Category Archives: Telugu Poetry in English

THREE POEMS by Seela Subhadra Devi

Word Flow.

Since I came of age
don’t remember mother help with writing,
like a bird feeding its fledglings
can’t recall who crammed mouthfills of nourishing crumbs.
I only recollect my mother lament
if I would ever learn my 3 r’s.
Since then, have been pecking words.
In that direction
my certificates blackened with four letters
though quench my hunger
don’t satiate my mind’s appetite.
My self is full of them.
I swallow every letter coming my way
I don’t indulge in it to while away my time.
I chew them hard in my mind, slow and contented
and if gripe grips me midway, I give up.
Sometimes familiar words smear themselves with fresh meanings
get stuck in my throat
but the restless mind is keen as ever.
More……once more
I chew them and chaw
till my blood absorb their juices.
Healthful thoughts when savored
circulate through my body entire, and
my heart echoes health and cheer.
Brain chambers invigorated,
every cell roves with glee.
It is then
transmuted into a meaningful word flow
I well out of my pen.

(Translation based on Smt. Seela Subhadra Devi’s poem “Akshara Pravaham” )


My Small, Little Poem

Sometimes intermittently
thought gets stuck
mind freezes.
Like a cuckoo looking for a song
when I look for words
letters fly away like birds,
don’t even come in the reach of my pen.
Expecting that somewhere something
would attract my vision
I look beyond horizons.
However far I stretch
magnetizing my glance for filings
not one comes my way,
Like serpents storm- scared
all lines slither away into some pit.
In journals, literary seminars
On TV and Radio
I am still looking for it in nooks and corners.
Castes, creeds and regions,
not knowing where to belong
my small, little poem
is sitting timidly
in the coiled center of heart’s pit.

(translation based on Smt. Seela Subhadra Devi’s poem “Chinni Naa Padyam” )


Dream Snippets

Like a pen writing
stops exhausted of will
my moving and roving dream
snaps all of a sudden.
In the hangover, still the heart
Continues tossing sensational songs.
Rising from the bright rainbow in the corners of my lips
We spread our heart out bathed in ardor
we stitch our eyelids with sleep’s thread
not prepared to see the world outside.
We invite dreams, but
the botched dream limps.
When we intend running dreams on green pastures
the morning’s routine
scares us even in our dreams.
That is all
like a moonbeam bursting from the coconut leaf edge
moon shreds are spread at the root of the tree.
Collecting the scattered dream snippets
In the ‘pallow’of our saree
we open our eyes.
Like horse in a mill
disinterested we complete our chores
no scope for thought in that.
Finding time
remember the forgotten dream!
Try putting together the pieces.
When have they melted and slipped away
from the washed and dried garment?
There’s not a single sample left!

(translation based on Smt. Seela Subhadra Devi’s poem “Kalala Mukkalu”)


Translated by Popuri Jayalakshmi.

Published on, March 2003.


You never know until you try

What you really meant to me

What I am to you

What we can b e when we are together

When you can break the silence

Just say “I believe you”

Which is more precious to me than love?

I am lost without you

In this world of calculations

Quaint amidst chaos…

Searching for you like a shadow

Like a child in a carnival

Preserved like an antique

Which no body wants to take home

I always look for you..

Are you there for me or not?

I know you, yet Checking

Over my shoulder of responsibilities

My untold inhibitions and fears

Hidden deeply in my heart’s closet

Which you only can wipe-off with just a shrug..

I am waiting for you forever

In the light and darkness of life

In my automatic routine things

I See you whenever and wherever

Similar to a ray of hope

I always hope to come true

Why I’m never tired of waiting?

Are you tired of trying? ..

Well you never know until you try..


Walking thru shadows

Numb mind and thoughts freezed

Wry smile at the corner of lips,

Remember the day when you left me forever..

Trees are listening

Nodding their heads with devotion

As if they are feeling my pain,

Gives me solace which humans can’t give

Creek of the porch gate

Hum of the curtain saying it’s all over

Hurried breeze to take my tear away,

Saying I am not alone….

Surprised why I feel?

When I have you in and with my soul,

But… believe me

You will never go if you look back once…


Published on, March 2003.

MY MUSE! by Dr. Nayani Krishna Kumari

Like the nectar

Permeating the

sprouting bud

My poetry

oozes love

for my fellow humans



Thick-knit poetic

display of heavy phraseology

No fireworks

It is–

Not a glitter of gold

Not a goblet of honey


MY poetry


no spite for the world

But emits

A sweet aroma

of the champaka flower

You call experience


My poetry

Does not chant

Washed-out phrases..

