The Map

There is a map in my head
lanes like dark threads
where dust settles, forms pigments

that I slough years later with pumice stone.
Fragments of cells clog the drain
run through the throat of gutter

into subterranean sewers
that crisscross my city
like the map in my head.


Copper Pod Tree

band of heat pounds on the walls, becomes a sheet of light
dark moons are formed by steel pouring into the cornea
the blue of sky so intense, appears like a large amethyst

papery yellow blossom of copper pod tree races on the tarmac
like a child tearing across the road. Trapped in a snarl of weed
dragging mud in the wings, it becomes limp like a fruit skin
birds have fallen silent, even the koel from eucalyptus tree
the banyan leaves are pale like breast of a parrot: the green
I apply as mascara to cool the eyes, shut away summer heat

Day 9 NaPoWriMO
Take a walk and write a poem: “Take a walk, or a drive. … Take along a notebook if you can. Take notes. Maybe take a picture or two. And then sit down in a park or in your yard or on the corner, and write.”

I took a walk in the neighbourhood. It was a warm afternoon, but the copper pod blossoms were lovely!

Birds Don’t Sing On Such Days

It is very hot, a slab of heat presses the city
even the birds that sing all afternoon from the casuarina tree
remain silent . he calls and says
they do not cook salads here

I go to the garden
dig the earth, the heat pouring
sweat down my armpits. take an onion peel it
cut it eat it. or a cucumber
what about tomatoes
tomatoes too. you are not helpful
I have to ask you everything
you’re like them – not cooking salads?

basal has grown all over
roots joining hands
and laughing at me
dusting my dress with seeds
walking on me to the farthest corners of the garden
where snails have licked the barks with their tongues

he hasn’t slept for three years
I recount the story of a world war II soldier
who didn’t sleep a lifetime
a night’s vigil did that to him
at least you have a reason for losing sleep
a tick of anger
then muscles fall wry to sadness

I prefer almond to mango trees
like the bitterness of its unripe fruit
the leathery skin pickled in jars
that my grandmother bought at Agra

let the leaves remain my gardener said
the red ones turn brown and brittle
this is the lizard snake zone
safest because I hear them
then see them, their beady eyes like his

bananas are for constipation
he announces as he peels one
buy a dozen of them
they rot in the heat. he looks through the window

vapour rising from the damp soil
sun works on the moisture
he has found a pen and a piece of paper
tell me if I have spelt it right
the sprinkler spurts out diamonds
each stream thin ribbons of rainbow

he has soiled his clothes, looking away he asks
what is your name
I keep forgetting these days
do not ask me to have bath
I won’t  get up from today
the enormity of the decision freezes him

the bland soup with mashed carrots and potatoes
that he drinks gives him an orange whisker
like a cat
I touch his face with so much love

the water that I have poured in my garden
keeps the earth cool –
microclimate in this city of desert.

(I went to Philosophy Talk, listened to ‘Faces, Feelings And Lies’ by Paul Ekman. I noted down words like deception, displeasure, humiliation, framework, random, behavior, repress, threat, punishment, emotion, lies, anger, detect, identity, recognition, experience, and my clinch word was micro expression – but not as psychologists use it clinically. I didn’t write a poem immediately, and when I got around to I didn’t use any of the words as I realized they could not be exorcised of their psycho pathological connotation. Instead I have used the image of a garden, have juxtaposed the microclimate that the narrator creates by tending this garden with the micro expressions of a troubled person she cares for.  All the words that I had noted, in various avatars, came to abide in the narrative of trauma and suffering, tending and caring.)

Big Tent Poetry

Where I Live

Where I live

the summers are hot
rains flush out rats and cockroaches
sewer spills from side walks

Where I live

bazaars are places
where our pockets get picked
chains snatched
where some pervert
fondles my breast


I can’t stay away long
lock myself home
I crave for the smell
of the sea on the beach
the dry fish on the sand
near the fishing hamlet

Ache to

have thick smoke from car exhaust
on my face
have the grime of the city
breathe into my pores

I long

to look at the throng of faces –
each has left behind
like mine
in a home
that smells of garlic
where walls are painted electric blue
dreams stowed away
for our children.

PAD Challenge  NaPoWriMo Day 13

Ratna Cafe

Strobes of lights on the glass table
from the two flat screen TVs on the wall –
in the one on my end of the room film stars pump their pelvis
breasts heave, tremulous lips tremble in seduction,
boys who clean tables stand watching, hardening in their pants;
in the other at the end of the room
a bowler polishes the cricket ball with saliva,
rubs it on his groin – volume muted in both the televisions.
Laughter drifts from the table near the window,
the smell of cheap perfume clings to the walls,
the café is packed with people, space between them filled with sweat.
Uncaring of the grease on the table where I rest my elbow
I drink my scalding hot filter coffee,
smoke escapes through my teeth as I bite the spring roll –
one hand holds his under the table
our eyes locked across the onion fumes.

Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo # 6 

The Rain Tree Blossom

He threw open the window and a view of the canopy of the rain tree suddenly transformed the room. The pink brush-like blossoms of the tree lay on the ledge of the window. She picked a flower and ran the flower gently down her neck as he cleared space in the room and in his mind to accommodate her presence.