April 30: Closure

This time
I will be satisfied even
with no ending lines,
no last conversations
in my mind. I know
I am difficult to love.

This time, I am ready
to leave without asking
for the world. I am ready
to walk out to sea and taste
the salty air the seagulls
fly in. I am ready to fly it.

I try to be softer, kinder,
less insistent. I forget how
to love, every day, like a
language that peels off
my tongue and hangs
in the ancient rooms.

I need no names
for the trees. No names
for the different kinds of
breeze. No names for the
oceans my body meets and
falls in love with, no names
for the love I own and disown.

It is only ever endings,
and not even
in a tragic way. It is only ever
sunbirds on a terrace building
a nest that cannot last. It is
only ever lamplight and ache.

Like A, I want the good work,
the hearty meal, the tired eyes.
I want the long journeys and
I want new learnings, sunsets
that taste of rose and gold,
intimacy that curls my toes
and hurts my lungs
in happy ways.

It is only ever endings;
I am satisfied with my lot.


April 29: weight

the unbearable weight
of still feeling these
things, of feeling the
pain of a stranger's
voice scorching
your skin, of
important words
when you thought
you never would.

my bed is full
of pieces of my life
i thought i threw away,
hid in ashtrays or tossed
out the third-floor window.

they come back in the form
of small things that itch, scratch.

the words still make me tender,
still make me ache, still hold me
underwater and naked and slick.

my body is a warzone
from a country i never saw.
i try to hold this alien grief
slow, gentle, in my palms.

i hold all the weight of
sky and forgotten dreams
on my shoulders, in my
eyes and in the words.


April 28: Waiting

I miss the particular
texture of my longing
when waiting would
taste of hope.

Waiting tastes now
of old food, familiar
sheets, an old sky.

It is too early
for waking, for
metaphors, for
summer rain.

The way home is through
cities of smoke with nothing
to lose. The way home is
a highway that looks like
a slow death. The way home
feels nothing like a home,
never will. Yet I go.

These new textures
are sweet in new ways:
honey in the hollows
of my collarbones
when my neck isn't
knotted up with ache.

I expect nothing.
I go.


April 27: Loss

Somehow, I watched
myself let go of old grief
like a swollen rose.

It is torture
to tear these petals
off my skin, these
bruises like birthmarks,
these cities of loss.

My ancient cries
hide in corners
of the house, still.
Underneath cobwebs
and drawers of junk.

You can hear
all the names
I have hidden
under my skin.

Somehow, everything
passes over into river;
gurgle and movement,
fresh awakening, dawn.
All stagnation reworks
itself as a morning.

All tragedies
mask themselves as
life, call my soul
to the stage
so I can pray
for a miracle.


April 26: big feelings

don't feel like loss anymore,
just like
don't feel like love.

growing up is a lot of pain,
not a lot of learning. there's nothing
called learning. there's only making
the same mistakes over again until
you move on to newer pastures,
easier ways to break to heart
or lose a key in the grass.

all the big feelings
come out sometimes,
when i listen to music
in the bus, or watch
the shadows and light
dance like lovers.

the rest of the time
i have learnt (reached)
to live without big feelings:
no big sadnesses, no expansive
sunlit joys, no grief that calls
to the stars. it's alright, it is.

i hide my tongue
in a secret place,
and water my soul
like a tender thing.
better days arrive
like majestic birds.


April 25: Other Languages

feels a lot like love.

The same kind of tender compromise,
sense of urgency, hollow regret. The
feeling you don't own your mouth.

There are a hundred reasons
I will never feel whole; one
of them is that I am split
right through my voice
like an overripe fruit,
my syllables torn in two
like rotting flesh on seed.

With vowels that came
to me as easy as love,
I was pulled in
to a universe that sank
under my skin and named
my teeth its own. This language
owns my soul, owns the cities
in my belly, writes the laws that
govern the streets of my voice.

I write only that poetry
which I can fit in the confines
of this language, in its particular
lilt, in the silences between
black alphabets that tell me
they don't belong in this
humid tragedy. I write
only those words which
this language lets me own.
I write a syntax of desire
and living, bruising and
falling, trying and loving.
I write only the words
I can call my own.
Even those words
sometimes slip through
my fingers and mock
my little brown voice.

