Saturday, November 19, 2011

Viewerscope/ Solipsism

Viewerscope / Solipsism

In a flash, I can turn
Darkness into light.
In a zooming jiffy, people
Become larger than life.
All I do is change the metaphor,
Really. I mix a tinge of black
With the red to make it maroon.
I can make a big tree and
A small boy. Or vice-versa. I can make
Moons fly, I can make men stand
On their heads, I can overturn
Buildings. Perhaps empires too.
I can turn that frown
Into a smile. Just a concave
And a convex difference, really.
I can make things blurry, I can
Make ‘em clear, I can make
The merry go round go faster
And faster. I just need
To change the lens, really.

Metempsychosis: a poem for Virginia Woolf

Metempsychosis: a poem for Virginia Woolf

Said Joyce, is transmigration
Of souls.
If a soul from any earthly body
Flew into me, it was your own.
Perhaps it was made of fire and dew
In a rainbow. I have a spirit
Fashioned of your spirit.
You unearthed dormant rage in me
And let it live. You made me see
Myself in a mirror, fashioned out of
The clear depths of a river.
You helped me accept
This image in the river, you led
Me by the hand, whispering softly
Oh, ever so softly!, you lifted me
To ecstasy, you made me plunge
Into deep pain, you played
Havoc with my soul. I am a half-full
Cup of grief
And you make me whole to the brim
As you lead me
To ever-widening
Moments of being.

Parrot Parody

Parrot Parody

You hear them chattering
in the hidden green, long before
the red of its curved mithu-parrot beak
comes into view.
Leaf green, parrot green
Bright emerald green.
Preening, pirouetting
Prancing, dancing, proudly pecking
Strutting they seem to parody
A bunch of noisy women.
I fly with them to my favourite places
To you, and you, ..... and you.

Diwali- a Holy Night

Diwali --a Holy Night

This amavasya night
This glow of candles
This lit-up darkness
Makes me believe.
Tracing your name
In smoke-trails with the phuljhadi
Makes me believe.
Green-yellow lights wind snakily in the lawn
Up-vine-down-trellis, strangely eerie
The burning flame in me grows stronger
Creating magic with quicksilver heat
the flame of my belief in you.
This is the flame which lights me regardless
All doubts scatter in surrounding darkness
Rangoli patterns my fingers etch draw life
From this flame which makes
This smoke-strewn, flame-strewn
Night holy.
I am the blue of the flame
Beyond touch, beyond reach.



Vermillion sun
In purple sky
Dips down dusk, as pink
becomes ink. A pale moon
Faintly shivering hovers.
Acrid smoke mixes with winter fog
Scraggly paint peeling off bare walls
Dotted lights in twinkling windows.

---- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --- -- -- -- -- ---- ---

There is life beyond the horizon, my friend.



I seek you within the pages of this book
I seek you through your words, I seek you
Through mine. I seek you within
An anonymous crowd. I seek
To resurrect you through memory
In flesh and blood. I type your name
In the facebook search bar, in vain.
And then I seek to believe in you
Through memory fantasy words silence
Dead, self preserving habit
Has made me say itsokayitsokayits
Okayitsokayitsokay for too long.
Because I know I must say
I know I can’t fuckyouoff
I can’t discard you like a useless
Scrap of waste-paper.
Dead, self preserving habit
Has taught me to smile.



It is a snail
Withdrawing the tip of its head
Into this stony shell.
Poking its nose out, blink-ing
its eyes, removing itchy sand
Moving inside this hard resilient cover
For protection against barbs
It plods through life, secure
In this shell, fashioned by words
And sometimes by empty silence.
But you never knew. You took it
For a piece of gravel
And trod on it.



I speak incessantly.
I talk. I repeat myself.
I repeat, I repeat myself
Over and over again
I overdo it. I overspeak.
I speak to myself.
I am so afraid of the depths
Of silence.
But when I come to you
When I come to the depths of me
I gaze blankly at the wall.
I am in the other world now,
Gazing, my eyes moist and glistening
In trying to find you within myself
I have reached the depths
Of a silence
That is almost Joycean.

What Ifs

What ifs

What if I fall on the highway, crushed
under a car superspeedrushed?
What if, some random day
I take a bus to nowhere , and run away?
What if I apparate in Ithaca Lesbos,
Houyhnhnms Hogsmeade Ozma’s Oz?
What if horses were green, and elephants blue
And all of us lived imprisoned in a zoo?
Squibs giants dragons house elves all
Lived amicably in one big hall?
What if I could become YOU
Or look into your mind if I wanted to?
What if Hitler’s mother was a Jew
What if I had never met YOU?
What if I went into delirium
Did crazee stuff with fraught e-qui-librium?
What if poems were written dia
and life lived synchronically?
And what if a poem stubbornly resisted
To fit and sit, no matter how you persisted?

Making Love

Making Love

I want to make love.

I want to make love
To the glittering, frosty edged moon
That cuts through the cold,nipping air
Like a curved sickle.

I want to make love to the full moon
I want to worship this purnima, I want to gaze
Longingly at this white misty dream forever
As it plays hide and seek with the clouds.

I want to make love to this lone tree at night
when its bare branches make love to the moon
I want to hug this tree, and rub my cheek
Against its grizzly trunk.

