Thursday, October 14, 2010

Poem from a Crowded Couch

The words have abandoned me tonight
but still you remain.
My incessant thought, my greatest fear,
the shiver in this weary spine,
the fever in my brain.
I've been walking alone for so long
I had forgotten how it felt.
To be held in arms softer than mercy,
drowned in sighs like the prayers
Sufis made when they sang where they knelt.
You're the reason there are temples
where more than hymns are sung.
And the bells chime with bronzed laughter.
Where old ladies smile and clap their hands,
and candles hold more light than suns.
They made me a wanderer, exiled from stillness.
Cursed to stumble room to room.
Chasing mirages under desert stars.
Scorned by the sun, exiled from the sky,
Friendless except for the lonelier Moon.
I should have been born when Khalifs ruled
And poetry floated on jasmine winds
When men held honor in sheathed swords
and saw visions in eldritch flames, as they sat
sucking the juices out of tamarinds.
But here I am, in this city of dirty dreams
and hearts riven through.
Where faith is for sale, and love and honor
mean less than they should. But here it is,
I find myself, lying next to you.

Blessed Lazy Day

Today I did nothing special. I sat at home and read a book. When I was done reading that I read another. Then I felt life was too adult and serious so I read an old Captain America comic book. I love that guy. I had a great breakfast and a better lunch. I thought I'd drink some coffee and later maybe some punch. Buzzed am I, on caffeine and joy, thinking about all the little things that bring me pleasure.

Of course I could complain that there's nothing to do. I have no work to speak of and the universe offers nary a clue. A woman I loved is getting married, a woman I adore thinks I'm insane, and a woman I've barely met is sitting pretty cozy, like a dancing tumor in my brain. Of course I could rave and rant, and complain about all sorts of silly things. But the truth of the matter is I'm pretty darned lucky to be born Arunoday Singh.

And this rhyme scheme wasn't intended, nor does it seem to fit rightly. But I'm freestyling from my soul now, and if the words could rhyme, I don't mind helping them ever so slightly. After all, this here is one of the things I enjoy most, writing, sketching, and perhaps a lot of nutella on a lightly buttered toast. This is the day I shall pick up a pencil and sketch, I've made up my mind. It's been too long since I drew, drowned my sadness in the swirling mist of charcoal lines.

Today is a good day. And I plan to make it better. Like an aquamaniac in the rain, praying we can all get wetter. That last rhyme was a little pathetic, but what the hell? The coffee's brewing on the pot, and the temperature in the room is just swell. Today I miss no one, today I'm happy to be alone. Lying on a couch dreaming, contented sighs shaking loose from my bones.

There are moments that define us, where we discover who we truly are. Then there are moments like these, like sitting behind the wheel of a beloved car. Where the poetry is in the simplicity and goofy smile on my face. Not to be out there pimping my soul, or scavenging for a spot in the rat race. I may not reach the finish line for a while, of that even I'm pretty sure. But I'll cross that mother with a devilish smile, and make her move like heartbreak moves across a dance floor.

You have blessed me Goddess, with this most laziest of lazy days. My curtains twist and dance while the sunlight outside my window plays. And my hopes and dreams decide it's better to shut up and listen to the music. And the future will come when it does, we shouldn't worry that we might misstep and lose it. These moments are precious that's why we call it the Present. Forget the past, forgo the future, lock all your worries in the basement. Today I do the lazy dance, hug my couch, kiss my coffee, and call my book my bestest friend. Today I wish for nothing but more days like this scattered throughout my life, a therapy I'd heartily recommend.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


"In your light I learn how to love,
In your beauty, how to make poems,

You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,

but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art."

There is something truly terrifying about a beautiful woman to me. Something alien and deadly and enigmatic and cold. Her ability to snare my every sense and leave it twitching and snarling and trapped. The way every sound she makes to me seems like a call to prayer. And the smiles, Goddess preserve me, the smiles...

Sounds like bullshit doesn't it? All of it. I've been trying to write this piece since I spoke to her, and all that seems right and proper is the poem by Rumi at the top. I think it's god-damned ridiculous that at my age, a single glance from a single girl can leave me unsettled, pensive and moody for almost two days now.

Was she beautiful? Of course she was. Was she intelligent? Of course she was. Was I charming? Of course I was not. I was like a bull trying to ski on one foot while memorizing the lyrics to a James Brown song and knit myself a scarf at the same time. You'd think at least I would have known to never go up to a beautiful woman and tell her I thought her beautiful. After all these years, you'd think I'd remember. That and to make sure my tongue wasn't moistening my shirt just above the belly button. But you friggin try counting to ten in front of this girl.

Rumi could write a poem like the one above, and all I can write is...But I understand now, Rumi, truly I do. My impulsive lurch towards her is what separates me from you. I'm still mired in the superficial. That poem above will never be true for me unless I stop looking with my eyes. I see only her smile because I am a child, reminded of why I write bad poetry and stared into coffee cups.

