I was burning,
Through the night.
That long lonely night,
Far too far away.
The darkness whispered,
But I kept it at bay.
With my feeble,
Through the night,
Singing out loud,
To fill the spaces,
Did you see me?
That little flicker,
On your busy horizon?
Did you hear me,
Singing the songs,
You used to love?
Does it burn in vain,
Each and everytime?
This bonfire made up,
Of all that's best in me.
Must I gather Hope,
Like dry sticks,
And whisper prayers,
To the tinder.
That this light I strike,
Will the be the final light.
That I have finally come,
To the final night I burn,
I'm that top fella,
That can't stop, won't stop fella.
The rock and roll soul,
Full of jazz and hip hop fella.
I'm like your pops fella,
I'm that long drive
And that sharp drop to the rocks fella.
I'm that Head Fella.
You heard what I said fella.
I'm that off brown slightly beige fella,
Put the pen to the page,
Like a mobster click clocking a gauge fella.
Don't make me rage fella.
That Darth Vader choke,
Break every bar in the cage fella.
Too wise for my age fella.
That gorilla you can't upstage fella.
Drop roll and disengage fella.
What a thunder god made,
When you prayed,
Down on your weak knees,
Begging the Lord please, fella.
Oh please fella.
You got this, I roll around in these fella.
Do as I please fella.
You're a cow walking about,
I'm that panther up in the trees fella.
That kinda wild fella.
That silence your child fella.
That take a seat he might be around,
For a long while fella.
Marlon Brando would say,
He got style fella.
Win her heart with a smile fella.
Ran through every mile,
You were afraid to walk in dark fella.
I'm that smart fella.
Think with my head,
And feel with my heart fella.
Writing victory speeches,
While you stumble at the start fella.
You make me bored fella.
I'm a Shogun holding a sword fella.
Standing alone against any horde fella.
Look at the score fella.
Do you want more fella?
I piss what you pour fella.
Dismiss and disappear fella.
I'm still here fella.
Even when I feel fear,
My right hook moves you,
Three feet clear fella.
Third eye clear fella.
Up beat, in good cheer fella.
That Hello Dear fella.
Don't cry, dry your eye girl,
Come sit over here, fella.
Ask about her day,
Slap you stupid if you even look her way fella.
I'm that good fella.
Stand anywhere on earth,
Like it's my old hood fella.
What's good fella?
What ya say fella?
I'm so much better today,
Than you were yesterday fella.
Named for the first ray,
Of the sun fella.
Never need a gun,
I got my wits and my tongue fella.
What it do fella?
What you gonna do fella?
You in Sherlock's presence,
Without a motherfucking clue fella.
I preach the word,
While you sweat in the pew fella.
I see you brought a few fellas.
What it do fella?
I laugh at every punch,
You ever threw fella.
Who are you fella?
You're a broken silhouette,
I'm a corvette riding true fella.
I'm that damn fella.
Stand as a man fella.
Never under always overstand fella.
Take your man and scram fella.
I'mma light this spliff, flick this match,
Don't be here when it lands...Fella!
I'm going to make myself,
The perfect cup of coffee.
I measure the milk,
Set it to boil.
I leave a little in the cup.
Precisely a little.
Not a smidgen, not a thimbleful,
Somewhere in between,
I smother it with coffee.
Two tea spoons.
It's a two teaspoon,
Kind of a night.
One spoon of sugar.
I hold it over the cup.
Frozen with something.
I shouldn't, but then again.
In it goes.
I check the milk.
Not boiling yet.
I choose a spoon carefully.
It's an art you see.
Picking the spoon that's,
Ready for the job at hand.
As I whip it around the cup,
Turning all within to froth,
I'm not thinking of you.
Not at all.
I stare out at the night.
At all the ugly buildings,
Surrounding me like,
A mob at a lynching.
I watch an old hawk,
Fighting against his age.
He's too blind to see,
The sun set hours ago.
The milk is boiling now.
It hisses at me,
Like a petulant child.
I burn my finger,
As I take it down.
Of course I do.