I want to make love to the whispered secrets of the forest
Aflame with pink, yellow, and orange
I want to make love to the firy red leaves
Of the fall, the hidden violets,the thickest green verdure

I want to lose myself in this green and make love
To the rhythmic beats of the barbet
To the golden notes of the koel, the red of the bulbul
To the magpie, the hoopoe, the jays and the squirrels.

I want to make love to them. I want to make
Love to this river, it speaks to me in meanders
Reflects my dreams and the leaves of the trees
The waves frolicking, carrying me, playing with me

And I want to make love to you
I want to worship you, I want to hug you
I want to touch your hair. Softly.
Making love to the trees and the moon,
The birds and the river was after all only
A way of making love to you.

I also want to cry.

Crow- Cawnversations


A flutter of wings
a whirling blur of black
four pointed beaks
between two stringy wires overhead.
The crass cawing of this crowy crew
Screeching themselves hoarse
fills the air with raucous shrieks.
One inquisitive pair of eyes
With spread-eagled fan-like wings
Swoops down low to my ear and cries to me.
In every black blurry flight
From one stringy wire to another
He swoops down low and crows to me
Is he angry, do I intrude? Is he
crowriously curious? Or,
does he croon and make love to me?



A dragon
With a huge hump,
perhaps pregnant
And a short tail
Dissolves itself
In the sky.
Its camel head
Reared up, stretches
Into blue-white nothingness
As clouds de-form and re-form.
The whispering leaves
Of the white eucalyptus
Are fragile shadows, spying
Eavesdropping on clouds
as winged dreams
become the sky, dissolving
evolving wild horses
on a shapeshifty terrain.

---> the title of the poem 'Shapeshifty' is not a proper lexical word but has been taken from a poem titled 'Shapeshifty:a poem for Meret Oppenheim' by Nitoo Das.

Sad Ootin

Sad Ootin

Ootin is an elf
With a Piglet face
Pixie ears, needle
Eyes and nose.
A flick of my wand
And Ootin appears
Bowing low to the ground
From his waist. Thy wish,
He says, is my command.
Ootin has a fractured soul
A split face, and creaky arms
That need oiling. He also has
A cracked tongue.
Ootin slaves hard night
And day, catering to my whims
He cleans, cooks, washes, sweeps
And sometimes, he brings stolen
Honey from bees, or nectar
From butterflies. Ootin
Does my shopping
So I stay home. He also
Does my work.
I need to keep Ootin busy,
Very busy. Ootin, you see
Is under a curse
When he finishes work
He does mischief, he sticks things.
Yes, he sticks doors and windows
So I can’t open them. He sticks holes
In clothes, so I can’t wear them.
He sticks pots and pans,makes
A mountain of them. He once stuck
A child’s mouth, so it wouldn’t open.
For this, he is punished, yes
of course he is punished.
He is burnt in the fireplace
And beaten with a stick.
Poor Ootin. Sad Ootin.
His is a sad life. Ootin,you see,
Can stick things, but he cannot
Stick his fractured soul, his cracked
Tongue, or his creaking arms.
He could have been free.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Six Poems Up In Muse India Sept-Oct 2011

Six Poems published in the new September-October 2011 issue of Muse India. The issue this time is around the theme of Literature of Young Adults. The six poems that have been published are:

The six poems are -- "The Midnight Black" ( it is about kajal/kohl)
"Anyways" (the over-usage of this word which isn't even a word, really)
"Dear Old Eighteen" (a letter to my past eighteen year old self)
Flee Fly Floo (an attempt at nonsense verse and amphigory)
The Ladies' Car (about the new ladies car in the Delhi metro)
and, "Requiem for a Dream" (which shows the big impact teachers have on students but which, i think, they little realise).

You can read them here.
You can also read a lot of other people's work there, so I hope you check it out! :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Graveyard Ghosts, or, I Flee From Them

I buried these traumatic fears
and this pinching hurt
I buried them alive
I dug them a grave, I made
them a coffin, I disowned them
And I left them to die.

But my disobedient passions
burst out of the grave as ghosts
They pursue me and stalk me
and sometimes, they find me
Like the accursed Eumenides
Desperate to live, I flee.


The holes in my eyes

Were burnt into them

As yours bored into mine

Piercing the insides of my head

With the swift sharpness of arrows

Examining my soul.

Barbs from your mouth scalded me

Cut me into meat-pieces.

I thought I needed to develop immunity

From you.

Night, and night follows day

I operate like clockwork,

Sleepwalking, gliding, dragging my steps

Searching for your face unconsciously

In likely and unlikely places, I know

I need immunity now, not from you,

But the absence of you.

View Counterview

Head Hanging backwards
over monkey bars at age eight
Feet at the top, the world
turned topsy turvy.

Head hanging backwards
over the boat, the river became
My sky, and surreal reflections
My world.

A sidelong glance at your face and
My heart leaps up and I behold
Worsworthian rainbows
in the sky.

I thirstily search among crowds
The next face could be yours, after all
And will o'the wisp memories become
my shadowy companions.

In Sandy Shores

Blown by every wind that flows

Hither-thither, I am a reed

In sandy shores.

where does the wind

Come from, where does it go?

Toppling ,uprooting me

Winding its way into large pores

Of the sandy soil in which I grow

At the water’s edge.

