Friday, December 18, 2015


Every heart is a broken one.
Look around and you can hear
its shards breaking into dust
under the cold feet walking away
from the defining moments. 
They all seem to vanish 
in their great mid-acts. 
She consoling you.
He walking by your side. 
And finally, you looking at yourself 
in the mirror and resolving 
that your heart still needs recrossing. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Master

Books from the master are slim.
They seem to measure the volumes
of rumpled up pages lying around
in a world of wicker baskets.
In view of all those wasted hours 
this collection that I am sifting through 
alone is the most prized one. 
A plant that flowers once in a lifetime. 
Why would such a plant survive?
Sneaking itself  from the predators 
that are everywhere, prowling like prose. 
"But why would poetry survive 
the onslaught of time?", the master asks
from the lofty book jacket with an impish smile.

(Billy Collins)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


A mountain can take it
A blade of grass can fake it.
But all of us here in between 
run for cover when it's seen.

Traffic island

Immobile in a river island of traffic
that is lapping around a long truck
I notice the trees on the roadside
waiting more patiently than me
for things to clear up so that
they can finally grow some leaves.
Just that afternoon, you were talking
about leaving the city and you said
you were counting time and money
more carefully than ever.
We agreed to that whatever in the
warmth of affirmative echo of friendship
and rowed the next day the usual.
But now I see everybody, walking around
with the engines revved up.
The compasses point homeward.
A home where we are all headed
once things clear out.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


When I learnt from the guide book that
the hills have been scooped out for creating these caves,
I felt the renewed force of the chisel working
the air around me and making way for my 
superficial meditations. When I looked at the ceiling 
sculpted and painted centuries before Michelangelo,
an ache ran down my back twisted by the forceps of Time.
The ghouls, gods and the ordinary dancers on the panels
hopped me across centuries and the rock itself for a moment 
turned into fabric waving in a timeless wind. 
A flag of longevity raised in stone.

(Ajanta, Ellora)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The remaining

The ones who came from the same place.
The once inhabitants of that temple of birth.
The siblings, make one final circle.
A circle of the remaining
Into which sooner or later
each of them will disappear.
But life teems even in this shadow
of a dark door opened underground.
It lets out the cry of a child
seeking attention and pulls away
from the miner who is searching
with a lamp oozing darkness.
It drowns in silence the real sound
of the battle and the massacre
of the final day. And it questions,
who wants to stay longer?
Neither the decaying body
nor the assembled minds
that are calculating when
they would reach home and
what's for dinner, where
Sugars rush over the waters of life
at a meal of the good sigh.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Family only

Often I forget what it is all about.
I forget that after eking out a living
one has to go on to seek the loving.
The egging on by evolution
be taken up as a hot pursuit.
All the way to the altar would be good
for an unhitched man's libido
is too much of a threat
to the good and complaining neighbors.
Who could blame them?
These shoes of solitude are heavy
with darkness and dirt from the unknown.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Into the mild

If at all our ashed out ancestors 
look down upon us, some of us
will be really looked down upon;
while we debate whether to take rest
from populating our nest or just go for it.
To have or not to have is the real question
and To exist or not to exist, we answer them,
has become a thing of the ancient past.  
Moments for us seem more eternal now
than for those foremen who really had 
only two modes of living: fight and flight. 
They will mightily envy our position as we 
while away time to find the right person. 
Shuffling in and out of our burrows 
we discuss what we think is grander 
than just food that lies cold 
between two probables who are 
warming up for the long night.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lonelier than thou

Lonelier than thou is the anthem 
that goes on in full blast in my head. 
Drugged by this I pass over others' stories 
as if they are spread out in a newspaper 
that is filled with only headlines.
A big S, a big F or a big B holds my gaze
depending upon the curse that starts the flood.
There is always time and place for one more 
curse for the world which is out to get us. 
As others' problems parade in full flare
the flag of solitude is hoisted inside me.
There is a sudden volcanic eruption 
and the moment hardens into a memory 
that is walking by your side. 
I hold on, maintain silence in respect
till the shadow has its way. 
Each moment becomes a pin hole camera 
and I try to get a convenient view 
of something far and powerful. 
But I make a mindful note that 
my love for you has grown to be 
a mountain that does not fit any mirror.  
And it does not help from how far I look.

