2 October 2017

notes from MFA research

I am convinced there is a right time for things. you can read an important book, but if you read it when it does not speak to you, you will hardly remember it. if you read it when you are meant to read it, when you have been waiting to read it and when it has been waiting to be read by you, it will shatter everything.

I am feeling like that about poetry in my life right now. everything seems to have been coming together for this time in my life -- all the poetry books that somehow found their way to my shelves, the half-hearted research on submissions last summer, the names of poets I have hidden away in notes, the poems I have bookmarked and never gone back to. right now is feeling like the right time. all the words are making sense, together and apart, in ways they never did. all of a sudden I can hear the music in different forms, see the historical connections, understand literary movements that escaped me until now.

it's always amazing to look back and see change, to see how much growth there is still left to do. I'm applying for MFA in Creative Writing programmes by the end of this year, in poetry. there is so much! to do!

(so much of ourselves needs to be tailored for the world, narrowed or widened in order to fit better into some kind of model, so that somebody far away wants to pay us for what we do. none of it makes any sense, but we do it anyway. we navigate this strange world in the best ways we can. professor A. told me with so much love in his heart -- to not be afraid to live the life I must live, to be less guilty, to live less in my head, to live.)

an apology for the lack of poetry in this little pond for many months! it is all being pruned, and gathered, and shined. wish me luck for all the big things.

7 September 2017

questions in the dark

it was in a classroom 
that I was writing
a poem.
the light vanished
leaving the world 
a void. and once,
M. laughed
from behind me
like old times.
I could not understand
the questions

perhaps because I was
not listening.
I still think
M. knew, in her tender wisdom,
and that she was laughing
at me, or with me.
the thought makes me 

23 July 2017

where is a poem?

I always thought a poem was in
the thick gold of afternoon sun

and how it fell briefly upon the world 

like a passing lover

I thought you could find a poem 
if you travelled outwards

or looked at the world
in the right

But recently I am coming 
to the conclusion that a poem
is a sturdy thing
it can survive all kinds of light

I think it lives 

in the fleshy heart of my mouth

10 July 2017

the usual

the scent of you lingers on my skin for hours
after you leave. I have lain in bed with you so long
it feels like I am still there.

it is all about comfort, you assured me,
and we laughed a golden laughter
in a new room.

I am trying to write poetry that is wild
but well-contained, sharpened like a weapon,
extra metal all peeled off the sides
and scrubbed so well
I can see blue skies
reflected in silver.

love and poetry always find their place
on my tongue at the same time.

29 June 2017

Rain Time

These days, the only measure
of time
is between when the rain stops
and starts again. My ear is always
waiting, it seems, for the murmur
of drizzle on mango leaves outside
my window, or the incessant gunshots
of hard rain thundering on the roof.

In the garden, the roses try not to drown.
The wind rushes through the bougainvillea,
the bottlebrush, the amaltas, the mango trees.
Plants fly off our terrace. The rain hits our house
like a war, and I cannot hear my parents talk.

The days are long and empty, and I never
wear a watch. Darkness gathers in all rooms.
A limp light fills and empties the house
as and when it wants. There is no measure
and no reason to measure, time collects
at the bottom of shallow pools on the road
and makes no demands. Time is off on
summer vacation, on monsoon break.

A strange freedom lines the air.
Sometimes the sun emerges suddenly
and everything outside becomes
muddy and gold

13 June 2017


It is strange to know that my grandmother
is still dead
even after all this time — just because
she died then. Like it is strange to know
that I will always
be woman
just because I am one.

It is not like I can imagine it any other way.

Yet sometimes it is hard to accept that this
is unending — this skin that is mined for meaning
until I am ready to shed it and hand it over
to the next man who looks.

If there is a wish, let it be this:
if I must be woman, let me
at least
be defiant.

Let me stand on the streets 
like a man — not graceless,
but with a swagger to

shake nations.

20 May 2017

Delicate Day

All of a sudden I am made aware

of how people open up to each other
only in rawness, how every word is a flower
offered to the other. Today, we work hard

to hold the spaces between ourselves
delicately. Most of the things we say to each other
are not held down by words. Words are dangerous, we realise,

each sentence left half-broken and incomplete while we watch
each other think. It is a long and hard thing, to be human,
to want to know the world, to want to know each other.

But words are also lovely, delicate in so many ways: we lie
on a bed full of sun and read poetry to each other
in wonder. The words wash us open and leave us aching,
new dreams dripping down our spines like dew. It is not
about knowing anymore. We let the afternoon envelope us.

The world seems well-scrubbed, almost new.

Context and meaning has vanished: so we must then
understand everything again, start right from the ground.
The self is fading, a strange figure at the horizon, hard to
recognise today. Other things have become more tangible:
the electricity between us three, the talking without words,
or the giant clouds propped up against sky. Beauty suddenly

has become so real. In a corner of S's room, the plant gestures
to me in such deep intimacy I almost want to weep.
The moss in the AC vents waves to me gently.

The next day it feels as though nothing happened,
as though these lessons are hard earned and once is
not enough. I must climb these mountains many times
must re-remember
again and again
how lovely and soft the world is.