VERSE | THROUGH THEIR EYES

She sat there selling bangles 
Set up in a wicker basket
Some laid down on the grass
Every now and then she gently
Swept off the dust that spread thinly
From teeming feet that hurried past
Barely slowing near the woman
Sitting on her haunches hoping
For someone to slow down, to pause
Her concave belly almost touching
The basket that was tugging
The life blood from her womb
Every time that she moved
Spilling it in little driblets
Onto its precious load

The maternal bond of glass and blood
Unremitting, never enough
As she sat car-caressing
Sometimes fretting, sometimes fussing
Rearranging, caring, loving
Always loving, always loving
A tender smile hov-hovering
Around her tired mouth
She was umbilical-corded
To her treasures
Resting in their bed of wicker
Willing them to cleave their way
Into the hearts of passersby
Willing them to shine so bright
That it brought tears to her eyes
The boundless world of plenty
In those bangles by her side

Behind her lay two little heads
Heat-numbed and stupefied
Little thumbs in little mouths
Doing their best to pacify
The endless hunger in their bellies
Matured and rarefied
Over lifetimes spent behind
Their mother as she hummed
Little songs of gentle rain
On golden fields of wheat and rye
Watching their little sisters
Take all their mother’s time
Resting in their basket
They tinkled and they winked
They watched their little sisters
Gleaming, laughing in delight
Suckling on the joyfulness
That streamed from their mother’s eyes.
NB: Image is from the World Wide Web. Artist was not mentioned.

VERSE | THE FACE IN THE SHADOWS

There’s a face in the shadows
Downcast, serene
A quiet glow drapes
The rest of her
As she sits cross-legged
On the floor
She holds the cosmos in her prayerful hands
I want to see the face
In the shadows
Full of quiet grace
I want to understand
Where the woman gets
Her stillness from
I tilt my head to see
More clearly
And then two shimmering orbs
Rise from under their lidded veils
I hold my breath I’m no longer
Watching from the outside in
I float I glide out of the place
I’m light as a feather
I rise up there’s no tether
To time and space
To anything I have ever known
I float on
And I drop
The sharp edged angst that I had held
In my chest and in my head
And it falls
Away from me
I stretch out my arms
As I rise and rise
Into the infinity
Of those glimmering eyes
Through twin portals
To my paradise.

VERSE | SPACES

I sit with my tea
The silence sits with me
Deafeningly
Piercing my eardrums
With its wordless cacophony

It has made its forever home
In the lounge where I now sit alone
It’s been there a while
Years of rooting itself in place
The air, the space
Is soundless, still
Like the world in night’s numbing vigil
I look around for something
Anything to cut through the dead air
Its atoms conspiring
With the silence that sits everywhere

And then I see it, a little plume
Floating, dancing in the room
From my mug
As the tea steams up
Severing the bond of silence and air
The desolate, deflated, joyless pair
Their essence once filled
With people now gone
The moist vapor wafts in
Reaching into spaces
Where images, reminiscences
Lie inert, forsaken
Loosening, thawing, warming them

I take a sip of my tea
I feel my spine tingle
Familiarly
As I’m wrapped in the arms
Of rekindled memories.
Featured

VERSE | FIRE QUEEN

There’s a girl in the sunset 
Her hair is ablaze
Her dupatta streams
In the arid breeze
I can’t see her face
I catch my breath
She stands there still
So still
I see the horizon seethe and rage
Scorch her in its red-hot rampage
I close my eyes
I’m afraid to look
Afraid to see the heavens burn
Afraid to see the ashes blown
Of the girl that is standing there alone

But then

My stinging eyelids fly open, I see
She’s still there
She looks back at me
The blaze of the sun
Now a shimmering red
Halo around her head
Like a crown
She won’t go down
When her world careens
When her world burns all around
Grey smoke rising from the sea
Of charred, asphyxiated dreams
She stands there serene
She gathers the light around her being
She smiles, she gleams
She is the fire queen.

