How a poem processes a terror attack

for the jawans killed in Pulwama

Last evening I drove past the line of crows
realized that at the end of the street stood four hooded men

The burning wood left tears, the lamp post trembled
in the rings of smoke

Anger mislaid brick over brick

From the threshold, I could see the dead
one after another fall into the white crack of light that
poured through the gutter grates

With my palms smeared in ash, I went to complete
what the fire began

The message to the gods coiled through the viscosity of air
hung between the two worlds

The universe is an elongated throat covetous of the farthest constellation
Call it home even when the meteors pulse
implode the cells in the brain.

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Tree Talk

It was luck
that took me to the first line

that creased the face
when worry constricted
the bones at the chest  

The threadbare day
spun yarns from empty tales
when I could not choose

between the sea and the mountain
Both were a gateway to another life

Most times space turned inward
to the remembrance of light on the skin
stretched to the radius

where the sun distilled colors
on the flowers

as the leaves
held the conversation with the tree.


The Feed

The word in her mouth is a cluster of sharp consonants
she whispers m k and t, compresses her heart in a.

Brown of her iris folds the prism of evening light that splinters
as the birds in her garden escape the slant of the song. She has learned

to pare down the heartbeat of the city to a monochrome of white light
where she sits turning the rosary bead. Her mouth moves in prayer,

her tongue runs along the soft palate, the molars extracted after years
of the root canal: it is a soft mound like the grave at the edge of the village

she saw him dig. Her breasts produced the extra ounce of milk
at every childbirth to be squeezed into the mouth filled with soil.