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 | 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 | 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.
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VERSE | VEINS

She looks at the leaf 
Its serrated edges holding together
A cosmos of possibilities
Of alternate realities
Of burgeoning opportunities
She looks at a vein
A cholorophyllated pathway of dreams
A vital, verdant, emerald seam
Running like a stream
From the heart of the leaf to one serrated edge

Nearest
To her wrist

Where her own veins have seared a path
Specific, stark
Chiseled from the magma of predestined fate
Pre-blessed, pre-set, per-fected
Once a rolling ocean of fluid dreams
Now quiet, grief-stained, shadowy seams
Of still water that never skips
Never dances; it stays gripped
Even as it drips
In the finite space of one blue-purple vein

VERSE| A SELFCARE NOTE

You know that tiny little thought 
That forms inside your head
The one that nags and corners you
When you least expect?

That atomic little notion which
Makes you doubt yourself
A hazy inkling barely there
Now sits big upon the shelf

You try to look the other way
From that space inside your mind
But your racing, tearing brain has left
Your willpower behind

And so you stare at the thought
Treacherous, stinging and sly
Of how you could have done better
Of how lacking was your try

The tiny speck of self doubt
Grows gargantuan in size
As it festers in your head
The truth hidden behind the lies

Put up your guard, don’t be afraid
To not see it at all
Know its savage purpose
Don’t let it spread its pall

So when that nagging little thought
Creeps in out of the blue
Face it only when you can
With kindness, grace and truth.

VERSE | OUTSIDE IN

We were talking
About this and that
The conversation meandering
Sometimes off the beaten track
Into more private realms
Reticent spaces holding
Secret reflections, introspection
Ruminations that had rarely seen
The light of day
Hesitating, faltering, we walked along
That path hewn on the cusp of right and wrong
Where perplexing thoughts lay vulnerable, bare
And then we heard the call to prayer

She rose with an alacrity borne of custom
With velvety smooth liquid motions
Like a babbling stream that has
No more reason to be but because
It can flow gliding in its bed of silt and stone
She floated through the ritual
Sure, secure in the discerning eyes
Of her faithful world. On the outside
She had done the needful, the right thing
She came back to our conversation
Her face shining with virtue, beneficence

But now the doors were closed
To the questions that had peeked through
The heavy, opaque veils of tradition and goodness
Back they had sunk into the clenched depths
From which they had inadvertently crept
She looked at me with guarded eyes
Lest I scratch that surface again
Lest she forget what keeps her true and safe

I smiled and she smiled back at me
“Have another cup of tea”
She said bringing the conversation
Back to the glittering streets
Of the daily treads of teeming feet
And I followed, leaving the track
Lit up by mysterious stars and the soul-searching gleam
Of the moon that now shone on our backs.

VERSE | STARS

She carried a little bouquet 
Of golden-hearted nargis*
Her face flushed, her eyes bright
She was going to make a gift of them
To someone special.
The bus stop was empty
Save the woman with the flowers
And me. I had my phone in my hand
She sat on the bench waiting
Clutching her bouquet
I stood nearby, holding my phone
Watching her secretly
Trying not to spook her
But she was mesmerizing
In the tender enchantment
That surrounded her

The bus was late
She sat there almost motionlessly, quietly
But the thrum of her joyful energy
Was taken up by the gay bouquet
As it danced gently in the breeze
She wore yellow shalwar kameez*
With little white flowers
Or were they stars?
They were tiny, almost imperceptible
So small I was sure even she wouldn’t know
But they shimmered in her gaiety
She smiled as she adjusted the stems
The flowers bobbed back happily
She sat there like a painting
Full of joy and anticipation

The bus rolled in
Carrying its load of passengers
I lingered a while to see
The recipient of this picture of love
That waited brightly on the seat
Together we watched people alight
People go left and right
Until the last passenger stepped down
I climbed on, slowly, hesitantly
I sat down near a window and looked out
The bouquet now lay inertly on the bench
Its sunny heart wrenched
Where it had been clenched
In the ardent embrace of a pair of hands
Drenching it in the liquid warmth of love

