Fewer words

the downright gall of minimalist poetry –
the universe stripped down to an
aberrant nakedness: one misplaced
mole, one tired breast, one painful navel
becoming an epic, becoming the side of a
square, the thud after the gunshot,
the apocalypse, the horizon of silence –

fewer words than the moon spoke last
night, looking down at the space between
us from its vantage point. Surely a poem
should see more than that, should say
more than that? But four audacious
lines stare at me from your page –

like tenuous shadows
evidence of light:
gods manifest by absence –
a leap of faith.

Poetry Tuesday #3 – Borrowed

When French Violinist Philippe Honoré performed in Bangalore last month, I learnt he had inspired Vikram Seth to write his splendid little book ‘An Equal Music’. I brought the book home from the library and found that Seth’s dedication was an acrostic poem, intriguing and elegant. Perhaps, the symbiosis of poetry and love is so successful only because it works despite love and despite poetry!

But here is Vikram Seth’s poem.

And here is what it led me to write:

Eden Unclaimed

What of love that falls like a tree in the deep
forest? That falls like rain on the open sea?
Is it still love if no one knows? That night,
the deluge came to Eden. Promises sank,
the apple orchard was left kneeling in bare-
boughed prayer, the rain, like unconsummated
sin, was swallowed in aching gulps by the
disconsolate dark. That night we lay unmoving,

skin against skin, dream against dream,
breath against breath. Was that not love? Can
love not let paradise fall? Can love not bear
the wound of exile? What will you call love that
has misplaced its word? That night, in Eden, I lost
a love that didn’t know how to become a poem.

 

 

The prompt today is “Borrowed” and it asks you to borrow some magic from a poem that inspires you. Share your poems using the Mister Linky widget and tell us about the poem that became your muse!

 

Poetry Tuesday #2 – New

When you parse the science, it seems crazy that we’re carrying on like everything is fine, while life, as we know it, is hurtling towards an unceremonious end, Eliotesque, not with a bang, but with a whimper. It seems crazy that we’re reading Eliot. It seems crazy that we’re writing poetry.

trees and rhinos, bees and
kelp, waves and puffins –
how do they describe us to their young?

The prompt today is “New” – whatever strikes you as timely, relevant, in your face, here and now. Share your poems, old or new,  using the Mister Linky widget. Or just stop by and say hello in the comments section.

 

Mousetrap

And when nature became a vengeful beast, a
monster unleashed, and every love poem became
a nostalgic ache for a time when the sea was a
troubadour on the street corner, crooning soft
ballads, the sky was the cloth around his hips,
and the moon was a pin on her shoulder, holding
the edge of her saree –

I remember when we caught the first mouse at
home, my mother setting an ugly wooden trap, a
piece of stale copra, the lure for some wretched
creature that would in the morning, half-crazed 
with fear, its tail twitching outside its cage, realize
primal hunger had turned into modern sin. I don’t
know what happened to that first mouse –

She didn’t tell me. I never thought to ask. I was
seven. Now the earth shudders and I wonder 
what will kill me first – the congenital desire, the 
rotting coconut, the rusty hook, the proud woman, 
the indifferent man, the interminable morning or
inveterate hunger –

In the distance, cold clouds find new syntax for a 
familiar dirge.

Is it the light?

The earth hums late at night. You feel her
uneven sounds rise through your spine.
The lone string of an ektara moves under
her finger – a horizon vibrating, sky spilling
into charcoal ocean. Is it the light that takes
the music out of our ordinary days? In the
dark, love becomes truth. Of what use is
certainty that does not have your lips? Aren’t
the patterns of stars made by intervening
shadows. See, ambiguity is the prerogative
of the broken heart. I want to sing with words
I have never heard. I want to remember
things that never happened. Let me steal
a silver melody from the devious moon.
Tomorrow, I promise to lie about this moment.

A poem for Susan’s prompt at PU – “Authenticity”.

 

 

Am hosting Poetry Tuesday all through November – be sure to join in! . Prompts (open through the month) are posted here.

Or does darkness?

A wall to the right of the empty bed, concrete
blocks and wood that feel the first desperation
of night. To the left a window where dawn’s
seduction begins. Does light pick a side first
or does darkness? As usual, evening is the
arbiter of arguments over illumination. It was
evening when you left. It is evening while I
wait. Evening that is neither light nor dark.
Evening that pronounces: the moon is neither
empty nor full, neither real nor imagined, the
moon both is and isn’t. Is such a moon not
borne? Is such a moon not a chant? Is the
moon first light or first dark? Why then can’t
you bear absence? When can’t you speak
of love? Are they not moon crust? Why then
can’t you forgive this infidel flicker of love?

 

To all you poets:  Am going to be writing theme-based poetry every Tuesday starting 5th November. Do let me know if you’d like to share your poems (spoken or written), discuss and critique all things poetry.  More details soon! 

 

Mock That Muse

Is poetry blogging dead? Are we scratching the final poems on its virtual tombstone? Or has it always been this way, a few flashes of lightning, the occasional rumble of thunder, but essentially dense, opaque late-monsoon sky? Or perhaps an unequal firmament, bright in parts – by intelligent design?

And yet, we are in the glorious renaissance of poetry (they say). More books are being sold (they say) and more people are writing than ever before (they say). Maybe they take poetic licence with those facts. Or with that which they label ‘poetry’.

RIP long form. RIP the garrulous rambler. RIP poems that cannot swipe themselves into recognition. RIP mystery and metaphor. RIP magic. What is the Instagram version of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock?

 

But it is that kind of morning, the air
unsure if it wears the scent of rain
or the yellow odour of a sun-drenched
day. The kind of morning when teacups
are bottomless and poems long and
winding, running their hands down your
spine, over your lips, lifting your face so
you can look the light in the eye and ask
yourself if you dare to undress the words,
further, touch the soft skin, the run of bone,
feel the blood pausing at the end of the line,
waiting for you to draw breath. If you dare.
It is that kind of morning. Let the cursor
blink on the blog. Let the spaces gather. Let
the eloquent poets of old watch over your
empty page. Deny the pond for the river. Deny
the river for the sea. Deny the sea for the
deluge that is to come. The muse sits on a
branch, passing the universe like a rubber
ball from hand to hand, the stars like dew in
her hair. The first word has been spoken.
The first word has been written. The
primordial sound echoes inside your
consciousness. Mock that muse. Gather
infinity in your fingertips. Your poem
wants to fill the void between worlds.
It is that kind of morning. If you dare.