VERSE | CRESCENT MOON

The crescent moon shone overhead 
She wore a tilted smile
I looked at her and asked wherefore
She smiled so, was she shy?

Convinced that in her timid state
She hadn’t heard my query
As she perched in her cosmic grove
Smiling lopsidedly

So I cupped my hands around my mouth
The lady was full of guile
“O Crescent moon, you nighttime boon
Give the world a real smile!”

She seemed to laugh and hid herself
In some gossamer clouds nearby
But her glowing curve still favored
The right side of the sky

I watched her play hide and seek
Showing a bit of her askew smile
Floating, gliding through the clouds
I was enchanted, mesmerized

I turned away, this sensory play
Called for a brew of tea
Mug in hand, when I looked again
She was beaming cheek to cheek.
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VERSE | METAMORPHOSIS

This is for all those who have survived emotionally, mentally and physically abusive relationships. For those who have discovered the precious blessing of sleeping deeply, peacefully without being haunted by crippling anxiety and the renewed torture that every new day would inevitably bring in its wake.

I look at him 
Threatening, raging
Berating me
The cruel words sidling in
Between his verbal pounding
I recognise, I see
His enterprise
To humiliate me
To agitate, to fluster me
To intimidate
To paralyze me.
I’m going to leave you
One of these days
If you tell
Anyone anywhere
About any of this
I swear
I will make you into the beas
t
The one unfit
The one tearing down this relationship


I look at him
Frozen in place
My heart still
I’m incapable
Of seeing beyond
My fear
I’m incapable
Of seeing anything
Beyond the terrifying sacredness
Of the union
We signed together
I’m incapable
I’m powerless
I’m numb
All I hear is a hum
A white noise in my head
Autonomous, involuntary
Humming humming humming
Preserving my sanity
Maybe my life …

And then one day
He followed through
On all the threats
That he had let loose
Into the fabric
Of our togetherness
I’m l e a v i n g y o u
He said, emotionless
This time there was no
Placating hum
No cloaking thrum
Inside of me
Hiding me, shrouding me
I looked at him
Cold sweat gripping
My face, my neck
The insides of my thighs
Dripping, dripping endlessly
But my mouth was parched
My lips were dry
I felt like I was going to die

But I didn’t crumble
In the wind
Whirling in the murky
Depths of things
I survived
I stayed alive
That shared horizon
Spilling blood
Dirty linen streaked with mud
Was washed into the sea
Decaying into infinity
A whole new realm had suddenly
Stretched out in front of me
Full of peace and gratefulness
Gladness and serenity
Where I was calm and I was whole
I had my body and my soul
There was no fear
No agony
No trauma filled spaces
Beckoning me

Like Kafka’s Metamorphosis*
In reverse
I have broken through the curse
No more thrashing, crashing heart
Petrified and frozen limbs
No more grim hellishness
Of emotional poison stings
Making me cry, making me cringe
I’m still here. I’m here still
My lungs now take in their fill
My heart is beating rhythmically
No suffocating anxiety
Once more I hold the hand of the child
That has lived in my soul all this while
For her
Nothing is impossible.
* KAFKA’S METAMORPHOSIS: 
Metamorphosis is a novella written by Franz Kafka which was first published in 1915 and is considered one of his best works. The main themes revolve around the burden of responsibility, isolation and alienation, and sacrifice.
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VERSE | SOULFUL INTERLUDES

I look at the leaves
Serrated edges, little flowers
And I wonder
About its identity
The shrub growing under the amalthas tree
You would know
You always knew
As we walked in the street
Outside the house
You could name every flower
And every tree
Every creeper
Even the sickness
That gripped some of the leaves

You looked at these
Concerned, everything else forgotten
The fact that your own body
Was racked with disease
That ever-present pall softened
By the enormity of your being
Your own pain erased
And at that time, in that moment
I too forgot
The wheelchair that you were in
That you were ill; that we were grief stricken
I dived right in, feeling, seeing
You weaving magic around everyday things
Flowers and trees grew chimerical wings

