Friday 29 March 2013

Abhimanyu was a teenager

Chakravyuh or disc formation of warriors :Google images

What we did to that kid  -  Abhimanyu -
has it changed at all?  in two and a half
millennia, a killer joke, heartless laughs,
a foetus remote-taught to break into
complex war formations, the chakravyuh
but without an exit. Choreographed
murder of innocents, children bluffed
drawn into war, and worse.  Takes quite a few
thousand years to wipe that clean, and don’t come
mouthing that love can fumigate all sins.
Strain and you can still smell that old bloodstain
and the stink of fresher ones through the balm
two thousand years and more to make some sense
of it, and still it doesn’t, not one grain.
Abhimanyu is a character from the Hindu epic Mahabharat, who listens in on his father explaining the disc formation used in war from his mother's womb and is sent later to battle with such a formation when he's just sixteen. He fights bravely but is killed because he heard only the  entry and not exit.
Missed linking up on last week's prompt on sonnets at dVerse, so here it is for the OLN

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Never mind the colours

The winters of your
absence so harsh and bitter;
touch me into spring
there are birds enough
wild things measure the grasses
hop on softened ground
stripped branches become
lacy with leaves, heady with
graceful green splashes
there’s a tradition
of epic remade into
verse, seasons to spring
but never mind shades
of Holi, touch me with your
colourless temples
bent, workday knuckles
the curves of wrists and ankles –
touch me into spring.
Tomorrow is Holi, the spring festival of colours.  Happy Holi to you if you are celebrating.
For OLN @ dVerse

Monday 25 March 2013

All places I'm home

You take me places
the crescent moons of your nails
on my soft nightskin.


I ask no questions,
follow, get into tunnels
of quilled silk silence


in tongues and navels
I escape into hollows
where no light reaches


electric fingers
fade into blissed out darkness
and there too I’m home.


Saturday 23 March 2013

Romantic Friday Writers March Challenge

This month the challenge over at Romantic Friday Writers is designed as a tribute to the Roman god Mars, patron of war and agriculture.  Mars is a cold and impersonal god, caring more for the battle than its outcome, which makes perfect sense to me because if a god ever cared for the outcomes, there would  never be any wars in the first place.  Read more about the challenge here.

The trigger for me was the word self-sacrifice. Combine that with deceit and romance, and immediately an enticing picture of old fortress ruins with their colourful legends comes to mind.  May I just add that this here tale is completely imaginary, no Dwijen or his lady love exist, at least not to my knowledge.

In Arabic, there was/is a tradition of monorhyme in poetry, and I have always wanted to try it. So, I sat myself down and this is what happened, not exactly monorhyme, but as close as I got.  Way over the word limit, but what's an extra hundred between poets/writers? :) Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Wrinkles, pips and litter

Windows stream rivers
of light; get up and smooth out
the wrinkles of dreams.


On the table a
fruit’s flayed open but still not
fit to eat and throw


the pips and debris
out of the window to float
on public light-streams.


Pips and peel show more;
the litter says more than the
flesh of stuff consumed.

Still somewhat taken up with brevity and east.  Also a bit of health scare this week, nothing of any importance as it turns out, annoying to be under house arrest and doesn't make for restful writing either.


Sunday 17 March 2013

Green glass bangles

There’s no call for long strings of black beads,
bangles in green glass threaded on the wrist
and the conch turned out like inverted ribs,
paired with dead blood red worn on the sleeve;
put up on a clear docile display, as if
love and its vows are things to exhibit!
come without the brocades, really there’s no need
to bring in the trays of rituals, green gifts
to proclaim your love, or would that be ownership?
you can walk straight up, nothing’s better on knees
and I will walk with you the whole round trip
beyond the sacred fire, even into the splits
of time and darkness and the light of release
marked with just the vermilion of your spirit.


Friday 15 March 2013


the tavern doors
rivers run wide; it needs
nothing to walk the mud banks there

there's love and wine
the deep cups, loud laughter,
divine death-life; your lashes sharp
in sleep.

I have had ghazals and other eastern forms on my mind lately, so borrowing and building from there.

Shared with poets for Form for All @ dVerse where cinquains are being written tonight.


Thursday 14 March 2013

A smidgen of unrequited always makes it sing

I’ve written your name into too many ghazals, and sung
them all alone, and hummed them in a strange tongue;
but I have stood outside silent beneath your window
too fearful to raise my voice and take the plunge


perhaps you don’t know; perhaps you’ve known all along
that diehard habits are made out of silence and song
I have wandered centuries lost in these strange alleys
swollen the ranks at your window as part of the throng.


And I have come to a stage where it matters nothing
whose part’s to stand silent, and who gets to sing
the songs are there somewhere, lyrical behind my breath
and I don’t much care who sees my silence pulsing.


