Sunday 31 January 2021

Why you won't find a poem here today


Sometimes a dove will sit on the railing

and swivel its head, very canny, very wise -

late afternoon and the light’s quietly failing

but something breath taking happens to the skies.

A high rigged truck will come around trailing

its discordant sounds topped by pneumatic sighs

and leave a fluorescent silence where words die

drop out defeated however hard they try.


Ordinary events of urban landscapes -

a flash of coloured scarf, a certain note

of moonlight and the changing shadow shapes.

The calligraphic wakes of a speedboat

mirrored by migrant flamingos as they fly.

Sometimes the words just won’t fit - that’s why.

Sunday 24 January 2021

Because on my feed there’s an image of a foggy morning in Safdarjung


I once knew a tree - a long time ago –

as I walked by she used to sigh over me,

she formed the backdrop to a favourite photo,

starlight was filtered through her canopy.


I knew her bark, her long-tailed leaf shadows,

the sounds and textures of storms in her limbs,

the comings and goings of doves and sparrows,

the poetry of her seasons verbatim.


It’s been a long time since I’ve left her shade,

years since I’ve felt her sigh on my commutes.

All memories, glorious or not, must fade,

all leaves diverge away from their roots.


But even so. They’re made of the same sap.

And her fogged image is a happy recap.

You know how life sometimes feels like one of those painter's shade cards? - with little square patches from every shade of terrible to awful to merely bad, and yet you're still awestruck by it because it still looks all kinds of amazing overall?  Well, that's my life right now, and that image of a fogged up, eerie tree in a winter morning in Delhi was beyond feel-good.

Sunday 17 January 2021



Original image by Herz Albanki

The land recedes. The earth’s mostly water.

Non-potable. Saline. Right now - serene.

So are humans - mostly made of liquid,

bubbles of fluid enclosed in a skin -

takes some time to figure what waters mean.

All lands recede. Winter days are shorter.

And the pandemic has emptied them clean.

A single parasol stands out vivid,

the boat’s moored, but ready to loosen,

to draw away through the ultramarine,

draw to the dock. Maybe less off the grid.

But home, when it gets there, feels too foreign -  

the streetscapes changed, the city lights too lurid.

Takes time to see what home and moorings mean.

I visited a (socially distant) photography exhibition recently, where three Bahraini photographer-artists were exhibiting their work - a great way to start off 2021, though now it seems to have lapsed back into 2020 mode again. Anyways. 

This image by Herz Albanki, a well known photographer-artist who exhibits regularly in Bahrain and internationally, prodded the above verse. Herz has been my art partner for the BWC annual exhibition Confluence all through, I've been majorly privileged to work with his images as prompts for my poetry there. His work always inspires, there is a 'certain slant of light' to his photography that just makes the words pour out! He showcases the land and seascapes of Bahrain, its working population, its flora and fauna in all their profound ordinariness and diverse magnificence. This particular artwork is called 'Jarada Island.' Bahrain is an archipelago of mostly natural and a few manmade islands. Isn't the planet beautiful?

Sunday 10 January 2021

This is the thing with feathers...


A couple of days in and the wing feathers

are already bedraggled; the weather

is strangely warm when it should have been cold

- summer in winter.  The year is just days old.


Somewhere the light’s dying. Somewhere icy winds

have knifed trees. More grace than can be imagined

even in the unkempt, in the shady light -

the rims of hope and grace are seldom watertight.


The anglers are gone, the fishing boats are back,

sun’s in its rightful place in the zodiac.

Waiting for the bones to move a bit less smooth

the flesh to peel away and reveal the truth –


that feathers, shaggy or not, knifed trees and all

remain beautiful however the light falls.

Sunday 3 January 2021



I yearn to write you a poem

that when you read you don't stumble

on the raised fists and frowns of phrases

on hairpin bends and sharp angles

not even a downturn of a comma

and don't skid to a stop anywhere

blinking in too harsh a sunlight.

And as you read - those stanzas

fall like toes dipping into the river

fringed cool with low hanging branches.

Like a cocoon spun of afternoons

and pigeon throated iridescence.

Like mountain mists you breathe in

as you move through them they vanish

deep inside your membranes.

By the time you get to the end

it's bound fast to your pith

it's coursing through you gently

so easy in your channels

that you feel it was yours always

in this life and the previous

and all the unlived ones to come

for all eternity.