Wednesday 29 January 2014

Snow globe

Cold morning. Warm talk 

on telephone, the snow globe

of feelings stirred up.

Didn’t  think it would

shake up the flakes of feelings -

so dense the movement

flurries wiping out 

comical conical hats;

houses of red roofs.

White is peace and death,

the knees of trees deep in it

as it fills the woods.

Saturday 25 January 2014

What do we call this?

Moonpaper, crumpled

parchment leaves lie torn, alone

in the lotusdark

shattered peace so much

debris from a bomb blast and

no one to clean up.

The  Islamic Museum of Art in Cairo has been majorly damaged in a bomb blast targeting the Police HQ.  Collateral damage, I guess.  

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Write...Edit...Publish : January 2014, New Beginnings

Nothing that can't be broken.  Take it as it comes.  Let it go and let it be.  Those have been my NY resolutions for pretty much every year for the last decade or two. 

The past year’s been more good than bad – writing-wise and otherwise, chockfull of changes, of milestones.

Thursday 16 January 2014

Martha's aunt's response to the market researcher


I have no memories of tea-drinking,
pinkies out to show off the best shaped nails;
milky coolness of china cups tinkling
while the lazy light outside thins and fails.


Had you waited, I’d have puzzled it out,
But as it is – frankly, I can’t recall -
some folks would have them, sure, there is no doubt,
but mine’s the same blank day, and nightfall.


Rise before the daylight cracks the curtain
rest after night slinks in the dark of coal;
those are the only rules that are certain,
and certain is the toil that breaks the soul.


So it’s just as well that you’ve found someone
with nice memories to answer that question.



I don’t know what you are talking about
childhood is something that other folks got
the toys and food, terraces facing south,
the breeze-in-hair trips to picnic spots.


What I learnt early was not to spill lentils,
I knew the yodel of the factory siren
violent men who tottered at our doorsills
women who were always tired and sunken.


Not one brand of crisp, arrowroot biscuit
in those kitchens where I happened to eat
I’ve no answer to this teatime nitpick
the names and games played with salt and sweet.


I’m glad that you pushed past me quite offhand
and found someone more clued up on brands.

For my framily in MR, who, unlike the researcher above, never pushed past anyone's aunt.  With love and many fond memories.


Tuesday 14 January 2014

Insolence! On thinking it over...

It didn’t fill all the hollows, the spaces
of the heart aren’t simply measured, but
the hunger and thirst of other places
were heightened and deepened by it, so what
if the heart was filled? The empty knots
remained still, lurked subtle between faces
of complexities, in flattened foils of thoughts,
in tangled dreams and strange wakefulnesses.
It didn’t fill everything, nor quite made
the earth and heaven spin, it just lit
a tiny flame that trembled at the shouts
of many bearded blizzards, of grave trade
winds, at their forbidding, sharp-tongued wit;
and cowered small, but refused to be put out.

Read the first thought here.



Sunday 12 January 2014

Remembering Galali in the small hours

Thinner than a needle’s eye, sharper than
its point, the blade of moonlight cuts the lane
without white markings, no signs, nothing urban
just the growing sound of an aeroplane
overhead, preparing to touch down
its lights winking, the sea is a black pane
of glass, nothing else for miles around
one huddled island, some huddled humans
melding into the vastness of earth and oceans.

Galali, and more generally, Bahrain has been on my mind recently, along with friends I made there.  All of us have moved on, Galali is no longer the same, I left Bahrain almost a decade ago, and my friends too, now settled elsewhere, many continents away from the nights spent plane spotting. 


Thursday 9 January 2014

Down at the Dead Sea

I tasted the Sea, it wasn’t salt,  
more like a bitter, burning flame.
So, a lake has come to be called
by a somewhat grandiose name;
and just as well I tasted a drop
because lakes and death both might be
named different from what they ought;
based on their past reality.


It’s rarely enough to think a thought,
each drop must be tested twice,
and I mulled them over as I walked -
the names of lakes, their taste and size;
a lagoon had somehow cut off
its lifeline to the birthing sea
and so both lakes and death might morph
beyond their size and history.


It’s never enough to think just once,
each thought must be tasted twice -
a drop of bitter on the tongue
on second taste gets close to nice;
meanings acquired when I was young,
as I change I must cut free,
but they persist, correct or wrong -
lakes; and death; and eternity.


I tried a drop, but  it was not
as I’d expected - the burn of salt
somewhere between bitter and hot
and no way of pinning the fault -
whether it’s my taste that is flawed
or that’s the truth of salinity?
All that’s certain is that I strode
down the shores of a once live sea.

Tuesday 7 January 2014


Love didn’t seem to make my world go round -
it was spun before, curled into a ball
in some ancient time, before the ground
knew the tongue of my feet, before my small
dreams and ambitions fought over control
of dark spaces, and cliffs of frothing sound
crashed on parched oceans; before the blue bowl
was flipped to cover them, before profound
meanings were read into chapter and verse.
Overall, it seemed rather a recent
demand that it fuel the earth’s turns and twists.
I was fine with what love achieved, its sparse
course, its breathless spasms. It’s  hardly decent
to ask for more.   An insolent wishlist.


Friday 3 January 2014

Excerpt : Alexandria

The eastern harbour.  The lighthouse that fell
the stones configured now to a citadel -
the guide’s laconic. Meanwhile, some of the city
has been clawed by the sea into its depths
cobblestone streets gobbled, the warp and weft
of grand architectures of peace and probity.

There’s nothing remotely romantic about
a lighthouse, the strongest beam shines out
not as golden hope, bloody fancy metaphors!
just a plain warning, turn away, keep off,
keep off the grass, the rock, this shore, don’t stop.
The moth and flame in vaguely shocking reverse.

The bunched weight of history easily slips
like a tote-strap off shoulders, no way to grip
it simply. Teenage kids high-five on the pavement.
A black and yellow waspish cab in cruise mode
rubs up slow against the kerb. The waves erode
the rough shoreline till the backwash is spent.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Never too dark

I will walk away a little, stand apart
by myself, wrap my arms around my heart
a bit tighter, watch you strike the match
light the fire with one single spark
and the years, the tides will crest, the foam dash
again on the rocks, and I will see
once more that nowhere is too far
for you to reach out however dark
for you to hold out your arms to me.