Wednesday, 3 February 2016

description of difficulty

life leads me
here; to a flickering screen,
lilting music, an unmade bed
and it's almost noon.

it is hard to forgive myself
for the days i cannot move.

it is hard to remember
death, and not skirt around it
like an awkward edge, a raw wound.

it is hard not to scroll.
not to smoke. not to sleep.
far too much.

it is particularly difficult, also,
to allow myself to not understand.
it is a physical yearning in my bones
to be able to assign meaning, find
answers, organise thoughts, write.
(it is hard, so hard, to not be writing these days.
it is also too hard to write. too fucking difficult.)
i am trying to keep hope alive
like a tender plant. i am afraid
to water too much or not enough.
i do not understand.
i do not understand.
life seems like an insane carnival,
and the bags under my eyes threaten
to give me away. i am an observer here.
i am a lost traveller. i have nowhere to go.
everything seems absurd. in the mornings,
i am disoriented. all day, it doesn't leave.
poetry follows me like an unwanted spectre
reminding me that i do not understand.
i am like the sea, i am rising and falling
and reaching nowhere. even the sandcastles
that seemed stable are now collapsing under
sheer weight of water. everything is ruins.

if i call these scary feelings
Art, perhaps it will not be worrying.

my bones are made of lead these days.
occasionally they lighten up, and i can float
to the surface, make a joke, do my laundry.
too often, i am submerged too deep to emerge.
and the thing is, underwater - undersadness -
it is hard to breathe

Monday, 11 January 2016

rethinking an old simile

eventually, you begin to search for peace.
you smell of desperation and muffled tears.
eventually, you don’t know what the words
can do for you anymore;
you put them aside.

they follow you like dreams.

all you can give yourself
is a quick poem on a cold morning.
all you can see is a faint sunrise,
from the frosted glass window of your
cold, cold bathroom. it did not shine

you never knew death tasted so much like reality.
you never knew people leave like this.

you knew the sadness would come back. you knew
it always does. at 7:30 am, you can pretend
the silence is peace. at 7:30 am, perhaps it is

the nights are what really got to you. they did. the big feelings, the constant sensation
of falling, the thundering thousand voices that hammer in your mind while the world around
is sinister and silent, and darkness covered the forests with a shroud -

(i have used that simile a hundred times:
darkness always covers the world like a shroud

in the worlds of my misplaced poems. a shroud
is such a lovely, lilting word. it sounds so sombre.
two weeks ago, i saw a shroud for the first time.
i saw a shroud and a pyre and a collective grief
so large i was afraid i would drown in it. the pyre
was flaming and red and achingly hot. the shroud
was irrelevent, simple, and white. now burnt.)

- darkness was not like a shroud, it was not covering
a dead thing, it was not a bitter truth and a finality,
it was not the end of a blossoming fierce life.
i must not call the darkness a shroud.
the darkness, it will come
and the darkness, it will go
it always was and always will be so.
the faint sunrise gives way to a lovely hard sun.
some kind of peace. some restless rest. some long forgetting. 

Monday, 14 December 2015

Leftover Thoughts About Fear

I remember
knowing that I shouldn't be guilty, and having
to eat out my own heart, clenched tight as a fist.
I remember the smoke, the feeling of floating.

I've been searching for treasures in the dark, in the dust,
in the dirty delicate streets of decrepit Dilli. Pages flutter
in the wake of time, like unbound pieces of our skin
left loose in the whirlwinds - language lilts as the days pass,
holds on to my tongue fiercely as fear envelops my bones,
wounds little parts of my blooming as it holds on too tight,
too tight; the rest of me is still. I am afraid of teleology,
tautology, the long shadows of time. I burn with a fever,

trying to be kind to myself and yet create.

My hands ache at the moonlight tonight.
All the metaphors I had been saving up,
gathering in the folds of my skin, they
trembled and settled like dust on the ground:

Fear is a terrible and vast thing to run away from.
A body is easier. A body is a monolith, but not
an ocean. An ocean, but not the air you breathe
into clenched lungs. Fear can smell like water,
like air, like a throbbing at the back of your head,

like a roomful of nostalgia, like dying flowers.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


i must be less afraid - of mistranslations, of falling through the sheets of glass that separate me from myself. perhaps - and perhaps - these various silences will come together in the sun and mean something again, something real and fearsome, something i can fold and keep safe, revisit.

maybe i'll miss holding the universe together.

