Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Surrender

We knew so little of each other
yet I did it.

But
who said love was anything more than
a stone thrown at the stars.

The drive on the dark highway,
your playlist,
and the endless promise of that evening...

When I die,
I hope they take me back there.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Murder of Actaeon

She stands there, her silver bow drawn taut,
back arched in furious grace.
Her nakedness gleams under the sun,
beauty so savage it echoes
through the quietude of the woods.
The flimsy human must pay.

He stands there, fear rippling through his veins,
ensnared 
in the pitiless stare of the eternal virgin.

The cavernous howl of divine arrogance
pierces through the wind's innocence

as his skin quivers,
that feeble garment of mortality.

Ferocious death is at hand,
shadows of its sprinting hooves
screaming through the moist earth like wildfire.
Nostrils flared, fangs bared,
the beasts are coming.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The awkward hug

Seat-belt firmly in place,
unmade conversations populating his thoughts
with a traffic policeman bearing down
on his windshield in a no-parking space

clusters of words jostling for attention
on the tongue’s inadequacy,
the lingering sadness of a goodbye
stealthily clambering up his back

halfway through the hug,
the lad froze

like a piece of parchment
choked by the weight of its own words.

[5:49 pm | 16th August, 2009]

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Poem

It was written
in another poem's margins
by a riverside one midsummer evening
after a long day's work.

It contained love
like a carafe filled to the brim,
too meagre for its destiny.

There it lay
until this morning
I stumbled upon it again.

After all these years
it still is inadequate.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The blue stretches on.

[For Natalia Molchanova]

The blue stretches on
like air, only heavier.

The blue stretches on
like language, the soul's anchorage.

The blue stretches on
like home, a vast starless womb.

The blue stretches on
in silence, bellowing through the veins.

The blue stretches on
into the awakening, pearly bubbles ascending

into the beyond.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Cergy Pontoise

A March evening.
Sunlight uncoils in the horizon,
darkness delicately devouring the day's wall of light.

Leaps of blue by the riverside
green tree tops, foamy white clouds
brown contemplative earth
and an enormous silence

pierced by a distant seagull's cry
as if from memory,
from a different evening, a different time.

One of those moments
life accumulates
like the bellows of an accordion
and the music rises up in your throat
like an ancestral song.

Others have dreamt this before you.
You are but a page
in a library of infinite pages.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Cassette

There was no embrace at the end,
no gawky display of brotherly affection

just a turn of your head at the bend,
a brief glance before you disappeared
into the vast machinery of adulthood.

On my way home in the cab
I watched your departure streak through the sky
like a shooting star.

Back in the shade of my living room,
I muted the lights, shut the blinds
and gave in to the plain charity of sleep.

I dreamt of the time you cried as a little boy
when your favourite movie tape got tangled up
and stopped playing.

Nine years old, I was the only adult in the room
and your grief flew at me
like a flock of frightened birds.
I did not know what to do.

I snap awake.
This is a different room, a different time
and I am no longer the only adult between us

but
if I could gather that tangled tape,
somehow piece it all back together
and play that movie for you one more time,
I would. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Whimsy

[For Mark Strand]

Reading early this morning
I stumbled upon your death in the pages
like an old bill I'd forgotten to pay.

April 11, 1934 – November 29, 2014.
It has been nine months.
("Enough time for a new life",
I can almost hear you say.)

I confess I always felt
I would meet you someday.
No reason, just a whimsy
but I believed in it all the same.
Clearly, I underestimated death.
(Don't we all?)

You are gone now,
and we are separated
by this great dark ocean called life.

[27th August 2015 | New Delhi]

Monday, June 8, 2015

Cuddapah, 1995

The long corridor of life
is still at its beginning.
The darkness at the back looms large
but life, like time,
only knows linearity.

The road is paved with choices,
curious coincidences
and the distant sweetness of youth
but he can't see it yet.

Life's sly deceits,
the transparent burdens of adulthood,
they are yet to come.

No one has warned him
what he does not do
will matter
as much as what he does do.

Nor has he been advised
what he is and what he wants to be
will forever be opposite sides of a coin.

Perhaps he will learn to tell apart
dreams from memory,
guilt from regret, patience from cowardice
and pride from self-deception.

Someday he may grow old
and behold his fate in the intricacy of stars
with the happiness that comes
from having loved once.

But not yet.

Today
the five year old
has bigger things on his mind.
Life's unwavering linearity
is lost on him.

Watched over by startled air
as the fifty foot drop yawns below
he stands at the edge of the roof
grasping at the fluttering pigeon

hand outstretched into an inchoate future
unblinking glee on his face, naive as sunrise.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Three short poems

No matter how hard I try
I can never recall
the colour of your eyes.

It's almost as if
I want to see them for the first time
every time.

***

Remember that evening
we spent walking in the Père Lachaise?
Summer had just ended,
but the birds didn't seem to know it yet.

It was the first time
I saw tears in your eyes.

Night came down swiftly
like a vast, mute protest.
There were no stars to be seen.

***

My favourite picture of you
features only a part of your palm
in the backseat on a highway.

The evening falling
slowly, sadly
all over the windshield
as the picture is being clicked.

Every bit of it sublimely ordinary
except for the hand
caught at the edge of the frame

unaware of its own grace
like a poem about to take shape.

Friday, October 24, 2014

On reading Homer

Tonight I got in a cab after work,
went straight home
and read Homer at my desk.

The last flight out 
was never taken.
A window seat was not chosen.

A "just landed" text
was never sent.
No smiles were involved.

A cab outside an airport
was never hailed.
No addresses were given.

A late night doorbell 
was never rung.
No hugs were shared.

A midnight dinner
was never cooked.
No dishes were done.

Elsewhere
Someone did not discover a star.
Someone did not get groceries.
Someone did not start a war.
Someone did not visit the dentist.
Someone did not light a fire.

Seven billion worlds never came to be.
There's only one for us all,
and that's all there ever will be.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tell Me

Tell me beginnings matter.
Tell me hugs can be awkward.
Tell me postmen will survive.
Tell me great questions can have simple answers.
Tell me childhood is a place we can go to.
Tell me pride can forgive and be forgiven.
Tell me spontaneity is overrated.
Tell me there are things even nightmares are afraid of.
Tell me happiness is a language we can learn.
Tell me there's more to love than just a young man's poetry.
Tell me home is not what you leave behind, but what you bring back.
Tell me silence is only a manner of speaking.
Tell me highways have memories.
Tell me a story with a happy ending.
Tell me, tell me again.