Neil N. Chopra

Category: Poetry

God

A promise of paradise whispers when I’m on knees,
A threat of inferno cries as soon as I leave;
If I were to scrape them and walk with a limp,
The reminder of pain then frees me of guilt;
But if I was told there’s no peace upon death,
Should my steps then unfold laced with some regret?
Is my purpose ripped, dissipated with faith,
The carrot and stick now both washed away?
Or is solace found in work remaining to do
On this earthly ground: heaven and hell in plain view.

The chorus of voices reading from the same script
Is drowned by the choices of one who won’t quit;
Those opulent steps choreographed to perfection
Cannot top the breath of one brimming with questions;
The chiseled visage that stands donned with gleaming crown
Is dwarfed by the hand of one reaching out;
The path of penance that leads to claim absolution
Is forgiven less than the one who takes blame for intrusions;
The motions of many caught in moments of trance
Bows to one who is steady and leaves naught to chance.

You say what He’ll do as if graced to be His chosen;
I’ll say what She won’t with only reason unbroken:
She cannot be tricked by your foolish distracting,
She cannot be flipped with your bribes everlasting;
She listens when truth emanates in your silence,
No burden of proof must be shared with outsiders;
She exists, I am certain, the evidence overwhelming;
Just behold every person and our logic unbending;
I needn’t comply with decrees that establish your game,
For, in my eyes, He and She are one in the same.

Plenty

The style of this poem is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”.

When we profit from our toil (or inherit other’s spoils),
Unable to yield the joy of running up the score.
When the shadow’s work completes, enough collected for the feat,
It turns around to proudly meet the waiting challenge at the door.

When we purchase lavish style, objects thrown atop the pile,
Hoping temporary smiles don’t give way to scorn.
When the shadow does procure, it focuses on what endures,
Keeping possessions always pure of extravagance’s form.

When we lust after our urge and indulge seductive words,
Caught up in the sudden surge of desire newly born.
When the shadow’s passion flares, discipline laughs at the dare,
Body constantly prepared when temptation is the norm.

When we eat for savored taste, serving overflowing plates,
Leftovers are left to waste as sweat exits the pores.
When the shadow takes a bite, just enough for hunger’s plight,
Ignoring glutton’s longing sight, swallows never forced.

When we admit to what we crave, seldom making thoughts behave,
Yearning for addiction saved by a charitable pour.
When the shadow feels its wants beckoning with lonely taunts,
It never lets the calling daunt its will to need no more:
Shadow’s greed dead and lost evermore.

Vote

Pendulum hoisted by one side,
Until too heavy, it then does glide
Back to hungry, waiting hands
Unprepared to meet demands;
They then take blame for every crime
No matter how they make their stand.

If race in team becomes too close,
Paint friends as if the devil chose
To send them up on his behalf
And lead us down a wicked path;
But if they tickle knees at most,
Raise them, kiss their cheek and laugh.

Red meat fed to become captain,
Words so raw, facts out of ration;
Well-done before they take the field,
A brand new strategy revealed;
Softened words, more tempered passion,
Else fate of defeat will be sealed.

Commending one you vowed to fight
Even when their choice is right,
Takes a bullet from the chamber
As you warn us of their danger;
Simpler just to vilify
So the shot can be used later.

Priority in raising funds
To purchase votes in bulk at once;
Opponent may never be met
If successfully outspent;
New ideas don’t load the gun,
Expensive rounds keep you in debt.

Questions through a hollow tunnel
Spark a scripted, known rebuttal
To a ghost who didn’t ask,
But accepts your painted mask;
Avoid the risky, merciless trouble
Of thinking before answering back.

If the pieces fall into place,
A tightrope crossed to win the race,
Turn attention to your sponsors
And present them with an offer:
Your choices traded in exchange
For their replenishing your coffers.

The union’s state always superb,
A rosy picture drawn and served;
Cherry-picking softer colors
Or hardened ones that might scare others;
Ignoring every challenge heard
That might pull the rug from under.

