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.
I am proud of you,
You Seeker of Joy.
You weary gypsy
Of a reckless faith.
You soul shaking singer,
In the unpopular churches,
And their quiet choirs of truth.
You who can find the courage,
To burn all of the bridges,
You got used to walking across.
Because you understand.
That we are all islands,
And though people may linger,
And the party never end,
The only joy that lasts,
Is the one you find in the mirror,
In the face of your truest friend.
Set out on paths unknown.
Give all your furniture away
Walk away from the love,
That waited for this moment,
To really shine through.
You will be full of doubt,
There will be nights of pain.
You will call yourself stupid,
For every daring to dream again.
But listen to me, You
Warrior of the silent battles,
Against the unquiet crowd,
That howls in the darkness,
Of your lonely room.
Weave your own silver lining,
Into the fabric of every cloud,
That's found its way into your room.
Let the beads of water,
Break up the ground.
And the traffic of this city.
No longer be the tyrant sound,
Holding captive your Sufi Soul.
Lift your arms out wider.
There is nothing they,
Cannot manage to hold on to.
Gods speed Voyager, on your way
To the Sanctuary of the Few.
And know there is Light
At the end of the tunnel.
And that light, my friend,
The first night back in Bombay after what feels like an eon. Emerged from the shower scrubbed clean of the days filth and made myself the ritual coffee and sat on my favorite chair, with it's back to the open window and the evening breeze. Plugged in the computer to my beloved speakers and played all of the songs that make me so happy. And felt the rain begin behind me, and the rising of the noise from the street rise to meet it like an outraged lover caught in another petty infidelity. Over the song I heard them argue, the rain and the city, and let a sigh escape from where I horde them like a miser.
The rain only came to try and cleanse the city of its self-loathing. As it came every year. And as it wept over her unrepentant and fallen lover, I felt my soul reach up to embrace her like a beloved aunt. I whispered meaningless words that she said she appreciated nonetheless, wiping her soft, wet hands across my face and my lips. And we stood there a while, the rain and I, barefoot in the damp, holding one another and looking down across the still shrieking city.
Last night I couldn't sleep. I didn't know why. Sleep and I being on such friendly and easy-going terms. I lay my head down in my bed on my parent's farm, my favorite place in the world, at around eleven thirty at night, just done with a couple of chapters of an old favorite book I re-read from time to time. I tossed and I turned, and I swatted mosquitoes and I went to the bathroom and I drank lots of water and I stared up at the ceiling. It was around two am when I heard it. My heartbeat. Like an old war drum sounding the sighting of the enemy across the city walls of my spirit. Barbarians at the gate again. Tuh-duuhm tuh-duuhm. Tuh-duuhm tuh-duuhm. On and on it pulsed, getting louder with every barely sucked in breath. Battering at the walls of the storeroom in my chest, where I kept the joy I had so carefully collected over the ten days that I was ambition-free in the lap of my parent's secret paradise.
I knew why the drums were sounding. I knew why I couldn't sleep. I thought it was only me, but this morning when my sisters and I sat huddled in our airplane seats, they told me that they too couldn't sleep last night. It was because we knew we were headed back here. To Bombay City. Where no matter the weather or time of the year, a storm crackled across the sky, its thunder shattering pavements and hearts, it's hurricanes blowing the roofs off the beleaguered multitudes pathetic hovels, and our resolve and our joys and our hopes out to the filthy Sea, and it's lightning, that we each carried in our eyes, like never-healing scars from a malevolent fire that we took so much delight in singeing each other with.
I felt the echoes of that Storm last night on the farm. I felt the adrenaline flood my system at the thought of my impending arrival back into the heart of that tempest. How could I not loose sleep? This thing was designed to be a breaker of hearts and men. It was a sentient presence, vast and hungry and vampiric, that took the best of us away, filling the holes with only empty yearnings and fatigue.
But here I sit. Upon my favorite chair. With the ritual coffee dancing its way into my belly. And the sound of the rain...
This isn't meant to be a negative piece. This is not me being full of doubt or fear. This is me acknowledging my enemy. Standing atop the walls of my spirit, shaking my spear in the face of that storm. Batter me down, let your tyrant winds blow, let your petty thunders shiver my sky, let your lightning cause the very stars to flee from their night time perches. I will not be bowed. I will answer your storm with song, and laughter, and giggling fits that can cause temporary facial paralysis.
