Poems: Parker. Rilke.

Words of Comfort to Be Scratched on a Mirror
Helen of Troy had a wandering glance;
Sappho’s restriction was only the sky;
Ninon was ever the chatter of France;
But oh, what a good girl am I!
~Dorothy Parker
Exposed On The Cliffs Of The Heart
Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Look, how tiny down there,
look: the last village of words and, higher,
(but how tiny) still one last
farmhouse of feeling. Can you see it?
Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Stoneground
under your hands. Even here, though,
something can bloom; on a silent cliff-edge
an unknowing plant blooms, singing, into the air.
But the one who knows? Ah, he began to know
and is quiet now, exposed on the cliffs of the heart.
While, with their full awareness,
many sure-footed mountain animals pass
or linger. And the great sheltered birds flies, slowly
circling, around the peak’s pure denial. – But
without a shelter, here on the cliffs of the heart…
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Dylan & Pablo

“Friend, my enemy, I call you out. You, you, you there with a bad thorn in your side. You there, my friend, with a winning air. Who pawned the lie on me when he looked brassly at my shyest secret. With my whole heart under your hammer. That though I loved him for his faults as much as for his good. My friend were an enemy upon stilts with his head in a cunning cloud.”
“I love you so much I’ll never be able to tell you; I’m frightened to tell you. I can always feel your heart. Dance tunes are always right: I love you body and soul: —and I suppose body means that I want to touch you and be in bed with you, and i suppose soul means that i can hear you and see you and love you in every single, single thing in the whole world asleep or awake” 
“We can catch buses and count our change and cross the roads and talk real sentences. But our innocence goes awfully deep, and our discreditable secret is that we don’t know anything at all, and our horrid inner secret is that we don’t care that we don’t.”
“It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.”  
~Dylan Thomas 

 
 —————————————————————————————-
Your Laughter
Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.
~Pablo Neruda

Words

Drowning in secretly nervous words,
inappropriately excessive and reckless,
I gasped for breath in a vast space
teeming with all things restless.
Your words- rationed and reluctant-
mocked my volubility; laughed softly
to test limits of patience and desire,
overlooking the unsaid quite firmly.
My utterances were often profuse.
I fear you eyed them with disdain;
I stuttered, fumbled, and went mute.
Laconic, my love continues to remain.

Morning Monologue on Things Inappropriate and Disregarded

At four in the morning the Middlemarch book brick tumbled off the bedside shelf, picked up momentum, took a cruel trajectory and landed on my face, book spine to nasal cartilage; probably as a sign of protest against its use as a bookend. I found myself awake at this early hour on a day when i was neither chirpy enough to dive straight out of bed onto the yoga mat nor poetic enough to press my face against the window pane and watch dewdrops trickle down the leaves of my favorite tree.
I wanted to read but the recently hazardous books didn’t seem enticing; so i logged on to stories that were safely encased in distant computer servers. I found myself browsing ‘The Paris Review‘ for love stories, even when that fat cherub, Cupid, had left an unpleasant taste in my mouth yesterday; it reeked of the black bile of indifference. I found one that was straight out of my Before-Sunrisey dreams and packed in serendipity, Edna St. Vincent Millay, long journeys, and a loft with a typewriter. I also learnt that in Yiddish, there’s a beautiful word called bashert that describes the person you are fated to meet, your soul mate. I read a cleverly titled ‘Love Stories‘ by Phoebe Connelly. The lovers separate in the end, but I could identify with the little things one does, unasked, uncalled for and often unnoticed, when gripped by the throes of love. I felt a sad tenderness for her when she started reading books for him, not out of curiosity or interest or compulsion, but out of affection. The aching familiarity was an odd comfort; halfway across the world a woman in love had done the same things that I had done, and felt foolish about later. Here is an excerpt.
…courting each other with words—our own, but also those of any writer we thought might impress. We certainly weren’t the first to go this route. But like every romance, and every reading list, it felt like our own. The question “What are you reading?” became a convenient excuse to chat when we spotted each other online, to send links, to write long, complicated letters in which the subtext was always desire. For him I read Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter, which I had dismissed, without reading, as rankly sexist. (My opinion didn’t improve much after the fact, but he argued that the main character was a true portrait of the male writer.) I sent him John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy after quoting a description of Smiley’s wife out of context. He told me it drove him near mad that the line didn’t come until the second-to-last scene in the book. I started compulsively reading novels set on the West Coast. A sticky  July was spent filling in the gaps of my Lew Archer catalog; I hoarded tatty James M. Cain paperbacks and dreamed of smoggy afternoons and winters without snow. Was I falling in love with F. or with the idea of a city that lent itself so easily to narration?
These lines wouldn’t mean anything to the casual reader, but i had to thrust my lower jaw forward and blink rapidly to block the stinging tears. Stupid, that’s what i am!
It was still early but a pale light had sheathed everything outside my window. It felt like a Norah Jones moment, and I brushed my teeth to the rhythms of ‘Sunrise‘. Try singing ‘and i said ooooooooooo‘ with toothpaste foam in your mouth. Fun, but not a pretty picture. Edna Millay was still on my mind, and I downed my morning coffee searching for an appropriate poem that spoke of my attempt to distract my mind from an inappropriate person for whom I had inappropriate feelings at an inappropriate time. Turns out she had written just the poem for it. Another proof that all over the world, beyond barriers of distance and time, people are linked by the familiarity of emotions. Here it is.
Intention To Escape From Him
I think I will learn some beautiful language, useless for commercial
Purposes, work hard at that.
I think I will learn the Latin name of every songbird, not only in
America but wherever they sing.
(Shun meditation, though; invite the controversial:
Is the world flat? Do bats eat cats?) By digging hard I might
deflect that river, my mind, that uncontrollable thing
,
Turgid and yellow, strong to overflow its banks in spring,
carrying away bridges
A bed of pebbles now, through which there trickles one clear
narrow stream, following a course henceforth nefast—

