Monday 19 March 2012

Biodegradable and eco-friendly

Am I being organic enough
Biodegradable enough? soothing green
In all my relationships of love -
Can they decay quick and clean
Without any sediments in the routine?

Are things kept pollution free
Have effluents met all standards?
The spectrums of love the required purity
The brightness of my words
Quicksilver sharp but filtered.

Then why is there a landfill out
In gaudy colours, plastic hues?
Stick figure rag-pickers moving about
Stabbing at the ache of residues,
If I’ve done the work and checked the flues?

Monday 12 March 2012

The strangest thing

I love the flowers that carpet the spring  
But here's the nub, and it's the strangest thing
That when the winter strips it ruthlessly bare
It can't strip the love, that still remains there.

Season's change, the colours flush and fade
The green and copper by orderly turn cascade
But here's the nub, and it's weird and strange
The colour of love quite refuses to change.

And here's another oddest thought to think
The fullness of harvests into harsh winters sink
Hollow and bitter and cold, but here's the nub
Strangely, no bitterness touches the love.

The planet, whatever colour it chooses to wear
Branches might dance in lace or choose to go bare
But here's the nub, and this might be the strangest
Whatever the routine, it just seems the best.

Oh, I love the flowers that dress up the earth
When they are no more, I love the undressed dirt
And I love the dirt churned into mud by rains
But here's the nub, mud dries, love remains.

I have loved each flower as well as its thorn
And those that have never a flower borne
And I found it strange, but this here's the nub
The bearing of either did not impact on love.

Friday 9 March 2012

Why poetry makes a great subject to blog about

Compass, champagne corks, and straws

Everyone has their own choice of weapons with which they face the world and cut it into manageable portion sizes.  Mine happens to be poetry, what’s yours?  I grew up thinking of reading as an arsenal against the world as well as a champagne cork to pop at every celebration.  And poetry is the straw and also the compass I clutch at as I drift through life’s vast oceans.

So, does poetry make a good subject for a blog?  Yes, it does and here are my 5 top reasons:

 Brief and punchy

The first tip that an expert gives a newbie is to keep it brief, between 300-1000 word count for each blog post. Well, what else can make a point as pithily as a well turned quatrain? One of Shakespeare’s famous sonnets totes up less than 120 words, and you could probably edge in a poem of epic proportions at a word count of 1000. Like this one for instance.  Poetry fits into the pared down précis world of 420 word counts and 140 characters like nothing else can. Here's another example.


Poetry deals with themes that are always in demand – love, sex, hormones, happiness, loss, grief, mindfulness, spirituality, beauty, humour, work and play, you name it, there’s a poem about it.  And you could always add your own take on each of them, they’re not likely to go out of fashion anytime soon.  Poems and rhymes encapsulate the collective wisdom and “how to .... in 3 steps” for a vast range of subjects.  In short and sweet verses, just the right byte size to nibble at during a coffee break.  Intense but short attention-span reading.  Nothing quite like it.

Convulse the SE’s now, go on

Strangely enough, traffic and search terms need not have anything remotely to do with the actual content that’s written, only the labels and headers that the SE’s can pick up on their radars. For instance, someone may have written a perfectly innocuous and deeply profound poem about a war-ravaged topsy-turvy world and then called it “The Second Coming”; and no guesses on how the SE’s gleefully O that for the kind of search terms that make toes curl.  Or your blood curdle, alternatively.  But hey, that gets the traffic moving, right?  Poetry has a lot of potential that way.

Bring them on!

How many people do you know that are voracious readers? Oh, loads of course.  Okay great, now how many of these people bought a book of poems in the last year?  None, or maybe a couple, right? Poetry is simply not a wildly popular genre as compared to the rest.  It’s a small niche, and as more and more poets find recognition and publishers, there are ever more books competing for the attention of the same readership.  The Internet on the other hand is a cost effective and far-reaching medium.   There is no reason for readers to avoid creative writing on the net, if good content is available online.  In fact, it can be used to broaden and create new readers as well.  So yes to blogging the poetry, no to rigidly sticking to just one method. 

Lo salt alternative

One thing I keep hearing is that how I shouldn’t take everything I read on the net as gospel truth. 

“Don’t take it seriously, a large pinch of salt is a mandatory addition,“ my more net savvy friends tell me with raised and wagging fingers, ”Just because a page has a half a million views a month doesn’t make the information accurate.” 

“Lies, damn lies and statistics, most of ‘em,” another one tells me, “Check the sources.” 