The swaying kachnar
The beskirted Ashokas
Bobbing profusions
Of jasmine and phlox
Fragrant bunches
Of nargis and freesias
You pointed them out with happy ease
And worried when any of these
Were less than their perfect selves
And I too smiled and looked
In wonder
At how joyfully you revelled in it all
Holding infinity in your lit up face
Offering up so much love and grace

And for those moments
I too forgot
The pain and the grief
It was you and me
Sadness free
While you took me on ethereal trips
Where nature in all her fullness
Unfurled - beautiful, calming, brave
We were carried away on a gentle wave
The pitted leaves
Still vital and green
Were the only things we needed to save

VERSE | NIGHTFALL

Twilight descends upon the world 
All is bathed in a pale golden shimmer
The cacophony of daytime
Has softened to a gentle murmur

Soon the leaves begin to whisper
In the branches of the trees
They nod their heads in time
To the playing of the breeze

A serendipitous cloudburst
Falls softly on the grass
Before she mists our eyes with sleep
Earth cavorts in one last dance

Birds and beasts have disappeared
Under the velvety cloak of night
They all settle down to sleep
In the twinkle of her star light

The night time creatures stir awake
There’s a chirring in the air
A low hoot, the flap of wings
The darkening world is now theirs

As eventide wraps her arms around
Our earth of blue and green
I too lie in the hollow of her hands
And wait for restful dreams

VERSE | THE SWEET SPELL OF PAIN

Barefoot I walk onto the path 
I don’t know where it leads
I’m propelled, compelled forward
By the sensation in my feet

Onwards they take me further and further
There’s an airiness in my heart
I step lightly, sprightly forward
Along that glittering path

I look around me as I walk on
Nature is everywhere
A butterfly flits close to my toes
I want to stop right there

But onwards I walk, I skip, I leap
My feet have a mind of their own
They’re taking me down the scenic route
So on and on I roam

My face now wears a little smile
My atoms are swaying too
And my feet they keep the rhythm
Glide one-two, one-two.

A melancholy melody almost a moan
Comes wafting in on the breeze
I close my eyes, feel its ebb and rise
As I stroll in the bower of trees

There’s something else that I can feel
Hiding in the shrubs nearby
Heavy, leaden, bruised and raw
It’s getting closer all the time

As I walk with eyes closed my eyelids fly open
Everywhere is shadowy grey
For a little while there in my sleep
My aching feet had swept me away

VERSE | THE FACE IN THE MIRROR

I look in the mirror at the face 
That looks back at me
Silent, still, waiting for something
An acknowledgment maybe

I need to see that she’s alive, I blink
She blinks back at me
I let her know that I’ve seen her
She does the same for me

I look into the dark brown eyes
Her gaze is focused and serene
I blink again to understand
To read that look, to glean

She smiles a little smile then
The pleasantries out of the way
She and I are closer now
Than we were yesterday

I notice the lines that now hug
The corners of her eyes
They tell tales of highs and lows
Of when she fell and when she thrived

My glance slips down to the smiling mouth
Lines embrace that feature too
Telling both in prose and verse
Of times both cheery and blue

I look again into the eyes
I see a twinkle in them now
Still room for grace and joyfulness
Before life’s final bow
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VERSE | FALL FAREWELLS

A melancholy rustle stirs in the leaves
Holding heavy in their boughs
Their green, green garbs have faded
They are in mourning now

For the bounties once bestowed on them
By spring and then by summer
Now they curl their mottled frames
In the briskness of September

Lady Autumn has this special
Cleansing Ritual that she wields
Back into the earth they go
Flowers, butterflies and leaves

The promise of new beginnings too
Is buried with their shapes
For when spring comes round again
For when again they will all wake

The leaves are weary as they cling
To seasons that have gone
But soon they too will hear her sing
The soothing song of Fall

VERSE | BREATHE

Stop and listen - do you hear 
The wind blow through the trees?
Let your mind soar up a little
To the rustle of the leaves

