Without an inside or outside

it wasn’t much of a home:
maybe it was just a window,
without a room, without a wall,
without an inside or outside,
without end
keeping things apart
slicing through sentences, consequences,
a window that could have been opened
but never was
because no one wanted to

it was the time I made things up:
purple shadows and obstinate light
sounds like memories of fragrance after
the garden is emptied of flowers
things that walked without ever moving
things that talked without ever speaking
they said not having so much wasn’t having so little —
need recalibrated itself every night
they said what you really want depends
on how far you really want to see

it was the time I made up a name for longing:
a name that has no tongue or has two
a name that dips and swells like night air
on bodies watching sleep
like strangers on a late train
a name that gurgles in the throat
like a last breath, like the whisper
that never left despairing lips,
they said it was nothing because
it was also anything

it was the time I made up a sky:
with stars the taste of quiet
black stars for day, an orange moon
to unsettle the dusk,
they said having so little light
wasn’t having so much dark
and though the window could be opened,
it never was, the window
that could divide though it was nothing
the window that had lost its wall
lost the home that wasn’t much of a home –
everytime I looked through the glass
I saw myself, looking back, from the other side


I had to step away from this poem after writing it, it came together almost in a rush but I refused to go back to it for more than a week… and today, all I changed was a word or two and some alignment. Sometimes, a poem is what it is… despite the poet. You know what I mean, don’t you?

23 thoughts on “Without an inside or outside

  1. Mirrors and eyes. A window without walls and still we see out and in. I love poems that seem to pull themselves out of the ether. They are the easiest to write but the hardest to revise as the words hardly feel like your own. Was touched by this very much.


  2. I think many of us have been there, looking at a finished poem and wondering where it came from exactly. I found myself starting at that roomless window, at that opening into… perhaps, more poetry.


  3. When I read something significant, I internalize it and use it to reflect my own situation or place myself into the reading. I picture myself in this – I see myself here in the room, the garden, the reflection…

    I write poems in a notebook and some have scratches and blackouts from revisions, while others almost no editing. Some come fast, while others are unfinished.
    I guess it’s the way sometimes.


    1. Thank you, Joel. I like your reading process, that’s where poetry becomes more lovely, I think, as we interpret it from our own unique vantage points. Glad this resonated. And yes, it’s that way, sometimes!!!! 🙂


  4. i do have such moments, when the poem writes itself, but these moments are few and far between. It is as if another being takes your hand and glides it across the paper.
    we are reluctant to edit or change or add because it seems magical.
    Your poem is lovely in a haunting, atmospheric way.


  5. Yes! When I rediscovered my poetry many short poems would just pop into my head, totally complete. I put them on the blog that I’d started up with no real purpose. These days they aren’t so urgent, and often they need to be coaxed into the light.

    Yours is a poem that needs to be read and reread, it has many layers. Congratulations!


  6. Sometimes poems have to be slowly called out from their dens, requiring many drafts to get the sense of what should be there: other times its like dictation, right? An almost unbidden arrival. I suspect the reason we don’t revise those poems much is out of respect for the way they arrived … this window is of such peculiar, strong, and perfect vantage that it’s like one of those islands which is visible once every seven years. A window whose only purpose is to provide the vantage which belongs to every poem. And the surprise at the end is, of course it is us staring back.


    1. Absolutely! You just have to leave it the way it came because though it might have come from within you, it is still bigger than it seems and even you have much processing left to do. But don’t you just love it when the poem appears whole, as if you wrote it and memorized it at some distant time that you can’t remember!


  7. This poem has such a haunting being. Its just amazing. My fondness for the last verse

    Have a good weekend Rajani



    1. Thank you… wherever it came from needs more exploration! Unsettling is a good word.. it was unsettling to write as well, which is why I stood back for a time before going back to it! Interesting how the process works… or doesn’t!


  8. Yes, I do know. From the first phrase, this poem haunted my soul and its echoes are still reverberating, something bigger going on, some connection to a larger oneness. Thank you.


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