Dig, dig; and if I come to ledges, blast.

~Edna St. Vincent Millay
I try to distract myself; i read with that crazy glint in my eye; my writing typing threatens an impending carpal tunnel syndrome; i work on and off as i await an important outcome; i scratch dogs and strange babies behind ears and pretend they are cute; in the late afternoon i risk bursting my lungs on the cross-trainer; i nap snuggled under a soft, blue blanket; often i have giggling fits with friends; on weeknights i watch the drama unfold in a fictional hospital with a predilection for the unusual and even the promiscuous; sometimes i sketch bare trees on a winter landscape; on my Nigella days i bake umpteen coffee cakes; i dig up old songs too; i discuss books with friendly bookstore owners; obsessively cleaning sprees calm me down; i go on drives without destination; i surround myself with family and laughter; but no matter what I do, a name remains glued to my mind. Bashert? Unlikely. 

“Dig, dig; and if I come to ledges, blast.”

Smorgasbord: Overflow, Quiet Worlds, Kisses

“Everyone else seems to have the brakes on… I never feel the brakes. I overflow.”
 ~Anaïs Nin to Henry Miller

This sentence sums up my life. I incline towards the excessive. Overflow of thoughts, of words, of a vague indifference, of solitude, of fernweh, of yearnings, of independence, of anger, of songs, of poems, of a sense of wonder, of impulsiveness, of caring, of travels, of determination, of dreams, of books, of quietness, of volubility, of happiness, of melancholy, of laughter, of hopes, and of love. The brakes are defunct, vestigial. It isn’t obvious; everyone sees the invisible walls of restraints that i put up, inhabiting a narrow world of measured words and actions. That’s a perception i don’t try to correct; a very few people can be accommodated in my inner world, the one without any brakes; they know this world, and it’s enough.
————————————————————————————–
If it was possible, i would curl up for a nap in a poem. I would gobble a poem whole. I would plant millions of poems around me, and pluck them at will. I would stuff  poem in a pillow and let it caress me every night. I might even allow a poem to put coffee stains on my books. That’s how a good poem makes me feel.
I want to share two of my favorite poems by Jeffrey McDaniel tonight. ‘The Quiet World‘ is in sync with the wordless love I am forced to live, having brakes on for the first time in my life. I am a mute lover. Unsaid words die in my mouth every night as I wait. ‘The Archipelago of Kisses‘ is a encyclopedia of this endearing gesture of love. May the pants of the people who claim that they don’t like kisses drop in public! From an overflow to relative scarcity, from meaningless to being steeped with meaning, from fleeting ones to the ones that claim you, from sloppy to sensuous, from dizzying to a comforting habit; kisses grow with us. I still wait for the ‘I will love you through a brick wall‘ kiss and ‘I will swim through the Earth for you‘ kiss; have you found that mouth yet?