There are people here, full of magic and light. Moments full of the most complete wonder. Because they come to you in the midst of that quiet storm, like sudden visitations from angels you had gone weak believing in only to see at last. There are conversations that flow like wine, music shared that strikes up every unplayed, dusty instrument in the long abandoned concert halls in you. There are nights like these, where the rain comes down just as you're ready to feel alone, and washes the worries away.
There are nights like these, when the words fall with the rain, like secret missives from the stars. Telling me that the quiet storm of this city's cries, will never break down these walls. We will shake our spears at the enemy. And though we may know fear, and we may feel weak, and we may be scarred, we shall never go down easy. We shall defend our happiness and our dreams, until the dying of the Light.
If I make the slightest sound in my room, They come scratching at the veranda door. Tails wagging, fur matted with rain and mud.
Noses pressed like children's hands against the glass. How can I not rise from my desk, Tired of struggling with the pen, And this hateful, empty page? How can I not go to them? Greet them, and try to hold them down, As they bark and bounce and jump? Shoving each other to make sure they're the first To be petted and smiled at and cooed to. After the initial gamboling ruckus is over, Thakur flops down quietly at my feet, Nostrils flaring like the flaps of a happy bird, His eyes demanding, his paw pawing at my feet. I could scratch him behind the ears for an hour, And he'd still whine if I pulled my hand away. Nawab is just happy to see his brother happy, And comes up for a scratch or two. All the while nipping his brother insistingly, To come back out into the rain to play. He dashes off and returns with a stick, Or a chewed up ball, or even one of the flowers, My mother's chased him around the garden for destroying. Then they're off, litter mates, over grown puppies, Mouths side by side as they dash off holding the same stick. There they wrestle in the lawn, pushing and tumbling. On and on and on. They never get bored with each other, They never grow unhappy. When they get tired, They lie down next to each other for a moment, Until Thakur decides he wants another scratch. And as I open the door to go back inside, They slip in before me, Big as the furniture in the room, Playful as the puppies they shall ever be. They dirty up the floor, paw mud on my clothes, Then lick my face and my hands to make amends,
While I laugh and fall to my knees, trying to scold them, But what's a little mud between friends?
I woke up this morning, In the only bed I've ever fit on, Because it's the bed you bought, Especially for me. I woke up this morning, Wrapped like blissful mummy in the sheets, You chose over all the other sheets,
That were not soft enough for me. I woke up this morning, Like the child I will ever be, In the most beautiful room, I've ever slept in, Because it's the room that you built,
Especially for me.
I washed my face and I smiled,
And followed the sound of laughter,
Out into the kind of sunlight,
You only find after a night of rain.
There you were, rising with a squeal,
Wrapping those familiar, soft arms,
Around all the jagged edges of me. And before I could say Happy Birthday, You said how good it was to see me.
How good it was that I could be here, today. And we opened the presents together, While your daughters sang the song.
Papa Bear joined in when he could, His love shining through all the gaps,
In the song he couldn't sing,
Because he's never been good with lyrics.
Even to Happy Birthday.
The dogs barked and danced, Around you as you laughed at every gift. There's more grey in your hair now, But it only frames your smile like a dusty halo.
And the newer wrinkles on your face, Do nothing to hide the miracle I see.
We spoke and laughed and drank coffee. Together. Your two daughters made of laughter and fire, Your son made of ancient hope and song, And your husband, made of fertile earth and stone, The kind they can rest cities on, The kind that can sustain a forest. One dog lay at your feet, Running after something furry, In his favorite dream. The other lay in the corner alone, But I saw him shyly wagging his tail, Every time he heard us laugh.
There were dosas for lunch, Fresh mangoes for desert. Three cups of coffee each,
And the ice cream you keep,
Stuffed in that old freezer,
Waiting for the still joyous hands, Of your incorrigible brood.
The day meandered through gardens of joy.
We spoke deep into the night,
I told you my stories, you told me yours. We laughed and we shared our light. You hugged me long and tenderly, As I whispered Happy Birthday Mother, And good night.
Then you smiled and said,
Today was the best birthday ever. Especially because we could all be there. What can a son say to that? To someone of such depthless love?
Of perfect understanding and compassion?
Of light kisses and patience,
Even after the umpteenth fight? For apple pies to make the Gods feel left out. And the greatest shortbread cookies ever, That you bake a batch of,
And leave in the center of the pantry,
Waiting for me, when I alight. Every time. I'm a poet because of you.I'm worth the breath I take, Because of you. I'm alive. I exist. I am happy.
Because you are in this world. And you're thanking me on your birthday? Silly girl.
