Mother of Two

I’m sad to meet you again, mother of two
Scared in a supermarket stuttering at the counter
Hunting for change

Your dark circles root towards our days
Scattered in suburbs drinking whisky
Pouring poetry, singing badly
The grim romance of Chinese lanterns
In your room-mate’s house where we were alone

You’ll only get older, scarier
And me, stranger, lost, probably never
To see you again; how sad it will be to
meet you again, more aged and remember
That I once promised you our own island at fifty

Upbringing

the chalk that rivers 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 dangerous drugs

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
as I was now ready, to conquer
the air conditioned world
ironing my new shirt every evening

Birds in the Courtyard

call every bird to the courtyard
even the ones with the saddest stories
let them all sit at peace for once and open out
to life problems like we sage humans do
we could teach them all how to communicate well
give each of them a pair of earphones and maybe a touchscreen something
expecting them to grasp faster the essence of their growing songs
trafficking the village air with debates

every bird must come to the courtyard, especially the old ones
they’ll be dropped back if it gets too late or gets cold
refreshments and toxic soda will be kept free for all
politics, religion and sex must be avoided – for that matter,
everything that humans refrain from solving
must be left untouched
stick to bird problems such as migration and meat-eating
or maybe race and colour separation
or better still melting ice and falling trees

Oh wait

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