Monday, June 29, 2015

I don't know

I have said it a million times, pleading
my ignorance on almost everything. 
I have said it a million times 
with a shrug of my shoulders to
shirk off any responsibilities. 
But the one that I have in mind now
is a different kind of "I don't know". 
This one flies on mighty wings 
of knowledge and curiosity and
is a lot harder to say than all the others.
The masters of art and science are 
as always ahead in saying this one 
and urge me to repeat after them. 
I oblige, lean in on the cosmic static
to see mystery written into everything. 
I unproddingly say "I don't know"
and collect the necessary firewood
that'll keep me going, as I practice the phrase. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

She said Oh

She said "Oh"
and later explained that
it is that feeling between Yes and No.
And I should stand still like a statue
in a mythology and she will turn up
by the end of the story and touch me 
with a golden whip and spring me to life.

I should hold on, she said, to the pedestal that 
I am screwed to. Unable to move or improve. 
Or even swat a fly that is wrecking the nerves. 
The hands stay where they are, one scratching 
the head and the other supporting a drooping chin.

"Oh!", she said, "you should stand till the end."
It is in the statute of the unfinished statues. 
They still have in them some rock left 
to be chiselled and hardened 
by the forces of nature.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Are you afraid of the dark?

Anything goes. 
Nothing lasts for ever.
The naked face, bloodline, 
rage of angels and this
morning, noon and night. 
The sky is falling 
and the stars shine down. 
Tell me your dreams, 
the best laid plans. 
On the other side of midnight, 
a stranger in the mirror. 
If tomorrow comes,
the master of the game. 
But the windmills of the Gods 
blow away the sands of Time. 
Left are the memories of midnight 
and the other side of me. 

(The words in this poem are all the wonderful titles of novels and films by Sidney Sheldon)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Good qualities

The way the room reacts when he walks in.
The way she gracefully handles a situation.
The way they have a huge capacity to bear 
so much of stupidity. The list goes on of
the good qualities in the people around. 
I try to apply the old parental maxim: 
don't be foolish, learn from others, and 
I am soon the Frankenstein's monster walking
around, front loaded with good qualities. 
But I often get a suggestion now, 
from friends and well wishers: Be yourself. 
I have a suspicion, they are only telling me 
not to be this monster of unbearable agreeability. 
They are secretly praying for me 
to know my imperfections. 

Mistakes maketh a man, the old saying goes
and the whole world is now chorusing it to me. 
The foolishness must not be set aside. 
It is to be worn as a symbol of existence. 
Even I tend to support the right to be foolish 
and maintain that it is the right from which 
spoke out all other rights. And it is 
the only right over which we often hover 
for comfort and meaning. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

How easy it is

How easy it is to write about hunger 
when the stomach is full and it is 
one of those pleasant days. 
This lack of direction as it is,
is much better than the days when
one is stuck like a compass needle
in the direction of the basics. The days 
when the clock strikes three times 
dividing it into meals and a cold night. 
When hunger curls the body 
into a comma of rejection but a 
ruthless needle ticks and keeps time. 
When the rain soaks one to the bone
and the wind only delivers 
the news of a coming storm. 

How easy it is, on a full stomach 

to flick the inside remote and get to
the channels of happiness, sadness 
love, hate, attention and gossip. 
So much better display than 
the hunger, dehydration and hallucination
and utter destitution under the stars 
which appear unreal with the night.
How tucked in it should feel to make room
for a broken heart and the return of love.
To touch each other and feel a twinge
of passion on a night that is all ready. 

And how marginal the rest of the world feels
with a book in hand and with affordable glasses on. 
Peering down on lines that talk of an imaginary land
more exquisite than this celebratory moment
that is full of strength for further hunger. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pronouning you

I try to write down names into a poem
and realize it does not work that way.
Nouns in particular seem to die and decay.
But pronouns sail well against the tide. 
There is always, a me writing and you reading 
even when only a fragment of it survives. 

And it is always a fragment that survives
not just in archaeology but in everyday. 
The salience of the past breaks up into
tiny tales before scurrying into oblivion. 
The body turns itself anew even without
our knowledge and every morning before the
mirror, only a fragment of yesterday survives
in our reflection and retrospection. 

And due to all this there is now an urgency 
with which I complete what I started and 
write what I want you to read.
Let you know that I think about you
before every sentence takes its place
and before it even makes any sense.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Clasped pair of hands

They remained there for hours
while I was sipping coffee
and the evening slowly fell back
into the recliner of a summer night. 
Chairs were drawn and redrawn.
Orders hurried their way on wheels
and the bills were late but unforgettable.
They remained there 
while the electric hum of the night 
mixed with the mosquito buzz 
and the cowards rushed for cover. 

