Hunkered down. The inexorable wait. How does a
killer virus ask for directions? There are two of us.
One waits. One watches. Both are me. Both must
be real. The world has already contracted into a
page that updates the toll. The dead are marked in
yellow. Already, so much has been forgotten. So
much has been erased. A forsaken god has been
woken from his bed. How do you wait for peace
while you wait for death? How do you wait for love
when waiting overflows with dread? This is a silent
war – no explosions, no guns, no song, no words
that hold up the sky. The subtraction slips into the
quiet, into the dark, the way it was foretold. We
wait, we watch, one real, one masked, as the
world we know ends with a whimper, the world
we know leaves suddenly without saying goodbye.
Words, like awkward interruptions that ripple my
neat lines, that pollute my rhythm and meter, that
eat my space and light . Social distancing, curve
flattening, border closing, pandemic…Words that
are anxious, that are afraid, that throw shadows
in every language. 3 percent? 4? I look in the
mirror and see a statistic. I see probability cloud
my eyes. Is this the way it must end? I used to
craft poems with unexpected ends. A twist, an
unusual metaphor, an image balanced on the last
line for the reader to remember after the words
are forgotten. Life cannot fail poetry. Can it? It’s
end dark like a redacted line? Incomplete, as if
this night has misplaced all the universe’s dawns?
This- as my state goes into lockdown after registering its first death from COVID-19. Stay safe, people, wherever you are. Be careful, be aware, be kind.
In the semantics between bird
what is cloud?
In the adhesion between word
what is empty space?
I can feel, still, your fingers on
my face, pushing back my hair, eyes
glazed by impossible tomorrows —
In the shadow between time
what is truth?
In the paradox between illusion
what is love,
Sharing this poem from my chapbook On Turning Fifty that I released earlier this year. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, the pdf is available free through my blog. Check here for details.
All the inversions: friday night and I set a
memory on a skin of spilt beer, feet touching
feet, head two body lengths away, unseen,
suddenly truth is a connection between soles.
Every morning for twenty years, mama took
three buses to work. The radius of childhood,
measured by wheel on wheel on a clouded film
of yesterday’s rain. Which wheel is real when
we talk of the past? Later, putting me to sleep,
the night reflected in her tears: two formless
skies collapsing into one. A false singularity.
Darkness, a perfect mirror of darkness.
Image by Omid Armin (Picture prompt provided by Visual Verse)
First published on Visual Verse (Vol 07, Chapter 4)
Finally sent something out this year and am glad it found a home. Visual Verse has great picture prompts and I love ekphrastic poetry but it also pulls together a gorgeous contributor page ! Just realized I’ve had 14 poems published there!
We look for formless visions of ourselves in the
distance. But we haven’t found ourselves, not
even lost ourselves. Not yet. Between us is the
desert of halves. Is love more memorable when
it fails? More likely to last forever? I am told to
find bigger things to be grateful for: sperm,
geometry, the blue probability of a kingfisher. I
thank pain that fills fissures like wet cement so I can
wake up whole in the morning. It was happiness
that broke us when we weren’t looking. The
moon is what it is — a fiction of movement and
light. It is the sky that is unfaithful. Or the mind.
I make lists of small things, unclaimed things,
unproclaimed things: Quarter past two in the
afternoon, steamed rice, my name, uncertain,
sitting like a wingless crow upon a stranger’s lip.
In other February news, am delighted to be one of ten poets named by The Ekphrastic Review in their annual awards list. Very grateful to the editor, Lorette C. Luzajic. Do check out this brilliant platform if you read/write poetry in this genre. This award is for my poem, Corollary, which is on their site as well as in my book, Water to Water.
And if you haven’t read my first flash fiction piece yet, here’s the link. Let me know what you think. Better yet, share your flash fiction as well!
Tell me your god is a poet. And not because the
universe has been crafted as a perfect sonnet. Not
because love, like an ode scribbled on a brown
paper bag on a bus that’s always going away, cares
little about grammar or meter or form. Not because
random things happen like an unexpected close, a
strange foreign word that kisses your ear, a lyrical
movement that gently erodes your resolve. But
because every day what you see is different, even
the difference is like a poem that means something
else in the moonlight, a ghazal that reveals layer
after layer with each reading, until it twists and
mocks and starts undressing all over again. Who
else would conceive a constantly renewing truth
that drags your faith to the edge? Hail the poet.
Don’t we know ‘god’ is just a blessed pseudonym?
Recently the papers here carried news that the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary has added a bunch of new “Indian -English” words including hartal (a shutdown or strike), dabba (box – mostly lunch box) and shaadi (wedding). Will they find their way into poems from all over the world? We’ll wait and see!! Meanwhile, this poem came about yesterday, and as it happens with almost all of my poems, I have no idea what triggered it. Am just happy words are breaking through the fog- slowly, reluctantly, randomly – but words, nevertheless. If you’ve just written a poem, do share the link – I’d love to read it.
More often now, the hollowed out
husk of the afternoon light is overlaid
with images of impending dystopia:
an earth that will not forget, a culling
that will not be kind, an aftermath
that will frighten its oracle. How long
does it take for a glacier to turn to
grass, for a forest to return to dust, for
life to exhaust all possibilities? Already
our skies are empty, our gods have
moved, telling stories of the ghosts
of the sixth extinction. The universe
shakes its head in amused disbelief.
For earthweal.com – be sure to visit and share your #climateemergency poetry.