Bucket Boy

in a single sweep history
rewritten by a spade, a whiter race
armed with gods and texts, made
demons of the browns –
percolate as mismatches, on
the outskirts the hutment absolved
mocked by pigs, dead cows
rows of faeces

parked amidst a river’s gush, vessels
stained by blood, a cloth line
blots hanging as linen – a crow
calls for a dead gecko, the woman appears
in her a child about to die
at birth, it will be named as its father
roaming with a bucket
its hands substituting
the water in latrines

Portrait of a Man Without Ambition 

Potato wedges ordered for the 157th time this year
A waiter delivers them lankily, extra ketchup, peri peri
Sprinkled isolation
Calories

More inaction follows on the walk back, a child smothers his side
With a melting ice cream and selfish smirk, privileged brat with a mouth

A sky clears scantily, words drain
Onto tar as the walk dissolves into a bench
Looking onwards the football game scatters
Into sounds that lull the mind eschewing freshness

At the corner a car brings a friend from seven years before
Slick shirt, ironed trousers, money condensed into a card
How are you, he asks, without eye contact
Fine he says, no really, I’m fine, with a dagger in his back

Night arrives and shuns the square, warm photos
Hang on the wall as love stored for later
Later when the days get bleaker
And unfinished stories heavily linger
More days waiting for the waiter 

Goa, Circa 2013 

Strolling in the drizzle one becomes green like the hills
Clotting besides the river, between you and them a bridge
Last catch of fish dissected at the creek, prawns –
Your favourite
Cooking somewhere in the breeze

Roofed red tiles, curving street, scent of sausages
Drying ignored and becoming potent like an education
A radio clicks, fuzz of signals punctuate the harbour
A ferry roams in its waves and reaches you pregnant

While I sip insipid tea from a patrao’s cart
The season brews over the river, coming with it
An ancient scent of stacked cashews

Building

In plain sight it seems sleepy – the lanes, the bylanes
The many wooden houses murmuring in foreign languages
Subtitled locally

While in the chowk the Chinese restaurant clinks, its door open
The wok once sterile now smothered, over and over
Fried rice and beer

I wait downstairs watching clouds serenade your roof – summer
The urge of jumping in cold water, the cart of lime soda
A passing cloud cover

Decades on you still make me stand unattended – your scooter
An ornament embedded in a brick building, whose opening
Guarded by an untitled watchman
Watching another year pass by without a whistle

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 

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

Dispersed

Sobered by winter you crossed streets, finicky
Muttering untruths under your moustache, absolving
The wind with your cheeks ridden by tears

Unhappy and generally unclean, spotted
At dingy late-night coves of country liquor, praising
The keeper for his honesty and laughter

You dispersed into many beings and fit nowhere,

So much for staying alien, a city’s problems
Tied to your ankle while nails rust at your crucifix
The kites encircle meat houses at noon screaming
At you when walk past blocking the sun from your years