The Earth, A Bride

The chinar leaves are falling on the tombstones of all those interred
yesterdays, turning red and yellow as if desecrating summer, as if

blaspheming spring, as if there is something auspicious about dying
in robes of holy vermilion and turmeric, colours of beginnings, colours

of marriage, the earth a bride, led towards the waiting river in a
funereal march, dressed in the red of sunset and henna, in the yellow

gold of sunlight beaded upon her veil, her lover, the sky, watching from
a distance, his eyes cold and grey. Remembering is a colourless prayer

whispered to a cloud. Every morning the sky changes, the clouds are
replaced and the supplication that leaves my lips begins a new word.

Another leaf falls through the emptiness, held in the palm of the wind
for a moment, before it is buried with the rest. There is no path to return

to the bough. Every morning the tree changes, the birds are replaced
and your name that leaves my lips turns yellow and red as it ends.

Micropoetry Month: Nov 2017: #2

Micropoetry Month A quadrille (44 word poem) and a haiku on this second day of November! And yes, the monsoon is still on my mind and in my soaked shoes! After a record breaking season, the retreating NE monsoon seems to have more to say.

Join the party with your own micropoem- in the comments section or using Mister Linky. There are no rules- whatever the muse whispers!


somewhere an autumn
tumbles through the space
between bough and earth,
shrouding the sins of summer,
but what do I know of fall,
here the rain collects in
cloud coloured puddles,
the sky is giving way,
my face wears the mask
of improbable winters.


a requiem half-remembered
an autumn-winged bird
contradicts the monsoon sky


What Colour?

What colour is a fallen leaf in the dark? I watched him measure
libations of water and sesame seeds, chanting under his

breath. It was Amavasya, the period of the dark moon, the time
for sacred rituals for the dead. The silver spoon trembled in his

wrinkled hand. How many times had he sat there at the appointed
hour, remembering grandpa, and great-grandpa who wasn’t even a

photograph, just a pixelated memory of a twirled moustache and
great coat, a man who had predicted that the British would not

last the summer. His son met my eyes from a row of framed pictures,
an almost frown, disapproving of my slouched incongruence. The oil

lamp spilt its liquid fire on brass bowls of vermillion and turmeric,
stark against his snow white hair. When had he aged so much? When

had the carmine and gamboge hues of his fleeing autumn become so
cold to my touch. What colour exactly is death in the morning?

I am the New Autumn

I am the new autumn that will not disrobe my trees,
what perversion requires such debauched rhythms?

What new life must be wrought by denying the old,
can’t we tempt the sun to adopt our bespoke rituals?

Remember the spring we dreamt up unseen colours and
our rainbows wore more than seven bands, what

happened that you now denude that spectrum and crave
bare silhouettes pressed against silent nights? There

are still hues beneath my fingernails where they dug
into the painted flesh of that last summer. I am the

autumn that cannot let go and face a monochrome winter,
why does love have to change and fall before each rising?

The Trouble with Tanka-10

the revolving door spins-
in a crackle of leaves and stars,
autumn departs,
the ghost of winter bleeds the sky white,
even memories refuse to walk in this storm


its golden eyes darken
a white scarf tightens around its neck
autumn screams-
its soundless voice freezing in the icy wind
just yesterday leaves were falling in russet rhyme


I must go
to that place within me
a return pilgrimage
stripped of thought, unchained from the world,
bloody, screaming, the way I came

Fujiwara no Teika’s Tanka Technique 10: Demon-quelling – onihishigitei or kiratsu no tei – includes strong or even vulgar diction but these elements are treated with sensibility and gentleness.
A wonderful month of Tanka prompts concludes at CDHK. My posts can be found here: The Trouble with Tanka 1-10

The Trouble with Tanka -2

clambering down
the bare boughs of November
another unfeeling year
how many moons have fallen unseen
from our separate skies


against diffused cerulean
in the last glow of the golden light
a symphony of fallen leaves
have we walked too far away
out of reach of spring


that night in your mother’s kitchen
eating water chestnuts and rice
six cups of sake
and the moon at the window
asking for one more story

Fujiwara no Teika’s Tanka Technique 2: Appropriate statement – koto shikarubeki. “glide as smoothly as a drop of water rolling down the length of a five-foot iris leaf”
The Trouble with Tanka-1

Late September

Late September,
her eyes still a solemn slate,
the last of the monsoon strung
in reluctant beads down her long, damp hair,
she is a song, a tune in another language,
playing on the radio
as you drive by,
two strange words and a hum
stuck firmly in your swaying head;

this city is listless, drifting,
as she dreams of the faraway,
stories the wind tells her, of leaves
that are turning brown and gold,
that fall like tears of the cooling sun,
only the gulmohars like drops of blood
against a dissolving sigh,
whisper the fervent promise
of an exiled lover;

she undrapes her saree
and lets the fragrant oils
seep under her skin,
as the woodsmoke swirls,
they will want her to be beautiful,
anointed in sandal paste and
attar of roses,
the sightless skies
bowing low
to inhale her scent;

somewhere it is already dawn,
and dead leaves
are curling into the growing cold,
here she waits
like a veiled bride
in her nuptial chamber,
soon the celebrations will begin,
good will vanquish evil
all over again,
in the lick of oil lamps and fireworks,
it is late September;

she lays her head down
on a bed of soft, whispering leaves,
silk rustling on the tenuous edge
of night and day,
the wind is talking again,
the taste of fire in its nuzzling breath,
she turns away, her frown
creasing the gathering dark,
there was a song, faraway,
about the naked trees,
a tune, a hum
and two unfamilar fallen words.

When all poetry seems filled with the hues of autumn, here, far away from that transition, it is almost the end of the monsoon and the festive season will bring with it next month, the colours of Dusshera and Diwali.

Solitary Road

my fickle companion
shrinks again-
even my shadow seems indisposed


wearing her dancing shoes
one breathless leaf
waits for the autumn breeze


now my sentences
fall unfinished
on this solitary road

Linked to Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, where Basho’s journey to the Deep North (Oku no Hosomichi) continues. Basho expresses his loneliness after his loyal companion Sora falls ill and he is forced to travel alone from Yamanaka.
Previous posts in this series are HERE

Chattering Leaves

chattering leaves
how long
is their story


last monsoon cloud
weeps on a rocky shoulder
soft rain

Linked to Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, where Basho’s journey to the Deep North (Oku no Hosomichi) continues. On the road to Kanazawa, Basho remarks on the presence of autumn, despite the indifferent sun… a reminder of the changing season.
Previous posts in this series are HERE