By Dawn I’ll Be Fine⁣

Innocuous strips of shadows occasionally train⁣

Across smudged windows tempered by rain⁣

Locked indoors a troubled silence continues to brine⁣

Forewords of unread books hope by dawn I’ll be fine⁣

Falling eyes undress empty streets over and over⁣

Each rippling pothole craving for eventual closure⁣

The drizzle gives way to the smogged city’s outline⁣

Its moonlit silhouette forecasts by dawn I’ll be fine ⁣

Against run of play I fling open an empty fridge⁣

Rummage through wrappers, bowls, leftovers at the ridge⁣

Suddenly recalling saffron’s aroma from the high alpine⁣

Sighs of mute shepherds which claimed by dawn I’ll be fine⁣

Elsewhere the past runs headless through the dark room⁣

Breaking bones, recounting errors of a fruitless womb⁣

In the kitchen decays time’s final rib that was once mine⁣

Marinating it for longer I assume by dawn I’ll be fine ⁣

The Evening That Is Arriving

Unique, marvellous, dramatised
by scattered backlit clouds and a curated
ballet of woks, blurring traffic, is
an evening, arriving — inevitable, en route,
first conditioning the air into a lull,
then turning the harbour in, cutting,
this ordinary day into contradicting halves;
the sky slowly shipwrecks into dusk

pinkish for a kettle’s final redux, mauve
for silhouettes of tired flocks departing, blue
for a fleet of fruit bat released mayhem, indigo
enough for open hair to sing aloud — there is
this evening descending onto hills, streets, the
lanes besides yours you haven’t yet seen—
pure and seeping effortlessly like a good education,
regular from the outset, sedate in hushing
the sun behind grey bridges; necklacing
curved roads with street lights and elevating
every passing train to the status of an uncut film

Getting Comprehensively Drunk After Four Years 


downtown Panaji calm neon slow cooked
white rum – vinegar – coconut winds
new mate from Melbourne teaches me how to drink
on careful first pour discard old troubles into the creek
whisky – rocks – sea salt – soda – rum – gin – lager
do you even feni i ask being all polite
no let’s do shots
fine let’s
pedro who’s been too quiet now suddenly jumps
is there urak too yes of course thanks man
pour – pour
table roars
we down it and share mutual stares
holy **** this is amazing i need more
pour – pour
we down it and screams are heard all the way in Mapusa
screw you why didn’t i know of this before
soon we’re dancing outside with cats
everything’s shut but we’re alive
coffee was is was my real alcohol you know I claim
**** no alcohol is your alcohol she says
cancelled by the breeze we cross the church
swaying like two long free and independent skirts
is there any other place that still serves elixir
thus 3 a.m. we’re dancing on a karaoke floor
do you want more feni i ask being all polite
yes let’s do shots
yes let’s
francis at the bar does his thing and slaughters a lime
drink – drink
Panaji hugs Melbourne
holy fuck this is the best we should do this more

– inspired by true incidents from June and August 2019, Goa, from the time spent with dear friend Jasmin Churches who managed to convert me back to the flamboyant drinker I once was, but now, far more refined and enjoyable. The moment this lockdown ends we will get some feni. Even if it’s in Auckland I don’t care. 


Atop The City Drinking Great Coffee

One wades through Riberia like a music video on loop
Crosses the bridge to Gaia from where a nude woman jumped
Drizzly enough the wind brings the river’s tension to your face
Staircases stack through the matchboxed medieval hill
Housed clusters of Azores tiles and the occasional laugh
At the banks you’re drunk and safely loud amongst locals
You climb three hundred and twenty one stairs to reach a cafe
Guatemalan filter 1:15 ratio at 92°C done in three pours
Caffeinated liquor seeps down as Porto writhes in summer

Atop the city drinking great coffee
Orange-d roofs pair well with Duoro’s turquoise
Distant ships cramming tourists resemble disturbed beehives
Erratic ruas cup the town’s tasting notes: pernil, assado, super bock
In your own cup you discover mandarin, cacao, jaggery
Citrus sunbeams burn through surrendered windows
Beside you an old Chinese man drops a cheap souvenir
Above you the sky replays shrill echoes of gulls
By the end of one coffee you rewind your thirst
Tossing an euro and hoping it lands tomorrow
Wishing time stays unmoved longer than what is permitted
Selfishly searching for loopholes in life’s grand arrangement
Another cup arrives, this time Brazilian, unaware
You toiled three thousand and forty seven days to reach this cafe

Glossary:
Riberia – riverfront
Gaia – twin city across Porto
Duoro – river on whose banks Porto/Gaia stand
pernil – slow cooked pork leg/shoulder,
assado – barbecue, open fire
super bock – brand of northern Portuguese beer,
rua – street/road

Obrigado, July 2019

Atlantic –
library of conquests
smear me with
your unwritten years

Whilst stalking wine cellars
my time has lulled, emptied
into glasses swirled like
dancers hinged centrally

Life now is rather minimal –
Fritas, sardines, strolls.

