Friday, December 31, 2010

Elegy for a Broken Vase to be published in Differsense!!

Yay!!! My poem "Elegy for a Broken vase" has been accepted for publishing in the magazine Differsense!! The poem is just two posts below this one. However, in the magazine, it will appear in a slightly edited form, so I am putting up the edited version here right now, as it will appear in print. hope I'm not doing something wrong!!
Okay, tisn't a big deal, doesn't affect the world. It does still tell me though that at least I don't write total crap. My 4th publication, "proper" one... :-)

Wet,malleable,clay
,a potters wheel
and a friend's hand
birthed it.
Our stories dented it
Etching lines like the wrinkles
left by River’s waves on stone.
Mud-coloured, elegant,
it graced a prized corner
as befitsa hand-crafted gift...
Until, one day, it fell,
struck by my careless hand.
Sorrow, distress, and broken earth
delicately curved, now fill the room;
draughts of love, clouded memories,
bittersweet vapours escape
from the empty vase and
search for a new home.

Philanthropic/ Misanthropic thoughts on 31/12/2010

Dear people,
Today, as 2010 ends and we move towards what will hopefully be a new beginning, 2011 (the phrase is way too clich├ęd, but our world desperately needs a new beginning right now) , I grasp this opportunity to say to you what I really, really need to say. Please read this!! But let me not push something on you. If you would rather not think or question, if you would just rather go out and “have a blast” on New Year’s Eve, let me not impose this upon you.
Oh!! By the way… I just got to know that my poem “Elegy for a Broken Vase” has been accepted for publication by the Differsense magazine… yay!! J I hope it is a good ending to 2010 and a hopeful beginning for the new…
Okay, This is the result of an entire month of intense thinking, much angst and agony. I became haunted and obsessed with it. This is to share with you some of that, bcos it’s our world, it’s one world, we need to connect, and bcos I want to learn and be wiser, so I must talk to people,of course!! Thought should always precede action. Okay, so let me be honest. In my usual life, balancing my academic life plus my socializing life plus my day dreaming and personal life, plus all the things I must do as an outstation student in delhi leaves me with absolutely no time for much else. My own worries and my own satisfaction is what I am usually preoccupied with. Of course, I am concerned about the world in a general way. Now, however, I have become obsessed with the violence and inequality in this world. This is what we must address now. Immediately. Our own personal lives are nothing short of heaven. One persistent migraine that refuses to go away, one broken heart that adamantly refuses to mend, and one insurmountable NET stubbornly acting as an obstacle … that’s it!! My only and only “real worries”. Tis nothing at all!! And now.. what do I want to talk about?? I want to talk about the war prisoners, the kidnapped children, the raped women, I want to talk about people like Binayak Sen. And so many such people. And you know what I want to talk about?? Animals. The ones we eat. Sorry, I mean the ones which we kill and eat and then call this barbaric practice a civilized one. This is bcos I am haunted now by the eyes and by the pain of those animals… do try, for once, to put yourself in the place of that animal and experience it… of course we say it’s the natural food chain. But aren’t humans something better than animals? I mean we have intelligence, reasoning, we know self control… don’t you abstain from things you really want to do?? Don’t you use your self control? bcos your mind sees that to do such a thing is morally incorrect, however much you might want to do it. We all do. We are all “broad minded, university educated people”… no, this is not entirely satirical. This mail is sent to you bcos I think you are intelligent and sensitive enough to understand, bcos I respect you, bcos I am glad to know a person like you. Okay, when we have reached a stage now when we can see that violence on the basis of gender is wrong, caste is wrong, religion is wrong, sexuality is wrong, when we have studied and rethought power structures… then why don’t we also think that violence against animals is also wrong?? Do we think that animals don’t feel the way we do?? Or are we slaves to our taste buds? Just imagine yourself in the place of that animal… Okay, at a different level now. We are conditioned, of course. But then we are conditioned into so many things. Literature, delhi, and certain people have made me rethink and question my conditioning so much, and I am so glad and grateful for that. But it must not stop!! That is the whole point. I cannot now become complacent and pat myself on the back that I have become so broad minded and stop there. I must stretch myself, go on with this search, this questioning. Yes, it’ll mean a lot of angst, a lot of thinking, there will be pain. I could choose not to think and question and to just be happy. But I can’t be happy!!! As a citizen of this world, I feel I cannot sit and look at so much violence around me and just look on and do nothing. All violence ultimately arises out of forms of power structures. Men over women, adults over children, teachers over students ( all my apologies to the oh-so-many teachers whom I hope have bothered to read this far), rich over poor, humans over animals, always the strong over the weak, the powerful against the vulnerable, … the law of nature to a certain extent yes, but not beyond that, please. As humans, why are we barbaric enough even in the 21st century to only value physical strength? personally, I value moral, emotional and intellectual strength much more. Gandhiji was one of the greatest leaders and India is lucky to have had him. Bcos he fought violence with non-violence. Peace, love and compassion, the only things that make sense if the world has to change for the better… more peace, love, and compassion, endless and healing love… for everyone, not just for our loved ones. Anyways, I think signature campaigns on the internet are very good, democratic, non-violent and effectual ways to do something. That we already do. But can’t we do something more?? We need to bridge the gap between our progressive ideologies and the actual state of things around. The gap is toooo wide, trying to bridge it a bit is so necessary!!
Okay, I was so haunted and obsessed, I couldn’t even sleep, but then I realized I will do no good to anyone by this. If it would have done good, I am willing to suffer. Now, being happy almost seems like a selfish act, an escapist act, but we need to be happy. Bcos it’s true we can’t change the whole world. We can do our bit, though, and that is only possible by doing our work well, contributing in whatever way we can, learning, creating, sharing, helping… if I think of all those victims, man, woman, child and animal, I’ll be sick and insane… so beyond a point, I must put I away. It is not escapism, it’s what I must do to at least do something for this world. We all have different ways of contributing… I was thinking of concrete stuff… I know lots of us are concerned by say, women, for example, or animals, or whatever. We could at some stage, actually do social work, whether by joining an existing organization, or by creating one of our own. Writing, teaching… well, that is what I can do, at least, (and by teaching I mean something much, much larger than creating answer writing and marks obtaining machines. That is NOT what I am going to spend my life doing.) and I think Nandita (Das) ( are you reading, Nandita?? J ) yeah, so I think Nandita was right when she told me once that whatever our heart is in is what we can do best, and when we have that happiness, then we can spread it the best. So we must all find our ways of contributing… but pls let’s not grow complacent, let’s not lose that urgency, let’s keep questioning and examining ourselves and what we are doing!! What good is art, literature, culture, left wing politics in a world like this?? How does it help?? We need to ask, at least, surely.
People, I really really hope no-one’s going to take this in a wrong sense, it is not meant as a morality lecture, it is not meant as an accusation, it is an attempt to share what was spilling over after having driven me insane. Pls take this as an attempt to learn, to share, and hopefully, to make the seeds for some kind of change, that’s all it is!! I want to live close to the earth, and open to the sky, without all the time thinking of security, protection, fortification!! To take whatever life brings!! Takes courage, yes, though.
Okay, now… Extremely glad, grateful, happy and proud to know all the people I send this to!! Learning, living, loving, fulfilling, satisfying, fruition … I wish you all of that in the new year!!!!!!!! J J

