Untitled.

On a party I never went to

She told me on the morning after
the party that we are all
fat cats. Smug purring engines

vintage motorcycles thrumming
of beer, shining lazy-cat smiles
under lids heavy with second-hand
puns and damp politics.

Night after night we gather
in the shadows of empty houses
to raise our voices, caterwauling
to a moon long gone

about the words of mad men
who live no more. The air is thick
with abandoned arguments
and hash. A sharp retraction
of voices cuts

but the night surges forward
dissolving all into softness,
belly-up complaining in the dark.

Ranakpur

You, who created Ranakpur,
freed moon-white pillars of flowers and sex
from the coldness of stone,
I salute you.
When I saw your magnum opus,
the pillar to the diagonal left of the southern entrance,
I knew: here was perfection that should not be forgotten.
I stood in front of it, smiled and flashed the peace sign.

As I blinked into the pale shadows, recovering from the overdose of light,
I caught sight of Time puttering around quietly,
absorbed in his own world as all master artisans are,
and I wondered if there had been any friendship between you.
Did you have long conversations with him,
confessing your dreams of immortality,
did you hold his hand and weep?
Did you tell him about that recurrent dream,
where you saw the faces of your great great grandchildren
still with peace, lit by the coolness of marble?

Whatever it was you said,
you will be pleased to know that after all these years
he touches your work with such gentleness,
delicately running his fingertips over your coiled flowers.
You should have seen him, stepping aside,
out of the frame of my friend’s camera,
around the French couple pointing at your marble lovers,
between the Gujarati family on holiday.
The soft of his hands rubs away all the sharp edges you left behind.

First draft

Girl, descending staircase

One foot delicately suspended
between the surety of a moral upbringing
and an uncertainty gained through experience.
A hand lightly rests on the sun drenched wall
reluctant to seek support in a moment of imbalance.
Eyes pensively gaze through a glass slated window
betraying no turbulence or recognition,
only a mild amusement at the present state.
A gold earring brushes against the curve of the neck,
drawing attention to a single strand of dark hair
come loose and tucked behind the ear
with the artistry of a baited hook.
The unmarked cheek blushes,
as it feels the yearning of the world
to leave an opinion,
a scratch.

Measure of Speech

We come pre-programmed with the need to speak
a certain quantity of words a day.
The amount is chosen at chance’s quirk
and there’s no explanation as to why
one person feels the need to talk more words
than someone with an identical life.
We have to speak our daily dose of words
as though if we do not say ‘pass the salt’
the universe will forget we exist
and we start doubting our own existence.
And if we start to doubt? We write. We touch.
We make off-colour jokes and wear bright clothes
to make the universe pay attention
and notice our far away restless holes
where we the alive, pace and dream in silence.

Writing exercise. Iambic pentameter.

Falling out of love with an old hobby

It’s a bit of a shock,
when you realise you don’t love something
the way you used to before.
You are fond of it now,
the way you are fond of
an old school friend
you haven’t spoken to in years-
but seeing something that you crafted
with your hands and your time
slowly disintegrate
does not wrench you with anger and worry,
only a little nostalgia and mild thoughtfulness
as you wonder whether it is worth the effort
to create it all over again
or just shoot it
at the back of someone else’s yard,
in one final show down
and let it have that little dose of drama
at the very end, as a small mercy.
You fell out of love with your favourite obsession
slowly but surely,
it’s not your fault, you tell yourself,
analysing the situation clinically,
you no longer need it,
there are other things pressing for your attention.
You have outgrown it now,
like how most children outgrow
their imaginary friends.
It has fulfilled its purpose.
The only regret you feel is as you wonder
if this was the best you could do for yourself,
you with your assumptions of brilliance-
It is that sad smile
when you look at pictures of childhood crushes
and think about how small your world was then.
It is an awkward feeling, outgrowing love.
You feel a vague sense of obligation
that you don’t know quite what to do with,
every scrape and slow crumble cries you to you
to rush back with soothing words and plaster,
but you chew at the back of your ball point pen,
studying your rearranged list of priorities,
shaking your head dismally.
You feel like you are shedding
each of your childhood dreams one by one,
and the feeling is not pleasant.
You are cleaning them out to make space
for new interests you haven’t named yet,
but you cannot shake off the feeling that
you are somehow compromising yourself.
These new loves will never fill you
with excitement like the old ones.
That obsession for something of your own creation-
you were as much in love with everything it could have been,
as you were in love with what it was.
You believed in it,
in the way only parents can believe
in the greatness of their children.
You took pride in each other’s flaws.
The use of the past tense saddens you, but
you are cheered a little in the knowledge
that someone else may need it more now.
You have let him see what you loved,
and hopefully he will love it too.
You, the jealous creature you are,
like to think that he will not love
as deeply as you did,
but maybe, it is only that you love differently.
Maybe, it is time for a reinvention,
he will recreate it in his own image,
just like how, you had moulded it in your own,
though you won’t admit it.
In any case, you try to make peace
with an old love
and find other distractions
to believe in.

Gravity

Falling backward through time
on a warm January night
with nothing to do
but to look up at the stars
and feel yourself stretched into
twenty five billion different directions
until the past and the future come apart
and all that is left is quietness
knowing that your question
only has an answer you cannot understand.

Gravity is resentment–
wishing you could pluck a star out of the sky
and squash its weak flickering
between your finger and your thumb
and shape all its metaphors for longing
on your distant presence.
If only you could bring its attention
to the great big love tearing you up on the inside
about how you think being in love
is a little like believing in god–
you yearn to open your throat
and speak aloud all those unsaid hymns
on truth and beauty and coincidences
but you are shushed into silence
by the magnificence of the night sky.

Gravity is that sharp intake of breath
when a stranger’s hand
lights a match in the pit of your stomach
with a single touch–
and you burn
every time you lay awake under an indifferent sky.
You cut free the safety wires
and freefall
into yet another mistake.

Gravity is the complete surety
that no matter how hard you try
to fling yourself forward,
you will always have to return
to where you came from.
It is every dream that races before you–
It is every burning beacon summoning you home–
It is what tethers you to low parapet walls
as you look back over your shoulder
to those you love.

Away

It is disconcerting not to understand
the language lovers speak,
when I eavesdrop on their conversations.
Singing along to songs
whose words I do not understand,
mind exploding from the tang of foods
whose names I cannot pronounce.
I think about how I am going to be
looking back over my shoulder to this city
when I return home -
just like how I’m looking back now
at the people I left behind.

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