mountains snow clad,

In arid deserts sparse,

In villages famished and ravished,

In the multitudes of throbbing cities

In vain, in vain, all in vain.


You smart chameleon hide before my eyes

In white snow, sea aquamarine

‘Midst blue sky, busy bees

Quiet adders and search I in brine

Setting forth in my leaking vessel

Or in nightly Ithaca torchless

Or flying on broken wings of my craft

To Milky Way or delving to Black Holes.


You haunt my dreams

Cloud my sunny days

O my elusive elfin

Why did you desert me?

Brute not saint not that I am

Forlorn I seek you out

My curse, my bliss, my eternal destiny.


Rolling years gather my hair

Lines mark the face and my legs falter

And voice crackles; knells are heard

Yet my journey has no end.


Know I now, in fullness of time me you’ll find

And not all my love will take me to you.

 Where am I to wait for you

On Gyoll’s bridge or at Peter’s Gate?


-James Thanickan 18 July 2005.


The Plougher
The mid-day sun brought little rain
That soothed the parched land
The plough long languishing in the barn
And the bulls dozing in the shed
Roused up and taken out in waning sun
To my little field by the road.
In the midst of my fifth furrough
By the path beckoning me you stood.
When you call, can I  stay though
For the plough may plough by your command.
(c) James Thanickan,  March 29, 2005



My salutes, O, clouds

You harbingers of tidings

In years ancient folds

Carrier thee of biddings

Of love’s forlorn yearnings.


You bring tidings great

Of rains, of sleets, of pouring

Making messy sod

A ground to play with.


Farmer with his knitted brow

Sneer at you for not being black

To carry rain billow

To bless his fields an’ flock

Bringing forth prosperity.


Shifty lovers in groves dark

Look to you and pray

In gratitude and fear


Fiddle they out, but casts

Shadows on old and young

Protect us in thy shade from glare

That’s strong and piercing.


© James Thaickan July 28, 2004.




Longing for long gone greens

Heaven's tears drip upon city streets

Raising steams on grey squares,

Sprouting black mushrooms

Smothering rumours underneath.


Gone are the days when nymphs in sky

Poured sweet torrents on shy

Palms swinging in brazen wind

With eyes on shivering toe nails.


Where have gone that prankster couple

Who made your long white skirt

And blouse and violet half saree

A sticky transparent miracle?


Oh, how I long for those muddy walks

Amidst the lush fields of paddy

Throwing sparkling water

On the ironed dress still warmy

And fresh smelling books and slate!


And where are you my little friend

Who taught me the pebble game

And kept my little finger

In your rosy soft hand

In the unhewed path to the school of life?


(C)  JamesThanickan

May 25, 2004.


At Landour Cantt*


Away from the grizzly city, away from the milling mall

This forest road atop Landour Cantt receives me

At this dusk like an old lost friend.

How cool it is here in this untimely drizzle!


The mourning silence of the gaunt trees

Shrouds the path trudged by weak legs.

Paths sauntered long ago in morning breeze

By sprighty eager feet that nudged mine,

Stepping with the music of the jungle.

How bright was the rising sun!


'Nippon Teki,'** you said in husky voice

That ever kept me in thraldom.

And there was that black langur couple

Munching the berries and throwing the seeds

Like little children. You too wanted to be

Like them lunging from branches to branches.


Today I don't find the lonely langur

Singing any dirge for the departed.

But man is to live with memories

That change colours over time.


(C) James Thanickan

21 June 2004


*A hill top at Mussoorie

**Land of rising sun



The Moment


The moment has come and gone

The chosen one delivered with the cattle.


Long has been the preparation

The Rabbis at the Temple had said

“Thou art the chosen one”

For what, they knew not.

A prophetess, a warrior or a queen,

No one knew for sure but said ‘chosen’.

May be breaker of the fetters of thraldom!


Betrothal came as a disappointment.

Strange carpenter was nice and strong though

Knew he not who was chosen for what;

Life is hard labour is all he said.


Then the visit of the mighty yet gentle courier

But one word in his sonorous voice, “hail”

And it was dark. Light came slow

As the recall of the message

That a saviour of the world is to be born.


The carpenter said, “Not from us,

We build houses, not societies;

Baking bread is a wife’s duty

And not waiting for Immanuel.”


The days of sickness and giddiness,

It was all normal; why nothing special?

Oh, that journey with others

On the tired donkey for this census

No inn to stay, no house to lodge

Except the cattle shed; a little less elite!

That is the fate of carpenter’s wife.

If that is what is foretold let it be so.


But the moment came

And it was singular,

Never had in the past, nor in future

The shimmer in the manger

Heralded good news for the poor.


For you will know what we poor suffer.

Mine is past, yours the future, son.



(C) James Thanickan 25h December 2004




Sometimes I wonder

What the waves are telling us.

They come one after the other

From morning to evening

From month to month

From ages to ages.

Each one is a new one

And has the wisdom of the ages.

Am I too a wave only

In the flow of life

Carrying a burden from the past

Passing it to the future?


