Interlude (19)

Ok people, bloggers, poets… an interlude post to close 2022. What a crazy year it has been (do I say that every year?)! But no matter what negative crap happened, am so pleased and grateful that I started this memoir and that you’ve all been along for the ride. There’s more to come in 2023, so stay tuned. I wish you all a very happy new year. Here’s to more exciting reading and writing and memoiring!

1. So Part 24 found a place in the Poetry Digest for Week 49 on Vianegativa. Thanks so much, Dave Bonta. The compilation makes a wonderful addition to my reading each week. Do check it out.

2. And here’s the soundcloud for Part 19. If you would rather read the poem, click here.

 

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Part 27

Tiny Biyadhoo, a few minutes from end
to end, bleached sand and limpid blue
water, caught in the wrath of an angry
storm that wanted to rip it out of the
Indian Ocean — all night, raging wind and
sea and the echoing loud. A statement of
ownership. A statement of belonging.
In the morning, waves lap gently, as if
nothing happened. Stingrays snorkel

with intrepid humans, bent coconut palms
straighten themselves slowly, returning to
the sky. Shark pups move in to forage under
the jetty at dusk and at night, as plankton
gleam a vivid blue-white, a rough motorboat
anchors where red snapper bite, plastic wire
slices into palms as fish resist, moonlight is
trapped in the open eye of one, still quite
alive, everywhere the smell of life and quiet

and salt and time. As if the universe slides
into the seat next to mine and pours a drink.
As if we clink glasses. As if the silence is raw,
like sand on skin, like hard shell against a
naked sole. As if there’s nothing but me and
ocean all around — the meaning of freedom,
the meaning of captivity. The universe doesn’t
say anything. We never learnt to speak each
other’s language. At this rate, we never will.

(Biyadhoo, South Malé Atoll, Maldives)

Part 26

Read a love poem with a barrel of salt. Not everything
a poet says is true. You know he would pawn his lover
for the perfect metaphor. But an ordinary story cannot

pretend to be about a great love. Not even an ordinary
love. Somewhere between yearning and lies and night
time is that feeling of dread — that a jasmine bud has

as it tastes the rain in the air, that the setting sun knows
as its toes graze the water — the feeling of leaping off a
cliff without so much as a prayer, knowing the end, yet

incapable of holding back. Ordinary love is the morning
after the storm, when all that turned dark stays dark,
for a very long time. Life enjoys such drama, this tragedy

of forbidden want. A light beam travels through shadows
as if it knows its way. But this love needs reassurances
that cannot exist: a straight horizon, an alternate moon,

an even number of stars. Somewhere between a sigh
and the pale climax of dawn, it wants the whole universe,
knowing all the time that it belongs to someone else.

Interlude (17)

Hello reader/listener/passer-by,

Here’s the recording of Part 17. Hope you enjoy listening to it! If you want to read the poem, click here.
I know many fellow-bloggers are winding down for the year. But I’m going to continue posting on schedule, so stop by if you feel the need for a poetry break! If not, happy holidays/ downtime/ new year/ whatever adventure you are seeking..see you on the other side!

 

Part 25

1.
that’s all I have to do
find my bearings again —
starting over in this city
I plant old seeds in familiar dirt
and wait for different flowers.

2.
thirty something years
to return to the same point:
time is a circle, he says,
the radius is life —
how big have you lived?

3.
after three years in America:
pani puri from the push cart,
bargaining for a pink plastic bucket,
jaywalking through the traffic…
noise. chaos. home. almost.

4.
everything that was broken
before I left
is still broken
dust caked along uneven edges:
I tiptoe around them. I remember how.

5.
one somewhat readable poem, bad days.
bad poems, somewhat passable days.
always the tremor
always the anticipation:
life on a secret fault line

6.
even in my own dreams
a perpetual outsider —
on diwali night,
I watch stars and humans
watching fireworks from opposite sides.

7.
an old aunt is apologetic
families shouldn’t be like this:
I eat in her kitchen
rice and sambar and silence.
there is nothing left to say.

8.
pneumonia —
for days I wonder about death,
do I have unsaid thank yous?
do I have unsaid sorrys?
I make misguided repayment plans.

9.
I take on a job
I take Japanese lessons
I take a trip to Thailand —
the door is open, a tiny crack,
the past knocks on the window.

10.
I invite the past in,
the future shudders —
there are no warning signs
once you drop off
the frigging edge.

Interlude (16)

Hello, hello!! A couple of updates:

1. Part 23 has a second home in the Poetry Digest for Week 48 on Vianegativa. Thank you, Dave Bonta. Much appreciated. You can find it here along with other really cool reads. 

2. The audio recording of Part 16 is here. If you prefer to read the poem, click here

I have decided I will read only till Part 20 (the memoir of course will keep going, lots more to come), so only a few more soundclouds. But Interludes will find different content, I think! Do you have any wild ideas to inspire me?

 

Part 24

England felt old and familiar in the way that
America seemed new and strange. April grey,
like a blurry photograph, literature and history
popping out of the incessant drizzle, scratching

the learnt distress of a colonial past, a question
stuck at the back of my throat. I straddle zero-
degree longitude, splitting myself between east
and west. Isn’t a line both a meeting and a

separation? Both imagined and real? I file past
the Kohinoor like a thousand others, in silence. I
stare at a white peacock in Leeds. In Shakespeare’s
garden, a bust of Tagore stares back at me. In the

British museum, I see bronze statues from Tanjavur,
a thousand years old. The Thames sees me from
under its bridges, a winding poem in rigid meter
and rhyme. I look up at an Egyptian obelisk,

curious like an aubade at sunset. The first of
many I would see. Elsewhere. Everything is
entangled. There is no other way to be. Back in
New Jersey, they look down at my visa. Why are

you here? The line. Both crossing and belonging.
They are not interested in my trip to England. I
live here, I say. That is not the answer they want.
So much that is so right is, almost always, so wrong.