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

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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

Shop, Centre Street

the passer-by notices the crumbling shop
a notice on the pillar inside; helper
wanted
urgently

the print faded, the helper too

a hunchback appears from the pantry, saucer
carrying a bruised cup
chipped off bone china
holding tea from 1942

somehow, still warm, the shirt wrinkled

clogged in the shelves
receipts and papers yellow
a photograph of a dead customer
a certificate of ownership

strewn around are muttered words, softened

an evening parks outside, starts
begging for a place to rest the night
like everyday, shooed away
made to join the other beggars
at edge of the square, counting coins
the shutter
tiredly
descends

elsewhere the city erupts with life

Witness

I the music that engulfed me first in the dim bar, is
the substance I use to break myself into a thousand parts
while I age carefully from younger to young
and then maybe, not so young
the rustle of brushes skimming cymbals, married
to the sound of a wailing saxophone
I witnessed it all
through the reducing horizon of the beer glass
my head sleeping over the damp table, my pants
whose pockets filled with unaccounted coins
and the notes I would later use to pay
for your cigarettes and chicken puffs
even share them while we switched between channels
on an outdated television surrounded by books
surrounded by shelves and more shelves
hanging on the walls paintings you made as a child
your clothes hanging outside the window whose pane
you sprinkled with a long joint, spiked
with teenage theatrics and young lust
and aromas of the kitchen scattered with leftovers
the music that engulfed me at first, is the last
the very last
time I ever heard someone tell me I’m lovely
I was told I’m a kid with the brain of a man
but the smile of a child
while you were a girl with the eyes of a woman
I witnessed it all
through the years of being a boy
reduced to an adult

Gone

I watched the sugar cubes dissolve in hot water
witnessed you
reduce yourself to one adjective 

grew alongside your mistakes, raising them
as children who would forget me later 

saw you run into the sea, the beams of light
shimmering the horizon into sparkles

in old pictures the glow of your younger faces
serenely fills the room with memories now

I watched you catch the bus to the city
from where you never returned
I reduced our last moment to a lost ticket 
unknowingly

3.2.17

Images from a Literary Past

you read long novels, read
the scarred posters on stone walls

the library deafened by rain
where books rotted into trees

a deft whisper touched you, it
came from an old story

the street into college wettened
your fingers softly moved the pages

picking difficult words one at a time
you glanced at newcomers closely

buses departed across the wall, the
trees that you wrote poetry under
fenced like inmates waiting for visitors

30.1.17

Come to the Street

Come to the street where
the tiled road meets the roundabout
and the statue of our forefathers
stands still like a photograph
Walk with me till the bridge
grazing through second hand books and leaf sellers
the torn bits of time yellowing in the evening
as storks fly over us in graceful patterns
Drink sugarcane juice with me besides the bus stop
the scent of white flowers married with the sound of tinkering bells
let them all meet you at once
while the turmeric grinder deafens you colourfully
go past us all and enter yourself
look where you left behind your skin
the temple waits for your bare feet
enter in silence