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 about
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 families and friends 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 mein
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
That 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 ones that have gone
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

VERSE | THE WHINGE

Today has dawned as one of those 
Days that make me gripe
I sit up in bed thinking of all
The things that I don’t like

It’s useless today to try and be
Tolerant and benign
So here’s an unlovely ode to things
That get on these nerves of mine

I hate early mornings
And tepid cups of tea
I abhor geckos on the wall
Even if they’re nowhere near me

I can’t stand milky coffee
But I cringe when it’s too strong
Too much sugar makes me gag
Too little pulls me down

I so hate the humidity
And what it does to my hair
Like an alien in residence
It waves its million arms in the air

I hate breaking with the
Predictability of my grind
First my latte, then some work
Then some angst if you don’t mind

But I also hate when twilight sets
On my day off from routine
From the clutches of mundania
Self imposed as that may be

I hate margarine for what
It does to my intestines
Anaphylactic shock and awe
Are then wholly, soully mine

I can’t stand the loud caws
Of aggressive city crows
Scavenging, ravaging their
Insidious way indoors

But I also dread the day my
Neighbourhood mynahs don’t come by
I don’t care that my avian favouritism
Is then guiltless and alive

On these days I also detest
All our erstwhile politicians
I wish they’d all go and drown
In the tumultuous Indian Ocean

The Arabian Sea just seems
Like a seriously dubious route
They’d go Gulf country visiting
And come right back home to loot

I hate that I hate my life
When my hormones are awry
When everything seems absurd
A frickin’ painful enterprise

Yup, It’s one of those days again
When I’ve woken with a groan
It’s going be 24 hours of
Whinge and hate and moan

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 | SENTINEL TIME

Oh look at that beautiful dragonfly 
It’s turning somersaults
It’s peacock coloured gossamer wings
Perfect; without fault!
But you didn’t catch the fleeting glimpse
It bestowed upon this scene
You were on your phone lost in
Digital worlds upon your screen

Did you see that butterfly
Just sit upon my arm
Brown and orange-yellow wings
It was full of golden charm!
You missed its quickening beauty
As it said hello and went
You were caught in your own loop
Eyes down, heart still, head bent

I had to hold my breath there
That scene was so sublime
The grand eagle swooping down
And then soaring back up high!
Where, where? you ask me now
As you look at an empty sky
You were fretting, agitating
As nature sprang her wondrous surprise

Glittering dragonflies, murmurations
Eagles in majestic flight
A shower of blossoms, a ladybird loveliness
Nature exulting in life
Magical, mystical, shimmering marvels
Surround us at all times
Some of us get to revel in their beauty
Some stay trapped by Sentinel Time

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

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 | THE PLEASURE OF KINGS

I go to the kitchen and switch on the light 
A hazy, 5 watt bulb warms to life
I then put the kettle on
And while it sings its little song
I fix my square blue-flowered tray
Strainer, spoon and a little bowl
And one of my mugs adds to the whole
With a pinch of the most fragrant earl grey
It sits in its saucer and awaits
The steamy pour from the spout
Of the kettle as the water gushes out

Onto the teabag it flows in a rush
Steaming vapour billowing up
The mug is filled almost to the brim
Just enough space for milk, not skimmed
(Low fat is the best I can do
Playing around with tea is taboo!)
Then the iris-strewn tea tray goes
To the lounge, loaded with its amenities
In all of this, as its centrepiece
My mug puts on a steamy show

It blows kisses in fragrant plumes
Sending them wafting across the room
I kiss it back with my first sip
It’s the one that has the scalding nip
I close my eyes as it slides down
My throat, searing the flesh around
But that is the pleasure of tea drinking
A self-immolation fit for a king

VERSE | STAY

The tea’s still warm upon our breath 
The samosa crunch still lingers
On the horizon the sun now rests
Like a russet-orange finger

The quiet echoes of our chats
Still reverberate around
Won’t you stay as the garden plays
Out its evening song?

My heart still beats toasty warm
From your visit to me today
Let me have my fill of you
For a little longer, stay

The tea’s still warm upon our breath
Memories plume out in wraiths
Reminiscing, remembering
The sweetness of bygone days

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 | UNTIL THEN

He looked at me with eyes of love 
I could not hold his gaze
My heart lay closed and tightly bound
In yards of purple lace

It once had soared high above
Where eagles roam the skies
But since then it had plummeted
It had shrivelled up and dried

By and by it beat again
As I slowly found my peace
But it still liked to hide away
In its blue-violet niche

So when he looked at me with eyes
That spoke of tender starts
I looked away, there was no way
Into my blue-bruised heart

Someday when the colours change
Of the blood that flows within
Of when my heart reddens anew
And once more soars and sings

I hope that I can hold that gaze
So full of affection
Until then I hope to heal enough
To want to love again

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