Thursday, April 13, 2017

Driving lessons

The ABC of driving, the instructor tells me
are the accelerator, brake and clutch.
And warns that if I accelerate alone and don’t brake
then we all have to clutch at something to hold on to.
But soon I realize that the car is not capable of all that.
The only thing that works perfectly is the heating.

The rest of the alphabet of driving, he says, is to watch
other people on the road - both moving and standing still.
Only when I am at the wheel I see all these unnecessary people
on the road whom I would like to delete from the scene.
Honking can do this trick, he instructs, if the sound
is loud enough to be an extension of my disgust. 


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Report from the hills

The view of the distant snow-clad mountains
made up for the lack of any paintings on the walls.
It was snowing during spring which the locals said
was very rare - as rare as our vacations.
We did nothing during the entire stay.
This is totally different from the nothing of the plains.
Wrapped in fleece blankets we looked like sketch pens
tightly packed in twos for warmth and ease.
The next day, the sky was clear and we could see
the mountains shake the snow off.
While we struggled to keep it within us
as we went downhill. 


Saturday, December 31, 2016

From ourselves

From the baby pool of inconveniences and regrets
that I swim in I can only wish a happy new year
without knowing what you went through.
Just assuming your shoes are as comfortable as mine.

From the ordinariness for which I am thankful
I foolishly greet that your wishes should fulfill
without an inkling, that your wish is to not exist
at all to escape the recurring conflict and pain.

I put a clip of memory on the moth-like moments
that outlasted their lifetimes without realizing
the crumble of their fragile wings. A glass heart
after all holds my happiness frozen in its step.

The toss of time and the winds of change and
all the idioms of passing are sheltered in greetings.
But you, you are the one searching for shelter
in the dark, escaping the fireworks of a civil war.

The turn of a year, what does it mean, for you are
already hallucinating in hunger and wishing for a
random wander of kindness which by a remote
chance might save us all from ourselves. 


(Syria)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Of foxes and jackals

Foxes know many things
I am sure that they know this too.
Cutting the corners of cunningness
they are the custodians of worldly ways.
Jackals too belong in this august company.
This is a reaction to those two particular
jackals spinning off tales in the Panchatantra.
They've wandered again into my psyche long after
that childish curiosity about talking animals.
This time too they were deep in conversation
about not just what is good but what is possible.
They sneak in everywhere I look or overlook.
Two people talking, I can only imagine their bushy tales.
Mysterious Once-upon-a-times created even out of boredom.
Their conversation ricochets across centuries
taking me along with other animals
in the forest called human nature.




(Karataka & Damanaka from Panchatantra; "The Fox and the Hedgehog", Isaiah Berlin)

Friday, August 19, 2016

In sickness and health

No longer it is just curling up from the shivers of the fever.
Now, the sponge bath finds its way to the hottest parts.
A cold eye keeps its watch for the first drops of sweat
while something is always in the making. Bed. Hot dinner.
Conversation still not being the healthy form of communication.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Grandmother who refused to be photographed

Not sitting down for a photograph
she has set a tough task for the gen next
who’ve finally put down the spade of survival
to a little rest to reflect in the shade of prosperity.
No record of her exists except in stories shared by the earlies.
Many versions of her reside in her children who remember her
as tough, kind, gentle, cranky and biased. But she in her line
was strong enough to survive and loll now in spirit,
at the most nonfunctional of things: writing about her.
I can sense her knowledge that this admiration is false.
These thoughts about her are self gratifying and do not
ensure any kind of survival in the hardened world.
She doesn’t brandish life advice like an average granny.
Only one message if any, loud and clear: Do Not Disturb. 


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A sharper axe

A good many definitions of poetry have gone by
That private grief is all over the public shoulder
What makes this and not that one a poem
I question while it's in the womb and no reply,
except the pregnant muse getting hormonal.  
The red wheel barrow is heavy with critiquing. 
Daffodils have not given up their sprightly dance 
in the  face of eternity.  The leaves of grass 
are growing their beards. The Emily dashes 
still take us by surprise. What is etched 
on immortality has not lost its sheen.
But every poet throws his axe into the river
Hoping some god will appear from the lore
With a sharper axe and a working poem.