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.
Inside-out the world turns its being Blank-eyed moon seeing Fragrant shampoo wine weaving air-mesh Melting night flesh Quiet, darkness makes creation reach salvation Listening walls, drumbeat pulsation from Secret portals locked in shadows Opened in slanting streetlight from windows that watch Blank-eyed moon seeing melting night flesh reach salvation.
30th April/ (11/30)/ Ovillejo
God, not another meh poem about the planet Written on days meant to commemorate but never remember— Earth day, Environment day, water day, wildlife day— Days we all pretend like we're concerned For the planet we call home Understanding nods, grave tones of voices proclaiming 'doom' And then, soon as that webinar or talk or fancy event ends, Whoosh go our promises Down the dumpster go the deeds. We complain about the heat while lounging smack dab in the middle of air-conditioned domes— Domes we lull ourselves into Bubbles we close ourselves into— not us, surely? Nothing bad will happen to me, right? Perhaps we simply cannot conceive of a catastrophe unfolding right in front of our eyes. Perhaps it is just the fact that one word, one phrase repeated enough times Loses all meaning. SOS could be urgent. SOS, SOS, SOS, SOS, SOS, SOS, SOS is just droning noise. So we thump our chests and wail 'climate change' In the middle of the planet burning, curling in with snaking hellfire embers as a paper ball does. As a paper ball this four billion-years old entire planet with... Nothing. Imagine nothing. Hard, isn't it? Our minds cannot even imagine nothing Cannot see the paper ball as ashes Cannot conceive of death. Now I see you, thinking, "But I always turn off the lights But I never throw away food But I carpool" It's not an 'I', you see, It's a we. A we who wages wars A we who lets moneyed men with tiny feet make giant carbon footprints A we who wants more, more, more A we who chooses ignorance. I will not claim that the Earth is crying. I will not tell you the universe will weep over this planet's demise, For it will not, And words, however powerful, however beautiful Cannot save you or me Or every single bird, chameleon or tree But perhaps there is still time to wipe away that sleep dust in our eyes and do what we speak For just another meh poem about the planet, perhaps, To try and re-verse this gloomy destiny.
22nd April/ (10/30)/ Happy Earth Day, folks. Don’t forget climate change is still a looming death sceptre over all of us.
Tonight the night does not seem as poetic
Tonight words feel like bile in my throat
The air stings like acid reflux in my nose
Today's one a.m. is not
a 'frenzy of poetish thoughts'
like that week-old note in my phone
yet to be turned into a poem
Tonight I turn on the light instead.
Tonight feels strange,
that strange taste of water melted from ice
oppressive heat despite the air conditioner
brain crouched in a low growl
as if a stomach empty despite dinner.
Tonight there are eyebrows knit, teeth grit
hunched over trusty 'poem notebook'
in the itchy light shadowing scratchy Pierre Cardin strokes
irking insomniac incomprehension
into trying to untangle itself, not helping,
Like a concerned mother interrupting her weirdo kid in the middle of a midnight poem.
Tonight there is scribbled squiggly squeaky-cleaning
of midnight-tinted rose-rimmed glasses—
Look at it, it's just a quiet time of the day,
Nothing inherently artistic
Nothing, in fact, is inherently anything—
Our mere existence warps their realities,
we're people-shaped gravity-toting holes
in the space where air should be
Air, heavy feather, with its ticklish brain sneeze,
Cannot oppress the lifeless, at least, into breathing;
so tonight the night does not breathe.
Though somehow hammers away, black-
smith incessant at the forge of a sleepless head
Confusing about confusion about confusion—
Tonight the night is a dead thing
merely playing at being alive.
19th April/ (9/30)/ Free verse
Battered and beaten up like a sailor’s hat,
this trusty old laptop breaks down time and again
still holding on somehow, in part,
with the wrinkly transparent tape on the corners of its frail frame
Computing power? Oh dear no.
This computer was not made for computing
Your worldly matters of web-dev or coding
It crashes (and burns too, I think)
if you try to overload
its weak CPU and RAM and whatever
with your RGB Courier-sans keystrokes
with its peeling keyboard
are meant only for that typewriter feel
You can read or admire or your thoughts reveal
but it needs that little USB adapter to pick up the wifi
sometimes (a lot of times)
it can’t even do that:
Can’t look at art even, forget creation,
with its ancient graphics driver and humongous memory card
I suggest you get a new one already
don’t trust what the motherboard says: it’s just too scarred.
17th April/ (8/30) /Shitpoem. Literal shitpoem. What, you thought I was gonna make a grand comeback with a beautiful ovillejo about midnight? I wish. I could say it’s in the works, and that would be partly true, except I haven’t refined its skeletal stilted verse a bit to fit the said poetic form I wanted to try out. I expect I could mention I rewrote that Hindi poem I wrote last time to transform it like Neville Longbottom was by puberty, to have something to say in my defence. And yes the featured image is the very laptop I’m typing this on and in whose honour this thing was written.
