It’s Holiday Time

I drive out of the city
a wall of cloud, dark and forbidding
shifts horizon as I move on
I catch up, gasping step in
distorted light seeps through
the grass a different colour, the trees ash green
rain pelts down drawing a curtain
closing off the world I came from
I am glad to drop it behind
this too goes away as the earth spins for me
sky a warm orange during the next half hour drive
and I blink away tears of wind in my eyes
to see a world dipped in clear turquoise opaqueness
a luminosity that has turbaned up darkness
to unfurl and fall as a cascade of dark hair
it blows on my face, hooking on my lips and ears
my vision obstructed by the gale that has upset my hair
a glow of lightening brings the world back
an arc of silver to behold.

Four hours, across 650 kms
in the drive from Chennai to Hosur
the many many planes of lights slough away time
a type of existence kept away for a while – 
it’s a holiday for me
and let me say good bye.

Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo # 30


Palaniappan Of Theni

Palaniappan herds cows in the hills near Theni;
school he is enrolled in does not have a teacher,
windows gaping holes that offer entry to goats,
their pellets under tables still soft,
bulbs hang from exposed wires,
toilet is the bush beyond the banyan tree.
His father insists that he sits a few hours
at school with the children of the village –
mass of oily heads, sweaty bodies, loud vocal cords.
The day at school is done,
Murugan who owns the street corner tea shop
comes to ring the bell, in the belt
that holds his lungi at waist is the Tamil Daily
rolled tight as a baton to swat flies,
the Daily carries this headline:
Right to Education Bill effective from April.

Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo # 29

The Nudge

The moment this tapped me
magical, I  turned around
I was ten, in a small town
Nagapattinam to be precise
in the house overlooking the temple tank
when the milk man asked
can you write
no one in his family went to school
they tied cows to lamp posts
milked them, spurts of froth, bubbles
captured the rainbow in aluminum pails
I would have otherwise watched
mesmerized by the pink teat
elastic under pressure, but
that day something tapped me
and I took what the man asked
with a lot of significance
and today you come along and ask
can you write a fantasy story?

Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo # 28

NH4 Slices Through My Garden

He has come to cut my silver oaks,
the Highway has to run through
a part of my garden.
He will hack the silvery greyness
sever the roots
scar the land owned by our family,
the tract where my grandfather stood
as surveyor showed the site
will soon be the NH4.

The road will get closer to my lawn
the exhaust from the cars on my face
as I lie in my hammock ;
when the motorist swerve their cars
I will hear them swear over my tea
under the frangipani ; as I
have sex with my lover under the moon
a casual driver will hum a tune
drawing in his cigarette.

I see the man
prodding a scab at the elbow
waiting for me to lead him
through the carefully tended garden
as pollen dusts his skin
fragrance of tuber roses
thick on his coarse cloth;
 a dull smell of urine
marks the animal his territory.

Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo #26 

A Bowl Of Muskmelon

The sun is on the floor today
blinding light at my doorstep
pleading to be let in
would you like your muskmelon
s          d
  c      e
    oop       or  s-l-i-c-e-d ?
my home becomes the fruit
the creaminess of the wall
collapsing in a quiver
the yellow settles in corners
and I dip in the bowl of sunlight
for a scoop.

Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo # 25


Will You Come?

The moon drove down with me
silent towns,
durgahs and temples,
market places fallen silent,
drunken cart drivers,
hospitals where the sick
sank through another night of pain,
mothers dealing with colic babies.

The moon was with me
through the 650 km drive
bathing me in silvery ruddiness.
Will you come with me
if I pull up my car
and walk into the pearly bowl of night
leaving the highway behind
and the life lived so far?
I don’t need to tell you this –
A journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step.

Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo# 24
PAD Challenge ‘write an evening poem’

Long Distance Families Don’t Crumble

When you aren’t consulting your doc
for something alarming
it’s like a date, can hear the plane
a chopper flies low
the beat of its engines
like flapping of bird’s wings
bring images of clear skies
you can flirt with him on such a perfect morning
hold his hand as you get off the chair
the smell of his soap rubbing into you

she walks out into the sunshine
to pick bread and cheese
holds the dream time fiercely close
to make a mug of milky tea
as work mails gather in the mailbox
the lonely people in the family
see ghosts throw a blanket of fear
people visit to cheer them
mugs of coffee are prepared
to show it’s not a dysfunctional family
she stirs in more milk
as beads of perspiration gather on the neck
check list ticking off in her mind
all bills paid, dent in the car fixed
brake shoe of scooter replaced
for the son who teases through buses and cars

Did I tell
her husband is in another city
a weekend couple
they talk all day over the phone
unfairness of the burden she simmers
but he has a meeting to attend
and she has coffee to brew
arguments of previous day
overtaken by arguments of today
patchwork of make-ups
build through day
like bubbles popping settling
some hanging dangerously
a heavy tapestry dragging in burden
but she’s too tired at the end of the day
she draws the quilt over herself
as the air conditioner hums softly
she goes to sleep
that’s how long distance marriages last.

PAD Challenge ‘write an exhausted poem’
NaPoWriMo Day 24

Mad About Each Other

He’s rushing for a Board meeting
dressed in a minutely scrutinized wardrobe
a walk-in for him and her – his hers
His – socks arranged neatly,
shirts piled in shades of blues, browns
perfumes, deodorants along the mirror
He emerges carrying
a particular smell for the day
a dab he’ll leave with everyone
and his aftershave only with his wife
when he goes to kiss her before leaving
she in a kaftan, sipping green tea
her studio in a mess
smell of turpentine on her frizzled hair
where he runs his hands through
carries a salty tang in his lips
hers that he will cherish till he reaches his office.

Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo 23

A Fist Of Earth

Can’t buy a home with garden
don’t have enough years left
to pay back loan.
A terrace with pots
hundreds of them;
here I coax trees, 
make them dream earth,
whispers of earthworm
turning the soil,
tendrils of roots kissing and hugging,
decomposed leaves breathing,
streams of water deep under
like secrets in my heart.

Every time the root knocks
on the wall of the tub,
I get close and talk –
the sky is mine, breeze is yours
the sun is all for us,
the earth  alone is just this pot.
Rain bears the smell of earth
butterflies rub their noses on the soil
alight on Plumeria;
transactions between my terrace and
the earth not subterranean but terrestrial –
the pollen, smell of algae from the beach,
the sap all make my earth.

PAD Challenge ‘write an Earth Poem’ 
NoPoWriMo Day 23