Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


You are the earth
And I the sky.
You send me your birds
Every once in a while;
I give them the clouds
The Sun and the wind.
I send you my rains
Every once in a while;
You give them the thirst
The song and a Sea.

Monday, October 27, 2014


I'm trying to describe how I feel
When you take leave of me
At the end of the day
And I see a brown bird breaking
Out of lone clouds
With full throated calls
Wings majestically still
And my hands like ants' tentacles
Searching to comprehend the largeness
Of a strange thing that fills the void
Move up the air in front.

And I'm trying to describe how I feel
When you take leave of me
At the end of the day.


I hear you call it again.

I have lent it to some before,
Kept it from some,
And though rarely,
Even changed it for some.

I had put it letter by letter in boxes,
And made totems out of it.
But after the excursions
It always came back like
A sullen and silent child.

A history more proper than its bearers’,
An essence deeper than a lifetime of wear:
A name always keeps to itself half its secret.

Time in spate froths off its silt on a name –
A fine silt that glistens in the sun,
Throbs in the rain, and hardens in winter.

You weeded it
And sowed a dandelion;
See, it has sprung again – 
Each silvery down in its fluff
Alert, glowing, as you call it.

I hear you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


The witching hour past, the night grows sane.
The wisps of yellow sun pulseless remain
Enclosed in bluish pods half-poignant:
The dreamless slumber of tired children.

Now, toss the amber bead of poetry,
Quip, exorcise the womb of memory.


A street winked
The fading smear of a wall.
A darting bridge.
A lonely dog.
Hurrying asphalt.
A company of smokers.

It is hard to come to terms with:
the world only absently watches
as I, windowed, nightwards vanish.

Out of the Sea

The wave of your silence crawls over
And bites
On the candescent sands
And ebbs –
                   With a half-moon off my heart.


I’m still
Hanging about (…to turn a phrase)

The scabbed walls evilly itch
ceiling’s sallow white.
I stir in my forever:
it’s time, again.

And this rugged iron-hook:
She’d meant to hang a cradle here.
When the sick-sweet blood
foamed up to my tongue
and icy snakes eased down my spine,
I’d vaguely felt the cradle
tugging at the hook,
moving softly,

All that was
before I started ripping
the curtains in desperation
and mirrors cracked on reflecting
my light-passing grief-swollen void 
and windows shattered in my silent screams
and she (at least once a day) entered my vapour-body
and exited with the hair at her nape on end and cold sweat
and they came and packed her things and spiders and lizards
and roaches and the slither in the warmth of my untouched heap
of clothes coldly watched their van disappear whining and snorting.

I thought it was great
I could gather my guts and finally get it done
on a late afternoon, my favorite time of the day:
slowing Sun and glowing silence, an animal of an hour.
Till the two policemen who (after much trying, irritably)
answered their calls and came, disapproved of my choice.
Tough timing, they told the buzzed up crowd. The offices
where the body must be reported are all closed.
He cannot be cut loose till afternoon tomorrow.

The black sun beneath the back-yard bushes stirred in his bed of worms
and I felt it in my deadness and I stirred it shook the hung weight of flesh
and my toes, like dead mice, all turned to meet the balls of my feet,
ached to touch the floor tiles where like clockwork a shadow
traced the swing and turn: left right and left again.

So, I surveyed once again
Things I early put in place:
a brace of keys, a broken watch,
a photograph from mid-school days,
a diary with last pages torn
for suicide note, cigarette stubs,
folded bills in pocket purse.

All’s as I kept, as such.

I was kept as I kept myself: hung,
for a night and half-a-day,
an unsteady straight line
whose invisible ends
pierced the sky up and passed into the earth 
down and bent at an infinite horizon to 
thrust a colossal wreath on the neurotic globe.

From the mossy silence
of a flaked corner
I gazed at them
getting me down
the next day.

it felt so lonely
I kept making circles
and straight lines in the room:

nobody came.

nobody came
for a long long time.

the foliage of ancient trees
I sensed iron fingers
crunching leafy colonies
of red ants haywire,
bursting, spilling 
sour acid
on somnolent green;
sensed sand filling my mouth
when in need of words.

I learnt since to wait the true waiting:
to look at the balloon of time incessantly inflating,
every last breath spent filling it out a little, and a little,
every first drawn breath heaving, stopping it a while, a while.

