Index of poems

Do read this

This is a work-in-progress blog. I have a regular blog over here. It’s pretty obvious that I am a poet, but if you are really particular about details you will have to head to the other blog. Or my redroom author page.

The idea for this poetry blog came when I found how difficult it was to link to all my poems published/ available online. So, I thought, why not put them all together. Though most of my poems are here, they aren’t indexed. There’s no list of titles to help you navigate (That will come up soon, I swear). And my quirky choice has also meant that you get to read only one poem per page.

And, by the way, these aren’t recent poems. The poems here are the ones that appear in my book Touch(published in August 2006). I will post the latest poems soon.

🙂

Their daughters

Paracetamol legends I know
For rising fevers, as pain-relievers—

Of my people—father’s father’s mother’s
Mother, dark lush hair caressing her ankles
Sometimes, sweeping earth, deep-honey skin,
Amber eyes—not beauty alone they say—she
Married a man who murdered thirteen men and one
Lonely summer afternoon her rice-white teeth tore
Through layers of khaki, and golden white skin to spill
The bloodied guts of a British soldier who tried to colonize her. . .

Of my land—uniform blue open skies,
Mad-artist palettes of green lands and lily-filled lakes that
Mirror all—not peace or tranquil alone, he shudders—some
Young woman near my father’s home, with a drunken husband
Who never changed; she bore his beatings everyday until on one
Stormy night, in fury, she killed him by stomping his seedbags. . .

We: their daughters.
We: the daughters of their soil.

We, mostly, write.

(First published in Quarterly Literary Review, Singapore)

My lover speaks of rape

Flaming green of a morning that awaits rain
    And my lover speaks of rape through silences,
    Swallowed words and the shadowed tones
    Of voice. Quivering, I fill in his blanks.
Green turns to unsightly teal of hospital beds
    And he is softer than feathers, but I fly away
    To shield myself from the retch of the burns
    Ward, the shrill sounds of dying declarations,
The floral pink-white sad skins of dowry deaths.

Open eyes, open hands, his open all-clear soul . . .

Colorless noon filters in through bluish glass
    And coffee keeps him company. She chatters
    Away telling her own, every woman’s story;
    He listens, like for the first time. Tragedy in
Bridal red remains a fresh, flushing bruise across
    Brown-yellow skinscapes, vibrant but made
    Muted through years of silent, waiting skin.
    I am absent. They talk of everyday assault that
Turns blue, violet and black in high-color symphony.

Open eyes, open hands, his open all-clear soul . . .

Blues blend to an unforgiving metropolitan black
    And loneliness seems safer than a gentle night
    In his arms. I return from the self-defence lessons:
Mistrust is the black-belted, loose white mechanism
    Of survival against this groping world and I am
    A convert too. Yet, in the way of all life, he could try
And take root, as I resist, and yield later, like the earth.

Open eyes, open hands, his open all-clear soul . . .
Has he learnt to live my life? Has he learnt never to harm?

Mascara

The last thing she does
before she gets ready to die
once more, of violation,
she applies the mascara.

Always,
in that last and solemn moment
the call-girl hesitates.

With eye-catching eyes
she stops to shudder.
Maybe, the dyed eyes
mourn her body’s sins.

Mascara. . .
it serves to tell her
that long buried
hazy dreams
of a virgin soul
have dark outlines.

Silently she cries.
Her tears are black.
Like her.

Somewhere
Long Ago
in an
untraceable
mangled
matrilineal
family tree
of temple prostitutes,
her solace was sought.

It has happened for centuries. . .
Empty consolations soothe
violated bodies.

Sex clings to her devadasi skin,
assumed superficialities don’t wear off,
Deliverance doesn’t arrive.
Unknown Legacies of
Love made to Gods
haven’t been ceremoniously accounted
as karma.

But still she prays.
Her prayer words
desperately provoke Answers.
Fighting her case,
Providence lost his pride.
Her helplessness doesn’t
Seduce the Gods.
And they too
never learn
the Depth of her Dreams.

She believes—
Cosmetics were
once. . .
War paints.
She awaits their resurrection.

When she dons the mascara
The Heavens have heard her whisper,
Kali, you wear this too. . .

(First published in Indian Horizons)

A breathless counsel

curiosity will catch you dear for you are a writer and it is your license to startle the world with a hundred thousand words instead of a dazzling smile or those occasional winks and i don’t want to probe for after all you are renouncing all the time and i don’t want to stop you racing against life but i have been there and i have returned and i know what happens when it takes hold of a woman yes i know what happens then but i will not tell you the answers i have sealed my lips i have learnt how not to say what i must be saying somehow i don’t want to be fledging you in security for what happens with all my parenting will only be a compromise darling child instead i let you free i want you to ask the questions i want you to prick and not polish your wounds i will let you to be hurt in the face of the world i want you to learn more than what you want to learn sometimes i feel i want you to get hurt badly hurt and bleed before the world and then i shall sit back and feel my work is done for once you have known what pain is then you shall know how to preserve the fringes of happiness i want you to be alone in the ravenous world where you never know what happens next just so that you will no longer find routine to be so despicable and amidst that pervading fuzziness you shall long for an anchor for all your dreams only realizing much later that you are your safety you are your ultimate but till then you might screech and scream but when you retain your temperament you will find that life will always lie waiting like an hungry beast and at each turn you take i wish you learn the greater horrors and now i confess darling i want you hurt because i want to watch you fight and fight and fight i want you to pull together those moonbeams of hope i want you to throb precariously i want you to be living on the edge i want you to learn the thousand one ways in which you can melt the boundaries of saturation called death and the emptiness of life and the fidgetiness of what might be called love i want you to lose i want you to win but some day i want you to be free

(First published in Indian Literature)

Apologies for living on

i am living on
because providing apologies is easy

once—

i was making choices
with insanely safe ideas of
fleeing-madly-and-flying-away

i was a helpless girl
against the brutal world of
bottom-patting-and-breast-pinching

i was craving for security
the kind i had only known while
aimlessly-afloat-and-speculating-in-the-womb

now—

i am locked away
a terrified princess waiting
for-death-and-not-any-brave-prince

i don’t dream or think
i just remember and wince
at-voices-of-the-past-smirking-in-sarcasm

once—

i ran away in the darkness
nothing beaconed me more than the
prospect-of-solitude-and-the-caress-of-a-million-stars

i ran into the arms of the ravishing night
nothing pulled me back: not even the memories
of-love-i-had-once-known-&-stolen-kisses-savoured-for-so-long.

i ran until terror stopped my tracks
for, trembling i turned and saw that the moon was
another-immodest-ogler-and-lecherous-stalker.

(First published in Great Works, UK)