Thursday, 26 November 2015

The title is the hardest part, therefore 
I've left it wholly blank, left it to your 
imagination to supply the words 
and I just carry on writing the verse. 

There are no titles to my days and nights;
they come and go behind my back as I write.
The sun plays out his reel to hook the moon
in the oceans of the sky, the tides turn -

surge and ebb, surge and ebb without headings,
without glossaries and footnotes shedding
any insight, their whispers softly muted;
the dots of stars always unconnected.

Summing the whole with just a part, just a phrase
seems bizarre, much better off with a blank space.

Monday, 23 November 2015

The title is the hardest part

I still come here sometimes, where the lane turns
a little on itself and then narrows;
the teashop still stands, a gas stove now burns
charcoal’s banished, also the radio’s
replaced by screens; various sizes and types –
television, smartphone, palmtop gizmos.
Only humans retrace their steps in life.

I couldn’t honestly say that I retrace.
True, I come to stand beneath your window
in some vague effort to find my exact place,
to find a peg again from long ago;
you’ve moved and I have too, nothing stops
and it’s both pleasant and fitting that it’s so.
But some evenings I still walk to the teashop.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

All the world's a war-zone

The flowers dry, the candles burn;
both reach their ends. The world still turns.
The streets are full, the café chat
is about revenge, tit for tat,
air-strikes, mortal wounds, ground combat.
I cannot take in any of that.
I only know she won’t return.

Although each time the doorbell rings
my heart leaps once, instantly sings
then recalls the days before.
She’ll never be back at my door.
The talk is thick with migrants; war;
how exactly to settle the score.
But I can’t relate to those things.

There must be justice, and a stern
reprimand,  offenders must learn
how strong we stand, crime never pays.
The news channels are choked for days
with some or other leader’s speech-haze,
clips gone viral, constant replays,
rehashing the current concern.

I just know that flowers dry rough
that candles aren’t warm enough.
I just know that my room’s gone cold,
my heart is shrivelled and grown old;
she’ll never again cross this threshold
whatever events might unfold.
That’s my truth, the rest’s just stuff.

For all the families - in Nigeria, in Egypt, in India, and in France and elsewhere in the world, who have lost loved ones to terrorism.

Monday, 16 November 2015

A petal on the stream

This is a candle for those who died
without flames and flowers by the roadside
anonymous, just long smears of blood,
just shattered bones fallen on the mud
and not even one column inch worldwide.

This is a petal on the stream, offered
for those silent voices no longer heard;
those who fell in and yet, sank like stone
and no-one came in search or to mourn
and the world just rushed past without a word.

This cannot be a poem, we have no rhymes
that can sum the injustices of our times -
it's just a pair of hands to cup the last sighs
of those forced to stop breathing; otherwise
no lines can bring themselves to describe the crimes.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Now and then

Diwali 2015

Never quite ached this way for stones and streets
and sharp winds that blew out all Diwali flames,
nothing to do but pick them up and retreat
indoors there with blackened wicks - each year the same -
and nurse the hurt, reflect on bittersweet
memories where the oil lamps stood aflame,
where wicks lit symbols of hope and not defeat
in faraway cities of different names.

Now in a place where not a zephyr stirs,
the lamps burn steadfast, though no goddess feet
will come searching for them under the stars.
Never again will steady flames feel complete
without the blackened wick where nothing flickers,
the last wisp of smoke without light or heat.

Diwali 2010      

I have had to bring my lamps inside,
The wind’s just blown too hard
A small flicker and each one died
Even before the match was thrown aside
No matter how many times I tried,
Flames didn’t glow in my courtyard.

The night of lamps is a moonless night
And starshine casts no shadow
The shadows are deepest when the lamps are bright.
Yet I am aggrieved that my lamplight
Was put out summarily at the insight
Of a force I barely know.

I draw my comfort where I can,
Done with feeling hard done by.
A star sprinkled dark far better than
A dazzling yard lit by a puny plan.
Minds can be changed in an hour’s span
And flames found in a moonless sky.

The festivals always act as a prompt, though not every result finds its way to this blog. Some feel too rough for public consumption, and I don't like smoothing them out always :) This year I feel differently about roughness, rough and less rough, and much revised - all are mine this year two poems in one post.  One now and the other written five years ago on Diwali from a very different place, physical and mental, before the blog was even birthed. I have left the poem just as I wrote it, no edits, and one difference that stands out straightaway is how my capitalisation has changed in this time :) apart from the other stuff.

Happy Diwali to you if you are celebrating, may the light always fall on your path and never be in your eyes. And if you are not, then I wish you a happy season, autumn or spring, whichever it happens to be at your end.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

That's all, folks!

A sudden spike of light before nightfall
a few pixels beamed on a plastic screen
couple leaves wafting free beyond the walls
a touch down on grass that’s no longer green
skeins of migrant wings flying overhead
the sky spooled up with fading birdcalls
clouds flamingo pink with a sleepy sunset
the winds lowered among beach parasols
the horizon huddled holding its breath
the asphalt shrugging on a reflective sheen
rainbow oil splashed beside a boatshed
a red buoy bobbing on aquamarine -
that’s all it takes to bite off the routine,
to tip the day over the edge, that’s all.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The worst kiss.....and Happy Halloween!

He had stalked me for days. His lips were rubbery, too large, too wide open, hot-wet and slimy.  Gross didn’t begin to describe it.  He was taking his time too, as if he was wooing some swooning heroine in some crazy version of a Brontë romance.  The worst kiss ever. And his limbs were like bloody suckers, I pushed at him hard but he hung on like one of those tree-huggers. How could this be happening?  Why had I allowed it in the first place? I groped for the knife, found it and slashed upwards. He broke away with a repulsive sucking sound that made even my toenails curl. 

I sat up, my chest heaving, my heart beating a frantic tattoo against my ribs.  My head swam with a potent mix of emotions – disbelief. disgust, outrage, abject terror.  I shut my eyes and tried to get a grip.  When I opened them again, everything was quiet.  Moonlight came in through the blinds and lay in deep slices on the floor. I could see vague dark stains on the bedclothes, they were twisted around my torso in a python-coil.  The rest of the room was strangely and chillingly untouched by the upheavals I had just experienced - my clothes were still on the pegs, my books as I had left them on my desk.  Only Toddy had fallen out of the cubbyhole and lay spread-eagled on the papers. 

I untangled myself slowly from the snarled sheets.  Piled the pillows behind my back and half-lounged against them.  Not to sleep for the rest of the night felt like a sensible decision.