i came back from the past to spit that at myself. how absurd. i always thought i was real but i am unseeing that now. the electric rush - the floating sky - the tremble and burn of writing these lines. the inside of laughter. the outside of sorrow. we must not be undone by these things. we must not be undone.

i don't think i'll return this time. i think the cycles work fine without me. i think i;
but not really. the syntax and semblance of structure, the falling through, the sheets of glass. the crumbling buildings. the refugee pictures. the tears i cannot untie from my eyes because they are not mine. it will always be a mistranslation. i am too happy to be sad. hegel scratches at my dialectics/ i scratch back at his. always a doublethink. my poem is a political manifesto. my poem is the knocking in act 2 scene 3. macduff and lennox never came. that is the secret. my poem is laughing (my poem understands derrida's jokes, i wish i did). these simple things.

these simple things. the script of a new language floats about in my head, leaves shadows on everything i see. a quick poem. i want to unlearn this nightmare. i want to learn this nightmare inside out so it cannot make me bleed anymore. i want to go home, but not home. how absurd. my sadness is never going to be sad white girl shattering golden at the wrists. my sadness is a brown girl. my sadness is giddy with joy. my sadness is shattering in my mind. my sadness might not be golden enough. these simple things. my sadness reads a lot. scrolls mindlessly. my sadness erupts in a mistranslation. these simple things.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

this here

this here
is where i lose
my tongue:

this circling
this searching
this falling through, this always i.

of course:
weightless; alive; here;
there are always
various kinds of peace.

(where? peace lives in
freshly revisited poems;
monday afternoon sex;
songs that feel like flying;
long and lovely journeys;
gold shadows of dusk)

but always, there is
this here: this lonesome
revival, this returning, this
fog, these lonesome smokes

the fear of falling
this where/ more than here

this politics of form. this ache and sun.
this time that sits in my hands like air
and the hollows i carve in my throat
and the dreams i scratch in the sky
and the searching, the always i

Tuesday, 27 October 2015


I always thought lovers
(like cities, or oceans)
would only ever teach me about loss.
On various afternoons soaked with sun,
evenings drenched with longing and rain,
I found this for myself, and for the world.
Like a kernel of truth hitting hard against my insistent teeth.
You came:
You came here like an early spring,
fresh green leaves and flower scents in your wake.
You lay me down in evening light,
bathed my shoulders in golden,
eased out the various knots in my back
with warm and calloused hands.
You asked for nothing. 

(I have mapped, far too often, the insidious drafts that follow love into the room,
I have met, headfirst, passions that promise depth; but they always leave me 
a little hollow, parched and longing. I have dug my malicious teeth into too many
known places, left too many echoes, fragile beating scars, too many. I'm always
afraid, most of all of myself. You asked for nothing, and smiled a lot. You took
everything I said, as it was. Covered everything with wildflowers and wind.
You are magic, you leave no spaces through which I could scratch out
my familiar, despicable mistakes. There is only wildflowers and wind.)

I thought I knew all there was to know,
and every day, life gently proves me wrong.
It is tenderness you are teaching me about
and your gentle lessons settle in my voice like honey,
taste like redemptive sun on a ruined city.
You make me tender. Soft in the strongest ways.
So tonight, at the fort,
full to the brim with poetry and exhilaration,
I knew enough to pause
as the moon soaked unsuspecting clouds in light 
and stone walls shone golden through carved windows and crevices.
I knew enough to watch the landscapes of my sister's voice tremble
and remember how much I've forgotten to be kind to her.
It is tenderness I try to find tonight,
place my hands on her unsure shoulders
and ease the mountains and valleys of her back, the unsaid
distances, the silences like forgotten roads. Her muscles tense and ease
under my insistent hands, tense and ease. It feels less like loss and more like love.
It is alright to be lost, I want to tell her. It is alright to be
young and lost and a little sad sometimes.
Together, we listen to the unfamiliar rhythms of Rajasthani songs,
watch the candles flicker and the light falter.

Shadows flit through the arched doorways, but my bones are shafts of light. 
Your hand is right here, on mine, and I couldn't be gladder. 