Really? I always thought people went to the net for information, Google being the modern day Jeeves, no? 

“What are you, insane? Only .gov and .this, .that and .other are reliable, the rest is bs.” 

Well, a poem does not convey facts and since it's imaginary there need not be any disclaimers about accuracy or the lack thereof.  Writing a poem doesn’t require reams of research, and reading it doesn’t require you to be on some information red-alert either.  It only needs for one side to feel it and be able to communicate, and the other side to read it and enjoy it.  Easy write, easy read.  No salt or seasoning mandatory.  Read it, shut it, forget it.  Or not, as you like.


Monday 5 March 2012

Stalking the alleys


The wind maims the sky with dust. An old woman
Refuses to be photographed, instead insists I buy
Fat lemons dripping yellow from her basket.  The question
Is well-thumbed but hard to fathom still. “Caravanserai?
Mish fahima. Wikala yani?...mesh, shimaal.”*  One more try
At capturing her face against the yellow of the lemons.
Foiled, once more. “La, madame.” The wind, a dust-scratched sky
And resolute refusal standing in for omens.

The left lane’s narrow, many days of dust lodge
In the lines between cobbles.  Deserted after the turn.
Is my person safe, are my things? There’s just one guy
Blowing at a charcoal fire. A sudden smudge
A sharp spiked shadow of petty, personal concern
Under a faded awning flapping against the sky.


 The lane meets another, widens; and clumps of men
And lone, possibly unemployed, their eyes listless,
Sit sipping tea to keep hands busy with some option.
A group of university students animatedly discuss
If the country’s got into a hodgepodge of political mess
Or just an economic one and if that’s so, then
Which spring green step to prioritise? The exact focus
Needed to secure the sky and deserted alleyways again.

The wind has whipped their hair into fluid haloes
Around their heads. The break in talk is quite abrupt
At my presence.  Jaws harden a little, perhaps hostile.
Is a foreigner who’s not a tourist welcome now? No-one knows.
Old rules of warmth, are they to be broken or kept?
A revolution swats at tiny transactions of lifestyle.

Their manners impeccable, their faces tender, eyes chill
They show me the way readily enough, no disrespect
Creases the border of coldness. Nothing’s changed, but still
Not one of us on either side knows what to expect
Circumstances set up their own insidious codes of conduct
Fit monumental changes into the trivial drill
Of daily tasks. Of getting through small, moral dilemmas. How to direct
A foreign woman on the streets with time to kill.
The path ahead narrows again, an archway and then
The lane an unlit off-white candle tapers into the gloom
The doorway seems much further than I’d thought
Should I turn back? Or press on forward again?
Between the two, there is hardly any room
To manoeuvre, and I am squeezed and caught.


 Maybe it was sound advice after all, given somewhere –
Those stern directives of stay-at-home-crime’s-on-the-rise.
Perhaps it’s indecent to ogle, come out and avidly stare
At history being made. The whole enterprise
Undignified. To stalk the alleys without averting eyes
From jobless youth swallowing their tea of despair.
Vaguely voyeuristic.  No use the repeated cries
About solidarity and you-don’t-know-how-much-I-care.
Feet have a way of marching on while the brain’s
Busy unravelling complications and their intricate motives.
The edifice is here with its huge vaulted portal.
Deserted but for the guides, and the remains
Of an artist’s painting.  The nation outlives
Revolutions and petty voyeurs. Stoic.  Immortal.


Walls are good sometimes.  Walls are the only barrier
Blocking listless eyes.  An ancient room in a merchant inn
Now a studio, where the artist’s left pieces of his career
Hung on walls, and incomplete on the easel. A guarded grin
Of dried up colours still smears his palette, a possible skin
On muddy water in a blue ceramic cup left for the voyeurs
To peer at and see their own tentative reflections in.
The whole in photogenic disarray, colourful yet severe.

The mocking laugh of red on green, the scream of banshee blues
Still carry on the protests here as do the street graffiti
The subjects are traditional, old archways, carpet-sellers, the usual.
Only a trembling line, suppressed emotions give away the clues
And bring in silently what’s being discussed in the city.
The heated talk of young men, and a lemon-seller’s refusal.

*Caravanserai? I don't understand. You mean the merchant inn? Okay, go left.

La - no.

Sometimes events shift the co-ordinates of familiar places and they must be re-explored from entirely different perspectives.  This one,  posted sometime back, is based on an amalgamation of events and walks in the Islamic Old City after the Revolution.


Linked to Open Link Night @ dVerse