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

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?

Margin Notes


(1)

around the military cantonment
the way this city has grown:
a camouflage truck, a school bus,
an ambulance,
wait together for a green light

(2)

past Danang and Hue
a few miles from the DMZ
the guide pulls out two cans of coke —
one day soon, he says, 
he will move to California

(3)

origami cranes
one, two… a thousand —
waiting at the Hiroshima memorial:
things fall
things rise

(4)

the invisible wars:
the invisible dead:
“what big eyes you have,” she cried,
“the better to see you with, my dear,”
the wolf replied

(5)

on a quiet street
in Luang Prabang
the unexploded ordnance centre —
a grandmother covers
a little girl’s eyes

(6)

downtown Berlin:
in a dozen languages
they ask for directions —
to the topography of terror
to the palace of tears

(7)

at the bottom of every sea
a ship, a plane, a soldier
asking evolution
the same question:
“why?”

(8)

on large banners
in the Warsaw museum
bits of resistance poetry —
outside, a man dozes
in a rush-hour bus
heading to the new old town

(9)

folding a world map
war zone collapsing into war zone
someone will die
from something that will fall
from someone else’s sky

(10)

late March in London
a fog-laden sky
goes from pewter to troubled black
somewhere the sun has set
somewhere the sun has to set

(11)

space and time morph
at yet another border crossing —
she bows under the weight
of an entire lifetime
stuffed into an old backpack


(12)

Kanchanaburi war cemetery
so many people
so far from home:
here lie so many stories
unheard/ untold

(13)

adrift, afraid,
on a refugee boat:
home, already
a memory
limp from cold sea-spray

(14)

ringing in the desert air
children reciting the alphabet
A for anti-aircraft guns
B for bombs, big, bad, bombs
C for compassion that still hasn't come

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?

Dear Tomorrow

so, dear tomorrow,

can’t you see how earth
prepares herself for that inevitable end?

I worry about you –
what will you be when there’s no one left
to measure time?

****

A cherita for earthweal, the place for poetry on the climate crisis. So many parts of the world are already reeling under the impact. Sherry talks of the atmospheric river systems lining up in Canada, while here in the south of India, the North-East monsoon season seems to have gone completely, devastatingly mad. Go to Earthweal.com to read/ learn/ contribute. 

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!