Monday, July 23, 2012

Don't Speak Tonight of Leaving

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.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Unquiet Heart, Unquiet City

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.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Bat Flew By My Balcony

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.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Never Underestimate the Healing Power of Disney

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 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)

Oh and "Kiss The Girl"?  Best Disney song.  Ever.

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Nose Dreams of Home

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.


We are all stranded,
On our islands.  Alone.
And try as we might,
They never feel like home.
I was standing on my shore,
Looking out over the sea.
When I saw you on yours,
Gazing across, alone like me.
Though I never learned to swim,
Through waters of the kind,
That had kept us confined,
To the islands in our minds.
I dragged my fear to the surf,
And leaped headlong into the blue.
I gasped and thrashed and begged,
My way closer to you.
I barely made it out alive,
Wheezing my way out of the sea.
Your smile was like a warm towel,
Where you stood waiting for me.
We made love under palm trees,
On beds of leaf and loam.
We ate whatever fruits we could find,
For hours all we did was roam.
And even though it was a little island,
With not much there to find.
It felt like the whole world to me.
A prison to be happily confined.
But I woke one morning alone,
To find you standing back on the beach.
Face twisted with some emotion
As you stared at all that was out of reach.
I thought of taking your arm,
Drawing you down into the sands.
And showing you the magic held,
In the space between our hands.
But I was just a lonely fool.
Desperate for you to feel the same way,
About me.  Now I see you yearn to be,
On every passing boat, on every plane.
So I brushed off the sands of your shore.
And waded back into the sea.
I swam back to my island,
And knelt in the surf when I reached.
Everything I had hated,
Had waited for me so patiently,
This may not be the perfect place to be.
But this is my island, and it was made
Especially for me.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Seeker of Joy

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,
Is you.