Old Song Now Outdated

Often that night your smoke, unconfined
spoke lucidly to the walls, spoke as ether
to a window that longed to hold you closer,
the crunch of crisps and weightless foam
of cheap beer, each stroll of our paired eyes
plotting a new poster, finding a new face
to laugh at, laughs reciprocated by a music player
embalming the room, the corridor, 
the neighbour’s
lonely dinner, and later, in the car
it kept persisting side a, side b, free
from a future touchscreen and unchained
by the listener’s choice to change midway, allowing
you to rest over me quoting some Persian
saint’s soft poetry, followed by inconsistent hints
to draw nearer, a scarf of azure blue deepened,
a defocused indigo under the dim influence
of the room’s changing mood, your embrace
was a curtain parted, noiseless, a ball of fragrance –
nicotine, young sweat, loosening cotton,
hidden fruit, yesterday’s perfume; the decade
lingered on as a single scent, recently

Reminded of the smell, tiring eyes
falling prey to the night, got wetter
I understand then, why old people said
music in our time was so much better

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Village

I come back to you guilty of having slept with distant cities
With eyes carrying signs of urban affairs shamed by the sea breeze
Before me you drop the sunset into the ocean and let it spread
The coast painted by its endemic orange glow sends back
The tides it moments ago tried to contain but could never catch

Old fishermen walk past me with monsoons full of cancelled tears
‘return before you mature into a foreigner’, you said
before slurring an ancestral chant to cleanse my forehead
You released me sagely like the hill releases a sea eagle
But I revisit you with eyes polluted by dark circles
Asexual and cold like a lover who has divorced desire

The coast scarred by my rugged feet is peppered by crab holes
Coconut trees bend over the long line of my preserved sorrow
Eventually at dusk, four hundred years ago, a ship comes in with spices
A man with my surname recites a story about a future city
Where more like me are lonely and without a language

(translated from Marathi)

Pretty Good

(written impromptu in a messenger chat with a friend as an instant reply to a conversation)

Pretty good is nothing. Like a tree
in a paddy field heavy
with weaverbird nests, nothing
special
only a motel for recurring seasons

Pretty good, is only pretty good
a firecracker aspiring to
touch the sky, but failing, its
finale is just a cliched flowering
adding only a spark, not
a flame that becomes a forest fire
not a wind that bends the ocean by desire
only a meagre breeze, just a pretty room,
not a palace with huge doors, pretty good but
not quite there, not even close

Strolling Through My Old Neighbourhood Without Expecting Anything

Air was dense as the soda maker
deposited trays, bottles calibrated, dates missing
expired like my mom’s old embraces, signalling onwards
a protected cow controlling traffic, mostly mismanaging
mosque and temple collided
mutterings, quotes, chants, sayings, histories
the pouring of layered tea absolutely promising
a quiet two and a half minutes, bettered
by buttered bread and the incoming of fried eggs
a lady from nowhere with the voice of an old radio
releasing a flurry of preserved rants, madmen
laughing looking at alcoholics trying to pour
unfiltered water into a glass unwashed, traffic
lights becoming abstract videos over its curved face

Venturing on a nomad sans memory of puberty, matchstick
realised as a flaming excuse for killing a cigarette, bokeh
enhanced by moonlight and glow of oil lamps,
miscarriage of a meat seller’s bargain, a displayed brain,
liver, lungs, intestines and chops at the one eyed butcher,
lanterns hanging over a closing market contemplating
the night through barks and meows and bats flapping
figs dropping, overall

at winter’s death
old city
washed by noise

as

woke footsteps
print the street
– old traveller

while

a cockroach’s glance
carried by red sewers
meets a rat

elsewhere

phones scrolled
trap sad eyes
fingers cancelled

unaware the soda maker shuts shop, the Parsi restaurant
ageing alone into extinction releases a food blogger
I see my schoolteacher cross the street, but like last time
I digress and miss the chance to converse, ‘what a strange boy,
this loner,
he was always so
bad at being nice’

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 


At Times

At times a man leaves his bedroom as it is
climbs down a flight of stairs wearing yesterday’s shirt
smelling of indecisiveness he ventures across a beaten street
his ears passively attend to the temple’s ruckuss while
a memoir flies in like a newspaper and catches his attention
it dances around his gaze like a dragonfly, 
then
turns towards him suddenly, a rickshaw cuts
the distance between them in half
on either side, the longing to reunite

At times a man wakes up in a new city
his arms furry like earth’s skin in a faraway grassland
he wears the new season and throws his glance out of the window
hoping to find a flock of ideas circling the sky forming a graffiti
wishing they’d follow him to the local train station on a Monday morning
he steps into a human mess of hands and legs and sweat and bags

wishes and rants and silences and gags
adjusts himself to stay ironed for the rest of day’s first half
silently wriggling out his phone he scrolls across the world’s debates
and while focussed, his shoulder is tapped by a sudden breeze,
scared, he turns around, and witnesses his entire youth pass by