New message taken on the road
To halls in towns already sold;
Thunderous applause guaranteed
When no counterpoint is seen;
Locked in propaganda mode,
Debate might cause you to concede.

The cycle repeats from the top,
What was raised up will now soon drop;
What came on waves will leave in shame,
All promises lost in the game;
The only way to make it stop:
Filter the noise and use our brain.

Fame

The style of this poem is inspired by Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”.

A pipeline set to fulfill a market
With standard faces to replace the last;
To try to tiptoe around the carpet
Enrages cliques wanting to block the pass.

Carpet unrolled so each step will be soft
For vengeful whispers ringing far and wide;
Concrete for those whose names remain forgot,
Their screams to be suppressed and locked inside.

Exclusive membership solidifies
New connections lifting a shallow chance;
Hazing assured, one’s worth does not suffice,
Must perform for them one more song and dance.

A royal stamp finds power through the crown,
However it stumbled onto the head;
Papers to sign with obsequious bows,
Then quickly forgotten once joined with the dead.

Bannered name asks for a premium price,
Uncredited words wrapped in silken bow;
When silenced author’s voice begins to rise,
Value suddenly drops to depths below.

Notoriety used to prowl the streets
And pick from lambs at the mercy of pleasure;
Throw them away once they’ve satisfied needs
And start the hunt for another one better.

A powerful hand tapping the shoulder
Can cause scruples to fall by the wayside;
Rigid ice becomes puddled when cornered,
Sins accepted as soon as they taste right.

A careful script for a broadcasted voice;
Poise maintained, unruly emotion checked;
Unless direction finds that panicked noise
Appeals to an audience looking for stress.

Hitched on the train you try yourself to steer,
Momentum reigns supreme on crowded tracks;
Directions murmured softly in your ear:
If final choice is brakes, they leave en masse.

Promises of grandeur, riddled with bribes,
To pierce the skin and slowly skim from veins;
When no blood is left, having been sucked dry,
Find another victim that can be tamed.

Socialize with the noted in lavish guise,
Keep the laughter going for their vapid jokes;
Soak up their drama with exhausted sighs,
Raise the glass with them every time they toast.

When work completes, run to check the score;
Leave waiting tasks for chance to celebrate;
Smiles brightened when given due reward,
Scowls hidden when others take the cake.

A willing pose attracts an eager flash,
Though another layer peels from the soul;
Looking for lights to no end distracts
A mind from finding a valuable goal.

Closest friends are prone to lose attention
When a budding seed has not left its mark;
Their handshakes come with many questions
When other’s eyes lift it from the dark.

Public facade must be carefully kept
To leave a timid fire well kindled;
Damning information subtly swept,
Fanning flames that might otherwise dwindle.

The stage at some point must be exited,
Whether with grace or by random slip;
Either fate leaves an ego tested with
Once reaching hands fading to the mist.

Dreams of stardom missing origin’s spark
Form a vision outside your control;
Crippled you lay, not knowing where to start,
Hoping a clear path before you unfolds.

Precious minutes gifted under spotlight,
Each second drawn out and milked to the bone;
Overlook creation, replace with hype,
A recognizable face is bought and sold.

Minimum effort to satisfy craving,
Substance needn’t matter when they can be tricked;
Same old story, in a brand new casing,
Can receive enough praise to make enough sip.

Great power is found in gilded finger,
Precisely dressed by the hands of handlers;
Golden ink drips from a vacant thinker,
Their slightest twitch planned and gently pampered.

If roaring cheers receive an artist’s piece
Highlighting hidden gems, though unintended,
Others gather round the crowd like flocking geese,
Confirming they as well think the strokes are splendid.

Basking in success, with or without merit,
No praise can match your own reverence;
When others are lifted, can hardly bear it,
Quick to tear them down without eloquence.

Ruthless purchase of your expensive time,
Product’s branded image slowly bored in;
Allowing nothing else in sight to shine:
Feigned glamour should not be freely stolen.

An ordinary, forgettable face
Looks unique when other’s eyes are widened;
What before was in reach is now replaced
With a distant figure newly brightened.

