poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Ajmer Rode was born in 1940 in Rode of Punjab, India, and received his bachelor’s degree in engineering at Punjab University before immigrating to Canada, where he received his master’s degree from the University of Waterloo.

Rode has published several books of poetry, prose, drama, and translation in Punjabi and English. He is the author of two books of poetry in English, Poems at My Doorstep (Caitlin Press, 1985) and Blue Meditations (Third Eye Publications, 1985). His poetry collection Leela, coauthored with Navtej Bharati, is considered a notable work of contemporary Punjabi poetry.

Rode’s honors include the Best Oversees Punjabi Author award from the Punjab Languages Department, the Anᾱd Foundation’s Anᾱd Kav Sanmᾱn award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of British Columbia, among others. He also served on the National Council of the Writers Union of Canada, chairing its Racial Minority Writers Committee, and was a coordinator of the Punjabi Writers Forum in Vancouver, the oldest Punjabi writers association in Canada. He lives in Vancouver.

Mustard Flowers

If you see an old man sitting alone
at the bus stop and wonder who he is
I can tell you.
He is my father.
He is not waiting for a bus or a friend
nor is he taking a brief rest before
resuming his walk.
He doesn't intend to shop in the
nearby stores either
he is just sitting there on the bench.

Occasionally he smiles and talks.
No one listens.
Nobody is interested.
And he doesn't seem to care
if someone listens or not.

A stream of cars, buses, and people
flows on the road.
A river of images, metaphors, and
similes flows through his head.
When everything stops
at the traffic lights it is midnight
back in his village. Morning starts
when lights turn green.
When someone honks
his neighbor's dog barks.

When a yellow car passes by
a thousand mustard flowers
bloom in his head.

Originally published in the July 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. Original text and translation © 2018 Ajmer Rode. All rights reserved.

Originally published in the July 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. Original text and translation © 2018 Ajmer Rode. All rights reserved.

Ajmer Rode

Ajmer Rode is the author of two books of poetry in English, Poems at My Doorstep (Caitlin Press, 1985) and Blue Meditations (Third Eye Publications, 1985). His poetry collection Leela, coauthored with N. Bharati, is considered a notable work of contemporary Punjabi poetry.