Another Story

it’s just you and me now,
even if you are some kind of a minor god,
even if I am a nameless face in a horde,
alone, at this distance, at this proximity,
palms together, fingers touching,
my breath in your ear,
one unspoken prayer separating us,
it’s just you and me,
my existence as much a myth as yours;
we tell each other stories,
I improvise from things I’ve read and heard,
stories about you and me and others who were
once me or you, people, gods, each a fantasy
in the mind of the other;
I think of what you said the other night,
alone, the moon bright enough to wake the
sleeping flowers,
you told me how pain isn’t real,
even happiness isn’t real,
that if I could just loosen my grip, let go
of all that I was holding on to,
there would be just that moment
and the nothingness, and that nothingness
would fill everything it touched,
and even that moment wouldn’t really exist;
I laughed, I cried,
I told you I loved the things you
made up,
you told me I had made you up too,
how could both of us be real,
I pretended to understand,
and you smiled at that too;
it’s just you and me tonight
and that moon pretending it knows
it is unseen on its other side,
you and me, unbuttoning pain,
shedding skin, trading names,
what a shame it would be
if everything had to be real,
pain needs its gods to be untruths,
happiness needs a different story.

More poems in the “monologues with a minor god” series here.

The Last Cookie

Don’t tell me about the dark side of the moon or the depths
of the ocean where the sun never reaches, I was annoyed, but

he wasn’t paying attention. He was defending pain. The pain of
love gone sour. He was only a minor god, of sorts, and it probably

wasn’t his fault, but I wondered if he would concede that the idea
had failed. He brushed cookie crumbs from his shirt. These were

special, cashew and almond biscuits, the ghee melting down his
throat with the sugar. Why does your love hurt, he was asking,

reaching for another one. Expectation, I said, expectation. Didn’t
you see that coming, like weeds in a garden, a design flaw. But

then, that’s probably just my fault. He smiled. I shouldn’t tell you
this, he said, a conspiratorial tone, love sat right there one day and

cried, just like you, did I break people, it asked, make them sad
because I expected too much from them. I thought of what

could have been, of waking up alone, of never knowing. There
comes a point, he said, when you just cannot eat one more cookie.


Published yesterday on Life in 10 minutes.
More poems in the “monologues with a minor god” series here.

The Ocean Never Lets Go

He walked slowly, for a god, even a minor god, but maybe he was
savouring the lights of Marine drive, strung low across the pelvis

of this throbbing city, rivalling the stars, the sea a fluid square of
denial between shimmering possibilities on an infinite graph. Is

there a word, I asked him, for when we run away from ourselves,
when everything has been left behind and yet everything is so far

ahead that it can never be reached. He watched the waves cresting
silver on the rocks. Look, he said, how the light mixes in the water,

how one wave leaves it behind for another, the ocean never lets go.
He was scampering down the rocks to scoop up the fallen light, the

night creeping up behind me, wrapping its arms around my waist,
everything is a new moon, in the sky, in the water, inside a word.


More poems in the “monologues with a minor god” series here.

Your Doing or Mine

Too tired now, to dust myself and realign for battle again, what
does it matter now if it was your doing or mine, if it was you that

manoeuvred time and space at will, whether it was I that fell or
you who let me crumble? All that has happened is like the evening

sun languishing for a moment on the window sill before the dusk
unsings its light, sit here in the warmth with me for a moment, do

you see what I have become? I knew how to laugh once, did you teach
me, I knew how to cry, did you show me, I knew how to love, did

you trick me? What does it matter if you are just a minor god, waiting
for a seat at the big table? Feel the callouses of my thoughts, their

weary legs aching for rest, their smiles buried in the sleeves of their
own undoing. What am I in the end, now that we’ve walked so far,

together, alone, not knowing, now that I cannot have it ,now that it
does not matter? Tell me if I am saint or sinner, did you make me?

More poems in the “monologues with a minor god”  series here.

Ice cream…and stuff

But he won’t argue, his beatific smile is either answer or
question, both blue solvents like the bottomless sea. He’s only a

minor god, an acquaintance of sorts, like people you meet
sometimes on the bus, a nod, a few questions, weather and

such, you never even ask their names. But now he talks about ice
cream, no dairy, no sugar, no chocolate, it’s all the rage, he says,

it’s how you save yourself and the world. That’s when it started.
Saving the world is his job, I countered, why put the load on my

shoulders when my life is just the length of a shrug, why create,
ruin, then create more to clean up the mess, there is a point when

this game will lose all meaning. One day, I tell him, there will be no
one, just a flotilla of bodiless souls, streams of consciousness snaking

through the dusty light and then what will you have achieved? That
brought the smile. Maybe it was a question. Which is the burden?