The Quiet World
In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

 ~Jeffrey McDaniel
 The Archipelago Of Kisses


We live in a modern society. Husbands and wives don’t
grow on trees, like in the old days. So where
does one find love? When you’re sixteen it’s easy,
like being unleashed with a credit card
in a department store of kisses. There’s the first kiss.
The sloppy kiss. The peck.
The sympathy kiss. The backseat smooch. The we
shouldn’t be doing this kiss. The but your lips
taste so good kiss. The bury me in an avalanche of tingles kiss.
The I wish you’d quit smoking kiss.
The I accept your apology, but you make me really mad
sometimes kiss. The I know
your tongue like the back of my hand kiss. As you get
older, kisses become scarce. You’ll be driving
home and see a damaged kiss on the side of the road,
with its purple thumb out. If you
were younger, you’d pull over, slide open the mouth’s
red door just to see how it fits. Oh where
does one find love?
If you rub two glances, you get a smile.

Rub two smiles, you get a warm feeling.
Rub two warm feelings and presto-you have a kiss.
Now what? Don’t invite the kiss over
and answer the door in your underwear. It’ll get suspicious
and stare at your toes. Don’t water the kiss with whiskey.
It’ll turn bright pink and explode into a thousand luscious splinters,
but in the morning it’ll be ashamed and sneak out of
your body without saying good-bye,
and you’ll remember that kiss forever by all the little cuts it left
on the inside of your mouth. You must
nurture the kiss. Turn out the lights. Notice how it
illuminates the room. Hold it to your chest
and wonder if the sand inside hourglasses comes from a
special beach. Place it on the tongue’s pillow,
then look up the first recorded kiss in an encyclopedia: beneath
a Babylonian olive tree in 1200 B.C.
But one kiss levitates above all the others. The
intersection of function and desire. The I do kiss.
The I’ll love you through a brick wall kiss.
Even when I’m dead, I’ll swim through the Earth,
like a mermaid of the soil, just to be next to your bones.

~Jeffrey McDaniel

(Pics Courtesy: 1. Overflow painting by Natalie Houston; Pics from Google Images)

On February, Commercialism of Love, My Favorite Couples

On A Train 

The book I’ve been reading

rests on my knee. You sleep.
It’s beautiful out there —
fields, little lakes and winter trees
in February sunlight,
every car park a shining mosaic.
Long, radiant minutes,
your hand in my hand,
still warm, still warm.

~Wendy Cope
Yesterday I came upon this poem that brings together long journeys, a book, love and the February sun. On a dreary day tinged with the loss of a loved one, these words felt like a warm, comforting hand, reminding me of the delights of my favorite month. I love the pleasant chill in the air, the oblong patch of dappled sunshine that sneaks in and spreads over my bed every morning, the first sprouts of green on the bare branches of the tree outside my window, and the dubious yet unavoidable association of love with this month.
It is the month of mass commercialism and ostentatious display of love. The generalization of a single day of the year as the day of love is ridiculous. But it is difficult to avoid this young month dripping with love. It is everywhere; the romantic comedies on TV, the newspaper ads of lovers staring moonily into the horizon, the special offers for couples at restaurants, the love songs blaring everywhere including the dialer tunes, the annoying spam about love horoscopes, tiny little hearts and confetti decorating even the local supermarket, flower stalls at every corner with outrageously priced bouquets, heart-shaped food, even the foam in my cappuccino is a white heart, and the sudden trend of wearing pink or red, lead by the over-enthusiastic teenagers.
I am too old to be a part of the hoopla surrounding this Hallmark holiday. There is also the logistical deficiency of a determined lover out to woo me. The only things I look forward to are the books I had ordered a few days ago (Break of Day by Colette, Book of Disquiet by Pessoa, The Lover’s Discourse by Barthes and The Angle of Repose by Stegner); and as pathetic as it sounds, that makes my month of love, reading books about this baffling emotion. Stories intrigue me, so does love; and a good love story, preferably the real ones, is always a delight. Today I want to mention a few of stories of love whose charm had grown on me.