Friday, October 15, 2010

Elegy for a Broken Vase

The malleability of wet clay

a potter's wheel, and a friend's hand

birthed it. Stories etched into it

as dented lines, like wrinkles

formed by River's waves, on stone.

Mud coloured and elegant, it occupied

a prized position, as befits

a handcrafted gift, with grace.

Until it fell,struck by my careless hand

in dignity, stature, and height.

Sorrow, distress, and broken pieces of earth

delicately curved, now fill the room and

Draughts of love, clouds of memories and

bittersweet vapours escape

from the empty vase and

search for a new home.


An Urn of Ashes

It is an ornate and

heavy urn of bronze

shaped like a lota of water

its handles carved, and arching.

A heap of grey ashes

lies within, sanctified

hallowed remains.

The ashes seem heavy as lead

I lug them on my back

around my neck

everywhere I go.

Nourish them,

cherish them, they are

but metamorphosed forms

of the words you said, the smiles

you looked, and the red flame

of my heart before it was taught to turn to stone.

Waiting, hoping, for the phoenix to rise again

The leaden dread that I wait and carry in vain.


An Ode to Civil Lines, Delhi, October 2010

Dusky darkness steals in softly

tiptoeing, caressing

cradling the white fragrance

of the raat rani, shefali, frangipani.

The moon between the two tall palms

is a boat,the star is a kiss on the sea-sky.


At 7pm in the grounds of IP college

spirits and gods and trees converse, converge

mysteries like flying insects are suspended in mid air.

A silhouette of blue smoke seems strangely kindred

At odd hours, this spirit creeps out to share this tryst.

Six years have made it a translucent omnipresence.


The spirit then glides down the street, smoky

invisible, pervading ,absorbing atmosphere

which mutates into night smells

of ice creams, juices

the red paan, smoke-fags,

the tea,maggi,rolls,momos, chocolates.


Smell jostles against smell, sounds and lights

the shops, autos lined up at the gas station

cars teeming with yellow cat-like eyes

Sights, sounds, memories, smells,feelings

are brewed together, the logic of boundaries

comes undone. The spirit traverses


Into the by-ways of winged hopes,

feathered dreams, nostalgic idylls

of rajpur road, under hill lane, sri ram road

and ram kishore road, that take me across

time and space, desires and sorrows

back to the room of my own I call home.



My five feet four inch fifty kg body

may measure acres, square miles, cities

but a whiff of smoky translucence

will always glide down bylanes of dreams

and memory at 7pm, in the IP grounds

the place that brewed and stewed and cooked

and sprouted me.



Untitled (a response to J M Coetzee's Disgrace)

(a response to J M Coetzee's Disgrace )



Teach me

that ritual, David's daily penance

of carrying dead dogs to the incinerator.


Teach me

Lucy's mysterious wisdom

of accepting guilt without flinching.


