Photo: Pascal Vilcollet
Eight poems by the Delhi-based journalist (The Indian Express) who is working on his first anthology
Another Almost Made Up Poem
I see your glowing face glitter in the darkness
around me, no, your face is not glowing, it’s lustrous,
sweeping me up into the radiance of seas,
even as a whirlpool of shadows engulfs me,
there are moments when you become permeable,
absorbing the soul in such a way that it begins to sing
and jive, and sparkle, and flutter; Toey, I quaver,
“oh, come on” you intone, your eyes
“have their silence” and I often feel that
“in your most frail gestures are things which enclose me”
and “the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses”
I see you pour Kilimanjaro into my cup —
my cup that never brims over, always both
half-empty and half-filled, never full, which
is fine by me; I’m both half-filled and half-empty,
so no sweat, by the way did I tell you
how much I like the idea of incompleteness
and emptiness; a frailty in my bent, a foible in my being
as I sit and pore over cummings (ee, initials, in lower case)
in the dying light of the night, with hours slipping by,
you light up the caverns of my soul, and add fuel
to my febrile imagination. Night keeps dripping away.
I must have launched some metaphysical rant
for I hear you blurt out, “stop fossicking
through life for meaning, just live,
like millions do”. You’re right, I must live
like millions do, and, may be, only die differently.
“can I meet some other end?” I ask you, “why must
I also die like millions do?” I enquire. But you remain
silent for a long time, then say, “you’re off-key,
missing the point here, why must you do this?”
the air I breathe is frowsty, rancid even, I hear
of a hanging faraway somewhere, and bloodletting
in the city I sorely, I’ve told you so often, love. I hear
of the barbarians at the gate in our own backyard.
For a long time, I hear nothing, feel nothing, see nothing
you bring me back, “Go, finish your work,” as dawn
conspires to set us apart. “I can’t; whatsoever I finish remains
unfinished,” I utter with some sadness. “It’s as if I were wanting,
forever-in-the-making, unwhole, incomplete, inchoate.”
you look at me with your perfect eyes, and stroke my hair,
I'd have liked if you had hugged me, but I don’t tell you this
and keep sinking into the well of weltschmerz, feeling
the deep, agonising tugs of anomie, with, what's that word?
hikikomori making a clutch at my soul — there’s ire in it,
there’s angst, some ennui, some love, and some loathing.
“into your carapace again?” you enquire. I don’t know
what to say, I never know what to say, and keep staring
at you till I disembogue, empty my soul out
confined, contained, I come undone
in the brooks of your being. It's better like this.
Poetry Is A Destructive Force
A poem travels
From limbs to lips
In slow, serrated jangle
Mowing the seductive symphony
Like a prophet of doom
Holding aloft the holy grail
Clasped, not abundance
But only more deprivations
Refusing to provide
On the exigencies of life
“The World Through Your Words...”
The world through your words, the other day, you wrote
Is beautiful. But real life, I tell you, oh! dear, please note
Is different. I knew instantly just what exactly you meant
When you said that. A confession, here, then: It rent
My heart. And I wondered the veracity for hours
Of your simple words, the truth that even now towers
Over my own world, my being and everything I do
Real life indeed is different! Oh! How true! How true!
Real life, come to think of it, preys upon your soul
Who has it ever left unscathed? On whom has it never taken a toll?
It's as if we're, in our lives, in many ways, something else
But real life, it be darned, makes of us something else
Where must we go, I wonder, with our fragile, fragile dreams?
For real life, everywhere, lurks around the corner, it seems
Everyday, it gnaws on us, poaches upon a bit of us
Everyday, it takes a bit away from the whole of us
And thus life goes on, with boulders of broken dreams rife
Such is life! And such, oh! dear, the suchness of real life!
Like some forgotten melody
In fragments, charting
Its own syncopated tracks
Lost in its own lyricism.