I must recede within the interior

I must find the clay of the mainland

I must abandon this life of rootless edges

And growing on risky precipices.

They told me clayey soil has smaller pores

Where windy-watery intruders may not nose

Where warm and secure rootholds oppose

Every windy-watery stream that blows

And every firmly rooted reed thrives and grows.


You lie enclosed in your cocoon
And I sleep oblivious in mine.
We live as strangers.
Only the whispering wind brushes
Us together, and we touch, at times.
Stray insects that crawl over you
Crawl over me too.
When the cocoons burst, will we
Recognise, will we realise
That we are sisters born
Of the same butterfly?

Broken Things

Broken things
Are broken.
Yes, you may cradle them
Cry over them, try
To mend them, sew them, patch them,
Use feviquick glue on them, break
Unbreak your heart , say
That time will heal them.
But broken things
Are broken.
Yes, they can be mended
Broken things perhaps
Can even be made whole again
But even broken things made whole
Can never me made the same again.
Sorrow runs deep through cracks and crevices
Refuses to go away again
Do not try, do not desire
For broken things exude flyawayspirits
Which visit you, haunt you, talk to you
But can never be brought home again.

Punctuation Marks

Punctuation Marks

You fill the empty pauses, you are
A comma. You are the parentheses
Of daydreams (this comes in useful
In classrooms, trains and market places)
You hover like quotation marks
Around every word I say,
The backdrop of this play.
My life is a story, it has coils of words
With events, characters, colours
An intricate plot and an open end.
This rapid river sometimes
Has lighter tones, which turn shady
And cloudy in places. But it has
No pauses, it is unpunctuated.
you are the colon
The semi colon which gives meaning
The genotext of this phenotext.
You are the accent, you mould
My pronounciation. Dot my I’s and
Cross my t’s, You are
The language of my imagination.
The story would still be a story
Without the punctuations, but it would
Be endlessly garbled speech
You, even in absentia, are just the full stop
I come home to. Period.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Six Poems Published in Kritya

Six Poems are up in Kritya- an online worldwide journal of poetry based in Kerala. The poems are 'Asomiya', 'Irom Sarmila- a ghazal', ' a photo-poem for Nabina Das' Mer-City picture', 'On Poetry and Photography' , 'a poem in response to J M Coetzee's Disgrace' and, 'Choices'. You can see them here--

They are elsewhere on this blog, of course, but I am not posting them again, as six poems take up a lot of space. Scroll down, or use the search button, or better still, just use the link! :-)

I realised some of the links in Blood Prints in Web-Worlds don't work because the url's had changed, so anyways, now they work! All the links are "clickable"!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Two poems are up on the Ultra Violet website

Two poems "Being Belindas" and "Almost Rape" are published on the website Ultra Violet-- a site for Indian Feminists. You can read them here--
I am also pasting them below, although they are elsewhere on this blog as well.

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-glass 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 faceI 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.

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”
“in the metro bathroom, 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……”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Split-Selves" published in Reading Hour

"Split-Selves" has been published in the May-June issue of the Reading Hour magazine... :-)
It is elsewhere on this blog, of course, but I am still re-posting it here: (and happy 3rd birthday all over again, beloved blog)

I was born whole, yes,
but the Fates that decreed me a gemini
split me into two
The quiet, serious me and...
the wicked rebel.
Freud further split me into three
the yearning in me, the stoical
reason in me, and the balancing act
of yearning and reason in me.
I inherited my mother's hair
my father's eyes, my mother's mouth
and nobody's nose. I mean, Nobody knows.
And anybody's height. and whobody's brain?
But my grandma's memory, that's for sure.
This body of mine that now lives in delhi
is part gujju-part tamil, half punjabi and
used to live in Benares. But even that
is history. Places proliferate
and multiply.Yes, I believe in post-modernism
yes, I believe in pluralities, and liminalities
of Identities.
But sometimes, I yearn
to carve an imaginary
unified Identity

Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday,Beloved Blog!! and a poem :-)

Happy happy 3rd birthday, dearest, beloved blog!! You have become an integral part of my existence which I cannot imagine myself without, over the course of the past 3 years. I have started considering myself an experienced blogger :p, and I have thoroughly enjoyed poetrying and blogging more and more. Ummm... yes, so exactly 3 years today, and here's this poem I just wrote. And no, the poem has absolutely no connection with the blog completing 3 years.

Evidently Not Enough

A few dozen poems
and tear filled buckets
Those night vigils
and those greened-down screams
were evidently not enough.
Not enough to corrode
the heartstrings which tie me
to the presence of your absence
Living with this presence, carrying
this absence, trying to become
like you, I wait, groping to pass
the test which would be called

Friday, May 6, 2011

CaPoWriMo-- April 2011

CaPoWriMo April 2011 Confessions!!