I fight for the right,
To hold my share of the light.
And tonight darling,
I fight for the right to ride,
Like Lancelot the knight,
Towards your morning bright.
I would betray my king,
I would surrender my sin.
I would burn the world without,
Just to be blessed within,
I fight to the most secret heart of you.
Where memories of jasmine swirl,
Over cool, still pools.
Where you discard your masks,
And let your wings unfurl.
Tonight I fight for the will,
To brush aside every warning.
Take every leap of faith.
There are bonfires burning,
Across this city of ours.
Full of cindered dreams,
And the ashes of so much love,
Smudged into the circles,
Under every tearless eye.
But I love you baby,
Like poets love the night-time sky.
Where the words dance,
In the shadows left behind,
By the stars that can no longer shine.
Like Sufi's whirling,
Like this warrior's heart of mine.
Let the tempests roar,
Let them try to shackle my beast.
I'll break all of the chains,
I'd fall at your feet.
I'd howl at the Moon,
Like your pagan priest.
Like convenient scavengers they love
The weary and the meek.
Content to huddle beside,
Whatever was left behind.
They lie exhausted in their beds,
Too afraid to sleep.
While we thrash up in the sky,
And crash into the deep.
I sat on the edge of things,
Above the city, alone.
Just the wind and I.
An eagle came to me there.
He called me his brother,
And wondered why I didn't fly?
I told him I was just a man,
And for all my desperate desire,
I wasn't made for the sky.
He spread his wings and laughed,
Like a father at a child.
And asked if I'd even tried.
I asked him not to mock me,
With the memory of a thousand skies,
Lighting the shadows of his eyes.
While I struggle here over my poems,
Trying to change all the sad truths,
Even poets can't deny.
But my brother, the eagle,
Smiled and clicked his beak,
Spread his wings out wide.
He threw himself into the air,
Screamed in joy at the breeze,
Spun away into a dive.
I put down my words,
All my daily cares,
And nightly worries set aside.
I cast away my skin,
Unshackled my eager spirit, And leapt after my brother,
To dance beneath this orange sky.
As my dear friend Cyrus said tonight, "Why hasn't more been said about how amazing Orange Chuski's (ice-cream bar) are. How has no one composed some ode to them. Dude, they're the Maggi of Ice Cream." So I came home tonight, It's 2.49 in the a.m. and I'm as happy as I've ever been, and I thought, let me write at least a small one.
There are not many things left in this jaded adulthood of ours that can instantly fill us with that giddy, silly, perfect joy we used to carry as children. Before the world started to lean on us, before the moments got filled with more weight than we were prepared to bare. What your mother's hug does for you, what the bark of the dog you've known since you were a boy does to you, what your first great love song does for you when you hear it now, Orange Chuski's do.
They taste of ice, and sugar, and orange skies over rivers of joy. They are like running after each other in the streets, playing Holi with the feverish mania only the very young can sustain. Like Monsoon nights in your dormitory watching horror movies with your brothers-in-boarding school. They are the first steps of your first slow dance, with that girl you were almost too shy to ask out. They are the taste of your father's indulgence, of your mother's fondest smile. They are the sound of your family singing along loudly and proudly and rather badly to your favorite Michael Jackson song as you drive home after a lunch out on the town, an orange stick of icy joy in each of your hands. They are the sound of your siblings laughing, as you race down to the fridge.
Not enough can be said about how amazing a few licks can make you feel, instantly. They are the smug pleasure on Cyrus's face as he sinks into his corner of his favorite couch, just him and his perfect Chuski. They are the outraged child's expression on P. Singh's face, as her second Chuski breaks off too, half on the stick, half in the packet. They're the evil child's joy on Juhi's face as she quickly snatches the bag and says she has no problem eating it with her hands. They are the coltish skipping dance Aditi does to the fridge everytime anyone even wonders whether they should have another one. They are her always infectious giggle as she hands out packets. They are Sameer's silence, because he's said not a word in a while. Because he has better things to do. Like eat the Chuski in his hands. Ah bliss. They are Abheet's paternal, patient face as he waits for one to be opened and passed to him across the room. They are the thirty seconds before he realizes that the Chuski went no further than P. Singh, because her's was already over and who can resist another one. They are the exasperated love in Ankur's voice as her reprimands her and demands she pass it on to Abheet's. They're the pout on her face, then the smile that breaks through, they're the quick kiss they share. They are my smiling face.
