For the nameless gay cousin uncle

“Don’t take it personally,” 
my sister, also queer, says with a tired sigh.
“You know how they are.”
You see, distant relative I don’t even know the name of, 
They were talking about you this night. 

Dear Uncle, I know you have a little brother
who's probably the pride of the family—
he has a job, and a wife,
and a respectable well-settled life;
You wore eyeliner to a shaadi
and danced to Baby Doll. 

Dear Uncle, I'd known long before this night
the hatred in the hearts of this family 
for all the people who are 'others'
This family that could be so caring and kind,
and I had somehow loved them through it all;
Now, I cannot talk to my maama
without hearing his mocking laugh, saying
"I'll tell you why he isn't married yet"
Cannot look at my maami without reading the subtext of
"Because he likes men."
Cannot even smile at my own mother 
without replaying her dramatic gasp at this odd alien creature.

Dear Uncle, you don't know I exist
I don't know who you are
Yet I still feel that hot red spot
in the middle of my forehead
that opened like a furious third eye this night
But did not wreck loose any fireballs
that set about the end of the world
like your mere existence did.

Dear Uncle, I do not know
whether your kohl-lined smolder
was your personal gay yell from the rooftop
Or your 'earth-shattering' dance
was your tandava, your middle finger
to the family which never treated you like one—
I may never know, either, 
you will never read this poem
and if you do, I hope it's not over 
our shared pained smiles of the aching bones
our khandaan gives us someday. 

Dear Uncle, forgive me, 
For I will never be as brave as you are,
I can make my boiling blood simmer
until it spills and screams in the private ink of these pages,
but I could not fight the words that were said
with the immense heat that built up inside my head
—I was exhausted, and scared, and alone
But those are no excuses: to be a silent observer
is to be a part of the crime.

I'm a criminal, dear uncle, as I sit writing
this angry gay poem behind bars
around my throat
my throat which learnt to choke on its own
soon after it managed to open up last year,
if only to itself;
And you are this criminal's muse, dear uncle,
You have fused
this black ace ring permanently to my finger now
this magical metallic bolt that lets the closet stay open
and closed at the same time.

I wish I could let you know
that I took it personally, dear uncle—
I did not know you existed until today
and though my cowardly hands 
did nothing to stop that machine gun,
It made this unprecedented Picasso mosaic of my bones
Perhaps, close to, what it would've made of you.

Dear Uncle, I know none of my words will ever be enough
and I'm a cynic who doesn't buy that telepathic connection shit
But for today, just for today,
I want to believe that I'm there with you in spirit
wherever you are,
that you may feel some unexplained warmth
in this cold, cold, cold of the dual atmospheres
That your brain might throw up a kind word
amidst all the slurs it keeps replaying. 

Dear Uncle, this is a really long shot
But I hope one day we gatecrash a wedding
and march on to the stage to proclaim:
"Yes, I'm a queer, I'm a freak, I'm a fag,
I've got mud on my face and I'm a big disgrace
and I will wave my banner and shout
until the stars above you tremble,"
And we will be in drag, dear uncle, 
a mass slaughter of this civilised family's collective brain;
and we will laugh at gay jokes together
when we get kicked out of the family,
Estranged from those who were strangers in the first place
Maybe I could be brave enough with you.

Dear Uncle, it should not be a big deal
I've heard worse, way worse, but it is
and your eyeliner and dance moves
should not be brave— it's been too long, they should be ordinary
But whatever it meant, it made you extraordinary,
extra-everything in the minds of the people
who cannot handle anything extra
beyond their narrow tunnel vision of their little frog-pond world,
Who do not give two shits about you
except when it comes to tittering
Tittering that will turn into jittering
flames of the torches they'll bring to burn our houses down,
But we will make our houses fireproof, dear uncle,
We will build them so they spit it right back
Spit rainbow-hued fire tornadoes
That will char the sky and this mob's faces
in the colours of the love they fear so much;
And we will
Take it personally.


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

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’.