Yay!! I did the Caferati Poetry Writing Month for the second year running!! :-)
okay, so last time was the first time, I had a lot to say about my experiences and I remember I did in just such a post. This time I knew that what it's like to have given themes, play around with them and write voraciously. I'm glad I got the chance to explore certain new kinds of poems like the photo-poem and the nonsense one. I'm very glad of CaPoWriMo because unless you begin to write, you don't realise you can make such interesting poems out of out-of-the-way, seemingly banal topics. Last year I was free. this year, balancing it with work wasn't easy. In the middle, I decided to give it up, and did. then I got a fresh burst of motivation and wrote, wrote wrote voraciously, even at the cost of my studies! It also helps me see at a glance the progress I might have made over the period of a year. taking stock, so to say. Well, so it's done. 27 poems, not 30, I will confess. Last year I wrote 25. come on, some topics are either un-writeable, or you've written enough on them before or well, whatever. or you run out of steam after writing 25-27 poems on consecutive days!!
Thank you, CaPoWriMo, my writing times were usually right-after-breakfast, and right-after-dinner, now it feels sooo wierd to have no poem to write at such times, I don't know what to do with myself!!

Day 1-- The Pensieve, day 2-- the Midnight Black

(using unusual words )

The Pensieve

Strands of thoughts swirl madly
with unbridled energy. Stray-
fore and after-thoughts gush
in random confusion. Melancholy
and hope conjoin in the mind's
magical potion. They overspill.
Dumbledore's Pensieve cannot contain them and
They escape into air as effervescence

( something you wear everyday or a trinket you use)

The Midnight Black

Arabian eyes. Oriental eyes.
Wicked, mesmerising, soulful
eyes, Witch eyes, big-fish-eyes
Laughing, black buttons of
eyes. Kohled eyes. Kajra eyes.
Heavy sooty beauty eyes.
Clothed eyes. And a playful
twirly-swirly moustache

Day 3-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, a b A1, a b A2, a b A1, a b A2, a b A1 A2.)

Why did you go?
I am sick with fear
I want you to know.

It cannot be so
Eyes fill with bitter tears
Why did you go?

How do I express my woe
It is not a trifle mere
I want you to know.

In vain I cry hello hello
I cannot find you, far or near
Why did you go?

My heart aches with sorrow
Without you, my world is drear
I want you to know.

You will not answer, No?
I wish you would hear
Why did you go?
I want you to know.

Day 4- a photo poem for Nabina Das' sketch 'Mer-city'

written for Nabina Das' sketch "Mer-city"

I am a riverine nymph
with long black woman hair
and a forked-fishy tail
But my fishy tail won't swish.

Long ago, I was an earthly woman
my wild roving heart and spirit river-
-dreamt, river-walked
But now, my fishy tail won't swish

I river-talked, river-loved
and thought I could become the river
my dreams swam, my thoughts glided
But my fishy tail won't swish.

One full moon night, I climbed
out the window, downhill to the river
My heart laughing and singing with merfolk
But my fishy tail won't swish.

I puffed, I dragged, I sprouted
a tail of brick, it held me back
I could not reach the water
And my fishy tail won't swish.

Restless as a Byronic wanderer
between the river and the chains
On the yellow sands of the nodi Luit
But my fishy tail won't swish

Day 7- Sport with Sport , Day 6-- haiku

(a poem on sport)
I could sport a new look
hippie clothes, a trendy bag
I could be sportive and sport
a beard, or a moustache
a sarong, a kimono, a feather in my cap
ridicule me, make sport of me
I would be sporting and take it in play
I could ride hobby horses and rocking horses
But from a sportsfield I'd run away!

Haiku (syllables-- 5-7-5)

wicked poppy seeds
scarlet waxy jealous anger
opiate cocoons

Day 9- A Red Sonnet ;-)

Sonnet-- Red

In a riot of colour, the lawn is ablaze
The red silk cotton tree seen half a mile away
Hanging brooms of bottle brush scarlet sway
The waxy crimson poppy petals glaze

My aching-breaking heart bleeds passion red
My angry jealousy burns all flame and fire
My impish wickedness jumps, plays, never tires
And I mourn the loss of something dead.

Red is the knowingness of menstruation
Jane's rebellious rage in the Red Room
Anne Shirley's red haired temper when it fumes
Little Red Riding Hood's cruel deception

Red is intensity of a passionate kind
That which I lost and yearn to find.

Day 10-- on Poetry and Photography

(a poem for a gadget. the camera is implied, not visibly present in my poem)
I need a decent title for this one!! For now, randomness on poetry and photography!! :-)

The play of light and shadow
hides fault lines
and seeks to delude
Focussing and zooming
craftily make the backdrop
pale away. the angle and
the perspective are tricks
artificers use to lure the senses
Cuckoo's eggs in crows' nests
Art designs illusions, conjures
to deceive, magics
wizards the banal to look romantic
Photography is an art, poetry too
They do it exceptionally well
A photo is a poem which rhymes
metres, line breaks truth into lies
A poem which seduces the most apathetic reader
willing suspension of disbelief
into accepting secrets of my heart
which you threw into the bin yesterday.

Day 11-- Asomiya

(a poem about a language you cannot speak, read or write but have an associaton with)


You are the allure of a bihu geet
the mystery of matsyagandha
you are turmeric, you are plantain plant
and I a pure virgin girl
you are the secret in the folds of this mekhala
the mad fervour of the bordoisila
you are in my ahom stole, in my ahom bag
but I can reach you only in translation
you are poetry, bihu dance and melody
hiding in the clining mist
you hug the Luit river in your fold
you kiss me, caress me fleetingly
I feel you, love you, wonder you
But I do not know you.

