“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
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’.
Faint feelings flitting Like fireflies in the dark I hardly feel light For the glow is twinkling black A pendulum made of night
6th April/ (6/30) / Tanka