1. Renu and Biren
They had been in love for 44 years, including 34 years of conjugal life. They are the poster couple for ‘opposites attract‘. He is an unabashed extrovert, witty, quite popular with the women, an engaging conversationalist, adventurous, highly ambitious, brash and has uncountable friends. She is quietness personified, a loner, seeks solitude, gave up her job to set up a home, shuns socializing, is calm and composed, the stronger one, the better half, and the one who holds it all together. She liked old movies, he was hooked onto sports. Now she is a cricket enthusiast and he keeps humming Rajesh Khanna songs. They are as unconventional as they come. He is the fearless protector, but she has to hold his hand when the nurse jabs his forearm for a blood sample. She speaks few words, but he listens diligently to all of it. They support each other, no matter how many obstacles come their way. He discusses his work-related problems with her; she doesn’t comprehend them fully, but her encouragement and patient words soothe him. They made each others’ families their own, not just out of obligation, but out of love. They fell in love during a time when the caste and socio-economic divide mattered a lot when seeking parental approval for marriage. She is a Brahmin, he belongs to a scheduled caste; he had worked hard to amass a small fortune, and she had none. They eloped. She battled with a chronic illness for seven years after marriage, but he nursed her back to health. They didn’t have a child for seven years, and people tried to convince him to remarry. He stood by her. Later they became parents of two daughters. They had troubles, grave ones, but they didn’t run away from each other. They were wedded for life; their love never ran a smooth course, it tested patience, taught compromise, stuck to hope and came out triumphant. I call them Pa and Ma.
2. Angana and Gaurav
We grew up together, and she knows me inside out. My best-est friend, Angana, had an interesting run up to her twenties. She lusted after inaccessible and stereotyped uber-heroes, with bulging muscles, dimpled smile, oozing with charm; and was blissfully oblivious to the long queue of admirers and stalkers who waited for hours at strategic locations just to have a glance of her. She had a new infatuation every month and we dissected that object of affection to the very core, analyzing and re-analyzing, till his charm wore off. She got into IIMC and moved to Delhi six years ago. She had a new set of friends, most of whom belonged to Dehradun. She often heard the name ‘Gaurav’ pop up in their conversations, another Dehra dude who worked in Mumbai. She had heard so much about him, she had recklessly announced to her friends that if he was so good as they made him sound, she would end up dating him. Similar series of events and conversations were unfolding before him. He came. She saw. Love conquered. It has been a little over five years now. They are delightfully inseparable. He is an amazing person, and I am not saying it because he is going to marry the most important girl in my life someday. He is the brooding Darcy to her impish and impulsive Elizabeth.
3. Devi and Divy
She is a fellow-introvert, born and raised in a remote hill town of Assam; he is jovial by default (Fun-jabi gene), growing up in a crowded Delhi locality. She is a doctor, he is rapidly climbing the corporate ladder. She comes from a highly orthodox family, he is highly liberal. She is my best friend and he is my brother’s best friend. Eight years ago I was their Cupid at a family dinner. That night in the cover of the conveniently dim dining hall, shy glances and hesitant smiles were exchanged. She broke off an earlier loveless relationship and he was ecstatic. After the initial few awkward phone calls and umpteen emails, love blossomed. He swept her off her feet; such was the wooing! They sneaked off on covert vacations, going incommunicado for days. They had a courtship straight off the pages of a romance novel. When faced with parental opposition, she asserted her love with a conviction that I highly admired. He left for a different country; and she patiently waited the long years till she was with him again. The striking thing about their relationship is the balance they maintain in giving each other their personal spaces, without compromising on the togetherness. In a week, they would complete three wonderful years of marriage.
4. Natasha and Azhar
We had donned pale grey skirts and starched white shirts, and attended the same school in my hometown. I was in awe of her; she dabbled in karate, art and shared my passion for books. Facebook and blogging brought us together after long years of separation. I was privy to her love life through mutual friends. They met as undergrads. It caused mass palpitations in her family, sparking off strict opposition on religious grounds. The future seemed bleak; as they pursued their studies and later their respective careers in different cities, while the flame of disapproval continued to burn in the families. With a note-worthy patience, they waited it out and stood by each other for nearly a decade. Their love culminated in marriage last November.