Day 12-- For Nadia :-)

a poem about a distant relative you don't know too well

For Nadia

An aunt in the U.K.
who is a twin and who visits
every five years, was an exotic
mystery to my child eyes.
An aunt so un-auntish
so much an elder sister
a friendly cousin, only ten years
older than me. Poof, what's a decade!
An aunt who initiated me into card games and
the beloved Anne of Green Gables
Small and slight with short trimmed hair
her distinctly accented "shrew-tea"
sharply cuts across time
leaving indelible imprints in my memory
An aunt I want to carry back home with me
An aunt so cool to marry at thirty five
An aunt with an aura
which the passing of timeless years
could never fade.

Day 13-- Purple Acrostic, Day 12-- Irom Sarmila Ghazal

Irom Sarmila-- a ghazal

Do eleven years go in vain, Irom Sarmila?
As she lies in worse than pain, Irom Sarmila.

People are killing and dying in Manipur
Are those deaf ears in power insane, Irom sarmila?

They put her in jail and her demand on the shelf
She from food and drink for us abstains, Irom Sarmila

How long can we sit in apathetic silence
Let's join her, protest, complain, Irom Sarmila

She has unflailing courage that does not give up
Shruti wants to learn your refrain, Irom sarmila.


Poignant poetry of a twilit sky
Unearthly symphony
Rivers and seas and storm tossed waves
Pregnant as hope, passionate as dream
Love and love's longing and Shug-Celie
Eggplants, big elephants ears, eerie.

Day 14-- Anyways

write a poem about an overused word.


Anyways. This poem
is about Anyways.
Anyways is such a cliche
Let's write a poem about Anyways
Anyways to drop the subject
and anyways to change the topic
of Anyways.
Anyways is my boredom
Anyways is incomprehension
Anyways is anticipation
of rejection. Anyways.
Anyways expresses everything
without needing expression.
Anyways is not a lexical word anyways.
But who cares? Anyways is "our" word
Anyways so I decided to write a poem
about the delightfulness of Anyways. Anyways.

Day 16-- Women Help Desk, Day 15-- Scarred

a poem about a scar or a person with a scar


The beauty spot of the angel
the kiss of the sun
Voldemort's Dark mark
it brands you, stamps you
good and evil vie for you
it makes you so uniquely you
yes, you you you!
You marked and scarred you
Blyton and Rowling hold you in deep suspicion
And mothers tell you thet the fairies love you.

a poem about something written on a billboard. well, it wasn't a billboard but it was a board all right. :p
Women Help Desk

'Women Help Desk' says the board
brightly painted in red, blue and white
staring boldly at the back entrance.
A large desk in a tiny cabin
to help women.
All day the women come and go
The desk always ready to help them
Always there to help them
But recently I found
the big desk in a small cabin
and a woman.

Day 18 ~River~

write a poem about the first face that comes into your head.

~River~ :-)

Frizzy ribbons
stream down like unruly black Rivers
A face revealed
A face concealed
The forehead cries Asomiya
and the lips take up the refrain
Kohled eyes that murder me
Kohled eyes that consecrate me
Straight-set lips that smile poetry
when they look at you
The erotic ring of silver in the nose
Pottered masks make faces in the ears
A long face, a dusky face
with the layered depths of a forest floor
with creased lines that hide
secrets which I yearn to know.

Day 19-- Dear Old Eighteen

a poem as an apology letter to your 18-year old self

Dear Old Eighteen

Dear old eighteen
your naivety could not read
other people's minds
your trusting innocence believed
too much too quickly
your meekness could nor refuse
imposing demands and pompous exteriors
your receding backstage modesty
held you back from centrestage
you were ignorant
to the blunt point of dumbness
Uninitiated into this world
You were a stranger from foreign lands
perhaps you stepped off a rainbow.
But your heart was true, dear old eighteen
I will say so much for you
Courage enough to play the fool
and laugh at it afterwards
Idealistic and stubborn, you wanted
to keep the cake and eat it too
Youw ere the seed half a dozen years ago
that gave birth to me, to the last quarter
of my twenty four
Learning, skipping, sliding, falling
Cursing, aching, yearning, mourning
I look at you with amused nostalgia
Thank you for you, dear old eighteen
It ain't that I'm wiser
I've picked up a couple more years
on you baby, that's all.
I am still as true
a little less naive
and a lot more wicked. :-)

Day 21-- Rain, Day 20-- The Ladies' Car

a poem about a mode of commute or transport

The Ladies Car

Running for the pink lines
that mark our sex
A bee line for an empty seat
Putting down stray men who dare encroach
upon this female sanctum.
Shooting invisible glances
at earrings, slippers, foppish hairstyles
Eve, Belinda and Becky
travel in style through vanity fair
We do not like to pull push snatch
We believe ourselves more civilised
than those uncouth men.
The train hurtles down a tunnel of darkness.

poem about an element-- rain, heat, earthquake etc


Music of the aeolian harp
melody of flute and lyre
It is the sound of heavens laughing
the thunder is the tabla beating
destroying habit
enforced freedom from routine
I tune in with the rhythms of this dance
to be set free

Day 22-- Smell Spells

a poem about a smell-- a person, animal, food or waste

Smell Spells

The polite fragrance of elaichi
is the dining room visitor perfume
the tangy amchur remembers
the green mango before its demise
the heeng invades all your senses
but the laung reveals its sharpness
only to the tongue
the ajwain is strong and yet prim
like a school mistress.
the dries methi seeds tell you the story
of how the sund ried the green fields
the abrupt saunf bids goodbye to the guests
the boring old jeera screams everydayness
and the tej patta is what everyone uses
but secretly hates
In a North Indian kitchen, I drown myself in Malabar

Day 25-- Migrainitis , Day 24-Shefali

6-line poem


Spirals strewn in white fragrance
dew laden in the dawn
with orange filaments nestling in grass.
the bounty of a benevolent caopy
if I touch you, I might squah or sqeeze
for your are of the fairies, Parijat!

write about a person with a disability or your own disability.