Because I'm making coffee,
While not thinking of you.
I got it wrong again.
Oh my Goddess.
I got it all wrong.
It was perfect.
I saw it all in my mind.
The smile, the touch,
The breathless laughter.
I felt it like revelation.
Like a begged for salvation.
The whole world,
Fading behind the light,
Of two brown eyes.
I saw it all,
As I stood smiling,
In the London rain.
Then I went right ahead,
And ruined it again.
They stampede onto the street,
Like oxen suddenly freed.
Carried on a tide of breaking faith,
And impossible dreams.
They declare their faith with roars,
Like armies marching to war.
They assault my serenity,
They rape and pillage my stillness.
They batter down the doors,
Behind which hides my terrified,
Barely healing heart.
All in the name of a god,
Whose idol they drag through filthy streets,
To drown in a filthy sea.
Am I so far in the depths of me,
That I cannot relate at all,
To their raucous piety?
What does their God think,
When he looks upon me?
As I write this poem,
Sitting before an idol of Him,
With his smile frozen in gray stone.
Does he wish me to drag him down,
Onto the streets choked with people,
With firecrackers going off,
Like a machine gun genocide?
Does he long for the filthy sea?
But then I hear them, and I see.
They scream and they clamor,
They dance and they stammer,
Because their God cannot hear them.
He has turned away from it all,
That we never managed to be.
Turned away until the world goes silent.
Until our imperfect souls grow still.
Because he cannot hear us,
No one can, and no one ever will.
Forgive me, Lord. For not being loud.
Forgive me for screaming,
Without ever making a sound.
I'm keeping it together.
Alright I lied. It's all falling apart.
But I light a candle before you.
Everyday. And though all this,
Is what I have, you knew,
It's not what I was asking for.
But what I asked for was not,
What I really needed anymore.
And this prayer to you,
Is to thank you, in my silent way.
For all that I ended up with.
And that's all I wanted to say.
The World came calling today. For coffee and a cigarette.
He asked me how I was, how I was dealing with my regrets.
He asked if I still thought of her constantly, even when I slept.
He advised me to sit still and stare quietly at the sunsets.
He tried to say many other things as well,
But I was already walking for where the liquor was kept.
There are days when you feel like a king in his own kingdom.
Others you feel like an old clown beaten solemn.
Days when laughter and joy fuse with your every atom.
Others when desire lies dying, and the guilty heart sits numb.
But this isn't one of the sad songs, no.
This is for the warriors, the bowed but unbroken. This is our anthem.
Let the world know misery we will not dwell in it.
Let the filth fill the oceans we will not swell in it.
We found Hell in this world. We'll find the Heaven in it.
Our deepest religion may cause us to rebel in it.
But we know a broken heart only heals,
When there's nothing left to sell in it.
There is music here that shakes the heart like thunder.
There is love left on the surface. It's not all buried deep under.
There are moments still that leave you gasping in wonder.
There is wine enough to make you forget your every blunder.
I know we all get it wrong now and then,
But even when we wish to, we never ever surrender.
Let the eagle within you soar. Let the church bells ring.
Let your weary heart be healed and ready for anything.
Let your potential flower, like a field of lilies in the spring.
Let them see your victory dance, let them hear you sing. Embrace your own life like a reunited lover and say,
You my dear, are Queen. And I was born to be your king.
(This was written as an exercise in free form unconscious poetry. My hands didn't stop moving until they did, and I guided them as little as possible. I tried writing this entirely while staring out at the view from my balcony, as the wind caressed my face. The wind you will find left her marks all over this poem.)
I went so high,
I burned every wing,
I ever imagined myself to have.
I flew so far,
Even the winds,
Seemed like strangers to me.
I thought you,
Were following beside me.
You, who chose the direction,
You wanted us to fly.
I thought you,
Would stay beside me,
Until we rested unbroken,
There at journey's end.
Now I circle the sky,
Keening my abandonment,
Exiled from all the joy,
I once found in flight.
But I remember now,
That all I need is the wind,
Wherever it may come from.
And where it may take,
I'll glide along. I will soar.