'बस, कट रही है ज़िन्दगी' दूसरी ओर से जवाब आया। हॅंस कर फिर मैंने भी लिख दिया, 'ज़िन्दगी काट ही रहे हैं, जी नहीं रहे।' जानते नहीं एक-दूसरे को उतने करीब से दोनों फिर भी ईमानदारी की ये ज़रा सी छींट उछल कर, अनजाने ही, कुछ समान, कुछ बिलकुल अलग बँटे दुःख के रंग के निशाँ ज़रा हलके कर जाती है। 'बस, कट रही है ज़िन्दगी' यह साधारण सा वाक्य ज़रिया है लोगों के बीच दिल को ढका रखकर नग्न कर देने का, कहने का, की न तुम अकेले, और आशा करते हैं कि न हम भी; शायद कोई किसी दिन पूछ ही ले कि भाई क्यों कट रही ज़िन्दगी तुम्हारी इस कदर? शायद किसी दिन हम भी बताने की हिम्मत जोड़ पाएं। बस, कट रही है ज़िन्दगी उस पेड़ की भाँति जिसके पास कहीं और जाने को नहीं, जिसकी रगें बारूद की तरह इतनी सूख चुकी हैं की अब काटने पर लहू तक नही बहता; उस पेड़ ने अपना विनाश-लिप्त भाग्य अब चुपचाप गले लगा लिया है। बस, कट रही है ज़िन्दगी हमारे जिस्म की भाँति इन काले-नीले पन्नों के बीच जिनके ज़रिये सुन लेते हैं, कह लेते हैं, मगर कर नहीं पाते जैसे हम पेड़ और वो इंसाँ हो। बस, कट रही है ज़िन्दगी हम सब थके हारे कवियों की जो अपने दुःख-दर्द से कुछ सुन्दर बनाने की कोशिश में हैं, कोशिश में हैं अपनी रचनाओं के ज़रिये ही जी लेने की, उस छुपती-छुपाती ख़ुशी से गुफ़्तगू कर लेने की जिसकी आस में बस, कट रही है ज़िन्दगी।
10th April/ (7/30)/ Seems like I can write in Hindi only in April
One stanza inspired by this PoemsIndia prompt
"You know how when we talk to people, we always need a reason?" I say in a measly attempt to start a conversation. "A proper reason, like work or a need-to-talk You can't just want to, you gotta have some grounds to knock." My classmate cannot relate. "I don't think so, we all talk nonsense all the time right?" A laugh, an agreeable nod, and I go back to minding my own business. My own business. My own business is reminding myself, once again, that I'm the trespasser on this planet and everyone else is inhabitant. Of course he can't relate. I borrowed a pen today because I forgot my own— the same one I'm writing this poem with— and called it social interaction. I'm crying over nothing in the empty auditorium where I can't even see half the words I'm writing not because the light is dim, but because I am. Raising my hand in a Hi is social interaction Exchanging two lines about that presentation due is social interaction Pretending to crave loneliness is social interaction. The cripple of my mind spreads to my throat and I cannot speak. I cannot think and cannot talk without feeling desperate, or unwanted, or needy To you I'm 'reserved' or 'shy' or 'introverted' 'high in emotional intelligence' because I'm satisfied by myself; But not all the time, you see, Every day that I step inside the college gates I wish I could learn how to speak. Not yelling on stage but holding conversations for I hold conversations like they're glass balls balls are what I curl into while taking a nap I do not want to take up so much space here. I'm sorry, slam poet who's my tear trigger, I cannot seem to let myself be the milky way. Won't somebody arrest me? I'm trespassing here trying to drown or pull myself out— I cannot tell— in piece-of-crap verse like myself.
8th April/ (6/30)/ Does this even count?
Good morning! Welcome to the Super-Duper Jumbo Mega Store Do peruse the variety of heads on our shelves galore We have hot, cute, sarcastic Edgy, smart, fantastic And best: they're all summarised in lines of four. Scan that QR code you see on the screen Bask in the shimmer of your matches' sheen Introvert, extrovert, Ambivert, pervert— We've got something for anybody who's keen. And now dear it's time to set up your profile Sell your fuckable parts with an innocent smile, Sell your soul in an ashtray 'Cause no one's reading an essay Now sit and pray for that elusive 'true love' awhile. Start inane conversations with a simple little 'Hi' Get asked where you live by a pick-me guy Who's so sweet and nice (But only for a price) 'Stories and connections' is what you'll wanna buy. Why stop here? Get our premium plan! Join the elite self-commodification clan! More likes you'll see, More kissing in a tree All you need is a harmless little scan.
7th April/ (5/30)/ Extended Limerick
"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.
Here comes the Sun, slinking out the clouds Godfather of this earth light casting off its shroud, Casting the shroud off those whose moods set with its setting and rise with its floods, Or those whose first 'art' was inspired by the slumber and wake of this gentle giant of fire, Whose fury, unforgiving, can just as quickly destroy as its benevolence creates all life and joy. Here comes the Rain, dripping off unseen shores Angel tears, heaven faucets— countless metaphors, A being of sound and smell unlike Sun, its antithesis (?) But like it can nurture or make all perish; Such beauty, such poise, this lady's voice Her mere presence plays with hearts touching unseen strings in gentle harps, Mother of poetry and storms the ocean's first-born. Here come the Stars, oft overlooked for the moon Long dead, still twinkling in the sky's black cocoon Dagger wounds in dark dresses holding firmly in their embrace you, and the secrets that dwell behind that face, For the stars were how we first learned of poetry Diamonds in the sky, corpses burning for eternity.
4th April/ (3/30)/ Childish rhyming verse
Featured image: CD painted by my sister