Shiva's Tandava Nritya
in the Bhayanak rasa
his left foot right foot alternating
pounding, resounding in my head
the balance shifts for the thirty seventh time
Condemned to burning in hellish fire
For sins of past births and this
In the Benares Shivnagari

Day 26-- For Nandita (Das)

a poem for a celebrity-- actor/dancer/singer-- you have a massive crush on.
For Nandita (Das)
Her dusky beauty puts to shame
cliches of the fair and lovely
Her eyes speak to me, her smile
knows me, and her mouth
blunt yet kind joins in.
Secrets hide in the rustle
of her gorgeous skirts saris
I am closest to her
when she is unreachable
on a film reel
when my eyes ardently follow
her ephemeral figure.
She just refused a role
in your new advert
which was worth a fortune
The world screams actress! social activist!
but she hovers at edges
which defy definition
Passion, elegance
honest intelligence
I yearn to follow her
beyond the silver screen.
a poem about a mythical figure

Aphrodisiac Desires
She comes to women in fleeting visions
loves them, makes much of them, teaches
the secrets of love to them
with her eyes and soft kisses
the enchantress writes a 'how to love' poem
and I stumble to write.
For aphrodite goddess of love
who taught most beautiful Helen
and whom Sappho invoked
Aphrodite high on mount Olympus
cannot hear me.

Day 28-- birthday poem

a birthday poem as a gift to someone you love

You have given me
more than you would care to give
you have given me what
you don't know that you gave
or did I steal?
Even when you hurt me something escapes
you and comes to me
what offering can I give you
more constant than this faith
deeper than these tears, more precious
than this very self
when you gave my self to me...

Day 29-- Panchgani

a poem about a place you have visited as a tourist
The vigour of mountain air
wraps you
Cold breezes frolic and play
with you, strawberry fields
hug you in an embrace
Prim cottages in a row grow
red heart strawberries, pulpy
and jelly-like to my touch
I pluck them, eat them
cannot get my fill of them
basklets and baskets full of them.
Their sweet, sharp juice
seeps in like tangy mountain air.
Later, in out-of-the-world
picturesque, fairyland you
I bask in open terraces
gotging on the delicacy
of fresh strawberry and cream.

Day 30-- Flee Fly Floo

a free poem. about freedom. 20 lines. I decided to try my hand at amphigory nonsense :D
Flee Fly Floo
Fumungus grothucus wurrwurr
buzz growl wuthering smurthering
Frazzy hishy frooky pooky
wolving snappiting frappish snarging
the humbug grotchety way of the world.
Wuzzbuzz poof! Stomp it, Shuntit!
Damn it, whumpit! Fly floo
wheeze around it, frick it, jonk it
and waddledydoo, escape from it!
Furly in the friggin morn
Let fluty warbles ting-a-ling
chant fleely flawly flee fly floo
birdies chreeping, freezes flowing
Stomp the fumungus, whomp
the wurrwurr, frick and jonk
the wolvish snorging
Wheeze around it, gleely, plyly
easy there now! Hunt and runt
for zing, zwang, and zappyness
Flout the Droner, Free Chielo!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

With you, my cup should overflow
its brim with ambrosia
What should I do with all that nectar
it should be sacrilege to spill
Elixir is dangerous for mortals
We should be content with remembrance and hope.

Yet, some day I shall come looking for you
like a lost puppy.
A migratory bird, you flew
down south, a river
you changed your course
a butterfly, you hunted out
blossoming flowers
I search for you in vain
in the barren emptiness of my present.

The Weft and the Warp

Snip. Snip. Click. Swish.
A whisking metallic sound
breaks silence with a tone of finality
a scissors cut cleanly through cloth.
Hearts too are torn and ripped
like cloth, mine has frayed edges
jagged threads stick out.
the knit is lost without the purl, the weft
goes in search of the warp.
A new thread can stitch them
into a reworked compromise
Poetry can sew hearts and
my warped lines
woven with doubt, hope and insecurity
the head bent in prayer
ardently long to find
the weft of yours.


Purple perfect profusions
and velvety-violets amidst
the dappled green
Dewdrops glitter like jewelled crystals
The marigolds have stolen
the yellow-gold of the sun, the orange
of the narangis. The red poppies
are crimson to the point of wicked sinfulness.
The pristine purity of the white
with their centres of blue-purple
and green-black offsets the rest.
the purple shehtoot is ready to be plucked
The February rain plays hdie and seek
with february wind and february sun
Now that spring is in the air.

On the street, the beggar counts her meagre coins
the hungry eyes of children follow me
A car speeds up, a dog limps across the road.