They were stars, not flowers
On her kameez, five-pronged tridents
Piercing, lancing, shattering
The perfection of beautiful things
Hidden, Unbeknownst to her
The fault, I was sure, lay in the stars.
* Nargis: Daffodil

* Shalwar kameez: the long shirt and trousers worn by women in Pakistan and India

HAIKU

A haiku is an unrhymed Japanese poetic form that consists of 17 syllables arranged in three lines containing five, seven, and five syllables, respectively. A haiku expresses much and suggests more in the fewest possible words. Trying my hand at the lithe and sinewy art form.

Some gladness, some strife
Mixed in with some love and hope
Faultless slice of life.


It opens again
Haltingly, poundingly, my
Newly love-drenched heart.


The light shone, my soul
Soared. The monitor too glowed
In final farewell.


The pane shudders, shakes
In the wind. The pelting rain
Renews, whets the pain.


The old men sit snug
In their fortressed halls waiting
Out the raging storm.


She lay down to rest
The crickets were still. There were
None six feet under.


The breeze kissed my face
Whispering, praying we would
Never meet again.


Tea with buttered toast
A little sip, a bite, my
Broken heart revived.


The wind pulled at him
The kite pulled at his laughter
Heart in hand they soared.

VERSE | DIFFERENT

I met her on the internet
We had a little chat
For fifteen or twenty minutes
It wasn’t more than that

The next day at 3pm
I saw my screen light up
There was a message waiting
She had not given up!

I smiled, nay beamed it was
Uplifting and sublime
That this lovely lass could one day
Be a real friend of mine

She had put up a photo
In the app display online
I tended to opt for staid old men
Quoting their pithy lines

The weeks they turned into months
She suggested finally
That we should meet up somewhere
For sandwiches and tea

I was torn, I was in two minds
To go or not to go
I had had some experience
Of dejection and of woe

But she seemed different
Grounded, honest and mature
So I bested my insecurities
Of one score years and four

I walked in early and sat down
I ordered a latte
I waited looking at the door
And then I saw her face

Gleaming, hopeful, expectant
She glanced around the room
Our eyes met for a bit and then
She looked away confused

She lingered for a while before
She glided out of there
With my disillusionment and coffee
I sat in my wheelchair.

VERSE | LOVE

I look at you with a thrum of love 
You look back with a smile
Your eyes crinkle affectionately
We’ve been together a while

I have stopped lingering upon
The outside of your being
For, years ago I fell in love
With what lies within the seams

Now I look into the depths
Of your twinkling, smiling eyes
And I see the gracious soul
That reverberates inside

I see the kindness that you bring
To the tumultuous world around
To the big and small, the young and old
You bring an empathy that’s profound

I see the pain and the passion too
Both heave in your very depths
One keeps you wise and rooted
The other keeps you forging ahead

I also see peace and calm
They rest quietly in your heart
When life sometimes disturbs, disrupts
They play their blessed parts

At your very centre I see the man
That you always strive to be
Dignified, upright, aware and true
All while you nurture your humanity.
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VERSE | SEASONS WHISPERER

Where are you going my little one 
With your hands full of summer flowers?
Why do you have that smile on your lips?
Why do your eyes shine like stars?

I’m coaxing with play the Summer away
She’s never ever happy to leave
She’ll pout and she’ll wallow, go all shades of yellow
She’ll moult in the throes of grief

But when I pick up her bloom-strewn dresses
And laughingly whisk them away
She follows along singing a song
And her sister takes up the reign

I’m the whisper of the breeze flowing in the trees
I’m the drops of morning dew
I’m the patter of rain on sun-kissed earth
I’m her fragrance as she breathes anew

I’m the usher of times, of blossoms and snow
I’m the forger of grand season farewells
I’m the music and cadence of the rhythm of life
I ring all its wistful and joyful bells.