Prose-tinted Glasses S1, E3

E1- 1984 | E2- The Handmaid’s Tale

Hello and welcome back to the series which is updated once in six months, where I look at the world through the ideas in a popular book that most of us only pretend to have read. And I subject you to the essays I would’ve written had I been an English Literature major. (Not to brag but y’all gave me an A+ the last two times so I guess I could replace ‘subject’ with ‘treat’ *wink*).

Guess which book we’re doing today. It can’t really be called a modern classic, but it’s not Paradise Lost-old either. You’ll be able to guess; I’ll give you two words: psychology and quiet.

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Mahamariyat 1- The two lamps

Sehdev was almost there. After crossing out his calculations and diagrams more times than he’d care to admit, it seemed this time he was finally going to get it right. Oh yes, here it was, Jupiter in the sixth house—

“What the fuck?!” Nakul’s sudden exclamation made him jump almost ten feet into the air. His focus was broken, and now he’d have to this alignment all over again. Damn his idiot brother to Paatala.

He turned around to yell some obscenities at him but had barely opened his mouth when Nakul started his little rant, his angry chiselled face lit by his phone’s blue light.

“Again? Arjun gets more likes again? Look at all these thirsty people in the comments. ‘Ooh, all that blood and sweat only makes you hotter. I’d take a blow from the Brahmastra just to—‘ “ Nakul was reciting in a mockingly shrill voice before he stopped, apparently disgusted by whatever came next.

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If Apollo had a conscience

A saying known about me goes today—
'Apollo loves you? You are screwed to hell'
I could smite all mouths which these words say
I won't, though; for that's the truth, I can tell.

My endless power to heal, what good does it bring?
I fail to save even those whose love I won
Their fates forever sealed with Hades' ring
The sea or the earth seems higher up than the sun.

Though how do I shield from the arrows of erosy?
The boundless beauty of mortal souls attracts
A disease which seems to have no remedy
My heart, it shies, away from loveless contracts.

To the deity of augurs, fate, his own, concealed
But try, I will, to keep all feeling sealed.

30th April/ (15/30) / Shakespearean sonnet

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City sunsets

Sunsets in the city
aren't the most romantic affair— you see,
there's no sun-dipping-into-the-horizon
(because there is no horizon)
no distant crash of waves
or the chirping of unknown birds,
(Though you might just get a nice breeze if you're lucky)
there's no fire in the hearth slowly going out.

But leaning here against the balcony's railing
Gazing at the sky you just know
you just feel the sun setting
And a slight smile creeps up your lips
and you feel the railing's warmth
which has had time to heat up the entire day,
but also its strangely soothing metallic cool.

You just know you're watching a sunset
without watching the sun set—
In the gradient of the sky
blue, then a hint of thunderstorm grey,
soft lamplight orange, then lovely, lovely pink
before finally descending
into the grey-blue of the oncoming night.

The oncoming night,
which does not fall, but rises
Though not before that flock of birds
stops tracing figures-of-eight in the dusk
then zeroes, and gets thinner and thinner
as each bird alights on the 'chosen one' tree,
Not before that lone kite
stops floating in the swirls and eddies
of the streetlight wind,
Not before you finally notice
the mosquitoes in your feet
and wish those powerlines in front of your house
cutting through every view
would just disappear forever,
Not before you still heave a contented sigh
and go back inside,
missing it already.

26th April/ (14/30) / Free verse

Ode to Joy

No, I’m no Beethoven, but I’ll try
to do you justice, joy;
Not a lot of poems are dedicated to you, are they?
We’re all depressed poets here, yearning for you,
spilling our sorrows out onto paper,
out into the world, in the hope
that when we’ve spilled it all, we may calm down
the storm inside us and find you as a remnant 
And see you, experience you, bathe in you—
But when we do, we never write poems to you, do we?

We’re afraid, joy, that if we revel too much
in your sun-scented, waxing crescent moon-washed arms
and share this fullness we finally feel
inside our bodies, parched for so long,
we’ll end up losing you. Or maybe
we’re just speechless,
for you’re not much of a writing prompt, are you?
But then, so aren’t our lives supposed to be:
Vomiting pain helps, yes, but romanticising not.
Nobody romanticises you, do they, joy?

But what is there to romanticise?
How can I paint a picture or write a poem
that’s beautiful enough to capture your likeness?
For joy, oh, true joy, now that I feel you
now that I feel this rainbow ocean of butterflies
this calm zephyr of sunrise
the still, satisfied millpond of moonlight
engulfing my heart I feel
That you were worth it,
That I am worth it.

Maybe it’s you healing your way up through me
but somehow, somewhere I feel
that you are worth the demons
that have made me feel angelic today,
you are worth the pain, the suffering, the struggling
the chaos, the storms, the blackholes, the voids
all the metaphors I have used for my grief
are now washed away with your gentle breath
that finally caresses the skin of my soul;
After all, one cannot feel joy 
if one has not known despair.