But do not try to tell me

that shame precludes desire.

That they cannot coexist.


Desire can be consecrated, pure

as blue fire, it can worship the beloved

yet not touch her with its flame.


Fighting Menka and her fellow apsaras

of desire and temptation

is the agnipariksha remorse must win over


A daily duel with these dancing apsaras

only strengthens my victory

and is my highest offerring of atonement

towards grace.


The twin birds on the tree of the gita are within me

one tempted to eat the fruit, the other watching

even if one succumbs to the fruit, the other redeems.





Passport Sized Photographs

Passport-sized-photographs


A dummy, a mannequin,

a wax work doll. An object

to be stared, commented, laughed at.

A robotic machine. Controlled

by a set of commands.


“Shift your face to the left

your neck is not straight, your face

not level with the ground,madam.”


The holy mantra for photo-production

needs me to wear a plastic smile on demand

of correct length and breadth measurements


The canvas of my life

is replaced by a cheap blue one

Dirty too. I persuade him

to make it grey.


And I wonder how many sittings

and how many, many rehearsals

would capture my flyaway spirit

and inject a whiff of my soul

into this two-inches-of-gloss

this millimetred smile?




Show me how to do it like you

Not a hair

out of place. Not a ruffle

of dress, or of distress.

No clumsy errors

or misdemeanours

Perfect. And

Immaculate.

A story-book heroine

A graceful River flowing easy

is how your life

appears to me.


And I stare ruefully

at my own cobwebs

that need dusting,

removing, rethinking

at the fault-lines

that lead to earthquakes

at the sticky slime

at the acids that corrode

layers of my limestone mind.


Show me how to do it,

Show me how to do it like you.



(The last 2 lines, taken from Stevie Wonder's song, also form the epigraph to Alice Walker's The Color Purple.)


Choices

Frost's road diverged in a yellow wood

But what made him take the one less travelled by?

How do Hamlets decide to be or not to be,

to go, to act, to kill, or to not?


This power to alter our states is terrifying,

Nambisan is right, and I am paralysed

into Alfred Prufrock's doubt and inaction.

Dumbledore said our choices make us

what we are. But how do we make choices?


But let's not get existential. Let's not fall

into this canyon of questions.Let's find

a bottom to this bottomless gorge.

Or make one!


Open Pandora's box! Out with the bees,

the wasps and the hornets with their stings!

rights, wrongs ,goods, bads, reason,

logic, morals, virtues!


Shoo them away! No wreaths of laurel,

no gold medals for me! No awards of virtue!

Who decides, anyway? And when? On the Day

of Judgement on my deathbed?


Shoo them away! Doubts corrode as much

as certainty, after all. We meet in rust. That's

what Arundhathi Subramaniam said.

If you want references. And authorities.


Shoo them away! And let me be.

Let me be happy. Let me be me. Let me live

the life I wanted, the life I dreamt of. Let me

follow my heart.


But a tiny demon stalks me constantly

whispering in my ear

“are you quite sure?”


Saturday, September 4, 2010

4 poems in Muse India!!

Muse India , in their September issue this time, published 4 of my poems!! The basic theme of this issue is tagore, but they have lots of other stuff as well. an my poems aren't even remotely about tagore!! Okay, so the selected 4 are -- The Legend of the Pot, Of Poems Dreams and Reveries, Being Belindas, and, Homeless Home-makers, in that order.
Check them out here-- http://www.museindia.com/regular.asp?id=33

and yes, I am grinning from ear to ear like the Cheshire cat!! :))

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

poem published in The Chay Magazine

"Being Belindas" got published on The Chay Magazine website! The Chay Magazine is a Pakistan-based magazine on issues of gender and sexuality. Yay!! to read the poem, and other interesting stuff, pls do visit www.chaymagazine.org

The poem is elsewhere on the blog, but I am copy-pasting it below again, anyway.

Being Belindas (a response to Pope's Rape of the Lock)

The mirror hangs before me
My long face stares back at me
a pointed chin
whose rounding I dread
A tiny forehead
gleaned from the thick mass
of black hair surrounding it.
At the black hair
now streaked with red
I oscillate between
fascination and nostalgia
The hair, mostly helter-skelter
sometimes, precise in a bun
A glazed eyeball
with its bit of plastic-glas lens
A newly pierced nose--
a shade too large
showing off that li'l bit of green
My ears trying to seek attention
with their multiple studs and rings
which I regard as pets
And a moody mouth.
but on the whole, a face
I can live with.
My skin the colour
of burnt caramel
a thin, supple body
I am unashamedly
in love with.

Bottles and vials lined
in an array on the slab beside me
the daily ritual
of cleansing, toning, conditioning
the creams and the perfumes
the chief kohl that lines my eyes
the earrings in their silver box
the cupboard with its
greater assortment of clothes
than i could ever wear
the occupational hazards
of being a young girl.