(c) James Thanickan


July 21, 2002




Soft and Scented You Came*



Soft and scented you came

Removing grease and dirt

On hands and face

Like a mother’s towel

And leaving freshness.


How can I thank you

In words since they don’t form

Still the heart and pen are slaves to you

Though you spread their sap.

May be it is your softness

That reminds me of my mother

And my feather dips in.


How I wish a world

Full of mothers like mine

And tissues like you

And not of nukes in bushes

And dukes in armour.


© James Thanickan

*Written on a tissue paper in flight No. IC 402 on 5th February, 2004.




Little Bird


It is a mystery

The little bird whispers to some.

Others never get to hear

Though they may try.


Once I asked the bird

Why is it so.

She said

“I talk to all

I tell all

The right and the wrong

Hear they all

Listen but few.”


© James Thanickan


July 21, 2000




Celine Richard D'souza

Wafted in like a breeze of fresh air

From lovely Mangalore

Across the mighty Vindhyas

A score and five years ago

And livened up

Drab corners of Caritas India.


She brings happiness like the loadstar

Brightness like morning sun

Freshness like lavender zephyr

And is bubbly as a doe.


Secretary she is par excellence

Like  Della Street of Perry Mason fame;

Organised and methodical

In a style inimitable;

A matter of envy for we poor mortals.


Delicacies sweet and savoury

Her kitchen brings forth

That we get to taste often

Always longing for more.

O, for a draught of that vintage wine

And a bite of that Sanna soft

By the warm hearth of hers!

How she cuts and quarters fruits sweet

Like a goldsmith chiselling a necklace golden!


A friend and a colleague

That one can forget never

Nor pay back in full

What one gets from her.


What more can I say

\Except wishing  her

From heart sincere

All the best and all the best

All the way.


(c) James Thanickan




A dramatic monologue in blank verse


-James Thanickan


Now it happened that after this he made his way through towns and villages preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. With him went the Twelve, as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna the wife of Herod’ steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their own resources.

(Luke 8: 1-3).


When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. (Mark 16: 9


Raise, raise me a little, O Ruth!

Before they come let me spruce up

For this long lay has rumpled everything

I’m tired like the grain on the hem of the quern.

No, I’m not grumbling

What is a little pain of the sinner

To the passion of the innocent lamb?

Physical suffering brings spiritual rewards.


Two score years! I can’t believe

Time flew before me so fast.

Joanna and Susanna, my chums;

Are no more, so also most of the Twelve.

I’m told John is in Ephesus still.

He and I were of the same age.

His golden hair must have turned grey now

And the handsome cherubic face furrowed.


Thanks for the comb, it is kind of you

Where did you learn these niceties, not in Magdala.

How is the ‘fish tower[i]’ now?

I have never been there since meeting the Lord

Except once for selling my house.


Will you please hand me that shawl?

I know it is shredding but it was on me

When the Lord evicted the seven demons.

What a command? One word and out they spitted.

How many tephilins[ii] futile had I wore ere!

That was the day of my resurrection.

You know, Ruth, I was dead, dead in spirit

That’s why they made an abode in me.

Since then I never left the Rabbi.

It was long journeys, never planned ones

Lord would start and we would follow Him

Through Galilee and Judea and Samaria.

How many miracles He wrought

In Capernaum, Bethsaida, Jericho, Tyre and Sidon?

Healed all who sought cure, blind and leper alike

So that they may believe the Son of Man.

His kingdom was not of this world

But they didn’t understand that.


He was kind and tender, more to us women.

His speech was ever so gentle.

We were with Him till the tomb

And gave everything we had to His mission.

You know, Ruth, He appeared first to us,

After his resurrection, to me a mere woman

And not to the twelve men, not even to Peter.


They may be coming any moment now

Set the table for breaking the bread

And forget not the scroll.

I will surely recite His sayings from memory

And tell you all of my witness

Of events that changed the world.


May be I should tell the story of the woman

To whom He said: Go in peace and sin no more[iii].

Perhaps, you are right. I should narrate

The story of my late friend who washed

His feet at the house of Simon, the Pharisee[iv].

If only to remove the cobwebs!


Of course today I have to talk of the Resurrection.

I was the first to discover the empty tomb

It was as He had predicted

Still I did not believe till He startled me.

Does it matter whether He came out of the tomb?

His life was His message: love God and one another

In his passion He ennobled suffering

In His death he transcended cessation to eternity


I hear footsteps, go and open the door.


Easter 2005.

(c)James Thanickan 2005






[i] The name Magdala means fish tower.

[ii] Worn by Hebrews in Jesus’ time to ward off evil spirits.

[iii] John  8: 1-11.

[iv] Luke 7: 36-50

An Epitaph


My voyage is over

I have reached my port

Storms and tornadoes galore

Sleets and bergs I fought

No more compass, no more lodestar

I have earned my rest


February 7, 2002.



Asked you what it meant,

How can I say the meaning

For words and meanings existed

Ere you and I were born.

