ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gopikrishnan Kottoor is an award winning poet. He founded Poetry Chain. He presently edits the online poetry journal www.chipmunk.co.in. He lives in Trivandrum, Kerala.
The author is indebted to the editors of the following publications in which some of the poems in this collection first appeared or will appear: Mahesh Paudyal, The Gorkhatimes, A J Thomas, Indian Literature, (Sahitya Akademi) Premila Paul and Ganesh, Kavya Bharati, (SCILET) Gautam Karmakar, The Lie of the Land (Sahitya Akademi) Sukrita Paul and Vinita Agrawal, The Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English, 2020, Sudhir Aurora, Creation and Criticism, Gayatri Majumdar, The Brown Critique Home Anthology, K. Jayakumar and Sangeetha Kaul, The Journal of the Poetry Society, India, Saumya Choudhury, Delhi Slam Wingword Poetry Anthology, Kritika, The Hindu Daily, Sudeep Sen Ed. Best Asian Poetry 2021, Kitaab International, Singapore, Mandira Ghosh, and Amarendra Khatua, Travel Poems, New Delhi, and not least, to all Facebook friends who keep returning to my poems and have been in many untold ways inspirational.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
About the Author iii
THE HOUSE WHERE WE STAYED 13
SONG OF THE GUITAR 14
GOA, 2018 15
LOOKING AT MY FATHER’S PHOTOGRAPH ON FATHER’S DAY 16
THE DIRECTION 17
THE DOLLHOUSE 18
THE WHITE SPIDER 20
OUT IN THE WOODS 22
TIGER SKIN 23
DRAGON FLY 26
THE ELECTRICITY GOES OFF AT NIGHT 27
SMALL WHITE ROSES 29
MOONLIT, THIS DARKNESS 30
FATHER’S SHIRT 31
FATHER TAKES HIS BATH 33
MOTHER’S HAND 34
GREAT GRANDMOTHER 35
PHOTOGRAPHS OF TIGER PRABHAKARAN’S SON MINUTES BEFORE BEING SHOT DEAD, AND AFTER 42
THE AFTERMATH OF 14.02.2019 44
IN MEMORIAM, CRPF BATTALION 54 44
AND WHEN THEY BRING THE BOXES HOME 45
SPOTTING THE WHITE RHINOCEROS, KAZIRANGA, ASSAM 46
THE BRIGHT BOY IN CLASS 49
ANTS ON A WIRE 55
THE SECRET LIVES OF ANTS 56
THE BROWN ANT 58
A BABY MILLIPEDE 60
BLACK SNAKE 63
THE MEAT WOMAN IN THE MALL 66
DEAD FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK 69
OFFICE STAFF, A DEMISE 70
MANGALESH DEBRAL, A REQUIEM 72
I’LL NOT FORGET THESE LITTLE FLOWERS 74
PLANE ABOUT TO LAND, MUMBAI 75
LEAVES IN THE RAIN 76
7.30 A.M 77
LATE 2020, A DAY BEGINS 78
A PEACE OF COVID 79
THE SECOND COMING 80
MAY 2021 81
WHAT CORONA DID TO GIRLS 82
THE MOON WITH HER LIGHT 83
WHERE IS KALIDASA? 84
KALIDASA APPEARS 85
AROMA OR, RADHA THINKS OF KRISHNA 86
THE HAND OF A POET 87
A SECRET LANGUAGE 88
SMALL VOICES OF MEMORY 89
LAUGHING SUN 90
THE BOATMAN 91
IF YOU WERE WITH ME 92
WHERE DESIRES BEND 94
JUST LIKE THE HEART 95
THE LAST SNOW DROP 99
A SINGLE STAR 102
POUR ME BACK THESE ROSES 103
MILK MAID 105
MEMORIES OF A WOMAN 106
LOVE’S DISTANCES 107
WHAT LOSSES 108
YOU LEFT SO MUCH 109
NOW AND AGAIN 110
THE MIND’S TAVERN 111
MOUNTAINS AND PEBBLES 115
A CALL IN THE WILD 116
SWAN LAKE 117
THE BOOK OF ANGELS 119
LET HER INTO THE GUINNESS 120
SMALL DESIRES 125
THE SMALLEST ROSE 126
MUSIC OF LIGHT 127
ONCE MORE, WIND 129
POEM MAKER 130
ARE YOU THERE? 131
THERE ARE POEMS I MISS 132
LEAVE ME, LEAVE ME, LIKE LORCA 133
STILL WATERS 137
DON’T TALK TO ME 140
GIVE ME ONE REASON 141
UNTIL THE RIVER 142
SOME DREAMS 143
HEART LINE 144
AND THEN THE SECRET BIRDS SING 145
MY AIR WAYS 146
WHERE EVERYTHING BURNS 148
WHO’S THIS WOMAN 150
ONE HUNDRED YEARS 151
WHAT YOU ONCE MEANT TO ME 152
THE STARS, THE BIRDS, THE WORDS 153
THE POETRY OF LOVE 154
WHERE THE WORDS OF YOU BLOW 155
WHAT LOVE IS 156
QUIET HARBOURS 157
SHE HAD THE KIND OF FACE I LOVED 158
ONE BY ONE YOUR MEMORIES 160
THE UNCERTAIN LURE 161
YOU WHO WILL NOT BE DEFINED BY ROSES 162
HER PARTING 163
A FLOOD OF GREEN 164
NOT THAT I 165
THE MOTH OF MEMORIES 166
WERE LOVE A DRINK 167
ONE MORE QUESTION 168
GOODBYE STREET 171
HUNDREDS OF YOU 172
THERE IS NO MORE SORROW 173
YOUR SMALL DOLPHINS 174
LOVE FALLING 175
SMALL BIRDS OF YOU 176
THOUGHT BIRD 177
SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINE 178
SUN DOWN 179
PRETTY NEW WINGS 180
SO, LIKE A RAINBOW AFTER RAIN 181
BORROWED WATERS 182
YOU’LL CONTINUE IN MY EYES 184
WHERE THE RIVER FLOWS DOWN 185
THEY HAVE SLEPT 187
THREE DROPS OF RAIN 188
SHUT WORLD 189
GIVE IT A NAME 190
MIND, MIND 191
AND WITH YOU 192
WE DON’T KNOW 193
THE HARDEST LESSON 195
ASK ME NOT 196
DARK LINES 197
NOT JUST SOMETIMES 199
ALL THAT I THOUGHT WAS LOVE 201
OUT OF SIGHT 202
REST IN PEACE 203
I’LL TRY AND DEFINE QUIET 204
LOVE TREE 205
A BOAT PUT TO SAIL 206
WHY UNLOCK THE SEA 207
RIVER FISH 209
HOW DO I LOSE YOU? 211
IN WAITING 212
BOY CYCLING DOWN A SLOPE 213
LYING UPON HEINE’S TOMB, MONTMARTE CEMETERY, PARIS 214
I’M THE POEM 215
AH, POEM 216
THE YEARS 217
THE NAME 218
THE DYING ONE THINKS OF TOMORROW 221
UNREAD BREVITY 222
LATE COMER 224
I KNEW HIM, YES 226
LAST BREATH 228
AFTER I DIE 230
SOMEWHERE THIS LIGHT MUST CEASE 232
THERE’LL BE NO LAST POEM 233
BRING THEM TO ME 235
The House Where We Stayed
From the bus I can see
The house where we stayed.
All that coming home, late,
Looking up at the stars,
As though someone was looking for me
All over earth.
There was Ruby
wagging her brown tail,
waiting for her saucer of milk
Quieter than the Buddha Under the Banyan tree.
Those footsteps that came up to the stairs,
They always disappeared
At the door bell.
Is mummy there in the kitchen,
Still peeling onions for the night meal?
Is little Daisy singing in the shower,
The water boiling on the stove
For Daddy’s Last cup of tea?
Song of the Guitar
Tonight, I hear guitar music.
I’ve heard this music before.
I hear him,
Among the voices of the crickets
And the breaking wings
Of the falling alates.
The rain is painting a picture
Of wet, burning light.
It is that boy again—
He’s plucking hard at the guitar strings. I’ve heard him shout,
Call his father a dog
Now his father is on the other side.
He has once again taken the guitar off the wall.
Now he begins to know
How hard, it is
To sing, to make it feel it was just a flow. He’s thinking
As he makes his music,
It is your son here, dad,
I’m deeply sorry.
I can smell your fingerprints, dad,
Upon these strings
Just like your lips,
All over my face.
There’s a crucifix
Near the seashore,
Atop a home by the sea,
Of a boy who drowned,
And I hug it.
Christ never felt so close, so human, So warm.
I think of him drowning,
His body washed ashore.
Late that night I see the last man in the bar
Dwelling in fish
Shrunken omelette, and rain.
There’s music, I’m drowned already, That song.
It must be the Pussy Cats.
My friend tells me
Let’s get back to Yellow House.
One more drink,
My boy, my little boy swallowing the Goan sea,
The whole of it
I start the scooter
Somebody’s son’s crucifix
Upon a tiny mossed
Looking at My Father’s Photograph
on Father’s Day
That calm gaze on his face,
That awaits the wuthering moor.
The valleys made fonder with sorrow where
Those shivering lights hung, overlooking a night’s sad waters.
I look at him,
stopping to think what thought must have been in his mind.
A small cold feast on the table past supper-time,
The wait for daughter’s disappearing with the evening trains,
Of sons crash-landing in distant seas,
Those meadows in his eyes, undone,
Across the far bridges of our longings, The secret origami unfolding
unquenched tears, as with one side paralyzed,
A pain subterranean seeks its answer
gazing at God’s mysterious dominion, His vast blue unrelenting skies.
Next to the farm house of death
is the small ghost town. God knows the time I took to get in here
Nobody gave me the right direction.
I had to find my own way.
The lights kept vanishing. Betrayals, turned to fat bandicoots snorting the dark;
Love stripped and dumped was a stopped moan of a raped foetus
among the leaves. Past seasons in orgy crucifying fire.
Ghost town looks neater, so quiet, laid white like a table cloth by a straight nun.
It wasn’t at all like they said it would be.
The cherry trees hold still green cherries that don’t need to turn red and fall.
Time puts me in safe mode on delicate hold;
Yesterday’s rivers turn to ice
and flow on.
Dolls don’t live In dollhouses.
They cry the tears
Of our young daughters
Combing long hair
The mid night air.
They don’t turn fools,
They jump red lips,
Play see saw upon eye lids
Dream of young heroes
And idle to sleep,
Wink with blue eyes
Dressed with opulent lies
Open their tresses
Like news satellites,
How they wet dreams.
But they never slit their veins.
They never bring forth blood.
They know no railway tracks
Though love is all they need
They don’t ever need to cry
Or, fall down suicide point
And, they don’t live in dollhouses. They float in the air,
Their arms ever ready for love
Late in the evenings
After a few sad beers they don’t drive into unlit Dollhouses
Like we do.
The White Spider
She has grace, and is Miss Beautiful As she spreads her beauty in white mat
Upon the orchid flowers.
Her blue eyes are dark roses
Bred in sky breeding among the white clouds.
She knows she is beautiful,
That she won’t scare you letting you get near her.
Her web knows the art
Of turning diamonds into morning dew.
You let her climb you,
Oh, she’s sheer white
Folding into softest wafer
That can glide between kissing lips
And you want to go and touch her
Refusing to believe
All that they say
That she’s the richest
in love’s perfumed garden.
We tell each other it must never crack.
That’s why you blow the sand bubbles so light.
Like first time kisses.
That’s why you wash it beautiful in the river.
Like tears that mirror love.
Let the glass be, let the glass be,
so that its crystal flowers look like love looks as though it is born never to die.
But we know when love dies,
don’t we, though we don’t tell each other
and the silence rises and sets.
We hold the glass saying we mustn’t let it fall.
But inside us it is all very clear.
Better it breaks while we are still together.
Out in the Woods
I was out in the woods
With the rain
Singing my mother’s tune.
That was when
In the latch of sleep
Opened the night window
Calling out to me.
What are you doing, my son?
Come in, come in from the rain,
Come in and dry
Before you catch a cold.
That was all that he said.
All wild and wet
I rushed in from the woods,
Where father stood,
All dark as when darkness is hissing serpent hood.