I was born whole, yes,
but the Fates that decreed me a gemini
split me into twin selves, split selves
The quiet, serious me and
the wicked rebel.
Freud further split me into three
the yearning in me, the stoical
reason in me, and the balancing act
of yearning and reason in me.
I inherited my mother's hair
my father's eyes, my mother's mouth
and nobody's nose. I mean, Nobody knows.
And anybody's height. and whobody's brain?
But my grandma's memory, that's for sure.
This body of mine that now lives in delhi
is part gujju-part tamil, half punjabi and
used to live in Benares. But even that
is history. Places proliferate
and multiply.
Yes, I believe in post-modernism
yes, I believe in pluralities, and liminalities
of Identities.
But sometimes, I yearn
to carve an imaginary
unified Identity.
Spirits glide above me, slide
beneath my feet, listen closely
hide in my hair, in my ears
follow at my heels, watching softly.
They try to steal my thoughts.
Are they part of me
or do they belong to you
these ghosts of memory, desire and dreams?
Or do they hang midway
carrying my secrets to you?
Do they mock me, do they
stalk me, or do they guide me
these invisible presences?
They whisper, murmur,haunt
without end, I cannot escape
these voices, you see, are inside of me
Do they know me more
than me, do you know me
like a river's meanders know its boulders?


I am an illusion
a ghostly apparition
I embody your mind,
your body and your soul
no, I am not you
no, I am not a clone
I am a doppelganger.
What's that, you ask
a pretender, an imitator
a duplicitous masquerader
a fake identity, a passport stealer?
No, I am a doppelganger.
I have holes in my body
and rings in the holes
fishes hang from my ears, a tree owl
nestles in my hair, midnight black
surrounds my eyes.
I have the slantedness of your
awkward smile, the rigidity
of your aloof body, I can
purple you to perfection.
Oh well, not quite to perfection
I told you I am not you
a spirit bound by you
yet not free from me
I walk the liminal edges of you and me
I observe with delicacy, stalk
with sensitivity, try to enter
your spirit imaginatively
and I doppelganger.
They think I can't be real
They think I am a doppelganger
But I am uncannily real
you cannot get rid of me
I am bound unto you.
I delight in doppelgangerism
it's a fascinating entrancing game.
One day, I shall stamp my body
with your indelible blue black mark
Neither here nor there, belonging nowhere
I wander like a restless spirit of longing
and incomplete desire in the air
I walk the liminal edges of you and me.

Requiem for a Dream

"Fasola is a sweet girl", the teacher said,
"and she writes lovely poems".
She flashed her a precious smile
Stars rose in her eyes that night and
gave birth to a dream.

Another day, she avoided Fasola's gaze, returned
a poorly marked paper, praised
the stout girl over there.
A sacred dream died its death and
buried itself in the classroom dust.

One day the dream will learn from Sylvia and Lady Lazarus
and rise again.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

For the Love of Cultures of Peace- Festival of the North East: A report

My report of the North East Fest at Habitat Centre, 28-29th Jan "For the Love of Cultures of Peace" has been published in the Fried Eye Magazine... :-)

"For the Love of Cultures of Peace”- A Report on the festival of the North East
by – Shruti Sareen (with inputs on the Second day of Events by Rini Barman. )