I will learn the names of every star,
I will learn what my soul,
Was given these untiring wings for.
I went so high,
I forgot that even eagles,
Need solid ground.
I will fly again.
It's what I was made for.
Enough for now.
I went so high I forgot myself.
But I'm coming down.
Hearts don't break, they burn.
Like funeral pyres for love.
Raging infernos trapped,
Beneath the banality of your attire.
How can anyone not smell them?
How can they not see,
The black smoke rising from us,
Like demons finally freed?
We say we are over them,
The setters of the flame.
We drown ourselves in such lies,
To feel like ourselves again.
Let the heart burn. It's better that it burns.
There is no wisdom in breaking,
Only by fire are the lessons learned.
Where we go wrong is to sit, Like weary gypsies in the night.
Huddled around our burning hearts.
Blind to every other light.
Feed the flame your anger,
Feed it your weakness, your regret. Take your time, be thorough.
There are no schedules to be kept.
Learn from this wise fool,
Who blew on the embers for a year.
Shuffling around his flame,
All his love turned to fear.
I was never wise,
Certainly not in matters of love.
I couldn't let the fire die. I kept it warm for you,
Thank you for the final lesson.
There is no goodbye kiss.
You write 'I love you' on a note.
You let em read it, and say "Burn this."
My fire finally died down.
The wind swept away the ash and the dust.
My heart now stands gleaming and open.
For a fire free from the memories of us.
Last night I had a dream.
I dreamed I was king of the jungle.
Broke hearts with every sigh,
Smashed rocks with every stumble.
So fast I could out run my fear,
Out last any storm, out fight any trouble.
I made them love me with just a word.
Scratched diamonds with my morning stubble.
They tried to catch me. They tried.
I fought them where I stood, I did.
And where I stood is where they died.
I've out laughed a hurricane.
Slapped traffic aside.
I danced with the devil in the moonlight.
Never betrayed my pride.
I walked tall through raging fires.
Seen the flames bow down to let me pass.
I wrestled down a glacier even,
For some ice for my whiskey glass.
You know I'm bad.
I let tsunamis wash my feet.
Used canyons as my toilet seat.
Picked my teeth with the chimera's tail.
I looked at dragons and thought "air mail".
I saved worlds with a kick,
Broke chains with every swing.
Last night I had a dream about the real,
You'll never find someone,
To love you tender like me.
Someone who knows the darkest depths,
Lurking in your clear blue sea.
No, you will never find,
Another love like mine.
Someone who needs you like I do.
Someone who lets you shine.
Someone for whom you were,
The burning bush, the awaited sign.
You will never find, as long as you live.
Someone to scold you like me.
To refuse to let you dull yourself,
To hide your beauty in mediocrity.
There is no one else. No one else.
Who'll treat you like scripture,
And build a chapel in his heart,
To preach the holy word of you.
I may not be the easiest ride in the fair.
I may get sullen and glare.
But I'll turn my back on everything to love you.
I'll break this back to get you there.
Wherever it is you're going.
Guided by a star I may never see.
You'll never stumble in the dark alone.
You'll never have to struggle without me.
You're gonna miss my loving.
Oh darling, you're gonna miss my love.
No matter where you search,
No matter how long you dare to wait.
You'll never find another love like mine.
Who, even though it breaks him in two,
Will walk away, and leave you to your fate.
Because you asked him to.
Happy thoughts like gentle wavelets,
Lap against my storm battered shore.
The quiet surf washes me down
Like the caresses of a wondrous mother.
And the tumult of the day is dragged away,
By the surging benediction of wise waters.
How long must we wander deserts of doubt,
Before we find the courage to never leave the shore?
To never walk away from the water,
And the sunsets it shall cradle forevermore.
Where friends sit beside us,
Scratching conversations into the sand,
Only to laugh as those too are washed away,
Leaving us with a clean beach to begin them again.
We'll walk after the setting sun,
We'll swim until the stars are drowned in the clouds.
We'll run home through the falling rain.
We'll make love, we'll listen to music,
We'll run back into the water again.
