Welcome to my A-Z 2018, for which I am revisiting Africa, the continent of my childhood and my dreams. The posts are, as always, infoheavy and opinionated, but they are sectioned off - some music, the day’s topic, couple writers, a slideshow from the safaris – plenty ways to cherry-pick. So you may consume just as much, or as little, as you're cool with. Zero obligation to agree with any of my views either, feel free to air yours :)

Thursday, 31 May 2012

The vapours of your words rise up


The vapours of your words rise up, steam in what I read,
In every lively music, every crumbling manuscript of loss
In every hand raised in protest, every newsfeed.
Wherever I turn a page, however far I travel across.
All convoluted streets wherever they may lead
Smiling in malicious glee as their numbers close
About me in tightening circles, unwilling to concede
A single needle-point of space for anything I compose,
They bring me back again and again to that same old place
Where the puddles shimmered with the faint reflections of your face.



There are no codes that anyone can make or call their own.
Even the ones that came before and wrote what they did
The point to all their myriad points seems only to be drawn
When you finally speared your pieces, their bodies slim, heads lucid.
All the tyre-treads etched in asphalt, every cobblestone
That thuds down the steep tumbles of alleys, every ruined pyramid
Leads me back to the labyrinth of hilltops in the dawn
Back into the chequerboard fields, the fizzy paddy green grid,
Laid out like torn pages of the poems I once saw you write
The letters a bit blotched by the rain, the meanings heaving upright.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Lovers' Cove May Link Up


Andy David initiated a brilliant poetry link up session called Lovers' Cove. He gave us his first line which can be read at http://apd-loverscove.blogspot.com/2012/05/lovers-cove-challenge-1-05262012.html.

I continue from the last entry which is Diwakar’s and my line after his is...



But later, a velvety-sudden blue love-lotus rises again on the ebb of wrath




Monday, 28 May 2012

Seeing red


I read the news, see gulmohurs cascade
their blossoms in a glorious spring red
I brew the coffee, I remake the bed
in the same half-hearted half-latte shade.



Spring repeats, the sheets of petals fall
again and again but the colours remain true
and here inside there is also nothing new
the usual violence, and the winner takes all.



I watch the news, see untold lives cascade
away in inflorescences of shocking red
I brew the coffee, and they count their dead
and that’s how nations, and my news, is made.



Let’s not talk about rights and righteousness.
Do you want your coffee with more sugar or less?

Monday, 21 May 2012

Rubaiyat: respectfully yours


I have learnt yours off by heart and recited
each one of them outside and inside my head
till the domes of skulls were shaped with their echoes
and spines curved to hold the words they said



Your moving finger has crept down centuries
touched pawns and queens, and great pens and keys
and touched me too sitting in the darkness
with my hair lifting slightly in the breeze



Then there are those, whose delicate rubaiyat
I forget, at least, can’t recall the details of their art
but they get mixed in with the mortar of life
and they are in the paving of the path.



And sometimes I’m caught quite unawares
as to what I read, whether it’s yours or theirs
all words seem to blend in at the source
into one great poem, echoing everywhere.

Monday, 7 May 2012

It rained in Giza! and on the prints


I.



It’s already midday where they are, and my dawn
here is speckled with rain, drunken birdsong
and children’s laughter.  Moisture’s suddenly on
my hair, and beaded in places it doesn’t belong.



And the lotusprints I’d talked about the other day?
already made something less, I can hardly see
where the men had stopped, and then moved away
from my door, away from all that’s mine and me.



Their soles left marks because most of the yard
was unkempt, silksoft earth’s my garden.
Men leave no footprints where the soil is hard
or lush flowers bend under their own burden.



Oddly holy-looking lotusmarks by my door
Wiped out by a holier rain. Not there anymore.



II.



You too must have heard the stories just like me
faintly sacred, without pinning their exact source -
some tramp comes to the door, then turns to be
an evil tempered brahmin without any remorse;



the old, stooped man who came to the saint’s lone cell
and he washed the gnarled feet, and to his awe
under the dirt were twin wounds he knew too well
to admit any doubt about what he saw.



You know the stories, the almost-myths and tales of old
the holyfolk who came in their humble guise
and touched a life and so changed it manifold
and you bear in mind what a knock at the gate implies.


Of course there are myths too hard to believe.
But you check their feet when they come. And when they leave.



III.



So you burn the lamps and keep any wicks trimmed
low and straight, so that your flame is a shapely blue
at its lowest point when the light is finally dimmed;
and you pare the breeze for its secret haiku.



You give a guarded welcome to the destitute,
the tramps and holy men, wonder who they are -
prophets or kings in disguise over some dispute
and you watch their feet for any unusual scar;



and yet they come and leave, and only when they’re gone
you notice their footprints - a sacred lotus mark
and then it rains a little in the desert, just at dawn
on the two-faced join of the light and dark.



It's a gift, this sudden relief of unexpected rain
but it means that the lotusprints can’t remain.



IV.



And so the vague sacredness that comes your way
leaves you too, unbeknownst, and a precious rain
washes it off, its faintest trace, spatters it away
in a brief dance of sand and liquid, a different stain



marks the garden now, a shallow wetness of the earth
not enough to even pucker the air with its smell
but there’s a sense of loss, though the exact worth
of lotusprints against desert rain is hard to tell.



Much of the morning is spent in futile rehash
should you have looked more carefully at the sleeping sole?
A little more mindful and this sudden splash
of rain would fall but still leave the footprints whole.



The rain’s dry now, the morning chores are almost done
as you think - will there be another lotus one?



V.



I do know exactly where you are coming from
we of the complex-simple life, a little out of touch
with soles and tales, who guardedly welcome
tramps without reflecting too long or too much.



We of the easily forgiven mistakes, the casual slips -
looking at the wrong side of feet of an unknown guest
just a resting point for holy men on their trips
touched once, and then brushed aside at the best.



And even the marks that we would hold as souvenirs
washed off by a shower where there’s never a drop of rain,
every cosmic sign and slight made amply clear
each snub a blessing so that we can never complain.



We know this too, if there’s a second chance, a repeat -
it won’t be a lotus, or it won’t be on the feet.



VI.



It’s past dusk where I am, and the brief dawn rain
has left not a single sign for its twilit twin
a dry sky, an empty garden, another mundane
day draws to its dry close, and a night begins



I remember to turn on the lights by the gate
in case a mystic man should decide to stop
but just like you, I know that it’s a futile wait
brushed twice by holiness is too much to hope.



As I turn back I notice the desert has bloomed -
a small blade of green, probably a weed
not a lotus, or a rose, nothing perfumed
just the first shoot of a long forgotten, hidden seed.



And I can’t be troubled to find out if this blade has grown
As a gift or snub, enough that it’s here when the prints are gone.