Forest on forest, glowing emeraldine
And here, tip-toe upon a missing heartbeat
Is father dancing,
Death-dancing with mother
In the singing rain.
I still remember the tiger skin
Halcyon on the wall in our Pooja room Vying with the great Gods,
Lord Krishna, Shiva,
And the little Elephant-God.
Its snowing lamb-fleece from under, Rising aurous
Across looped black-rock lashes;
That scoop of one lone curved claw, faded jewel,
A resting fang.
Mother would spread it upon the floor
Revering there the Bhagavad-Gita
as she lit the sacred oil lamp;
And then, Om Nama Shivaya Transcendent, rocked all eyes shut in nirvana,
And I forgot the homebound birds’ pecking lullaby
Outside our window,
While rising acrophilic
In a rendezvous of razoring sabre That cut through the rhythm of our night bells pealing,
The curved claw a lit ruby,
Pincing muted terror
There he stood
By the misted water’s edge,
the last red drops on his tongue,
a quiet mantra,
Trickling down his dripping avalanche.
A light brown heifer tethered to a stumprises in circles; and sensing it cannot get off its rope-hold calls out to its mother, perhaps dreaming of her udder. Upon the red-brown mossed laterite hill, the serpent-twined Radhamadhavam puts forth its arduous red
like Radha’s fingers playing upon Krishna’s lute upon his lips;
The rice fields ripple their green milk into the river as the few mynahs and parakeets trim the dragon-fly air,
a lonely blood eyed koel cowering
among the low branches of the yellow red fruiting cashew blossoms
with juicy smells of arousal
of calf-love wedded to love’s nudity among haystacks;
In the distance,
in the centuries’ old Shiva temple, amid turmeric serpent hoods,
the river-drenched priest lights the ancient bronze lamps
as within the sanctum dark, a sleeping god rises a flamboyant redeemer of the universe;
In the algae dense temple pond,
the dark girls wade, who’ll soon flower their lord, their wet breasts hitting the waterlilies as lily on lily,
that forgives touch forbidden by love’s memories.
Upon the temple podium wreathing in dust, an elder one
puts on his evening Kathakali mask, becomes the blue lord Krishna,
the Supreme charioteer of Karma in the battle of Kurukshetra.
Now the orange sun seeks its daily burial under the sea as the lake water ripples, ear-ringing the water lilies the blue and violet bank flowers, and the sound of the temple conch,
awakens the coconut fronds that spread their palms in the air and dance in peacock swarms, as the jack leaves and the temple peepul leaves
swirl breathless in an embedded Bharatnatyam trance....
My bright dragon fly is always
A memory of childhood, lit,
Alighted, wings puckering
To rocket stillness
On a long breezing sky reed
Before its falling mourning;
Dazing its 360 degrees
Misty milk green head, laced with all over inflamed Jet blue eyes,
As the sun throws its cavalier dice all over burning,
Casting ivory, and ebony, light flowing quick silver,
As the long wire body, an Alveoli lyre Lights up its pristine fire Of green and red coal lava.
And there, my wind hover,
He’s beautifying spring,
The Electricity Goes off at Night
There is now this primeval darkness,
Before which, as to a God,
Man learnt to light a fire.
It brings on a stillness,
And with it, a perfume of leaves,
Of clouds, you cannot quite name. There is now this utter calm,
As in the Buddha’s closed eyes.
A smell of the river in the distance,
With its fragrance of swimming fish, or a water snake
And lilies closing like chapters of a song book closed for the day.
This is a kind of darkness
Kalidasan must have walked through in the deep woods
To get drunk, to be with his concubine, and get killed.
This darkness, that brings on poetry of the rarest kind,
Memories of grandmother’s stories
the woman who would walk all night, beneath tall swaying palm fronds Waiting for the blood of one
Who seeks love in a woman’s beauty. Such darkness
That takes you back to the memory
Of a child lost in its mother’s womb, of the tombs
Of your father and mother
Lying, quiet, after all that,
Lying together, in the cenotaphs
This darkness, with a break of last blue
Among the vanishing clouds,
Bringing her back again to mind;
As one by one,
God places his stars, cleaning them For the late night show.
The lights come on.
Small White Roses
They turned in, late night, drunk all over with dew, and stayed all day throwing their perfume around like gifts they brought in just for us.
They changed our world.
I remember that afternoon,
when a sunbird begged a beakful, they all got around beating the punch out of him. And so they stayed, pretending that they would be with us, laughing jokes about faraway winter.
It filled me, how they filled us,
that late night, and all through day, as we played the 78 rpm record, singing love as it shone running unwinding on the gramophone like long black hair;
Their perfume, thicker than the wind. Those small white roses,
they knew the touch of father’s hands, the coolness of mother’s water pot, as they partied in their hundreds upon the green wall.
Little me, I spent, I remember
the whole day with them, before leaving, for the boarding school.
And now, I stand there by the empty wall, those hundred friends once with such soft petals, that make me even shudder to think, that they had the power, such timeless power to turn their soft white petals to scars.
Moonlit, this darkness.
Father, mother, and me walking under the apple trees, and flowers falling.
The only sound is that of the white owl waking, shaking its feathers to a quiet.
It’s looking at me like God knows how. In that great night-hunt tonight, after we have all slept, moonlit, in this darkness, light years away.
My Father’s shirt
Pegged on the clothesline.
Playing hide ‘n’ seek
I wore my father’s shirt
Bulging at the arms
And his soft paunch,
Where I imagined the globe,
As I lay by his side
Hearing him snoring.
Had a certain kind of bird music,
Slipping somewhere along the bough, To a bright sudden frog croak.
And when he woke,
He would take his bath,
Run to the prayer room, dripping,
Comb his balding head,
As though it still had hair,
Yea, he would slip into his
The one I wore,
But never told him about
Bulging at the arms.
Yea, I became that day,
His secret ghost.
My father’s shirt,
Pegged on the clothesline,
That mother forgot
To take back inside
From the pouring rain.
Father Takes His Bath
Father comes out of the bathroom,
And rushes near naked
Straight to the prayer room Dripping.
Middle aged, he stands before the family mirror, A hippo out of water.
He yawns, says Vishnu Sahasranamaah,
Plucking grey hair,
Holding them before his eyes awhile, Like some priest holding
His precious prayer book.
From the small parting in his wet towel,
I hesitate with my childhood eyes
But still sinning, clearly spy
That once beast
Now quieter than calm
All besotted with water
And imagine it
In mother’s hands,
Waking me up.
Long years after
I see her hand.
Those lines with swan-gait
Writ in water. This flow of ink
That overflowed the heart’s bottle
Into our time desert,
Bringing along a few leaves,
In an unnoticed garden.
That rested its warp
and took my lips Into her own, unwinding the lime shower
Of her breast upon my face
Lighting up with tender milkweed Uprooted,
flowing away in the rains.
Great grandmother in her younger days
Was a beautiful lady.
Many were the students who would stand by the corridors
To wish her ‘Good morning Madam’ In the misty Delhi mornings
Nearly two hundred years before.
Great Grandmother taught Shakespeare,
Her favourite was ‘The Tempest’
An Avon edition in silky white pulp
With a bright balding Shakespeare
Looking strangely handsome
That she read every night
Before turning to sleep,
Like the Gita or the Bible
And kept under her pillow.
By then, great grand mother
Was already a widow.
In her late twenties
As she waited at the village railway station,
What greeted her out of the sleeper coach
Of the late-night train,
Was the railway coffin, with her husband in it.
He had died on the way.
Then went back to do her post-graduation.
Back to Shakespeare. Marry again? Never.
He was my life, she would say.
‘The few moments with him
Are my eternity’.
It was a great code to us
That put her on purity’s pedestal.
She became our fairy tale of chastity.
Grandmother rose to become
The Head of the Department of English.
She lived all her life
In a girl’s hostel,
helping students to write British
When grandmother retired,
She came back to Kerala,
All her relations welcomed her Wishing, that all her life wealth Would be theirs.
They gave her all she wanted, plantains dipped in honey,
But grandmother would have none of that.
Nothing of her wealth.
Even the fruit of her mango trees
became bank FDs.
One day while climbing the wooden stairs of her ancestral home,
Great grandmother slipped and fell. She broke her spine.
The doctors said
She would never rise again.
I remembered then,
great grandmother, standing before my old Click 3 camera
By the hanging blossoms of the Chinese lanterns. She was still beautiful
At 78. A kind of Portia.
That was when she fell. Independent soul,
great grandmother, she said she would lie in an ashram,
To die. She would not burden
Any relative. To the ashram
She would give all her wealth.
You come alone, she mumbled,
You go all alone.
Soon, all her relations, they said, Stingy, dirty, old selfish woman,
No wonder her husband died young.
No wonder she broke her spine.
God did right.
We’ll have nothing to do any more with her.
Time lays big eggs in the desert
And life scoops them down in the dust.
Thirty years later
I visited my great grandmother at the ashram.
She’d been lying in bed for thirty years now,
Bed sores sun flowering about her spine,
That the ashram mates washed at guest-time.
She lay, her open eyes
Rolling up the old teak ceiling, Completely blind.
She was told by the holy sister of the benevolent ashram,
Akka, your favourite grandnephew has come.
In a room that smelt of sudden Dettol
And tulsi trying to outsmart all pus,
Great grandmother held me tenderly by my hand,
(The same touch that gave me such a beating l’ll not forget
The night I tried to
Dislodge ‘The Tempest’ from underneath her pillow)
And she kept mumbling to me,
You have come
You have at last come,
I waited for you so long I knew you would come I knew you would find me.
Now I can die,
I can die in peace
God will not put me to test any longer,
My time has come,
My time has at last come
God will not let me suffer any longer.
Her cataract eyes flitted like silver butterflies.
That afternoon as I drove back among the paddy fields diamonding rain amongst its tiny flowers,
The rain wipers momentarily
I dreamt my dream.
It was all,
About God, all about the earth’s seasons, all about you and me,
Why the seas churn the sands choking our lives
Immersing us in tidal grandeur,
Why all this benevolence of fire
In its burns.
Sex was again possible
Only if grandmother died;
It was difficult to cross her room
In the middle of the night;
It was just no longer possible;
As long as grandmother lived,
We would have to put up with her;
Her incontinence for example
Acidic on the living floor;
She’s all airs
She has her way of defence,
She tells of her life’s acres
That made her daughters
She says she knows it all,
Pretends she is the queen
Of all that her eyes will behold,
And yet after the lights are shut,
Feels the slow drip in-between her thighs
And thinks of him
And what it once meant to be held,
A beauty queen
in his wedding arms.
They come in fancy colours.
Decorated, with the morning sun,
The night stars,
And the flowers.
You can use them once.
Pat the child, croon him crying to your breast,
His tears ending in milk song.
Dress the small thing,
And all dressed up, smiling,
Till the cry comes back again.
That’s when something’s wrong.
The time to undress.
To make the child comfortable again. And upon the diaper,
Your lovely hands,
How in a surging suddenness
You cannot fathom,
How they turn wet, sag,
Like worn out faces,
And wrinkle in that fresh garden
Or the night lit with stars.
Now is the time for you to cry,
To put on that Alzheimer’s smile
And to remember,
The fancy colours no more,
And be blessed to be, if at all
To get back a kiss tearing across the moss of tears,
Up the rain wall of the years
And you know nothing of that cover, that covers you
And you don’t know that you cry,
As the bright hands dress you
And how much you would remember
Now if you could,
All those lost
forget me not flowers.
Photographs of Tiger Prabhakaran’s Son Minutes Before Being Shot Dead, And After
Perhaps this is the perfect
From which there is no escape.
A toilet mug for a drinking cup
By his side.
That far look in his bullseye eyes
Unmistakably his father’s
in mid ocean of uncertainty
Counting 1 to 5 upon his breast
Became the hardest thing to do on earth.
We make such fine mosques
and bomb them.
We make such fine churches and bomb them.
We make such fine temples
and bomb them.
We don’t make things good?
We make such fine bombs.
The Aftermath of 14.02.2019
(In Memoriam, CRPF Battalion 54.)
This morning, the newspaper
Was soaked in blood.
