Month of Micropoetry – Coming Up

Micropoetry in all its glorious forms is the essence of communication – succinct, layered, seductive and beautiful in its soulful brevity. Am going to be posting micropoetry every day, all through November. Thought I’d warm up my blog with a couple of tanka I posted on twitter earlier. If you’d like to write micropoetry with me by sharing your poem (in the comments section) or link (using the Mr Linky widget), do let me know. Who knows, it might be a fun journey – saying little, saying a lot, travelling far.


after long weeks
the grey monsoon
packs its clouds and leaves-
the turmeric sun
smiles like a stranger


before poetry
a boy with a kite
was just that-
a tethered dream
writing haiku on empty cerulean

Say hello, share a poem, join the conversation!

The Monsoon, Now Gone

For three months, the monsoon, now gone, was an
indulgent elder, pretending to listen to me while arm

wrestling with an impotent sun, the spot where we
sat on the back steps still dark, smelling of earth and

mothballs . I told him those stories about us, the ones
we have forgotten, but it grew wilder the nights the

moon tried to rise above the thick soup floating in
from the Bay of Bengal.  Oh, how she dances that one,

in hysterical discord, her breast a pale watery half disc
gleaming through the tangled mass of cloud and rain and

words that had stopped rhyming. And then I recalled
the day we walked, soaked to the skin, our one umbrella

broken, the roads like rivers, laughing because the night
had fallen into a tin of cooking oil and we couldn’t even

see our hands in the greasy black and it wouldn’t let up
and it wouldn’t end and I was crying and the monsoon

stopped combing his long grey hair, eyes moist, and that
crazy moon, she finally stood still, frowning, remembering.

Half Past Dawn

,saturday morning, ashen, as if this monsoon has stapled itself
to the sky and will never leave, the deluge will wash away

everything, even sins, even sinners, the levitating fear that
woke me up before dawn is still rising, though I’m afraid the moon

will be much too cold to touch, the numbness with which I greet
the news is surrounded by a hollow moat that aches as a flaccid

sun wakes, how much more, a woman is killed, a child is raped,
hurricanes line up in the ocean like planes waiting to land, maybe

if the earth opens up like an orange, so we can fix it wedge by
wedge, stripping fibre, spitting out bitter seeds, biting into

summer, remember the juice running down our chins, we were
laughing, not a cloud in the blue, the sky schooling us to cover

our blemishes, it is raining again, someone is gathering clothes
hung out on the line, blue jeans, wet as fear, the saturated ground

is refusing rain that pours and pours, the sea, filled with storms,
is refusing water, so it waits, turning the colour of absent light,

a bleeding orange, unwedged, how much more, the hollows ache as
they drown the dead, but we are laughing, wiping juice on our collars,

pointing at the untainted sky, the moon, wrapped in cloud, is cold
as ice, summer burning my throat, saturday morning, half past dawn,

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.

Waiting for Sunshine

it is our stubborn reluctance
to stir the heavy air
who, like an aging lover,
thinks he can still tell
hidden yearning from unspoken boundaries,
a book lies unread on my lap
someone’s impassioned words
that conjure a false arrhythmia
begging for motion, for emotion
as if waving at the sky
will make it forfeit a single monsoon cloud;

it is the false propaganda of the rain
masking the odour of parched throats
with a fleeting waft of petrichor
that precludes dissent,
its clammy fingers proclaiming life
as if eternity rides down
on pregnant clouds
to backfill the emptiness;

but we have learnt to wait
until the sun deigns to love us again
until shadows that slunk away
return to the hollows of our patient curves,
we have soft umbrellas of inertia
to deafen the mystic drumming of the rain
the grey shroud will drop
from his bent shoulders
the revelation
is only a few yards
of nothingness away.

