Dante’s Curried Crabs

Hard, breakable crawling shells

Scuttling across the powdery sand of time,

Boiling in mum’s curried pot of

Dante’s Inferno.


Why are they writhing in painful


A heated river of blood, with

merciful sprigs of coriander?


Violence against others,

Must call for no need of justification- or must it,

when the voiceless are preyed upon by

Barbaric dictators,

seized, whipped and cooked?


I, with the body of a man,

Must’ve sprouted the head and tail of a bull,

to be stirring and guarding these

sinful, hardened criminals. But,


I’m no perpetrator.


I’m just a beast ensuring that

the law of reparation is served,

My only intention is to appease a perfect

and morally pure,




The poem is based upon the seventh circle in Dante’s Inferno, Violence.

The Seventh circle is separated into three parts, Violence against others, Violence against self and Violence against God. Those who acted with violence against others are boiled in the river of blood (The Phlegethon).

The circle is guarded by a minotaur, possessing the body of a man and the head and tail of a bull. 


17 thoughts on “Dante’s Curried Crabs

  1. If only the minotaur could have heeded Lao Tsu’s precautionary maxim, “the more laws you have, the more thieves there will be”. Then instead of being complicit in the crime of reparation, she would be out and about, grazing, lazing, taking in the mountain air and reflecting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading the poem! To have you read and actually comment on it makes my day a hundredfold! I’ve always loved your literary creations. 🙂 I’m glad you could actually picture the she-minotaur come alive in the string of words. The minotaur would definitely be out there grazing if she had the knowledge and freewill to do so. 🙂 It’s a pity how knowledge is never sufficient for some, or perhaps it becomes sufficient too easily for others to act on their intentions. And to completely possess freewill..would require courage or should I say– ignorance, to do what one pleases at the expanse of all his or her responsibilities?

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      1. (I have been meaning to comment for some time, esp. since this blog seems to be a reincarnated version of another poet-blogger I used to follow. Not 100% sure if it’s the same though).
        Free will: used to struggle with that in college. Never resolved it. Very thorny issue. Now I am glad it doesn’t bother me as much while choosing to stay unresolved 🙂

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      2. I used to have a blog called thedailycognitive…I somehow got logged out of it…wasn’t able to successfully change the passwords either! 🙂 Did you recognise that blog? Much has changed since then.

        I left blogging after a turbulent couple of years. Then, I decided to come up with ArticulateCulture, which was supposed to be about travelling the world through then poetry/music or art forms of different countries. However, that set limits on me being able to freely express myself anytime through poetry. So, i scrapped that idea and just posted whatever I wanted, whenever.

        Glad the issue of Freewill doesn’t bother you as much.

        Freewill/ our existence/ the concept of God/ justice/ the spiritual world…
        Thinking about all these issues continue to plague me daily, causing me to be restless. I hope that although they might bother me, I’ll have some sense of peace so that I can make the best use of this life to hopefully just be generous with giving, understanding, respect and care.

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      3. Yep, so it is you! 🙂 How goes? Glad to see the you are still articulating despite the turbulence (and I hope that is settled now).

        Free will might not bother me as much, but all the other things you mention I am still grappling with, as I think any soul is led to given what goes on today outside and hence inside. With the spiritual, here’s a recent tangent I am exploring given my current reading: one of the outcomes of the Englightenment was separating the sacred from the secular, and it worked for the West, but it ended up confusing us in the colonies, where we traditionally drew no separating line b/w the sacred and the secular – it was all one for us.

        That separation, while by and large working out for the colonizers (although how well is highly questionable given the increasing evidence of atomization there) does not give our traditional, eastern sensibilities the space to grapple with issues such as misogyny, class oppression, racism, etc.

        Understading of oppression and social justice has come a long way in the advanced – secularized – world. We have yet to indigenize these advances, and one of the stumbling factors is this separation. Our sensibilities are off score. Adopting without internalizing would be mimicry.

        There work needs to be done. Art and poetry are needed desperately, along with a critical understanding of how power operates.

        Too much for one thread, huh? It has been a while 🙂

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      4. Never too much for one thread! I have to rush off now but I’m going to cherish those words and reply you properly soon! 🙂

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  2. Yes, it is me! I’m doing great. Can’t fret much though I could complain of my comforts in Singapore. Sometimes, I feel like my plastic environment is deceiving me of the reality in other parts of the world. But, I fail to realise that where I live in is another facet of reality too.

    Happy to know that you recognise the essence of my blog! More than the variety of the content, it is pleasing for an author of his/her work to know that his/her voice is somewhat distinguishable.

    Thank you for sharing with me your current reading. So, do you think people’s inability of separating the secular from the sacred is coming in the way of the advancement of social justice?

    What is the title of the material you’re reading now?

    “Art and poetry are needed desperately, along with a critical understanding of how power operates.”
    I wish I could feel that way strongly. I’m struggling with that now though I feel that my words and my acts of love are the only valuable substances I can leave on this earth before I perish.

    How are you doing? 🙂

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    1. Plastic. That is the word me and a colleague of mine (I am not sure which one of us coined it) used for Dubai when I used to go there for work about 11 years ago – few days every month for a year. If anything, I think the label gets more apt with time for Dubai.

      I am fine. Work takes me to many places, and this year it has been Laos, Oman and Ghana. Now with eyes that have grown to see things very differently from those of the tourist or of the development consultant, and knowing how my work feeds into a larger framework of plunder – and it is just that – the experience is quite complex. I prefer simple vacations with my wife and daughter 🙂

      Shahab Ahmed’s “What is Islam?” is the book I am reading these days. It is a bit academic, but chock full of insights for me so far. He died an untimely death at 48 two years ago, I think around about the same time this book came out.

      I am working through his book slowly. The separation between the sacred/secular that he talks about is like so many splits that modernity has imposed upon us: poetry/prose, aesthetic/rational, and most important individual/collective. Audre Lorde, whose work I stumbled on not too long ago, speaks beautifully in verse as well as in prose on how to work ourselves out of these artificial, unhelpful separations.

      “I feel that my words and my acts of love are the only valuable substances I can leave on this earth..”
      Isn’t that what it’s all about?

      Btw., Shahab Ahmed grew up in Singapore 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your response! 🙂

        Ah yes. Simple vacations are the best! I cherish being able to speak with people and having some time alone during my vacation. It’s impressive how you manage your family, job and yet are able to spend some valuable minutes commenting and blogging!

        I should try to look through that academic book sometime! Interesting that he is from Singapore.

        “I feel that my words and my acts of love are the only valuable substances I can leave on this earth..”
        Isn’t that what it’s all about? –> Yes indeed 🙂

        Looking forward to reading more of your posts and hearing your insights!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. haha yes, i’m great living without TV too and do have a tiny social media footprint! Sometimes, the sufferings of others close to me tends to occupy far too much of space in my mind. Though I might appear to be reasonably free, I feel like I’m mentally tormented. I’m struggling to learn how to control my mind instead of letting it control me. When I get better at ‘mind control’, hopefully I’ll be able to churn out more art. Great! 🙂 Have a lovely day ahead!

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      3. Using our suffering: for justice, for art. The sages over the years have written about such alchemy extensively, and Lorde has spoken about more recently, There is no talk of demoting or avoiding pain with them, rather channeling… You have a great day as well 🙂

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