5. Pallabi and Nayan

She taught me the art of bunking class, by sneaking me out of several math classes at Cotton College. In August 2010, she called me up to inform that she got engaged to a man she had barely known for a couple of months, being a dutiful daughter and approving a match engineered by their respective parents. I am wary of the ‘arranged marriage‘ tag. But my worries were baseless, there is no fixed time frame for love. It is an instinct. You just know it. They were married in less than six months. The baby arrived shortly after their first wedding anniversary. Everything in her life had been fast paced; marriage, baby. But she had juggled her career, home, husband, and a baby with an inspiring confidence, learning by trial and error, making adjustments, setting the foundation of her own little world. I realize that she had made the right choices. Recently during an event, I saw her smoothen a crease on his coat lapel and he looked down at her and smiled; the contentment and understanding between them became palpable.

6. Rahul and Garima
He has the innate talent of charming the women around him. Flings and flirtations surrounded him, but he always got out of them with an impish smile. She contradicts his every facet; yet ironically complements him, bringing some much needed stability to his life. They dated for nearly a decade; overcoming differences in culture and background (Assamese vs Punjabi), parental opposition, distance and long years of waiting; and finally got married four years ago. That’s my cousin and bhabhi. Their love story had all the elements of a stereotype Bollywood movie; yet their perseverance triumphed in the end. And now they are the parents of an adorable baby boy.

7. Barsha and Manash

They are two of the most wonderful people I have ever known. He had always been my favourite cousin owing to his sobriety and pleasant personality. And she complements him so well. Theirs was a match doctored by relatives; which was followed by a courtship long enough to allow love and understanding to seep in and grow roots. They had been married for seven years now, and their smiles continue to light up the room, wherever they go. My nephew is their pride and joy.

These are a few of the love stories that had endured adversities or long years of adjustments; and had taught me the value of compatibility, trust, perseverance, and even healthy compromise. There are many more stories that I had witnessed, a few of which cannot be described in mere words, gradually subduing my cynicism and cautiousness towards love. My heart is so drunk on love as I write these words, reliving and remembering these stories, re-affirming a belief that had threatened to dwindle.
Enjoy this young month; dabble in love, and soak in the sunshine.

The Forgotten Dialect of Heart

The Forgotten Dialect of Heart

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind’s labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not language but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.

-Jack Gilbert

november night

in a room with turquoise walls
the radio plays a syncopated hum
and sitting in low wicker chairs
he kisses long fingers and a palm
gazes, unsure and shy, form memories
of navy boots tapping on a wooden floor
of a black dress veiling soft white breasts
stubborn curls, open smiles, and more
mildewed curtains and hearts flutter
lips blow cool air into steaming cups of tea
the trivial, everything, makes them smile
and eyes crinkle in shared gaiety
 
the unsaid runs parallel to the said
each moment unmasks a vulnerability
will she, does he, when we, maybe
a november night rife with such possibility

 

Book Spine Poetry from My Library

The Waves,
French Lover;
Memoirs,
A Moveable Feast.

 

If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller
Lifting The Veil,
Great Expectations;
Girl With A Pearl Earring.

 

In Praise of Idleness
Speak, Memory;
More Great Stories,
The Age of Innocence.

Weekend

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou
lovest best.
Night, sleep, and the stars.

-Walt Whitman

The magic hour when all the ideas are yours and the pillow is soft and the windows are open and the moon throws oblong shadows on your bed and the cicadas sing and the breeze softly brushes your feet.

I have been reading poems. Poems about love and desire, life and death, spring and autumn, hope and despair, books and travels, men and women, days and nights, time and eternity. Poems by Walt Whitman, E.E. Cummings, Pablo Neruda, Rabindranath Tagore, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou,John Keats and Sylvia Plath. Poems that exhilarate me, kindle flaming hopes, drown me in despair, bind me in a realm of fantasy, curl my toes, awaken myriad questions, isolate me, melt me into the unknown, swirl my soul and harbinger a good night’s rest.