It’s time. As was always.
To stand and die.
To mark the six vertical feet of air with a death,
rather than flattened earth.
To feel it coming from the molten brain
rather than freezing feet.

To take it heads high and not to lie.

A word clicks shut.

I stir in my forever.


Body of the day in cold-storage:
I strewed loosely ivory-grains
Of your Si
Left the stamen
Of my latest thought
Stuck on the gasping block of ice.


They kept falling –
Pebbles - in the lake –
Making circles smooth-expanding
Around gulping dips,
Lapping each other’s make. 

As they cease
The sounds retreat.
In silence, the lake is an expanse
Of flickering sense
From a ceremony just recessed.

The pebbles rest
Sunk fathoms deep
Shaking loose musty bottom-dust.
They'll soon cool and
Gather a full and sated chest:

Those stones that scraped the sunbaked banks.


There were chess-pieces three:  
Two of them were queens,  
The third one but a pawn.

The queens had all the moves,
Panache and good elan;
They fought till ghastly sea

Turned blood in every wee.
Odalisks of their clans
Cheered them on and on.

The king mighty observes
From his chequered throne:
What mire! What pity!

The war worsened: every
Sword in clam'ring tones,
The moors imbued sanguine.

And lo, suddenly queens
Both fall mutually slain.
The noises cease quickly

As someone shuts the board.
The war was done, mated.
The game long since ended.

Surprised, a life began:
The king had become pawn;
The pawn, a headstrong queen.


I took my new poem to her,
A good poem it was.
She read it
And we discussed how
It falls in place with the new cryptic genre:
We saw that the images held together well.
One of us, must be me, even gave count of the syllables
To see how much of a haiku the poem was.

Later I remembered that she never asked who the poet was:
Something within me burst like a soap-bubble in sun.


Our memories
All of a sudden
Seemed so beautiful yesterday
When I saw you pass
Under those morning trees
Rustling their morning leaves.


The sharp jasmine perfume on your skin,
Your intent coffee brown eyeballs:
Now that we are done with each other,
All that has whirled and blurred
And sank and become white and non-sensual.

And those memories
Seemed so beautiful
 As you passed yesterday
With a peculiar nonchalance
Under those morning leaves,
Drops from your wet untied hair
Sticking satin wrinkles to your back.

I just wanted to say
You did betray
Though you did a great job of hiding it
Your sidelong glances
To where I should have been standing
With a New Year wish. 


 She flicks my eyes
With a mudra
To the left of the stage:

The moon has come down
To graze along the hilltop.
Krishna, the Lord, is playing his mesmeric flute
 Somewhere In the honey-enwombed sylvan arcades of Brindaban
And –“
Arre! Look to the right!!
“ - Engrossed gopis
Walk out of their homes in half-sleep”

At night
As we shared our dinner
She, but, seemed not so comfortable
Fidgeting in the chair
Giving strained smiles
Eyes not where they were best;
All the way saying something else too
Than what she was saying.
To know that her body could be so sure of
Each tiny muscle-twitch and every single lift or drop of eyebrows!

But I have seen this before:
Her office in her mind,
After performance nights,
She behaves like a wild tree in flower
Somehow fit into a cubicle.

“Well, Rashmi, enough!
The week’s work is done.
And you do remember, right…?”

“Are, haan, it’s New Year yaar…”

–  Her sudden laughter peeled like stubborn sunrays into the December night.


Bright gold of the ripe day oozes over
The succumbing petals of the bedside flowers;
Your gold fish breathes, wide-eyeing us from its clear bowl.

All noon we lay naked on the bed
Not once looking at the bodies
That had by now returned to their own skins.

The afternoon held time in a limbo
And we slept and woke,
Breathing the slow heat,
Breaking in golden sweat,

Until the ring in your sleepy hand
tugged at my hair and broke the spell.


Anonymity is a function of these roads:
It is festival week
And the noisy city night
Rubbed our pasts off our names.

Among the clamor of the bazaar
I see your face receiving
The evening's chimerical patterns,
As moving lights kiss and flee the moving us;

I turn my eyes up
To study the patterns
Of April stars
As you stop at a bangle shop
To bargain in vain. 

The stars seemed like
Broken lights from an exhibit-design
That tried to replicate the bazaar ground.

They held the moon in a hazy wet bowl of light
and whispered through a hustle of the wind
How anonymity is their idea of a night.


