She collects

broken tea cups, rescuing them all,
chipped, without handles, cracked
on the sides, at the bottom, one
split open like a skull, its eyes no
longer seeing the emptiness —

everything cannot die in a landfill,
become unrecognizable matter,
reincarnate into other utensils,
useless, freshly coloured, waiting
for a touch on a sterile shelf —

some objects have stories – of lips
they kissed, of leaves that were
picked on the low mountains, of
a song she hummed as the water
boiled, of a truth he spoke after
the second sip, that shattered
one, more than one universe —

Print/e-book on Amazon

 

Anticlockwise

Isn’t it strange how things unravel anticlockwise in the
night, as if thoughts, blindfolded, spiral homeward into

the past? In the morning, even in the half-glow of dawn,
you can float away from yourself, changing their direction,

the end of the trembling dark clutched tight in your hand,
deliberately unwinding pain through a labyrinth of forced

possibilities. Time, then, is just a cruel trick of the light.
Or maybe, love is. I remember lying on our backs on the

sand, the sky close, beginning at the end of our skin,
stars finding the hollows under our nails, clouds moving

in dextral whorls around a proximate moon. Or maybe we
were just looking at it wrong. Maybe it was day. Maybe it

was us whirling and there was one nebulous cloud in the
centre blurring the sun. Maybe we weren’t next to each

other, a deception of trajectory and distance and touch,
the twisted path a long way to reach an inevitable end.

 

VisVerse

Image by Anthony Jon Tyson (Picture prompt provided by Visual Verse)
First published on Visual Verse (Vol 05, Chapter 10)

Because Memories

Because memories aren’t memories unless they spin
in a haze of blue, firmament and ocean overturned

into an infinite mist, congealing into an occasional
cloud. I’m beginning to separate the shades, the unsaid,

cobalt at the edge, the untouched, pale as covered skin,
the unawakened, dark and restless in the middle, waiting

for words, for warmth, for touch; the unforgotten,
whirling in random patterns, blurry, wet, between the

truth and the want, the azure of unloved seas, of unkissed
sky, the virgin cerulean of hesitant dreams, daring to

reveal, only to disappear. You didn’t teach me the colour
of a fallen promise, of an abandoned love, of a shadow in

the unsunk depths, of the hue of the past when it floats
sapphire, an imploding moon inside unopened eyes.

 

First published on Visual Verse (Vol 05, Chapter 03)
Check the link to see their picture prompt

September First

It is that crease in the crumpled paper of
time folded inside the envelope of listless

improbability, everything before it unreal, thereafter
a breathless race to the end of the year

through festive lamps and fireworks and the
sensuous rustle of woven silk, everyday reminders

that we are still packing rectangular burfis in oval
cardboard boxes. Now damp memories begin to

leech into skies freshly wiped of the grey monsoon,
remembrances tied up like fat goats in impromptu

markets, primed for sacrifice, of Dussheras when
truth was pink and green and yellow and the

clouds were the colour of spilt burgundy and words
were heavy with sighs, of that Diwali when doors

slammed louder than crackers the kids set off
inside old Bournvita tins and neighbours peered

through the window with eyes lit up like burning
flowerpots. Everything is reset on September first,

the sun is hanging out to dry on the line, her mellow-
mellow light with its sound of breaking boundaries and

shattering smiles paints the air with a strange
sanctity as if every molecule of the universe is visible and

quivering and even you and I know that without the
rain, we can no longer pretend to be waiting.

On Dark Nights Like This

a sallow-faced wind patrols the yard this morning
eyes narrowed, hands deep in its grey long coat
like those dour spies from old black and white movies,
there has been little rain
just the odd gust driving ashen clouds
wary of its own incontinence,
we let the silence mark a path through the living room
back and forth, as if talking about him
would change something,
the air or the colour of the light
and we could never enter the room again,
you’re trying not to look at the picture in the corner
as if seeing it would change nothing,
it would never walk in from the kitchen again,
clothes following in metered rhyme,
down the street, the moon slips into a letterbox,
the night sets up a vigil for dawn,
the wind stops to ruffle the head of the neem he planted,
on dark nights like this
who knows if the memories come first
or the tears?