Forgive me for visiting clubs, spraying
beer and devouring olives without
my usual manners, back home
some old guilt still cleans my kitchen

I’ll spend all my saved hours
all at once, jump from adega to
churrascaria, becoming
a sudden connoisseur of life

In museums Picasso and Banksy clot. I
akim the Douro, gentle, the sunset shatters
the sky into paused flames. Another
evening

ferments. Porto, allow me to have these
bridges for later, in Mumbai, where
the sun sets far too soon, and the sea
isn’t as benign.

Glossary:
Fritas : Fried food, mostly potatoes
Adega : A traditional Portuguese bar
Churrascaria : An eatery specialising in roasted meats
Douro : The river on which Porto is built
Obrigado : The word for ‘thank you’ in Portuguese

Incoherent List of Reminders

She reads the screen then reads your face
mid-morning, late-afternoon, purple evening –
all these awkward times of the day when
nothing is happening, is when she remembers
unsaid prose and lets it out in non-linear fashion;
“thank you, for sharing that, I had forgotten
how much I liked poetry’, ‘I also used to
love the sound of onions crackling in oil’,
‘thank you for watering the plants, now, I
remember the romance of petrichor’, ‘will you
speak on the phone in the next room? It will
feel like this home has more people than it does”
I obliged; then on sultry nights I played synth-pop,
practiced my French, got reminded of former flames
and failed loves, still lingering like spices on fingers
post a marinade rub; then late one night, ‘don’t
speak so much when you snore, choose one’, that
was the last straw; I unfurled old photos, former
calendars where nothing was striked off,
found a pristine boy in some of them
his hair was lush and he wore my name
winking at me from another country
smirking and holding a chord in his teeth
about to sing, the choir will join in, the
street market will disperse sweets, a city shall
remember him as special, and the
monsoon breeze
blowing from that day into this
will wipe the dust off this memory

Walkthrough

Turn right from the church then proceed
to the main gate of my school where I had my
first strawberry ice-cream and later my first crush,
she’s married now; never mind, go south and find
a junction smelling of baked firewood and garbage,
a fish market bang opposite and a ruckus of kites,
scores of corvids, all a graffiti of wings in the sky cut
by wires with beggars in the foreground expecting you
to make their day better; ignore – walk past the
ice crusher that creates beds for dead fish and be
pecked by kittens smelling of offal, a tungsten orchard
illuminates rows of corpses – wood thudded by chops,
which reminds me, I used to learn Karate but then
stopped. I also stopped singing, calligraphy, piano classes,
asking advice from elders, praying, being nice
to myself when I was wrong, I stopped in this market
fifteen years ago and decided to write poems while friends
binged on obese textbooks already written by someone else
so that they’d nail exams to become someone important,
have a life – I wondered at that prospect like someone
who reads signboards written in a foreign language – while
I sat on the floor of the market and soiled myself with:
blood, a concoction of stenches, eyes (dead and alive),
bargaining techniques, that faraway promise of kebabs,
waste paper shop scraps, leftover mince, a lonely half
smoked cigarette battling drizzle, vernacular debates
rousing balding vegetable sellers, that one lie I lied that still
floats around as a rumour ~
turn left from the market and venture on past the
lush dairies and spinach stalls and shoemakers
buy yourself a jackfruit, some dates, there is even
a beedi shop at the end of it, a sandwich cart that
doesn’t say no to extra cheese, a Parsi eatery now
endangered, a country bar with orange peel liquor; enough.
Now you know know everything essential about
this street that one needs to know, and there is only
so much about me that is even remotely interesting,
one thing though
turn right from the market and find school textbook shops
where I bought my first books on most subjects and
later in my teens lied to my teacher that
I was happy and soon-to-be-published, she’s no more,
never mind, next door is a great bakery whose cream
rolls are just ~

Of Shadows

 

Of shadows, the ones left behind
which later became nameless nomads, reciting
stories to each pavement they rested over
allowing themselves to be dented, reformed
by each surface that made love to their passing
occasionally hiding in unlikely places
each time a sunrise attempted an ambush.
Pursued by cats and the occasional lunatic,
escaping from one conniving space to another
learning the art of bending, spreading, shielding
they finally gave offsprings one summer night, since then
a city once coloured by a single mood
found moments of grey to balance itself out

Old Song Now Outdated

Often that night your smoke, unconfined
spoke lucidly to the walls, spoke as ether
to a window that longed to hold you closer,
the crunch of crisps and weightless foam
of cheap beer, each stroll of our paired eyes
plotting a new poster, finding a new face
to laugh at, laughs reciprocated by a music player
embalming the room, the corridor, 
the neighbour’s
lonely dinner, and later, in the car
it kept persisting side a, side b, free
from a future touchscreen and unchained
by the listener’s choice to change midway, allowing
you to rest over me quoting some Persian
saint’s soft poetry, followed by inconsistent hints
to draw nearer, a scarf of azure blue deepened,
a defocused indigo under the dim influence
of the room’s changing mood, your embrace
was a curtain parted, noiseless, a ball of fragrance –
nicotine, young sweat, loosening cotton,
hidden fruit, yesterday’s perfume; the decade
lingered on as a single scent, recently

Reminded of the smell, tiring eyes
falling prey to the night, got wetter
I understand then, why old people said
music in our time was so much better