VERSE | TEA FOR TWO

It was two for tea and tea for two
Both meeting after a decade or two
Friends of old, kins of the heart
Separated by time and circumstance
Chatter and laugh over tea for two

Tea for two and two for tea
Neighbours for a year, kindred souls for twenty-three
They’d seen each other through thick and thin
Loving Kintsugi* mending walls where they’d grown thin
Catch up over two for tea

It was two for tea and tea for two
From working together their friendship grew
They had rejoiced in one another’s highs
And had held each other’s hands in trying times
Rendezvous over tea for two

Tea for two and two for tea
The sister and the brother sat quietly
The coolness of bruised hearts lay around
The air was rent with empty sounds
As they tried to build bridges over two for tea

It is usually two for tea and tea for two
That brings hearts together, both the sunny and the blue
Loving ones forge more joyful memories
Aching ones for a while find some peace
When they come together over tea for two.
* Kintsugi: The Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art.

VERSE | BLUNDER WOMAN

I was in a hurry, in a mad rush 
The morning was crazy, yes one of those
The alarm had belted shrilly out
But I was dead to the world, comatose

Dreaming of wishes being horses and Bookers
Until the clock struck ten and then
I threw off the duvet, leaped out of bed
Limbs all awry like a headless chicken

Here’s a little aside: when I’m stressed
My hair also declares a mutiny
Acts up like it’s the raging heroine
Of its very own show on prime time telly

And so it was in this agitation
That I knocked my elbow on the door
I cursed like a sailor who’s had too much ale-er
Deliriously, frenziedly I swore

I vented as much as a random string
Of choice expletives can enable
The rest of the rage I swallowed away
As virtuously as I was able

Then the ultimate decimation came to pass
I stubbed my wretched left little toe
What chanced to happen in the heat of my passion
You really wouldn’t want to know

Suffice it to say that on that day
The angels filling in my Wicked Gal page
With brimstone, hellfire, the sinfulness of ire
Had a field day, ‘twas their advantage

And so ‘twixt my shoulders and my feet now
A funny bone doesn’t exist at all
I try to be sweet-talking, kind and good
Until the next time I slam, stub or fall.

VERSE | HEALING

She looks down at the empty page 
Something is on her mind
A plot, a verse for better or worse
For the rest, a pithy line

But nothing stirs into rank and file
For her to string together
The words and phrases spin like crazy
She just can’t find the tether

“I looked at him in puzzlement…”
No today she couldn’t go there
“She sat serene and beautiful
With a magnolia in her hair…”

She felt herself choke a little
She couldn’t walk there either
In sepia-toned dreams is where
She felt happiest seeing her

A cup of tea, a pastry
That sublime combination
Surely she could muster up
Something for that occasion

But her thoughts were far away
They were looking at something else
The woman poised upon her page
Needed healing herself

So they had set up a little storm
In the space of her tearing mind
Whirling, swirling round and round
Until the pain was left behind

Then to her blue-stung heart they went
To gently numb the precious space
Odes to life’s ripple and swell
Could wait for another day.

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.

VERSE | KNOWING

For every smile upon your lips 
A million more have beamed
On happy faces old and young
With joyfulness they’ve gleamed

For every tear that you have spilt
When sadness cleaved the air
Countless others have also grieved
From the depths of their despair

When You have laughed with tears of joy
Right from your belly out
There have been a billion others
Who’ve chortled in delight

So live completely sit with both
Your joy and with your pain
The energy that thrums in you
Flows in everyone the same

For every smile that’s on your lips
For every tear that falls
Someone somewhere feels the same
Someone is sharing it all.
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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.

VERSE | CAUGHT RED-SALAD!

This is my Alice in Wonderland type of journey through my bowl of salad. Some trials (including of the dietary variety) are best undertaken up close and personal! Also thrown in some existential angst for good measure. The title of the piece is a play on the phrase “Caught red-handed”.