Joy, oh sweet, pure joy,
You are not a party popper
Or bungee-jumping in the rain—
I feel your tranquility, your finality
in the ichor now coursing through my veins
and in the healing of well-deep wounds
that now seem shallow, oh, so shallow
before your benign, fulfilling presence
that leaves the air inside me smelling of roses.

Oh, what a moment it was, 
Swelling with mellifluous melody
as you peeled the glasses of gloom off my eyes—
that'd been there so long, I'd forgotten they were glasses—
that had shown doom as the answer to life
You, joy, you show people life
needs no answer— it is life, it is us
that we live for, and it is you
that makes it worth our while. 

Pure, all-calming, persistent joy
You came when I least expected you to
led in by my home: Mummy, Cas, and Dean and Sam
grown and nurtured by me;
And I know not whether I will have you tomorrow
or the day after, or next week, or next month,
For I am no seer, sweet joy, my dear
But I will let the slow chocolate fudge of your walnut brownie melt on my tongue
and you have been here for a week,
and I feel you inside me now
And that is what matters. 

25th April/ (13/30) / Free verse

Why nature poems

I'm not saying nature will heal you
The cure, after all, depends on the nature of the wound
But being near a tree can give you oxygen anew

Which really isn't much of a breakthrough
When inside your mind, you know you're doomed
So even if it could, nature won't heal you

But you're so exhausted there's nothing you can do
Cry and relate to the songs that melancholy singer crooned
But unlike a tree, it won't give you oxygen anew.

What's wrong with planning a little rendezvous
With the sunset flowers in the park that have bloomed
Don't expect healing— nature can't do that to you

But the colour of that butterfly can blot out your blue
Even if temporarily, it'll pull out the endless thread of gloom
And bonus: the trees will give you oxygen anew.

This dusky horizon that the sun dips into
Can't replace your shrink; without a ship, you're marooned
Stars, animals, nature— it's not their job to heal you
But that tree can surely give you oxygen anew. 

16th April/ (12/30) / Villanelle

Sorry

Hi, I am sorry I said all that stuff to you
It wasn't me, alright? I'm sorry, please don't hate me.
I'm sorry I didn't tell you this sooner
It was my fault, alright? I'm sorry, please don't leave me.

I am sorry I keep saying 'I don't know'
I am sorry I'm unsure about everything
I am sorry I was dancing in my room two hours ago
And am crying tears of ballpoint pen ink in my diary now.

I am sorry for oversharing
I am sorry for not sharing
I am sorry for overthinking
I am sorry for not thinking at all
I am sorry for being so quiet
I am sorry for sniffling so loud, please go back to sleep
I am sorry for being too lazy, too cowardly to deal with my problems
I am sorry for thinking about them all day long
I am sorry for being so insecure 
I am sorry for believing there's nothing wrong with me at all
I am sorry for being an aloof ice-queen
I am sorry for holding on to you so tight
I am—

Hello, my name is Sorry
Before you make your complaint known, 
Please know I've slashed a neuron already
In compensation for your bereavement,
I hope this little murder of my self
Will be enough payment for my crime?
No? Well you know my name, 
So here's another cut for you, good sir
I hope the blood is red enough?
Thank you, have a nice day!

I am sorry I get triggered so easily
I am sorry I pretend not to give a fuck at all
I am sorry I can't tell the difference 
between what's real and what's not
I am sorry I disappear and stop talking
I am sorry I send you a thousand texts a day
I am sorry I blame the knife
When my bones themselves are double-edged swords
I am sorry I cannot figure out who I am
I am sorry for screaming into the void all day long
I am sorry all I write these days are sad-ass poems
And my blog, my napowrimo, seems like a giant shitpost
I am sorry I don't have a life
But am still living for some reason—
I am sorry for giving life a chance every moment
I am sorry for the six attempts I wear as badges;

Hello, my name is Sorry
I apologise for my trains of thought
That do not have a station
I apologise for feeling the way I feel
You'll have to forgive my brain, you see
It's... er... special, you understand
I humbly apologise, even though it's not my fault
I apologise for my existence
And the inconvenience it's caused you. 

13th April/ (11/30) / Free verse

On mute

Isn’t it fitting
That I lost my voice
Since no one hears it anyway
Screams muffled by a worn-out pillow
Or bouncing around in my skull
Bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing
Until they lose their amplitude and come out as silence
With imaginary black tornadoes of smoke.

Isn’t it fitting
That I lost my voice
Since no one listens anyway
When I talk to their blue screen-lit faces
Or brains absorbed in conversations 
With people who aren’t boring or perpetually distressed, like I am,
Negative, negative, negative, negative
I lie in the third quadrant, in the undeveloped picture,
A hole cut out into the fabric of the world’s positivity. 

