Two little creatures

You ask me if I am happy. I hesitate, wait for words you will understand. I have nothing to validate this moment against. What is it?

There is no moon, the monsoon sky has swallowed all the light. There is no particular thought inside my head. I can feel the damp cold of the stillness, the empty corners, the echoes rushing back when I call your name. There is no great love. Look at us, so tiny against the giant canvas of being. Two little creatures. How big shall we pretend our love is?

It is pleasant, this moment. This moment that has no past and no future. We are just here, trying to be, trying to be in the way the no-moon sky just is, in the way the quiet inside us just is, in the way being together without some great love, just is.

Words that you will understand. I am happy, I say. You smile. The moon shifts gently, unseen. The silence ricochets off a far wall. The answer fills this moment. This moment with no past and no future.

the wind that
knocks on the door
doesn’t wait to be let in

Like a horizon

Haiku is, perhaps, the most difficult form to ‘get right’! While its modern avatar has rebelled against almost all the original rules, it tries to retain the essence and be both simple and intense, brief and expansive, complete and still leave the reader imagining more.
These are three haiku from a little chapbook called “On the Rough Road” that I put together a few years ago. The haiku were written in response to prompts from Basho’s travelogue, Oku no hosimichi (that roughly translates to “The narrow road to the deep north”), offered on a haiku group called Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. To read the chapbook, just follow the instructions here.

*
slowly, softly
yesterday
slides out of this morning

*
mourning —
the way the sky
brushes a broken wing

*
like a horizon
splitting two worlds —
goodbye

***************
And four new ones inspired by the onset of the monsoon….
(1)
a different world
a different rain
still this hesitation

(2)
another rainy night
another moonless sky
one could get used to this

(3)
she runs faster
as if there is still a chance…
who can stop the June rain?

(4)
leaves and branches
petals strewn on wet asphalt
last night wasn’t gentle

One of them is real

Outside framing ourselves in cliched tropes of beginnings and endings, of chance and consequence, of pleasure and despair; outside the boxes in which we locked ourselves; outside being and belonging…how do I salvage the sky that has fallen as rain? The sky I see when that freshly scrubbed sunshine appears again is not the same sky. One sky cannot remember. Cannot know. One sky is trapped in the puddle that was once, sky. One of them is real.

I am not sure when reality disintegrated and became an inkblot. Maybe it was imagination that was reset. Maybe it depends on the locus. Maybe the premise itself is wrong. Things are clearer in the night. If you look. If you know. One emotion is the protagonist. Another is the perfect foil. One of them is real.

But our lies were soft. The contrived made it bearable. Filled the emptiness. The blatant untruths wrapped themselves around hard line-breaks and ingrown grammar to birth the poem. The ink-stained aftermath, the inevitable becoming, the way a poem splits into consonants and commas inside your eyes, the music disappearing from its spaces, even that, even that wants you to make a choice. One verse is real. One verse is still unwritten. One of them is real.

cold moon, cold night:
shall we wane till we disappear
like the moon, like the night?

A name he should not know

Of all the ways to encounter loss, I picked the one in which it arrives as a stranger. A stranger who emerges from the bowels of a subway station, into the sunlight, as I hurtle down the steps into the darkness, directly in his path, looking away, refusing to meet his gaze, only a strong musky scent of an unborn morning , staining the air as we pass.

It returns sometimes, that fragrance, like a wind from a faraway place, come to moult its memory skin . Or like a pigeon that flew into a room that it doesn’t know how to escape, thrashing against the glass pane, screaming at the walls in low, gurgling sounds, rising and falling, rising and falling, trapped, afraid…alone.

On some nights, the stranger stops and calls my name. A name he should not know. A voice I should not recognize. A longing that should not be. For a morning, yet to come.

what should we call it,
the sky that does not know
it is the sky?

A sacred middle

We build bridges. Bridges between our realities.

Temporary bridges. Retractable bridges. Bridges that will bring us back. Bridges made of dreams. Bridges made of fear. Bridges made of want.

But bridges don’t unite realities. They become an alternative. A sacred middle. Not belonging. Not owning. Distorting space. Distorting distance. I stood for long on a bridge that night, below a restless moon, above an endless landfill of broken bridges. Here the questions change. The premise changes. The headwinds scatter, directionless. Silence erodes into a roar. Time starts and stops. Starts and stops. Like the staccato hymn of a universe, spinning into itself.

At that point between truths, even then, the answers remain the same.

no road
no destination
but what if we had continued walking?

How does it begin?

I think it is the simplest thing I have to say, but it must negotiate a labyrinth of pride and bile with nothing to light its way. Last night, I studied its paradoxes through the evening’s strawberry haze. How does it begin? Wasn’t failure the first consciousness, wasn’t death the first precept. We know these things like the taste of our own mouths. Not as a taste, not as knowing. Still, we elevate their antonyms — a god, a love, a lover, a time — we embellish them with the infinite, the eternal, one thing containing the other, with victory. How else should we process our own defeat? How does it begin? Always, always with a desire for how it should end. And then we are working our way backwards while trying to move forward. How then, does it not get trapped in the middle? The simplest thing I have to say wants the complexity of your understanding. The first suggestions of darkness appear like clues across the sky.

a different wind
a different night
why would silence be the same?

Two weeks of January

A couple of weeks into 2022, here’s what’s happening:

1. My poem ‘What to do’ found its way to the ‘Poetry Blog Digest 2022, Week 1’ on Via Negativa. Lots of  good stuff there to read, do check it out!

2. I read ‘Hello Earth’ – a compilation of prose-poems in the earthhello form, by Rosemary Nissen-Wade. These are personal reflections on self and surroundings written during the lockdown. Grab a free copy from the Smashwords site. You will find raw, engaging, healing poetry inside!

3. My detours into flash fiction continue, especially since poetry seems to wax and wane with the moon. If you haven’t read my piece from December, do give it a shot. 

4. Meanwhile, weekend curfews and night curfews are back with Omicron going nuts all over the city. Perhaps the weirdest part is how normal it all seems.

once more
voices slink into the dark
once more, quiet keeps vigil

 

How’s your January going?

Lockdown Notes IX

afterwards:
just waiting
for the waiting to end

************

Sharing this micropoem from my book ‘Duplicity‘, published in Sep 2021. ‘Duplicity’ contains a mix of freeverse and micropoetry – cherita and modern haiku/senryu. This one is from a series titled “Lockdown Notes” 
Both print and kindle editions are available on Amazon. Also listed on Kobo. More information and links here. You can read other poems from the book here and here.
Do grab a copy today and let me know what you think!

Broken World

broken world –
monsoon clouds like Band-aid strips
on an ebbing sky

 

Alternating between banal work and the feverish dystopia of my newsfeed, it does feel, sometimes, like the world is coming apart in an insane hurry, everywhere. In the middle of war and hate and climate change and the pandemic, if there is a safe place, it seems like it is getting smaller and smaller or fading away in the fog. Meanwhile, there’s poetry, rare but still able to say that, once, there was a time, somewhere, safe enough so a poet could, for a while, put pen to paper.