VERSE | MOMENTS

The thing with moments
Is that they never stay
Ethereal, chimerical
They alight and fly away
They come upon us
On gossamer whispery wings
Or rush with such force
That you’re left reeling
The breath knocked out of you
And then they’re gone
Or they cloak you silently
So imperceptibly
Like the lengthening shadows
Of eventide
That you realize
That they were there
Only after they have quietly
Etherised into yesterday’s dawn

The thing with moments
Is that they never last
Always on nimble feet
They are fleeting pin pricks
On your skin
A quick rush of warmth within
The lungs for a moment collapsing
A vanishing scene
The stuff of dreams
Always receding
But not before leaving
Their forever tattoos
In reds, yellows and blues
A kiss, a hug, a bruise
Eternal imprints on the heart
Emotional ink
Permanent, piercing
Sunk deeply in
By the wraiths and ghosts
Of moments past.

VERSE | BE STILL MY BEATING HEART

Be still my beating heart 
It’s only the setting sun
With its fiery orange hues
Tinged with scarlet and indigo
Its the colours of a day that’s done
Be still my beating heart
It’s only the setting sun

Be still my racing blood
It’s only the ocean wide
It’s waves unfurling liquid lace
Onto my upturned, sun-warmed face
As I leap into the rushing tide
Be still my racing blood
It’s only the ocean wide

Be still my aching breast
It’s only a trail in the greenwood glade
Hemmed on the edges with wild flowers
Glistening in the wake of a spring shower
It’s only the whispering leaf dappled shade
Be still my aching breast
It’s only a trail in the greenwood glade

Be still my breathless lungs
It’s only the afternoon sky
With a rainbow that has looped around
The azure blueness like a crown
A beautiful palette of pastel dyes
Be still my breathless lungs
It’s only the after-rain sky

Be still my quickening breath
It’s only the lover’s first kiss
You’ve been on that road before
You’ve flown where the eagles soar
And also curled up where the earthworms live
Be still my quickening breath
It’s only the sweetheart’s first kiss

Be still my beating heart
It’s only the setting sun
The mystical ocean and the greenwood glade
The after-rain sky and the lover’s kiss
It’s the enchantment that nostalgia has spun
Be still my beating heart
It’s just life in perpetual thrum.

VERSE | MOON SONG

The full moon slips into my room 
With her gentle spotlight
I transform into a diva that has
Cozied up for the night

The moonlight glimmers on my skin
Soft and translucent
I become a mermaid in her cove
Glistening after a swim

The moon also teases her way
Where angels fear to tread
She’s not afraid of my dark spaces
That lie grey and heavy as lead

The silver shimmer of the waxing moon
Conjures my quickening wings
I fly to where the eagles dare
Where fairies laugh and sing

The lady glows and off she goes
Leaving starlight in her wake
She moves towards another heart
For to gently gleam awake

The moon tonight has shared her light
And lit up visions and dreams
I watch her glide off silently
From lids now heavy with sleep.

VERSE | KIDNEY-STONED

There’s an ache in my kidneys 
It’s stuck fast to me
It seems to go deeper
Than just physically

When I least expect it
The pain creeps up on me
Like a divine messenger
Whispering its prophecy

I clutch my aching flesh
On my left or my right
I press desperate fingers
On the tormenting side

And then I hear the words
As they form in my head
The pain cannon-balling them
Into shooting threads

It’s a manifestation of
Trying hard to fit in
Of being torn to pieces
Every single day within

It’s the gathering storm
On every page in my feed
Of a debt-propelled suicide
Of a billionaire’s feast

It’s the hungry eyes
That sit in their deathly sockets
It’s the bloated engines
Of Mars-bound rockets

It’s people breaking out of
Society’s pristine box
To be trodden underfoot
By the conventionally orthodox

It’s the clamour of politics
Economics and faith
It’s the thousand new ways
We resent and we hate

These barbs sit inside me
Each waiting its turn
They’ll wound and they’ll lance me
Until they’re felt and they’re heard

There’s an ache in my kidneys
Of a tragedy that’s new
Or one that’s lingered awhile
And now is screaming its truth.
Featured