Oh Pope, and other misogynists!
We love being Belindas
and Belindas we shall remain
with our bottles and our vials
our bibles and our billet doux
and we rebel against rapes
of our locks and otherwise.
our bodies and their vagaries
and tricks we play with them
are ours.
And not playthings or objects
for your phallus
or that inglorious phallic symbol
your pen.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jealous- Green

Jealous-green

From a sober olive green
dark, sombre, brooding jealousy
to bright emerald which screams
its insecurities to your face
to jade- moss- parrot green
to the sickly green pallor
of vommitting food or
unpalatable emotions.
I have turned all
greened all, screamed
from the pain of burning
a yellow-red-orange flame
which I try to simmer down,
swallow down, green-it-down
before it rages and runs amuck.
I wonder what's green about
Envy.

Lost in your house

My mind went a-wandering
into your house
it peeped through curtains
spied from behind doors, scuttled
on the floors, flew like an airy spirit
into your hair, tried to invade
your mind.
My mind often lives inside
your house, sometimes
even you're not there.
My mind often lurks nearby
hides, and sometimes, it
catches you unawares
comes face to face, no,
mind to mind.
At times, I have to summon
my mind to come back to me.
I take an evening walk
in the direction of your house and
hope to find my lost mind
midway.

The Watchman

Girls pass in and out in droves
at all odd hours of everyday
A dirty ragged child squeals
another chases him
buffaloes ruminate in the middle of lanes
chewing their cud.
Workmen-- and women-- carry
bricks and stones and cement
The maids and cooks come and go
a kabadiwalla's voice heard above
the tring-tring of his cycle.
The businessman in his coat-tie-suit
And his car.
The hot torrid sun beats down
upon everyone.
And later, there is deathly quiet
by starlight and moonlight
the faint rustle of a leaf
a cat on a late night prowl
and awe-ful silence.
The Watchman Watches.

Like the White Rabbit
in Alice's Wonderland
hurry-scurry-hurry-
no one has time.
Except the Watchman
The watchman is busy
watching a-busy-world
He keeps time on the watch and
He watches time go by
Observing, reflecting, watching
he sees into the heart of things
into the souls of people
into hidden secrets.
He watches and
He knows
a reality that escapes us and
gets lost
while we are searching
for other things.

The Red River

I feel it trickle between my legs
a red river, warm and sticky
forms a valley of blood.
An aching numbness
makes me heavy
a ripe fullness fills my body
pregnant with possibility.

Each month I protest
against the fatalism
that awaits a woman.
against its encumbrances
the sordid, stark reality
with all its itching fusses
and always the bloody river.
I resist, desist, grumble and
Obey.


Yet
this deep red river
flowing, dripping, trickling
is my identity, my pride
at being Woman.
It is a holy river, a sacred river
not a dirty river of waste, or of taboo.
A symbol of a woman's growing, caring,
feeling ,loving giving
The River is not a means to an end,
It simply IS.



Thousands of Duryodhans
over hundreds of years
have dragged Draupadis
to the stake,
to pyres of burning fires,
pyres of rape
violated their privacy,
outraged their dignity.
Societies over centuries
have isolated women,confined
to dark rooms, forbidden
to enter temples, made to sleep
on beds of straw and hay.
Untouchables Outcast.

Shared silences bind women
to women, I only seek
to word-verb-speak them.
Silences in poems have voices
I know that you know that I
know what you know.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Happy 2nd birthday, Blog!!

Happy Happy 2nd Birthday, Blog!! :)

Exactly 2 years ago, I posted the first bunch of posts on Heartstrings, acting upon a very eager desire of starting a blog. So, it has been 2 years!! I think, (quite immodestly) , that there is a fair deal of difference between what I wrote then and what I write now. So, how do I celebrate this happy fact?? Write some more, blog some more, learn some more, improve some more, and get more eager desires?? I will!! Three cheers to you, Blog!! :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CaPoWrimO-- Caferati Poetry Writing Month!! :)

Caferati, the writing/ poetry group I am part of, organised CaPoWriMo, Caferati Poetry Writing Month, in April. One poem per day for the entire month of April, following the forms, themes and instructions that were given. Below is my "Thank You" Post to caferati at the end of this month long exercise. All my poems are up here on the blog, but the rightful link which began it all is National Poetry Writing Month in some corner of the world, http://www.napowrimo.net/ and Caferati Poetry Writing Month for us!! http://caferati.blogspot.com/2010/03/capowrimo.html


Well,Caferati... thank you so much for putting me back in touch with myself, for putting me back in touch with caferati, for making me learn so many different forms and for actually making me feel that I can write in "form", for teaching me discipline to write a poem a day (sometimes I cheated, and wrote 3 in one day!!), for making me realise the very highly "constructed" nature of poetry... one can hardly force oneself to be inspired 30 days a month!! It was interesting to twist themes the way I wanted to,so that I always managed to write on the theme given, twisting it just enough to make it say something I really find meaningful and want to say. None of the poems were written just for the sake of writing them... not one!! ...and for... so many things!! a very learning, enjoyable and meaningful experience... and when all that is combined, what could be better!!well, my honest statistics, haven't been as scrupulously honest as Pushpa, so I must confess!! 25 of the poems were very honestly and scrupulously written!! As for the other 5... well, they were ones I have written recently over Feb and March... they just happened to match themes... Lots of the 25 poems were reworked versions of earlier ones... I converted so many free verse poems into form... a very interesting experience...anyways, I don't think it matters, so long as one learns from the experience and it proves meaningful. And I will go prolific on my blog now, posting all these. haven't done it yet, haven't had the time. I thought of FB notes... but decided to give it a miss, all my poems are on my blog, I usually don't put any on FB notes. And Finally, at the end of this prolific post... a very heartfelt... Thank You soooo much, caferati. I'd never have done this if you hadn't made me!!! :)

