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..  :)




Monday, 15 August 2016

Fitting it in is a breeze!



Freedom is a short word, shapeless like water;
I can pour it into my throat in a draught
and it quenches one thirst, but leaves the other -
tackling that requires more than just wordcraft.


Freedom – it washes into my body
like an ocean tide, and leaves too, just as
the ocean does. The sands littered with rocky
debris, bottlecaps and butts, seaweedfuzz


beached and helplessly immobile till a wave
is moontugged back again. Freedom is a short
word – it fits into my knuckles, the shape
of my lips, the chipped tooth of truth, a sport


of time. Freedom is just a two-syllable
word, it can fit in anywhere, no trouble.







Happy Independence Day to you if you are celebrating 70 years of self-rule! Jai Hind!


Monday, 1 August 2016

Signed and sealed and sitting....








Signed and sealed and sitting not quite pretty, but I am sure I will manage to write up something, there’s inspiration enough in the monsoons in India where the whole country and countryside come alive in fifty million shades of green! Find out more about the Write...Edit…Publish challenge on their page by clicking on the link or add your name to the linky right at the bottom of this page.

Loads of poetry going on in my life right now, it's kind of insane here trying to read/write for an online poetry course, and balancing the holiday R&R! But have managed to keep my head above water so far.  Blogpost poetry taking a backseat though. So leaving you today with a pic not equal to a thousand words but definitely some poetry material hidden in there somewhere if one cares to look close enough.  Have a wonderful week!












Friday, 22 July 2016

Double helpings of Liebster, Mary Oliver, Camus, Conrad, and the Definition of Various Things


Denise Covey, and prior to her, Yolanda of Defending the Pen  have both very kindly nominated me for the Liebster Award.  Both are published authors and ubercool bloggers, with fun and informative individual blogs on writing, check them out by clicking on the links and if you aren't following them already, I assure you - you totally should.  Not only that, they also jointly co-host the monthly bloghop Write...Edit...Publish where aspiring writers  meet every two months to work at set prompts and present their creations for review and feedback. Thank you for nominating me, ladies! 

And what is the Liebster Award? The Liebster Blog Award is an exciting opportunity to develop relationships with our fellow bloggers from different domains. This is a peer nominated award, which acts as a chain blog post. And is mainly intended to connect with new bloggers while building your email list. So, here goes...I start my acceptance with answers to Yolanda's questions :



Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Subtle happy





The afternoons are slow, nothing to do
between the end of morning and four o’clock
a kite swings a dead rat on the hot tin of the roof
or it’s a vulture, a swifter winged hawk
and it circles slow, breaking the normal cycles
the sun loses the wind in his sails by and by
no matter how slow the hawk chooses to fly


a lone eyelash falls, lured somewhere off the lid
and someone plucks it off and places it on my fist
now shut your eyes and blow hard and make a wish
but I can’t think of anything however hard I try
however tight I squeeze my closed eyes
nothing left to wish for, no secrets yet to hide
– a subtle sort of happy that can make one cry.






No writing it as it comes this week, a slightly older poem I wrote as I was thinking of my school holidays  a long, long time ago, as we waited for the offspring's school to close a few weeks earlier.  Home leave is always intense, and I have got by on other years by scheduling and planning ahead.  This year something inside the brain rebelled at that, so... no advance posts.  And it is about to get 'intenser and intenser' as Alice might have said.  Not only did I not schedule my holiday posts, but I have committed to an online creative writing course, which fits neatly into the home leave dates like they were made for each other! What was I thinking of?? But now that I've signed up, I can't leave well alone either, so this whole vacation is going to be one long juggling act performed by someone who is a committed single-tasker.  Well that's just an euphemism, half-tasker is more like the truth!! We shall see....

Hope you are having a great summer/season of fun and relaxation wherever you are. 






Thursday, 14 July 2016

This and that



Nope, not the usual poetry post, I'm speaking like a sensible, normal human being today.  Am officially on home leave from tomorrow, which is just another way of saying 'hectic' and 'out of control' :) There may or may not be a post next week, depending on how organised I can manage to be. And if the wifi is sorted. 

Just popped in here to share that and a couple of other things. One of them is this anthology here




which has 86 poets from around the world writing about love.  I'm in there with some of mine. Here's the link.

I also wanted to talk about the Write...Edit...Publish bloghop which gets back on next month.  The prompt is Gardens, the sign-up begins on 1st August, the postings on 17th.  More details on the WEP page and on the hosts', Denise and Yolanda, here and here. I will be travelling back just then, but am definitely going to participate, maybe with a couple of days lag in the hopping.  I seem to be using the word 'lag' a lot lately somehow :)




Two badges this time, aren't they luscious? and a whole lot of inspiration! WEP allows enough freedom to interpret the prompt and make it your own, and then there's the feedback from publishers and authors. Check out the pages and join in, it widens and deepens writing/creative skill sets, apart from being a whole heap of fun.  Seriously! See you there.