I dream I tumble from skyways
Hang onto a dandelion,
And land safe in a lilting boat
Where talking, sadly, makes no sense.
Confused I dip a fingertip
In the Sunward flowing stream.

And wake up to see
My hands have lost their sense of touch.


Goddess, the wounds of your words haven’t quite healed.
Like a batch of seasoned butchers , they had flayed my days quite skillfully; 
I have come to hate the cuticles that newly sprouted on them
Under your studiedly tender nursing.

I would prefer the seething unskinned day
to this meek new one you’ve graced me with.

In the mopped tidy room, on the table, white papers and an ink-drunk pen;  a scrupled
shelf, a sparse chair and a wooden cot; a memory-snuffed
ashtray; four whitewash-smelling undecorated walls.

Like it was before you.


I set on this whiteness
Two blue-green marbles (that turn mud-red when wet);
Two scarlet wild-berries (so alert, pert – throbbing to touch); 
A golden brown tuft (or a bird's silky perch);
Skins, one dark atop of another fair (with love teeming in between).

Just to record I remembered us
I set on this whiteness
A whiter expanse (of two souls in free flight). 


The unwinking eyebutton of the landstork;
The beak’s polished ochre
Combs the yellowed grass for prey:
The moment does not have meanings –
The moment is the meaning.

A shock of its neck to the ground –   
An eyeful of white whooping wing –
A spasm of the wind –  
Is the only memory of violence.

The rest, like before, is a zen koan.
The bird slowly wading the sky cloud by floating cloud.


The cat is simply everywhere on a given day.
On the culvert sleeping, his ears keeping watch;
In the shade purring angrily at himself clutching the earth;
Out in the sun as a proud machine-perfect movement of limbs;
At the wayside trashcan licking wet the dry fish bones:
Always involved most in himself.

Or he scratches the truck at rest
Thumps dying moths with soft white paws
One moment here and the next, up, on the tree,
Busy at some self-occupied spree,
Till the Sun goes down.

Then in dark, he spits out daylight
Through two sulfur balls in his head
And looks at the moon’s skeletal white face
To study the scratch patches closely.  


The distance between you and me is unreal: sometimes it shrinks to a speck and dissolves, but then as soon expands and throws us seas apart. Worse, once written, this fact becomes either poetry or raving, and not the felt experience.

When I say I do not feel I'm alone anymore, I keep the sense of my life at some specific distance away from your life – the distance needed for you to support me. But isn’t that distance between you and me unreal too? You could be thrown far apart the next moment – so far apart from where I mightn’t even exist for you.

The only real within us is a redraftable version of life. A version that burns down the bogus life lived up to now, along with its trials and errors. But that, when written, becomes either poetry or raving. 


I watch her from the bed
As she stands herself
Before the tall wooden-frame mirror
Studying her naked torso.
Thin shoulders bowed with hopelessness
Bracketing two sags that refuse to look
At anything else than her own feet.

She moves both her hands over the belly
And gathers the folds of skin that hang loose
From her navel to the stubbly pubis.

Desire and humiliation swept over me:
Pity and lust, otherwise;
Decay and new birth troubled me:
Ruins and salvations, otherwise.


It rained torrents last night
And as usual the power failed:
Sitting in the dark, I listened
To the mayhem outside.
The wind turned and returned to the windows
As if emitted from the howling nostrils of
An angry elemental god.

In the morning, when I opened the window
The trees were still, scared, and bent
Amid a sprawling calm that spread around them.


Train number 7229 scuffs and paces the sun-scattering silvery rails of bare and remote villages. Mud-walled houses, like modest indifferent raccoons, rise, stare and turn away as soon.
Railway-gates where vehicles wait and watch.
Windswept platforms throwing up desolate benches.
Huge haphazardly lying boulders basking naked in the plateau sun.  
I sit back as the light fails outside: into eyes that aren’t looking at anything come a hand that swings a lantern, a pattern of lights left behind in a town, a cold bulb lighting an empty street circle, a shadowy mansion with just one of its top-storey rooms still lit – someone reading?

Train number 7229 races into the wet morning with its one and twenty sooty coaches, thumping through more bare and bushy villages. Sunlight slowly filling the panes, tall green trees swinging their smiles, a river shying away amongst glistening sand – the train leaps and catches up the seven minutes it was late for Kanjikkod.