I have also been reading a book that caused furrows in my mother’s forehead when I had unpacked it in front of her. It is Mario Vargas Llosa’s ‘The Bad Girl‘. This is the book I chose to linger the charm of ‘Aunt Julia and The Scriptwriter‘. A flip of forty pages and I’m thrown into Miraflores teenagers and Parisian bureaucrats,  bad girl who toys with the heart of a good boy, Peruvian guerrilla warfare and military coup. I vainly try to curb the erotomania for authors that seduce me with their words; this desire to devote my entire being to their genius and gaining a scandalously long list of potential lovers in the form of Hemingway, Pamuk, Nabokov, Chekhov, Saki, Jules Verne and now Mario Vargas Llosa.

I felt around in the dark for the switch that operates the need to stay connected and be within reach of a writing wall, 140 words or a beeping mailbox icon; then turned it off for the weekend. I read poems and the novel, I crossed off items in my ‘to study’ list, I took catnaps, I listened to Nat King Cole and even ‘The Kooks’, I watched a Woody Allen movie, and I got scared by a pigeon on my bathroom window. I heard the song ‘Tokari‘ by Papon and couldn’t stop the tapping foot and the heart bursting with a blazing love for Assam. I read the obituary of Armstrong and at night watched the moon that he walked on, and the space where a woman of Indian origin is still floating in, with gravity defying hair framing her face.

I basked in much needed solitude; it is so addictive, I think I will continue it till it gets on my nerves.

The Corner Lamp Post

The creases on the paper, from reading too much,
From hands running over the familiar slant of letters.
A night by the window, remembering and reading,
Feverish declarations of love in black ink;
A date and time as post-script, six hours away.
Crimson suffused indigo skies, the soft twilight of winter;
A dark silhouette languidly walks the empty streets.
Heart aflutter! The face in the window, aglow!
Frenzied fingers tame hair and lips redden in anticipation;
A hurried flight down creaky stairs, as the world sleeps.

Cocooned in an embrace, drunk on unspoken promises,
The joy of knowing that he chose her and she chose him.
A wave of shyness as eyes meet, lower and look again;
Yellow light floods the young faces, breath fogs up,
And fingers entwine around the corner lamp post.

Mornings

A watchman’s whistle clocks four,
I wake up on the familiar cue;
Flickers of consciousness stream in:
A dark room, the whirr of the fan,
A soft pillow, a book underneath,
The comfort of knowing-I’m Me.
Like a monk, reveling in solitude,
I sit at my desk, my nest;
Wrapped in an old, powdery quilt.
Impatient thoughts spill over,
A page fills, and then another,
In the light of a yellow lamp.
An hour passes, the ink dries;
I sit on the window ledge,
Damp from last night’s rain.
The first light enters my room,
A Monet Sky, A Van Gogh sky,
Crimson arteries of the sun.
The petrichor seduces, I give in;
Gypsy toes wriggle into shoes,
Steps into the mellow morning.
A dewy blanket leaks sunshine,
Breeze, birds, feet on cobbled path:
The dawn chorus greets me.
Mossy tree trunks, bamboo thicket,
A lazy dog, birds on electric wires,
Ripples of a pebble on a pond,
A leafy canopy sheltering anthills;
I watch  them as legs defy fatigue,
A meditative stride, a content mind.
I live from morning to morning,
Waking up to the delights of spring,
Where happiness is a bougainvillea.
The world awakes, solitude threatened;
And I walk on the road to home,
Coffee and conversations await me.

Haiku & Sumi Ink

 Slice of moon
The dew-laden leaves shimmer
Are they black opals?

 Sweaty fingers link
Clumsy feet tread on hers
First dance of love

 Cocoon of wisdom
Myriad tales of love and loss
Grandmother’s bun

Sleepless nights
I wait by my window
Silvered shadows walk

 Scent of jasmine
Raven black tresses fan out
The pillow tangles them

 Fleeting thoughts
An old kiss comes to mind
I forget the year

 Smoky wooden oven
Cheese melts into thin crust
A slice of heaven

 A veil of icicles
Bejeweled the naked tree
Winter delight

 She will write
In vermillion stained pages
A story of love

 I wait for the sun,
My room will glow orange,
Like the brewing tea.

