A story in many unequal parts, some missing – 30

The myth of the churning of the ocean — good and
evil battling for the nectar of immortality. Metaphor,
handbook, warning. On the…

And quite unbelievably, we’re already at Part 30 of the series “A story in many unequal parts, some missing”. Read the whole poem here.

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.

A story in many unequal parts, some missing – 28

Always watching myself — from behind doors,
from across the room, in a dream — my own
stalker. Cursing when I falter, cursing…

Hard to believe I’ve been writing this series since July 22, we’re into month #7 and a brand new year. And freshly posted today is Part 28. Read the poem here.

I get feedback from many of you via comments, email etc. But if you’ve been following this or read any part of it, I’d love to hear from you. Say hello, drop a line!

Earth 2023: A poem for the new year

The water rabbit is still freshly unboxed, ribbons and
wrapping paper not yet stuffed into recycle bins, already
futility creeps up its skin like a phantom vein. People I
haven’t spoken to for months (and we are in times when
speaking itself is a metaphor for awkward texts), send
flashing rectangles, with words so corny, it would take
months to wipe off the artificial sweetness and toxic
positivity. A paradox this, in an age of over communication,
there is too little with any meaning. Like packing waste,
deleted texts find their way to a landfill, their tasteless
apathy never decaying. How do you relearn sustainable
conversation, biodegradable, returning to the earth to
bloom flowers? Somewhere in the middle of the day,
your message pings. You send me an AI generated
poem about hope for joy and prosperity and success.
I feel a dark kinship with the fish at the bottom of the
sea that has never set eyes on a human, still dying of
microplastics. Happy (and on this I insist) New Year.

** I’ve seen it being called the year of the water rabbit in some places, some others call it the year of the black rabbit, some more said both are right. Whichever it is, it’s here. Hope it is gentle and kind. 

Scarlet Secrets

Sharing this poem from March 2018. Why now, you ask.

Because of the poem I just posted: Part 26 of ‘The Story’. It contains a reference to ‘forbidden want‘ and I went back to see if I had ever used those words before. Well, anyway, I landed on this poem, that I had completely forgotten about and proceeded to read it several times. I don’t remember where it came from, perhaps a prompt. I’m not sure I can come up with this poem (genre, style, content) now. Obviously our work keeps evolving, but I read all the comments (all very generous and supportive, thank you) and I wonder if my poems are evolving in the right direction. I console myself that it is the movement that is important, direction is the lesser of the considerations.

Dear fellow poets: do you go back to your old poems and hyper-analyse? Tell me this is normal 🙂

Here’s the poem:

Scarlet Secrets
I stretch, your name still moist upon my lips –
a curious wind, dawn dripping cinnabar-hued
from its fangs, is tugging the edge of my silence,
wanting to rupture skin, rip into naked bone,
hungry for truth, any red-blooded truth,
before it is buried in the glare of coral sunshine.

I see the scarlet secrets of the night
come awake, damp and tangled,
like lovers caught outside their nuptial beds,
hastily pulling over bare limbs the pale
cerise of blushing light, the vermilion powder
of fidelity staining a forbidden pillow.

I hear your ruby voice caution the wind:
let her sleep, you say, ask the moon instead,
he was here, a silver voyeur, cheeks tinged a
deep carmine, keeping watch
all through the night. That whimsical moon
hasn’t yet learnt to keep a secret.