Badly Written Homecoming Letter

I stole visuals from the Arabian Sea, songs
from the forests that let me hide, echoes from
the higher Himalayan autumn, colours
from the feathers of my favourite birds.
I stole everything from the world around me
To later label and resell as poetry
I am a stealer and I am unoriginal
my breath reeks of alcohol I haven’t tasted
my journals talk of places I haven’t visited
my body is a lie floating around scavenging leftover vibes
from used rooms, bus stops, joints, streets, gardens,
windows, buses, footpaths, temples, mosques, churches
I lent my entire present to time’s helpless passing
I let books plot inside me new routes to repeat myself
Posing as a true friend I coldly absorbed
the spoken fears of loved ones as future writing prompts
And before idols I stood faceless with hands together pretending
to be devout, honest, pure, untouched, virgin
to the ways of country liquor, beedis and the fresh aroma
of love making,
of skewers, of a woman’s breath on my face, of a farmer’s rant
that flew over my head. I am a fake.
Others lied to win or escape or crossover
I lied to let go of what could never be mine
And using napkins, papers, screens, barks, stone walls
I recorded sightings I’ve unfairly hoarded for centuries
As for those who raised me to become someone else, know
That I’ve whored myself out to life and become nobody
And I’m returning home with nothing but poetry
Come, let’s have some tea

Kutch, Circa 2016

endless white chapped by
earth’s cracked face
onwards a mirage tempts
cheated eyes to draw closer
offering only more distance
in exchange for more distance
the falcon unperturbed
sits inside your scope sage
and from a mile a wind delivers
fresh dust as lunch and dinner
relished only by onagers
cut by the road a lark 
flees
with a rant and disappears
meanwhile the dry sun
settling into a sleep finally
reveals a real horizon
under its orange finish
the oasis, a bed of pink,
suddenly
throws a million petals into the sky
departing flamingos ignore you cry
rewriting your dreams forever

Telegram





I was faraway when you cried

Letting the river absolve me with ripples

Searching for a landing place, finches,
portable as ever, decided a retreat to Europe
was best, that’s where you are, isn’t it?
Collating the smells of cities into

one long cup of coffee, kissed slowly,

attention broken by the newspaper’s turning
recalling beats of a story unwritten 



Yet when seven years later, the fig tree 

now even larger and attractive (claims 

the oriole and the hornbill), it allowed
the perfume of dawn to fill its rooms 

And at the point where childhood ends, you

with your slippers now silent, apparently 

absent, released a dense exhale someplace 

I will never be, yet I imagine smoke 

exploring your insides now recycled 

as mist, let out into the world, lonely

but filled with the desire to travel 


Passing

light voyages of fingers, a book
ruptured then pinned down, deftly

a swallow pecks a lake’s portrait, mirror
rippling mutely, eventually regathers

clouds that once were grey, like your
grandfather before he laid bare, on wood

set alive by a son’s wound, his eyes
covered by postponed tears, light

voyages of fingers, a lifespan burning
into a temporary mirage, deftly

Night

chinese lanterns – popcorn – photographs
old records – mozzarella – sweatpants
heat – bollywood clinging – seabreeze
stench of rum on a collar
untimely teardrop of a cloud
a window curtained by
shadows contemplating union

culminating in a linen cove
a script – generous parentheses
suggesting a future lunge
confirmed by fingers hinging
a rain percussions for the ceiling fan
to take bass, while a duet
swells the air, repaints walls,
deafens the city for the time being

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

Night

12.11 am. Let it begin. Raincoats soaked,
teapots cloaked
by thick steam, the murmurs of shadows
passing in and out of their faces

Books browse the breeze, their flaps open
pages stroked and shivered
unwritten bits whispered as wants
sitting on moist ears

Like a workshop, the bed, busy and frantic
rises and falls like an ocean, whose waves
travel towards the silent coasts of windows
faraway and sleeping