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

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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

All Is Well

My son graduates this year
plans to take a job first
then his management course  
gets less time each year
for his music
he plays the violin
has played at several concerts.
I have another son
older to this one
I give him his bath
hold his hand when
he rocks himself and cries
I know what he says
when he points to the clock
clap with him
when he sees an airplane
that makes him so happy
he goes to a special care centre for half day
that’s the time I go for my pedicure,
massages, shop for slippers
that I never get to wear.
Life is near perfect
I have nothing to complain.

(The speaker in the poem is my friend. I salute her optimism,
pocket her smile and place it in dark corners of my life to let it shine.)

Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo # 21 

Vidwan Vaidyanatha Iyer

You made her cantankerous
she was chit of a girl
when you married her, just
seven, pinpricks for nipples
your mother massaged her hair with
warm oil, coiled into  a large bun
she sat timidly for the oil to
soak in, naked till the hip
you waited impatiently for her to grow up
searched in her for the breasts
you eyed in other women in the village
your mother with a hawk’s eyes
kept you away from her

She slept through your first music concert
you left for Madras
a promising singer at twenty
you visited brothel homes
dancers whose doors remained open
all through night. Gentle tinkle of bangles
salt in the breeze from the sea
heady nights of sex
you grew from a gawky boy
to a leering man. Flirting
sleeping around, spawning
children who weren’t sure of fathers 

When you visited her
one day you found in her breasts
to fondle, left smells of expensive
perfumes in her bedroom
pearl strings that your mistress
rejected as cheap you gave her
she grew in size, matronly
bore you sons who would become
vidwans like you one day

She became the complaining wife
kept asking for money
sent her young son with older relatives
to your house in Madras
you were closeted with the Andhra woman
you had taken as mistress
some said you had married her
she came out apprised him
with a coquettish smile on her face
you stormed out protecting your boy
from the woman who was all vagina

You came to the village
screamed at her
she stood defiant
picking a quarrel  
the whole village could hear

Hoi Vidwan,
you did this to her
to the chit of girl with
pinpricks as nipples.

(‘Vidwan’ in Sanskrit means ‘scholar’.
Here vidwan is used as a honorific title for a maestro or musical genius.)

PAD Challenge ‘write a poem about somebody’
NaPoWriMo Day 21