The box. The other side.

Put me also in a box, label me. Lead me to the grass. There must be safety in herds. I once saw wildebeest line up for miles to cross the Mara. A group devices the geometry of survival.

All Groups. Bastards. Lovers. Those with the universe strapped to their thighs. Breath and voice and visage fading into one. Jumping into the river. One by one. Together.

But you leave me unnamed. Leave me alone in the rain. My skin drinking sky after sky till it is neither me nor cloud nor rain.

This is what you mean. The not fitting. The not belonging. The not standing in line. The not jumping together. But the outside is cold. I ask you again. AGAIN.

You unwrinkle me on a table and try to understand the words but the ink is smudged into a language you cannot read. This is what you mean. The calligraphy of incomprehension. Meterless. Wordless. Endless.

A grave is a box. Death, a label. We must ultimately be nothing and everything and be labelled when we are not left to call. The herd of the dead in rows for the final migration.

This is what you mean. The inevitability of sameness. The primal stereotype. Beyond the pretence of resistance. The line. The blue river. The danger. The other side.


A sudden urge to write prose-poetry. Do share links to prose-poetry you have written. Would love to read your work. 

The new chapbook: Till The End Of June

strange, the way you say goodbye

as if the quiet that follows
is a comma

even though
there is nothing
left to say

Sharing a cherita from my new chapbook, ‘Till The End Of June‘.
As I’ve done before, my chapbooks are free to read and I send out PDF copies on request. If you wish to read it, send an email to

More about it here including feedback from some early readers.

Reading list update -4

I have just finished two books of poetry: one that’s been on my bucket list for ages (Darwish) and one that I picked up in a book store, even though I had never heard of the poet, only because the foreword was written by Jawaharlal Nehru. That’s all the introduction I needed.

All beautiful poetry is an act of resistance, Darwish said.

Does all poetry resist? Does all poetry have to resist? Is all poetry beautiful. Without poetry, will there be resistance? Or beauty? As always, here’s a 13 point review. The poetry talks for itself.

1. A River Dies of Thirst by Mahmoud Darwish (Trans: Catherine Cobham) should get more than a 5/5. Should get almost an entire universe.
2. Unputdownable resistance writing: a rousing call for freedom, inside and out. Framed as poems, prose-poetry and journal extracts, page after page questions the poet himself, the violent occupation, the world; questions love, identity, life and whatever is beyond it. You are left gasping for breath at the way the words dance or suddenly everything goes still so you can hear the lines fall one by one into the silence. Or both things happen at the same time.
3. You’re going to die here this evening, so what will you do in the time that remains? Someone asks the poet. (The rest of your life)
4. How many mistakes have we made? The poet asks himself or parts of himself in different poems. What’s it all for? How shall I evaluate my mirage? Where shall we go when there’s no land there, and no sky? So why didn’t you forget to forget me? Am I happy tonight?
5. Where did we leave our life behind? The poet asks the butterfly. (Summer and Winter)
6. Prison Days and Other Poems by Agyeya – 3.7/5
7. Resistance poetry, written while imprisoned in the 1930s under British colonial rule – the bleakness of prison, the distance to freedom: a heartfelt cry. A second section talks of impassioned love and its nonfulfillment.
8. Life is all bars facing bars, / But if every morning with every heartbeat / We could fill with the knowledge/ That to the same rhythm / Another’s also beats— / Ah! Would the glad red sun not always shine / Into the morning of Eternity? (Bars facing Bars)
9. Mayhap in the death that stalks everywhere / I should have forgotten / But how shall I forget when action calls, / When you call? (The Fool)
10. But in my heart is a tiny need / A very simple elementary quest: / How shall I have you? Nay, not even that, even less: / I ask only / How shall I give myself to you? (I talk glibly)
11. Is communion only / A / Confluence of solitudes? (Confluence)
12. “Nothing proves that I exist when I think, as Descartes says, but rather when I am offered up in sacrifice, now, in Lebanon.” – Beyond identification, Mahmoud Darwish
13. “Nothing is dead in me— / Existence is a state that vivifies: / I cannot die because suffering lives in me.” – Dust Storm, Agyeya

My previous review is here. Tell me what you are reading now and if you’ve read Murakami’s Underground. I moved it to the top of my TBR stack. (The original list is here – will post the much updated list next time around)

Thirteen ways of looking at the abyss

I flip into the dark
eyes buried in my pillow:
when we dream
face down
which way is up


water and burn and bones
something determines
everything –
how long it takes to fall
how long it will take to rise


what if
where I was
was the mountain top
and the bottom is level ground
where I belong, you belong


notes soar
notes fall
in music as in dissonance:
some birds, they say,
can fly upside down


still in my bed
the sun still in the sky
the abyss is a room with no windows
breaking is building
building is breaking


only one me
descended into the dark
what if the rest of me
is still suspended from
that light beam


there are others down there
there are nine shades of night
slowly, slowly,
my eyes adjust
to the dark


again they say this is the abyss
again and again I disagree
it cannot swallow me
I contain this abyss
every abyss


the rabbit hole has rules:
some things will make me grow
some things will make me shrink
do I have to go back
the same way I came


what you call climbing
I call ‘not falling’
will you understand
how staying still
is also a victory


the blood in my veins
isn’t green-blue —
nothing is what it seems
even in the light
even right under my skin


what can I leave behind
in the abyss:
what is mine
what will be mine when I return
who will I be if I return


the morning is a paper cut
night wraps itself around my finger,
blood turns black, the night turns red
colour of beginnings
colour of endings

(Salute to the eternal inspiration:‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ by Wallace Stevens)

This is what

I watch three stalks of white tuberose in a vase
four feet away. Their heady scent, blocking
thought, covering my eyes, floating little boats
down my restless bloodstream. I cannot move,
much less write, outside day turns to night,
perhaps with a clash of cymbals or to the breath
of an old sitar, the beyond teases music into
my silence. Somewhere else, there must be an
entire field of white flowers puckering, just as
the farmer lays his earth-roughened hands on
her pulsing belly, a million buds opening, the gods
hanging upside down from the clouds reaching
for the fragrance. This is what we were made
of, soft skin and paradise and the bouquet
of unbearable desire. This is what we can make
of soil and water and endless sky. This is what
bubbles in the orange shaft of light that falls
upon my empty couch. I watch, I inhale, I
shiver, I hide, inside a perfumed shadow.