Badly Written Homecoming Letter

I stole visuals from the Arabian Sea, songs
from the forests that let me hide, echoes from
the higher Himalayan autumn, colours
from the feathers of my favourite birds.
I stole everything from the world around me
To later label and resell as poetry
I am a stealer and I am unoriginal
my breath reeks of alcohol I haven’t tasted
my journals talk of places I haven’t visited
my body is a lie floating around scavenging leftover vibes
from used rooms, bus stops, joints, streets, gardens,
windows, buses, footpaths, temples, mosques, churches
I lent my entire present to time’s helpless passing
I let books plot inside me new routes to repeat myself
Posing as a true friend I coldly absorbed
the spoken fears of loved ones as future writing prompts
And before idols I stood faceless with hands together pretending
to be devout, honest, pure, untouched, virgin
to the ways of country liquor, beedis and the fresh aroma
of love making,
of skewers, of a woman’s breath on my face, of a farmer’s rant
that flew over my head. I am a fake.
Others lied to win or escape or crossover
I lied to let go of what could never be mine
And using napkins, papers, screens, barks, stone walls
I recorded sightings I’ve unfairly hoarded for centuries
As for those who raised me to become someone else, know
That I’ve whored myself out to life and become nobody
And I’m returning home with nothing but poetry
Come, let’s have some tea

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Passages

occasional excursions into new beds fizzle, love
instead returns each time
as a dove seeking water, as
a page wanting to be folded before
being felt, an act seeking
a curtain’s gradual closure, while relishing
anonymous applause

another night dissolves into dawn, awakened
by the stale odour of loneliness, the dove
now a hawk, vanishes without farewell, stained
by teacup prints a page yellows,
as you open the curtain, a city appears
a million windows aged, abused
by the sound of life running away

Reading Aloud

Reading it aloud:
You
Your whims, your hormonal rants,
The part where you sneeze
The moment you finally cry
I read it all out, your eyes open
Like two journals on either side of your age
With you in the centre, present in the present
Mute as a photo
Out of focus

Your nights
Your breath
The bits of you leftover
In text messages and friends of friends
Even music you forgot
Comes around unasked
The wall holds your face
As you fall asleep scarred
Read it all aloud, like a play
We’re listening to each other age
The clock waits for you
The taxi drops it’s meter, the new year
Opens and calls for an encore

Without

There is the creaking ceiling fan, there is
The line of crumbs along the table’s edge, your face
Tucked into the blanket as a mask
Hidden from a soft blue window

Quoting an untranslated author, dreaming
Of her verse in the dim silence of your sleep, you
Breakaway and enter the world again, reborn
From a night’s sleep devoid of tense

Elsewhere the town yawns, crawls
The carts of fruit and grain drag, the streets thaw in
Mist exhaled by the mountain over us, your white
Shirt and your reflection in the diary counting
Another day passed by lonely, not knowing
How to meet the evening without an answer

Poet

I was a poet
Centuries ago when I sailed to Aden
I carried spices on my back and charmed Bedouins at the shore
I carried my coast from here to there and exchanged sand
Learning words and scripts, bringing them back
I sprinkled them in a kettle
Ever since time has brewed for me the choicest phrases
As I turn my palm, the leaf of experience shows itself

I was forever a poet
Even before you undressed me and asked me to age backwards
In the timeless expanse of indigo I let my words foam into verbose surf
At times into cutting tides
At times into mellow sentences touching the creek
Where paper boats meet ships
And seawater refuels my veins; I remain
in history as a traveller and in the future as a page
exploring one library to another; living as a poet forever

Sing

Sing mute till you find a voice
Sing without your chords, only imagining the verse flower
At the tip of your mouth where your lips open to the rain
Imagine your future voice waiting there
Till it finds you and enters you as incense
Settling in your soul, growing into forms
Later coming out into the air
Like vapour rising from saffron tea

Write it Down

Write everything down
The sound of wind,
the image of birds released
by the mountain : one by one

Write it all down – the smell of caffeine and warmth of fresh bread
the slow allure of covered stew simmering – the shimmering tides
lapping in the distant blue in their own playground

Write down each word; even the silences
the pauses between this instance and the next
cold statements of strangers, the unfinished episodes of vengeance
the stalemates at the traffic signal
let them all find a resting place
Write it all down before it turns to haze
Even emptiness has doors one can walk through