Our winters are gone, it shall be summer from now on.
The worries that troubled us so in the world? Well, they never did learn to swim.
Let's stay on this shore forever.
Let's see if we're that strong.
Let the body run it's ambitious marathon.
For better roles and a few magazine covers.
We'll stay on this shore forever, my friend.
And we'll stay happy until the last song.
When the body finally makes it to us.
As we sit by the water smiling, and ask it,
What took you so long?
Oh how I want.
I want to sit in silence right now.
With no one else around.
I want to marshal all that I am. Rediscover my own sound.
I want to sing out loud
Be my truest self everyday.
I want to do each thing well.
I just want to be proud of myself.
I want to stop being lazy and effete.
I want to make the right choices.
I want the wind to stop howling.
It's making my heart ache anew.
I want to silence the dark voices.
I want to the be the man I was,
When all I wanted wasn't you.
I want to stop making my mother cry,
When she speaks to me of her worry.
I want to focus on the important things,
Without constantly saying I'm sorry.
To the people that don't really care,
Whether I achieve my dreams or even try.
I want to stop longing for the approval,
Of broken little girls. I may not be a king,
But I'm worthy of the queens.
I want the seas and stars to acknowledge me.
I want the wind and her children
To whisper my name.
I want the moon to wish to be my brother,
I want to wake up feeling happy,
And go to sleep feeling much the same.
I want the lights to stop flashing long enough,
So I don't grow blind and lose my way.
I want to find a mighty comfort,
In the cool darkness I carry within.
I want you to tell me you love me.
Or I want you to leave me alone.
I want to regain my magnitude,
Instead of feeling so stretched thin.
I want to stop frittering away my time.
I want to stop making excuses. I want to stop smoking so much.
I want to regain the strength of my solitude.
I want to write grand poems,
Full of hope and love and beauty.
I want to give my self the chance, To discover all that I have to say.
I want to be the best version of me.
I want to start doing that today.
Oh don't speak tonight of leaving.
Don't speak tonight of goodbyes.
Don't pull your wrist away from me,
Just lie here as you were lying.
Let the world spin on without us,
Let the stars dance with the Moon.
Life may be a slave to time my love,
But time has no meaning in this room.
Oh don't speak tonight of leaving.
Don't let my heart beat against the door.
Don't push the button for the elevator,
Don't walk away from me once more.
There are people in this tired city,
Who will never know true paradise.
For the sake of their bleeding hearts,
Give in to the yearning we hide in our eyes.
Don't force yourself away from me.
I know that you wish you could stay.
We don't need gardens to walk through,
Nor magic playgrounds in which to play.
Don't slip on your shoes sighing so,
Or so reluctantly pick up your purse.
I only hate you in your absences, darling,
It's only then this love seems like a curse.
I've lived in a city where it rained all the time,
With not a friend to hold and call my own.
But the loneliness of that city can't match mine,
As I watch the lack of you around me, alone.
Oh don't speak tonight of leaving.
Don't give in to the fear that you're feeling,
Don't make a fool of every word that I write.
You murderer of hope and love,
You raven disguised as a dove.
You who leave night after broken night.
You who make a fool,
Of every word that I write.
The smoke rises from my mouth, Like the dust of so many dreams.
The city refuses to be still, Like this unquiet heart of mine.
Every poem I write seems shallower,
Than all the things I need to say,
The things that keep me lonely,
So much hollower than I seem.
Smiles flit across my features,
Like distant birds across the sky.
The happiness that sat beside me,
Now refuses to look my way.
Even on the quietest days,
The chaos of this city slips,
Like a quiet knife into the bone.
There was a moment today,
I felt completely at home.
But I was too busy wishing,
For something I couldn't have.
And the moment took offense,
Grab it's purse and walked away.
I am best when I'm elsewhere, I'm a mess in this city.
I loved you entirely,
But I can't keep on going backwards.
I'd fly away if I could,
I'd wash my hands of it all.
But I haven't touched the star, I know I must before I fall. I know I loved like a pretender,
I thought I'd fake my way through.