Isn’t it fitting
That I lost my voice
Since no one understands anyway
Even if they manage to listen, they think they do
Curtains stitched out of presumptions
When they complete my sentences, and I just agree
Nodding, nodding, nodding, nodding
Like a bobblehead doll with a hollow plastic body
Brain too tired, too halted to bother correcting.

Isn’t it fitting
That I lost my voice
Since I never can speak anyway
I'm an inefficient steam engine, I consume
Too much and run too little, run out of 
Steam, words, thoughts, humanity
People tell me I'm good with words; but how?
When I can never turn myself into comprehensible language
That'd probably untangle dark threads of fires
Raging, raging, raging, raging
Never certain, ever swaying to unknown cacophonies
Which may be my own creations.

Isn’t it fitting
That I lost my voice
Since I don't have anything to say anyway
This girl is quiet, very reserved, hardly ever talks
One day she'll fall off her high horse, mark my words
Oh no, it's not attitude, she's just stupidly boring
You ask her to talk, make her part of this conversation
All that comes out is vague unoriginal remarks, she seems to be
Whispering, whispering, whispering, whispering
That volume's so low anyway
It might as well be on mute.

12th April/ (10/30) / Free verse

Paper listens

What is so special about paper
So inviting, that you spill your mind
Without a second thought you let yourself scream
As its alluring blankness drinks up all tears
Neither complaining nor probing, ever patient
Moulding chaos untamed into concrete.

It isn't easy to make vague abstract ideas concrete
Especially when you know it might crush you like paper
When your brain's a psychiatric ward, you the patient
Your own body playing cruel games of the mind 
And all you are is these rips and tears
These are all you see, and you can't even scream.

Hush, my dear, they'll come for you, don't scream
Just whisper till your throat fills with concrete
The aftermath of this hurricane is the silent rain of your tears
So you turn to pour them on your single-lined paper
It's the only one that listens, anyway, no one else pays any mind
Like Anne Frank said in her diary, paper is patient. 

That's dumb, it's just inanimate, not patient
Maybe, but at least it hears you scream
Stretches its blank canvas before your yearning mind
Makes your brain throw up, turning vomit into concrete
At the end of the day, all you have is paper
Massaging, inky feelings flowing, until you stop breathing tears.

Your eyes are now empty from filling up with tears
You're lost now— but be patient, you're both doctor and patient
You'll find yourself one day in these rustling sheets of paper
As your pen leaks on them your every single scream
Which materialise into jungles of concrete
For the therapist, another case study, another dissected mind. 

You know this space is which can be flooded by your mind
In peace, no judgment, even though it's so thin it tears
Like you, but don't you see, it's tough as concrete
For it shoulders the weight of your voice, so patient
Displaying the black ink soup crystallised in each scream
So bleed on it, darling, and admire the bloodstains on this paper.

Shape in concrete the products of your mind
All the paper you have will wrap warmly your tears
No longer will you be a patient of an eternal scream. 

11th April/ (9/30) / Sestina


Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m two days late, but I’ve caught the illness-that-must-not-be-named, and no, this is not the ‘new normal’. Say that phrase one more time and I’ll hunt you down, gouge out your eyeballs and shove ’em up your nostrils. Also, who’re you to complain? I wrote my first frickin’ sestina. A sestina. The internet tells me it’s a form poets dread, and I now know why, and I’ve written it while being three different kinds of not okay. And that too not a forced poem just for the sake of keeping my promise of a new poetic form every third day, but an up-close kind of poem. I dunno if it’s a good sestina or not, I’m no *googles who invented this obsessive form* Arnaut Daniel, but I’ve written it, it’s taken me an hour or so, excluding med breaks and food breaks and pee breaks and whatnot breaks, and you have the honour of laying your eyes on it. Just, allow me a drop of narcissism while I’m fresh off a cup of coffee, okay? Let me enjoy this for a moment before I descend back into self-deprecating ‘humour’.   

Fever

There are matchsticks lit
Behind my reddening eyeballs

The loo of the Indian northern plains
Those hot, dry, dusty gusts
Flow through my nostrils

My throat is a parched, cracked piece of land
Like desert sand,
It drinks and drinks and drinks
But the entire ocean could not quench its thirst—
It absorbs it all
Never wetting, ever dry
Coughing up nothingness

Tired
Heavy lids
I want to fall to my knees
Fall asleep
I feel Hypnos embracing
My tired, aching body
But he lets go
Lets go just on the edge

So I'm treading this line
Like the virus, who treads the line
Between living and non-living
I keep swaying on the borderline
Ever uncertain, never stable.

8th April/ (8/30) / Free verse