Archive: Four Poems

From the Archive - Four Poems by Daljit Nagra, first published in ALR14, Winter 2009. Read Aubade from Nagra's new collection, British Museum (Faber, 2017)





How oft do mates bang on at length about

how well they’re hung, they grab their crotch then slash

the air, then chuck an arm at will around

a chum while necking Stella till they’re lashed.

To tell the truth, I’m really not well hung

and thus I hide from mates my prince’s state,

this conk is king of my poor frame, no trunks

would lunchbox find to bank a lady’s gaze.

And yet I hope the guys won’t feel too down

when I recount I praise my lover’s reserved 

mind that rises over the corrrrr! from louts

who check her out too long like sonnet pervs.

            She says: I die each night your subtle touch

            expands the case for serving our true love.



Our Daughter, The Bible Flasher!


 but you must our daughter cure Dr Jekly!


At party for full moon, wid girls whooping 

on broomstick dance and wise-hair ladies 

gassing voodoo-powders in corner, I leav 

di Bacardi Bernand-Manning-to-Edingborough-Duke

joke-cracking boys who show we haha, ah! 

can make; 

            her nose, could it be…? O Dr Jekly, our Rapinder,

her sari – tutt-tutt-tuttering to lino! Underneath 

she hav white collar and black cotton costume!


Wid eyes to ceiling artex, wid bible she march

for party marquee screeching like dis (I sing): 

All tings briiight and beauuutipel, di God-lord 

changing all …

Such jumble Dr Jekly she mumbo,

so quick up I roll her to play wid Black Magic masks 

in attic. I ask, Vut is rong vid Rub? Always again 

in British on me: Does he too do Christmas 

making money for charities with Cliff Richard?



The Punjab


Not ‘The’ – just ‘Púnjab’! Was there once upon

before partition a Púnjab whole? A Pan-jab 

of Hindu, Sikh, Muslim – anything? Are Punjabis

all partitioned? How many times a putsch my Babel sank – 

that bank after river-bank got flagged by clan?    

To play the pipes of a Punjamental – 

must I pin a badge – must I drop my pants – 

must I join a junta and jab-jab-jab for my Púnjab?


Do di Indi Punjabs luv Khalistan? Do di Paki Punjabs luv Talibans?


You say ‘Pún-jab’ – we say Punjaaab – it’s our land 

of five wide rivers! Well it’s five for the ‘punj’ 

and for ‘jaab’ it’s a river so you’ll never step on my –

Ekjaab – Dohjaab – Tenjaab – Charjaab – Punjaaaaab! 

What a jape! – Not a jape just each jaab is my King of Roll

through the blue suede seam of cloud and sea 

that rocks me back for the count!


Do di Punjabs go punting from jaab to jaab to Bhalti the W-W-W-World!!!


I’m a Paki-Púnjab or an Indi-Púnjab –

I’m a bow-bells knees-up-mother-brown type

who’s an Ali Alias & Chapatti Charlie – I’m a popped-up 

Poppadum Pete cum Jullunder Johnny! Ah honey 

they think I’m Niagra on the fall – but I’m your jabby gobby 

toyboy – your beached up beluga-bhaji 

when all you wanted was a pie and mash Monday.


Ek-jaab – A row row your boat gently down the…swanny from Thames-jaab!


The jameen – the ghee – the jaggery or gor – 

all those jagirs of gold – in your name – going down…

Young Punglanders – I declare you are the map of your maa-baap!

Take a pan & a man jump aboard for your jut-land unplucked – 

your unclaimed land – your bee-glade Indusfree! 

Look at you jump! You golly well jump 

my old Huckleberry friend – Look at you jumping and 

jabbing your song down the jaabs – going merrily –       




Ek-Doh-Ten-Char-Punj – one-two-three-four-five; maa – mother; baap – father; jameen – land; jaggery – palm sugar; gor – cane sugar; jagirs – estates; jut – landowner caste



Have I Got Old News For You


You’ve been mapping the best mortgage

for our first house in these skint times,

recalling the latest tracker rate 

you hint we play it safe

with a five-year fixed.


You’re by the telly when Dubya flashes up

twitching a smirk in his cowboy gear,

now safely in the past, yet verged

on a mind-blowing



I’m sorry Love, in the head to head, 

my head had gone astray so you were

second best, it’s just that I banked 

on a dead cert gaffe to raise 

us a laugh.


You don’t hand me another Bud, but quiz 

my smiles at this sniggery ad-lib game 

of gags (that won your broken 

laughter back then).

I’m thrown


to our courtship years glued to the smoke of Guan-

tanamoww, Eyraaq, and of course Affghanestaan 

freed by John Simpson for the Crusades,

way before our daughter

trod the earth.

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