I too was there noting down
in the margins of the moment
a little blueprint for a poem, 
and later sailing it onto 
the sea of the unfinished 
hoping it would come back 
with more jest than before. 

They remained there 
even in the dead of the night. 
Even after a poem closed its shutters
and the dream patrol began. 
Her diamond ring sparkling 
and his finger exploring 
the map of her palms. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Put away

Indecisions that are put away, turn 
into decisions that were to happen.
"That way and that way alone",
Captain Hindsight speaks out loud. 
So loud that the very reason for 
summoning him to the scene is 
forgotten forever. 
Yet some indecisions become 
a constant pebble in the shoe. 
A thorn that is unreachable to 
the pluck of the victim. 
They turn an ordinary dull day
into a battle to get through. 
And each page of an event 
that we turn feels like
a heavy book to be checked out 
from a distant library, whose 
working hours are beyond us.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A new page

Each hour that one is alive is also
the death hour, realized or not. 
The heart is not getting any lighter.
The brain evidently is not growing. 
Both are cleared once in a while 
but that's only turning a new page.
Not getting up to be a new book. 
And the gene pool bubbles only
for some time, waiting uncaringly
to lend a few spoonfuls of cells. 
One is a mere coin flipping in the 
dark pocket of cosmos and our 
lives are perched on family trees
swaying in the breeze that is
ever so pleasant and untelling.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Somebody else

We now sit at the ends of a protrusile table
unspooling the threads of our own stories. 
Earlier, in a poetry reading we placed all our
cards on the table, showing some and 
telling some. Much noise then, as opinions 
got entangled into a spaghetti of nonsense. 
I could feel the tug as you fished me out 
with a sharp and lengthy look which lasted 
as I was reading my offering at that makeshift
altar of formless poetry. The noise drowned out  
as the poets capped their thoughts for the day 
and went home to prose. We remained though
in the afterglow before dissolving our ways in 
the madness of the rush home traffic. 
Communication these days is easy we thought.
Just a matter of buttons here and there. But,
we stuck to the golden rule: no first use policy.
Till sometime else there was something else
and we made our ways to meet somebody else. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The center of the universe

I know the feeling of how some people
push you away to the edge of the universe. 
Hard against the wall of time from which
nothing recovers and you can't hear yourself. 
That's a prison from which escaping is tough. 
But I reckon later, there is all else to cheer up
when a poet proclaims that he feels he is the
center of the universe. A tremendous change 
from the edge of the universe into the thick 
of things. I read along and I too am welcomed 
into this center of a universe where,
the poet is already sitting in a quiet corner 
having a drink and feeling more like 
the center of the universe. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Into the future

When a friend asked me what it would be 
like fifty years from now, I looked askance.
Only to realize that he is a few years younger
and for him I already have my foot positioned
strategically in the door of the seeable future. 
This was sudden but also appeared gradual. 
Building up for quite sometime now, like when 
I noticed my feet were slowly turning into fins. 
The future is already happening I thought and 
avoided any reply and slept over the matter.
But my dreams somehow picked this up 
with their long fishing rods and perfect baits. 
That night, I roiled ahead into the twirl of time 
with the smoothest of techniques without a 
splash even while crossing in a rough weather. 
I am admitted after a long time in the open 
into a waiting room where everybody I knew
was present in the best of attire. They all 
had only one simple and urgent question 
to be answered: what would it be like 
fifty years from now?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Doting on an anecdote

Familial anecdotes never stop in their surge 
Indeed it is difficult even to try and purge. 
Totally unexpected about mom or dad 
And how one day we were all very sad.
The saddest thing, as someone said
is to wonder what mom would have said.
But I tend to support another torment
of wriggling out of that seminal moment. 
The shifting of gears, change of the topic
and the silence between is all very tragic. 
You broach a movie or talk about a game 
but the human chain drags you the same. 
Hands that raised cast a long shadow
Darker it appears the farther you go. 
Childhoods spread out like craft books
Crayoned in happiness as no one looks. 
The work is all laid out for the self 
as we dust the oldest memory shelf. 
The eyes search for something to linger
because every childhood is a tear bringer. 
It is difficult to grow out of this thought 
Only this far even this poem has got. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