Whether you open your window and ask someone in
from the millions here is anyway uncertain;
ghazals and loyalty are now somewhat outdated
and patience no longer a virtue when worn thin;


so what does it mean? will no more ghazals be written?
will some other name now pulse at the point of this pen?
Not at all, just that I’ll write and hum them at home;
passing by your window I won’t look to check if it’s open.


Tuesday 12 March 2013

Newspaper cones of nuts

The stars a sprinkling of pale pepper
on the black salt of the sky
the moon’s a sliver of pungent onion
and hardly a tear in any eye
let’s sit here and share newspaper
cones of nuts and watch that guy
string hollowed out bones into a skeleton
that can barely breathe or die.

The earth is round like a roll at supper
and a crusted fruit plate pie
the sun’s a bun in gold and crimson
done to a turn when it gets high
let’s sit here all cosy and super
share the air, just you and I
they’ll be coming, that’s for certain
and we’ll join them by and by.

You can take the side of a pauper
but not all rich men can sprout a lie
the salt of the earth gets no cinnamon
and bread crumbles when it’s too dry
the stars are kernels for the popper
and moon’s butter to a gluttonous eye
or it could be a sliver of onion
rotting in the heart of a skeletal sigh.

Suns and moons, buns and dippers
change nothing, all rules apply
large ships sailing the high oceans
mean nil to small merchants, and fry;
eat the peanuts, dig no deeper
can’t get closer so don’t even try
and shred the paper, don’t smooth open
otherwise the headlines make you cry.

Shared for OLN @ dVerse

Sunday 10 March 2013


They kick at stones and wonder if they’re right
to think in rhymes that skim crusts and horizons.
The deserts slow step through shafts of moonlight.


The sharp edged dunes blur as they climb the heights
and fall back three steps for each uphill one;
they kick at stones and wonder if they’re right.


The thorntree grows without a stream in sight,
rocks flex their stripes on bare back mountains,
the deserts slow step through shafts of moonlight.


Pinprick flames burn at a distant campsite -
no-one can know who else is on the run;
they kick at stones and wonder if they’re right.


Small heaps of fleshless bones on flash calcite;
the kills pile up but the sands hide no weapons,
the deserts slow step through shafts of moonlight.


The fox walks with his bushy tail upright
noiselessly on the pitfalls of ant-lions.
They kick at stones and wonder if they’re right;
the deserts slow step through shafts of moonlight.



Written in response to Poetics at dVerse, but I got a few things  in my head, and followed where they went collectively.  Of course I wanted to do the Mad Lib prompt so I got my words - 2 nouns : stone, tree 3 verbs : walk, kick, fall  3 adjectives : slow, bare, sharp 2 random : tail (tale?), far; and I’ve cheated a little with that last and used distant instead, is that allowed? Anyways.  Then there was the prompt here, which I really, really wanted to do but missed.  And maybe because of IWD and all, the word “Song” just took me straight off to this.  


Wednesday 6 March 2013

The Candle-Seller

She sells candles to light a house of god
and I buy a few even though I am faithless
my motives rarely stand up well if probed
to cadge a benefit from somewhere, I guess
maybe her piety will somehow rub off
if there’s a just god, he’ll become easier to address
lighting a flame in there will do the job
and inch me closer, get me some access
or maybe it’s all simpler than I thought
there’s no cause for nonstop fuss and obsess
maybe she reminds me of someone I’ve lost
maybe she and her candle are the goddess.

Shared for OLN @dVerse


Monday 4 March 2013


Let’s not talk about the moth and flame tonight
no strategies of an endless game tonight


many dark wings beat beyond the window
but the lamps don’t burn quite the same tonight


the drums pick up the prelude but all is still
neither anklets nor ankles to blame tonight


these feet have known what it is to crush the grass
but this heart was grass before you came tonight


there should be more to life than the rules of verse
more to metaphors than what they frame tonight


if you have loved me then you will let things be
and if you haven’t then what’s your claim tonight?


there are many verses that need writing out
but it sure aches to sign this name tonight

Friday 1 March 2013

Perhaps rubaiyat

Perhaps the work, the love, the loss, the fear
the arbitrary paths on which they veer
fall into place once everything’s over
fall into place and become at once clear


but love’s boundless how can it disappear?
done with tomorrow, or sometime next year
a lover’s forever damned to be a lover
a worker all his days to persevere


it could be that there’s some charioteer
more likely it’s what we prefer to hear
patch the edge of infinite and never
with flute and cream and force them to cohere.


reasons are fruits, the randomness that’s here
is the only promise made to us, my dear
lucid grasp of it wasn’t the covenant ever
only the work, the love, the loss, the fear.

I'm still somewhat obsessed with the eastern forms, though can't quite get my head around syllable counts and caesuras and such. Does it look like a rubai to you?

Happy birthday, Baba! Celebrating it here with a big biryani and a few rubais!