Like used up manthra

Does not

growl like a dog…


the world to

back off

with her tail

between her legs


If I plunk

My frustrations

and blame it on others


My muse

Gawks at me

like a mother

enraged by my inanity.


My muse will never

Separate me

From the world ‘n

Fix on a pedastal.


My poetry

Springs not from sorrow,

Tears are not

My inspiration.


It compares not to

The fanatic world

To revel in the past

nor will it ignore the present

It is no

Weakling to curse the present

And Wallow in a fit of despair.


My muse

Dispels the gloom

And envisions the future

It gleams

like the morning reflection

in a dew drop

My trust abounds my muse.


My muse

Will kill the ill-will

And articulates ME!


[Telugu original entitled Agniputri]


My heart is

Like a thin dark veil

Like the sky taking shape—

Indolent and crimson

and dabbed with the evening hue


Dropping from

Heights unknown


gliding off the

Brick walls at the horizon

Flames of frustration

Rising Like metaphors


The drowning beams of the sun

Fighting To stay

The engulfing darkness


The nondescript creatures


Even to

My wildest imagination


The flies

Hovering incessantly


The rays

Forming budding sprouts



Aweful noise of

some wiggly

Creature stirring inside

My head


The sounds of

Little red scorpions

Etching question marks

On my brain


The eyes

are not showing

the bright red desires


No visible hopes

of rainbows

in the sky.


No magic flutter,

No shimmering wings

called hope.



Blazing blue flames

Are shrouding the

Internally fixated conscience.

In my state

Of Uncertainty

Not knowing

What I want and

What I am searching for

And that’s scaring me out of wits!



(Telugu original, agniputri, published in Bharati, 1970)



 The tiniest wave

Born in the

Viscera of the ocean


Wakes up,

Slender and tender

Like a creeper on the fence

Soon to rise

Like a ferocious Lion

Giving in

To the surges of water

And gusts of winds.


The desire

in my heart

Is just a speck

at the start.


As the

Opportunities appear

Round the corner

Blaming the

Elusive pegs on which

It Could hang on,

Blasts off

In an undue outburst

Escalating to new heights



The Desire,

Confusing and startling,

Turns into

Stormy seas

Causing turmoil

In my mind.



The Desire

With its

Incessant attacks

on Me



I’m defenseless

And vulnerable

Probes deep Into the

Innermost corners

Of my heart

And is

Turning me

Into numb

Sea sands on the shores.


The Desire is


My wits.

Casting a spell

“You turn to a Stone

You be Ahalya[1]

Utters ruthlessly.



I bear in mind

Each time

I see the sea

It reminds me

With its

Constant uproar

And commotion

The self I am

The unfathomable bond

Between me and the sea

Continues to baffle me forever.


[Published Telugu original entitled nenuu-samudram in Bharati 1970]

Translated by Nidadavolu Malathi and published on, December 2002 


[1] In Hindu mythology, Ahalya was the wife of Sage Gautama. Suspecting her of infidelity, Gautama curses her to turn into a stone, later to be redeemed by Lord Rama.


The river flows

Like a thousand-hooded cobra

Uncoiling in a sly, sensuous oscillation

Like an archetypal danseuse

In a dazzling finale,

Full of zest and splendor,

The river flows.

The river flows.

And moves on as she flows.

The river flows And moves on

I gaze in amazement

As she bursts through

The caverns on the hilltops

Like a towering inferno

Devouring space,

Or, like a raging bull

Charging his opponent,

Hungry lion

Pouncing on its prey.

The river flows

Rolling down the mountain slopes

Stomping on the rocks

Tumbling over the boulders

Like an expert juggler on a rope.

The river flows.


Stops for a moment

As if gasping for breath

Or, To size up

With a touch of disdain,

The transient lives,

The lost souls of animate things,

Their hopes, Fears, frustrations,

Anger and avarice,

Petty jealousies, Foolish clinging

To insignificant things

And Thousand shades of’

Empty aspirations.

The river flows.

The river flows

Stealing my heart

With her imperious gestures,

Like a seasoned dancer,

Following her own course,

Carrying the tender souls In her arms,

To the unknown shores

As she flows.

I wonder…

Does she feel the things

She holds In her luring heart?

