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’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 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.
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,
naked in this city of wailing mirrors.
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:
like a separated lover
from a safe distance –
admit it! close up,
the moon would be unbearable
“and moonlight on naked skin.”
– even one more word
could be too much for a poem
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?
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?
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?