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 

Hanging Around

Terrific glazed pork ribs
Superb shot of gin
Night without a mask
Badwords painting walls
Unclean microwave
Enters the girl who deserted you
Her eyes
Your eyes
Pathetic excuses
Shot of gin

Brewing my tea much later once the horde left
Still one browses around looking for a chance
Left you alone a few years ago, I said, again
Leave me again if you wish, she said, half undressed 

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

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

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.

Leaving Behind

the table creaks, a dove
takes sudden flight
leaves behind a twirling feather

it thuds the floor mutely

the town rises home by home
street by street, step by step
shadowless faces smile and yawn
a sun softened by a quilt of clouds

grey and thick like my grandmother’s hair

she does not live here anymore
only her cats do, a few spice bottles
transperent and organised
they tell us about her past and future
the kitchen window lights up like a film screen
outside, a row of doves
take flight and disappear
leaving behind a fluttering echo