Monday, 11 July 2016

Everything




I will write you everything in just one line
and you can call it any name you choose
syllables and line counts cannot define
what is or isn’t a sonnet, or the truth.
As honestly as I can, I will write
what I feel in the simplest language, use
no embellishments, nothing to turn and writhe

at the ends of octaves and quickly form
the premise and endless counter argument.
No snake gobbling its tail, not a huge word-storm
in a small teacup. One line, then fall silent.
And it’ll still be a sonnet, though the norm
of iambs and fourteen shall be absent. 









Monday, 4 July 2016

Crossings




As the crow flies, Dhaka isn’t far -
in fact just the other day, some of us
had got together, an evening of raucous
laughter and drinks later, hatched an idea
for a sunset safari at Cox’s Bazaar.
You can cross the borders now by train and bus,
but there are others near impossible to cross.
As the crow flies, Dhaka isn’t too far.
Nowhere is. And nowhere is far enough.











Both my parents were born in Dhaka in pre-Partition India. I have friends who live and work there, I have friends who were born there, I have family members who visit there often - this one has struck very close indeed.








Saturday, 2 July 2016

Liebster, TMI, and ageing by parts



Yolanda, a long time blogger friend, has tagged me for the Liebster, and very generously given a choice in how I respond, either with her set of questions or with the TMI Blog hop's.  Therefore, with heartfelt thanks to Yolanda for the award, and in honour of Debbie and Guilie, I've voted to participate in the TMI Blog hop. 

I hope you'll take the dare and join in!

This is me, from A to Z




A: Age

Varies by body part. Heart=19-ish, head=Methuselah, knees somewhere in between.  Can vary also by time of day.


B: Biggest fear

Loss of a loved one, I guess. And also that aliens will goof up somehow and zap the entire planet's coffee plantations instead of us humans one of these days, yikes!


C: Current time

01:29.  Most of my posts are written in the dead of night.


D: Drink you last had

One of those pre-mixed vodkas.


E: Every day starts with

Whut?! Is that the time?! 
See C above.  I am so not a lark.


F: Favorite Song

I find it really hard to pick favourites - just too many super awesome songs! Right now, can't get Il Divo out of my head.


G: Ghosts, are they real?

This answer varies by body part too. Heart- erm, yeah, who's the headless lady wandering around Tower of London otherwise, hunh? 

Head - nah, don't be silly.  

Knees - we are just going to scoot off home, just to be on the safe side while we all debate this rationally. As soon as we can turn ourselves back to solid from the jellylegs we've become.


H: Hometown

Several.  Grew up in more than one town, all feel like 'hometown' still, even though I haven't been those places for ages.


I: In love with

The smell of new books.  The smell of old books. Poetry. Travelling.  Ruins of old buildings. Sunsets (and the son as well, the son's father is also not too bad :)


J: Jealous of?

I am really not very good at jealousy, seriously energy-intensive stuff! But I could take a stab at people who can go all day long in spiky heels and retain their good humour.


K: Killed someone?

Oh, heaps of people. Imaginary only. I have it on the best authority that no writer is worthy of being called one unless s/he can 'kill the darlings off' at the drop of a hat. Practicing hard!


L: Last time you cried?

Can't recall, awful memory for negatives. Believe in selective amnesia. But I do tear up all the time at the mildest of things, happy, sad, just like that.  A real weepfest is rare though.

M: Middle name

Parent's never gave me one. And I didn't discover the lack till I was too old to go back and demand it, drat!


N: Number of siblings

None.  Parent's didn't give me any of those either. Deprived childhood, as you can see :)  No middle name, no siblings. Scarred me for life.


O: One wish

Can't think of a single meaningful thing.  I have all I need.


P: Person you last called?

A real estate chap - we might have to move out to a different palatial mansion oops, I mean hovel, yeah, again, yeah, move.  Hubby usually lets off these bombshells every couple of summers. I am just being proactive  - if he does drop it this time, I have already done my homework.


Q: Question you're always asked

'Dinner mein kya hai?' (What's there for dinner?) without fail every evening, even though I always reply with a 'I'm working on it, along with the poetry.'



R: Reason to smile

Does one need a reason? I mostly smile without any. Like this :) 


S: Sounds that annoy you

Notifications beeping a million times everyday on the cell, I got some kind of fake birdcall thingy permanently slapped into the circuitry which refuses to be dislodged.  Can't mute much coz well, have family back home, people with ageing family members will know what I mean.


T: Time you woke up

Dunno.  Today's the weekend and the first day of the school summer vacation here. Probably around 7 o'clock.


U: Underwear colour

Anything except white.  Favourite set's emerald. 


V: Vacation destination

Summer - usually India, because that's where the extended family are.  Winter - somewhere else in the MENA or Europe.


W: Worst habit

Too much coffee probably, and not enough writing to show for it.


X: X-Rays you've had

Last one I remember was the shoulder. 



Y: Your favorite food

Mangoes in the monsoons (that's the real reason I go to India in July-August! all that about family is only so's not to hurt their feelings. :) 

And of course, chocolate all year round. Thank goodness that's not seasonal!



Z: Zodiac sign
Sagittarius. 




Please join us!

The blog-fest is on through July 13th. 

Just add your name and post your answers.