6 December 2017

Venomous

Sometimes when Kalpa
across from me in the dark
happens to ask, or even
before she does, or if not,
I wonder how faithful 
my memory is 
to the taut silver edges of
what really happened, if
the scorpion I saw once
on that windowsill, stilled,
really gleamed at the sting
with a vicious drop of
venom: did I see it
at all?

She tells me of snakes
in the field under darkened stalks, 
and I think to tell her of 
the creature that slithered past 
just this morning, 
a glimmer of light at my feet 
that vanished at sight. 
It left the faintest taste of 
green on my eye. She waits,
but I do not say, convinced
all at once of a bond I could not break
between that silver-green baby snake
and my curious, wondering gaze.

monsoon haikus

I sit alone in
dark library innards while
outside, monsoon light.

The slugs last night were
inching along in silver;
now, only dark stains

on the college road.
The air is full to bursting.
It must rain again.

wild loves

I keep slipping postcards and words
into the notebook I will never send you.
It is a thick purple, and has leaves hidden
inside the paper. I trace over them listlessly.

It was not as though I called you daily
when you were around. Somehow knowing
that you existed, in a kurta and bindi, wild hair
falling over your wild smile, was enough.

Love is never enough, that’s the thing.
I keep trying to slip you into boxes
you don’t understand and don’t need.
Your words are dim stars in my eyes.

I miss you wildly, but not desperately.
I do not need to call. You still exist, if
even farther than before. It should be 
enough. Love should be enough.

Dancing girl

My mother has taken to dancing

I mean she still stands straight
as a pole at evening parties
and full of poise at nightclubs

But recently in daily life
she has been wild

In the morning when I tell her
she looks like a vision
she does a little jig to celebrate

She must jump when she wears
a jumpsuit, of course

I read the words of another poet
(dance is a body’s refusal
to die) and think of her
over & over

She wants to see all the world
she pirouettes in bathroom chappals

When we drove through Scotland
she stopped the car where she liked
she couldn’t get enough of the sky
at Skye, it was too blue, too much
to hold in her body
She whirled like a dervish on the highway

And then at the Great Wall of China, she
couldn’t help herself, her joy spilled out
all over the countryside
She held out her arms till they
reached sun and giggled till she was red

Danced like the first girl at Mohenjodaro
toppled over onto ancient cobblestones

Reached home with two bruises
like continents on her knee
She is unfazed.

on shame

It comes easy
to me, for some reason,
that white hot ribbon
in the belly. A mistake,
or an ignored wave, or
an awkward gesture left
unfinished. But recently
I have been trying
to let go as easy —
let the cringe travel
up my spine, let my
abdomen clench itself,
face tighten in pained
expression, but then
let go, breathe in quick
and then breathe out
real slow, careful to expel
CO2 and also all
the other bad things,
the pellets of self-hate
that gather in the gut,
the fear that freezes,
the shame that burns
everything for a small
silly reason. Breathe it
out, remove it from
this body. Make space
for new mistakes.
Nobody was watching
anyway.

10 November 2017

the dream

trying hard to work on so many things right now. and working mostly, but finding it so hard to focus sometimes, just flitting from thing to thing, finding myself in that terrible trap of scrolling scrolling scrolling

but stay          stay with it           follow the thought through

i am going back and working on the poetry, trying to shine its edges, empty its extra corners, arrange it well for a guest in the house, for all the new guests in the wordhouse of my poetry that i am hoping for. but it is hard, and sometimes i go back and worry that i am emptying the rooms of character, that i have polished too much and i do not feel a fire in the walls anymore. i am worrying the words coming out of my mouth these days are bare and suave but have no flame, no passion in the belly. i do not want to arrange words for the sake of it, for a music that does not char my ears, does not worry me hard and make me shiver in the nape of the neck.

i feel that poetry lives on the edge of experience; that you find it if you inhabit the margins of the moment. as if you are there and not there, very hard. either living right in the heart of what is happening to you/what you are doing/what exists, or watching it from a far distance, feeling things only through a membrane, a glass sheet. i balance between the two. i feel the moment most viscerally, in the red and slick of the body, in the bonewhite and long muscle of the body. but i also sometimes float in a white nothing, watching the body as if from afar, thinking slow floating thoughts. there is the moment, and then the words of it, the small rocks guarding the edges of what happened. i want to gather these rocks.

i worry that i become quiet in academia. i know what to do with sentences so they sound an easy ripple. (i want to learn how to make the sentences sound like a thunder rush and wild cavernous bellow sometimes too). i feel like i hide myself in a cupboard before i venture out to write an essay. i call back for advice often, but from the dark and narrow space. i want to write loudly, full of my self(s). i want to write my essays loudly, i want to write my poems inhabiting them with all my slim body, my angles of light and sound, my fierce feelingness.

to do this, i must be less afraid of the words, of the rules, of Knowledge and its gatekeepers. i know some, and i will never know most. i must trust my work (n.w.). i must write hard and big and then hold on to my wordrocks, must fight for them. i must watch the world; i must defend the windows' right to look at passersby (mahmoud darwish). i must believe that i can do something with words, that i am not trite irrelevant callous bland unimportant. i know some things about words. how, when they are put together, can change things, can make a thing taste or smell or feel different. how they are read on the page but swiftly they make their way into the body, how they are read in the flesh layers under skin, on the light edges of skin. words talk straight to the body. the body lives in a large aquarium of language, its colourful weeds swaying like stalks in the field. the body breathes and floats in language. the white nothing the mind visits is a white nothing made of words. i want to make these words do things for me. i want to do things to people armed just with my wordrocks: i do not mean thwacking them over the head with them, but rather laying them down and covering them with the wordrocks, gently, smooth edges and all. running a stream through the wordrocks, making somebody experience the ripples and white foam of my words on their body.

i hope i can find in me the courage. to try hard enough that failing would slice right through my skin, would be a far and wide pain. to give this work enough of myself that i feel myself writing from my throat, my spine, my skin. i hope i am true enough to this that i do not scroll scroll scroll or find myself lost, small, flitting. i must stay with the thoughts. i must put all of myself here.


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.