Day 1,2,3

CaPoWriMo (Caferati Poetry Writing Month)

Day 1 – Haiku (5-7-5 syllables)

Round, orange baubles
hanuman's suns, narangis
pluck them, they dangle.

Day 2--Clerihew (biographical. Begins with a person's name. 4 lines, couplets. Irregular line length)

Alfred Lord Tennyson
never had much fun
Arthur Hallam died at twenty
and left him with tears aplenty.


Day 3-- Limerick (funny poem. Rhyme scheme-- aabba. Syllables- 8-9, 8-9, 5-6, 5-6, 8-9)

Pooh was deep in a jar of hunny
when there came along a bunny
'Where's Tigger?' asked Rabbit
Jumping down to market
Said Pooh, with hunny all runny.

Day 4

Day 4-- Ballad (a poem that tells a story. Plenty of rhyme and repetition.)

The Legend of the Pot


On a rocky ledge in a cliff by a river
Fasola heard a magic pot quiver
with the sound of wind, or water
or perhaps, the sound was laughter.
Go to the stream, what do the waves say
They whisper the legend of the pot, the lay.

This pot was shaped long ago by a potter
who took it home to his wife and young daughter
the pot was so perfect, so exceptionally round
all who looked at it, by it were bound
The daughter and her friends trotted down one day
with the pot to the river, all happy and gay.

Busy in their play, they forgot the pot
Left it behind on the bank to rot
Whisked into the river by a sudden wave
it bobbed and floated past the mermaids' cave
The magic pot embodied all that came its way
the waves, the breeze, the laughter of the fairy fays.

But floating was the pot's destiny
even mermaids cannot engage in mutiny
It landed in a circle of smooth, round stones
a lotus in the centre, and a few pine cones
A fisherman saw it, tying his boat to the pole
picked it and looked, admiring the whole

A storm brew up and swept it away
Jigglesqueak is all he had time to say
Battered and wasted, it lay there, half broken
Is this what I came to, it could have spoken
Till rich folks decided to make a cottage by the river
the workmen found it, put it aside for later.

On a rocky ledge in a cliff by a river
Fasola heard a magic pot quiver
with the sound of wind, or water
or perhaps, the sound was laughter.
The magic pot embodied all that came its way
the waves, the breeze, the laughter of the fairy fays

Go to Fasola, feel the perfection and charm
of this little round pot, unharmed by harm
Go to Fasola, you will, won't you?
The pot may embody some part of you too!

Day 5, 6

Day 5-- sonnet (Shakespearean sonnet. 3 quartets + 1 couplet)
April

The cruellest month mixes memory with desire
Eliot digs up old roots, stirs them with fresh soil
Dormant passions awaken new inner turmoil
Chilling frost gives way to smouldering fires.

April enters when the indecisive wind
of Anjum Hasan opens its slow mouth
The year, frisky as a lamb, uncouth
Is trying to learn to make up its mind

the month of brief, sudden showers
(in Mother Goose's nursery rhymes is April
In India, mango blossoms, first call of the koel
the orange and green of gulmohur trees

Poetry has sought to immortalise April
My debut is this pastiche of my quill.


* Lines 9 and 10 have a different version, but this one is the "public" version.


Day 6-- Cinquain (Line 1- noun, line 2- descritpion, without using adjectives. Line 3- action. Line 4- effect or feeling it produces. Line 5- synonym of first noun/line. Iambic meter. )

the river
a possessed creature
its oceanic waters merge with the sky
the peepul tree dances in epiphany
Jahnavi.

Day 7

Day 7-- Villanelle (pattern of rhyme scheme and line repetition. In “a” and “b”, the rhyme is repeated. In A1 and A2, the entire line is repeated. A1 b A2, abA1, abA2, abA1, abA2, abA1A2.)

Reason and laws can our actions constrain
subdue, chastise, cleanse with holy fire
But this intensity of pain they cannot restrain.

A public “you”, you then have to feign
a schizophrenic split between facade and desire
Reason and laws can our actions constrain.

This walking the tightrope to stay sane
implies a discipline one must acquire
But this intensity of pain they cannot restrain.

Sometimes, you may nearly break from the strain
of the inherent duality causing agonising seizures
Reason and laws can our actions constrain.

They feel that with time, passion will wane
become sober, sedate, burn itself on the pyre
But this intensity of pain they cannot restrain.

Refrain itself has become my refrain
Repeated again, over and over
Reason and laws can our actions constrain
But this intensity of pain they cannot restrain.

