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 :)

Friday, 28 November 2014

Read if you wish




Read me, if you wish, like a two-fold pamphlet
handed out at street corners by children
forced out of childhood early, their eyes set
into surly orbits of need, desperate.
Patches of limp lines, thrust out as and when


the lights turn red.  A stereotyped gimmick
thrown into cars caught with windows open
weird damaged overlarge wings in that traffic
light, and sudden fright turning to a quick
indifference, “It’s that same old thing again”.


Or read me like frayed love letters, blinking
between dusty pages. The books from when men
still wrote letters, fancy penmanship and ink
counted for, not much, but still worth something.
Pressed, not thrown.  A shade of precious even,


preserved for a future nostalgia fix;
though the addressee didn’t know it then.
Or read me as I am, forget the tricks
of metaphor, of angles and semantics,
just words written into verse and plain spoken.





Sunday, 23 November 2014

Fossils, Findings, and Prodigious Savants








I have known John J. White for the longest time, from the infancy of my blogging days and since my time at Helium, which was a long time ago indeed. John had a blog called "Give It Up, You'll Never Be Published" where he wrote forthright, quirky-humorous posts about writing and the quest for publication. An infrequent blogger, but a prolific, and multiple award-winning writer. His book Prodigious Savant was released last month, and two more titles are scheduled in 2015/16.  Check out his new author website.



Today I am honoured to have him here, sharing his insights and experience. All yours, John, and many thanks. 



Finding That Elusive Fossil
By J.J. White





“Let's get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Ashless








Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. ~ Leonard Cohen




It burns intense, and it also burns slow -
great heat, a sheer blue flame, finely haloed
but it yields nothing, no ash, minimal glow
and there’s no charred heap once it’s out, no broad
smear on soil from which meanings can be clawed.



Yes, it’s poetry, that tiny rimmed blue leap,
that transparent smoke with its musky smell
though it leaves no trace of itself in the sweep
of its own wide dispersal.  Hard to tell,
to tease out the proof that it’s burning well.






Because that quote from Cohen just took my brain in its jaws this morning and worried it like a big cat with its prey.




Saturday, 15 November 2014

The first lesson




Image credit




Hassana was a schoolmate, tall, clean-limbed,
dark-skinned with the smooth bloom of a jamun;
a modern Noliwe if you like, undimmed
by a Shaka, a vibrant, stunning woman.


The two-year-old, mischievous toddler son
of our tutor was often at her hip -
Hassana’s I mean, after lessons were done.
A male an almost-part of a female rib.


Is he a relative that she babysits?
I’d asked her once, she’d thoughtfully replied,
‘no, but I like him, and it’s good practice
to work with a child hanging off your side.’


He left one day. I saw her grieve, understood
the first lesson of love, and of motherhood.



Sunday, 9 November 2014

Steel bridges










I could make up the crooked bamboo bridges,
picturesque as a child’s first sketch, a rustic
stretch of water lily, the hard mud ridges
between paddies- an instant airy trick;
but my truth’s in urban spaces, the street
choked with smoke from exhausts, rush-hour traffic
inching toward where the factory fumes meet
low river mist, those the facts; not idyllic.


The truth is our bridges were steel, robust
and indestructible between this side
and that. And yet.  And yet the connects just
snapped, no way to the bridge, to firmly stride
back again through the lanes of smoke and dust,
across the river and close the divide.





Because I heard Lopamudra sing Sunil Ganguly's poem, Sankota Dulche (the bridge is swaying) ....and because of a death anniversary, you'd think that these dates would slip one's notice after some years, after all so many other things do, memory isn't what it used to be, but no, they somehow wriggle into the brain...and also because a friend mailed me...and my Sundays happen to be your Mondays... a multi-pronged attack of...not quite the blues, but blueish... autumn is a time of many personal milestones, some happy, some sad, a bittersweet season.






Monday, 3 November 2014

Long, long ago





Those days too
I looked at you
and laughed off shopping lists;
and I forgot
to follow the plot
and keep the dialogue crisp.


I kissed your brows,
overlooked laws,
kept too many doors ajar.
I left every side
too open, too wide,
stayed too long and went too far.


I touched your cheek,
swooshed down oblique
planes of your body and brain;
wherever I went
my life quickened
with this mad lovesong in my veins.


I lurched and stopped
every dream that plopped
away from your lashes and mine.
Of course things change,
feelings rearrange,
but that’s same after all this time.










For the love of all my lives, this and the next six..