Leaving behind a slightly better universe, living like there is actually a
tomorrow, or believing that someone, he, is going to stop the

apocalypse just before the credits roll? Or maybe it was the
answer- you cannot alter the master plan. I try the gelato, an

unfamilar coldness, the taste of the morning sky after it has rained
all night. What do you think, he smiles again. Question and Answer.

This poem was published today on Life in 10 minutes.
More poems in the “monologues with a minor god”  series here.

That Evening in Goa

Many thanks to the editor of The Lake, John Murphy, for featuring my poem in the September Issue.

This poem is special for so many reasons and am delighted it has found a new home. It is the first in my “monologues with a minor god” series of poems. Was published first on this blog in January 2017.

That Evening in Goa

He said he was one of those minor gods,
no miracles, no judgement, no crown,
just here doing his job, though he never quite mentioned what.
Sitting on the sands of Candolim
eating curry and rice with our fingers,
the waves washing over my ill formed thoughts,
I asked him about souls and consciousness,
about karma and rebirth.
He seemed to think it was alright,
not to understand things like that, not to know,
his voice so gentle, light bubbles strung on a silken smile.
“Do you think about us, humans fending
for ourselves on this little rock?” That was either question or plea,
the wind wrapping it in a strange falsetto
that couldn’t have been my voice.
“Do you think about quarks,” he asked,
and I nodded, like I had that all figured,
a speck of dust, dithering in a beam of borrowed light,
all that mattered then was that one cloud
homing in from the lost distance.
“Fine, just tell me why I am here,
now, with you, trying truth out for size,
the rice gone cold, the beer flat as the limp horizon
without a sun to centre it.”
He turned to the water,
polite maybe, just hiding the laughter
that shook his shoulders.
“Or why I will still be here tomorrow
after you’re gone.
You will be gone, won’t you, being such and such god?”
He rose abruptly, brushing sand off his jeans,
his eyes were the colour of the night
that was still an hour away,
I’m not sure he replied then,
or maybe I just heard it later,
who knows what happens with the sea and the sky,
maybe I said it myself, afterwards.
“Where else would you rather be now?”
The gulls were singing as they flew
in formation, away from the curling surf,
their day at least was done.

god On The Morning Local

I saw him on the local train during rush hour,
a newspaper cone of peanuts in his hand,
smiling at me through a web of weary limbs
and disenchanted heads,
a lesser god with a stubble and sad eyes.

Is this chance, I asked him, or fate,
or is there no difference?
he shrugged like a basement programmer
who had written a game with a million possibilities,
one thing leads to another, he said,
didn’t you want to see me?
how can I win or at least not lose,
I was begging,
five peanuts later he asked,
who decides if it is victory
or defeat?

Through the window I saw life
like a flip book,
one snapshot after the other,
each alive for a cry and a
half turn of the wheel,
each moment, each frame,
dying and born as the next,
meaning nothing by itself,
leading nowhere by itself,
he was watching me, still eating,
this is my stop, he said softly,
your station’s next.

I followed him to the exit,
we left a bird behind,
then a cloud,
then the sun,
then him,
I shrugged,
me and a square of sky for a half wheel
and the peanuts he handed me,
one thing leads to another.

Also in the “monologues with a minor god”  series: At the corner café

At the Corner Café

my god is afraid of lighting,
or so he says over irani chai and bun maska
at the corner café,
I fear the unknown, I tell him,
as I stare at peeling paint,
the dark that is to come,
the now that shows no symptom of the disease,
everything has an innate propensity for horror,
for gore, for ending;

he thinks I’ve lost my sense of adventure,
what happened to the seduction of a good mystery,
the promise of discovery,
but he doesn’t know about loss,
his math is built on averages and progression,
now the clock ticks louder and the unfinished,
the incomplete, looms large over an ever
approaching horizon;

and what on earth is fearful about lightning,
as if he is all alone in the open,
likely to be struck down by an infernal mess
of his own making,
he smiled then,
like the blue of the after-storm;

quickly turning over a newspaper
with the picture of a child
in front of a burning building,
his eyes shifting away from mine,
his hands shaking just a little as he
picked up the plastic menu,
maybe I imagined it, maybe I was afraid
of what I would never know;

will you try the kheema pav, he asked,
if I promise it will be good?

The first poem in the “monologues with a minor god” series, published on The Lake is here.