Day 8

Day 8-- Look Closely (at objects around you,what significance does it have for you)

Harbingers of Summer

I like them plump,
these harbingers of summer
like this one
it lies heavy
and dusty green in my hand
the heat of the sun, the warmth
of the ground
seep into my hand from its interiors
that are cool and white and juicy
springy and tangy
with a big fat white seed in the middle.
They call it kairi at home, and in school
my friends called it tikola
and in english, we call them green unripe mangoes.
It reminds me of cherished summers
spent, looking forward to them, plucking them or
picking them up from dry ground, eating them
tearing them with our teeth, giggling
or sometimes, like at home when they
were put into delicious sabzis.

Day 9, 10

Day 9-- Angel and Gargoyle (opposite/twin sides of myself- the angel and the gargoyle)

I am Jane Eyre
sensitive, a little shy
intensely devoted and
loyal
with a fierce spirit of justice and
independence
a strong desire for love
for being wanted.
The angel and the madwoman
conflate within me
I am Bertha Mason too
I rage with anger, I scream
till I tear my hair from the roots
I can be violent.
And jealous. Very Jealous.
Playing Jane-switching-
to-Bertha
is a very interesting game
What angel and which madwoman?
The two are just the same.


Day 10-- Olfactory poetry (the sense of “smell”)

There is an 'old' smell
a much-lived-in0worn-
down-smell
in run-down-to-death-clothes
in a pile of dry leaves
shoved aside
in yellowed pages of books and
much thumbed letters.
There is the comfy, homey smell
of home.
And there is a 'new' smell
a strange-pristine-
smell-of-the-unfamiliar
in starched clothes and
fresh paper and empty
unlived in houses
a smell that you can never
Own.

day 11, 12

Day 11-- An Exercise in Blue (blue as in, the blues of the spirit. I tried connecting it with the colour blue)

There is the pensive violet blue
of a dusky twilight sky
which reflects lost loves
and past failures
with philosophical sombreness.
There is a torrid, violent blue
of cloud-rolling-thunder
or a river in spate
my anguished frenzied
trembling outpourings
or a shrieking migraine.
There is a bright, cerulean blue
of a summer sky that
mocks my pain. Jeers.
Or the gurgling, blithe blue
of a bluebell and a brook.
And there is the liquid, limpid blue
that absorbs my tears
before they fall.



Day 12 – The Original Simile (write loads of similes, select interesting ones, twist them, mix them up, use them in a poem)

Frankenstein's Monster

Frankenstein's dream, vivid
and loud
grew like mercury levels
rising in a thermometer
with nervous elbows and knees
he set to work on his masterpiece
as quick as The Big Bang
lo and behold! His creature was ready
all angular and
geometric.

day 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Day 13 – Following the golden string-- take the first thought in the morning and think it through

Thirteenth April 

temporarily removed.


Day 14 – my new poetic form (2 rhymes, one in the middle of each line, one at the end)

my eyes stare into yours
two pairs-- are they at war?
Silence ensnares words I could conjure
speak, I dare not, I would rather endure
muteness where unsaid words obscure
burn and flare, unheard but sure
we cannot spare this, there is no cure
haunting memories fare forth, unholy or pure.


Day 15-- sms poem-- 'O. Henry Nightingale' poem. (It's elsewhere on this blog, an earlier post)

Day 16-- poem in 100 words-- 'Your fear bring me closer to you' (90-97 words) (It's elsewhere on this blog, an earlier post)

Day 17- poem that takes off from another poem-- Being Belindas : a response to Pope's Rape of the Lock (It's elsewhere on this blog, an earlier post)

Day 18

Day 18-- Dialogue poem ( a poem entirely in dialogue, in quotations. No asides. Not even the names of people talking)

Almost Rape

“bhaiya, is this the rajiv chowk metro?”
“yes, take the next metro that comes”
“ok, thank you”
“do you live here?”
“No, I just came to visit someone”
“I work here, in the metro”
“ok”
“in the metro bathroon, come with me, I'll show you the bathroom”
“I can't! The metro comes in 2mins now”
“so what? It will come again soon. Let me show you the bathroom”
“I can't! I have a very long journey ahead. I can't possibly waste time and go with you.”
“Madam, the metro is very quick and fast, your journey will not be long. Come with me to the bathroom, please come with me to the bathroom......”

Day 19, 20

Day 19-- Ode ( addressed to a particular person/object etc. Written in rhyme)

My Room-- An Ode

Inside my room
is a nurturing womb
where I am bare, naked
unclothed, exposed
thoughts and feelings freely
lie outside my body
There is paper and pencil
to hear me when no human will
With volumes of poetry
and musical symphony
I, myself and Me
are in harmony.


Day 20- “Home” poem ( of what “home” means, where “home” is, in my imagination)

There are floating roots and
aerial roots, but I
prefer under-the-ground ones.
Cold winds may blow and tempests
may rage, I may
be hungry and broken
But in Emily Bronte-ish fashion
“Nothing drear can move me
I will not, cannot go”
faith may seem to totter and
angst may seem to win
But, in the words of a childhood
'Chapni' tale
“The world is big, it's fun to roam
But the nicest, nicest place is home”

Day 21 and 22

Day 21-- Acrostic (The first letters of each line, taken together, spell out a message!)

