City sunsets

Sunsets in the city
aren't the most romantic affair— you see,
there's no sun-dipping-into-the-horizon
(because there is no horizon)
no distant crash of waves
or the chirping of unknown birds,
(Though you might just get a nice breeze if you're lucky)
there's no fire in the hearth slowly going out.

But leaning here against the balcony's railing
Gazing at the sky you just know
you just feel the sun setting
And a slight smile creeps up your lips
and you feel the railing's warmth
which has had time to heat up the entire day,
but also its strangely soothing metallic cool.

You just know you're watching a sunset
without watching the sun set—
In the gradient of the sky
blue, then a hint of thunderstorm grey,
soft lamplight orange, then lovely, lovely pink
before finally descending
into the grey-blue of the oncoming night.

The oncoming night,
which does not fall, but rises
Though not before that flock of birds
stops tracing figures-of-eight in the dusk
then zeroes, and gets thinner and thinner
as each bird alights on the 'chosen one' tree,
Not before that lone kite
stops floating in the swirls and eddies
of the streetlight wind,
Not before you finally notice
the mosquitoes in your feet
and wish those powerlines in front of your house
cutting through every view
would just disappear forever,
Not before you still heave a contented sigh
and go back inside,
missing it already.

26th April/ (14/30) / Free verse

झूठा प्यार

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

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

Celestial Reflection

A new day dawning 
A new sunrise 
Is what 'hope' is to you
But dawn is not what I look ahead to. 

For I am the Sky
The ocean that's a different kind of deep 
Arching over this earth
And day is not me.

The Sun illuminates 
This earth. 
The Sun blinds out
My stars. 
The Day blinds out my depths and my shallows,
Clouds over my face and hides
The inky depths of my heart
And paints me a happy blue;
What a nice cultured obedient sky we have here. 

As this blinding light dims out
It takes its pretty blues and yellows with it
And draws back the veil,
And the secret light of the moon
Lovingly caresses my whole being--
The corset was too tight here, my dear
Let me breathe back the life into you. 

The secret light of the moon illuminates 
Me. 

Me, the blue-black darkness that is my soul,
The happy pinpricks of memories that shine 
through this dense fabric,
The tumultous sea of my thought
That sometimes bursts through in the day itself
Blotting out even the Sun
As the clouds rush in to contain the damage.

Me, the blank canvas, the stage backdrop
Where all of life plays out
" 'Twas a good show, Mr Shakespeare, Sir"
Many thanks, thy kinds words delight my heart
Let's dismantle the stage now. 

Eyes of God

Hey guys! Yes, I’m still here- I haven’t abandoned my blog if that’s what you were thinking. Then why has it been almost a month since I wrote, you ask? I’d love to say I was chilling off to let my brain relax and reboot so that it could come up with more awesome ideas to write about. That I’d taken a ‘Writing Vacation’, if you will, to help my writing. Truth is, writing wasn’t even on my mind. I last blogged on November 7 (TTW part 11) and let me tell you what happened after that. I’d love to tell the whole story in detail, but then you’ll probably get bored. So here’s a short version- from 8-12 November I was at my naani’s (maternal grandma’s) place because my maama (maternal uncle) was getting married. For non-Indians, Indian weddings aren’t a simple one-day affair- no sir, you aren’t husband and wife until a lot of rituals have been completed. From 12-22 November, I was down with dengue. From 24 Nov- 1 Dec, I had my post-midterm exams. And today you have it- the day I blog on- Sunday.

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Eternity

Two lovers, separated by evil Fate

Who spins their destinies with black and white threads,

She’s determined to keep the twains apart

Fate, the witch with the stony heart.

 

But Love triumphs over Fate, ties some threads together

Intertwining the lovers’ destinies forever,

These knots then become dusk and dawn

A rendezvous for the couple is drawn.

 

They see each other just twice a day

Stealing a few moments from time away,

The inamorata’s dark, the inamorato’s bright,

They’re masters of the sky- Day and Night.

 

At dawn he comes to meet his lady-love

Reaching out to the darkness above,

He caresses her black wings with his shiny fingers

They embrace and pull away,

But the effect still lingers.

 

They converse in voices too deep to hear

The epilogue for their date is drawing near,

She doesn’t want to leave his arms; he doesn’t want to let her go,

But he has to abandon her now and let himself grow.

 

She goes away slowly, looking at Day all the while

Her longing eyes look like cinders, reflecting his youthful shine,

Finally he takes over the wide blue yonder

Waking everyone up from their deep slumber.

 

In the morn he’s cheerful, a he just met Night

But noon is when he puts up a fight,

The wait for Night gets unbearable

Day’s foul mood becomes almost incurable.

 

Then dusk arrives, bringing her in a star-laden dress

Day almost falls, seeing the beauty of his mistress,

She steadies him, gives him a lingering kiss

She knows she’ll be alone soon after this.

 

They look a moment longer into each other’s eyes

Reluctantly, she lets him go, as dusk slowly dies,

His last words, just like him, fade away,

His promise to meet her at dawn the next day.

 

Night lets out a long sigh

And opens her dark wings over the skies,

She lulls the world to sleep

In her beautiful voice, rich and deep.

 

At midnight, she silently blesses Love

For finding loopholes in Fate’s handiwork,

Then she settles in as time slowly passes away

As she waits for another dawn,

Another heavenly tryst with day.