The Sistine Madonna
Rise above worldly fame into an ecstatic piety
That both the religious and secular can trust,
Be honest like Raphael and represent
The sensual nobility of a comely virgin
Holding her firstborn in an idyllic poise.
Together with the saintly Sixtus and Barbara,
The winged genii and the Sistine Madonna,
You may watch aghast the pious folks
Beyond the balustrade and
Commiserate with them in Dostoyevskian profundity.
But once you have paid tribute to religious authority
You can provide a valiant vision of the world
By painting the child in her hands
With the eyes of a man dismantling miracles
Even while floating on imaginary clouds.
Mukesh Williams has been published in Indian, Canadian, Caribbean, and American journals such as Indian Verse, The Journal of Indian Writing in English, Muse India, Centrifugal Eye, The Blue Fog Journal of Poetry, Foliate Oak, Plankton, and Best Poem. His poetry possesses a startling mixture of Japanese minimalism and Foucaldian coups and carries with it an uncanny postmodernist signature. His works have been quoted in reputed journals around the world from The Journal of Commonwealth Literature to The Other Voices International Project, and listed in the World Poetry Directory of UNESCO 2008. Williams has published two books of poems, Nakasendo and Other Poems (2006) and Moving Spaces, Changing Places (2007); and is now working on a third book The Figural Moment. His latest co-authored book, Representing India: Literatures, Politics, and Identities (first published in January 2008 and reprinted in September 2008), has been favorably reviewed in many journals and newspapers. He teaches at Keio University-SFC and Soka University, Japan and can be contacted through his blog site.