Glorious profusion of wilderness
Orange flash of gulmohur trees
Ducks dawdling in the lake beyond

I idly gaze at this immensity
Standing with the wind billowing around me

Deer in the park, nibbling at grass
Elephants with trunks majestically swaying
Alice Walker's god lay in no church nor temple
Death of religion, let's embrace a purple vision.



Day 22-- Free Writing (thoughts in the state between dreaming and waking)

Nightmarish Life

Burning fires, strange creatures
Random men putting something
on my face.
Familiar surroundings turn hostile
Known people turn away
Arbitrary groups ridiculing me
mocking, mauling, harassing me
rape, thefts, accidents, and other
god forsaken things
Scared of the future
Guilt in the present
The world becomes a malignant,
threatening place.

Day 23 and 24

Day 23-- Grace's Elevator ( Taking life as a multi-storeyed building. Memory as an elevator. And I, as being free to roam where I like in this building)

A journey of no return
Linear time
a forever forward march
gone once and gone forever.


But memory
is different...
Memory is an elevator
up-down-up-down-back-and-
forth-to-and-fro
Memory is the desire
wishing to turn back time and
my elevator often
gets stuck on the same floor
and adamantly
refuses to move.


Day 24- Death Poem

half closing eyes
a quaking mind
trembling before

the Ultimate Sovereign
who is our guest tonight
surrendering
before the awe-ful presence
the individual will
reluctantly, unwillingly
relinquishing the five senses
the gateways of life.
Memories leap up and
you must let them go
Nostalgia is a bane and a boon.
And... the curtain falls
the play ends abruptly
Oblivion. Blissful
Oblivion.

Others write elegies in memoriam.

Day 25, 26

Day 25- poem based on fairy tales

The witch who locked hansel in a cage
Cinderella's evil stepmother
The wicked woman who imprisoned Rapunzel
in an upstairs window
The wolf who pretended to be
Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother.
The curse on Sleeping Beauty
The banishment of Snow White
to seven dwarfs with malicious grins
amidst spooky goblins and demons
I search for angels and
fairy godmothers in vain
in these devilish tales of witchery.


Day 26- circular poems. ( begins and ends with the same line. All in less than 12 lines.)

As I walk down to the office, it is 2pm
a sudden feeling of deja vu, a re-enactment
in my mind, before my eyes, it is 12th August 2008
the single most humiliating, embarrassing, shaming
moment of my life, it haunts me, taunts me
hunts me down like a scared animal
the vision threatens to overwhelm me
at the brink, I brusquely shake my head
one compelling, irresistable look and
I resolutely turn my gaze away
As I walk down to the office, it is 2pm.

Day 27, 28, 29, 30

Day 27—News poem (based on a newspaper article)

Said he loved her
he said he loved her, yes
and so he killed her
murdered her with two
butcher's knives.
He could not see her with
another man.
Thus a tragedy came to pass
Because a pompous fool
a male chauvinist pig
dared to think he possessed
her life.


Day 28-- poem on an object always within hand's reach-- 'The Art of Making a Juda' – It's elsewhere on this blog, an earlier post.

Day 29-- List Poem ( a list of things. The same phrase/kind of thing should be repeated many times)

Free me from this pain
Free me from your disdain
Free me from angsty insanity
Free me from demons of lunacy
Free me from these tears
Free to unchain my fears.
Free me from the debt I owe to you.



Day 30- a poem about poetry-- 'Poetry, Dreams, and Reveries' – it is elsewhere on this blog, an earlier post.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Feast: Body and Soul

Feast your eyes
on the cheeses and the sauces
the steaming soup
the melting-in-the-mouth dessert.
savour the rich aromas
the mix of desires and spires of smoke
Steep yourself into it, crave for it.
Then dip, bite, chew, dig in
Let the full-filling meal
satiate your body's hunger.
And watch how
the spires and the desires
the aromas and the sauces
stitched up
that rent in your heart
that tear in your soul
where pangs
of unconsummated desires
had lurked.
That was when you were too busy
Eating.

Of Poetry, Dreams and Reveries

Poetry, dreams and reveries
create oyster pearls
and fertile lands
from grains of desert sand.
Impregnate
black monsoon clouds with rain
Moons, stars and comets
wanderers in the night.

A blank notebook page
or a digital word file
tabularasa of my mind
like the ovary is the receptacle
for the stamen's pollen.
mine to write, edit, delete
cross over and write again
I the solipsist, creator, god.

Spaces that are truly "mine"
Cottages, nests and homes
Through them, I cautiously put out
feelers, tentacles
sticky threads of spider webs
connecting links
with myself,
with the world.