I am no aesthete

I am no aesthete
these pitiless streets and sagging alleys
weave ennui instead of song
the air here is a different colour
even the rose who sees herself
in the filthy puddles from yesterday’s rain
thinks she was born a dirty sepia

oh I have sat across the room
and admired the strong jaw of your feral words
the stubble on the face of your poems
as if they had overslept
too harrowed by the insincerity of the long night
their long fingers shredding old sensibilities
brown nails scraping away the wet earth to find a lost path

but I am tethered to this obsolescent air
scavenging for metaphors in ripe refuse
yesterday as we walked I picked up
a mango seed sucked dry
as if someone had consumed the sun
and thrown away its wan core
you laughed and showed me the sky
a plump cloud with one yellow stain on its cheek

I make do, my grey unwashed sun
shines dark on things I don’t want to see
the rose falls apart in the angry rain
and we walk through the unseen
making poems that rise with bloodshot eyes
reeking of discarded wine
holding their heads on the torn sheets of my notebook

I am no aesthete
but sometimes I have seen my sobbing poems
tender eyed, faking smiles
as they wake up next to yours.

June Skies

the tea is smelling of ginger
and cardamom, sickly sweet,
the kind she likes in the morning,
that whispers in her ear
tells her to write about disappearing horizons
about absent birds, puddles stolen from cloistered skies,
the way the summer births this deluge
and slips away, leaving the monsoon
screaming in her hands,

an unlikely mother
bent like a cold question in a still damp watercolour,
she writes of cold toes and wrinkled skin
of a song about a long ago downpour
that sounds like a lullaby,
of smudged eyes and leaching tears,
of a chipped cup from which
the grey wind stops to drink,
four a.m. The darkness shivers,
it is raining again.

she writes of a sun that was,
of the way the light used to be.

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.

Late September

Late September,
her eyes still a solemn slate,
the last of the monsoon strung
in reluctant beads down her long, damp hair,
she is a song, a tune in another language,
playing on the radio
as you drive by,
two strange words and a hum
stuck firmly in your swaying head;

this city is listless, drifting,
as she dreams of the faraway,
stories the wind tells her, of leaves
that are turning brown and gold,
that fall like tears of the cooling sun,
only the gulmohars like drops of blood
against a dissolving sigh,
whisper the fervent promise
of an exiled lover;

she undrapes her saree
and lets the fragrant oils
seep under her skin,
as the woodsmoke swirls,
they will want her to be beautiful,
anointed in sandal paste and
attar of roses,
the sightless skies
bowing low
to inhale her scent;

somewhere it is already dawn,
and dead leaves
are curling into the growing cold,
here she waits
like a veiled bride
in her nuptial chamber,
soon the celebrations will begin,
good will vanquish evil
all over again,
in the lick of oil lamps and fireworks,
it is late September;

she lays her head down
on a bed of soft, whispering leaves,
silk rustling on the tenuous edge
of night and day,
the wind is talking again,
the taste of fire in its nuzzling breath,
she turns away, her frown
creasing the gathering dark,
there was a song, faraway,
about the naked trees,
a tune, a hum
and two unfamilar fallen words.

When all poetry seems filled with the hues of autumn, here, far away from that transition, it is almost the end of the monsoon and the festive season will bring with it next month, the colours of Dusshera and Diwali.

Wrong Way Home

six thirty turns to seven fifteen,
the storm burns out the last light in the sky,
now just a rhyming lament,
slipping like steel wires between dripping headlights,
rickshaws splash by,
their passengers wet,
crawling on three wheels
through comatose traffic,
the buses have long given up,
turned away by water
waist deep at the intersection,
they say;
through tangled umbrellas,
the wind is making its way,
cold now,
hissing around the fire of handcarts
still boiling stale tea under plastic tents;
every face is a stranger,
every face is familiar,
trapped in an urban swamp together,
lights glow on mobiles
alive inside marooned cars,
in someone’s ear
is the sound of brow-creased worry
from a warm kitchen;

she turns off her phone,
stuffs it into her sodden purse,
the lady at the thrift store
had promised her it would last several monsoons;
there was a time for hoping,
there was a time for dreaming,
that the rain would stop,
that a bus would arrive,
that there was money to call a cab,
that someone would be waiting
in a leaky apartment
nine miles away;

a flash of lightning slides low
to meet the wordless chill in her eyes,
she tugs a scarf over her head,
her whispered prayer swallowed
by the crash of thunder,
greasy water grabs her ankles,
as she steps out of the shelter
into the endless night.

they say
twenty centimetres of rain fell that night,
they say
thirty two people died.

For the midweek prompt at Poets United: ‘Acceptance