If performer chooses to don a mask,
Leaving their work to fend for itself,
Fame’s scaffold, once lifting, now is collapsed:
No favorable bias left to quell.

Labor

The style of this poem is inspired by Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”.

Machine in place, serving our growing needs,
Can only tick when we all choose to steer;
The crimson tape that wraps around like weeds
Can never hide the face that hears our fears.

The bitter taste of other’s obligation
Can be erased with knowing sentiment;
With empathy from a lofty station,
Rules need not break, only slightly bend.

A hand extended for nothing in return
To lift a beginner, new and tender,
Breeds loyalty otherwise never earned;
Goodwill felt will always be remembered.

Influence fueled by setting examples,
No matter how high the ladder is climbed;
A leader’s name can never be trampled
When they are the first to suffer the grind.

Profit secondary to mass effect
Of words imbued with wisdom to inspire;
An audience filled with sincere respect
Outlasts those forced to become buyers.

Humbled in the chance to make a connection
And bring out the best in shared endeavors;
Dishonest dealings result in tension,
If not bridges burned and ties left severed.

Integrity beholden to no charm
Or inviting scent of nearby power;
Small doses give way to permanent harm,
A curse that lingers to the final hour.

Appetite only for finding the truth,
Whether it feeds frustration or calms it down;
All angles displayed so others conclude
Without needing to filter distorted sound.

Advice given to one you choose to serve,
Free from your own creeping ambition;
Respecting their trust in your candid words,
Bringing them closer to their true mission.

Willing hands, though green and unseasoned,
Should have a path to prove their faculty;
Eagerness to learn trumps any reason
That upfront requires such mastery.

Idle hands, when left untouched, do soften;
They can be coarsened with the sweat of brow;
Though entrance is quickened into the coffin,
The taste of strain leaves a smiling mouth.

When goal is reached, move on to further trials
Instead of idly waiting for applause;
Awards for feats may not be seen for miles;
If never seen, it still should give no pause.

Dignity of body and ease of mind
When value added to a yearning world;
A free handout given loses its shine
Compared to the luster of labor’s pearl.

The watering of seeds may be ignored
And shrugged away as a part of life;
But new life was raised, you yourself did pour
Love and wisdom that let it reach its height.

A dream replete with unshaken armor
Cannot be gambled on golden ticket;
Like a phoenix rising with more ardor
When crushed by fists of waiting critics.

Spotlight avoided so focus remains
On lifting standards with each new challenge;
Though approval welcomed, a starkly changed
Reputation will not hinder the balance.

Mind can wander to unmatched destiny
As long as work is finished and in place;
But if chance lets no one respect the deeds,
Dream’s catalyst still did quicken your pace.

Endless hours perfecting detailed craft,
Satisfaction only when breath escapes;
In glory’s eager face you turn and laugh,
Even death can’t shatter what you create.

Rhythm in motion, drenched in expertise,
Quality and quantity fused together;
The notion of losing one for pennies
Leaves masters looking like common peddlers.

Thoughts scribbled with fervor from teeming brain
Sound greater with one’s own conviction;
Intrepid voice refusing to be tamed,
Its power pulling more in to listen.

If artist achieves sought after vision,
It feels superior to all works before;
But perfect strokes seen through artist’s prism
Might be hidden to those who find it a chore.

Your greatest critic found in your own eye,
No work can seem to meet expectations;
The toil of others honored and held high,
Knowing the struggle they also were faced with.

Genius standing, naked and alone,
Given due time to seep slowly within;
Not afraid to welcome others who show
Their own work deserves a fair chance to win.

A timid demeanor witnessed at first,
Lifting the notice of no one nearby,
Transforms when talent does finally burst;
No challenge again can render them shy.

If audience judges from behind a shade,
Leaving performance’s source unknown,
Labor’s worth, once hidden, now is displayed:
No hindering bias left in tow.

Matrimony

The date of this publishing is inspired by the Perry v. Schwarzenegger ruling, originally announced August 4, 2010

I.