The India Habitat Centre witnessed revelry of colour, art, poetry and music on 28th and 29th January 2011 in Cultures of Peace, a festival of the North East. It may seem ironical that cultures stereotypically associated with violence were here invoked as Cultures of Peace. This is what the festival tried to bring home, the message that life in the north-east is not one merely of violence, but of peace and love as well, and that focussing on peace and love is the key answer to the violence and terror in the region.
The first of the round table conferences, which as Sanjoy Hazarika pointed out, was actually a long table instead of a round table, was around the theme “Writing Peace, Writing Violence”. Indrani Raimedhi, Arupa Kalita and Pradip Phanjoubam focussed on the implicit violence in the north-east: the drum beats, the gun shots, people dying, the domination by the Assamese of certain surrounding areas of Meghalaya and Nagaland. Temsula Ao, a Nagini who spent her childhood in Assam, spoke of the emotional violence, that crisis of identity and belongingness this creates, and how both Nagas and Assamese people tend to see her as “the other”. Subir Bhaumik chose to focus on peace through the reminiscence of his army training, of generations of his family who had served the Tripura king in the army, and his decision to leave it all. Ananya Guha and Aruni Kashyap spoke in vivid terms about the cultures of the north-east which they do not see as implicitly associated only with violence. Ananya Guha talked about the land and nature, maintaining that spreading peace will inevitably lead to the lessening of violence, whereas Aruni Kashyap chose to show the ordinary experiences of common folk in the north-east, of the people living and not necessarily only the people dying. Nilanjana Roy moderated the session.
The session was followed by a viewing of Uzma Mohsin’s photography exhibition. The exhibit focussed on how girls from the north-east do not feel comfortable in a city like Delhi, where they are constantly seen as “the other” and viewed with suspicion, where people have stereotypical ideas about them based on their dress and so on. There was also an exhibition of paintings on the theme of violence in the north east, showing people breathing through oxygen masks, trying to escape suffocation, as several viewers commented. Red blood and blue faces contrasted and alternated with red flowers and blue skies in these paintings. During this interval the sale of books from the north-east on various aspects like literature, history, activism, mythology, politics and sociology also drew the attention of book lovers and knowledge seekers.
The next round table conference “The Words to Say It” moderated by Preeti Gill saw the participation of Mamang Dai, Mitra Phukan, Bijoya Sawian, Rita Chowdhury, Mona Zote, and Omar Sharif. Various ways of conveying the reality, or rather, realities, from the journalistic, reporting style, to fiction, to Mamang Dai’s style of focussing on myths, legends and folk tales were brought to discussion. The accessibility and democratic nature of blog-culture, e-books and the internet were also mentioned. North-east cultures are traditionally seen as being very rooted cultures and people are seen as having a strong sense of belongingness. Yet in this forum people spoke of Assamese people being deported to China, arrested and confined, and the identity crisis caused thereby. Mona Zote talked about her own atheism, which set her apart and made her feel alienated from the people of her own state, Mizoram, the majority of whom are Christians. She also mentioned that Mizoram does not have a strong culture of its own, quite unlike the Khasis, Arunachal Pradesh and others. Another important question raised here (and explored in more detail in the next session) was whether writers from different states in the north-east are connected to, or isolated from, each other.
The next session “Crossing Borders” had Monalisa Changkija, Uddipana Goswami, Aruni Kashyap, Triveni Mathur, Rajesh Dev, Rupa Chinai, and Dhiren Sadokpam as speakers, with Uma Chakravarti as the moderator. Critical questions like, who is an outsider/insider, and are all “north-east” people insiders, were raised. The session highlighted aspects in which power structures of dominance and hierarchy were recreated through boundaries within north-east and stressed on the need to exercise caution before seeing all ‘insiders’ as heroes and all ‘outsiders’ as villains. The north-east has no one singular culture which gives its inhabitants an “identity”, only several proliferating ones. As Sanjoy Hazarika said in a later session, it is more appropriate to see them as seven step-sisters instead of romanticising them as The Seven Sisters. The Seven Sisters identity is also troubling because it completely leaves out the Sikkim state. Does distance make one nostalgic or more critical? What is the identity of an Assamese who never thought of himself as a “North-Eastern” before he came to Delhi? Where and how is identity constructed? What about the sub-altern tribes within the North-east, such as the Bodo tribes in Assam? When are they written about, and when do they actually speak for themselves? Questions such as these were brought up to ponder upon in this session.
The last of the round table conferences was “Stories from a War Zone”. Subir Bhowmick, Sanjoy Hazarika, Meenakshi Ganguly, Deepti Priya Mehrotra, Utpal Borpujari and Pradip Phanjoubam. Moderated by Urvashi Butalia this session focussed on issues such as the freedom of the artist. Journalists talked of their experiences of being threatened by censor boards and by underground groups when they wrote anything that did not toe the line, thus raising questions of “truth-telling”. Writers voiced an opposite concern, of the publishers’ stereotypical demand that writers from the north-east should only write about violence. Listening to people’s stories in villages was also seen as an important function of the journalist. A direct link was traced between the government’s bid for progress and modernity of urban, metropolitan areas, which leads to, for example, the development of dams in Tripura, dispossessing tribals of their land, and which in turn, makes them become insurgents. Other concerns that were addressed included the effect of violence upon the environment, insurgency and disputes with neighbouring countries like Bangladesh over resources, and emphasised the inter-connectedness of all states and the need to maintain solidarity.
The day ended with a spectacular theatrical performance tracing the life of Irom Sharmila, the bright torch light amidst the darkness, the passionate woman who began by writing poetry from a young age, and became a staunch activist, fighting for the fate of her people, going through hunger strikes to protest against the government, being arrested and jailed on baseless charges, and later, her helpless condition in the hospital where she is force-fed. This powerful performance brought the truth home more sharply and keenly than any of the round table conferences had done throughout the day.
The second day began with the session titled “Confronting the Past, Imagining the Future” with Sanjoy Hazarika and Laxmi Mathur as the eminent speakers. The north-east is a region with enormous linguistic, ethnic and political diversity, and yet with many commonalities of geographies, of resources, of marginalization. What does, or what can, the future hold? This was the basic question opened up by Sanjoy Hazarika while explaining how the north-east is in the periphery but by no means peripheral. He talked about the burning issues of migration, poor infrastructures of the north-east and the failure of the centre and state Governments to resolve the same. He brought forth the problematic plight of the 30 lakh people in the 3 thousand islands of the north-east. Laxmi Mathur talked extensively about the need of justice for establishment of peace. She also agreed with the need of retelling the untold and unheard histories of the northeast particularly of women, without which, the old wounds cannot be healed.
This was followed by book and poetry readings by Mitra Phukan, Mona Zote, Aruni Kashyap, Omar Sharif, Ananya Guha, Nitoo Das, Uddipana Goswami in the session “Expressing the North-East” . Haripriya Soibam’s readings Irom Sharmila’s poetry collection, Fragrance of Peace and Rojio Usham’s performance based on the same carried forward the performances of the previous evening.
The festival ended with music by Imphal talkies speaking to the passions and the senses of a large gathering, leading on to a spectacular concert by Soulmate, the jazz and blues band from Shillong. The festival seems to have been a good blend of the intellectual and the passionate, speaking to both minds and hearts. Hopefully, the Cultures of Peace festival lives on, reverberates, and gives meaning in times to come, and the end turns out to be but a beginning.