Beach, circa 2004

The beach, filled with chaos
Polluted by sounds of tourists

Meanwhile the ocean comes and goes in waves
The beach
Restlessly pleased like a distant lover

A lost ancestor docks. His hands filled with warnings of the coming future.

Premise

I understood the premise, but before the curtain fell,
the ending passed through and left me empty, hanging
in the dream I left behind at twenty – you scurried across your stage
the white starlings hopped about wondering
who the man in grey kaftan is, you

how I ran into the salt pans, the mirages
deftly slapping me one after the other, the vultures
eating away at my debts – you never surface, in an exposed corner
you typed away into the sky, both friend and father

today in the audience, darkened by the mask of not knowing
what is before and after me, I felt you finally
as man and soul – you gripped your portrait and caged each word
in your voice, I understood how you’re here but then you’re not
living in stories you wrote before your final drought

Sitting at a Study Table

Both beautiful and sad, your face
Draped in a table lamp’s offering
Stares at its old versions in yellowed albums, you
Browse through former laughter trapped
In static pictures, your hair
Lush and immortal, even your eyes
Seemed larger and unexplored

Around you scribbles and poetry hangs, some
Sits and the other stands, some
Pinned against a softboard’s worn face calls
To be rewritten, you switch it all off
Over you the ceiling smeared with
The city’s long shadows, as
They move and carpet across and out, a million stars
Sparkle in the distance
You cannot see them from here, they shine
Atop your favourite mountain
That is, somewhere, ageing alone in the fog

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