What terror the bat wings
Bring, with what do they claim,
Hooding hideous shapes of betrayal.
This is strange that in the name
Of holy books, flesh cuts into brethren flesh
Drilling hatred, spilling sibling blood.
This morning, the newspaper
Was soaked in blood,
And my eyes are still red
With all the rivers of Kashmir in flood
With a Nation’s silent tears.
And When They Bring the Boxes Home
And when they bring the boxes home,
With fragments of what once was us,
And is always ours
Now to be returned home to quiet earth,
We’ll not forget, the warm winding hearth,
The cold mountains they climbed, The glaciers they embraced,
To that burst of sudden hot blood.
They that pulled the trigger,
That bit the button that turned to blast
Bitten in that metastasis of hate;
They that bear them,
They who are no more ashamed to clothe the sun in darkness,
Nor refrain from wading in blood rain,
In that tormented madness of angst,
They break the hearts of gods,
In whose name they shatter
Scattering every bit, filling every pit
With shards where should have been stars;
And in the corners of their closing eyes
They will too late realize,
That they whom they slaughtered and martyred in
Dreaming a dream of our earth, and home
Were but their own kin.
Spotting the White Rhinoceros, Kaziranga, Assam.
We woke up at 3.00 a.m.,
As the guards had warned us
That this was our only chance.
We drove down before daybreak,
Down the dark murky trail,
Cricket shrills on either side booming Until the jeep stopped at the foothills Of the forest.
Atop the elephant, braced and belted, We geared for the trail.
It was all for the white horned rhinoceros.
We’d get lucky
If we can get to find him said our mahout,
a teenager who held our elephant by his tusk,
Springing on to his head
Like a red-tailed
Monkey. Some never find him. Ever.
It looked like the elephant knew where he had to go.
Perhaps he has been doing this now, Almost all his life.
By the time we reached the thick reeds reeking of rhino dung in the wading mist
The night sky had broken its white salt of morning
Upon our lips. ‘It seems he was just here... '
the tusker boy took in a deep breath
Inhaling, as though he smelt familiar fragrance. 'He must have left.
They don’t just stay, they keep moving, you know'.
There was no sight of anything near or far,
A few gazelles shot past like arrows from the bow
Of some hunter god hidden among the trees.
Our search, our wait was in vain,
We had reached almost the end,
And a few wild buffaloes pulled themselves out like teeth of tar
From the mouth of dying grass.
The elephant ears flapped,
the colours of the rising sun
Spurting upon them like ticks in flight
Returning to rest.
'We must go back, our mahout turned to us, We have reached the end.
From here, everything is out of bounds...'
And the elephant with the seven of us upon him shaking
like carcasses upon a dead sea without hope were suddenly silent. And then the tusker
Shook himself in ankleting pachyderm gait,
His vitiligoed tusk
Pythoning the wet air to stillness.
from over our heights,
Still bobbing to his benevolent shake, As a screen far thence,
Lit up with the projector
Rolling its celluloid,
An apparition crystal,
Camouflaged, yet, unbound,
Still, against the white mountains,
The low crescent, luminous,
All risen out into the great mass
of celestial snow,
Melting before our eyes
An airplane keeps flying down low,
As though it would soon touch the fields.
My dog keeps chasing
The neighbor’s ducks
Shooting them down into the pond’s green.
Four squirrels thump to order
Their political meeting rioting
Upon the fruiting papaya tree,
As far up the stone wall,
On paralysed legs, drags itself into oblivion.
The Bright Boy in Class.
He was fat. And round.
His round face was a big water melon, or a made to laugh pumpkin burning with a bright red lamp for a smile in Halloween.
We were head on Enid Blyton, Biggles, & The Saint those days.
The more privileged among us
Could call him Fatty.
And if he liked the guy
He would smile.
Otherwise he would turn
Into a Cassius Clay.
What was admirable about him
Was his way,
Of putting on his badges.
The red one, that said First in Class.
Then the next one pinned under,
Exactly under, that read in the Centre
And the brown one just under
I guess his mother had a tough time, pinning them,
He could at last pin them all by himself,
Until he was satisfied in the mirror. The way he kept on, as though he never even read his books.
Listening to the teacher in class he once said.
I never study at home.
And we caught our different ships, sailed different seas,
And finally came home.
I found him by the old University gate.
He had put on a beard.
Only, his face had
A little added gloom,
And his fat
Was as though it was made to suit.
I was in a bus, and just waved.
But he did not seem to see me.
I looked for him,
The next time I went to church Thinking he would be there.
The church was where
We used to play as kids
Behind the flung crosses
And before he got his badges.
Yesterday, the young priest told me. The funeral was yesterday.
I did not ask him what it was,
It could have been anything,
Every death has a common denominator,
That’s but the love of life,
But whatever, there he was,
Fatty, school mate, the one who once
Used to have us
Stare at him
As at a God,
Or at a War General in Salute
In all pomp before a World Memorial,
And now, how earth’s turning prayer Makes him sleep so peacefully,
on such hard ground.
All the forty-nine
Present on that day,
In specially ironed uniforms
That their mothers took care to erase the creases tenderly
At the collars and the knickers.
The neck ties, made tame as pets, The pairs of white socks
Specially washed for the Special day.
All the forty-nine, yes,
Present, the boys with their
The girls with pony tails
And their cherubic stare,
Some with hands
Bolted across their chests,
The big ones showing off,
Their thin first hair upon the upper lip,
Not yet touched with blade, and some girls,
With more to show than some others
Beside the calf boys.
Small forty-nine faces they,
With the class teacher, in the middle,
Her hair bright silver, breasts with mushroom sag
Raised up to the camera front,
And the smiling vicar almost touching her,
Not thinking anymore of the crucifix.
One word runs past the lips
Of all of forty-nine,
Bright, bright as rain light
Who said that morning
And turned up as boats to harbour
To face the seas
And of all the forty-nine,
Some now without faces,
some without hair,
Some hung down on their own neck ties,
All those white socks turned muddy
And thrown without care,
The vicar and the headmistress
The bat-wing haunt of ‘present teacher’, ‘Present teacher’
Rending the wailing wall.
The death is announced
Of a tiny chipmunk
That fell off the jack fruit tree.
There came a dog,
As though it had come to hog him
That caught it in its mouth
And shook it, shrieking, its hind legs apart.
The death is announced
Of a tiny chipmunk
That felt like a child,
When I took it between my fingers, And brought it to my room.
For a while it dragged itself
On its torn body,
With fear colour
Tearing on the three yellow stripes on its fur.
The death is announced
Of a tiny chipmunk,
As snow trickles down
An ancient mountain,
That had not yet time
To thump its tail on some forest wood In wild ecstasy.
The death is announced,
Though none will turn back to grieve,
No one shall tenderly close its small blue eyes,
To make a case
For the pain it took on
Like any other child.
Such is the cuddled up
Silence, that speaks
For what is, and what must be,
Where seconds turn to minutes,
To hours, running blind.
Now, with all of earth gone, from the blues in those eyes
Still wide, wide awake,
I turn to digging in the new rains,
The shovel shedding footsteps
As lines exploding in a poet’s head
And I lay him down,
A muted poem to mature,
upon a wet page.
Ants on a wire
They move fast.
Each a small speed train,
Sometimes as bogeys
On either side,
They meet, greet
Stop, kiss, and move on
Not one falling
As they give each other
The ones setting out,
As though they all know
One another since long,
And go their way.
They are focused,
They know why,
And where they go,
Turning their red
Into cinder glow.
And with such knowledge
Of their kin and clan
Unknown to us,
It must be,
They too must have a home,
Where they come together
The loss of those
That set out with them
And have not yet returned.
The Secret Lives of Ants
There they go, one at a time
Through the needle eye
Of that crack
Into the deepest recess Of the wall.
They must surely know,
They’ll all go in that God line
Terrifying to think that they run
Over leaf, knife blade
With such sureness,
And without a fall.
That they know their way,
Seeing through such inside darkness,
Such that their eyes
Go beyond all light
And all our little seeing.
What they build there,
Their kinds of pyramids,
That we cannot climb,
How they mark one another,
Build their dreams,
Or satiate time in their small bites,
Turning suicide bombs.
But inside walls,
Inside what seems dark to us,
Gathering, dark as dust,
All breathing flesh like us,
Turning, pausing to touch,
Brother to brother,
Making love in mysterious ways,
Running the kingdom
Of the underground,
Into our world,
Our simple light,
That’s but infancy to their eyes,
They roll over
The morning petal,
Bite to bits the dead,
Turn unwanted fossil
On a small wet cube of sugar.
The Brown Ant
The death is announced
Of a brown ant
That died in strawberry jam.
The circumstances that led to the death occurred late,
While we were all asleep.
The ant was briskly running all over
When it suddenly slipped,
Into a small streaming strawberry pool.
It was a sticky pool, and though
sweet, immensely sweet,
All that the ant wanted
Was to get out of it,
Out of all that sticky mess
All it wanted,
Was to climb back
To solid strawberry jam.
But the pool was a sucker.
It would not let his bowel go.
So half was him was struggling in the air,
The head, with those small honey feelers,
Those angel Eyes.
His friends passed him by
Occasionally one or two
Touched and stroked his feelers,
And went by.
With bread on the plate,
We opened the loose lidded strawberry jam.
We did not see him.
We spread him,
On a slice of milk bread.
We spread him,
And he was so strawberry coloured by now,
He made no difference.
And the bread was eaten by a child,
Death is after all death,
And the death is solemnly announced
Of the ant
That struggled all night
While we were asleep,
Going gently down
Gently down Into strawberry jam.
A Baby Millipede.
Wonder where he comes from. He? For beauty, He looks she.
Looks like somebody
Polished him or her
With red cherry blossom.
So rich red.
Like blood tip toeing on quiet feet Making no bruise.
He or she
Lifts the small red head.
Swinging into a tight curl,
Firming into itself as though in love’s first embrace.
Early morning Pontius Pilate
washed his hands saying,
I have no hand in this But let Him be crucified if that is the will.
Aye, aye, it was the will
and He was crucified.
But he was not skinned alive
like a bushy skunk, because no one wanted His skin.
For a man of God Crucifixion was enough.
But for a skunk whose fur the celebrities worship
it is necessary to fleece the skin layer by soft layer, skin him inside out
and leave him to drip breathing,
his eyes still all seeing.
No father in heaven watching.
No need to talk about the pain.
We cannot. We end it with Christ, bleeding and in raw skin
upon the hot sand lies the skunk breathing. Well, without cross, without thorn, but knifed raw over and over again,
he still bleeds a little less
Because he is more fur.
His eyes blink longer, long after the Christs in our tall churches are all dead. He does not rise,
because, on the road,
He takes centuries of pain
in his small fainting eyes,
more than just for mankind.
This black snake
Will not leave my mind.
It was gliding, under cover,
Perhaps just going back home
When I spotted it again.
There, I said
And the snake killer
Ready with his iron rod
Brought down the weapon
Upon its flowing midrib
Crumbling it into two.
His hood looked as though
He knew no pain
But I knew
he was reeling, struck.
He tossed him up
His beauty of skin and hood,
Borne in silence.
There was a fire near
For old clothes and dead paper,
As he held him breathing
Twining round his rod,
And spooned him
Into the flames.
Ah. That lust of fire. When that fire died, I searched for him.
In those ashes
There was no differentiation,
Whatever was burning,
Or had burned this way,
That quiet little handsome face
Gliding towards home
That silence in all that burning
And me, thinking
CHRIST, my CHRIST How many crosses
Held your kind?
On bare ground.
Suddenly he lifts his wings.
Two hoods open wide and reveal the soft airy flutter.
But no. No more flying.
The hoods close. He’s still moving around On bare ground.
He’ll move around here,
In this alien home,
And I’m not going to put him out, knowing,
Perhaps under the teapoy,
Or with an army of ants,
Coated all over
By the ledge
I’ll find him,
On his back, perhaps feebly moving
His last moving leg not knowing
How long more he has to be there like that
Feeling the pincers feasting,
And I tell myself again
God knows how long he’s been like that— And I’ll know,
It’s not all about flying,
But much more,
About coming back to earth
After all that taste of fruit, flower,
In that patient wait,
Staring at the sky
For the one mutual friend
To come by.
