Saturday, 24 September 2016

'It' is flexible and quiet and sometimes not flexible at all



It’s a distant single file of women
trudging through the scorching morning deserts  -
It’s a single winding line of silence.
A flower blooming, ignoring the fence.
A rash of lights on the dark of nightskin -
It’s always more in silence than in words.


It mostly needs no further embellishments,
a trade-off between this silence and that.
It stops too at the rank and the rotten
and tries to see nothing is forgotten.
The blanks of pauses make their quiet difference
the truth and the toothcomb, concise and exact.




Today this blog completes five years, and I was looking through the posts and here is the very first poem I posted called Pixellate.  A lot of water under the bridge since then, and I am rubbish at marking the individual waves, but I do notice how amidst all the changes, some things don't budge at all.  

What are you celebrating this weekend? Have a happy one!





Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Portrait of a Certain Silence



It’s not hundred percent, there’s birdcall, thinned
by the distance, the bird’s far off somewhere -
not tuneful but harsh, a throb on the wind,
the gnawing of water at the island’s fringe
a claypan of sound under the shallow layer


of silence. There are different kinds, incomplete
even when it’s peaceful outside, all tranquil;
the red noise still continues its own beat
strums its strings, digs its toes into the beach,
runs fingers down its own skin, can’t be still.





You know, I had this dream in my head of a recuperative, relaxed September after the total merry-go-round of August.  This image that I would settle down languidly on the couch every morning. The coffee mug would refill magically every hour.  And I would have written this perfect couplet by noon and then polished it till it outshone a diamond by nightfall.  Ha! Pfft! Mice, men, gang agley with a vengeance.  The image has had to be...um, revised drastically downward.

The honest truth is - the MOOC I did over summer turned out terribly addictive. Once it finished end Aug, in some weird, panicked fit of withdrawal I went and signed up for some more. So there goes 'languid' out of the window for now, no hope of getting it back into my life till November at least, when the current ones end.  I hope to work the addiction out of my system by then and get back to my 20 words a day type output. We shall see.

The good news is of course lots of stuff to read and ye olde horizons expanded, and then those long horizons might just wriggle themselves into the writing somehow I hope.  And gazillions of writing assignments, too. It all adds up, though I am not sure exactly how or up to what.

But I do have a grip on my iambs finally, I think, and may even begin to understand feet and meter and stuff like that very soon. I might even take a stab at a properly dressed sonnet in its tux standing on its own feet over here. Who knows?


Is your life languid right now?  I hope it is as languid as you want it to be.








Sunday, 11 September 2016

Shades of Orange As They Came Apart



I didn’t notice things – the colours of lipstick
for instance - she wore a shade between peach and brick;
dotted in her scarves too, the whole range of  orange
woven in her skirts and art, and in her magic.

She wore the deepest henna, that burnt tangerine
between her fingers, on her knuckles; dark, crushed green
staining her palms pumpkin-warm, climbing vines, blossoms
on her pulse in light apricot, and nectarine.

She fed me ripe oranges, taking them apart
tenderly in her palms, like segments of my heart;
she prised my world, eternity and each minute
wide open with her hands. The taste of that tart

sweetness remained, each segment a sunrise transferred
from her lifeline to mine. The fragrance remembered
as first sunlight flames on water.  The formless gains
shape as darkness ebbs. Undying preciousness, coloured.

In her rooms the walls are orange blossom, rugs gray
rainclouds, an ancient magazine and the doorway
fall open like her hands.  I shut my eyes, notice
the shades of orange in rust and dust, mild decay.




This is the final version of a poem I created for one of the prompts during the MOOC I did over July-August.  (Did I tell you there's talk of an anthology being compiled with some of the works that were created there? Watch this space)

The assignment was themed on Elegy and Memorial.  I thought I'd post it here today with thoughts for the families who have lost loved ones to terrorism in all the places that touch my heart, and life. 


The season's changing out here where I am, though the temperatures remain high, they are slowly softening. Much of this region of course has two seasons - hot and less hot, but my brain and body are still attuned to the Indian six. There's a cleaning up of the skies back home about now, lots of fluffy clouds chasing off the heavy dark monsoon ones, the festival season starts in less than a month.  It's a particularly beautiful time of the year.  'Sharat' we call it in Bengali, there is no English counterpart available, it's not autumn yet, a pre- or proto-autumn is more like it.