To be not

They say one is to be loved for what one is 
and what one will be, and I totally agree. 
But I pause at the thought of being loved
for what one is not and never going to be. 
For example, I am never that clean chested
celebrity whose life is played out in the papers.
And I am never going to be the bearded Indus
man of the unicorn fame who stands his ground 
for millenniums. The virile bull still stomping its feet 
dipped in undecipherable ink. Nor will I ever be
from that line of men frozen in terracotta time. 
Also, there is no ray of chance for me to wander
into a stanza of daffodils dancing in the face
like an inescapable landscape. The oil paintings 
will never drip themselves into some other shape. 
What I am, always takes the back seat of the car 
and darts from window to window to be 
with something gone by. While what I am not
speeds ahead on a road of discontent and I feel
more unrecorded and more grandiose like someone
who is not burdened by anticipatory greatness. 
And someone who is even less than a statistic.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The next storm

There is now a respite from the black rain
and the seeds of hope sprout their leafy wings.
They lift a tree up from the dead of the battle.
It grows moats of strength in the calm that prevails
before the axes knock on its closed doors. 
The roots knife their way far into the forest;
an unseen underground battle rages on.
The sunlight is drunk like never before
and in darkness and silence
the branches grow in strength for the next storm. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Collected works


Sliding my hand along the spines of their 
works arraigned for my keen inspection,
I so wish these poets are dead. So that 
somebody, an arduous fan perhaps,
collects all the work and compresses it 
into a neat boxy volume, hardcover is fine,
where the poet's voice lays preserved as
a mummy of a godly king of ancient Egypt
and whispers to me when all else has drowned. 
Wishful thinking is never rewarded. 
Forget even a glance from the fate through 
its bifocals that sees the past and future
of my shallow pockets and a stuffy wallet
that is filled with stubs of unemployment. 
But for now, the price tags stay retracted
like the gears of an airplane that is ready.
Price here is an unnecessary distraction.
The forest of blurbous praise makes it 
even more worthless to a second glance. 
I read a few poems at random and judge
that this could be those befitting, nice glasses
for my new frame of mind that's been a while. 
I queue up hoping for a miraculous discount. 


The poem that opened a window on the shop floor

posed a tough Rubik's challenge at home. 
I had a Rubik's cube already dusting like an alien pod
which can suddenly dance its way into purpose.
As a pixelated smile appears on its face,
I shift my attention to the cracks on the ceiling.
The pricey metaphors troll me and the costly
simile says you are like this, oh wait, not this like that.
The overpriced and underwritten theme leaves me 
staring at a grainy mirror that showed much promise.
The luxurious rhyme appears once in a while 
sitting snugly in his private yacht, decorated with 
drinks and says "I have got it right. Have you?"
"No, I didn't" I reply, muttering about the deal. 
I have paid up my dues for the lazy afternoons 
the poet spent in a public library thinking 
about his happiness and his sadness 
and probably even making out in between 
his breaks to the coffee shop. But what's done 
is done. I see that.  And I am back now 
perched on the keyboard like a deal vulture, waiting
for an untimely event of the death of a famous poet. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The groove

The grooves of gravity ground me to reality.
But I routinely fly into landscapes like a bird
with the plumage of my thoughts, adorning 
even the dullest of the stretches through a 
window that I carry in my pocket all the time.
Even at rest I would row my bed into a sea 
filled with stories of the masters above. 
They lend me their oars from time to time.
Sometimes I snatch a line from a storm 
starting at the center of a story, dancing
its way out to the edge of my eye. 
I take shelter in it from the daily cares. 
I row into sleep and often stop to be 
carried upon the back of strange waters. 
I see a distant light house all the time.
A ray of poetry and I think, 
I could sink in that direction 
and it should not matter. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Shores of meaning

Exclamation daggers and question mark hooks 
hang close to the jugular and the sweat drop
commas won't work. The prayers of kneeling 
semi-colons have no relevance. The bullet holes
of full stops seem final. Underline this, O sailor
gliding on the deep still waters of a blank page.
I row with my pen streaking an inkling in its wake
hoping the reader to follow the writing on the water. 
That ever shifting ripple with its multiple centers
brews a storm which is confused and confusing. 
It threatens the house of alphabet built till then. 
The vigil of the English teacher does not help
who in a thousand years has not swerved from her 
steady job of navigating me through the mermaid filled
seas to the shores of clear meaning and to a morning
whose language is perfect with the piercing 
birdsong tattooing the thought for the day. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Rosetta's love

I would have felt the thrill if I was that child again 
to see a washing machine sized capsule land  
on a distant comet hurtling in its orbit into darkness.
The probe itself stalked the comet for a million miles.
Similar mental distances one travels to stalk a date on earth. 
The commanding station's signals were returned with a curtsy
reply from the other end after considerable delay. But a patient 
wait marked this cold acknowledgement, much like with the date
who doesn't answer your calls. Only with Rosetta, it is an 
answering machine that the scientists seem to be dating. 

