Category Archives: poetry

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

A story for your grandchildren

It starts easily enough
A chat on the balcony
An exchange of numbers
One of you asks the other out for a meal.

But it’s lunch break at work
And it’s hardly food you’re hungry for.
You bag it, you hurry to one of your homes
Chinese take-out cools in the flat summer afternoon.

Things are crazy from there.
You are hard-pressed to find a place
Where you haven’t pulled over by the road
To steal a kiss, a fumble, an entire blowjob.

Then you misunderstand.
A conjuring’s at hand; and you,
Forever sick from love, hungry
For curlicues of an ordinary life, miss the trick.

Your careless arrangement grows ugly things now.
Beautiful, ugly things. Lies like muslin
Anger like a rain, a building up like a journey
A tearing down like a broken garden

There’re oceans now, and people.
And a splash of a cold, a shock of heat
As you forget the exact degree
Of the warmth of each other’s breath.

Your desire builds futile bridges over choppy seas.
And your yearning plumbs tunnels in blue depths
You label stars and find a way to use them
To be markers on your way.

Morning comes.
Stars disappear, your pathway a joke of light
A tree sways and the breeze brings sadness
And an email. “How are you?”

A winding missive of memory.
A reiteration of remembrance
You’ll always be the one, it says
I’ll never be the same without you

I will never be happy.
The email promises; it continues: we had it perfect
And I’ll always treasure it
It’ll be the story I tell my grandchildren.

27 Aug 2015.

Hidimbi by the River

Bhimasena: lover,  keeper of secrets, healer.
How burdensome your love for
The lotus-blue Panchali
To whom the Saugandhika
and it’s quest were just another sorcery
Of dark eyes.

My skin lightens,  Bhimasena, draining
Itself of jet,  along with the memory of you
The seed grows,  Bhimasena,  and I grow big
Enough to envelope the forest in my womb
In an incestuous hope that you will enter it.

The forest, it grows dark,  Bhimasena
Dark as our love was when you chose
To walk away,  dutiful son,  loving brother
Absent father. Bhimasena

(Inspired by Bhima: Lone Warrior, the English of Randamoozham by MT Vasudevan Nair)

What do you know of love?

How impossible are the things you ask of me.
Ask for the moon, I say, or the stoic, boring sun
Let me write your name in blood, I offer,
A wild flourish on this vast, ever-changing sky.
Let me pledge my first-born to you, and make you
An unwitting Rumpelstiltskin.  Let me tattoo our love
On every wall, door and window of my vision.
Ask me for an arm, an eye; any organ that you don’t already own
Ask for my flowers, my words and my thoughts
Demand that I lay them out as a carpet for you to tread on.
Amuse yourself as you throw me a challenge
Pepper it with a kiss, as I tell you I’d do anything for you
Ask me to part waves, ask me to be abhorrent.
I place these offerings, scented with incense and sincerity
For you to pick and choose, so I may prove my love
Even though you’ve never asked.
How much more can I offer, I ask, as you reject
Hyperbole, and laugh, albeit lovingly, at the drunkenness of
My soul. What more can I give you?
None of this is enough, you say; Or did you say too much?
Pretty words are just that. Instead, you say,
Give me your understanding, give me a world without you.
How impossible these things that you ask of me
How small, how devastating.

 

Litany

I’ve loved a poet, a dreamer, a boy who never grew up,
He loved me with kisses on the forehead,
Strung poems in my hair
As I lay against his warm skin, on a bed on the floor,
While a Madras moon stood guard outside my window.

I loved a magician once
With dancing feet and a crooked smile.
He claimed my shoulder as his own one night,
As he made the stars rain with his sleight of hand;
His vanishing trick, an unmatched act.

I’ve even loved a bore, a nice guy who couldn’t see
That I would be best when I lived free
He gave me trinkets in silver when I ran
A bribe, an imploring or a slave chain.

Totems for each of them, a horcrux for all.
A radio song for the magician,
Scars for the poet,
The bore, books and patience.

My evening  settles, gentle and low, a houseful of silence
Knocking at my door.
I open up a magic box, the magician’s gift to me
Take out a poem, yellow, old and rusty

A caress here, a paw there, a hard yank of my hair
A memory, a moth, an unused black quill
They clamber out of the poem, and sit on my hands,
I greet them, gentle and slow
Where have they been, I ask
To the poet, the magician, or with the bore?

*****