A Tiny Tiny Thing — Poems by Isai

Reading Isai is an experience that I can describe best by borrowing a line from him as — his ‘poetry is suicide’s nemesis’. Not in an angel saving us from death way, but he is the poet of everyday, the essence of life that goes on, the smiles that we are blessed with, the irony and satire, small miracles and curses. A lot of Isai’s poetry is dependent on the reader sharing Tamil cultural memories, illustrated well in this article and translations by Ramchander. But there are many poems by Isai that which work well without such dependencies too. Though, I cannot tell you how my heart rejoices when I read a poem on Sanjay, and I have added it. If you have not already, maybe hearing something by Sanjay Subrahmanyan will help. Here are seven poems by Isai.

A Tiny Tiny Thing

A century old painting was auctioned

A magnificent palace tower reaching the skies
A tiny pigeon on top of it.

I bought it
displayed it on my hall

Every day
I check without fail, whether
The pigeon is there

I know that
If the pigeon flies away,
The magnificence will
Fall apart.


If not even your hands are shivering,
What crime is that!


Sivaraj anna was struck by a truck
“Uncle, Pray for my father…”
His daughter cries on the phone.
I realised
I have
No gods to kneel before.
I have to kneel.
Even the surgeons agree.
I think of the mayflower tree
Under which Sivaraj anna
Happily smokes relaxed twice a day.
I kneel before the mayflower tree.


They never missed a year

Mayflowers will be our annual guests
As long as we have the month of may

I went to see our guests

Between their last visit and now,
This world was plagued by numerous sorrows

I did not utter a word about those sorrows to the mayflowers.


Sleep, let the whole of you sleep.

Evening tea

Our evening tea time is struck down now

It was a beautiful halt for a day
after going around the world
before we nest in our homes

it was the sweetness of rest
It was the smile
of an athlete wiping his sweat
after long training

Looking at the magic of sky
I drink the evening
from the tumbler

Those who drink the evening
doesn’t get dark soon

In every act conducted under the sky
a tiny portion of sky is added

The tasty tea
made perfectly in our houses
has no sky!

A Great Fly

Sanjay sings
Soaring above the wide sky
Ploughing deep the large earth
When Sanjay sings
The mic is a sweet dish
A fly sits on the stiff surface
Even when he comes really close
The fly stays unmoving
The beat of the drums, pull of the strings
doesn’t make it flinch
rather keep it glued to the mic
It roams over the wires
as the early morning wind’s solitude.
Be a fly on great things
my foolish heart!

Picture from https://grin.news/king-of-the-south-e42bedd152be

Isai’s blog.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store