Fertile soil for planting seed
Promised to one precociously;
Estates at war do find their peace,
Fathers betrothing brides to be.
A dowry sent to sweeten deal
In case physique has lost appeal;
Wife will submit to husband’s zeal
So family’s insurance is sealed.

Holy union looked on by ghosts,
Consummated with curling toes;
If not a dream, a path foretold,
Until the bed becomes so cold.
When passion leads body astray
And sanctity is tossed away,
Those sacred bonds resemble chains,
Fragile enough to snap and break.

A child raised in formal caste
To follow pace with ages past;
Obedience forever lasts;
A deviant leaves all aghast.
Discipline drawn from teacher’s hurt,
A mother’s warmth from maid at work;
Limits on where the mind can search,
Shackled in womb and after birth.

II.

Two souls asleep awake when near,
Whether routine or labeled queer;
Fingers entwine devoid of fear,
Whether blessed or met with jeers.
Control of fate outside our hands,
Too pure to tame and meet demands;
Euphoric bliss lost in this trance,
None can pause this eternal dance.

No diamond binds commitment true;
A paper signed can tear in two;
No doctrine cages love with rules;
No ceremonial motions prove
What can be seen when eyes do lock:
A crippling scream when torn apart,
Attuned with every strength and fault,
Combined as one until death’s march.

An innocent youth, born to fly,
Held in arms which would rather die
Than see harm cause their boon to cry;
But sets it free when it comes time.
Home manifests where shelter’s found,
And questions met with answers sound;
When prejudice is slowly drowned,
And in new eras, wisdom sprouts.

Freedom

If your sword swings across me, I stand there amused;
If your bullet has shot me, I see it pass through;
If your hand tries to drown me, I breathe, yes I do;
If you set fire to my body, I stay ever cooled;
If you attempt to distract, I see through the ruse:
I am immune to attack, I laugh at abuse.

If the parchment that bore me dissolves into flames;
If the building that stores it crumbles into remains;
If the city that grounds it is shattered and razed;
If the nation it founded is covered in haze;
If the lady with my beacon falls in the bay:
I am not weakened, I am not dismayed.

If my image is seen by your daughters and sons,
My heart and theirs begin beating as one;
If my blood starts to rise underneath your gun,
My voice thunders in cries until the day is won;
If my infection has spread, only my will can be done;
Let my name be said: I am freedom.

Sacrifice

A civilian lost
In their routine
Is oblivious
Of those who bleed.
They walk amidst
Our chatting crowds,
Often silent
While we do shout.
To disagree
With talking heads,
A strategy
So wrongly led,
Does not preclude
Solemn respect
Rightfully due:
Their promise kept.
When wallet thins
Resounding cries,
But fallen limbs
Are met with quiet.
Their protection
From a distance
Lets us all run
Continued business.
Defender returns
But left forsaken,
No matter the burns
His body’s taken.
And when asked
To do our part,
A simple task
Compared to harm,
We look for ways
To lock our chest,
And spend our pay
On how we dress:
A sacrifice
Of luxury
Affects our lives
Too much it seems.
Injury sustained
May show on skin,
Or else remain
Hidden within.
If body fails
To keep with pace,
Or mind derails,
In any case,
Torment reaches
A family’s home;
Over seasons,
Willpower shown.
Caregiver’s cries
For some reprieve,
Not seen outside,
Leaves us deceived.
Though duty complete,
Struggles continue,
Each day replete
With more to sift through.
A piece was left
Strewn on the field,
Not met with death,
But home revealed
What started as
A lover’s kiss
Is in the past,
A fleeting bliss.
But smaller sparks
Do find their way
Out from the dark:
Love does not wane.
Although it might
Meet resistance,
It does survive
And greater strengthen.
They sacrifice
With such commitment,
Please recognize
The pain they live with.
A name engraved
To remember
The life they gave
Without surrender.
Fear may have flared
When met with danger:
How to prepare
To kill a stranger?
Discipline wrought
From training mind,
And clearing thoughts
Of those behind
Who worry of
Their final breath;
Burden enough
From mission set.
An expertise
To minimize
The threat to team;
But risking life
Still weaves the thread
Of noble service,
Honoring dead
In common purpose.
If glory tasted
As warrior fallen,
In stories placed and
Soon recalled when
We look for heroes
With real examples
So we can see close
Their courage ample.
Do we believe
In anything
With such esteem
To let death sing?
What sacrifice
Can ever match
A given life
On our behalf?
A threat decreed
May be in scope,
Or else may seem
Devoid of hope;
But is the fight
Ever in vain:
A pen from high
That seals a fate?
A clear command
To waiting boots,
The battle plan
May not have proof
Of war being waged
Outside the bubble;
The theater’s stage
Proves greater trouble.
But brothers flank
On either side,
No vaulted rank
Can run and hide.
Loyalty drawn
From other’s blood,
Honor kept strong
With weight of love.
If victory found
In hollow label,
Or truly crowned
In world left stable;
The quarrel entered
For waving flag,
Or by a temper
Found raving mad,
Or for the home where
You dream at night,
Or for the soldier
In closest sight:
The sacrifice
Is never useless;
Don’t let their lies
Try to disprove this.

