Just Math

Even Rumi, who could fit the entire
universe inside his poem, was yearning
for the grace of the Beloved. The universe
is not enough. It cannot love us the way
we want love. Its miracles are just math.
What would language do, or poems, if
the poet did not suffer the anguish of
loving a sunset? The sky just is. The poem
reaches out to touch your cheek. The
words wipe your tears. The poet burns
in the orange light until he becomes the
darkness. The Beloved holds back the
wine. Love is only an empty tavern, the
sun has been extinguished and the stars
in the window will be gone by morning.


More poems in the “Universe” series on my instagram page: @tp_poetry  Trying to pull them all together – soon.



Have you spoken?

Have you spoken to the ocean recently? Or to Yemen? Or to
a yellow dinghy at the bottom of the Mediterranean? How

about a polar bear? Or a blueprint in a factory somewhere,
for a nastier gun? I can hardly make a list better than your

morning paper. What would you say to a bird perched on a
length of barbed wire separating this from that? Keeping

person from person? Me from you? Don’t ask me. I don’t
speak. I spend the evenings in the balcony, mourning a lost

love. Bemoaning the universe’s broken parts that collude
against me. Thinking about a young Krishna who opened

his mouth to show his mother the entire cosmos within.
Unbroken. I talk to myself. About silence. Endings. About

love. A little bird on the concrete parapet opens its beak to
to scare the encroaching dusk. Darkness falls over us like a

coarse blanket, all at once. Starless. Moonless. Skyless. How
can you bargain for peace when you have nothing to give?

How can you bargain for love? The night takes my hands
away from me. Like plastic, like chemicals, like everything

we made and used and threw away, won’t love turn up
on a distant shore, in the belly of a murdered sperm

whale? Have you talked recently to the naked mountains-
cold, their lips parched in this strange December rain?

Only the Mirror Changes

Only the mirror changes, showing vibrant orange wings instead
of creeping, hungry green. How vain is the heart that rolls the past

into an impotent caterpillar? What makes the butterfly think the
metamorphosis is complete? I tell myself I am distanced from you,

from that night, from that abrasion of skin upon skin. I am surprised
I can remember. I am surprised by the precision of detail, by the absence

of theatre. I am surprised I have the same eyes. Somewhere behind
a closed door is the opera of sunshine, where time does not exist

or self. Where you can step back into a sentence, where you can reach
out and feel again, where moments look different in each mirror

and you can stand before the one in which you smile. That night
still wears the August moon. I am surprised you have the same eyes.

Silence Burns Midnight Blue

Your poetry is a breaking of water, a
birth pang, let us talk instead of
seeds. Of skin. Of earth. Of before.
What did you really mean when you
wrote of love? How distant is the word
from the thought? Is silence the purest
word, stripped of pretence, emotion
submitting naked to the starlight? If I
imagine you -without words- silence burns
midnight blue, is the colour of afternoon
lust, I sense you like a second
wound, a noiseless picking of scab from
an unseen cut. I do not speak. Silence is where
we go when we go beyond love, where
we spool back our lines, unmask our
metaphors, where we accept that the
poem is a false reckoning, realize that silence
is a euphemism for scream.

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.

How Else?

Of course, the easiest explanation is
the most difficult to conceive, but how

else can we account for the perfection
of randomness, for the precision of

evolution that allows us to stare at
sunsets, forgive the asymmetry of an

orange-gold death and almost consider
a meticulous god as we would the

improbability of life; how else can we
account for love when it is over, isn’t

pain much better borne if we know it
was scripted, if we were not picked by

the arbitrary raising of an eye; all
these nights, the moon there, hauntingly

beautiful and yet so alone, this surfeit of
emptiness has to be someone else’s fault.

The Way It Works, Or Doesn’t

the way it works, or doesn’t,
one piece of evidence points to another, on and on, even as the search
changes and the seeker
becomes another person, then another;
but not all things are clues, some things just are,
they don’t say anything, won’t go anywhere,
your breath on my skin was not a portent, but I didn’t know that until later,
until it was too late to stop moving,
until it was too late to stop crying;
some things we take along with us, half carrying, half dragging,
their screams incoherent, their eyes streaming, bright like dying stars,
by the time I realised I had found myself,
by the time I figured out why there were no footprints to follow,
by the time I came back to where I began,
where it began,
my head was pounding,
there were welts on my soul, the shape of your fingers,
something you had said was still a bleeding wound;
your walking away was not a sign,
not a symptom of an incoming deluge,
my clothes were wet,
there was water in my shoes,
there were no clues, not even rain,
not even a ripple,
some things just are,
some days, it doesn’t work,
we cannot walk on water.