To somebody that I used to love

Dear A,
How are you? 
I know you're not doing well,
and neither can I.
You turned twenty two months ago, and it's summer break now—
Youth and time: the perfect combination, right?

But I know you resent your twentieth birthday
with the same seething passion you could never love me with.
I know you resent it because after that day,
you stabbed your soul so hard 
that its shriek shook the heart you'd strung up on a torture rack,
and your soul hasn't sung since;
Not like it used to do,
not like it was supposed to do 
with the vodka-spiked tea of youth running through your veins
I can see it's mute;
your blank slate empty of creation 
littered with your torn-up hair instead.

To tell you the truth, A, 
I've been devoid of creation too.
I can no longer seem to create pretty things
so I've turned into a vulture for them:
I scavenge for beauty now,
Blacking out words in old newspapers
to dig up poetry in that manner you hated
Hunting for bits of paper and shiny little things
to assemble in my scrapbooking journal
in that 'aesthetic instagrammy' manner you so despise
And I find that discarded beauty in my broken house 
so that I'm arms deep in its cracks, 
fingers fumbling for fulfilment
Even so, I am glad;
at least I'm not scavenging for sadness 
like you used to do.

Do you still make your 5s like squiggly S's, A?
Because you rented room 505 for a lifetime
in the hope that someone would read it as SOS,
And your yearning is a poor veil 
for the love you could never afford yourself
so you look for others to spare some for you—
Perhaps that is why you chose to break yourself
so you could kintsugi yourself back in place,
Be better, stronger, more beautiful, more artistic 
but still not something that hunger could be satiated with.

The other day I heard you load the gun of adulthood 
to shoot your dreams in the head
And sharpen your paper knife 
to cut lines in their fat greasy thighs.
I know because I found the bullet holes still sizzling
the bloodless cuts (you could never cut that deep)
still unhealed on the body in your backyard—
Now a body,
because you could only create on the fumes of despair
for so long before the fuel ran out.
Didn't I tell you, A, 
your suffering had no meaning in the first place?

You thought you were a sinkable ship
but it turns out you're doomed to float forever.

Let me help you float undoomed.

Because I may not love you now
but I want to, by god I want to love you.
So let me rip the band-aids off healed wounds
and gently peel the bandages off pits of blood to check on their state
Because I see you, because I am you, because I perch in your stabbed soul
and I may not be the hope Dickinson told of so fondly
but I certainly have feathers, although small,
I do have the spark that could light your way to get that heart off that black rack—
A will-o-the-wisp, if you will—
I'll teach you to arrange the pieces you thought you'd lost along the way
in that scrapbook manner I like,
and it will all make sense.

Youth comes after

"It's the month of poetry
and I have nothing to write about—
Each sunset and leaf
Each tempest and grief
already expounded on—
I'm all out of steam now
Everything I had to say, I said when I was young,"
I say.

And when were you young?

You have been old all your short life, my love,
When before today have you slunk
onto the forbidden fifth floor of that campus building
that no one even knew you could go to,
When else have you so overused
the phrase 'alone, but not lonely'
When else have you walked into love
with yourself, eyes wide open, voluntary,
and felt a quiet kind of thrill,
a cool kind of warmth
on art-and-coffee dates with yourself,
When, before today, has your ink not run out 
but your words have?

When else, sweet child of the rain,
have you yelled your heart into a mic on a stage
in a room full of 'chill' artists— if artists can ever be that—
Been hugged so long and so tight by a complete stranger,
felt like crying twice on the same day in the same place
and not romanticised it in rhythmless verses?
When else have you inhaled the pages of antique books
that you bought by the kilo, 
and been done with it in a couple of lines in a single poem;
When else have your palms run out of room
for fallen blooms?

When else, when before, my darling,
have you cheered at an acapella and a rainbow fashion show
with the person you're still too afraid to call 'best friend'
When else have you sucked at bowling
or fallen on your ass off a tiny skateboard
and felt your hand a jigsaw puzzle piece
as that boy helped you up,
When else has that fun girl from your class
been your partner in tiny crimes
or that chatty big-brother-figure classmate
called you the 'crouching moron hidden badass goth girl'
When else have you indulged in little adolescent pleasures
too unpoetic to write about?

For you, beloved of the winter stars,
time runs backwards.
For these are only the newest-born sprigs of youth
that you might think pruned away too quickly
even before they've had the chance to breathe,
and you will think joy fleeting technicolour
glitching in the old noir television set of life,
But to think joy a firecracker and sorrow a candle
is a bit double-standard, don't you think?

You are yet to pat the puppy's head a bit too forcefully
You are yet to set the milk jugs precariously close to the edge
You are yet to accumulate enough air in your lungs
to blow out that seemingly everlasting candle, I know,
But heart,
I have yet to see another still beating
after so often being beaten within inches of its life,
I have yet to cup a face in my hands
of someone so dimmed yet so alive.

Remember when your sister told you 
she saw the evening in your soul?
You have not yet felt young, oh you, beautiful old,
But what is more youthful than the evening
more brimming with possibility
serene yet buzzing with quiet current-generator hums
colourful yet perfumed with the greyed earth—
Don't you see? 
The dusk is yet to dawn.

I know it is unfair for it to be all rocks
and you barefoot,
For the tunnel so long and you exhausted,
I know you will keep retreating
into the familiar comfort you do not want
yet still, unbeknownst, cling to,
For I am but a corporeal hand for you to hold,
but I promise I will be enough
and will keep holding you even when you do not.

You are artist, my dear, not art,
to be strung up on a wall and admired,
You create 
to destroy some, to birth some, to feel some—
and feeling one does not incapacitate the other
as neither does a moment's absence equal annihilation
of the self, or peace, or joy,
which are just as worthy
as detachment, or chaos, or distress are.

'Happiness' has not stopped 
being a loaded gun of a word.
There exist still, inside you
vampires feeding on your blood
hellhounds baying for more 
servings of lava
Demons, nightmares all
that you have yet to catch in the net woven of language
The same language whose kite strings
have yet to set free seraphims
orchestrating pegasi hungry for flight
and moon gods thundering to be alive.
The ocean of thought never dries up, for you are human
And words can certainly not leave now;
In fact, they are yet to come
for youth comes after,
Unwasted on the young.

5th April/ (4/30)/ Free verse

Special thanks to Starninja‘s comment which I plagiarised inspired some of the lines in this poem.

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

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’.