Being Belindas (a response to Pope's Rape of the Lock)

The mirror hangs before me
My long face stares back at me
a pointed chin
whose rounding I dread
A tiny forehead
gleaned from the thick mass
of black hair surrounding it.
At the black hair
now streaked with red
I oscillate between
fascination and nostalgia
The hair, mostly helter-skelter
sometimes, precise in a bun
A glazed eyeball
with its bit of plastic-glas lens
A newly pierced nose--
a shade too large
showing off that li'l bit of green
My ears trying to seek attention
with their multiple studs and rings
which I regard as pets
And a moody mouth.
but on the whole, a face
I can live with.
My skin the colour
of burnt caramel
a thin, supple body
I am unashamedly
in love with.

Bottles and vials lined
in an array on the slab beside me
the daily ritual
of cleansing, toning, conditioning
the creams and the perfumes
the chief kohl that lines my eyes
the earrings in their silver box
the cupboard with its
greater assortment of clothes
than i could ever wear
the occupational hazards
of being a young girl.

Oh Pope, and other misogynists!
We love being Belindas
and Belindas we shall remain
with our bottles and our vials
our bibles and our billet doux
and we rebel against rapes
of our locks and otherwise.
our bodies and their vagaries
and tricks we play with them
are ours.
And not playthings or objects
for your phallus
or that inglorious phallic symbol
your pen.

The Art of Juda Making

A wealth of hair
wound around my hand
twisted, just so
with a flip movement, there.
And then there's the inner filling
the stuffing
which must be put in
just right, neither caving in
nor protruding
ouch! That was tricky!
A cautious patting of the bun
to affirm its roundness
its smoothness, neatness
And the wooden stick
with its carved, crowning head
is now inserted
at just the right angle.
Or a pencil or a paintbrush
would do as well
if sticks are few.
Holding up a mass of hair
with a single stick
and grace
that comes from minimalism
The art of juda making
like the art of poetry
is of delicate precision.

A Love-Lorn Night

Last night I realised
that I am the climbing
white rose briar
and you the teak tree
with your straight smooth bark
and broad leaves
I lose myself
upon extrication.

Last night I discovered
you again,
through your words
you came alive
within me
within these angular walls.

Last night I realised
that this pain that writhes
like a body that is shot
but is not quite dead
and this dull, slow ache
that haunts till life
becomes death
is part of me.

Last night I remembered
the pearl the oyster makes
of the itching grain of sand
and I prayed
that the wisdom of the oyster
be granetd me.

Homeless Home-makers

A dhoti, a vest
is that a man
precariously balanced
on the wooden ladder
on the third floor
in a sea of mortar?
Saris tied to be gotten
out of the way
women carrying
head loads of brick and cement
Kids of all sizes
playing in the mud
sleeping on the ground
crying, sniffling, happy, gay
in scanty, dirty clothes
they turn into cement
sand and mortar themselves.
Make shift houses
and make shift meals
defy the name
having become the only
way of life.
eaten by mosquitoes
sun, wind and rain
living in shacks
of jute sacks and tarpaulin
they build multi storeyed
buildings with turrets, pillars
fancy woodwork
and exquisite grandeur.

On a roller coaster ride

From pleasure pinnacles
I plunge headlong
into deep abysses
Dancing with delight
I find myself
in doldrums of despair.
Eternally internally
on a roller coaster ride
looking to you
depending on you
for dancing and plunging
you the key
and I the clockwork.

Rushing, rolling, dashing, drowning
grown tired and weary
I wonder why my boat
rocks so violently.

Your fear brings me closer to you

Fear stares at me
through your eyes
stands face to face
with the fear in mine.
Fear speaks to fear
I see fear run through your eyes
touch your lips, change your face
Your fear brings me closer
to you.

Hatred would break me
Dislike cripple me
as I stand at your mercy
yet again.
But your fear tells me
you have devils
and demons to fight
as much as I have mine.

Strange conundrum!
Your fear brings me closer
to you
your pain helps me deal with
my own.

Things Fall Apart

Things fall apart
and bury
a piece of my heart
under rubble.
My shrieking, protesting heart
alive and awake
is buried under rubble.
reams of paper fall apart
an earthquake hits me
tremors shake the ground beneath me
treasured memories, lost loves
covered by debris
scarred forever
struggle to survive.

In a Library

The far corner on the right side
of the first floor of the library
There they are--shelves 9,10,11,12,13
The Literature section
all labelled with "American lit"
"Indian lit", 14th to 20th century lit
musty, yellowed, decaying
books bound in red and brown
faded, crumbling tomes
line my hands with their dust
shelf after long shelf of books
ceiling to floor, wall to wall
here and there, ah relief!
books with shiny, laminated covers
books with glossy, illustrated jackets
books, books, books
and me
lost in a reverie
awed into solemnity
world opens upon new world
in a library.

These are a few of my favourite things

Peacocks trees rivers poetry
Jane Eyre, Brunizem menstrual rites
Don Williams Simon and Garfunkel
masks fractals long open tresses

coffee popcorn silver fishes in my ears
red black olive green purple
blue elephants flying violet owls
big fat yellow gold moons

These are a few of my favourite things...
mixing memory and desire
they speak to me
of you...

A Lens in Solution

A nucleus in cytoplasm
a fish in water
in air, it dries up
cripples, shrivels, and dies.
in solution, it unfolds and blossoms
gaining new life.

A Lens in Solution