Every Orange Chuski tastes as good as the first one you ever had. Every one. That's better than any drug. There's no humiliating graph of consumption versus amount of pleasure. They will always be perfect. They hand out Orange Chuski's in every version of Heaven. As well they should.
Please help me live up to my potential. Help me to use my time wisely. Let me create something new everyday, an idea, a piece of poetry, a chapter of a book, an epiphany for a role. Let me be diligent again, and not rely on luck or charm or effortless mediocrity to make my way through this life I've been blessed with.
Please let me continue to listen to music as deeply as I do. Let me enjoy it more and more everyday, and if it's not asking for too much, let me make some one day. I would really like to hear one of my poems sung out loud to a crowd one day, especially if it's this off-key bear that gets to sing it.
Please send me a woman worthy enough to really love. A woman of quiet poetry and manic mirth. A woman that will slowly heal all the hurt I accrue through the days. A woman who needs and wants me as much I need and want her. Let me fine a simple love, a love to grow happily grey in. Please help me become worthy of such a woman. Help me treat her right, help me lift her higher. Help me learn how to make our souls sing.
I want to do so much. I dream of so much. Please send me the will to get even a fraction of them come alive. Please. I don't want to go through this life knowing I could have done something but was too lazy, too entitled, too tired, too afraid to do something truly worthwhile. Let me meet every opportunity like the warrior I know hides in me.
I don't ask for much. I never have. Let me grow to be better than the man I am. Let that be enough. Let my sisters find the Light and the joy they so deserve. Give them direction and stability, help me help them through this tough year. They are the greatest joys you could have given me. Help me be a worthier brother. Help me make their lives better. In any way I can. Don't let me be petulant, or grouchy, or so pressed for space that I don't share it with them graciously.
Dear Goddess. I pray to you through these words you send to me. My every word is a prayer to you. Whatever else comes and goes in my life. Please help me get better at writing these pieces, bringing more people closer to the joy through which we search for you.
Let me go to sleep every night, with a smile on my face for a day well spent. Even if I didn't do much at all. Help me do that and I'll consider myself a fortunate man.
Dear Goddess. I love you very much. Thank you for these friends. For this food. For this coffee I shouldn't be drinking at 1 a.m. but damn it it's just so damn good. Thank you for the music, thank you for the joy.
Sorry for being a sullen bastard now and then. For having days of low self-esteem and negligible faith. I'm a bit of a fool, I know, but I'm on my way to you. Wait for me a little while longer.
Long days, lost in the moments,
Unforgiven, by the harshness of the day.
Longer nights, full of the memories,
When happiness was happy and decided to stay.
Long days, waiting underwater,
In the storming waters off a shipwrecked bay.
They think they can hold you.
In their arms, even as they ruin it all.
Drowning slowly, in this city,
Refusing to beg for help or call.
No one's coming. And you know this.
No one cares. And it's true.
But you were made in water,
In your mother's womb.
And you first saw her light there,
Shining in the gloom.
We fear no death by water.
Only by the loneliness of an empty room.
We live to be loved by the Summer,
To love a lifetime through a long monsoon.
A fellow mystic, nestled on my pillow.
Suffering the Sun, to be bathed by the Moon.
I could never hold you.
Against the worries that will be here very soon.
But I have all these words,
And your every breath holds a merry tune.
We'll weave a song together.
Against the coming of the cold.
Oh darling the smell of you,
Makes my tired wings unfold.
How I've missed your warmth.
Tell me you've missed mine too.
Tell me you've missed my warmth.
Pressed against the imperfections of you.
It's been a while since I wrote anything at all. Anywhere, not just here on this blog. It's been a while since I felt like I was productive or creative or a viable member of the human race. I don't really know why I've been feeling this way entirely. It's like this creeping feeling of time falling away from me. I stand in the middle of a room and feel the echoes of all the things I didn't manage to get done screaming at me. I wake in the morning, at least an hour after the time I'm used to waking up and immediately feel like I've done something egregiously wrong, like I've missed the most important moments of the day already. Every time my eyes open, I bolt out of bed like I'm late for a life changing meeting. Even though I have nothing really happening all day. I wake with a sense of disgust at wasting my own time and potential.