 The words come slowly
Waiting at the end of each page
The ink is not yet dry

 Her bare shoulder
Finesse of an ivory arc
Like tonight’s moon

Evening breeze
The frail leaves rustle
Like a cobra’s hood

 Woods in winter
Squirrels peep from burrows
A couple reads

 Pack a little bag
Soar across cottony skies
Gypsy at heart

 A lone maple leaf,
Orange in a sea of grey,
You caught my eye.

Swirling caramel hues
Wispy steam warms the face
My morning coffee

 An old love letter
Papery petal to rich plum
The kisses revive

 In the old room
An oblong patch of sunbeam
I sat there often

Winter morning
A bare tree watches over me
I read Dickens

Words

 In old library
Read Dante by candlelight,
As moths ate words.

A pregnant red bus
The faces unnerve you,
An old friend waves.

 

I draw the curtains,
Killing a patch of sunbeam,
A peeping neighbour.

Insomnia,
I watch silvered shadows walk
On a moonlit path.

A mute observer
Veiled in leafy vines,
Chameleon of a door.

Old tales revive
As one combs a sister’s hair,
Time halts to smile.

 

(Photo courtesy: millyonair.files.wordpress.com, lucasusual.com, 123rf.com, www.kershisnik.com)

4am Haiku

A lone maple leaf,

Orange in a sea of grey,
He caught my eye.

I wait for the sun,
My room will glow orange,
Like the brewing tea.
Long winter night,
A tear soaked pillow,
Dry by morning.
An empty inbox,
With a thousand mails;
 I wait yet again.
To a day in June,
Wind back all the clocks,
He sat beside me.

A withering past,
Turns a fresh page of life, 
I draw a rainbow.
Pine tree woodlet,
A home in the hills,
Love has an address.

A sunlit fjord,
Eyes alight with laughter;
Many drowned.

Evenings

As the starry sky slowly shelters us,
I want the moonbeams to shine on you;
Reminding you of a love in utopia.
Thoughts fleet across the evening sky,
Like fireflies, aglow with love;
I wonder whether you think of me too.
An echo of you saying my name,
A shared laugh, a walk with you;
Nostalgia thrives, and I’m near you again.
Giving up on hope is never easy,
I surrender to its futility;
Even love seems near in this evening air.
I watch the evening drift into night;
Ending this indefinite wait, come,
Just hold my hand; words can come later.

Vulnerability

A brown shirt,
Laugh lines,
Impish gaze,
Beautiful hands,
The way my heart stopped,
A much loved voice,
Vivid images,
Memories nonetheless.

Took a chance,
Said out loud;
Vulnerability exposed,
Bruised and abused.
Numbness prevailed,
Hope died a slow death.
Past lessons reviewed,
Same mistake, yet again.

Fell in love,
Gave my heart;
Unasked for,
Unwanted, a pesky burden,
Tossed away ever so far.
Cumulative hurt,
Bottled away again,
As busy life awaits.

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A Simple Question

Do you see me?
Do you sense my eyes on you?
Do you appreciate my caring for you?
Do you know I go out of my way to help you?
Do you fathom the long waits I endure just to catch a glimpse of you?
Do you observe how clumsy, apprehensive and nervous I am around you?
Do you notice the smile I can’t hide each time we meet?
Do you detect my avoiding you at times just to calm my pounding heart?
Do you understand how scared I am about trusting you with my life?
Do you perceive my eagerness to know you like I know myself?
Do you realize how hard it is for me not knowing what you feel about me?
Do you know I love you?
Do you?

The Last Day of August

They shake their heads grimly

Eight stern eyes follow her heaving chest,
A hand shoots forward to feel her feeble pulse,
She’s barely there, a wretched existence;
Plagued with a disease the poor can’t afford,
She peeps at us through her half-closed lids,
And attempts a weak smile for her saviors.
Her knight in shining armor had left at fifteen,
Impregnating her with a son at thirteen,
The son abandoned her at twenty-eight.
Mere numbers became agonizing milestones.
Her wrinkled mother seated at her side,
Pats the hand of a daughter without a youth.
The rush in the general medicine ward,
Masks their sighs and silent tears.
I look away; it is just another ‘case’,
One I can afford to allot ten minutes everyday,

Ten minutes that haunts me the rest of the day,

Her mother searching a sign of hope in my eyes.
The doctors pronounce their verdict,
A day till she leaves covered in a shroud.