The Meat Woman in the Mall
The woman in the mall cutting meat, cutting meat,
surrounded by dead fish,
in hundreds as though they are her pets.
In the cold storage
From morning to eve she lives with smells of blood.
The slit rabbits with their flopped ears,
The juice of shredded beef trickling, the soft shaved chicken,
it is all her style.
She has them decked in neat rows
like poetry books on a library shelf. the lives all dead, dead, all dead.
Once you show her the cash receipt, she’ll pick up the chops she’s done for you
Well cleaned, the frozen blood, now a river that must be bled.
She takes care,
That the liver comes large.
She has a face Leonardo would pause a minute for, that’s the way she smiles.
And there, as she bends forward to cut,
Her meat-drenched passion whites flush.
What must one say of wings
The body has left behind?
Their bright colours, erased
Not yet, not yet gone with the wind. That is the memory
Time will swear by.
On the floor, this little wing.
An ant lifts it high in the air
Like a proud chieftain
In an army parade.
And there it goes.
Not just a flying thing.
Which lifted high,
Creating ecstasy in the sky.
That must stay,
A little more time to die.
At about the time that moist buds bloom
just about before the sleepiest bird wakes, quietly, all that blood flows.
Along with innocence
slaughtered for meat in closed abattoirs and open market sheds, their limbs tied, the hard to die catfish mouths sealed with knives the executions of the guilty follow their last prayers in Death rows.
So, with the taste of meat,
the taste of bodies hung in innocence and executed without shame,
the sun rises, the flowers blossom,
the scent of God fills,
while the poet praises the beauty of the dawn.
Dead Friends on Facebook
Here’s a place you go to,
To look up friends
You never looked up to then,
And who left
Without telling you.
Standing beside vineyards
Or colourful bloom.
Some with their pets,
Some hiding regrets
Some with their books,
Rented horses for fame,
And some with their singing Breaking guitars.
The gates are wide open,
The rivers still flow,
Wild birds still fly about
The skies they breathed in
And it is all riot,
These coloured walls of air
From which they still shine
As though they are still there, Somewhere there,
Without telling you exactly where.
You look deep into those faces.
Faces that have begun to trace
Of glow worms under the earth’s Brown sky.
The body unwired,
The small smiles unplugged,
Their last cries,
seeking your prayers for life
Caught in a ghost fog
Rending the mobile air.
Office Staff, A Demise
There’s the xerox copy
Of the news of the peon’s death
Upon the sprawling mahogany table. ‘You must all attend the condolence meeting
At the basement this afternoon’.
As the manager curves the alphabets
He thinks— That was cancer
I have just a peptic ulcer.
Having signed, the manager reads on. The office also wishes to thank
All those who have been kind enough To contribute Rupees ten each
For his complicated surgery expenses...
No, he thinks in between I won’t go in for surgery in any case,
Homeopathy will surely cure me.
The paper goes into the out tray
One copy for the notice board
And one for the signature of all staff present
And return to manager.
In the afternoon
We are all gathered
in the basement.
The manager enters,
‘He was a good man
Let’s all close our eyes for a minute
To the memory and peace of the departed’.
We close our eyes.
The manager closes his eyes
Thanks God for his peptic ulcer
And prays for a miracle.
One day it must be
That we must cross that pass.
We must move along.
On either side
That seemed to tell us
We would always belong.
The fragrance of water
In that far river,
The sunflowers begging the sun
For another sunrise.
It must all go.
The rainbow must tear
To nothingness in the sky
One colour at a time.
One day it must be,
That poet to poet,
We must hold hands,
And tremble together
I watch them periwinkles.
Bright, calf-tongue red,
White, whiter than milk.
I hunt them down, each red,
Their smells, acrid in my hands, in maze
Of childhood gauze.
Hundreds of them,
thicker than friends,
Abloom over a ski boot
Of shine-on leaves. They wave young,
Frolicking as new born,
Awake magnificently all night
Fresh in the cold raging winds, Licking up the moon-lichened walls All over the dark mounds of the long dead.
I’ll not forget these little flowers
I’ll not forget these little flowers
That made me what I am.
Therefore, I’ll not deny them.
So I’ll stay back, looking closer at their colours.
What’s a poet if there was no flower?
What’s poetry if there was no colour? The colour of beauty, pain
and tragedy, that in my childhood that these little flowers have made me sit down beside them,
and left Half-explained.
How can I forget flowers?
They are God’s embroidery over our happiness
his clever engineering over our love, broken hearts and sadness,
they are the only ones that’ll cover us entirely, so beautifully in the end.
Plane About to Land, Mumbai
From the window,
The huts are torn blouses
In faded colour.
Imagination is riot.
All those lives in there,
There’s the sea just after that.
Blue, turning hot,
With the afternoon sun
Masturbating its stars all over.
I can hear
The drone of the landing gear
Its fly open,
And it is touchdown,
The face of a city,
Pressed so close,
That you can smell off
a blood-stained cunt.
Leaves in the Rain
This wet morning
In pouring rain
As quiet fish in high seas.
A white butterfly— hover-over-over
A purple chrysanthemum
A car screeching past
With a man in it
Bitten by a snake
A silver munia
Late 2020, A Day Begins
A car swiftly moves in
At the neighbour’s gate. Someone’s coming back home
I receive a mobile message.
A friend’s dying of Covid,
He has sent an S O S on fb
Please pray for me.
And I say, my prayers, friend.
Put in a like
Reading the newspaper.
There’s a siren coming from main street
Of an ambulance dying to reach the hospital,
Someone in it gasping.
Someone’s already dead,
That was a bike accident.
The family is waiting for the dressed coffin.
A dog’s barking at a stranger
Who might tomorrow be my friend;
In my garden,
Crushing a caterpillar
Eating my tender bean leaf,
I turn on the tap
Direct all the water
At the first flower
Perhaps this could be the last.
A Peace of Covid
Ducks cackle as usual this afternoon by the green pond.
Swiftly one by one they take to the water
Their ruffled wings waking up a dew factory.
The Four way, a crucifix with its ripped Christ is closed.
It stretches submerged in silence, These by lanes, have lost human flesh.
Anosmia is all we have
That drops us at the hospitals.
It is here we hear,
The black cries of angels.
The angels that our kissing Gods left
In a half-embrace
For the sad peace of Covid.
The Second Coming
Slow killing, unleashing, its whip of death,
That at first seemed to come soft,
Then reared its ugly head, of masks, pain, and terror.
Death of another kind, new to mankind,
When the beloved would seek not to place a flower
Or go hear,
Or let upon that lost body one last kiss
Filling the air with a strangely lurking poison,
Somewhere making one dread to even make love—
The suddenness of the tearing away of closeness,
Bringing on of fear as laden clouds upon the mountains,
All over mankind,
A never before haunt of uncertainty, of how long, or what’ll be left
A haunt of pain, of a suddenness jammed, of the ventilator,
Of Black fungus…. What will be left,
Something like an Anti-Christ,
that makes distancing, Alienation, the new form of love:
No, this can’t be the Second Coming.
All we prayed for all these centuries of Man,
This can’t be, no, this can’t be the Second Coming.
We do not know
That we have reached this far, Singing in the dark.
Here where darkness
Skids again into darkness,
Ending in black fires
Where we dump our dead.
For a change,
May is the cruelest month,
They are all cruel months
That pluck us one by one,
From the ghosts of flesh,
Like leaves Off shadow trees.
The pain. It pours as heavy rain
That turns to flood:
Even the corpses floating in the Ganges
Tired of dying,
Bleed fresh blood.
What Corona Did to Girls
Have become a thing of the past.
All that we see
Are faces covered behind coloured masks
A pair of eyes like riverside deer
Or shelved half sculpted at an atelier’s.
Those were the days
When the faces of pretty girls
Bloomed in abundance as garden flowers
A pleasure to see
That took our hearts for granted
Then set them burning, with poetry astir.
Oh, will those old days come again
Will our streets ever fill up again
With streaming faces,
Of those laughing beautiful girls?
The Moon with Her Light
Like a nurse in the hospital
Before your gazing eyes,
Smiling good night
Where is Kalidasa?
Where is Kalidasa?
I haven’t seen him for days.
Tell him that his king wishes to see him.
But it is near midnight,
Kalidasa must surely be drunk,
He must be asleep with his enchanting woman.
Go, bring him here,
Tell him, Vikramaditya his king
is troubled of heart,
And wishes for a poem
To comfort his mind.
Here are two lines that my heart
Speaks to me,
The one who completes them,
Two lines, and just the dark woods.
They searched the forest all over
For the poet of love
That poet, adorer of a woman’s
Navel, lips, and wine.
In the depths of the woods,
Beneath the fragrant Asoka bloom,
They found him asleep on a leafed drugget.
What was that sleep?
There were stab marks on his body.
The blood still oozes
The way winter, spring, and summer,
Tow their flowers
Bleeding in the rains.
I dreamt in a dream
That Kalidasa came
And asked me
What are you writing now?
Oh, I said,
But Kalidasa insisted.
Are you still
Not writing about her?
I looked at Kalidasa in his face.
How do you know?
And Kalidasa, he smiled and said
She is such a sweet knife.
She doesn’t know It’s your blood.
She spills it all
Until the river beneath turns red.
That, my friend,
Radha Thinks of Krishna
Maybe the night snakes sipped
The ripe cashews and just left them there.
So many ripe fruit, red and yellow ones
Lying on the ground.
The breeze is still proud
With the aroma of wild cashew flowers
And doesn’t seem to want to move away.
So it stays here, all perfumed,
Like me in the centre of half-bitten fruit
All honey not yet sucked
The ripeness still in ooze,
All red and yellow and darkening nuts,
Azure with your blue cloud.
The Hand of a Poet
The hand of a poet
Searches your face
With words tonight.
It is the moving hand
And will not wait.
It holds you
Umber their petals into night
As a feather
Dancing to night rain.
The hand of a poet
Searches you with words
And you are now near.
This is sheer magic.
In the hand of a poet
Conjuring word after word
Wearing a poem
A Secret Language
Yours is a secret language
A language of night air
Suckling a flower—
That seemed so easy
But has me pouring my nights over, trying hard,
To find its rhythm, its form,
The ways it puts forth roots
That delightfully sip
Running me over
The poetry Of fossils.
Small Voices of Memory
It is because with small voices of memory
you still make me walk in the rain, That I’m still myself,
And your stranger again.
It is because with small beats
Along the pebbles of the morning mists,
My breath breathes your name
Like one breathes in
The fragrance of an extinct flower.
It is because, I cannot tell you more
Because you have me unsaid
And wed with every word I’ve known.
How the poetry of you
Comes off in bloom in a tree all rich and green,
How you fill lightning in the smallest drop of rain,
Where love is a river rich and flowing
In green banks of good night
I’m still myself,
Your stranger again.
You were too much light for me
I had you like too much joy to spend.
And all that is too much, must to little, bend,
And in time, all that must make amends.
Let me compare you,
to small flowers overgrown,
that riot the garden valley
With beauty’s oversight where,
In the glow petal of your body that turned to me,
I curled in like living rain.
Such Rain that in a passion that comes once,
turning nature all green
must not in evaporating dignity,
Endeavour forgiveness of the laughing sun.
I think of you now,
your voice over the phone Mesmerizing pain,
Making me part of you again.
Why, as you used to
Even now you turn to birds in the sky
And I tell myself it can’t be
It must not be so
It cannot be, but it is,
With you, your voice
Your eyes, your words,
And I’m a boatman with his flowers
By the river
Who has forgotten all
If You Were with Me
If you were with me
Sunflowers would not matter,
Not even the pigeons flying
In a cloud burst.
Matter, would not matter,
If you were with me
And nothing could shatter,
Nothing would matter
If you were with me
With your doe eyes,
Making me a forest,
Of night and mourning.
Ice bergs would melt,
And become parts of the peaceful ocean,
If only you were with me now
The garden of Gethsemane.
It is the red,
The scattered red
Of your lips.
Let me touch them once more.
Lips and cheeks,
Your face and hair,
I’m the wounded hare.
