Of all the ways to encounter loss, I picked the one in which it arrives as a stranger. A stranger who emerges from the bowels of a subway station, into the sunlight, as I hurtle down the steps into the darkness, directly in his path, looking away, refusing to meet his gaze, only a strong musky scent of an unborn morning , staining the air as we pass.
It returns sometimes, that fragrance, like a wind from a faraway place, come to moult its memory skin . Or like a pigeon that flew into a room that it doesn’t know how to escape, thrashing against the glass pane, screaming at the walls in low, gurgling sounds, rising and falling, rising and falling, trapped, afraid…alone.
On some nights, the stranger stops and calls my name. A name he should not know. A voice I should not recognize. A longing that should not be. For a morning, yet to come.
what should we call it, the sky that does not know it is the sky?
Temporary bridges. Retractable bridges. Bridges that will bring us back. Bridges made of dreams. Bridges made of fear. Bridges made of want.
But bridges don’t unite realities. They become an alternative. A sacred middle. Not belonging. Not owning. Distorting space. Distorting distance. I stood for long on a bridge that night, below a restless moon, above an endless landfill of broken bridges. Here the questions change. The premise changes. The headwinds scatter, directionless. Silence erodes into a roar. Time starts and stops. Starts and stops. Like the staccato hymn of a universe, spinning into itself.
At that point between truths, even then, the answers remain the same.
no road no destination but what if we had continued walking?
I think it is the simplest thing I have to say, but it must negotiate a labyrinth of pride and bile with nothing to light its way. Last night, I studied its paradoxes through the evening’s strawberry haze. How does it begin? Wasn’t failure the first consciousness, wasn’t death the first precept. We know these things like the taste of our own mouths. Not as a taste, not as knowing. Still, we elevate their antonyms — a god, a love, a lover, a time — we embellish them with the infinite, the eternal, one thing containing the other, with victory. How else should we process our own defeat? How does it begin? Always, always with a desire for how it should end. And then we are working our way backwards while trying to move forward. How then, does it not get trapped in the middle? The simplest thing I have to say wants the complexity of your understanding. The first suggestions of darkness appear like clues across the sky.
a different wind a different night why would silence be the same?
(1)around the military cantonment
the way this city has grown:
a camouflage truck, a school bus,
wait together for a green light(2)past Danang and Huea few miles from the DMZthe guide pulls out two cans of coke —one day soon, he says, he will move to California(3)origami cranesone, two… a thousand —waiting at the Hiroshima memorial:things fallthings rise(4)the invisible wars:the invisible dead:“what big eyes you have,” she cried,“the better to see you with, my dear,”the wolf replied(5)on a quiet streetin Luang Prabangthe unexploded ordnance centre —a grandmother coversa little girl’s eyes(6)downtown Berlin:in a dozen languagesthey ask for directions —to the topography of terrorto the palace of tears(7)at the bottom of every seaa ship, a plane, a soldierasking evolution
the same question:
“why?”(8)on large bannersin the Warsaw museumbits of resistance poetry —outside, a man dozesin a rush-hour busheading to the new old town(9)folding a world mapwar zone collapsing into war zonesomeone will diefrom something that will fallfrom someone else’s sky(10)late March in Londona fog-laden skygoes from pewter to troubled blacksomewhere the sun has setsomewhere the sun has to set(11)space and time morphat yet another border crossing —she bows under the weightof an entire lifetimestuffed into an old backpack(12)Kanchanaburi war cemeteryso many peopleso far from home:here lie so many storiesunheard/ untold(13)adrift, afraid,on a refugee boat:home, alreadya memorylimp from cold sea-spray(14)ringing in the desert airchildren reciting the alphabetA for anti-aircraft gunsB for bombs, big, bad, bombsC for compassion that still hasn't come
2. I read ‘Hello Earth’ – a compilation of prose-poems in the earthhello form, by Rosemary Nissen-Wade. These are personal reflections on self and surroundings written during the lockdown. Grab a free copy from the Smashwords site. You will find raw, engaging, healing poetry inside!
3. My detours into flash fiction continue, especially since poetry seems to wax and wane with the moon. If you haven’t read my piece from December, do give it a shot.
4. Meanwhile, weekend curfews and night curfews are back with Omicron going nuts all over the city. Perhaps the weirdest part is how normal it all seems.
once more voices slink into the dark once more, quiet keeps vigil
Sharing this micropoem from my book ‘Duplicity‘, published in Sep 2021. ‘Duplicity’ contains a mix of freeverse and micropoetry – cherita and modern haiku/senryu. This one is from a series titled “Lockdown Notes” Both print and kindle editions are available on Amazon. Also listed on Kobo. More information and links here. You can read other poems from the book here and here. Do grab a copy today and let me know what you think!
for jasmine, for marigolds, for roses — for funerals, for weddings, for worship —
at night, the unsold flowers become this city’s story of all that did not happen
***** Sharing this cherita from my book ‘Duplicity‘, published in Sep 2021. ‘Duplicity’ contains a mix of freeverse and micropoetry – cherita and modern haiku/senryu. Both print and kindle editions are available on Amazon. Also listed on Kobo. More information and links here. You can read another poem from the book here. Do grab a copy today and let me know what you think!
broken world – monsoon clouds like Band-aid strips on an ebbing sky
Alternating between banal work and the feverish dystopia of my newsfeed, it does feel, sometimes, like the world is coming apart in an insane hurry, everywhere. In the middle of war and hate and climate change and the pandemic, if there is a safe place, it seems like it is getting smaller and smaller or fading away in the fog. Meanwhile, there’s poetry, rare but still able to say that, once, there was a time, somewhere, safe enough so a poet could, for a while, put pen to paper.
even in a parallel universe – is there this longing, this poem?
I’ve been an infrequent visitor to my blog. Sometimes I write and some of it finds its way to Instagram, the blog, however, is languishing… and nothing, it appears, can do away with Covid or create the mindspace for focused blogging, focused writing, focused anything. But, in the middle of pandemic listlessness, absent inspiration, disappeared muse and a time-devouring day job, I’m compiling a book. More on that, when the path stops being so utterly uphill. Hope to read all your posts this week and write more-post more-read more…think I miss this space… more than I realized. Stay safe all…the planet of the variants is not a friendly place.
The subtle within us beguiles with its
mystique. It is tranquil lake and tempest. It
is home and grave. The only way to know
the unknown is to accept that it will
immediately change places with the known. Nirvana like a river is constantly renewed.