Friday, 9 October 2015


The various structures of my mind
are breathing, inhaling and exhaling,
small window spaces open, open and growing.
The walls I built with stone and wood, now
collapse - but in a wonderfully surreal way,
they tilt and sway, they groan under weight of
Derrida Lacan Foucault Freud Deleuze Guattari Saussure 
and my mind hurts sometimes, muscles straining to
comprehend, fists tight and jaw clenched, still waiting
for paradise as a place where I can sit. Sit, not stand,
not move, not constantly be moving, there is no comfort
in an understanding that opens windows and doors but also
breaks walls, hurtles the raw power of wind on the pillars,
nudges the very ground on which I stand until it expands
inwards, to a single dark point in the distance. My mind
hurts, yes, but my soul is nourished, it is bruised but it
grows, the various multiplicities of my mind refuse to be
flattened, and Eliot and Roy murmur deep in my ears, 
I understand things about beauty and love and life that
I never did. I see the world as darker than it ever was,
but I see stars. I lie down in oceans of light, and I trace
connections on the taut skin of sky, I create constellations,
I breathe, deep and unaware, deep, so deep that the world
decides in a flash to breathe with me, press thundering heart
against my flutter-bird chest, and inhale. Exhale. Inhale. 

I tremble at these various gladnesses. 

Saturday, 26 September 2015


today i'm made of
jazz and wildflowers,
my mouth an ocean of smiles.

my fingers are giddy
from tracing the lines of your skin,
shadow lights and diamond darkness.

these moments are so precious;
stretched tight like the strings of a guitar
until the gentlest touch produces a melody
so taut and brimming with moonshine that
i could cry.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Notes on Auschwitz

 1. The day I went to Auschwitz it almost rained, but not quite. The sky and I were brave. We held back our weeping, untied our tears from our eyes only in gentle drizzle.

2. If these buildings could talk, they would scream.

3. I stepped lightly on the gravel, not wanting to put my weight on this broken land. I was guilty even touching door handles, grazing the walls with my numb fingers, or looking for a moment longer than necessary.

4. I didn't want to leave too much of myself here, didn't want to carry back too much from this place. It was an altar of grief, a monolith of despair.

5. Other tourists (the word in this context made me even more nauseous than I was) wanted to hold on to this moment. Thousands of cameras clicks filled the air once colonised with bullet shots. I wanted to claw my heart out of my throat.

6. Our tour guide told us that there wasn’t an inch of land in Birkenau not covered in human ashes. The air we were breathing, the ground we were walking on, all of it was ashes. I tried not to breathe.

7. We walked through rooms filled with used children’s shoes, with women’s hair cut off from their corpses, with empty cans of Zyklon-B. My jaw was clenched. My fists were tight. My eyes burned with a fever, and I ached blind.

8. Our tour guide spoke in perfectly mediated tones. She had told these stories of horror a hundred times, but she kept that bitter, indignant tone alive. To me, everything felt like a farce, everything hurt. Eliot muttered to me about the ancient women who gathered fuel in ancient lots, and I kept him in my mouth like a prayer.

9. I think I survived that place because of the wildflowers. They were everywhere, delicate as only wildflowers can be. Lemon yellow, deep lavender, pale white. They grew over grief, human ashes, the quiet stench of desperation. They bloomed fierce, like stars dotting skies of anger darkness.

10. I plucked two unassuming wildflowers near the parking lot, left purple imprints in my notebook. That hope was all I wanted to remember of the place.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

The Moon Told Me

I accidentally swallowed the moon tonight.
It burnt my tongue, scorched my throat,
caressed the caves of me with the white-hot,
the fierce bloom, the licking flames and ache.

Memory is a terrible sin, almost
carnal in nature.

Seductive, but vicious
when it is able to possess.
Physical in it’s urgent needs.

I swallowed the moon and it told me
not to cry, it told me that a hundred times
and I always listened. It is a terrible power
to trace my scars and know that I left them
on my scaled skin myself, I myself was always
the one to wield the knives. The moon told me
not to cry and I never did; I was too strong to
let myself get hurt, I was protected a hundred
times over, and I paid for it dearly: my skin is
a fragile beating of scars, I wielded the knives
and lashed out in self-preservation, wounded
the others, so many now, and left myself here;


navigating the echoes of my cruelty
for so many shadowy months after;
the traces I left on my own life, as well as the
others, their kindly faces, those gentle lovers.

The moon told me to forget.
Today, I could not listen. It has
been too long, and I ache blind.
I swallowed the moon whole, told 
myself to be a better person, not
let twisted ideas of beauty guide
me to thoughtlessness, impatience,
the unforgivable cruelty of protecting

my own wretched self with the books,
the stars, the dried leaves and stories,
round pebbles, swaying sunsets, new
friends, old poems, golden sunbeams,
or this magnificent, malicious moon

shining silver in the darkness, an exquisite
dinner plate accidentally left in the sky, a glow
left on too long, a piece of beauty that blooms
so fierce it is hard for me to remember
the reasons or this thudding
ache in the centre
of forgetful