Where Desires Bend
Where desires bend
As trees to the wind,
In the storm of the coming rains,
Where lightning forks
The tender body of earth
Parting it into fire,
Where memories breathe
Of her uncovered breasts
Where she lets her eyes
Open a lake of lilies
All over her,
so long a stranger
Turns a steadfast friend.
Just Like the Heart
Fills with rain
Just like the heart
Moist all over
Poetry is sin.
I stopped sinning.
Love is sin.
Thank god I stopped loving.
With its eyes full of apples,
And the fragrance of your hair
Blowing in the wind,
And Eve’s apple bite in Eden
What is it that speaks
Of this distance between you and me?
This nearness that we shattered
What is it that tells of shadows
When we bathed together in light
If you were a poet, you would not recover,
Show me a poet who has not burned all night
In a laughing girl’s flame.
Now there is nothing more to claim,
You are the one who chose
Not to be the one
Who was always the one
And whether lost, or won,
Even now, the smallest flowers
I gather on earth
Every time I open my eyes
They belong to you.
A poet is a shipwreck.
The more he is into his poetry
The more he is
He’s only fit to sink into a mire
Finally, like her,
She who said she would be by his side,
She who is now,
The unspoken empress of silence,
As her lips
That became a thesaurus
Of her heart—
They just fall apart.
The Last Snow Drop
Where will I go now to forget,
what I came back here to dream?
Upon the mountain edge,
a Last snow drop
Awaits the forgotten lover.
Where will I go now, to return
One last snow drop of you?
Forsaken now, this little of me left
Has come this distance.
It would have been easier
without her name,
Without a dream of her spreading like fame, playing like flame.
Without her among your notebooks, On the tip of your pen and in every cube of sugar.
Easier, but then she is not to blame
It was simply her butterfly life;
It was God who carved love upon her wings
And just didn’t tell her,
Beware, even of walking the streets, You kindle love everywhere.
Or, tread softly, because love can kill.
And she just walked the streets among the grasses,
Spreading wings wide,
Because love was made out of her looks.
Just to see her, just to look at her
Was to love her, or simply fall in love.
So forsaken now, without her, this far
I live for her in a space called quiet, made quietly quiet.
God, why did you let me walk close to her heart
That pretended it wasn’t there,
Yet stayed close enough to let across its beating;
So fast, so quick, and in God speed
Without giving me my time
She lost me into her.
Now like a pirate I set sail
Thinking I’ll one day spill her riches of love
All just for me.
Will it, or no, I am a pirate,
Made me a prisoner of sunrise,
And, where flows red,
Over the blue waters
How things go suddenly dark,
A Single Star
Darkness is more darkness
And light is no more light
Ever since you squeezed your lips that bled
And left me out of sight,
And memory has since
Turned a whore for you.
What coloured candles
You made of me,
But it is still the same burning fire,
That burns, and in its burning,
Flames the furnace entire.
What you were to me,
Is still what you are,
And what you are,
Ask me, ask me what you are
All the stars of tonight’s sky
Turned into a single star.
Pour Me Back These Roses
Pour me back these roses,
These roses that fulfilled your voices
Pour me back, pour me,
Your blue fire,
Your small silences
When you were to me
Green grasshoppers among the grasses,
That I had to part, so quietly,
So you would not move,
And still stalked to grass
I could hold you,
And feel you in love’s desperate roving
In my hands,
when without a word between us
We knew you and I,
Somewhere where nowhere,
There where all
Undone, where undone all done,
You and I
Stood naked by the river;
Nothing undid us,
Fastened to each other
Our lips burning on bruise
With the smell deaths of stars bring.
What more is left undercover?
Ah, your clothes
Things that pressed into you
You left them
And went away
Leaving me to drown
On memory shore.
It is too deep.
I cannot get away.
And all the time,
Maid, among the sheep,
How you milk
Memories of a Woman
Hounded I am,
In this ghost city.
I see her in the end at the last street lamp,
Wearing all white
And the lamp shuts,
And I cannot see her completely,
Back when the lights come on,
She is gone.
She’s there again.
She turned, she just turned
As though she knew me following her In all her pretensions
That I did not exist.
—her face. Such lure,
That fragrant cemetery grandeur.
It is always night,
And in her darkness
I flit, as verses flit in time.
She knows I am hers.
And if I get anymore close to her
She’ll take me back to the sea
where it all began,
And the sea,
Ever since the beginning of earth,
It has known, her shape love takes
In its depths.
Are in your lips
They are gardening your eyes
They are whispering in your hair
Why do you not care,
That you turn them embedded Bedewed in despair?
Upon your cheeks,
I’m there, for weeks.
Again and again.
In love’s distances
Is this nearness of you, Again?
Must the heart reconnoitre
That it tosses,
A lit night sea,
With you, for you, Moon?
What is sadness,
That without your distant wings
Does not appear?
You are near.
Just as far as the earth
All illusion disappear,
Only to return, Tame?
Tame, that it would die
At your feet?
What dies, will not be known
Just as tears dry in the eyes,
Watching dear ones lowered into earth.
What losses must the heart
As it turns you in me azure?
You left So Much
And you left so much.
Like sea waves
Not just leaving the shore drenched,
Adorned with weeds,
Such colorful shells
A gun pack of memory
To which it’ll
No more return. But the shore
That’s the true lover.
He’s lying there for you
That you are his truth.
The moon cannot help him
Not even a galaxy of stars.
Upon his breast,
He takes it all.
Now and Again
Now and again,
I ask myself,
What has been the gain?
As you swim around me as bright fish,
Colouring a faraway ocean,
As your face drinks my memory of you every time,
And I turn floral and coral,
In love again. Because you
Because you are love to me,
You are love denied
In my life you are love
As only love can be,
Just as stars shine
For no one in particular
In nature’s eternity.
Now and then,
When I wake,
when I sleep,
When I rake the small leaves,
Discovering, spring or autumn,
Or pianoing themselves
in some night rain,
You still come back,
And return me to the pain
Of dark coal turning into diamonds
Under the earth again.
The Mind’s Tavern
It is her feet,
it is her feet
At the doorway
Of the mind’s tavern
Playing with the rain.
I’ll go down where I’ll make me
some more red wine with your heart’s vintage flavour.
There’s a trace of you still in tonight’s air,
the wetness on your lips is still playing its usual game
of disappearing mist,
so I will make the best of you,
till you are not completely gone;
its’ best now for me to keep awake, by the small flowering night grasses
where your long hair, only moments before cascaded in a rabbit shake,
and got lost, timid and afraid of me, after all these years,
now that you took with you,
my sleep as your undivided share.
And so I’ll go back to things i love,
Sit all night growing periwinkles in the moonlight on the small dark
mound of your buried smile still lit a little, with yester light,
knowing they grow well, here, breathing the silence of the dead.
Torn between you and madness,
my only martyr is sadness.
What you made of me, what I became,
ask the sea, if you have only done to me what it cannot tame,
the sea, that talks all night to the naked moon, then gathers the
morning sun, all red, all fresh, in its never dying arms, and all day never
speaks of the moon to the sun, but lets it speak with its day long birds
burning kisses everywhere, and I, torn like the sun, quiet like the moon,
quiet as the sea, raging in love’s ageless martyrdom.
It is the quietness of night
That resembles her eyes. The riverside flowers
That imitate her hands.
And the cicadas they
Remind of her against my face
The way she turned
Me to a side,
Putting love to far away sleep.
Mountains and Pebbles
Though I have travelled mountains,
I’d still like to be remembered by the pebbles,
each pebble, washed in time so clear with her face.
A Call in the Wild
It must be that the heart is lost Because it found her.
And now you know the heart is a lone sheep
that wanders far
And cannot return.
There isn’t much you can do.
Wait shepherd. Wait.
In Swan Lake,
the swans have come back to swim.
Young, graceful, their long slender necks pondering
Where every drop is bright upon the waters in turquoise glow
of first born hyacinths.
I came to, and this far,
Watching them silently through the long reeds;
Their happiness—the nestled abandon, the might of their wings
The shrillness of their coupling voices, dating stars.
It is late in the night. The birds
Are in no mood for quietness.
This thick of being, the incensed
Inflorescence of togetherness
That is but bedecked lust,
Yet is also love in such inebriate beauty.
I watch them in half-sleep,
Yet cocked in an unearthly pride;
But I’ll not turn away my gaze.
The swan birds will not come again. And so,
I gently part the reeds
Careful not to break a stem,
Or load curfew
Me, king-bird once,
Who also swam, me, now far away, hidden among the reeds
Withered, lonely, and afraid,
Lest seeing me, they kill
Their love half-way
And fly away.
The Book of Angels
I’ve closed the book of angels,
I have shut those songs.
What made the green grass greener
Was her heart. I’ll not water
Those leaves— No, no more.
I’ll weather the weather
In a climate of no return.
Well, she was not just a bird,
Her feather was not just
What was she?
She was my dolphin,
My dolphin in the sea
Now across the years,
I’ll not trace
Those designs spun,
The embroidery of hope
With colours of the setting sun.
I’ve closed that book
I’ve shut those songs
But I can hear
Of waves over moonlit coral
In the far tenderness in her closed eyes
Where I belong.
Let Her into the Guinness
Let her into the Guinness
the woman who perfected
the art of not falling in love
having fallen. Let her into the Guinness for pretending
she’ll not weep wading in the river around her.
Let her into the Guinness
for pretending that she
is no green lily frog
while she stood for me among green lilies
in love’s camouflage.
Once the bed was small
And we slept
Now the bed is big.
At both ends.
If she does not want to call,
if she does not wish to stay;
If all she wants is to say goodbye,
Let it be;
like there’s always the bright blue sky
Under which the plane,
Having flown so long
Heaped upon the clouds,
without a sigh.
Do you have anything more to say?
I caught you in your secret prayer.
Now, don’t hide in the coral of another dead dream.
Like a full breast half revealed from your saree,
love’s blossom is in endless revelation.
Leave me a little room,
A window open,
A flower upon the bough
I’m still gasping
For your breath.
It is these small desires
That make me want
To write a poem again.
What would I have done
If a poem hadn’t come
To rescue me? You fleet past
In a thin veil.
A sorrow I quite cannot lift
To see you clearly.
The way you stay
The way a poem stays away
That is closest to
The Smallest Rose
It is the smallest rose
that smells of the earth raining. wrapped,
unmindful of the thorns.
Open it with your thumb
and little finger in the dark.
It blows her fragrance.
Music of Light
I’ve not cast my net
Far and wide,
Am not a magician of capture,
But you, bright fish, I saw you
Flip upon the waters,
The sun, mouth—.
Organing your body with its music
And I knew, I knew it was you.
It could be no other.
And now upon the waters,
I have no net to catch you,
I need nothing but to watch you
Just flip upon the waters;
Be bright dance your dance of ecstasy, Falling upon me gently,
Waters of your sea.
Why must your evanescence still me as it fills me,
and feathers me into a nothing bird?
Yes, you were, once, the breather of words.
Now you are its wreather.
Why must your effervescence mist my deceased mountains of love, already sunk deep in aeons of lost oceans? why, must your grip,
in which I slip, take me to secret metaphors of death, that you,
name love, and after love, and love after, all under, and over?
Take me as I am, where I am left,
in petals of your non being where I, bereft, search the night dew,
the morning dew, all over earth,
Once more, wind
Once more, wind
Blow her to me
Though she’ll say it was me
Knowing too well it was she
Let her lie
Among her flowers that pretend to live
I’ll take it as it was meant to me.
Just blow her once more
Back to me
And she’ll I know
Once again to hide
In mountain mists
that she herself denied.
But she’ll still be what she has been
So blow her, my wind
And still let her be
The grand pride she was,
A sweetness of transience,
What makes a poem maker? Not everyone. But someone like you
who sings in the street,
as he passes by in his journey;
And that is strange, He cannot stop
or look again, but, someone like you, that his heart is sucked inside,
with just one look, that fills his skies, and it rains, and rains, and rains.
Are you there?
Are you there?
Or are you gone.
I don’t believe the wind,
That talks all lies
Making love to the coloured skies.
I don’t believe the wind
When it tells me
That you’ll be forever true.
What you once were
That blossomed you upon yesterday’s walls;
In secret beauty among the thorns; Though they enthral,
What you were to me,
And what you still are,
I cannot just fathom
Just as no night ocean
Lit with borrowed stars.
