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 | 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

VERSE | THE WHINGE

Today has dawned as one of those 
Days that makes 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
Waving its million arms in the air

I deplore 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 can’t stomach 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