THE MEN AT KRO HEM
On some nights their moon finds a womb
and a dark child is conceived like desire
with impetuous stars in its eyes;
but sometimes you can hear them release
the animal of their solitude’s habit
into the rusty, half-open cage of sobs.
In the clear mornings, when the haze
has passed over the sandalwood trees,
their dreams will be lost
at the quiet queue to the toilet,
the common tap.
And they will live in sounds alone,
empty sounds of buckets being filled,
utensils being washed,
children being beaten out of sleep
by mofussil mothers.
When the constellations change above
in a clear inky sky, they will cook a meal
to remember it until the year turns
into a different number on the town’s walls.
And then, that heresy of uniting,
despite mortally opposed wives,
in the belief that something or someone
has schemed against them, to put them
so much at comfort with this anonymity
that lets them know little else
than to walk out of the gate every morning
and enter it with supplies at sun down,
playing to that eternal trick of light,
trapped in their body’s bamboo-hut,
with its insects and its rats.
Every time they huddle in a corner
to exchange silences, a secret country is born;
a country without the urinary failures of age
Now, the wintry light does not touch their heads’ roof
until late in the morning
there is still the solace of meagre rent,
the old landlord and his wife, steady water—
unthinkable in this place and time.
But they are wary of his son and the fate
of their tenancy he hides in his bone’s quiet plans.
a little longer
at the edge
Days go flying
in poems returning
I love yous
not uttered without
a dark wisdom
we didn’t ask for.
Yet you escape
on misty roads,
with my burdens
resting on your shoulder.
And as prematurely,
I cry seeing
a red heart-emoticon in an sms
is a tantalising taste
of warm chestnuts being sold somewhere
in Istanbul’s streets,
the vision of a blue mosque
I’ve always dreamed
Each fragile hope
has taken its rightful place already
in this pathologically shy world
of our betrayed hurts and fears:
cooking for each other,
bits of concerned nagging….
Only, we don’t know how
of the sad magic
that conspires to speak in us
to a deaf world.
its miserable flair
lapping at the shore
of an old heartbroken sea
in our eyes;
watch promise play
like a cat
with our limp
from that painfully
where it’s possible to wonder
if there’s still
some slight movement
that would imitate
what we’ve beaten ourselves
spur us on, disarmed again
into death’s fiercest desire
terribly beautiful quiet.
Morning, feet hurrying
to the butcher’s for the best pieces;
suddenly the world’s a bleat
hanging by the tongue
of an insatiable need.
Stale absences on my breath,
days that want to stop beginning again;
an hour or two of reading
moments that wouldn’t question me
were I to just be, hands raised
to the wind.
The day is a purpose—
to wash the pile of clothes,
fail to rid them of
the stench of ghosts;
cook, eat, tire quickly
and sleep without dreams,
but places where I lived briefly, return
in snatches against an incoherent rain.
Late afternoon, sipping fine Darjeeling,
I try to comprehend things,
dredge a few lines out if possible,
but the itch doesn’t lend itself to words anymore;
the door, worn out on the edges,
doesn’t startle blood.
The light is fine otherwise,
for the sense of a small victory—
another Sunday almost passed,
in contemplation of the miracle:
I’ll do just what it takes
to strip the day of its last illusions;
there are letters to delete,
a book of masks to open and close,
break into short sniggers thinking
how I stopped apprehending
defeat in night’s brief cry.
Footnote re: first poem title: Hem is Karbi for ‘house.’