Other languages hang around in
the air, a distant memory, a short
forgetting. Other languages are
hesitant on my tongue, in my mouth
that tastes of a ruined empire. I try
to tell them they can own me too,
hold me tender in the sounds of
their words and their weeping.
Other languages know parts
of me that I have hidden away,
buried under soil and tried to
forget. Other languages know
the blood that runs through
my voice, the archeology
of my expression, the way
I might never know.

I don't know whether they
are jealous, of this mistress
that scratches my voice
when I try to let it go.
I don't know whether
they want me, like I
think I want them.

feels like looking
at myself in the dark.
Like counting the colours
of my shadows. Like taking
the shortest way home in a
monsoon that smells of a
different life. Translation
feels like violation, feels
sacred, feels like drowning.

I unveil a secret
that knows my name.
I hang somewhere
between my voice
and my soul that
smells of centuries
in the sun, here,
here where you
see the roads and
towers now, here.
Here, where I lived
before I lived, where
the soil dreamed me
up like a secret, the
secret I unveil;

I secret I veil.


April 24: heart

i hide my thumb
in the hollow of my throat
and feel the gentle throbbing.
my heart is big enough to
hold a city, douse a fire.

life seems stranger these days,
entirely misunderstood, so wonderfully
incomprehensible. i do not ache to know
now, i do not weep water or dreams.

i blossom
and forgive the world, get mad
at the things i must get mad about,
and smile all the way from ear to ear,
from dilli to the sea, just for the feat
of surviving these long and absurd days,
this lifetime, a carnival, a madhouse, fragile.


April 23: laughter and secrets

a rush of expectations
slides out the door
smells of rot and
a sky too large to bear.

in conversations with A,
i unveil corners of myself
i am proud to own.

my skin smells of laughter.
i have shed the taste of
whiskey and smoke.
some nights
are too long to call home.

these days
i laugh a lot:
everything is absurd,
this crazy carnival
gets crazier, and
the inside of my mind
is a fit place for a madwoman.
i laugh, snort, chuckle to myself.

i used to be full to brimming
with wonder at the world.
wonder is rarer now,
tastes like raw gold.

i can own this: these crazy nights,
the aching back, the fragmentation,
the forgettings and relearnings.
i can own this sky and my mistakes.

laughter is good, cleanses
my mind of clutter. sometimes
there is guilt -- the world is too serious
too painful too hollow too cruel to laugh at.
but most days i see the humour now. i see
the jokes so large they look like truth.
the holes in strangers eyes. the physics
behind magic, the cruel tricks, the madness.
i see i must survive all this, and more.

part of the secret is
creating as much silence
as voice. the empty spaces
are where the conversations live.
the hollows are where blossoms grow,
where words becomes cities and sing.

part of it is a happy forgetting, an acceptance
so large it looks like death, a joy so rich it tastes
of aged wine and ancient wisdom, like the trees.


April 22: reading poetry online

all of a sudden
the straight clean lines
and the corporate shine
of my little macbook
gets blurred:

the internet is a crazy
city, a gust of wind,
a hidden empire.
some days
i move out of
large streets and
seedy bylanes
and find little meadows,
corners and cafes and
afternoon light painted
rose. it is nothing like
finding a book in a
bookshop or on
the pavement:

but it is
something else,
the swelling in my
chest like i swallowed
the moon, the knowledge
of hundreds of poets
hiding behind this veil,
not eliot or wordsworth
or anything i can find in
a Crossword bookstore
in the mall, something
else, something other;

something happening
now, this minute, this
year, hundreds of women
unfolding their skin and
sculpting words that
taste of wine and
magic (there are
hardly ever men),
from all over the
world (they are
hardly ever white),

and the internet
becomes, for a while,
a table i can share with
these women, a street
that leads to a quiet
riverside, a blossoming;

a place where these voices
can echo and reach the stars,
tremble off mountains and
into my skin, a place where
these voices are strong and
alive and are heard, are heard,
are heard, can be heard, are not
hidden behind bestsellers or
classics, are not forgotten,
are not put behind, are heard,
are strong and alive and exist
in a street lit up with stars
and whispers, conversations
that sing of an awakening,
words that pave these
streets in my mind.

all of a sudden
i can take out
the stones from
my mouth

and fill it
with stars