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.
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.
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
कभी-कभी मेरे दिल में एक पुराने गाने की कुछ पंक्तियाँ आती हैं— 'पल भर के लिए कोई हमें प्यार करले, झूठा ही सही।' (देखा जाए तो सालों पहले ये गाना बता चुका था टिंडर का आना।) पर कभी-कभी मेरे दिल में यह भी ख़याल आता है, कि क्या यह गायक सचमुच चाहेगा झूठ-मूठ का प्रेम? क्योंकि आख़िर क्या है ये प्रेम? प्रेम वो जल है जो तुम्हारे सूखे गले कि प्यास बुझादे और भिगोकर पूरे दिन की थकान मिटादे, प्रेम वो पवन भी है जो तुम्हारे बदन को छूकर तुम्हारे गिले-शिकवे अपने साथ बहाकर ले जाए, प्रेम वो धरती भी है जिसपर नंगे पाँव चलकर तुम्हे घर जैसा महसूस होता है, प्रेम वो आकाश भी है जिसकी ओर तुम घंटों तक घूरकर उसकी विशालता में नहा सकते हो, और प्रेम वो अग्नि भी है जो तुम्हे जलाये नहीं, बल्कि अपनी गर्माहट में तुम्हारे ह्रदय को समेट ले। जानती हूँ मैं कि 'सच्चा प्यार' कितना घिसा-पिटा लफ़्ज़ है, जानती हूँ मैं कि ये पाया नहीं, बनाया जाता है, जानती हूँ मैं कि इसकी पंचतत्वी सुंदरता तभी मिलती है जब ये दो-तरफ़ा हो— लेकिन नहीं, किशोर दा, नहीं, ये दो-तरफ़ा प्यार अगर झूठा हो तो इसकी बाढ़ में डूबकर तुम मर जाओगे, इसके तूफ़ान में लिपटकर खो जाओगे, ज़िंदा दफ़्न होकर घुट जाओगे, आस्मां से गिरी बिजली का झटका सह ना पाओगे, आग कि लपटों में समाकर राख हो जाओगे— किशोर दा, दो दिन के झूठे इकरार की इतनी कामना न करो, तुम्हारी प्रियतमा तो भूल जायेगी तुम्हें इन दो दिनों के बाद पर तुम्हारी यादों में भटकते हुए रुलाती रहेगी तुम्हें, जलाती रहेगी तुम्हें तुम्हारे खून के तेल से; याद दिलाती रहेगी कि तुम्हें प्यार मिला भी तो भी वो एक नाटक ही था एक फ़िल्म का गाना ही था।
7th April/ (7/30) / 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
As cold water runs over my fingers I look in the mirror and notice the crimson staining my chapped lower lip And a dot of it on the teardrop in the centre of my upper lip it is nothing but a stain from the shredded Beetroot I ate with salt and lemon in the morning. But this beet stain on my lip makes me feel again, the beat of your heart with my lips on your soft neck My mouth feeling (the beat stain) pulse (running, running) of your vitality coursing underneath My fingers Clutching your shoulders (running, running) down your bare arms hot from your rushing blood but cold to me from the gibbous-moon gusts of the night. The beet stain brings your hushed body back Your hair, flying loose, a thin veil before my eyes as your hands squeezed mine and your heart beat fast (the beat stain) lipsticked mouth gaping wide to let out quick breaths (too much for your nose) and a moan echoing in finality with pain as my teeth drowned in your yielding flesh and my tongue tasted the blood (running, running) like a river down my throat your heart pounding out a final grand symphony reverberating in the flamenco through your arteries, your veins collapsing like your dilated pupils into kaleidoscopic irises that were always too reflective Of the beauty of humanity, your humanity to ever comprehend my lack of it Or (the beat stain) secrets concealed in my canines Until your heart stopped (running, running) And the last vestiges of your delicate life kept you from stumbling over forward pushed you into my waiting arms Your fingers still intertwined in mine, though limp I touched your bluing mouth with my (beat stain) lips and laid you down in the tall grass near the stream Gently My fingers no longer (running, running) down your sculpted body but only the mud in the bank embracing you For evermore.
4th April/ (4/30) / Free verse
Your basic love poem
Let me guess— you're in love and want to write them something Something that'll impress them and send their heart fluttering, Something like Ben's haiku for Beverly from It Winter fire, January embers, that crazy romance shit; But you ain't got a clue on how to poem And you're not shallow enough to commission an Instagram poet So you're over in your head and haven't got a clue? Worry not, children, mommy's here to help you. Let's start, we'll go top to bottom, then back to the top Let your heart overflow and just write till you drop; Don't worry, I'm just kidding, there'll be actual advice That might just get you that dreamy sunrise, Now open up your brain, listen, oil those gears And insert your beloved's qualities over here. For their hair, use some adjectives from that shampoo ad last night You know it gets all tangled but about its shine you must write, Now move on to the eyes, drown in their swallowing deep Just ignore the dark circles they get from too little sleep, You could throw in a line about the nose— well, not much there Just insert your beloved's qualities in here. Now we come to wanting to kiss those soft moist lips You don't mind they're actually chapped as potato chips, Tell them how holding their hand makes you feel the warmth of the sun Yep, that's a good line, make a little note, hon, Don't mention fireworks— of clichés you must steer clear And insert your beloved's qualities in here. Time to move on from the pretty face, warm hugs and embrace That person inside you want to be with all your days, Maybe they're smart and sincere, to which you tip your hat Or they're a total dumbass and you love them for that, Whatever their personality, just imagine them near And insert your beloved's qualities over here. Now romanticise the sound of their voice When you listen to them talk, everything else becomes white noise, Oh, it's actually nasal, shrill or guttural? Then focus on the conversation Or lie and paint them as Morgan Freeman's imitation, Don't write the sappy 'sweet nothings' you wanna whisper in their ear But insert your beloved's qualities over here. Last, talk about how their presence makes you feel inside Maybe you feel safe, happy, and bring out your better side, Or maybe you turn into a clumsy bumbling fool Or become a pretentious jackass in your attempt to look cool, Don't be cheesy and say you want February 14 with them each year Just insert your beloved's qualities in this poem here.
2nd April/ (2/30) / Not really free verse, I think. Rhyme with a refrain?
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
A sublime work of art
Perfect, so perfect.
Cloaked in black, like the night
My love, mahogany-brown
Every curve fitting in mine
The piece which completes my puzzle.
We don’t need violins and pianos,
My love, mahogany-brown
Symphonies play in our embraces,
And in the brushes of our fingertips.
Hollow inside but full, so full,
My love’s mahogany-brown
Richness flows into my soul,
Cathartic, lifting me from the world.
And even when my fingers are callused,
My love’s mahogany-brown
Smoothness will never roughen
Because immense purity is untouchable.