Routes

locked away into a novel, scampering around your own world
the world within the city that fell while you were unborn
tragic that you came to life as an aftermath

while boys played cricket over gravestones levelled into the earth
the rains seeped into notebooks and slushed around the words
on drying the language changed, the smell of damp nothings

a day in November you too will be much older, sorry
for forgetting your mother-tongue like the others from your groups
where-they-all-now you’ll wonder, alone in a cube cooled inside a skyscraper

synthetic coffee, planned romance, reminders will get you across.

Francophone

Today the day scatters moodily, scarfs
tied against pulled back hair
embroidered with block-printed tales
wave along the smoggy air
…bus stop, white earphones
a farewell bid to unknown faces
senseless proximity with strangers
in the distance a coffee shop dead- livened
by an opening shutter
the flux of beans roasting released
a cup rinsed by black
black, and more black
french accent, african descent
a country opens its newspaper

Fields, circa 2010

in the interim, your hair disturbed
by October and its slow winds
flurrying over fields of sugarcane
your rustic accent splintering slangs, your fangs
biting into my innocence
what a fabulous season it was
the highway wasn’t built yet, storks circled
pipits danced, the mat we slept on scarred
by tense movements
muscle and bone
hair and breath
evenings and more evenings
nights without names

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

Forever

strangers meet over zebra crossing
briefly brushing, forever departing
forever floating unknown
as masks in a crowd full of stories
in them i often pierce my gaze
my neutral scan looking for ailments
which remain untreated, only spoken of
only rewritten nicely as fairy tales
ending without an ending
forever lucid
forever floating aimlessly

I Come From

I come from a silent night
Muted by the flapping of sage owls
Skewered by the warmth of shooting stars

We sailed over the moon’s image in round shikaras
I didn’t cry after my birth, instead
I looked onward for the blue glow of our coast

I come from such silent nights
The low indigo tide filled with dreaming flamingos
I sailed through them smiling as I reached a sea
The echo of black dolphins arrived at dawn
An orange sphere touching the distant ocean, under it
A few specks of large boats

I come from a humid night
Occasionally stroked by loving breezes
They played with her hair as I smiled
Behind the creek we shared ourselves slowly
Amidst the dense silence of a million sleeping gulls
Who, at morning, grafitti-ed the sky for us
And the tiger sent her cubs as an elderly gesture

Much later, my corpse floated in a round shikara
On a new moon, its halo, created by the milky way

I came from one of the islands of seven
Today joined forcefully, linked
By trains and flyovers that sail through garbage, instead
of floating over creeks lit by glowing plankton
And the low tide, filled with a billion plastic bags
pushed aside by ships and cranes and trawlers
bury under them the once breathing poems
whose ancient words knew no country

The milky way though, is now consumed by smoke
As for the animals, look for them on the internet
While a small flock of flamingoes still stands
In black, toxic waters
Waiting for the tide to sink

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