Tonight the night

Tonight the night does not seem as poetic
Tonight words feel like bile in my throat
The air stings like acid reflux in my nose
Today's one a.m. is not
a 'frenzy of poetish thoughts'
like that week-old note in my phone
yet to be turned into a poem
Tonight I turn on the light instead.

Tonight feels strange,
that strange taste of water melted from ice
Caged
oppressive heat despite the air conditioner
brain crouched in a low growl
as if a stomach empty despite dinner.

Tonight there are eyebrows knit, teeth grit
hunched over trusty 'poem notebook'
in the itchy light shadowing scratchy Pierre Cardin strokes
irking insomniac incomprehension
into trying to untangle itself, not helping,
Like a concerned mother interrupting her weirdo kid in the middle of a midnight poem.

Tonight there is scribbled squiggly squeaky-cleaning
of midnight-tinted rose-rimmed glasses—
Look at it, it's just a quiet time of the day,
Nothing inherently artistic
Nothing, in fact, is inherently anything—
Our mere existence warps their realities,
we're people-shaped gravity-toting holes
in the space where air should be
Air, heavy feather, with its ticklish brain sneeze,
Cannot oppress the lifeless, at least, into breathing;

so tonight the night does not breathe.
Though somehow hammers away, black-
smith incessant at the forge of a sleepless head
Confusing about confusion about confusion—
Tonight the night is a dead thing
merely playing at being alive.

19th April/ (9/30)/ 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

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

I and the Sky

On Friday evening, I took my SOS pill—
you know, the Slave Of Suicide one?
I picked up my planisphere obscured 
my phone's torchlight with a finger,
And instead of looking down from my balcony,
I looked up
looked up at him, Orion, the hunter constellation
My constellation
And held on to his belt.

I held on to his triple-star belt
And consulted my planisphere— I was going to try and find
not myself, but other constellations today
like my life depended on it
(because it did) after much trial-and-error,
I discovered I'd been mirroring him all along.

I'd been looking up at my hunter
the wrong way all these years
His bow is on the opposite end of Betelgeuse, you idiot
and that's why you haven't discovered anything else yet.

People ground themselves at the north star 
while stargazing
But I say the north star is overrated
I won't make a single star my guiding light—
my guide is a man made out of stars. 

And that night, I didn't feel my neck aching
(to be slit) from looking up for too long;
I was a child, my playground the night
sky, I learned the names of stars
and found constellations with my Orion—
Canis major and minor, Gemini, Auriga
(Taurus was concealed by the citylights)
I even created my own constellation,
I nicknamed stars;
I and the Sky
shared a lot of inside jokes that night. 

When I was done frolicking through the sky
and sitting back singing Space Oddity, I saw
that the most serendipitous of stars
had also been the dullest—
Very literally, 
In the darkest of nights,
the faintest of stars were the brightest of lights.

River Song had said in an episode of Doctor Who
that you love the stars,
but you don't expect them to love you back—
But sitting there in that chair I felt
The gusts of life through my hair and I realised,
I realised the stars did love me back.

On this day, when I was choking on my own brain
The day I was relapsing into the empty,
The universe embraced me in its galactic arms
caught me in its welcoming palm
soothed me with a forehead kiss saying, Look,
Look here, take out your forgotten planisphere
and today I'll uncloud your eyes,
so you can see all the patterns in the sequins embroidered
in this upturned black bowl that you've been missing.

And maybe it was just the SOS pill
Or the thrill
of finding paintings in the stars,
but in that moment, I felt them loving me back
filling my hollow body with their supernoval cores,
From a million light-years away, I felt loved.
Maybe it's temporary, or my hyperactive imagination,
but I don't care— I didn't pick up the kitchen's sharpest knife,
I didn't need anyone else that day
For the stars themselves had begged me to stay.

5th April/ (5/30) / Free verse

Silent Night, Holi Night

Holi eve night
I can't see any stars in the black canopy of the sky
But she's there, beautiful, reduced to a centrepiece
For strangers to worship and attach stories to
Who look at her, but don't see— they love themselves
Too much
So they chatter and dance and have fun
Somebody I don't know offers me a sweet
I decline;
My senses are absorbed, 
For even though the sky is dark
She's there, scattering stars of sunset shimmering
Out for the night to inhale.

A girl films her swaying in slow motion to her own rhythm
Oblivious to the loud folk music on the community speakers
I have not brought my camera.
The girl's phone whites out her beauty
Turns her blossoming tongues of magma
Into featureless dazzling white
This is why I did not bring my camera.

But I have brought my heart.

So even though I know that all the metaphors
About her mercurial magnificence
That flood my brain like her anbaric rivulets,
All the poems I could write
That will white out her beauty
Have already been written;
I let my words flow and engulf this page
Like her flames do the wood
I let my words flow because I love the fire.

I love the fire so I come closer,
Even though I can feel her warmth from afar I
Can't help but come closer;
My skin cries tears of sweat
My brain yells at me to step back—
But all I can do is bask in the warmth she radiates
Let my pupils dilate with her heat
And my blood fill with the divinity of Prometheus's stolen treasure.

She is a slice of the Sun on the Earth
And a soothing sliver of the moon
Expectorating fireflies;
All I can do is marvel at her supernova core
All I can do is look, and yet.

I look at her and I want to burn in her,
Dive into her heart and burn
I'll just be another log, some more kindling
That makes her hiss and sizzle and crackle in glee
But I want to feel her sear my bones from within
Like she's seared my heart from without.

Now the stick pyramid falls but she burns on
For she never needed that structure to exist—
She's a force of nature, hair flying wild
And as the wood falls I want to fall too
Fall to my knees in front of her, eyes closed
And evaporate;
Be the Icarus in her tranquil orange lustre
That beautifies the ugliest with her summertime incandescence
And fills this empty pitcher with ichor
That overflows and splashes these pages
With the fiery passion inside. 

1st April/ (1/30) / Free verse

Ode to Skin

You, the fabric that covers my bones
In all its tanned brown glory
You, the canvas of my emotion
And also its shelter.
For you are the thin line, the boundary, the border
Separating, protecting
This convoluted rabbit hole of an inner world 
From the outer one.

You are the curtain, the doorway, the membrane
The universe must sear through 
Before it sears me.
With all your intricate layers 
That you cast off and renew
You are the shield
All scars must get through.

You are the vessel, the marionette, the coffin
That encapsulates my soul in its worldly warmth,
Packing supernovas and blackholes and a gooey conscious
Into a five-five body for the cosmos to comprehend,
The sluice gate which confines my cyclones in
And lets my tsunamis slip through in solitude.

You are the companion, the slave, the master
Born with me, liquid milk, you
are what the world touched first. 
You'll live through the hormonal hurricanes of my youth
Till finally the liquid milk unfolds its wrinkled layer
To be blown on and pulled off by the icy warm fingers of death
And dissolved in the flames of earth's remembrance.

You are the yielder, the rebel, the healer,
Submitting your forests to razed
And your land to cut or dug or burnt           you
Endure it all with nary a sob
And yet, you are strong. 
You are strong, not malleable,
For you never give in, my beautifully stubborn rebel you
Come back,                        slowly,                              quietly
Your silent rejuvenation your powerful protest. 

You are the transmitter, the receiver, the storer
That feels the elements and etches them into itself
Memories and secrets only you and I know;
The raindrops that slip under the umbrella,
The wind in my face on a bicycle ride,
The yellow warmth of the winter sunshine,
The soft dewed grass under a tree in my toes.
You            
are what turns moment into memory.

You many not be pretty, or uniform, or perfect
But that is why you are human
You are tangible
And most importantly, 
You
Are mine.