Here too, the plants which had been singed to cinders during the summer, are greening back to normal.  Flowers have their happy faces on, the leaves are plumping up.  I have been writing more, learning more, blogging a little less than usual, but the blog's going to green itself back to normal as well. Things are changing outside and inside. My year so far feels like an adventure and a gigantic blessing, which I suppose are synonyms really. 

I hope your year, and month, is going well too.





Monday, 5 September 2016

But that's not a poem




You are what you are, I am what I am,
I am what you are, you are what I am
east meets west somewhere, but that’s not a poem
north cuts south just here, the intersection’s home.


Parallel lines converge if I look hard enough
the vanishing point’s real, the rest’s just a bluff
and you are what you are, I am what I am
and we meet someplace, though no-one gives a damn.


The mountain’s just a pile of atom crumbs
the city’s gone ballistic, traffic’s a bit glum
and we’re what we are, we are what we were
when freedom was love, when freedom was war.


All the roads are dust, and all flesh is grass
the world is a clan and everything must pass
and I am what you were, you are what I’ll be
and it takes a sec for you to morph to me.


I am what I am, you are what you are
north meets south someplace, in café and bazaar
and east too meets west always and everywhere
but that’s not a poem as far as I’m aware.


You are what you are, I am what I am
the diff’rence’s slim, hardly a nanogram
and I am he and she, you are we and us
but that’s not a poem, that’s not a verse.





















Monday, 29 August 2016

Point me home


Well, a lot has happened offline in the time I've been away, I packed in loads of catching up during the home leave.  Met up with family members I hadn't seen for a decade, classmates I hadn't met since schooldays, a dear friend from my childhood in Nigeria, my god, no happiness like the happiness of hugging a friend after some 20 odd years' gap! I cried and laughed and talked till my tongue fell off.

As for things here, the last entry won the top spot, whoop! a super pleasant way to end the holiday.  Thank you, WEP and WEPers! 

Write...Edit...Publish...

I also managed to complete the writing course with all requirements duly met, another pleasant thing to happen this August.  Have come away with a whole new perspective on various histories, poets, and writing and reading.  It's been busy and productive and truly fun, if a bit hectic.  I have written everything as it came, no prescheduling, total pantsing paradise. Looking forward to some stay-at-home quiet writing and blogging now, maybe even scheduling a few entries, just for a change, yeah! :)

And here's another installment from the garden's entry, which has 14 sonnets in total, but only 10 got posted so as to fit in with the word limit.



XI.


Place me there when it’s twisted thorns,
just sharp shards of twigs in the pebbles;
the needles a mass of poised weapons
and stars like fallen petals, shrivelled;


lay me there still when the planets
confuse their orders around the sun.
The skies gnaw the gems off Venus
and there are no more rings on Saturn.


Wrap me in as the cosmos crumbles
and time runs backwards to escape -
its own aeons’ works lie in shambles,
space assumes a sinister shape.


Point me to the earth always, always
even when it’s dead, empty space.








You'll find the first ten here in case you want to read.  Happy end-of-August to you and yours.






Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Point me to Write...Edit...Publish



Write...Edit...Publish...




It’s August and it’s time to make my way back to Write…Edit…Publish even as I pack up after the home leave and return to my second home, which is actually the first home because that's where I am most of the year.  WEP, hosted by Denise and Yolanda, is where we gather to share and hone our creative skill sets - mostly writing, but wide open also to other artforms/interpretations. Click the link to find out more. And jump in with your take on the prompt if you like.  


The prompt this time is 'gardens' and I am back with another of my experiments in poetry – this one a 14X14, a series of 14 themed sonnets. Only the word limit means fitting in 10 and not the entire 14. Which matters not a bit, because each part is complete in itself and can be read independently on its own as well as part of the series.  And my treatment of the prompt deviates from the suggestions by the hosts in that I am not talking about any one garden in particular - this entire earth is a garden and I am beyond thrilled to be in it, whatever the landscape, whatever the season, all beautiful, all good...except when Man gets too smart and messes things up big time.



I.

Point me to the earth, always, always,
even one thousand years later,
when all you have is some fragments
and this yellowed, sparse dust of paper.

When words have lost their hundred tongues,
cities have plucked their hundred streets
and thrown them like javelins straight and hard,
when the meek come to leash the elite;

the smoke from rocks is tightly curled,
the sun’s lava a wrinkled-skin moon.
The skyscrapers have their yawns shushed
but still silence won’t carry a tune.

Point me to the Earth even then,
to lost wildflowers, fossils of pollen.


II

Point me always to the horizon,
grind me small into the wild gardens
even when they’re wholly paved over
by old snowflakes and stonemasons.

