It is war

It is war
and the unarmed cower in living rooms —
trenches that are not safe
from the unseen enemy.

But we’ve won before.
It will take more than a virus.
We will take down more than a virus.
We’ve won before.
We have a recurring tryst with destiny,
even in a world askew,
even where there is no time to grieve
even when there is too much grief
We’ve won before.
We know how to gather our loss,
know how to console our hearts,
know when the next dawn will come.

Yesterday an old woman almost died,
it took thirty-seven people
it took two hundred and fourteen messages
to get her to a hospital bed.
But she will be home in a week.
It will start with her.
We know.
We’ve won before.
It always starts with one person.
It always starts with one battle.
It always starts with one victory.
It always starts when the first person says no.

On the Rough Road

On the Rough Road is a collection of haiku that I first put together in 2016 following a series of prompts on ‘Carpe Diem Haiku Kai’ based on Matsuo Basho’s ‘Oku no hosimichi’ (Narrow road to the Deep North)

Recently, I redesigned and edited the chapbook and though it seemed to take forever, it was a nostalgic walk through old haiku and haibun I had written, giving me fresh insight into my state of mind and writing style, then – and now.

Over the years, I’ve surely learnt a thing or two, but also lost something. I don’t entirely know what that is, but I believe some of my best haiku are in this little chapbook. For more details, check this link.

I chose one haiku to leave here today:

here, finally

i open my book of regrets

to the rain

Countless broken hearts

It’s been a catastrophic April in India, with Covid-19 ravaging the country and causing bottomless suffering. I’ve tried to write micro-poetry through it all (on instagram – @tp_poetry), only to realize that there are not enough words for pain and grief. This was the last poem for April. Where do we go from here? What will May bring?

countless broken hearts:
each fragment a universe
in which stars are dying.
there is a reason we should not see
stars imploding —
the sky is part-dream, part-faith, wholly alabaster,
the ceiling that keeps out the endless deluge,
the monsoon is our one unspoken compromise.
but now silver turns to dust in wet eyes.
grief that needs to be intensely personal,
grief that belongs inside the occasional soul,
that grief is now plural.
we hold that polished stone inside our chests,
abandoned, naked,
naked in this city of wailing mirrors.

Moon Poetry

I’ve been posting some “moon poetry” on Instagram (@tp_poetry) for NaPoWriMo and I just realized I hadn’t posted any of those poems here. Is this happening to you too- is Instagram (or twitter) becoming your primary poetry app? I think I still come back here to post longer poems and to read poetry of fellow-bloggers. But I worry about the future of poetry blogs. That said:

(1)
like a separated lover
she bewitches
from a safe distance –

admit it! close up,
the moon would be unbearable

(2)
“and moonlight on naked skin.”
– even one more word
could be too much for a poem

(3)
this grief borrows from the primordial chaos,
the chaos that stirs the mud, the mud that

doesn’t hold on to the river, the river that knows
the route to the sea, the sea that cannot unlove

the moon, the moon that is always whole and
dark, the dark that tries to tell you that light is

false perception. Tell me, have you found a
different way to console yourself, tonight?

The light

mid-march, the light

a feverish wound
inside my eyes

burning the end
of a story
I took all winter to write

Spring in Goscieradz: Leon Wyczolkowski

These Bangalore Nights

I fail poetry and poetry gives up on me. This is the machination
of muses and fates. The present is a documentary playing on the

back of a cloud. These Bangalore nights. The uncensored underbelly.
The filth, the loneliness, the lies, the insomniac buildings that

follow the sun, the bikes tripping on empty roads past midnight,
the feet stumbling out of overpriced pubs and seedy bars, all

dreaming the same dream, all reaching for the same exit, a
one-way street jammed from this red light to the next. An

arthouse film in monochrome. Around the haunting cliché
of a poet at her desk staring at an empty page. Writing a poem

that has no intention of being written. Ninety minutes later,
she crumples the paper and lets it fall to the floor. The floor

that falls with it. The silence that breaks with it. The poet who
flies through the window and rips up the yellow moon. The end.

Theorems of loss

What if you found a one-rupee coin lying in the dust on market street? Is it yours to keep?

What if you wanted to give it away? Is it yours to do what you will?

What if no one cares these days about a rupee more or a rupee less? Is it not something still?

What if the laws of belonging don’t apply to the little things, what if the theorems of loss cannot prove what doesn’t matter? How do their stories end?

And what if I forgot your lips and your eyes and the pain, what if that time fell soundlessly into a timeless sea?  Not mine, not yours, whose is that night instead?

sixth cup of tea —
this morning
is neither here nor there

Because February 2021

because the existential subtraction of the past year laid bare the excesses of my carefully contrived alignments,

because the new minimalist right angles of being are putting to shame the cursive blooms of February after a summer, a monsoon, a winter, of letting go,

because so much was so unnecessary, so exhausting, so mindless that turning away was turning inward, hearing myself, allowing the words to come when they were ready — like rain, like a storm, like the night — filling the spaces between here and sky, between me and myself, becoming a bridge that leads to another chance,

because when this stillness has passed, the chaos will come rushing back but there will be a memory of this time when so much nothing happened that it was still a little something,

because sometimes, something is more than enough

then the sky looked down
at the sea, and asked—
what is that strange colour?

Truth burns blue

No one knows how to heal our broken world,
barely held together by twisted concertina
wire. We made enough to circle the night.
Several times. How else will we protect us
from ourselves? How will we decide which
side is free? Truth burns blue on the pyre,
it’s final act of resistance is to choose if
it should turn into smoke or ash. Then why
does the air still reek of toxic optimism?
Aren’t bright eyes and unbidden cheer
frightening in the dark? I push his hand away.
Hope, I tell him, is just another four-letter
word. He laughs, his breath oddly warm,
frankly, what other option do you have?

Poetricks

Lay down the aphorisms, brick by brick. Play word-
tricks: the awkward juggler has to catch all the

balls tossed in the air, here homonyms fall neatly,
at their pleasure. Isn’t war, unwarranted? Isn’t man,

manipulated? Was there a poet present when light
emerged to rhyme with night? Dot every ‘i’ in

strength and truth and togetherness. Open a popular
wound. Hyphenate the personal and the eternal.

Bleed a little. This always works. Show just enough
flaw so it seems perfect. (They have learnt this from

sighing at the moon.) Cross every ‘t’ in grief and smile
and morning. Pour a free-size ending that fills every

thirsty mouth. Hurry. Is there room between the first
right and the last rite for one more rhetorical question?