I knew it would happen, but it breaks me,

5:45am, 31st August, 2010;
I check her death certificate,
She died an old woman of 30.

Healed

Flawed can he be?

When he unfailingly corrects my mistakes,
Even the ones I never knew of.
‘You can never do anything right’,
A pitying smile across his face,
He reminded me ever so.
Disrespectful can he be?
When politeness exudes from his every pore;
As he instructs how I should behave,
And the millionth time I should touch his parents’ feet.
After all one can never be too well-mannered,
He reminded me ever so.
A pervert can he be?
Calmly explaining that true love yields to groping hands,
How eye fucking every passing female is a male right.
Describing his past in uncalled for sexual detail,
Explaining how my prudery can’t be true love
He reminded me ever so.
A liar can he be?
When there’s a reason behind every mistake,
Reasons that put the wildest imagination to shame,
Fully sure of acceptance by a loving heart.
‘I never lied, I never lie, and I will never lie’,
He reminded me ever so.
Fake can he be?
As his self-proclaimed virtues become never-ending,
Every detail about him gets shady each day.
But he knows a foolish heart would overlook it,
Dare he lie to my heart about his whole existence?
He reminded me ever so.
Excruciating shame,
Unparalleled anger,
When my foolish heart finally saw through,
How I’d loved a scum,
How I’d hurt my family,
How precious years were wasted,
How self-respect was belittled,
How I fled too late,
His memories reminded me ever so.
Let go of the dirt,
Uncluttered my mind,
Snipped off memories,
Of mistakes, wrong choices,
Healed, Healed, Healed.

The Walk Between Sunset and Moonrise


I halt at sunset, forever it seems;
The darkness unsettling,
Mirroring the shadows I take refuge in.
Caught in a tiring dilemma;
The day I cannot return to,
A night I dread to enter.
Past failures, present indecisiveness,
Future unpredictability haunts me.
Time is past, the battle lost;
And I must never emerge from my shell.

And then a brave new hope…

I walk towards the moonrise,
Stepping on, are those past failures?
Emboldened each moment,
I take small steps, surer steps.
Something brings hope,
Blows away uncertainties.
I search for my old self,
Perhaps looming in the distant horizon;
But a better self is mirrored back,
Now, this moment; I am she.
Unburdening the inferiority and pessimism,
I break into a run.

Is that a brighter light I see?

I run towards the dawn.
Time’s ticking away;
No use mourning the moments lost,
I would lose some more.
To catch up would be tough,
To surpass, euphoric.
I see it now, my goal, definite and clear;
The remoteness doesn’t scare me,
Nor will that darkest hour before dawn,
The one with wagging tongues, critical stares,
Deadly impatience and relapses into self-pity.
Translating this strong self-belief into action,
I shape my destiny;
And I run, like never before,
Towards the inviting new day.

Photo Courtesy: http://larsvandegoor.deviantart.com/art/Count-Your-Blessings-155154145

Well Wisher

Wake up my dreams,
Envision them; revel in the pictures they paint.
Lost in infinity, a billion lives intermingle;
Lurking among them, don’t remain.

Witness my life, each moment,
In you, a mentor, a protector I search;
Shield the blows, cushioning me so,
Hold my hand, steady my stumbling steps,
Encourage my ventures into the unknown,
Remain forever, if you will, my well wisher.

P.S: This is for my well-wishers who have always believed in me, encouraged me and saw me through many a difficult time. Thanks a ton. I will always be grateful to you all.

Pure Delight

Pulsating through her very being
Untamed, fervent, inexplicable…a feeling so strong,
Riveting is its course, unyielding to fluid;
Erupting in unison, the euphoric tremors.

Desires escalated, feverish fantasies reigned,
Emboldened by this new power, and exploring;
Lust and love osmosed into one,
Infusing each moment with warmth;
Gripping was the journey, and the union,
He is in her arms now, finally;
Taming, enticing, loving, espousing this man…pure delight!

(First attempt at poetry after six years. I have a major writer’s block when it comes to expressing emotions through poetry. But anyways, here it is…)

Photo Courtesy http://adiberlin.deviantart.com/art/hidden-121232601