Grey Time Blues

the early monsoon licks morsels of heat
off the brick verandah
as the last of summer
settles at the bottom of chipped teacups,
breathless with a gasp of wilting jasmine,
we read the dregs for signs of tomorrow,
how much will we take further,
rucksacks filled with spent days
getting heavier on our backs in the tepid rain,
how much will we leave to be washed away,
lost in the gurgling storm drain,
grey clouds rumble over
the roads we walked.
it is time.

Then, Not Now

the selfish dark has interred the light,
that once cast our likeness on this town,
who severed the last ray of light,
who smothered love’s ephemeral light,
the somnolent ravens are mocking me,
they dream the promise of daylight,
they promise the dream of the first light,
I hug my grief as i search for you,
I hold back a tear as i regret you,
why has it returned in the absent light,
whatever it was, it was then, not now,
so why have you come back here now.

I can hear a splash in the river now,
like a reminder, that flash of light,
what apparition beckons me now,
do my anxious eyes deceive me now,
does the past rise from the swamp of this town;
do lies burn in the water now,
is the viscous truth floating now,
what does reality want from me,
what of this despair haunting me,
this pain was birthed, then, not now,
let me find one morning without you,
let me take that step away from you.

I remember what i swore to you,
I see those wounds still bleeding now,
did your silence ever question you,
does my silence ever answer you,
once we were just bubbles of light,
before i walked away from you,
before we ruined it, me and you,
I grew a bruised heart in this town,
I buried innocence in this town,
I will never know what healed in you,
I will never know what broke in me,
what we destroyed then, you and me.

the years unravel before me,
the years taste of old wine and you,
is it the universe testing me,
is it destiny just taunting me,
but why did you come back here now.
life’s circle winding right through me,
a dervish whirling back to me,
nebulous as a lazy twilight,
safe in the arms of warm moonlight,
time wraps your shawl and walks with me,
memories flutter in the streets of this town,
the mind totters to the beat of this town.

the words we said are hoardings in this town,
they scream your name, they whisper to me,
your voice, your face runs through this town,
our jagged lives still gash this town,
they know how it ended, me and you,
that secret is spilt all over the town,
even those gods disowned this town,
what life was meant to be, then not now,
what love was meant to be, then not now,
so why have you come back to this town,
why have you come claiming the light,
why have you come seeking the light.

for it was in that spring half-light,
when the rains battered this town,
I was growing up to be me,
and love was learning to be you,
but you know it was all then, not now.

 

English Canzone: 5 stanzas of 12 lines each followed by a 5 line envoy. 5 end words are repeated in a set pattern:
stanza 1: ABAACAADDAEE
stanza 2: EAEEBEECCEDD
stanza 3: DEDDADDBBDCC
stanza 4: CDCCECCAACBB
stanza 5: BCBBDBBEEBAA
envoy: ABCDE

Again

pain arrived, so late tonight,
again,
heavy tread tentative,
no excuses, no explanations,
just arms loaded with mournful smiles,
and stories that reeked of old books
on faraway shelves-
we slid back against the pillows,
reading words aloud that stuck like
unfamiliar food to our tongues,
pain, trembling, so late tonight,
again,
turning pages one by one,
till we were screaming,
tumbling, whirling,
down a soundless gush,
and the lake of unshed tears
flooding the foot of the bed,
rose into a tidal wave,
and we were the last natives
on a submerged atoll,
wrapped in burning flags,
fingertips touching,
waves beating their wings
against our unmoving legs;
pain, stayed, so late tonight,
again,
like a secret lover
who knew the other door,
waiting for the first sliver of dawn,
lips upturned in a salty smile,
stories spent,
shadows of the weeping moon
smudged dark under
unblinking eyes,
again.

For the next mid-week prompt at Poets United  -“Citizenship”. Completely tangential of course, but that’s how it goes, I suppose.

And Smile…

Every time she smiled, she died a little more.

His voice waited, huddled on decrepit platforms in an old grey blanket, peering down the tracks. She thought she heard him through the window, a mocking blur, the stiffly bent vowels a familiar tune, her lips coating half-forgotten words, trembling as the melody rose to find tunnels between nameless stars that hung like abandoned cities in the sky. They had not spoken in years. Not since that train pulled away.

She turned as she heard the key turn in the lock, grabbed her fallen smile, chipped and bent like a pair of well worn spectacles, and let it settle on the bruised bridge of her mouth.

on the fresh snow
squirrel tracks
in both directions