There Are Poems I Miss
There are poems I miss
Like a woman
There are poems
Like friends gone dead.
There are spaces in time
I can’t conjure up;
Made of memories
That are much more than blood
Hold her to my cheeks
In her yielding,
The coldness of death
Leave Me, Leave Me, Like Lorca
Leave me, leave me, like Lorca
On the balcony.
Leave me, distant,
I have nothing to hide.
How much you come,
Or how much you leave me.
I don’t keep a count on you.
Leave me, leave me like Lorca
On the balcony.
Leave me there on your bed of lips Undying, dead
Upon a poetry—kiss.
You won’t believe it
How the heart waits patiently Although through the years
It has changed.
All done now,
Time had its thoroughfare
And now past its time,
Though painted a bright red,
A post box in the junction
Is still waiting for those
Once young hands.
how nice, how nice that you keep quiet.
Keep quiet, like the mountain that sends its lava among sleeping folk
in the village in its name, so everything is fossilized into posterity;
Keep quiet, now you must not even smile I must pull the cloth over my
eyes and you’ll come in the night so quiet, in your heat, so it won’t even be
a moment. How nice. That you and I will be together but you want me
all burnt, so late in the night.
They bury our letters as mud buries bodies.
Bodies that lived and died, thinking of love.
Small envelopes; you’ll find them filled with the dead
that opened up all their life for that which seldom came,
the flowers of longing eyes upon them dazzling, as postage stamps,
sending love, sending love,
all over earth.
After this long
After they have been flying
Upon still waters mirroring skies They are flying so low,
I can touch them I can feel them all, all over me, All ice.
I’ll not ask why, why so long
They keep flying about my skies
If only to mirror still waters
The way upon a poet’s lips
His last word dies.
For, I’ve laid to rest
Forget the trespass,
Though I’ll not regret,
The spasms yet, of words
That in us met, as poetry phosphenes In the eyes of love gods;
What must be done now,
After it has rained
You and me night long
In that dark window pane
We woke, coloured,
Sans flesh, sans dreams,
into each other.
There’s a small rain here
And a wild fragrance
Of white flowers
Of the red jessamine.
No stars, stars,
all perfume Is the garden terrain.
And I’ll not be thinking of you
Though I know I’ll find you,
Like the small red fruit all under,
among the White flowers.
The way the night no longer cares,
The way a small rain hides all its stars.
Don’t Talk to Me
Don’t talk to me now
As though I do not know
of lit paper boats. Talk to me again like you used to
Of love’s ocean
Lit with your small hands.
Give Me One Reason
Give me a reason,
why my birds must still sing in the blue boughs of your eyes.
I’ve emptied all reason,
thinking you are not there anymore in my life.
But where you are,
darkness takes me by my hand
and trips into your light
and it is funny, because I stopped, long ago,
believing in the beauty of twilight stars.
Give me one reason, why I must
mould your laughter like a snowball that I cannot anymore hold,
Tell me why I must burn by your window
like a candle you have forgotten,
you lit and won’t shut
I’ve emptied reason, I don’t run after love’s season,
no, I don’t look for cherries of your lips
hiding in my memories, but where, and why, and how,
can you not say,
now that pyramids have been built over us,
where we thought we left behind for each other
a little, vanished love?
Until the River
I wake up this morning to find you Combing your hair upon
Your left bosom
Thinking how you must go away
Taking me until the river,
As one takes a cup to one’s lips
And lets it linger
So the tongue will taste that sugar
Just as you taste
My love, and leave me there,
From where I must find my way back To myself again.
And you win.
Because you know
After you have done your hair
I want to talk to your mirror
Tell it all about us,
About a tear, that like a tear
Circles the pond of a lost icicle
Knowing not how yet to disappear.
But you’ll by then have
Changed your ways.
Forgotten even our seaside embrace.
Next time, after I am gone
Even your mirror won’t know you
For you’ll have changed.
How you bring your hair
How you now bring your hair
Combing it gently upon your right bosom
Like you never used to.
Are not just for dreaming.
They are cenotaphs
Where you were king,
And she was queen.
They go on for centuries
And you are in.
Well, speak not of exits.
Her voice, her voice,
Its tenor in your head,
Such beautiful Living dead.
In my heart line,
The nights come on.
I hear those voices
As past waves upon a wharf;
The suddenness of the sea
In that Venus drip all over
The ancient lighthouse
Grown so tall,
That stood it all,
And will still do
In bejeweled Clots of you.
And then the Secret Birds Sing.
They have your eyes
Put on your disguise
And play about the white boughs
of the night wind
They have your eyes
They breathe the skies
And no more worry that they have sinned
That they let you love me
Covered us with their wings
And went to hide before break of dawn
Among the wet leaves of the night wind
Where dark grew so dark
Without telling me all about you
Why you came
Why you left
And left me quiet bereft
And then again the secret birds that sang
That have your eyes
That put on your disguise
They lay down their feathers
And lie awake upon the boughs of another night,
My Air ways
Of flight No One Zero One
To her kohled eyes.
The take-off has been smooth,
For most part, dreams,
And imagination, that keep wondering How she’ll be.
We’ll be flying, mostly over sea
So look outside and enjoy the scenery. This is your captain
Wishing you a good day.
And a comfortable flight.
The weather is fine,
The sky looks clear,
It is for most part cloudless
And so we look forward to a pre scheduled landing.
And even though the seat belt sign
Is switched off,
For safety it is advised to keep them on.
Though you may be a frequent flyer,
My dream, my imagination,
Please take a little more time to read the safety instructions
Especially in case,
We land in water.
The reading lights may be switched on
For your reading pleasure.
Soon, tears will be served on board With honey.
If you have need for special assistance,
Do not hesitate to call cabin crew Who’ll only be too willing to assist you.
Sit back, relax,
And enjoy the flight.
The flight to eternity
In her eyes
Will be covered In one heartbeat.
Where Everything Burns
If you know a place
Where we can set love ablaze,
Come, let’s get there.
There’ll then be no more need
To kiss your face;
Or talk of tears that tether
The wind in its embrace
Because we are going to a place
Where we can set love ablaze
No more in turns
Where everything burns
Just for you and me
Put the blame, put the blame,
Put the blame on me.
I live In your flames.
Who’s this woman
Who’s this woman,
Ghost and sapphire,
All stone, all red, All fire?
Making me words
In her book of desire?
Strings of an abandoned lyre
That still makes music In soul?
And why must I seek
Truth in that lie,
Why, must I burn In her winters?
That I must not cry,
Her breast in my hands
That turned to squirrels,
Running up the
Tall tree Of good bye.
One Hundred Years
I wonder what you
Must be doing now.
Are you in the kitchen,
Turning on the fire
For your chicken
From the fridge?
Are you laying the table
Neat fork and spoon,
A piece of tissue,
Wet as our once laughter?
Are you watering your coleus
Bringing back their jaded
Leaves to red,
By the bedroom window,
Or thinking why
Your small night flowers,
Have not yet blossomed?
Or are you still crushing
Grapes for me
That sweet blood
You once promised
With my hand in yours
We would drink
One hundred years later.
What You Once Meant to Me
What you once meant to me
Is what you still mean to me now; now to me and beyond,
Bridges in the mist
That had you and me
Running towards each other;
The echoes of that laughter
Is the mushroom patch
I still lay my hands on; knowing
That it is now strange winter,
Your breath, a frozen
But still your face,
That you cannot love me,
Your voice like sometime rain,
Ripples the truth of each other
And our memories all night
In the wings of starlit graves.
The Stars, the Birds, the Words
If the stars in the night skies
Turned to birds,
All of light, and in light years,
They would sing the song
I wrote for you,
When it was darkness
Between you and me.
If the stars in the night skies
Turned to words,
All of light, and in light years
They would be poems,
Of what you meant to me
That no words, no expression
Could tell you openly,
And in your lips,
Magical love ships
With me lonely in them,
Looking for you,
Have set sail,
They have crossed the sea,
How lonely the ocean,
The stars, these words,
That set out
The Poetry of Love
Why have you come,
This near? Did you not know,
That if not for these verses,
I cannot endear, and must be lost, And you must forget me
Because I’ll soon turn dust.
Why have you come, why,
Will you make soft deer
Of this heart, that is now smitten
With your atmosphere?
Do I wait, wanting, that you, will appear,
you, bright sonnet,
You, ode of beauty,
epic of my remembrance,
In the poetry of love?
Where the Words of You Blow
Where the words of you blow
Water lilies of picked days
And nights, over coloured-glass memories
Past the heart’s closed door,
My sorrow of winter, spring,
I’ll not look back to see you again,
Or recall, my lost call to you,
What was that, what was everything,
In the rosary of your beaded nothing at all.
But time will hear this, and in time,
From time to time,
whatever I did to let you wall me in,
A time will tell, and cast that spell
Of you in me in a sadness that tears
The reading eyes, with a madness
That shreds the magnificent rainbow
Touching the two ends of you and me
In a sadness fogged with coldness
Of you still there,
how much ever you may have gone, you, scented, ascendant, windfucker
In endless windhover over
All the ways of you
Love buried me in.
What Love is
Love is a wet goat
Tethered to a post,
And all those green leaves,
Where terror fills
It is quiet,
It is still eating from your hands.
What our silence now is,
Dark waters will tell,
That hold the harbour lights
As jewels to its breasts.
That you and I shared
Among the receding waves
Shaking with the voice Of ghost cymbals.
Between breath and breath, burning without us in the air,
Such silence, made of a night of glitter of light waves
After we passed the stars,
Such that the night,
That jewels the harbour lights
Upon its breasts
Can only comfort
Us and tell
As it tenders our meeting faces Upon its lap, to sleep.
She Had the Kind of Face I Loved
She had the kind of face I loved,
And loved to love;
The face I loved to see me mirrored in,
In a mirrorscape of us together
With our words quiet as dark bees
Upon meeting lips
Inside the hour,
One with the dying winter
And the quietly fallen leaves.
I step out into the evening storm.
Its fierce trees bend like fingers clasped in love.
Dust has the sting of baby snakes.
The wind is a tender smile,
As upon my windshield,
Rain prints the slow alphabets of your name.
One by One Your Memories
One by one your memories
turn red, they turn lost reeds of love green, unnecessarily.
Your memories, they copy the sun, going down the hills, as though they will vanish but return faithfully,
how faithfully, as though the wounds that crave to heal must be watered and sung.
Your memories, they turn rose, they dahlia the coldest mornings,
as they burst with bird wings
over the high seas with the brightness of burning.
The Uncertain Lure
A certain likeness, an uncertain lure, that takes on the heart and shoots it to the fartherest star, so that love born here, born so near,
born of your lips, the light in your eyes, the fragrance of your tousled hair must still count every star and be from you, light years away.
You Who Will Not Be Defined by
You who will not be defined by roses yet takes me apart petal by petal.
And lets the heart turn beast wandering in that jungle of never return.
You who’ll not be taken in by light but sets aflame the submerged magic mountain and binds
with the ring of time’s mystical mist until the coming of death’s dark sun;
You, who sheds my life’s nights to full moon pieces pretending that you make me whole.
Her Parting is not for me; it is too much sadness for me to bear:
Only Gods have the power, to turn tears to fruits on fruit trees on earth.
I can have tears.
I can pretend to be without her.
I can ripen and shed and like a fruit of her,
A Flood of Green
No one else has let me come this far with a woman, without the woman.
But with just her laughter, her voice that miraculously turns to birds every time i hear her;
She has not the beauty for poets to run after; her lips do not remind of Ravi Varma’s red;
but why will the earth not flower, for me, why will the waters turn away flooding bright greens with golden sunflowers
with just a quick turn of her face?
Not That I
Not that I do not think of you.
You are there like the need for water, the winged sleep of seeds.
So in every thought of mine, your laughter bursts, as you circle my lifeline.
And I still pretend that you are not there
knowing, all my life
I’ll die, putting out your light flaming around me not understanding why.
The Moth of Memories
This is taking a wild turn.
Memories moth us, there is no forgiveness. Perhaps Sappho’s fragrance, even time will not realize.
And you, just standing there,
turning infinity You are still there where words have ended.
