despair


despair

the forum


on a sunset beach
with my feet in the water
was shadow and shadow
that danced a robot straight circle
around me
and when I left
it would be dark
for a few minutes more
I would wander asking
for someone who was free
knew what it meant
what it felt like
to own the seat of the day
a restroom to cry in
have hands to hold
make promises to children
and disappear

 

butterscotch sonata


in the snowflake storm
I have a progress
that allows blase carp
about the mess, armed with
a brush and frozen hands
a vehicle to negotiate the
money-time continuum
but the sparkles in sunshine
the vision of a frozen world
even the slidealongs
my boots let in melt
shuffling along swish splash
peering at the puddles
the doorways the skies
with cold wrinkled hands

of mice and women


when I was 14, I was crazy about books. fiction, obviously. My neighbour had this new 3 in 1 Famous Five book she had just bought. Her parents were the rare sort of family that actually BOUGHT books, instead of letting their kids haunt the local lending libraries. She was a bit older than me, but we were both still at the Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew (Case Files) stage of womanhood. I had stealth access to my moms Mills n Boon stash, so I had only an impending sort of concept of titillation. A lot was remarkably clarified in the Sidney Sheldon phase a year later.

Around this time I had also borrowed another book, a Three Investigators I think, from a school friend, who had taken a month off from school to go for some holiday. I brought both books, my treasure, to school, to have something to do during Hindi class. The 12th class students were just clearing out of the morning session, when I plopped my books on the desk and went for a wander. I came back 10 minutes later, and the classroom was cleared. The books were gone. One of my classmates, a boy I barely knew saw me search, and said, are you looking for the books? Some 12th class boys just took them. I was at this time, very upset and very frightened. Mommy would be very angry if she found out I lost them. So would my neighbour. So would my classmate a month later.

I marched to the Vice Principals office with the boy witness, and asked that he get the books back. He said he would have us in the 12th classroom tomorrow early to identify the culprits. boy witness said he would come early. We all scanned the 12th classroom the next day, but boy witness couldnt identify them any more. we tried for 5 days. he still couldnt tell. no one came forward to return the books.

The next month passed in a kind of thick ether, through which I couldnt manage to thread my voice. My neighbour asked for the books once, but I stalled her. I was sick with worry and fear, although I probably looked about the same to the rest of the world – morose. But my days were filled with nightmares of being called a thief, sinking my family in debt and being expelled from school. I tended to dream big.

Then a month later, my classmate returned. A week later she asked for her book back. I stalled her. Then she started asking every day. My days were filled with reasons for how I lost it, why I couldnt find it. Then another friend of hers broke the coconut. Dont you know? She lost it. Part of my fears came true. She got very angry and called me a liar and a thief. I didnt tell her my story. it sounded thin, even to me. It was humilating and sunk my non existent street cred a few feet lower. Even polite chit chat with the other girls ground to a halt and I just sat inside my ether and waited for my neighbour to go next. She didnt. I think she realized I lost it and let it go. For a fellow reader, who hadnt yet read the book, it was a rare kindness.

That story never got better. I was already weird and awkward and the kid who always had stains on her shirt, but now life at school got much worse. My school friend always treated me with contempt since then, and she was a popular girl, so that meant, all the other girls, except the confirmed kooks, avoided me too. No one would sit next to me in the bus, and any trips to parks or museums meant hours of planning for me, to appear like a normal part of the school group, and NOT walking by myself. darting behind group after group before they noticed I was there. taking refuge with a fellow confirmed kook during bus rides or presentations.

I swam in that ether for a long time not knowing how to cross to the other side I saw every day. Laughter and jokes and a shared reality, common ground, a stake to the same life.

starlight


is only real
if you can read by it
it is among
my greatest sorrows
to never truly know
what thats like
explain it, share it
and yet watch it
fill my every dream
understand it relentlessly
become a creature of sight
when I close my eyes
refuse to listen
or speak, withdraw
and not become addicted
to detachment
or afraid of being right
or wrong, of being

 

a home spire


that becomes magical
by just existing
and of course
I spend all waking moments
pretending its not real
but its been so many years
when all I hoped for
my fellow creatures
was to just keep
bloody carrying on
with life the glorious
I had quite lost hope
of any leftover progress
for my walking years
that it was even possible
for me to be any more
or less

like exquisite ripped lace


tell me from the place above
or below, is it duller than here
say hello to the other
of whom I do not speak or hear
does your omnipotence see
your value change, without breathing
are you immortal now, happier
than your flimsy human fate