But the only thing I accomplished,
Was to become a stranger to me and you.
Every poem I write is a lie.
None hold the heart of me, Only the smudges of it.
The meanest edges of it.
If I could say what I felt,
If I could mean what I say.
If I could tell you what I really feel,
I'd know rest at the end of the day.
Instead I sit on this balcony, writing,
Like it's something important that I do.
Like it's something that is going to keep,
All the things I locked away inside,
From bursting out and slipping through.
This isn't a poem, it's a cry for help.
It's a call to you, whom I've dreamed of,
For twenty nine years, and counting.
My heart is strong but close to cracking.
Heal me before I turn into someone else,
Some one not worthy enough for you.
A baby bat is called a pup or a kit.
And upon this breezy Sunday evening,
I watched a kit flit by my balcony,
Looking so frail and tiny against the rain,
Blowing in from the sea.
I wondered where he flew to. Was he lost?
Had he gotten separated from his parents,
In the chaos of the evening exodus from their perches?
As colony upon colony rose and,
Spread across the rain drenched sky,
Like ink smeared across a wet watercolor.
Did he fly alone and helpless,
Crying out in a voice so panicked and high,
Only the other bats, all far too busy to care,
And the tired dogs in the streets below,
Could hear him? But the dogs couldn't help,
Because the dogs couldn't fly. Yet.
Or was he the prodigal pup?
Alone, aloft, and afree!! Afree? That's not a word.
But I say for the sake of this pup,
And all the pups like him, that it should be.
There he flew, afree at last! Straight into the teeth
Of the howling monsoon.
There he flew, through the volcanic clouds,
Of this city's black-souled pollution.
A tiny warrior on a quest,
To rescue his kind from an evil one-eyed bat.
So massive and grotesque and tyrannical,
That the other bats shivered at the mention of him.
Had he stumbled across haplessly, as heroes often do,
A batty conspiracy so sinister that it left him
No choice but to abandon all that was comforting
And warm and familiar, and fly alone into the night
In search of a legendary bat hero? With a sword,
Made out of a shard of moonlight and a voice,
So powerful that it could drive an eagle from the sky.
I knew he only flew as all the other bats did,
In search of as much food as he could scream up.
Before his leathery wings begged for a quiet perch,
In a nearby tree, or a nice damp cave.
But I wondered whether he was happy,
There at the end of the day,
As he wrapped his wings around himself,
And snuggled his little fox face into his shoulders?
Or was he lonely and hungry,
On an unfamiliar perch. Far away,
From the plaintive cries of his mother.
Who searched for him all evening,
Instead of looking for food for herself.
Or did he fall into a contented sleep.
Sated and finally his own bat.
Alone on his own perch.
With just a little space left over,
In case that pretty little female pup,
He'd bumped into earlier by the temple roof,
Decided to drop by.
You know what I did today that completely healed every pimple of stress across my mind? You know what I did today that made me so happy I danced around to songs I haven't heard since middle school on repeat for over an hour? I watched Disney's Little Mermaid.
I hear you laugh. And I laugh with you. But it's true. The single most stress-relieving thing I've done all year it seems, has been to rewatch that delightful cartoon. Instantly transported me back like a time-travelling rocket. All the cares of my barely-functional, apprenticeship in adulthood, all the disquiet thoughts that find me in the evenings, all the bang and clatter of the city, all the worries about the things I need to take of in the coming days and the fact that I have a film release and please god please let this be the one that makes my life easier...it all got reggaed away the second I heard Sebastian the crab strike up the band.
What amazing characterization! What amazing animation!! Even in this post Avatar etc. world of hyper graphic, hyper-rendered, mind altering special effects in movies, the simple hand drawn cartoon of Disney's Golden Era has a charm and an innocence and so much love infused in every sketch that it's hard to keep a heart as childlike as mine from bouncing around the room like a piece of Flubber (remember that one?)
Much to the horror of my closest friend and sisters (well not so much my sisters. They know what a giant baby their elder brother is) I knew the lyrics to every song. From some happy cavern in my mind they came charging out like a pack of puppies unleashed for the evening from the kennels into the lawn of the present. I howled and I laughed, and I danced and I jiggled, and I sang every word off-key and joyous.