Footprint

The style of this poem is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”.

When we step, feet are digging, rocks we toss with our kicking
Over cliffs into the dripping water by the shore.
When the shadow steps unheard, along a path so unperturbed,
Content to walk and say no words, but listen to the roar.

When we learn, bending pages, ink outlining our impatience,
Readers follow frantic traces crumpled and so torn.
When the shadow softly reads, it leaves the text in state pristine
So the next themselves can glean from pages never worn.

When we mark, we plant a flag to remind (with subtle tact)
The next must dance around the stamp adorned upon the floor.
When the shadow leaves its mark, seen with keen eyes in the dark,
It gives the next a running start instead of just a chore.

When we drink, we have our fill from the lake not yet distilled,
Blind to the fact that it soon will deplete as a source.
When the shadow takes a sip from a never ending drip,
It notices that once dry lips are wet with no remorse.

When we decide what we require, slightest hurdles met with ire,
Quick to start a burning fire to nature’s very core.
When the shadow sees its needs, ever careful with its reach,
Never letting nature bleed for its necessary store:
Shadow’s sloth cannot breathe evermore.

Reason

Fiction is born from the corners of minds,
Melded with purpose so morals shine through;
Stories latch on to the passage of time,
Singing in echoes surrounding our moves.
Certainty’s claim that they never occurred
Weakens not the text so eagerly read:
A lie that points to a truth seldom heard
Imprints just as well in a restless head.
A universe imagined with no bounds
Provides an infinite, welcoming canvas
To explore what only used to confound,
Unrestricted by what these eyes are handed.
Fiction’s power draws from the well of our reason,
Regardless of whether you choose to believe it.

Fact scampers wildly outside our control,
Choices of others slip easy from grasp;
History etched as second by second unfolds,
Fingers fail reaching back to alter the scratch;
But if the record is subject to question,
Can lies be displayed as truth absolute?
Examples of deeds warped into a lesson
For skeptical minds all asking for proof.
Good and evil tangle before our eyes:
The annals of time are riddled with both;
Which is which still begs no matter who died;
If fate be reversed, it sways not our vote.
Fact’s resolve is filtered by reason’s own standard,
Whether or not the legend has been left tampered.

Reason mans the gates of pure lessons learned,
Spears honed and sharpened by logic’s chisel;
Any decree with spurn’s ink will be spurned
Until amended with strikes leaving only the civil.
Fact nor fiction can escape its judgment,
Deeds and stories both file in the same line;
It alone decides who will be inducted
Or shackled and exampled so the next think twice;
No guest list can soften its iron hand,
Nor script with questions to pose when confused;
Its legs tire not in eternity’s stand;
When birthed, it rose high with its command imbued.
When all flesh leaves our bones and bodies dissipate,
Reason lives on alone, still intact and unscathed.