Rohtang, circa 2007

Raise a toast to the breeze,
to the stars, the snow, the ruins
without forgetting the mist that
slowly reveals every pine
body by body, signalling
the morning’s birth through a thrush,
through the calm slither of Beas, young
before it ages over the neighbour’s earth

And give special mention to
the lady who decided fire was
important tonight, and the man who
offered time and a stew, tea, flatbread
that went well the apples from earlier
and never forget the pass, whose gradual
unfurl of mountain after mountain, each
a match-cut in a winding cinema

Raise a toast to the breeze,
to the rocks, the chants, the eyes
of the lammergeier who made you envious
of height, and other impossible things
such as effortless flight and freewill

Passages

occasional excursions into new beds fizzle, love
instead returns each time
as a dove seeking water, as
a page wanting to be folded before
being felt, an act seeking
a curtain’s gradual closure, while relishing
anonymous applause

another night dissolves into dawn, awakened
by the stale odour of loneliness, the dove
now a hawk, vanishes without farewell, stained
by teacup prints a page yellows,
as you open the curtain, a city appears
a million windows aged, abused
by the sound of life running away

Others

others fear loneliness as much as I fear being discovered
crouching in the sunlit haze of a cafe’s corner with eyes closed
passively nursing the exasperation of having lived life poorly
sometimes in sobered down streets I fear being discovered
ogling at used clothes carts, old women bargaining, rusting gates
and peering into decayed houses haunted by evening news and scraped wall paint
awkward faces noticing me lost in the haze of unsure observance

enamoured by the public garden’s aural ether which lulls the brain
I fear you suddenly finding me after many years with me grown fatter
my beard covering most of my flaws like moss over an old bungalow
and from your perfection you ask me questions about future movements
trees behind you alight in bokehs while children circlulate my silence with laughter

others fear failure as much as I fear being mediocre
unable to be sane at the crucial moment when one must say yes unwillingly
haunted by the unfulfilled self smashing mirrors and turning rants into songs
strolling into terrors, immune to being flawless, experiences ferment
in passing blurs life leaves me bits of colour and lush memoirs 

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

Roast



Friday night. Slow roast, an oven pregnant

the guest waits at your table, pouring wine, adjusting table mats
staring into the fruits and finding her childhood favourite

an untouched sweet lime

passing time
the window calls you both, you bond and chatter

wine reduces, only the residue, lingering on a future kiss

…but you miss
she watches you go blank

her eyes get filled with growing scenes 

watching them build and dissolve the breeze blows inward

the night deepens, her touch 

finds your arm



the oven ticks.