Another Story

it’s just you and me now,
even if you are some kind of a minor god,
even if I am a nameless face in a horde,
alone, at this distance, at this proximity,
palms together, fingers touching,
my breath in your ear,
one unspoken prayer separating us,
it’s just you and me,
my existence as much a myth as yours;
we tell each other stories,
I improvise from things I’ve read and heard,
stories about you and me and others who were
once me or you, people, gods, each a fantasy
in the mind of the other;
I think of what you said the other night,
alone, the moon bright enough to wake the
sleeping flowers,
you told me how pain isn’t real,
even happiness isn’t real,
that if I could just loosen my grip, let go
of all that I was holding on to,
there would be just that moment
and the nothingness, and that nothingness
would fill everything it touched,
and even that moment wouldn’t really exist;
I laughed, I cried,
I told you I loved the things you
made up,
you told me I had made you up too,
how could both of us be real,
I pretended to understand,
and you smiled at that too;
it’s just you and me tonight
and that moon pretending it knows
it is unseen on its other side,
you and me, unbuttoning pain,
shedding skin, trading names,
what a shame it would be
if everything had to be real,
pain needs its gods to be untruths,
happiness needs a different story.

More poems in the “monologues with a minor god” series here.

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Who hoards rain clouds in the desert?

There the universe stores vats of virgin happiness, doling
it out like a grim faced Scrooge, while we wait, bowl in

hand, wanting more. Always wanting more. We are made
of longing and hunger. And everywhere we look, is a giant

supermarket feeding that emptiness. Everything in excess,
marked down, on luscious display, the seed of the first apple

feverishly multiplying on every shelf of every aisle and our
hands reaching constantly to fill the ever growing void. Except

for happiness. For that, there is a line and a quota and a price.
We pretend not to see each other. Who will admit to such

privation? We study the signs from a distance. Perhaps, it
is another sorrow, another wound, another word that brings

you here. Does my skin turn transparent as I stand? Do you know
the scars inside? You will not turn your head. I will not call. How

much longer? Who hoards rain clouds in the desert? No one
warned me to save my smile. To save the light in your eyes.

Remembering

The lady on the TV was talking about what exercise could do
to the brain, to memory, offering words like prefrontal cortex

and hippocampus, as if they were alive, as if they were people,
as if they could fix things. And grandma, on the bed, shrinking

every day as if Alice’s potion was leeching into her blood. Maybe
it was the bed, expanding, trying to break out of the rabbit hole.

She had run a household of twenty, probably more, children
and adults, help and dogs, that had to be grown and constrained,

propelled and taken down. And she thought and reasoned
and laboured and smiled and told life where to go, when to

stop and when it could dip its finger into her steaming sauce
pans for the first taste. We move, like the lady on the TV tells

us to. Me, unwieldy and uncomprehending, she, diminishing
to a distant point, grotesque reflections in a past of mirrors, the

horizon blurring into one throbbing vein. As if we were alive, as
if we were oversized words that remembered how to fix things.

The lady on the TV has a grey sweat patch growing under her too
tight dress. I remember silence. It has the smell of ripe antiseptic.

——–
Can’t believe my blog turns 4 today. Can’t believe I’m still doing this. Can’t believe I’m thinking of throwing a few poems together to make a book. Can’t believe there are still things left to write about. Can’t believe how wonderfully you folks have stuck by me and read all the random thoughts I put together. Perhaps, disbelief is my strongest muse! 

Somewhere Warm

The birds will come soon,
painted storks and pelicans,
fleeing the winter in strange places north,
trusting their primal disposition,
hollow bones bearing their nomadic burden
with a lightness that fills the air,
coming somewhere warm,
somewhere to be, for a while,
somewhere to live and birth and sing, for a while,
there are no words for nation or border
in birdsong,
no grammar that draws boundaries,
talk to them as they nest on
tiny islands in the Cauvery,
they will tell you there is no separate word
for freedom either,
it is the same as the word for being alive.

The Poem Is Not

The poem is not a lover. A lover wants comfort, cajoling,
even the cold-hearted ones keep coming back for

reassurance. The poem is not a friend. It is not there
to listen, to reinforce, to hug. The poem is not a child.

Even though you birthed it. Even though you dress its
wounds and feed its soul. It will deny your motherhood

in a second, without remorse. That evening, on the terrace,
the Cauvery bare below us, her sandy underbelly exposed

to the stars, the night dipping lower and lower and finding
no reflection, you said the poem was a river. One that

came from the low mountains, that begged for rain, that
in the summer swallowed its own words to slake its thirst.

I watched the ink run through a forest, tumble down the
hills chased by monsoon clouds, the abundance running over

its banks, spreading through the fields, the villages, the
rotting bodies, like blood from a head wound- a river in

rage, the page blank, flapping wet against my dismembered
limbs. How do I make you see the boat crossing that river?

Like Fish Do

There will be no headstone,
no grave,
where will you go to grieve at sunset?
I want to be there to read your thoughts,
they say we remember things differently.
Will you forget in an ungodly sequence,
hear me speak in another’s voice?
Will remaining be so arbitrary?
Will you go to a place we went together,
some other quietness that lets you fall gently,
a public square where crowds fester and
we can be strangers again in unseeing eyes?
Will you come on days like this
when it rains in dots and dashes
like the sky has a message to send,
after all I too am now of the water.
Maybe I will leave you a note,
like fish do, stuck on the wetness,
remind you to bring cigarettes and cake,
oh, and daisies.
That August monsoon.
Weren’t they yellow daisies?

 

 

Published on Life in 10 Minutes: Oct 9, 2018

Things I Must Forget

Remembrance,
is an owl,
its head twisted two hundred
and seventy degrees, selective
memory stepping into sharp
focus, the present uncertain, going
both ways, going
nowhere. I make
lists. Of things I
want to remember. Of
things I must forget. Things that
want to be both. Important little
things that can’t make
up their minds. I make
lists, my arm extending
into the mottled darkness before
me, my eyes still
searching for
you in the feathered
light I left
behind.