All that I did was to string

The flowers in to a garland

Of my love and put it on

You that it touches your heart.


February 2, 2002.

Mothers of Jerusalem

O, Mothers of Jerusalem
Weep for thy children
Weep for thy sons and daughters in Sodom
Cry for the withered blooms
And the mangled stems
Strewn around the Tower that was
Dry not ever thy glistening tears
In the heat of the fire from the heavens
Remember Yahweh forgotten long
Revenge is not for thee
The Merciful Lord dispenses justice
O, Mothers of Jerusalem
Weep for thy sisters in Gazni and Kabul.

Crying over littered bodies
And crumbling stones
Mothers of Jerusalem, Mothers of Sodom
One is all and all are one
Life comes and life goes
You and I pass into dustbins
That is all I know And all ye need know.



James Thanickan

Originally published in poetry.com

My Beloved Witch


You called it a hibiscus

Seeing the hue, what I offered,

Missing the smell of raw blood

That ran through my fingers.


Oh, the crunch I suffered!

They named it a crush;

Calling the ocean a pond.

Now I wonder at the folly of the thrush.


Dear witch, do you still stir

Cauldron with claws and nails and hair

In distant land seven seas across

That wandering elfs may fall and perish?


-James Thanickan



Prayer of Wayfarer

Much have I travelled from home
Wayfarer that I am
Strange is this land and faces stern
Fear gnaws my bones
Whereto may I turn?
From the West screams hot desert storms
From the North blows frosty winds
Chilling gales blast from the South
Dark cyclones gush from the East
Ground beneath me grumble and shake
Darkening sky above me thunder
Road ahead a blur
Path trodden a vanishing meadow
Guide me in this darkling plane
Show me the way to blissful light.

James Thanickan

Copyright ©2002 James Thanickan


The Chandelier


You asked me if I

Have seen the chandelier.

What need I have to

I had seen it in the eyes of

My love.

She smiled

And I stood amidst

A thousand blossoms.

The wind blew

And up flew the blooms

That you can see

Still in the heavens.


©James Thanickan, July 11, 2002. The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi


The Silver Cotton


An ancient silver cotton tree

It was that stood in the yard

By the barn, slits several tattooed

The stem and branches hard

The wind blew through its wenches

Out came zees and saes

Giving trees around zoons.


© James Thanickan July 12, 2002 at the Hotel Taj Mahal, New Delhi


The Snake Woman


In silence crept she

A concentrated darkness,

Denser than the heart of evil.

Hooded hair a moving bellows,

Slimy arms like dancing black shadows

Grasping on nothingness,

Silent steps meshes with devils’.

Her body oozes finest Arabia

Freeze men in her scent

As if with a magic wand.


James Thanickan



The Sparrow


The sparrow is a small bird

With tiny brain in a small head

So in school we studied.

But it does flutter around

Picking berries and grains and chirping

Among themselves happily playing

Not putting claws into others’ neck

Or shredding feathers of the other

Or spilling blood all over

Still we call it dim witted.


© James Thanickan 2004.

I was peeping into the future


I was peeping into the future

Bright and sunlit

Like a large meadow

Unencumbered by woods.

And I gazed and gazed

Closing not my lids

Lest the light will fade

Ere the dusk falls

And I found everything familiar

Like a place visited often

Dawned it then on me

I was looking into my past.


© James Thanickan October 13, 2002.


Ahmad Told Me


Ahmed told me of a blade

That sliced off the tender bloom

But all that I can recall

Is the rose full blown

The inhaling pink

And the wafting scent

The bees never ceasing humming

And the beetle’s cruel song

Ahmed told me, the blade

Went as a feather in a gale

But all that I can recall

Is the emerald dupatta

Fluttering in the morning breeze

And the scent of an afternoon sun

Wafting mellow in the air

Ahmed didn’t tell me

Of the red drops on the stone

Ya Allah, the most merciful

What colour were they on the black stone?


© James Thanickan November 25, 2001.


Memories When neon glows brighten bustling streets
When crackers burst in sleepless environs
When colourful hangings brighten corridors and balconies
My memories drift into a past of fables
Of imagination wild and blind
By logic and thought unbound;
Where the slow tortoise in its dark hut
Fancied of light and laughter and fair
And whispered her dream to the white hare
Who, amidst munching the red carrot,
Passed it on to the hoping dear
From whom the majestic lion of manes thick and bristling
Heard of it and called the assembly of the wild.
The slow ambling elephant, the high grazing giraffe
And the chirping birds all together agreed
To brighten the jungle and valley and the trees and plants.
The jasmine, the rose, the laburnum, the gulmohar
All said in unison we will blossom together.
The rhythmic fireflies offered to lighten up the earth and the skies
And the cuckoos sang the melody of handsome nature’s praise.
Gone are those days of wanton dreams and never ending games.
The long path has drifted to the valley of reason and meaning
And darkness of ambition encircles the hills and dales
Yet fires of imagination sparkles in corners distant
And a kindly light emits to brighten idle days unborn.
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