Someplace Faraway

someplace faraway
there is a high school dance about to commence
rays of cyan, mauve, chrome touch young bodies
the music is from a different era but the shoes aren’t
and while some of your friends sip rum for the first time
you stand alone unaware that time is moving
a travelling yellow pierces my face, my drink falls
the music floats softly and friends start looking different
this is the dance we never attended
the floor we never scraped with polished shoes
and the ceiling whose hanging lanterns we never saw
even the slow scattering of couples evaded us
so did the long drive through a sleeping city
whose moody streetlights warmed ice-cream carts
we didn’t pass by them with half-shut eyes like we could’ve
we never met like we should’ve

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

Where Did You Learn to Write?

I don’t quite remember exactly but it was
on a slow evening in my father’s rented house
the aroma of frying fish and spiced sauce
evoked in me voices of my ancestors
I felt words from a language I hadn’t learned
They became images before I could blink
I realised that to write there was no need to think
It happened then and it often happens now
In crowded buses and trapped elevators
even before crumbling buildings and old eyes
where unsaid things become lengthy chapters
and the said things turned into eventual lyrics
merging into one another in my dreams
slowly and gradually turning into noisy streams
making me wake up and scribble in soiled notebooks
and years later looking back and wondering
when really did I learn this mad craft
I don’t quite remember exactly but it was
on a slow evening with a woman about to cry
I lied to her saying I had a job and a house
she smiled as she said
you’re a nice storyteller

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

Crossing Over

the train drops me, incomplete
my feet
skimming the platform
before I surrender in weight

pulled by the want to crossover, realised
that the dream is dead, I call for a taxi

whose meter rings once and then shuts up
the driver churning his wheel, his face
punctured by insomnia, like me
he reeks of mistakes

that I meet often at home, some
are people and some are poems, the ones
unwritten
ferment slowly, time not experienced
is the time
worth wondering about

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

School, circa 1999

From a corner I watched you rehearse patiently
Logging notes in the breeze using black and white keys
Surveying turning pages with a moving gaze

In a strange distance an old choir climbed stairs
Settling to their positions and awaiting the conductor
Who searched for fallen tobacco outside the hall

A breeze pulled it away from him
Boys played football and noticed nothing
Logging flying notes in the air using their feet