I pick my way through little bits
Of bright green, the shade
Of fresh cut grass
I then pass
A scarlet flower the size of my head
It sits on the ground like it’s dead
Or perhaps waiting
Anticipating
Food? Me? Like the Venus flytrap?
I shudder and go on
It agitates me that I’m alone

I look up
There propped
On a frilly green tree
I see
A brown green dome
Velvety on the outside
Is it a temple? A den? A ploy to lull the senses
Full of pretenses
Of warmth and safety
Waiting slyly for unsuspecting prey?
I shiver and go on

I’m borne on fogs
Of peppery wet air
I stop and stare
At uneven bricks of black and white
Stacked haphazardly
Here and there
Are these stairs to heaven? alien art? remains of ritual sacrifice?
I can’t tell … but oh the smell!
As I step through a hole
Soft and pliable, the pong
Makes my eyes water
I falter for a bit
It it a giant fungus? A virus? A disease?
I step through gingerly —

“Good afternoon ma’am. How’s the salad”
I’m startled, awakened from my reverie
I look down at my bowl
Where I had been traipsing
Thumb-nail small
In a fearsome fantasy
That my despairing mind had woven
In garden salad tapestry

Lettuce, tomatoes, olives and cheese
Untouched, unloved, salt-pepper doused
Waiting for a forkful raised to my mouth
Sit patronisingly, self righteously
In the bowl, staring back at me.

VERSE | ADRIFT

I feel the pull
I feel the glimmer
It surrounds me, it’s all around me
I freeze as it coaxes me
Out of the grip of my sanity
I stop struggling
And let it pull me in
I drown
Down, down
In the tsunami gushing
Inside my mind
But only for a breath.

I resurface then
In my other world
My secret one
Where I have no anxiety
Where I don’t want to run
And hide
I’m beside
A swing in the garden
And a rocking chair. I smile.
They both hold the comfort
And the softness of old friends
They rest there quietly.

I sit in the swing
I push with my feet
And peek through the leaves
At the golden-red sky
I can’t see them
But I can hear the birds
I think it is dusk
A velvety glow wraps my world
Golden paisleys and whorls
Dance around my feet
As I sway gently in my seat
Dappled sunlight cloaks
My shoulders like angels wings
As I weave to and fro on the swing

I breathe out, my muscles untense
I’m far away from cause and consequence
No memories, no sorrows
No yesterdays, no tomorrows
It is Now and Now is everything
I lean back
In the swing
She holds me softly
In her cushioning
I close my eyes.
I hear something
Someone is calling me
Voices from far away
But my lids are so heavy
I can’t keep awake
In the tranquil buzz
Of the honey bees
And the gentle murmur
Of the almond trees
Like wraiths the voices fade away

I’m finally home, unbound, pain-free
I lay my head back and sleep.

She’s not here anymore. She’s gone
Adrift in the tangle of her dreams.
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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 | PARADISE

I have lost the rituals 
Of faith. But my devotion has
Become stronger. I no longer
Am afraid or confused by questions that
Whirl around in my head
Never to be brought into existence
Their very substance damning
Pounding, hammering a path to (h)elsewhere
I now wear a cloak around
My shoulders. It holds a super power
A texture all its own. When I’m alone
It reminds me of who I am.
It fosters my introspection
It champions who I want to be
And then I feel
No other burden of pretense
Or suspense
No fear of consequence
For being so much more
And ritualizing less
I have no dire need to find my
Hallowed steed to gallop on with
Me holding on, bound for paradise.
This life, this blessed life is mine
To treat with such passion
Such tenderness, that earth
Itself becomes the Eden I seek.
My paradise is under my own feet.

VERSE | GRIT

For all the women and the men supporting them; for all those who get up every morning and despite all odds make it through the day surviving, shining, rising. For the friends and families of Sara, Mahsa, Noor, Qurat Ul Ain and of the countless nameless others like them: your grit is everything.

When it’s been tormenting
Day after day. With no respite
And I just don’t have it in me to fight
To battle on
When I’m war-weary
When there is no end in sight
And all I want to do
Is sit in a dark room
And let its coolness shroud me
Until I can feel the hair
Stand on my skin. There
Is suddenly more to the day
Than the heaviness in my heart
And the endlessness of the grey
That has been flowing, gripping choking me
Keeping me doubled down on my knees
There’s more beyond that malevolent mien
Images, memories driving me insane

Now -

Now there is also something
On the outside of me
A little chill
A little photo on the window sill
Both pull at me in different ways
One makes icicles
To sear through
The magma that has congealed
Inside of me
The other makes my blood flow warm
Streaming, coursing through my veins
Reminding me that I am home
My spirit and my fortitude
Still cloak my shoulders
Strong and true
I sit up straight
As they reverberate
Through every atom of my being
And they chant
An age old song
Of others like me
Who’ve fought on
Their hearts fused forever
With the loved ones they’ve lost
And I know
That I’m not wielding my sword alone

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