First Love

(another poem that emerged instantaneously from a chat)

Under a rare full moon a train glides
over glistening tracks carrying a song –
percussions and horn, I threw my face
into the night and it was met by yours
At fifteen we looked for love, but
nothing serious that would last, we assesed
it would be real and fast, fingers
melded into answers, shirts that feathered
the wind and then dismembered, sketches
made using eyes that scarcely opened –
and that pulled pause before which
you drew over me freely, like
a child set free in the woods without company
climbing every tree and reciprocating
the surprise of each bird, even
the fireflies not spared by curiosity;
all along I shivered under you, chilled
by the breeze that found space to flow
between you and the moon’s growing glow,
you fell over me like the sea on a promenade
and I lifted you slowly, discovering
that at times time can be formless
and hair belonging to someone locked around you
could be a cushion for breath, also that
the moment thereafter
is a brittle sculpture, withering away
as life gives you other choices

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Strolling Through My Old Neighbourhood Without Expecting Anything

Air was dense as the soda maker
deposited trays, bottles calibrated, dates missing
expired like my mom’s old embraces, signalling onwards
a protected cow controlling traffic, mostly mismanaging
mosque and temple collided
mutterings, quotes, chants, sayings, histories
the pouring of layered tea absolutely promising
a quiet two and a half minutes, bettered
by buttered bread and the incoming of fried eggs
a lady from nowhere with the voice of an old radio
releasing a flurry of preserved rants, madmen
laughing looking at alcoholics trying to pour
unfiltered water into a glass unwashed, traffic
lights becoming abstract videos over its curved face

Venturing on a nomad sans memory of puberty, matchstick
realised as a flaming excuse for killing a cigarette, bokeh
enhanced by moonlight and glow of oil lamps,
miscarriage of a meat seller’s bargain, a displayed brain,
liver, lungs, intestines and chops at the one eyed butcher,
lanterns hanging over a closing market contemplating
the night through barks and meows and bats flapping
figs dropping, overall

at winter’s death
old city
washed by noise

as

woke footsteps
print the street
– old traveller

while

a cockroach’s glance
carried by red sewers
meets a rat

elsewhere

phones scrolled
trap sad eyes
fingers cancelled

unaware the soda maker shuts shop, the Parsi restaurant
ageing alone into extinction releases a food blogger
I see my schoolteacher cross the street, but like last time
I digress and miss the chance to converse, ‘what a strange boy,
this loner,
he was always so
bad at being nice’

Montage 2

The air gathers the passing
From where I left the bus behind, it’s red body flashed
By torn adverts tearing into the city
Chapped and aged

The cafe opens – a cup
filled like a proud schoolboy
Carries freshness, the round tip
Meeting and vanishing all together
…a photographer walks by

His love hanging around his neck,
The pictures uncaged freely circle him, continue

To mesmerise the old chap with a splattered sole
Scratching the floor, rowing along
Carrying the falling leaves with him
Into an apartment with a locked cupboard,
Two teacups, a bus ticket
And a box of negatives
Undeveloped
Kept for later, the very end

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

Serenade

Was last night’s serenade a dream?
The incandescence of aged tungsten warming the bridge
whose ends welcomed dead poets singing
songs from forgotten years, their lyrics translating
into one another like a stew mixing
While your scarf waved gloriously, the seagulls
arising from an aligned sleep dashed in vivid numbers
and fishermen who threw their caps into an indigo sky
lost them in a maze of flaps
Across the bridge a town hummed with the pages
you left half-read as a child, now
they were soiled posters talking of a future
You showed me around the lanes and carts
like a child running across her ancestral home, the
flags in the square, the market of unused footwear,
the roads fluid with passing spirits carrying little joys
You flew me across the circle into the town of lakes
where every boat carried your favourite food into floating homes
asking me silly questions, you trapped my reflection in a picture
calling it a painting – you said – this will mean much more later
You rowed into and across brittle homes soaked in black water
calling out to former friends, all asleep, never to wake up to see you smile
Just then a sea appeared, the very end of the creek
you shed a tear, watching an orange moon descend
and make love to a tired ocean, ‘this is where I come
to talk to myself’, you confessed
as I watched the sea age,
you wrinkled and became quieter

Upbringing

the chalk that wires across the blackboard
last smudged my fingers
when I was 11 and crew cut

they anglicised our language for us
uniforms, leather,
uptight references to the weather
the use of local words
within an essay
banned like one bans the opposite religion

how stupidly I obeyed it all
and stood first, acing
every exam like a long distance runner
at the end of the race my mind splintered
my roots cut, my feet
insulated from my own earth
I was now ready, to conquer
an air conditioned world
ironing my new shirt every evening

Cross

seventeen years later, the cross
seems puzzling still, dust fills
its gaps as my eyes are pulled
to the glass paintings
who cover the outside world, like
a mother’s stories about her past

having sinned again, my hands
soiled by the murder of blindness
touch an empty bench, caressing
dead cells of a pious person
who made a donation, hoping
the cross would come alive