Straddle Across

He ferrets in his room for connectors to shape his thoughts
probes the layers of memory for the person
to relate with the bellowing sea that he sees from the window.
A woman stands clutching her breasts, taking mouthful of air

as the muscles at the edge of jaw converge to a V near her neck bone.
The word is stuck in his throat, thankful of its presence there –
the previous month he had to go searching on all fours
under the bed to produce the right sound to communicate thirst.

Water he asked to clean himself between his legs where blood
smeared from desire that refuses to abate with age –
when the element of pleasure goes missing lust takes red colour,
ribbons of them draining through the pipe clogged with hair.

Scalding my tongue on a cup of tea, I blow cool air: seeing my mouth
puffed in the act he recognizes a gesture from a different time.
Sounds, images that drift through the sky gets lost in sheerness of blue,
I stand straddled across the wall reaching for particles that escape my grasp.

This is part of  > Language > Place Blog Carnival. The theme is to encounter the Other in Language / Place : “The Other Place or The Other Language – animist, transcendental, mystical, beautiful, primal, erotic, wise or otherwise! It could be just the Other Side. Or the Other Sound. The Other Region. The Other Culture. The other way to a path. The other method of dealing with an issue.”

In my poem I attempt to use language to negotiate across the border of sanity, where aphasia prevails. 

The Temple That Solomon Built

The bark knotted and hugged itself in the olive grove,
stout branches were axed and carted to the site.

The temple dwarfed every structure in vicinity,
workers teemed like ants through day and night;

tents to house workers like mushrooms sprung,
officers maintained files of schedule for work;

masons, craftsmen believed a halo followed them, 
that they had to hold in place with humility.

The sculptor held the chisel, felt for contours
on the rough surface, ran his fingers on the wood,

and marked the face of cherubim that lay within.
What no one has seen it was for him to give shape:

how much to slant the eyes, arch the back, stretch
the wings from wall to wall, carve feathers row after row

from memory of birds from his home in Phoenicia
where cormorants pondered over the Mediterranean sea.

Ekphrastic poem : ‘Ekphrasis’ is a writing that comments upon another art form, ekphrastic poetry is a poem inspired by visual art. It is the description of a real or imagined work of visual art. My poem is closer to the latter description.

Solomon took seven years to build the temple to house the Lord. In the inner sanctuary of the temple, he had two cherubims carved out of olive wood. The Old Testament describes so vividly Solomon’s labour of love that the temple structure, the carvings and the gold gilded walls form a visual in our minds. My poem is inspired by this visual.

Day 17 NaPoWriMo – write an ekphrastic poem

This Is Beautiful

My aunt and uncle are in their seventies and they have a daughter who has Down Syndrome, she is 40. It has been a particularly difficult period for them as my cousin is increasingly becoming immobile, she has my old aunt and uncle attending her all through the day.

My cousin blows the whistle loud and clear, and moves the last piece of chalk from the red box to the yellow box, with that she has moved 100 pieces of chalk from one box to the other 6 times. She has completed blowing the whistle six hundred times since morning, this is 100 times more than yesterday my aunt says with pride and her eyes blurred with cataract mists. My cousin blows whistle to improve her lung power.

My uncle and aunt clap and cheer at my cousin’s whistle-blowing feat. I join them. My cousin is first shocked at the sudden burst of noise, then she dissolves in ripples of laughter at the fuss we make.

This is beautiful – the happiness of the family that takes a day at a time, their ability  to cherish small blessings.

(This is written for the Blogsplash event to celebrate Fiona Robyn’s new novel ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’)

Listen

He ran his fingers through the stole as the picture was shot, the smile that travelled to her eyes and then to his, now sits on a shelf in my room.

She is surrounded by memories from a distant time, moments sad and moments happy like large bead and small bead are painstakingly strung by unsteady hands.

His death is a blur like worn-out tread marks on cycle tyre, a dry twig drags along till the rider kicks it off.

The picture is pixilated the way body is made hollow, boundaries break where light penetrates to break the image.

Is there truth, I wonder as I sit under the neem tree and he asks are you also mad.

You sit silently, leaves form a pattern on your hair; how much deep down are you as the breeze from the sea that touches me touches you too.

Butterfly wing is washed to bare the ribs, a collage of images fades, the photo in sepia tone is eaten by the family of silver fish that nests there.

Day 16 NaPoWriMo – Prompt from Nicole Holmer

“Go outside. Instead of writing a poem, find one …

Step 1) Go somewhere where people talk.

Step 2) Listen. (And perhaps, discreetly, write down the most interesting lines they say.)

Step 3) After you’ve collected enough lines, arrange them into a poem.”

Yesterday I listened to people talk, noted down the interesting liness. When I placed the lines as a poem, they wanted to be placed in a certain way. I listened more today and interspersed what I listened today into the poem I wrote yesterday. The poem seems to tell a story to me. It might tell a different story to you. 

Kambu Koozhu

Children lie on their bellies, reach for cobs
of tall grasses growing in dry sluices,
seeds burst on fingers like confetti of pearl drops.
They brew sunshine, mix in breeze of the hills,
they walk past dry farmland chewing juicy stalks,
take time to sit on haunches and trace paths of snakes
which heave out of rocks that breathe silent heat.
They carry bouquet of grasses with cones of millet
for their mothers to cook mid noon broth.

Kambu – pearl millet / bajra
Koozhu – porridge 

Day 15 Poem A Day Challenge : “For today’s prompt, think of a favorite regional cuisine, make that the title of your poem, and then, write the poem.”

For the recipe of kambu koozhu or pearl millet porridge, go here.

Morning Post

Visitors from another world always keep time,
never lose their way through the traffic,

crowd of the city, multiplexes , garbage heap.
I hang the patch of day on the clothesline. The crow

with glass eyes fixed on me offers message for the day
in return for the rice ball  that I keep in aluminum plate.

Day 14 NaPOWriMo

The Ghazal On Birth Of The Buddha : Bardo 3

I leave no reflection and shadow when I enter the womb,
the inky lake deepens in darkness, falls silent like the womb.

I swim through dark channels, see a man and woman make love,
knotted in lust and hatred, gelatin of desire greases the wall of womb.

Ball of misery seals the opening, drowned in sea of stinking muck
I gasp, take lung-full of prayers and bubbles of breath fill the womb.

Shirts fashioned with care are spread on the shelf to choose –
what will I wear, what body will I inhabit and into which womb?

I hold on to a robe whose dye is drawn from lotus seeds,
the fabric is soft on skin, the tint casts a warm glow in the womb.

I clean the floor, decorate the walls with vermilion marks,
fill with smoke from incense cones every corner of the womb.

I am the Buddha waiting to be born, the seed is chosen with care.
As the stars race and the moon moves up the sky the womb

opens in receptivity of the light. My mother sighs in her dream,
perspiration of the humid night on her neck like the pearl in her womb.

Day 13 NaPoWriMo – Write a Ghazal

Ghazal is a poetic form that is composed of a minimum of five couplets, and not more than fifteen. Each of the couplets are autonomous.  The first couplet ends with the same words, in the subsequent couplets the second line repeats and picks the rhyme of the first couplet .

This poem is also the final part of Bardo poems. Sidpa bardo  is the final bardo in the cycle of human existence. It is the bardo of becoming, or transmigration,or rebirth.

Read Bardo 1 here
Read Bardo 2 here