2020: Outro

What one poet learnt from 2020:  Preview DRAFT 1.x

  1. It is never too early for an outro.
  2. Rain is louder than thoughts, but only in the first four three minutes.
  3. Our Your shadow is still stuck to my wall, where it was cast, without care, that last weekend before the first lockdown.
  4. At some point, I turned this year into a convenient excuse. Like you did.
  5. Probability is inversely proportionate to the length of silence. Words however cannot change the outcome.
  6. If so much pain seems senseless, a little little happiness, by extension, is senseless too.
  7. Every existential equation is solved in the songs the birds made up when humans emptied the streets.
  8. The thing is, phone calls end. Like life. Like time.
  9. It doesn’t take that long for “every day felt like a year” to become “a year that felt like a day”. (It takes a day. Or a year.)
  10. Isolation is terrifying without a secret preoccupation. (Unless you are secretly preoccupied with the terrors of isolation, in which case the preoccupation is terrifyingly isolating.) (Why secret?)
  11. Being a poet during a pandemic is a test of brevity. How best can the endless void, the featureless grey wrapped sky, the road that bends into the horizon, the distance that is measured in everything other than distance — how best can the infinite be compressed into neat lines that in the seventh reading still make some sense.
  12. Size has swapped meaning. Big has turned small. Little is too much. Consider. The Universe. One word. Forever. Now.
  13. Mostly, just #11.
  14. Truly, just #4. But concise is always a verse, thirteen verses too long.

The Brink of Enough

alright, here is your secret map,
your battle lines like the churning wheels
of a runaway train,
a calendar, a clock,
the universe itself, crumpled along the stars,
and existence, its spine curled around a single ragged breath,
now point for pity’s sake,
raise your benumbed hand and point,
show us what is enough,
where is enough,
when will it be enough,
it is already too late,
to end your war;

we walk out of your hell,
unholy wounds dripping a macabre trail,
point to where
your fire cannot reach,
your ire cannot preach,
we are going there,
where it is enough,
where only the ocean
tosses in the deep,
where no one is killing,
where no one is listening,
where even the shrouded living
smile slowly in their sleep;

on the shoulders
of our bedraggled human stream,
move the coffins of life and love,
even the sky bent low this morning
to cover them with the edge
of her burning shawl,
point to beyond
the brink of enough,
so we can bury them both
by the river that weeps,
and keep vigil under the choking trees
until a sun ascends again;

look! here are the dead,
the songless children,
the wingless mute,
greed that sears the broken voice of the earth,
fear that chills its trembling shrivelled toes,
point then for pity’s sake,
raise your guilty arm and point,
to the graves of those who might have lived,
to the pyres of those who might have loved,
for they walk with us,
along the bloody road from hell,
to the place where it is enough,
to a time when it is enough,
where the weeping river waits,
you cannot follow,
it is too late,
they walk with us,
their lifeless feet,
tread the smoke-dense air,
leaving behind no prints.

 

main akela hee chala tha janib e manzil magar,
log saath aate gaye aur kaarvan banta gaya!
(I set off alone towards the destination but,
people joined by and by and lo! soon it was a caravan!)
– Majrooh Sultanpuri (Wikipedia)