Saturday, December 12, 2015


Two little mynahs
sitting on a  hedge:
One for sorrow,
Two for joy.

A little girl who believed
in fairy tales,
Blue lotuses lived
in her midnight eyes.

Bread and butter,
Woe and mirth,
Lightning and thunder,
Breath and death.
Life is measured out in pairs—
A duet tuned to disaster:
Two tablespoons, please.

What do you do with a poem
whose couplets
refuse to rhyme?

Would you tear it up
into a million flakes
that snow down upon
your summers and springs?

Would you torch it alive,
Let the howls hound you for life?

Would you incinerate it,
Scatter the ashes
beneath your dreams?

Or would you keep rewriting
till your blood runs dry
and you run out of reams?

A sunrise frozen in a teardrop,
A bulrush gasping in a heath,
A forlorn slice of moon in a bedraggled sky,
Some couplets can never rhyme.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Education for Life

I waddle daily
to the carefree laughter
of youth—freshly flowered—
beneath the casuarinas,
The staccato banter and songs
drifting down the corridors,
The brightly sparkling eyes
that gaze upon endless vistas,
The polite smiles and good-mornings.

You kick and twist and drag me down,
rippling beneath my pulled-down dupatta,
Altering my life’s centre of gravity;
But I brush away the cobwebs and smile,
Acknowledge their greetings,
Maybe in memory of days
not long ago when I too
was one of them.

They say of woman:
Born weak,
And on top, pregnant.
I say:
Born strong,
And on top, forged in fire.

I see the passion
pulsing in their veins,
The dreams
that deck their hair,
The stars in their eyes.
Not so far removed in age,
But alas! I care no longer
for the sprezzatura
of roses and cards
and chocolates
and moonlit verses
and all that jazz.

I talk to them of human frailty
and mortality,
And beauty and infinity;
I teach them the nightingale’s rhapsody,
The desire to cease upon
the midnight hour with no pain,
To soar upon the viewless wings of poesy;
Metre and alliteration, stress and sprung rhythm,
Dialect and diglossia.

I see their eyes glaze over, some of them,
Lost in illusory enchanted lands . . .
I wish I could gently shake them
and teach them
The clanging, jarring
of reality,
The falling tone of vanity and ideals
and hopeless romance,
The enjambement of disillusionment,
The deconstruction of truth.

But then I know I mustn’t.
I must let them feel it, taste it, live it
for themselves.
For what is life, if not these brief preludes
before grimness punctures the heart
and greyness punctuates your laughs?
If not the steely resolve that rises
like a phoenix to soar over the ruins
of the present to swoop down on that
liminal land of luminosity
that lies between knowledge and despair?

And I know that is what I must teach
these tender blooms before winter comes,
And you, my child, in the years to come.