It was glorious!! Ah Disney, you magical band of movie misfits. Thank you. There is magic still in this world. And it resides in all the things that made your childhood full of joy and laughter and music. It is the old movies we loved, the songs we learned to love music too. The images we share with our family. Magic is Ariel and Sebastian and Ursula and King Triton. Magic is Louis the chef singing "Le Poisson, le Poisson, hee hee heeee haawn haawn haawn!" and the giggling fit you collapse into after you're done singing along to that bit. It's the thing that makes my sisters bang open their doors after they've scoffed at my childishness and gone back to the their rooms when "Under the Sea" starts playing on the television.
By wondrous happenstance I played that movie. The girls, after watching some god-awful Thai horror movie that had me confined to my room like a prisoner awaiting torture, decided that a cartoon was in order to change the mood of the evening. They asked me to think. The thought translated into action too quickly for me to make a judgement on it, or start to pretend to be a 'man' and tell the girls no no, let's watch something else. A cartoon was asked for and the Little Mermaid was the one I chose. Whatever that makes me, I'm damn proud to be that thing.
Because darling it's better, down where it's wetter, take it from me!!! (and for the prurient minded. The line works that was just as well. Shameful people)
Tonight I let my mind rest.
Let it curl up beside me,
On the old oft-repainted rocking chair.
Looking like the cat I know I would keep,
Were I not so violently allergic.
I wait until it begins purring,
Swatting it's perfect pyramid ears,
Dreaming a happy, runny, jumpy dream.
A dream where it is not my mind.
But a hero in a galaxy far, far away.
I tell my nose "He's asleep. Go. Take the pen on a date."
Now she doesn't exactly fancy my nose,
But he promises her a walk to remember.
And he's oddly good looking and charming.
In a large, angular, saucy sort of way.
They begin upstairs, entering my parent's room.
He tells her of nightqueen oils dropped in terracotta halos,
That the bulbs wear in all the pretty lamps.
My father's aftershave, and his musky scent,
My mother's perfume that smells like sanctuary.
They follow her scent out to the prayer room.
There's still a whiff of incense in the air,
Still that faint ozone residue of many matches struck,
And held to lamps lit diligently with pure ghee.
And of freshly picked flowers placed just so.
To the left is Akriti's room, says my nose.
Smiling at the smell of her laughter. Yes it has a smell.
Of a bouquet of whimsically chosen perfumes,
Of scented candles of vanilla and things stranger.
Of conquered hurt and unbearably tender hugs.
In the middle used to be the grandparent's suite.
Dusty and neglected even though it's cleaned everyday.
They never liked living here. It smells like rejection.
Like toys held ransom for time spent.
Of awkward kisses wet with beetle nut juice.
Then my nose smiled and showed her Ambika's room.
They tiptoed up because she's doesn't like to be disturbed.
But you can smell the body scrubs, and the hair oil,
And the sun baked skin, and that delicate heart,
Encased in polished armor and sarcasm.
Down the staircase they go. Following the scents,
Of frankincense smoke held in the daily censer.
Of freshly washed clothes carried up in Renu's arms,
That always smell like haldi and whatever,
Unrecognizable delight she's cooked for lunch.
Down to the lawn where the smell of freshly mowed grass,
Dewey leaves, wet flowers, and muddy earth. All dancing,
With the coming of a heavy monsoon. And the dogs,
At their stinky, slobbering, incorrigible best.
Bounding up with the stink of unimaginable things on their paws.
And finally he brings her back to my room.
Where the champa tree outside is always generous with her scent.
Where the smell of old books mixes with the charcoal sketches on the walls,
And that piquant whiff of blank new notebooks and ink.
All the colognes my father thought would smell better on me.
My pen smiles up at my nose. My large silly nose.
And rubs him gently on his frowning bridge.
She asks him to lay her down on the desk now.
And snuggle in against her, slowly.
Then she shyly tells my hands to turn off the light.