28

pasted on walls are posters new and old
of movies never watched by any of us
at least not as of late, not after
we crossed 28, what a bore it is now
dipping organic tea bags in tall offices
wearing shirts like uniforms and agreeing
with people who we’d otherwise punch around
even the pigeons at the windows
smirk and agree
and then there’s always that one corner
where the cigarettes released by the tea seller
becomes a cove of regrets, don’t meet me there
i’ll be so embarrassed and so will you
we’ll awkwardly shake hands and then
formally introduce what we’re up to
with a nod, a half-smile, looking-away-eyes
buildings continue to grow taller though,
inside them, more mirrors, more
bored shits like us
walking in perfumed sadness
organised air conditioned everydayness
assigning us nicknames and email addresses
that are somehow always busy

Butterfly

catching it is impossible
ignoring it, even more
the afternoon snores, the boy
lost in chores
-but flickering, its beats dot the air
carrying the universe in a glide
in the distance the shimmering tide lowers
the boats park and let their nets sleep, gulls
crowd and behave like flying papers, flapping
…but flapping here is the butterfly
resisting any one spot, resisting
any one audience – playing its mute song
ribboning the air with cerulean and pink
sometimes yellow sometimes stopping to think
on an anaemic plant branch, tanning
under the humid sun
around her the world debates and procrastinates
trees wither and house new caterpillars
music flows in with the evening’s breath
older men at the harbour await their death
as the sun sets a butterfly tinkers before them
sometimes in silhouette sometimes revealed
making old faces move to its pace
before leaving, leaving
a smile on each wrinkled face

River

I’m a slow river
building up pace
turn after turn
wrinkling my face
ripple by ripple
straightening my hair
in millet farms
leaving my body bare
for the pelican’s arms
going deep and shallow
moodily as I enter
the city’s eyebrows
whose insides I rinse
to gather waste and skins
clogging my chest
darkening my blood
making my body smell
turn after turn
crippling my face
bridge after bridge
as I sleep into a creek
spreading my tired body
on a bed of sand and dirt
dreaming of a sea
to accept me for what I am

Within

one submerges slowly
breath after breath
clouds move away
the mind’s sky clearing
watching greyer clouds arrive
seasons change
fantasies rain
watch it all fade

the raven sits beside
wondering what lies within

Lost Time Regained

The palace fell
You felt
The tremors of the earth forever
Piercing you every now and then
In the hollows of this sad metropolis
Devoid of the smell of fresh cinnamon

Years passed as your den’s air
Stale with the scent of unwritten books
Your hair dense with misplaced memoirs
Falling one by one invisibly

Until much later I saw you once more
Sipping single malt alone with a pile of papers
The traffic lit you occasionally
You continued to whistle
While your pen scribbled across the evening

I held your face in my mirror
As you recited verse after verse
Watching you reborn I shook hands again
Your arms smelling of ittar from a few centuries ago
Your eyes fresh with lack of sleep
Your words floating across eras carelessly

Lost time was your textbook
You held it close to you while crossing bridges
Between this moment and the next

Note to an Old Poet Friend

Begin with a yes,

I write to you seeking permission
to ask you to resume writing
how I miss the flow of words from your pen
the soft curses you utter to life
arriving to us as quotes to treasure
for a lifetime of joy and sorrow
Silence spreads like an ailment, often
devouring the one who deserts art, routine
eschews the one who leaves behind passion
I wish to hear of your literature again
the images I fell in love with at sixteen
the narrations over the phone, the walks
through old settlements purposed for wandering
meaningless yet potent, the strides of your poems
walking into my soul like like fleeting deer
Shut your eyes and envision your thoughts
drop by drop, seeping into phrases that form
the lovely myriad of images that talk of lakes,
countries, the worship of time and purity, moist
feet on a rainy afternoon, your dancing childhood
you left us with so much
yet so little

I write to you asking you
to resume being yourself, I miss
flying over mountains through your verses
touching minds and meeting strangers
whose names and addresses remain unknown
the splendour of watching a season bloom
the enchanting doom of fires and battles

Let the rivers of your valley
flow through your pen. Freeze and thaw.
Again and again.

Evening Snacks at the Hill Overlooking Your Favourite Scenery

cream cracker heavy
with paprika, herbs and cheese
bursts in your mouth
what a gorgeous evening it is

terns dive in the estuary
wearing the scent of fresh fish
hills dense with orchids and cashews
we order for an extra dish

filled with the essence of the scape
it arrives in mixed portions, eschewing
delicacies and favourites, instead
bringing pieces of meadows and memories
of years lived in isolation, away
from the brackish gems of this home
a dish filled with something we can both share

we divide it into equal parts
call separately for wine and sautéed beef
at sunset breaking it into halves
flinging it over the ancient cliff
in the humid air they dissolve into birds
gliding gracefully to the beach
following the wind as their prophet
settling at the ocean’s mouth
silently discussing the future