Category Archives: poems

Walking around Agara Lake

Yesterday, I walked around Agara Lake, when the sun set
Trying to retrace my footsteps
As you walked by my side on another day like this. 

We talked about… what was it, exactly?
About how we will be friends forever.
And we made fun of disapproving old men
Who looked at us as if we were about to kiss;
We laughed because we should have.

We called other people conservative,
Walking dreams trapped by the enslaving of their lifegivers.
We made excuses for their bad behaviour.

How beautiful it all was.
The full trees, the shattered-glass shroud of the lake
And the complete lack of birds. The ability to sit
Still and feel nothing, except oneness with
The dusty-pink flower that swooned as it fell from the tree.


Dancing on graves


I know a grave dancer, (by no means grave)
A man with a child’s smile
And a tongue of fish scales,
Glinting, silver, alive all the while

He steps light on the gifts
Of people’s insides
With cold horned feet,
And poison-tipped besides.

He wears a jester’s three-pointed hat
A ready joke, an even readier lie;
Has a bag of tricks, a sleight of hand
Promises to love you till you die.

The last I saw him
He was a deranged sun
Burning up several worlds. I don’t know if it was
From fear, cowardice or for maybe some fun.

Dancing on the grave
Of a microcosm that was a trick
Of light. His eyes dead, his voice
The cold of winter, sharp and thick.

I walked up to him
To ask about his terrible dance.
Between steps of murder, he asked instead,
“This is your grave, have you noticed, by chance?”




Listening to myself

I can't find my voice, I can't find my voice, 
I cried. 

A loud sound I hear, a keening, a song
An insecure blowing of a horn 
But I can't find my voice, I can't find my voice. 

The virulent music of raindrops, a yelp, a din
Three loud wishes for a somewhat depressed djinn
But I can't find my voice, I can't find my voice. 

Incantations of hate, a hummed song, a plea
A jigsaw of footsteps; they flee, they flee
But I can't find my voice, I can't find my voice. 

Nothing is quiet, a whistle, a roar 
The sounds of Hokusai's waves crashing ashore 
And I can't find my voice, I can't find my voice
I cried. 

27 Oct 2016


She drifted away with his cigarette smoke before he could catch her
Imprison her
In a green glass jar.

How long will you be gone, he asked,
Not looking up from violent but quiet scribbling in his book.
His pencil plundered a stick figure, a dead flower.

Till the silver on my anklet fades
Till black doesn’t hurt anymore
Till when the ship sails off my shoulder

Then I’ll be back for more, she said.

A knife glinted, his hand  a ready, righteous Brutus
Her skin a sheen of love, glowing, nonchalant
Till he knifed a lost ship and tainted the brown of her shoulder

“No sailing away for this one. Ever,” he said
Grabbing her snake-hair and pouring her
As she sighed in relief, into the green glass jar.



Song of the single mum: Date night.

Of course, you love flirting with me.
I make good conversation, take care of my hair
Fingers, feet and breath. I have a pretty smile
You could parry intelligently with me
About most things, except maybe frogs or chemistry.
I know a little about a lot of things. I fake it well
I will tell you I’ve enjoyed having dinner with you,
And acknowledge privately that the wine is helping my charm.
The night is full of possibility: more talk, more wine
But as we get to your place for that one last drink,
And you kiss me, having shoved me gently against the door,
I have to issue a little warning
I may not look as old as I am, or as if I’ve given birth.
But good genes don’t bless away the grapefruit skin,
Or moonlight scars on my soft stomach
I have a Caesarian gash, which might turn you off;
And breasts that have been functional and on display,
Unintentionally. Effects will show
So if all that matters to you is a fun lay,
A little variety between the sheets,
Turn off the lights, be a man and let’s play
But if there’s going to be more, then leave the lights on;
Let the night go beyond my poise
And shine its drunk light on my imperfections.
Do you prefer less woman, I wonder.
And would I bore you next week? If, that is,
You last beyond my xoxo-note in the morning?

When the sun sets

Who is it that ranges, occasionally,
The quiet distances of my mind
Reminding me of songs I’d rather forget,
Of a yellow rose that fell me
Of that first year of deceit –
Yours and mine?

Who is it that sweetly stabs
My eyelids awake
So that I walk-wake-live-die
Till I see a skewed sunrise
And dyslexically construe
Today for tomorrow or 
Yesterday for another life?

– Me

Adding to…

A previous post

I can’t find stuff that Jeet Thayil has written his post-America era. I don’t think these are from then but they could be. And my copies of his books are back in India.

If you can find it, please read Shape-Shifter. It is my favourite. Read this interview and understand yourself why I lust after him. If you know me well enough, that is.

If you don’t: His “weird co-passengers answer” and this earlier post should tell you that we’d have been made for each other, had both of us been single. (In my head, of course. He probably likes really thin women with killerbones… I mean collarbones…curly hair and a shimmering nosepin, none of which I have.)

See that I-hate-posing-properly-for-a-picture smile? Sigh…
(Picture: The Hindu)

By Jeet Thayil

The Boredom Artist

Life, said Hobbes, is nasty, brutish and short.
He left out boring, as grim a condition as any.
His tigerish namesake’s epiphany,
in 20-point captions, is a Sunday slot.
Then there’s Chekov, who, a moment ago, wrote,
The earth is beautiful, as are all God’s creatures,
only one thing is not beautiful, and that is us.
Between philosopher, toy tiger, doctor, there’s
a ladder of land no man claims as his.
I’ll settle down there with old friends, familiars:
a monkey, my famous barking birds in pairs,
and defrocked Sukhvinder, the bald brahmin bear.
Dawn, like whiskey, half-lights a watery world:
all things break down to flesh, food and fear.
It’s late December in Fleetwood, downstate NY,
“glorious showers, thunderclouds continue”.
My mind unwinds as the century slows,
dribbles its years to a whining close
and defunct days peddle the news.
Listen: nothing, not even love, is true.

Slumming in Bombay, Beelzebub

found himself at home. Finally, he
had a reason for lethargy.
Inert like everybody, unable to sleep,
he blamed the humidity.
No use to say, “But B,
that’s what this city does: saps you,
leaves you spent like change,
separates the dudes from the ditties.”
He was having none of it,
a tools-down, feet-up, none of it,
and then the boss arrived, unexpected,
on a Sunday.
But his boss – now what? – had changed.
Hard as it was to believe,
she seemed kind, distracted, humorous,
endearing even.
The day she came to take him home
they were seen at the Hanging Gardens,
hand in hand, watching the dust bees
ride their pollen machines.
It was Christmas Day, just after dawn,
even the heat and humidity at peace,
it seemed, and Beelzebub’s boss serene.