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.
"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.
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
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’.