It's a very strange and claustrophobic feeling. And it's a feeling I think others are familiar with as well. I've come to learn that the greatest battles a person fights in this life, the most insidious evils he faces, are all to be found in periods of idleness and inactivity. That's when the demons come calling, the ones that dwell in the shadows of every mind. This world of ours is getting so choked with distractions and methods of self-destruction that I worry very much for our sanity. There are so many times I catch myself staring at my computer screen, scrolling the mouse randomly from one corner to another. Doing nothing really, just lost in some kind of daze. I'll open windows I don't want to see, I'll check email and Facebook barely a minute after I checked them last. I'll start watching a show or a movie only to start doing something else and then something else. I'll start a book, only to check my mail, only to open another book, only to return to the show, only to wander out to my balcony and rock against the railing.
Sigh. No wonder I'm not getting any writing done.
My battle these days is to sit still and focused. To regain my once legendary discipline. I don't know if Bombay has tainted me or if I've become so consumed with the epic uncertainty of my profession as an actor or something in the stars these days. I'm feeling stretched a little thin, as if I were being drawn across this city into corners and conversations that I had no desire to be a part of but from where I couldn't escape. Trapped in parties with no one to smile at really, no one to talk to, certainly no one to love. Driving through traffic that could break the spirit of any man everyday only to get to places I wanted to leave as soon as I get there.
But as insidious and chilling as this feeling has been these last few days. I'm glad I've started to notice it and rebel against it. I am a warrior of light and poetry. I am happy, and I am employed and I am surrounded by love, at least when it's not PMSing or confused. More than any of that, I really like who I am at this point in my life. I cannot let this city, or this profession, or this malaise, or these planets or whatever the hell is making me feel this way get the better of all the things I'm capable of and destined for.
Tomorrow I shall wake up at dawn like I normally do. I shall read a great poem, I shall write one as well. I shall drink a perfect cup of tea. I shall sing to my plants. I shall make breakfast. I shall work out like a machine. I shall listen to music all morning. I shall finish the book I started. I shall start work on the book I need to write. Tomorrow I return to the man I'm supposed to be instead of this restless bear wandering around my apartment.
Remember when we hoped as easily as we dreamed? And we dreamed easier than we could breathe? And the world seemed haloed in soft, summer light everyday. The birds sang with a sweetness they seemed to have forgotten. Or maybe those birds have long fled the awful cities we are all forced to huddle in around the various bonfires of ambition and other flammable things.
But I heard one of those birds today. I think. Or perhaps the memory of her was so vivid in my mind, and the yearning for her song so strong, that my soul broke out into song in nostalgia. Either way, I heard that voice and that song, as the sun died, slashed to crimson by the haze on the horizon. It reminded me of the wide-eyed, inquisitive, shy fellow I used to be. It made me walk all the roads I've walked to sit where I do, overlooking the Arabian Sea. And I found myself filled with that bedrock happiness that I've been missing for a few months now.
It's wonderful how the heart and the mind can take their hits, and dip and be scarred, and yet return to their former fire like embers kindled by a welcome breeze. We are all stronger than we have been made to believe by a world that feeds on our feelings of inadequacies and sadness. Give them nothing any more, my brethren. Give them nothing of yourself but what you decide. Remember the children you were, remember the hope that bled from your eyes like smoke from a censer. Remember that to regain your hope and your dreams and your unconquerable heart, you just need to take a moment everyday and hear your own song reverberate in the chambers of your soul. Remember a time, a place, a feeling, a person, an expression, a song, a taste and be transported away from doubt and sorrow, and healed and emboldened to face down the terrors of tomorrow.
Stare life in the eye, with a sardonic grin. This wasn't the game you wished to play, but you damn sure intend to win. Victory lies not at the finishing line. Let the rodents run claw over each other there. True victory comes from standing still and gazing up at the sun, and remarking on how much the two of you share.
Be fearless in your questing, the world you imagine does indeed exist. Stare out of the corner of your eyes at your own life, and blink, and there it is. Heaven isn't hard to find. You were crafted out of it darling. Feel it in your heart, fill it in your bones. As long as you have your smile, you are never alone.
Listen to a lot of music, sing along as best you can. Make love to a wonder, and be there when they awake. Eat a slow breakfast together, forget about the rest of the day. The day can wait. Turn off your damn phones. Even if Leonard Cohen called me while I was with you, I'd tell him I'd speak with him later. Think before you speak, but never think before you feel. Don't let what your instincts know get confused with the things you've learned from this world.
I was too tired for poetry tonight. Too confused to make any sense. Although one of my dearest friends told me that my poems don't really make all that much sense either. And I looked over the last few months worth of work and realized that he's correct, although not in the manner that he meant. Adorable and intelligent as he is, his brain simply ceases to function when he sees a poem, even those as simply imagined and constructed as mine. What I saw didn't make sense was how many of them were about this one theme, this one girl who walked away, and then stopped, almost within arms reach, waiting for me to wait for her waiting for her confusion to fade and her love to return from wherever it had gone.