When the trees have shuddered off their leaves,
when the only bird is just a clock
and time has stumbled into its own crease,
and can’t move or turn on the peptalk.

Earthworms have burrowed for so long
that they’ve gone off the deepest end.
When fingers scratch at concrete lots,
caravans march but don’t befriend.

Point me always towards the soil
through the centuries, through the turmoil.


III

Lay each of the fragments on the ground
even when the grounds have been war,
and each cup has raised a tempest
and stormhands and strong handlers roar

even when the good earth’s frozen
and the bad earth’s melted and burnt;
dig me deeper, deeper, even then
when singleminded sods can’t be turned.

Each village tears up its neighbour’s steps,
the broad river scurries underground,
oceans of oily fury shred,
summer bulbs, human ribs and sounds.

Push me deeper then under the sands
where the tides can’t get at the land.

IV

Where every dream and mote is scorched
and the heat unbearably high -
no seeds can sleep, no grain’s ever tossed,
no sphinx ever moved its stony thigh.

Point me there, when there’s zilch to point
when the garden’s left without its guard,
the beds are just one lump of ruins,
each one of the orchards is charred;

where the mudtrack’s run out, like tears
along the sagging cheeks of settlements.
Point me there, when all are oblivious
to what gardens and orchards once meant.

Even when the earth’s just embers,
ash and smoke, and no-one remembers.

V.

Point me always towards the mud
where a million ranks of marching men,
a million pairs of sturdy boots
have churned up the guts of the fallen.

If you can make out what was the heel -
place it deep where the blood and organs
have soaked into layered stone and soil,
braid the hair into the veins of veins.

Point me always to this wide earth
even when it’s narrowed down by men;
when the stench of greed fouls its old rivers,
uproots and lays waste each garden,

even when it’s slicked with guts and gore
of millions in an ancient, endless war.

  
VI.


Sharpen me like a pencil point
and sow my tip right into the earth;
stab me deep, plant me fathoms down
where molten metal transforms the dirt,

where primordial feuds like dragon teeth
grind in sleep, biding their time to sprout;
work me in lovingly, in so deep
that the longest scythes can’t cut me out

and the most vicious spades cannot reach.
Let my points, be they one or hundred
be mindful of the company they keep
and come to rest always in the mud.

What’s the use of sharpness otherwise
if all it’s slicing is empty skies?


VII

Plant me when all the springs are over
and even the winters have long gone
on tiptoes one after the other
and the day’s just a seasonless dawn,

the skies are apple green and their clouds
come in nimbus wrecks and cirrus shells,
the furrows deadly straight but obscured
and the rain’s just a dreaded acid swell.

Plant me when the weather’s never there -
entire climate’s din is quiet at last
because it’s lost its bearings, unclear
if it’s present at all or it’s just past.

Sow me even then deep into the sludge
when season’s just a meaningless smudge.

VIII

Point me to the earth even when
the borders between the ground and sky
are hard to tell apart, hard to sense
the ends of low and the start of high.

You’ll know the place where your feet stand
shovel there and you’ll find my place too
down in the heart of earth, well beyond
the colourless winds and skies and seablue.

Keep me safe in the closed fists of mud,
wrap fingers of soil about my soul,
and even if you can’t, it’s enough
to touch the earth and be healed and whole.

Point me always towards the earth
not at death, from the first spasm of birth.


IX

I don’t need the wings, I don’t need
to fly anywhere, to be close
to the orbits of stars and galaxies.
Enough that I walk in the boroughs

of milkweed and long grass, quite enough
to feel the sands scorch my bare feet,
the morning mist melt into the mud
and lift again at midday heat.

A vine, a tree, a fruit and a serpent
suffice to make this a garden
suppose it’s only the snake, I’d still want
to be here always, even then.

Don’t fret if you can’t dig much, can’t shove
me deep. Just a touch of earth is enough.

X

Point me always towards the earth,
place me firmly on it or below -
a Midas embrace in reverse
drawn gold from this dust, full from hollow,

morphed into something rarer, finer,
in moments and over eternities.
Lay me down and embed me firmer
into these landscaped uncertainties.

Point me always, always to this earth,
forget what edens lie beyond grasp.
Pinpricks of light in wide smears of dark -
the sky’s a void too empty to clasp,

so place me here, freezing sands or warm,
these gardens of wastelands. And I’m home.



 W.C -993


And I'm actually home in stable wifi zone in a couple of days more, and will definitely come around then if I haven't been able to do so before. It's great being back here at WEP.....point me to WEP always..  :)