Sleep is comforting
In its silence
Waking up is never easy:
It throws you
In the throes of noise.
And then a long spiel on worldliness.
And then a long spell of silence.
To Parkour Man
There must be some pleasure in
The parkours around town —
Free running, at will.
Going where your feet takes you —
You keep embarking on.
Disinterested, at times,
At times, disinterring
Yourself from yourself.
Some secrets the city — and the body —
Hides in its sightly, sinewy
Knots and crevices.
Frazzled, forlorn, at times,
As you go frolicking
Here, a veil of darkness
Here, I breathe
A stank, stale air
As I sit amidst
Poker-faced people —
Devoid of liveliness,
Devoid of life.
There have been times
When I have been tempted
To tiptoe to you
Join you in your jaunts.
But, almost always,
Something has clenched my feet.
Everyday, I fancy
To fly to you
Everyday, I imagine
I've torn into that tumour —
Of sullen, sodden sloth —
And run away to you.
Everyday, I feel my feet
Quiver with anticipation.
Would You Promise?
All these days, I’ve just been whiling away my time, seeking delight in things banal and weary
Taking shine to mundane stuff, taking trivialities a trifle too seriously, so with all things dreary
I have wandered, in vain, for years to find a voice that could anchor the myriad anxieties within
A voice to make sense of the world around, a voice amidst disparate roar, a voice amidst the din
For long I’ve struggled to find the right language, find the right words, the right tenor and tone
For long I’ve found myself lost in symbols of speech, for long I’ve been silent, silent like a stone
Words have often been taken away by someone or the other and I’ve often been left in the lurch
Words have often abandoned me, that too when I’ve found myself of that perfect word in search
Today, I’m mired in reticence, congealed in taciturnity, quietness has clipped all my wings
Today, I suffer with bouts of silence, and don’t quite know what and when and how to say things
Tomorrow, when I know how and when and what to speak, would you be around to listen to me?
Tomorrow, when I rise and shine, would you promise you won’t let the sun go down on me?
Nibbling on crumbs of sleep
In remainder of night's pale light
Meditative, a bit pensive and deep
A pair of eyes looks into the night
Some shouts, murmurs and whispers
Resonate in the empty sphere
Some words, some thoughts and gestures
Are all in the now and here
The eyes are shut, but witness
Whatever that happens around
All moss, all mass, all mess
That continue to gain ground
The time has ticked away
The night begins to recede
A pair of eyes blinks to say
"I yearn to learn to secede".
Even in its deep sleep
The night keeps
Rumbling to wakefulness,
To a life of its own.
Your eyes — half-shut, half open —
Stare at me
Time and space.
Your gentle lashes linger
In sweet shadows
That tiptoe to me,
Ricocheting some memories
In the deep, black stillness.
I can feel your gossamer gaze
On the nimble, naked night.
I can’t be dreaming
But if I say I’m up
I’d be lying.
Half-asleep, half awake, then?
Like half-dead, half-alive?
Here, here, you see,
That desire to be
A bit of this
A bit of that.
It was just
A short while ago
That I survived
A web of humans.
And the little tragedies
In their own little ways.
Yet another’s ire
Yet another’s mire.
Stupidity and abuse.
And some facetious —
and some malicious —
Ah! the joys of the agreeable, and
The trauma of the otherwise!
“Who did he think he was?”
“Who hired her for that job?”
I keep on stirring
My bile before you.
Who knows for how long!
For a moment, I almost
Want you to writhe in
The same furnace of anger
That I burn in.
But you are different.
We are different!
Or are we?
I can hear your words:
I can’t help it, I swear.
My oozing out (your words)
Of love, respect
Or care or compassion
The world is as it is
And will always be
Life is beautiful, you see,
But the world, as Pinter
Whom you and I love, said,
I hear you ask.
No, no, nothing!
I wouldn't have bothered,
About the world
But for the night
That stubbornly seeks
Of all the day’s grievances.
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