The mission here is to resolve that matter that is still in the dark 
The matter of our origins which makes us sit up at night 
and wonder at all the coded messages in the twinkling stars. 
The probe landed with a thud of a few hearts that skipped a beat
and clamped itself onto the comet and for once its life depended 
on hugging its love, that it has finally reached after a million miles. 
But before this it fell head over heels and tumbled and broke a limb. 
We go to lengths to keep our dates even in that other world. 
They say we pay with a limb for everything in life. Well, it starts 
with kneeling down in prayers and proposals. And one organ at a time
depending on the habits. One thing was clear, the comet had very 
low gravity and hence very feeble commitment traits. 

Even with these delays, Rosetta sent sights and sounds of that other world. 
Water jets oozing out of the comet were what caught my attention
They were whistling their way through the endless dark with Rosetta
hanging on with all its strength to something who is unresponsive and whistling. 
And before it was all over there was a selfie sent back to the parent planet. 
No time for patient oil paintings. The batteries of this love are running out fast. 


A professor of fluid mechanics in a recent meeting 
gladly mentioned to me a matter about the heart.
About how it tries to rest from all the pumping
while we are asleep, by encouraging us to switch 
to an easy sleeping position so as to use gravity. 
That night I couldn't help but thinking of this pump 
that acts so mechanically and coldly for its survival 
sidelining me into an embryonic position and
arm twisting me into using my hurtful elbow as a pillow. 
It seems to act like a powerful gyroscope that
quietly steers the ship while the captain is asleep.
The lamps of his eyes put out for the night. 
The steering wheel of life left unattended,
the ship slowly glides towards dawn and alarm!
A blinding iceberg, which I am somehow ready to face.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Night's language

The lights on the horizon become
the umlauts on a lengthy world.
They announce the banks of
a lively river snoring its way to sleep.
I am in an endless train
A centipede on wheels.
I ache my neck to catch the glimpse
of a tailing comma and watch for
the glowering pole red with its frown.
The breeze, unforgiving in its warmth
and urgency, is like a mail, full of bad news of
distant troubles that threaten to submerge
the lofty bridges built in dreams.
The journey continues between the lines of rails.
It is also between our patient silences
toughened by the weight of circumstance
and shining under the moonlight.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What lies ahead

is not just a rosy bed but a thorny tread 
announces, the old thought for the day
inscribed on my memory's blackboard. 
A flash from somewhen in the middle school
where roses were not colored by blood
and thorns were made from harmless plastic. 
When smiles were spontaneous and out of place, 
as if there is not going to be any memory of the times. 
There wasn't a device that shuttered all the time. 
An anxious eye that recorded on the rusty keys of nostalgia.
Everyone was absent then from that banal scene
of a hopeful child looking at the notice board
and thinking, "Yes, I could deal with the thorns".
As the times demanded, that ambition 
was tucked under the carpet. 
To be later discovered by the thorn of time. 
An arrow heading straight to the Achilles' heel.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How it could have happened

A hand that once hunted for game
later jotted down by the fire side
A mouth that sifted through the intestines
With a vocal drum now, sings mnemonic lines
Our fingers, dipped early in a river of ink
Had to just touch the walls, or each other 
Poems often painted as cave murals and endearments. 
Their expressions staying solid for millenniums 
Rock hard truths of hunger and want.


A friend surmises: 
I have fathered a child 
Now I can go back, be wild.
His wife replies: 
I could say the same 
But a child needs 
both of us, to blame.

Written off

Written off most of the times 
Written down into oblivion
everything stands to be a poem.
The high points of metaphor 
are snow capped in mystery
and the meaning keeps itself low
in the between-the-lines valleys. 
It parts the stiff stanzaic blades. 
Tip toes its way into blankness. 
While the record worthy lines fall
into the I-don't-know bin
the sharp chin of the reader
consults the horizon, 
ever present just outside the window
and then something starts to make sense
and the poem is put away
like the years before and after the reading.