Where silence opens umbrellas thinking it still rains though the rains stopped long ago.
You are still there, where I cannot find you, where I used to find you
and now silence closes, and we have brought each other here, where silence cannot begin,
but will never end.
Were Love a Drink
Why, will you blame me?
Were love a drink, I would drink it all how much ever it kills the heart.
But love is a terrible wink that you let sink
that stayed so long at the brink
for one look of your eyes the silliness of your dolphin lips
(Maybe it was only love’s camouflage)
all before you slipped into the lake of falling rain.
One more question
One more question,
I know there is no answer.
Just by saying good bye
You had me sculpt
Your face in the sky.
That she loved me, or no
In what was it, that I was caught, Entangled like a comb in her long hair?
That she kissed me, that she did,
She moved me over in wet silence,
As words move over in ink,
Writing that secret poem,
That you tear away with the heart’s blade.
What was it that she did?
She did what red and white lilies do to lakes,
She filled a world with perfume,
Before she left it ethereal as the sky
That reflected in her beguile,
She did this and she did that,
She showed her face to my lips
As though they held a mirror to her, And then she turned away,
Turning all green to hay.
How soon she did the things she did,
That she loved me or no In what was it distraught,
That I let myself go?
And so, now I must let myself show,
Over where, her lilies, still brightly grow.
These leaves, these trees,
These bats upon the plums,
The eagles circling in the air,
These lakes, the meditating blue
Kingfisher upon the bough
Waiting for the break,
This sunshine, blue shine of sea,
The murmur of God’s voice
Upon the bee wing
My breath, my angel,
Always a sophomore,
Thinking this will last,
But from what I know,
It is enough to be comforted by,
Death, not too far away
With that silence of breath
Upon a loved one’s breasts.
All night the red flame
Every morning I sweep them.
Ask the postman
Who rarely comes this way.
But he knows
I’ve been here
All these years,
If you pass this way
Don’t ask him my name
For the sweeper of flame flowers
In Goodbye street.
Hundreds of You
Hundreds of you
And still, in the closed chapter, opened each night, the one.
And then, all over you, my love’s signature, like flowers among bright green leaves that fill sunflower fields.
If You Ever Thought
that I was only an afterthought, perhaps, like gentle deer, I was looking to you in my forest of fear. What we wrought between us, was nothing more than rain symphony, breathing calm upon burning leaves of summer that had forfeited all memory. So we came together, and then, later, or much too soon, if you thought,
this was after all, an afterthought, let our love go and die together burning their hitting heads not upon rock, but upon light, the flames, that carried us, a little while, upon the cooling seas.
There is no more sorrow
When things go, when people go,
It knows it has a place to stay.
A bedroom that overlooks a graveyard filled with roses.
Or the smell of burning of flesh
That’s what sorrow means.
Roses filled with morning dew
And then, as the days pass,
as the nights come on, the guest begins to sense, it is unneeded,
The glowing fires have died,
the roses have all withered,
it is time to vacate the bedroom.
It is same with love and death.
And death becomes a mirror,
a mirror of yesterday,
of a bedroom used to living without its guest.
Your Small Dolphins
Then your small dolphins gently rest together
That suddenly heaved on seeing me, As though
I hit you like a sea wave.
I’ll only play on you like water drops Just to shred myself into rainbows Upon the breaking sun on your face.
Your eyes deer, endearing all over my face.
Blue forests slope down to the sea. Then I see your dolphins go calm,
So calm, like coffins quiet with my breath.
I do not know
if this is falling in love.
I do not even know
if this is love falling.
But each time you fall,
I know it can be with no other that I’ll
Pick you up like rain.
Small Birds of You
Small birds of you dust the air.
They simply do not care.
That first thing in the morning
You fog my eyes.
And turn my life to life to landscapes tempting hill and air
waiting for your calm descent in my nowhere air.
Where you are
My thought bird builds a nest.
I’ll be tree, turn to leaf,
and because you are, I flower.
Why so? I haven’t tried yet to discover
the way you blossom,
like breasts swell, in wet nights moist, before winter’s autumn.
Somewhere Along the Line
Somewhere along the line
I got entangled in you.
Suddenly the stars in the skies
Turned to fine Chinese haikus,
Each twinkle a winked surprise,
Like a bright poem ending.
The rivers stayed tuned all night
To the music your lips made playing kisses with silence.
Somewhere along the line
You changed me, from man
To bird, word and firefly
And in your nigh hair, how I triumphed,
And burned and burned.
If you had not come into my life, perhaps these poems would not have been. These waves of memories would not have caressed red sun downs in the evening seas.
And now the moon rises. It is asking for time, so the nights will stay, a little longer.Nights that must stay
Because you are gone.
Pretty New Wings
Maybe in your absence
fills love’s presence.
This overtaking of your lips,
over my memory, over riding.
Maybe in your non caring
birds learn to shake away
small feathers off their pretty
new wings. And love ends up believing, it is true,
it is alright,
your wrong doing.
So, Like a Rainbow after Rain
So, like a rainbow after rain, thoughts of you come on me insane. Small waters these, that open to cold doors of pain.
Where your laughter lingers with their ghosts of love, unhurried, waiting to make, and break me
into rain, time and time again.
Of course, to be in love
is to be foolish. Is to think you are young still and wanton.
Like fishes that play in their small aquarium, not sensing that they are caught,
To love is to linger in freedom
in borrowed waters.
Perhaps I’ll recover someday.
I’ll be healthy with no trace of you.
No more words of longing,
no thought of your lips fruiting,
And your memory will only be a bridge for me to cross.
Until then, I must take by spoonfuls, the mystery of your indifference.
You’ll continue in my Eyes
In my eyes
As flowers everyday
Break the day
You’ll continue in my words
As fish spawn
You’ll sail in my ocean,
As small ships that live to know
That death is but
Love of water,
As the lyric that bursts
Between your breasts
With a middle kiss.
And so you’ll wake love
From the place it longs to be in,
Beside the church,
Where small blossoms
To the moon, to the sun,
Along the silence of that song
Like I like once ran my fingers
Over your night lit hair.
Where the River Flows Down
Where the river flows down to another dawn
And in the sky, another red sun is born
Where you will wander,
Among searching eyes,
Just wet your hands, where teardrops drown If you find me gone.
Where the stars take light years to come back to earth,
And the moon still follows the circles of the sun,
Where bright birds wake into the skies again
And you turn to me in the rain
And find no one
Let the night be tender over you
Like a loving hand
As you walk leaving wet footprints on the sand,
And it was here with you,
I was once forever
But it is already another time,
Let that light linger, a little while,
Pick up that small blossom
Before its fragrance dies
Promise me again all those stars in the skies Don’t remember that hunger,
And that thirst that is gone,
The poetry of every leaf
Crumbling upon stone ,
Lay down with my name
Silent on your lips, Breathe me a little deeper in your closed eyes
Where the river flows down...
Where the river flows down to another dawn
And in the sky, another red sun is born
Where you will wander,
Among searching eyes,
Just wet your hands,
Where teardrops drown
If you find me gone.
They Have Slept
They have all slept
They who said they would not sleep because they were so much in love.
But let us not wake them.
They who said they loved, I know how tired they must all be,
Let them all sleep.
But to love you, is to let sleep keep awake to love the night.
Three Drops of Rain
Three drops of rain
Are a lot of pain
Bringing you and me together again.
Just to listen to you speak is to listen to my love song.
And so it is, I shut my world.
Give it a Name
What is this if it isn’t our onslaughts like the beatings upon a coloured water snake that came in for a little warmth in the pouring rains?
Let it not be love.
Let it be nothing. But the next time you pass me by and break into a smile, give it a name.
Let’s go back to where she isn’t there. When apples red with beauty did not remind of her lips.
When flowers blossomed in their own pride without her morning laughter let’s get back in there.
when she wasn’t in the middle of the thoroughfare and clouds were so white clouds without her face streaming. When a stream or a river was just that and not at all her silly flowing eyes. When rainbow arcs did not tell of the fall upon her breast, and every flower that held its nectar was yours to taste, and not to drown.
Mind, mind. Let’s get back to that day before yesterday before she came to care,
and now when you wake
it is like that lake, that let you sail, into time’s nowhere. And it is all so beautiful, it is all so beautiful,
it all so beautiful to drown.
And With You
And with you
A diamond returns to darkness
After all that light,
The smells of distances
The early storm
Brings in the rubies
Of your coming rain.
With you, without,
Every word in a poem
Is every word without the poem
The poet writes,
Who must die,
Stabbed in his sleep
By his precious poem tonight.
We Don’t Know
We don’t know,
That we don’t know
The things we between us do,
The things, these things,
Small songs that in us sing
For each other, that we set
To small fire, that burns us together,
As though we must not know,
Small songs, in those festive ways,
the kind that used to write
Poems upon stars
That spring in us
What flavours you breathed me in
Before turning time to winter,
Before burning me in the summer fires of your whittled nest,
What else, must I have waited for, what else,
Islanded in the small seas of your eyes?
Broken, in your face,
I’m a mirrored token
Of all that in centuries done,
You and I have undone.
The Hardest Lesson
The hardest lesson it is, once
Thought so easy
So hard that in jungled beehives of remembrance where
Your bright bees
Keep flying past shadows nectarine, everywhere,
The hardest lesson,
As eyelids close, it grows,
It grows into hills, turns to mountains,
Waterfalls all dark
Where you truly are,
You who touched my hands to forgive,
And burned my heart
With your heart to forget.
Ask me not
Ask me not heart, again
What I seek to ask you.
The same questions,
That we have been asking each other
Since long. What answers,
In the path,
Where we meet to depart?
And longs to meet again
If only to part?
What do they know? Little by little
What they have now done to paper.
What cannot be erased.
The greatest loss
Doesn’t go for a toss.
Her heart of gold
Has the glow
Not Just Sometimes
Even now, not just sometimes,
The breeze whispers, Lorca, Neruda, Kalidasa.
Ask the rain.
It is the same.
Ask the green frog.
Ask the blue whale.
It was as then.
The way the ancient breeze
Carries its rain.
Like I once carried you.
Whose cheeks it is
That I still want to kiss,
And no other’s?
Who hair must I still make music with,
Upon my searching fingers
Such that my hands
Have made me an indolent hare
Unafraid of dying
Among the dark green grasses?
Whose lips have become my memory,
As lines of a holy book read,
By a pastor dead,
And buried in his own church?
Whose face did I think
Only to be left wandering?
Her small face that I keep searching,
Though she buried it
Somewhere among stars.
All that I thought was love
All that I thought was love,
Was but the sparkle of sun
Among all that diamond dew sailing
In the sea weed to the ocean;
To the ocean; To the ocean,
And who thought that sparkle
Would not stay? All is myth
All is myth
But the dazzling turbulence
A sight to hold,
Such beauty, the saddest joy
Upon the noon waters.
Out of Sight
Out of sight,
And still all light.
Your bright ocean
Lit in nothingness.
Rest in Peace
When love dies, those in love
those that pretend to be in love
Those who have loved and lost Those who have loved and found
say to one another, how sad, how sad, It is all going round and round
They all say it was such a nice love it used to send waves all around
it was so unselfish it envied us to think that such love lived;
it was always there ready to shelter, so ready to take in all the pain;
and how sad it is now dead and grown so cold;
to think that such love that was now comes to ashes; and so it goes.
Dead is love, but it still needs a prayer to be buried; it is waiting.
So when are you coming when are you coming to cry
lamenting that love that was so much alive
And seemed that it would between us never die, Has died.
Come and pray.
Do the last rites.
Love was after all love,
It must rest in peace.
I’ll Try and Define Quiet
The quietness of stars.
The quietness of flowers.
As though they were born
Of my haze
Of your gazing eyes.
Let her fell me
A tree in absolute bloom for her.
She knows it. She knows my flowers She knows it all. But let her be happy,
that in her pretence as I fall, my flowers all, so she’ll think,
though she knows, that none other, will let her win,
though I’ll let her, even as i fall,
I’ll let her catch the sun, and let her deceive herself that she, is one
A Boat Put to Sail
No need to put this boat to sail,
as though I must set out to find my own world.
But these prisoners of the soul they have no escape.
If I do not sail, they await death.
They have volunteered.