Stop and look - do you see
Her golden yellow wings?
As the bee floats round the flowers
Gathering nectary-sweet things

Stop and touch - do you feel
The texture of the bark?
Of the grand old banyan tree
It’s head swaying up with the lark

Stop be still - let your heart fill
And your atoms all slow down
As you walk through the ethereal realm
Of nature as she abounds

VERSE | LOOK SOFTLY

Look softly my darling 
When you look at me
Be calm and be tender
As I take my leave

I want to remember
Your lovely face
Serene and peaceful
As I leave this place

Let us talk of things
That are close to our hearts
Of bittersweet endings
Of gentle new starts

Of faces and places
Those still here, those gone
Of tea-cozied rainy days
As I hum my last song

Look softly my dear one
When you look at me
Let your beautiful smile
Be the last thing I see
Painting by my sister, Zeenath

VERSE | FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD*

Listen to the poem being read here: https://vt.tiktok.com/ZSdn6QjcC/?k=1

I pick it up, I feel its form 
I hold it in my hands, the warmth
Transfers slowly and I sense
The tingle of the words within

I gaze at the lines upon its face
I turn it over, my eyes trace
The tale it whispers all its own
Its beauty hidden, as yet unknown
The seeds of intrigue have been sown
It invites me in, in subtle tones
We follow, I and my intuition
On lightning wings, we race in!
Another stridently demands that I
Feel its spine from end to end
And then I oftentimes comply
As it tells its story by and by

I leave my existence behind
For a while I’m in another life
I go on voyages fraught with love
With pain, with humor with suspense
I journey on through these realms
Sometimes laughing sometimes tense
And then I will glance again
At the portal to the world I’m in
Pausing my trip-in words
The story wraps itself up, and I’m
Whisked back into the world
Where I’m dutifully marking time

I feel its form one last time
I leave it with a wistful smile
That Teller of a myriad tales
Waits until I visit it again
* Title inspiration from the novel by Thomas Hardy of the same name

VERSE | SEPIA STORMS

I hear the leaves rustle in the breeze
The gust picks up slowly, gradually
I hear the rattle of a window
The one that lies loosely in its frame
Like a watchful sentry
Announcing the entry
Of a wayward breeze
That rolls in through its screen
To knock upon the door
At the end of the corridor

I walk out of my bedroom into the lounge
The sentinel window
Is now trembling, recoiling
Rattling its pane
Warning of rain
That will soon moisten
Its face; gushing,
Rushing, tearing
The dust off old memories -
Renewing the pain

I see the first flash of lightning and then
The thunder breaks
The storm has arrived
I look at it through the window
Now lying quietly in its frame
Soon the glisten of its pane
Swells into a stream flowing
Down silently, as I sit quietly
With the sweet ache
Of old memories again

VERSE | KNIGHT SPIDER

LISTEN TO THE POEM BEING READ AT: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZSde12G2A/?k=1
I saw a little spider today
Weaving itself a pathway;
In silken thread and zestful strides
It made its way up the side
Of the glass wall close to me
I kept watching it carefully
Partly because horror flicks
Have made me squirm around these arachnids
But mostly because of the enterprise
It put into its little life

It climbed halfway up the glass
And then a gust of wind alas!
Tore its thready ladder up
It swayed before going plop!
Right onto the table where
I sat with my coffee to stare
At this busy creature lift
Its body up bit by bit

I moved back in mild alarm
Not because I’d come to harm
That was not the thought I had
My arachnophobia got me to stand
It sat there a little concussed I think
Before it gathered up its wits
And off it went climbing again
Forming anew, repairing

With so much drama in its life
Buffeting winds, with predators rife
The spider stays focused on its goals
It weaves its web, mends broken holes.
We can learn a thing or eight
From this marvellous arachnid -
To go on even when we’ve gone plop!
To persevere, to climb back up
Folks, if little spidey can be
A superhero, so can we.