VERSE | ATOMIC GRIEF

When I look inside of you 
Into the very depths of you
Do you know what I see?
Two stormy mushroom clouds
Looming wetly in your eyes
Grey harbingers of doom
They roil and linger in the room
I’m afraid; I’m mesmerized
Then Boom! Everything is gone
In the ferocity
Of your atom bomb
Atomic, Anatomic, Catatonic
The fearsome stillness after the storm
Your atoms ravaged out of form

When I look inside of you
I see vanquished fields beneath
The clouds of smoke and acid rain
I see the skeletons of trees
The mucid ashes of flowers and bees
They were rustling, bustling, hustling
Their atoms dancing merrily
You plucked each atom from its orbit
In the fierceness
Of your tragedy
Calamity, Catastrophe
You heaved your mighty weight upon it
Smote your world beneath your feet

When I look inside of you
I see the heaving cosmos
Suns and planets whirling, swirling
In the vast blue-blackness
Meteors like fireworks
Blazing exultant trails
Shimmering tails, Star-burnished sails
The firmament a holy grail
You crush the heavens in your fist
You flick your angry blue-bruised wrist
The sky comes crashing down
Molten lava on the ground
Seismic vapor all around
I can taste it in my mouth

But when I look at you from here
You sit there statue-still
Not an eyelash moves at all
You are transparent, mystical
Ethereal, Apparitional
But within
Clandestine, Hidden
There are raging storms
Carrying sand and ice alike
I feel a chill in my bones
And all of hell’s feverous might
And all the while you look at me
Your skin shrouded in serenity
While in a loop, relentlessly
You break and shatter on the inside.

VERSE | A BLOOM OF ONE’S OWN

Sometimes I’m a foxtail orchid 
Needing extra care and warmth
Sometimes I’m a leaf skipping
Where the wind takes me along

Sometimes I feel fresh and light
Like just-cut summer grass
Sometimes things get cold and grey
Then I’m the winter frost

Sometimes earth’s shadowy arms
Are where I want to hide
I’m then the discreet Cereus that flowers
Once in a great big while

Other times my gladdened heart
Beats strong and rhythmically
My courage drapes me like a cloak
Then I’m the intrepid weed

Every day brings a new avatar
A new sensibility
I hug the day that comes my way
Or watch it drift from my safe niche

Nature’s blooms that make up my being
Rest in their special spaces
Each day I become the seed that keeps
Life marking its measured paces.

VERSE | SADLESS

My thoughts sometimes
Become like rebellious kids
They dart about my head
Swarm into my hippocampus
Making me sweat
I race after them
Calling to them
But they don’t heed me
They’re chimerical beings
Elves and pixies and aliens
Coins and marbles and peeling paint
A stubbed toe, a tired saint
A fierce cupid on a fountain
Rose bushes that run riot
And then I just lose sight
Of them at all
I hear the silence
Numbing, thrumming, sometimes strumming
Through my brain

Then I see them again
They’re out on the streets
They’ve run free, leaving me behind
They’ve escaped the prison of my mind
I watch them from afar
Tumbling around
Laughing, skipping, rumbling around
Moaning, groaning, fumbling around
Far away from me
I’m featherlight now
I float above them
Like I’m dead
The leaden weight of life
Has dropped
I watch it tumble with my thoughts
Rumble, tumble, sometimes stumble
In its frantic vitality

I’m timeless, sadless, gladless now
E m p t y
I float away
In a silent conspiracy
Of air and nothingness.

VERSE | FOR NOW

Dappled sunlight 
Upon my skin
Warm, streaming motes
Kiss my neck
My arms, my face
Whispering sweet nothings
Caressing, comforting
My shoulders drop
The weight of the world
That sits on them
Like twin rocks
I’m no longer Atlas
Holding up the sky
Shivering
In its storminess
Legs quivering
Under its burden of sighs
And tears and loss
For now
It has all melted away
The coldness, the heaviness, the grey
For now
There is only a quiet joy
A rainbow sprinkling
Of dappled sunlight
Upon my skin
Thawing me, warming me
From within.