Fish Curry

Sprawling coconut groves and sounds
of seagulls from the Caspian
cawing tales of Ottomans and Romans
the occasional perverted story
of the man with a cross

hopscotch – draw in red soil

hint of cumin in the breeze enticing
the want for lunch, overcast
season
the fur of my cat moving ahead

with the boar hunt, the mud pot
soiled and flavoured sits idle
sparked by sizzling onion, revived
the wind blows south

my uncle’s boat reaches us with a heavy net 

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

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

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