There are oceans
we must cross simply to say hello.
Where fears, loneliness, and failure
Are the waves that ever flow.
She sat across a shadowed room,
In a liquid pool of heartless light.
A lodestone for my chaos,
The bloody towel to my every fight.
Across from me and over that sea.
How could she know
what had happened to me
here, on this night?
When she smiled up at me
She broke my spirit and cast it away
Before I sat down beside her
Before I asked her her name
I went to her like a killer to a church,
Hoping to confess, maybe even to pray.
But she broke my spirit in style today.
And took my entire week in her purse
She smiled at me like a child today
And made my charm seem like my curse.

This last piece is mine. See what I mean about bad poetry? Sigh...Goddess bring her before me again, so I might write you another song like this, and make you giggle at your foolish child.


Her scent was all he remembered of her truly. The cut of her face, the alignment of her features, the precise hue of her eyes even...all had been reduced to hazy approximations of beauty, that coalesced into firmer images only when he got high. But even these firmer images of her in his head were all unlike each other, variations on a theme, studies in heartbreak. It seems that Mary Jane, too liked to play with his mind now and then. But nothing had ever made him forget that smell - like a wreath of fragrant flowers on a New York summer day, holding all the other lesser smells : sweat, leather, bagels, cheap perfumes, cigarettes and concrete. Holding all these lesser smells close, and forgiving them their lack of poetry - that's what she smelled like to him. A jasmine goddess standing on a midden heap.

How could he forget that? Half a decade and four continents later and he still woke up some days with her stink all over his bed-sheets. How could that be? Did some mischievous imp dance in his shadow, waiting for his deeper dreams to come, and sprinkle her therein? Or did she herself come to him, in the night, while his conscious mind recovered from the onslaught of his banal days. Perhaps love and desire have laws of their own, that superseded the laws of the physical world. He remembered that old fakir in Rishikesh telling him his newly acquired wisdom, that time they got high under the steps leading to the German Bakery. Love was as much an element of the universe as fire, or water, or earth. Underneath all the badly acted romantic comedies, and the cliched songs, and the bad poetry - was a terrifying truth. It's all real, and we're good and proper fucked.

And that's how he knew that she had entered the room. By scent. Even though he hadn't seen or heard from her in four years. Even though he was sitting in a quiet booth facing away from the door and enjoying the hell out of this little book his friend had lent him. He still knew it was her. His nostrils knew before he did, and as they flared and took her presence in, his heart decided it was a great time to begin a conga beat against the walls of his chest. He had to put the book down and place a hand over his chest and allow himself a moment to be bewildered, before he even noticed the smell. But the second he did...His coffee started to cool in his mouth, he sat so still. He forgot to breathe, forgot to swallow, and only the people sitting facing him could have told him whether he had stopped blinking. He hoped he had, for otherwise the tears in his eyes were being drawn from a different well.

He only shifted when he heard her laugh. The sound smashing through the hiss and chatter of the cafe, sending all other sounds scurrying into their corners like field mice under the shadow of the hunting owl. He heard that laughter and it struck him like a physical thing, like the wave of air and pressure sent out by a detonation, turning the world into a muted, cacophonous, chaotic mess, where one stumbles with skinned knees and bloody eardrums. He reached up and covered his ears, pretending that he was still poring over the book on his table. He hunched his shoulders against what stood behind him somewhere, refusing to be weak and whip around to see her.

That laughter, that voice, that sound crested towards him like an inescapable wave as she walked closer, and then past him towards the far corner of the room. He released his ears from under his ineffectual hands and took a shallow breath through the mouth. His eyes he nailed to the page before him. She hadn't recognized him. He was grateful. He was furious. He was sad. He was one confused idiot, is what he was. Pathetic really, he told himself. The legendary Lothario, the Clown prince of Charm, reduced to a frightened mouse by a scent. Bravo, Sir Gibber-a-lot, bravo indeed!

She took a seat two tables down, facing him. How he knew this he didn't know. But he knew it as surely as he knew that he should keep turning pages after appropriate pauses to at keep up the appearance of reading. But his nervous system couldn't seem to locate his hands, even though there snuggled one, under his thigh where it usually was when he read, and there curled the other around his fourth cup of coffee. He heard her voice talk about her flight to Bombay and the nerdy business man next to her who kept pretending to be asleep so that he could rest his head on her shoulder and stare down her blouse. He heard her say all the things about this city that he had said when he arrived, right down to the sigh and the laugh at the end.

The waiter came to his table smiling and friendly. He lurched to his feet suddenly and almost knocked the fellow aside as he turned away without looking up and dashed into the bathroom. He poured water into his hands and splashed his face once twice and then again. He rubbed it into his feverish skin, around the back of his neck. Then he took a couple of paper towels and wiped himself down. There was somebody pounding on the door. He said "In a minute!" Or did he? He couldn't remember, but the pounding continued.

When he opened the door there was a man standing there with a "fuck-you" expression on his face. He grabbed the front of the man's shirt and slammed him against wall hard enough to wipe it off. Then he leaned in and whispered in a voice entirely not his own, "Patience." Before the man could retort or retaliate, he had walked out of the loo and back into the cafe.

He felt better. Stronger. The incident in the john had pumped him full of adrenaline and testosterone. He smiled at some random girl in the corner and felt flush with power when she blushed. He reminded himself of who he had become. An equal.

He sat down at his table. Crooked grin on his face, careless shrug to his shoulders. He sipped his coffee slow, smiled and leaned back and looked up.

It wasn't her!!!!!!