Few weeks shy of a full circle

Oh dear god— I mean, careless geometry student—
Why did you have to choose a pencil so weak 
Use a stencil so bleak
to make me in the first place?
Did you not know the compass 
of morality 
swerving at full speed 
would break the tiny graphite stick whose layers fall off 
like so many on a winter night—
I know they're both carbon, still,
Why do you conflate diamonds with pencil lead?

Now, shining with HB dust, 
Like a tire-skid, here I am
With none the charm of 180 degrees
but all the heat of it;
A few degrees shy of a full circle.

The sign of my existence
is an ugly number drenched in sin, cut
a secant
or veer off on an unrelated tangent,
And those numbers are still not pretty—
watch how they rocket up the graph
to the domains no one bothers travelling.

Domain-less like
This ugly black gash
as if a rip in the paper-thin world I was born in
Marking the sudden end of my reach
The breaking point
of your flimsy pencil
Which left me teetering on the edge, 
precariously close to perfection.

Ah, what perfection, the complete circle,
The true crown of the two dimensions,
The smallest boundary with the biggest space to fill
No beginning, no end, no boring middles,
Just a revolving, hypnotising, blooming locus. 

Ah, lotus-like, what beauty, the complete circle
Cut through, spin, look anywhere
Infinitely symmetrical,
Housing such quadrilaterals
That supplement their lives' opposing angles;
Hidden within its confines, nature's sweet pie of perfection,
I crave but a slice—
Why couldn't you make this boring arc 
come full circle?

But you do, you come full circle:
there you go again, with a brand new pencil
dooming another like me forever—
But... now you've done it!
Most wondrous, a circle!
Why, cruel god, must you wave my own incompleteness
in the fragmented face of my being?

But still, let me look. 

Why does that I see
look so empty?
Perfect, elegant, complete... but not full.
A yawning void stares out from its heart 
with a gaze so still
not even despair can pierce.
A bottomless pit of nothing
that does not even hunger for something, look

It has closed off
into an oblivion
it didn't know it did not want.

Did I not know what I did not want?

The smallest boundary with the biggest space that cannot be filled
No beginning, middle or end— is this existence?
No wonder it's an ouroboros;
They say it's beautiful: 
circle of life, reincarnation, blah blah blah—
But to me, 
a snake swallowing its own tail
has always seemed too much like choking
yourself with the deadness of your own life.

Final like a funeral wreath,
So symmetrical, no supplementing or opposing,
So mechanical, like a tragedy,
Such hollow perfection: it cannot even embrace another
without birthing another deathless void between.

And me? I am no lumpy gibbous moon
for the full circle is a moonless monday night
And I'll keep my highs and lows 
I'll take your broken pencils
I'll take every crooked imperfection
But I hope I never come full circle.

To somebody that I used to love

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.

One A.M. Magic

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


Continue reading

Just another Earth poem

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...

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

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

This computer was not made for computing

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

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

'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

Stranger in a strange land

"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?

Best deals on human beings!

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

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.