The Day My Cat Died

The day my cat died we won a cricket match
The mosque opposite my house butchered the air with decibels
My neighbour tripped and broke a rib, letting out a weak scream
And I was out drinking, missing her furry mane,
hoping to share new secrets with her

Walking past school, I refused to pet
any cat which stroked my calves, I barged into
the fish market at dawn and fought for fresh
fish heads, liver, even some shrimp and eel
And later I stood by the butcher to collect, every
last portion of cartilage that was leftover
it was her birthday, after all

And later at breakfast I got my heart broken, a
woman I thought I loved left me bewildered, worse,
leaving me with an unpaid bill and badly written letter
neither of which I ever made sense of, I needed my cat
to cure my life, more than my sister

The day my cat died I was told she is alive
I called at home and left her a long message
My brother pretended that she’s playing upstairs with pigeons
My dad said she is watching a stew coming to boil
My grandmother said my cat is waiting for me

I waited for her as she fell down twelve floors
Unaware that she would die seconds later
And from another suburb, I sent released cigarette smoke
Knowing that by evening she would help me quit

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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

Reading Aloud

Reading it aloud:
You
Your whims, your hormonal rants,
The part where you sneeze
The moment you finally cry
I read it all out, your eyes open
Like two journals on either side of your age
With you in the centre, present in the present
Mute as a photo
Out of focus

Your nights
Your breath
The bits of you leftover
In text messages and friends of friends
Even music you forgot
Comes around unasked
The wall holds your face
As you fall asleep scarred
Read it all aloud, like a play
We’re listening to each other age
The clock waits for you
The taxi drops it’s meter, the new year
Opens and calls for an encore


Drama, the Scent of Mangoes, Love 


yellow, the colour
of a summer morning’s arrival
windows disrobing one by one
letting in the season gradually
trees heavy with sweet fragrance

glowing warmly into a town
sounds born from each home, idols
uncovered and water strewn on streets
I wait for you seven years later with nervous glances
your dog, the calendar in your room, your mom’s ghost
watery tea with toast
saucers whose edges have the aftertaste of you
the yellow morning brings me to you and you
to the point of time where stories have been forgotten

in the patch of forest before the paddies
the path leads onward and finds the creek, the sun
travels in a boat and is pecked by gulls, your eyes
young and unsure, meet the sea and look into me
“which is your favourite fruit, you coward?
are you still fond of coconuts and jackfruit?”
I hear you like the ocean hears the wind
rippled, I continue to smile
another season passes

Urban Montage

Present in the room was the glow of Chinese lamps and the settled smog of firecracker aftermath

A putrid stink of leftovers and the familiar intuition of regrets stamped over the air within the walls

Eyes thrown around the television remote searching for excuses to alter the fate of channels streaming nonsense

In rooms around the neighbourhood the echo of stagnation moves around like a ghost gathering ash

Faces come together behind a soggy curtain scream out their private angers and gather a spoon and plate to relish what comes after

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.

Cafe, circa 2011

sorry
said the poet, lingering around
looking at a stained tea-cup where
his lips once touched, in steam,
his nose
immersed

…unpaid, half-done, finished
allow me to leave, said the poet
fishing around the outskirts with his glance

arrives the crook, crutches cancelled
as he retires into a chair – his shadows
waving a cigarette

the counter opens to commotion

the poet’s account heavier; he’ll be back
says the crook
what you offer is tea, which everyone does
but what you provide is drama, which no one else does

refill please