They wait for their prison’s open doors.
So I’ll commission a boat to sail around your eyes
Till they cry
no more, no more.
Why Unlock the Sea
Now, why unlock the sea
of imagination, After you returned
All reality to dust?
Our touch was no mermaid apparition.
I must conscious be
Of the things you did
Without telling me.
The magic, and the ways
You would mystify your face,
The perpetuity that stays In one fleeting gaze.
After the tricks are done is but a time to sleep, But even the night
breathless with all that light,
Is but, fire, everywhere.
you’ll not admit me?
Love is a hospital,
and I need a bed
with just you by my side.
every night tell me if i do not appear
like a meteor cramping light
every night that’s just what you do before you burn stars and disappear.
This is a strange happening.
Something I was not prepared for
That you would come into my life
swimming on, never asking to leave
like river fish entering the sea.
You grow bright in distant waters
that gush forth rain in my solitudes.
You wave your laughter but that is my sorrow.
You, beautiful, memory carver, hesitant love’s disbeliever,
growing green on rock, how you bend over me
Mysterious as light upon the undersides of bright forest ferns.
How Do I lose You?
How do I lose you, tell me.
Will it be like a pebble thrown in to sink midstream?
Shall it be like a fish long reared
let into the river of my forgetfulness?
How do I lose you? Shall it be
like a dream in the middle of which I wake up and sit and cry calling out your name?
Tell me a way to lose you so that I may stop this sleep walking
down the streets of yester nights still holding your hands
long after you left.
She’ll not be moved by the tears in your eyes
Shipping broken hearts past the Bermuda,
Wondering about her ocean,
to weigh anchor;
Rather, she’ll be amused by the lights, Signalling harbour, all lit for her,
Waiting for her just one call.
Now from what is known,
it appears The realms of sadness and parting Are not hers. Never were.
Queen of the kingdom of ice,
She throws up to you
An icicle of forgetfulness.
One among them in waiting,
Helps her with a red winter coat,
And she disappears into the fog,
Having won the night
and all its dead stars.
Then the lights go down in the ocean,
Gently, one by one,
Leaving all the poets to wonder.
Boy Cycling Down a Slope
He’s now a singing bird.
His wings are dancing in the hot afternoon breeze.
How he inhales the rain,
In that roller coaster world,
That world again—
For which I would give My life.
Lying Upon Heine’s Tomb, Montmarte Cemetery, Paris.
The stone is clean,
Almost brittle in shine.
Green leaves inch closer To Christmas.
In this almost life,
The afternoon heat
upon a sleeping body.
Overhead, a lime tree
Has its boughful
Now, in this precious moment
His stone is my bed.
I lie, and over me the sky
Is a poem entering reading eyes.
I’m the poem
I’m the poem
The poet who died last night
Wished to write. Here I am.
How he wished to write me down.
But I have my pride.
So I dodged him.
Because I am that perfect poem.
All my life he has been trying to write me.
But he just cannot pin me down.
Just as even a thousand kisses
Upon a girl’s lips
Cannot define love
Unless she wants them.
But I love him.
He has always been there for me Even though
I’ve set him on fire.
I know that he truly loves me.
And in that power
He turns me to ashes
In which he rises.
Without you I’m dead.
Here on earth.
In her smile,
And in her forgetting eyes.
You are there.
You are everywhere.
The years have nothing to do with justice. They’ll do for a song.
Every year, is a poem, written in the wind.
They’ll do for the young flesh, those beautiful lips, and the sores.
They do it, everything they do, in the name of love, in the name of God.
And you turn in bed, your bedsores, there are no wilful takers for,
They are both there, the years have much to do with them,
In the yellow flowers in the garden, in the dark red leaves,
and in the wisdom of the breaking fruits.
Nothing they’ll do, that they have not done before.
The slow slaughter, you call beauty, you call time.
The years. More than son and daughter,
They have everything to do with pain, and something, to do with the sun,
the wisdom of the hand-plough,
and the falling rain.
No one knows my name now,
yet once they all knew it.
They all called me,
said they needed me they made me their honoured guest.
I wore the mist of the mountains then.
The blue of the blue tit, and the white breast of the angel doved my cheeks.
And yes. You’ll ask. True.
There’s nothing in my name.
Nothing to put across, after all this for that which we have no name.
And I must count myself blessed, that you’ll no more wish to call me
because my name, you have forgotten you who once hid it
beneath your pillow, and could not sleep because it was my name that
rained all night upon your roof.
Things have come to this, that I fold myself into a wayside forget-me-not.
I’ll not ask that you even touch me good night
Whose name you chose so easily to forget. Now, that does not matter.
But that’s how things get better
when things you love get wet and all you have is a handful of earth
scooped in your hands and easing; with the rain that sinks in
to show a whiteness of roots that’s henceforth your light into the dark,
And to set foot deeper into the woods, to stumble upon the night
graves, gets so much easier, now when no one knows your name.
Why has it to be
That life must be a desert
With all kinds of mirages,
Why must it be
That we must be
Why must it be
That life must be
A search for some one’s eyes,
Some one one’s lips,
Some one’s quiet breath
That some one
Who never comes
Or who almost came,
Or so you thought
Leaving you in the misted air?
Tell me, whose life, was it
That was won,
Before day break, or beyond the setting sun?
Horses, they’ll gallop, rabbits,
The praying mantis
Will beg a prayer,
A small time to be together
Before the ecstatic neck is bit
Peacocks will spread their rainbows, in that enchantment
That in a moment flung
once in the burning dawn
Must be wrung.
The Dying One Thinks of Tomorrow
In these closed eyes
Will be sunshine
Trying hard to bathe me back in its light.
Tomorrow those who once held my hand
So endearingly, weeping into it all night
Will be suddenly afraid to hold it, They’ll find a way,
They’ll find a way.
There’ll be music again tomorrow It’ll be laid to rise
As birthday clothes upon the sunshine birches
There’ll be rain,
Two and two will still be four
And that last letter that comes
To your door
Cannot be returned to sender
But the passing breeze will know
The cherries enveloped,
The pomegranate fell, well,
Though to me are closed doors,
Though you have put back the music again,
At first slow,
You who held me dear,
You’ll only have fear
If I become
An apparition at your window,
But I’ll know, I’ll know.
Night, I’m listening
To your secret music.
Secrets that you open
With closing wings,
God is the master of.
I hear the whir
And the rising fall,
Of crooning, lilting,
Swanning in music,
I know no name, nor
Can frame, the insect
Among the green,
Or the cricket among the tossed leaves that makes it,
But it is there a symphony for the stars, hung aloft the night.
Such voices, that we choose
To gloss over, and perhaps,
Do not even consider
As part of our life.
But that has been,
And will be
Until the end
Of earth and time.
A lesson, of what we choose to pass by As we pass them by,
Unlearnt, without another chance
To come back to,
The beauteous, bounteous
That in their smallest petal
Lost to out eyes
Holds the colour,
Steadfast for a day,
Earth’s lasting chapter,
Past the unread brevity of our earthly lives.
I’ve been a late comer
Late to school, watching the sun
Crab walk the sea-hit moss,
Upon the mid-day rock,
Marked absent in the roll call
And sent out to feed the last mocking bird.
But perhaps there was a destiny in,
Coming after the assembly bell
After all the boys and girls said
Good morning and opened the day’s chapter before them,
In being late for prayer, after god has
Woken up, blessed the early ones and left,
Late to catch that last train
Gathering speed like a rat snake
Swooping in on the small heads of the distant hills,
Quiet in its mouth,
Late again, and someone else has already
Stroked those small wet breasts,
that lay open,
Waiting for me all night,
And I see her turn in half-sleep,
Her nude back disengaging me
In small candlelight hours,
As from my eyes,
The tears wait looking on,
uncertain if it is alright to fall.
How late it gets. How dark.
And suddenly it is all light;
Early mist, snowing mayonnaise, Liquid gold all over the trees.
I Knew Him, Yes
Him, I knew.
Atop the mango tree in his house, throwing small green mango buds
upon the heads of school girls passing beneath; and remaining hidden.
His eyes had the speed of pet squirrels
Running upon a naked body Upon the beach, wet, sun bathing.
The sun had all the colors of the prism
Fused into white sand,
And the white sand was as hot
As love that was fresh and hot
His thoughts were kingfishers,
and parrots and mynahs
And upon his red lips
Was always a humming bird.
He made loops like a butterfly in ceremonial flights for pollen.
The girls laughed, looking into their small breasts forming,
Looking if he was watching.
Wishing, their turning away
Would make him weep.
In deep seas, the fish swarmed around him
Wishing he would catch, hold them awhile
Before throwing them back into the sea.
Him, I knew who was all love,
Poetry upon him was all studded caterpillar beauty.
I knew, him, yes,
There, now stumbling by the gate, Wondering if it is locked
or would open
To his scaled hands, shivering.
To my last breath
That in which I tried to drown,
In which I’m now drowned.
Why must sadness
Be earth? Every river,
Sings the songs of life
So bountiful in its dying;
Carries the burden of water
That must fall as rain
To replenish earth.
Why must sadness,
All truth, pretend to be lies?
In every swallows’ throat
The song is choked,
Though the birds day long sing,
What lies at their feet
Are but mortuaries.
After I Die
After I die
Do not send me to heaven.
Put me back here.
Give me my post life,
My soul, a meaning.
I’ll be a butterfly
Camouflaged in bougainvillea in blossom.
I’ll be the tear
You want to think of
I’ll be here visiting every murmuring river,
Touching greening moss,
The texture of the dolphin
And the sea whale
Memorizing the oozing light
of each star
I’ll be fun to be
On the ears of a rabbit
Jumping to either side.
And when I fall,
Let me fall
Like the maple leaf
In autumn Fall
So I’ll rise
A little colour
Breaking the earth
Somewhere This Light Must Cease
Somewhere this light must cease
And it must soon be darkness;
A darkness where light
Is a spill over,
As upon a petal,
Dust settles its unremembered stars.
There’ll be no last poem
There’ll be no last poem
All my poems of you begin in the end,
As you tend
My secret garden, springing everywhere
In the precipice of nowhere,
By the low mists
Of sadness that take the shape
Of clouds, that linger
Embracing time you could not call by any other name,
And by whatever name you call it,
You are but grief,
No more brief
All distanced beauty.
All these poems, they all grow,
For you, throw your light
In so many colours,
In shapes of you, breathe unnamed fragrances,
With words that if they could
Would have embalmed me all over With you, knowing
that I cannot live there, and am
Just trespass without thoroughfare, but it must be,
Between you and me, that I
To return with you into river,
Mountain mist and unending song.
And then they sing
Bring Them to Me
Bring them to me
Such beautiful poems
That coral your smile
Allow me to pluck them
Without hurting them.
And let me have them
Just to show you how
You are a maker
Of love’s colours.
Next time you come
Bring some more beautiful poems That dolphin your eyes
Whenever you give me
That wide look of the sea.
I’ll be waiting
Watching you go
Where you take me
Where such beautiful poems
The morning rain has just left.
But the earth still sleeps
In its embrace.
OTHER WORKS BY GOPIKRISHNAN KOTTOOR
Milestones to the Sun
Sunbirds in the Rain
Father, Wake us in Passing
Father Benedict Goes to Heaven , and other Poems
A Buchenwald Diary
Victoria Terminus, poems Selected and New
Vrindavan, The Coloured Yolk of Love (Radha Krishna Poems)
Tell me Neruda
My Dear Little Tsunami and other Poems
Reflections in Silhouette
My Blue Alzheimer’s Sky and other Poems
The Painter of Evenings, Poems (1980-2018)
Editor, Poetry Anthologies
A New Book of Indian Poems in English
Living Poetry: English Poetry From Kerala
The Mask of Death (John Keats, The Final Days)
Fire in the Soul (Subramania Bharati, A Life)
A Woman in Flames (A True Story)
The Nectar of the Gods (The Story of the Beatified Devasahayam)
Love’s Ecstasies (An Adaptation of Kukoka) The Fountain of God (Puntanam)
Ramanan, The Pastoral,
Wander-The Great Wide Wander Galaxy Valley
The Twelve Petals of Enlightenment
A Bridge Over Karma
Chilanka (The Anklet)