So many of the poems I've written over the last three months have been for, about, because of this woman. And I'm not defending the volume of poesy I've laid at this lady's clearly absent feet. Poetry for me is the words that burn in me, fires lit against all the darkness and absences I face, fires lit for all the comfort and joy I find in camaraderie and family. Fires lit to dance around alone for the joy of being me, and alive, and awake. And for a while - she burned brightest in me, and for a while it seemed, all she could do was burn me.
But what I wondered about was how long I dwelt in the ashes, and wrote only about the shadows she cast upon me. There was a lot of light too. How quickly did I forget that? I have always thought of myself as someone with a pretty high emotional quotient. I've always managed to maintain my equilibrium in all the storms I have had to weather in my modestly interesting and tumultuous life. I knew who I was, and I liked what I saw in the mirror. I was equal to the world and whatever it threw at me. Turns out I was wrong. I wasn't prepared for this woman. And I'm glad I met her precisely for that reason.
After weeks of pretending I was okay, that I understood, that I had moved on and all the silly games our minds play with our hearts and our hearts delight in fucking with. Never love the person you think or hope or imagine a person to be. Love the person as they actually are. Never paint a person in colors they have never seen. Your ultimate and inevitable heartbreak will then not be their fault. It would be like blaming a mute for making a racket. And I don't mean that caustically. How can we expect straight forward honesty from each other if we just keep talking incessantly about ourselves and telling all our little self-aggrandizing tales and just overwhelming the other person's ability to gauge our true selves. The answer is not more communication it's less communication. Our bodies know our truths far more viscerally than our clouded minds. Listen to your body language, watch theirs. Listen to the rustle. It'll tell you if your relationship is alright.
Be silent in your wisdom darlings. Be humble in her presence. And let her grow to be humble in yours. Realize that you stand with the one person with the key to your final door, the one that holds all the light. Get out of your own way. Rid yourself of your fear and self-loathing and doubt. Behold the miracle in their eyes. Feel her heart beat its perfect counterpoint to yours. This may seem silly and poetic and a whole bunch of bunkum and bullshit. But I have felt this way, fiercely. We must love ourselves grandly. We are worthy of such love. We really are. Only then will the love we share the world come from truer waters.
I'm sorry my dear ______. I'm sorry for all the poems that made you sad or upset. I want you to know that they weren't Truth. But rather an honest admission of a zephyr eddying in the storm that had descended in my life when you walked away. They are little honest packets of me. Far less than their sum and far more fleeting. I wrote all my sweetest ones for you also. Don't look at the angry ones, or the sad ones or the happy ones alone. Look at them together. And they are not the fires of you that burn in me, merely the flickers of shadow cast by your flame. I just write them away as I feel them so they don't take hold on my core. And it's foolish to expect our feelings towards each other to be simply one thing or another. They never could. You and I go far too deep to ignore the turbulence we cause in each other. Admit it. Accept it. Move on.
That's my mantra now. I am who I am exactly as I am supposed to be. I have a long way to go. But I'm happy where I am as well. I am on the path. And I am unafraid.
And only one of you,
Is allowed to live there happily?
Dreamgirls can become nightmares,
When they believe themselves to be,
Greater than any dream,
Ever was and will ever be.
Certainly greater than any dream,
Dreamed by a fool like me.
You wanted the world didn't you?
Laid out at your pretty sandaled feet.
You wanted every little portion of me,
Served up to you at every feast.
For you to say this is missing salt,
And that hasn't been cooked right.
You wanted me to stay up and
Make sure you slept alright, all night.
And I did it all. With a smile.
I baptized myself in the pools of you hair,
I built a temple on every little rock,
You ever rested on. Anywhere.
But I learned my lesson, finally.
I'm amused it took me so long.
Learn to love the singer,
Never love the songs.
Never paint your lover in colors,
They haven't ever seen.
Love them for who they are,
Not how they appear in your dreams.
So this it I guess. Closing time.
All that's left of us is being swept off the bar.
Forgive me I don't watch you,
Get into another man's car.
Excuse me please. Just one more drink.
Could you make it strong,
I don't need to think, tonight.
It's just you and me. Love is long gone.
Take my heart, oh take my storm.
Lay me down in clean sheets of linen.
Kiss me once upon my brow,
Tell me my foolishness has been forgiven.
I must turn away from her I know.