Break open a poem

Break open a poem and time spills out, not
quite like sand from a fist, too small, too tight;

not quite like rain from a cloud that has drifted
too long — break open a moment within a word,

within a line, and all the moments before it spill
out, not quite like the blur from a speeding train:

the contained is rarely smaller than its container –
possession is only a manner of being. Break open

this night, hold its screams apart, see, all the things I
thought I could bear, can no longer bear themselves.


just to say that
this was meant to be,
I had to believe —
in time,
in the foretelling,
in the inevitable,
in distance,
in the algorithm,
in the universe,
in pain,
in karma,
in sin,
in god

just believing in
you and me,
was never

Act One.

and that scene, over and over: you can be anyone
you like in your own drama, but you choose the

girl spreadeagled on the ground, life slipping
away from her, one truth at a time. Or the one

with wings, hovering above — they look at each
other, with the same eyes, incredulity awash in

fake moonlight, both saying at the same time, “I
know you.” When the curtain drops, there is

silence, or a lone shout, or a nervous whisper, never
the same, never different, and you tell yourself,

that is their drama, they are playing to another
audience. For them, their act may have just begun.



Some things just are.

The transformation of is to was — like an overcast
morning, the inevitability of sunshine and the

possibility of rain are not equal, there are all kinds
of ways to foretell all kinds of things — yet, an

umbrella bears consideration. Some things just are.
Like seeing you now across the street and not

stopping, not slowing down, not wondering where
you’re going, not remembering an hour later, all

the times it rained and words got wet — some words
that were quiet, cold, running down heated skin,

some warm, dissolving in light tapered on window
sills — not thinking at night that some things should

not be together, like sunshine and morning rain:
rainbows too are surely errors of judgement.

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! 


Let’s wonder about other things

I question the transience of the past. I question its
existence. Doesn’t the past exist, even after it
doesn’t? Isn’t the present, the after-life of the past —
the ghostly chill that shimmers, feet-less, around
graves, in the moonlight? I struggle with tenses. We
made love. Fervent love. Now that love is an
apparition in white. Or we are. Verbs transmogrify
into waiting. Love resurrects in a purgatory of its
own creation. Let’s wonder about other things —
things we told each other, things we told ourselves,
things that were never true. What happens to lies
when they cross time-fences? How will the unreal
survive its not-being? You tell me. I can feel your
fingers scorch my skin. I tell myself I am dreaming.
I tell myself reality undid itself that night. You
tell me which tense it is – that unspoken goodbye?

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But the icons fall

And that sour smell of sweat and lust extends
its slimy fingers to feel the pulsing need in
our spent carcasses. What are we after all the
goodness has been distilled out of us? What
are we when we become sediment at the bottom
of our wants? What is left after honour and god
and country and love? When there is nothing
more to fight for? When skin and lips and pain
only delay the nightmares? I burnt incense, once,
the delicacy of sandalwood and jasmine rising in
grey rings as if the path to salvation was paved
with the perfume of righteousness. But the icons
fall. Or the masks. Or the door to your soul bangs
shut and there is no escape. Ashes on the table.
You reach out again. Feel skin and lips and pain.
Darkness is four excuses away. I tried the truth,
once. What are we when we have no more lies?
Breath burns. Bodies rise and fall. You scream. The
smell of sweat and lust and nothing else to fight for.


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Not calligraphed by rain

That’s why I seek the storms of the
night. The fury. The devastation. The
swirling darkness. The blind sin. To
the morning. To this morning. When I
have to be the sun. Not the sky. Not
the shadow. Force sight. Force
myself to see. I have to be the sun
that makes you visible. You exist again
and I have to see you as you really
are. Not calligraphed by rain. Not
embellished by mist. Not remembered
better than you can be. In the morning,
this morning, I have to be the sun
and you are still who you always were.
But now we cannot turn off the light.



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Wet Season For Writing

Emotion congeals into grey clouds that hide the
light. The poem feels ink falling like warm rain.

As if there is a wet season for writing. You used
to say only Illusions are spun from light- love

and gods and dawn and the paleness around
my finger where your ring used to be. You used

to say darkness is the primordial truth. The poem
swallows its vowels. There are things that should

not be said. After the rain, there must still be sky.
Alone wasn’t a thing, till we made it up. Till a

storm forced it into the poem. Till hyphens gave
up the things they held together. The poem lies

beside me and touches the wound of absence.
We learn to feed our solitude with consonants.


Your absence speaks words you cannot, pressing
against my back, as if it was always there, before

the beginning, before you, a starlight ghazal, a
friend , a lover, a thumb print before there was a

name, a mirage before the first sand, a certainty
before wonderment. This is not a void wearing

the mantle of pain, this has the skin of naked sky,
slips between my clothes like fingers of the afternoon

sun, not waiting, not asking, a shadow without
the form, alone, yet connected. This absence was

the prayer before the first moon, the promise of
always, the reverberation before the first summer

rain, this absence that lies in my bed, holds me till
I fall asleep, becomes a dream in the darkest hour,

becomes my oblation, becomes breath and salt and
blood, as if nothing, not even you, can ever be again.