Or, the things She collects

In time and tide

And what leaves behind

As she moves on?

Does she feel

The umpteen silly objects

She is forced to contain?

Paper boats, Broken hearts,

Flower bouquet,The holy dip,

Seashells on the riverbeds,

The dirty feet,The human waste,

The spit, Dead bodies, the moss, motorboats  tearing her guts,

Crocodiles glutting over the half-decomposed bodies,

Little fish Fighting for their lives,

The River flows.

The river flows

Moving in a stately defiance

Of the mean structures men construct,

Poking steel, pouring concrete,

Desecrating the pious waters

In a desperate attempt to curb

Her invincible waters

The river flows.

Following her own course

Enraged by their arrogance,

The river bursts forth into a ravishing outpour of fury

Shattering the dams and bridges

The mean structures men built and their dwellings,

In one clean sweep

As if breaking ground For a new order,

As if challenging their inadequacies,

And proving her own strength, beauty and integrity.

As if staging the fiery Cosmic Dance Of Nataraja.

I sit there on the shore  and wonder,

Is she aware of the bond between her apparently Unfathomable flow

And the complex lives of the myriads on the banks?

The mankind conglomerate,

replete with Mothers, daughters, Fathers and sons,

Polluted with politics, power and money?

Electric lights engulfed by Low life?


Where scholarship has failed Human decency,

And turned into a market commodity

And sold at discount price,

She flows quietly, Like a royal gamut

Untouched by the failures

Of mankind

As I sit there,

Listening to the murmurs of million little ripples,

Hitting the rocks on the shores, melodious to the beat,

I wonder.

Is She, unaware, unobtrusive, unattached, indifferent,

Intent on pursuing only her own course?


The river enters the plateau in a noble stride

Reciting Vedic chants,

Propping up the drooping spirits

Embracing the dismal creatures

And unfolding universal harmony.

As she flows

Touching myriad souls

Lighting up thousands of hearts,splashing the colors of rainbow

Holding up her generous heart

To the dark clouds,

The river flows graciously,

Basking in her own lustrous spirit,

And murmuring rhythmic notes.


The river flows.

The river flows like an ageless dancer Imparting the wisdom of centuries

The mettle of a divine warrior

And the aura of an empress,

The river flows…

The River and the Life, entwined in one intricate bond,

Each one intrinsic part of the other…

The river flows. and as the river flows

Life goes on!


(Nidadavolu Malathi, 3/3/98)

Malathi Who?

Shakespeare raised The compelling question
What is in a name?
So I thought too, until now.
A query popped up in my head,
Who’s Malathi?
All the intriguing relationships
Among Indians!
I am Chinnamma, the little lady, at home
Peddamma at work, the supevisor,
Attamma for brother’s kids
Pinnamma for sister’s kids
And, ‘hey, you’, for whom,
Each syllable is quite a mouthful.
Mom or mommy,
And MOTHER when she’s annoyed,
To my little girl!
And then, Of course, the labels
“You are a feminist”
“No, I am not”
“Yes, you are”
“Why do you say so?”
“No, one ripple
Will not make waves”
“Ohh, come on…”
What a joke!
The good Lord knoweth I didn’t measure up
To somebody’s idea of feminism,
Wasn’t one of those
Dear darlings of Mother Telugu
‘తెలుగుతల్లి ముద్దుబిడ్డలు’
Or, I wouldn’t be in this mess,
In the first place!
A move I make
A philosophy I believe in
A principle I choose to live by
Sums me up and sets me apart.
In my country,
I used to say
“They call me Malathi”
I am not Malathi
Just, they call me Malathi
Like the profile on America’s Most Wanted
A male Caucasian, 5 foot 6, brown eyes,
black hair, a tattoo or two,
A tag attached to me
A bunch of syllables to mark a man, woman, or a thing.
Type in the keyword Malathi
You will see four hundred hits on the screen,
Not counting the millions
who dodge the mouse
and beat the odds on the high-tech
Oh, yes, the Finnish scholar.
His bibliography under Malathi Rao
A long, impressive list,
A few of my writings
And a lot more, not mine.
Wow, now I know
There is another Malathi Rao
Probably a decade or two younger,
Made the name famous!
“Are you the famous writer?”
“No Sir, I am not,
The name is famous!”
There IS something to a name,
I am somebody
In relation to others
A speck of dust floating around
In the outer Space
Today I am Malathi
Tomorrow Someone else could be so.
-Malathi Nidadavolu