Grandmother’s Salt

Finger nails are the filthy urchins from the street
under her skin-
grow up without kindness
to squander with the tidy woman that she sees-
in the mirror, in calmness,
or in jolt.

While the potatoes are food,
lovely food-
being mashed in a saucepan on a cranky
tamarind wood table that’s got its temper
from my grandfather
whose fault

is nothing but getting married to my grandmother
who through the
measured veil of shyness has already measured
her man- but to stir him further, pouring
into the pan
a ladle more salt.

There is no mustard oil at home, no affection either.
But that does not stop her
from mixing his anger
with her petulant nails- mother promise-
she will scratch him dead, blind him or worse
until he halts.

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Fourteen Years

It took fourteen years for the great man
to understand he didn’t love her.
He didn’t love her. He didn’t want her.
He didn’t like her touch. Her pitiful
face aged early and made him cringe
when he was lonely with her: naked lonely.

Oh, she was lonely before- fourteen
years. In the woods of forsaken love,
in the hut of ascetic dreams, besieged by
an immortal king who’d shadowed her
door but withheld lust. She hadn’t known then
in her heart what else to do but wait.

The king was dead. Tonight’s light. Against
the pomp of the capital lamps the great man glowed-
her man- the heart of the heart- the winner king-
face clean, disappointed in what he had won.
This war, oh, this strangeness of life- struggle-
struggle. For this? Let’s be alone soon, Sita.


The Toilet Sweepers of Bangalore Malls

The toilet sweepers of the Bangalore malls are the cleaners of the mess that I am leaving behind. Wiping the arrogance of a man who carries a stack of cash and cards; so that the diligent SOBs can marry well; their sons may someday come to the malls in a car.

I will tell my sons not to trust them.

By then, my boys will grow up to be the savers of whales, the empathizers, the artists, the angels of the world. And the money will be mute.

The sweepers’ sons will get down to see the servant bots have come forward with marigold garlands to greet, and to clean after them. The glistening light reflecting against their translucent blue armors will blind the sons so bright that they will forget that the bots are wearing now their fathers’ all wither skin.


Late Calls

As men turn old:
they begin to call up late-
asking for whereabouts,
berating for replying in less.

In the ear of a stray dog-
How are you doing?, they say-
they say-
to a dog!
who sleeps like a snail-
a goddamn snail-

How are you doing?, they say-
to wake up the sleeping dog-
startled!
The damp smell of its fur
making the old men puke

the percept
of loss.

At dawn,
those men wake up and heave,
and hop,
throwing the arms in the air.
A strange goo of panacea
oiling their bones-

Whereas, the dog sleeps
on a hip of eye booger-
and gets up late-
to attend the phone.


The Shadow of the Arms of a Tree

The shadow of the arms of a tree,
laid soft on a cornish wall-
after the moon sunk into the river,
after the wind strangled the wick.

The coldness of a silent being,
the heaviness of being when no one’s there,
as the night tiptoed into a hedonist’s den-
as the bull-cock was riding a star.

It’s the presence of a ghost in me,
who fears and is made of dark-
it’s his restlessness I carry in my limbs,
it’s his weight that tore me apart.

Living, and living is such a burdensome thing-
Oh, star! Oh, shadow! Oh, unknown!
The terror of waking up in another morning
is in my bones slowly grown-

listening to the scream of the shadow of the arms of a tree
that leapt above far the wall of stones-
to splatter against the zany tiled side walk
for an obtuse thrill and moan.

In pain who thrives and sees,
who came out at night of the desolate den-
watched the blood of the shadow of the arms of the tree,
oozing, trickling, but, then, it called out again:

“The blue star, the dark star, hope
trembling, shuddering, free-
when the bull-cock is done with you,
climb down and stay with me.”


Anxiety

One thing at a time.
Like love has its omen-
Kindness, its faux pas-
Patience, its sweat-
But one thing at a time.

Like anxiety and a man
Are talking.
Hope is figural.
Their limbs huddle and tremble-
One tryst at a time.

To live is to be woeful.
I am living-
Woefully- with a feral cat.
Conjuring and vanishing the beast-
One plot at a time.


A Small Boy Peeing

When a seven year old boy became afraid, while peeing on the dark leaves of Beli flower, at night, he was being afraid of a ghost. Or a tiger. The thin slippery light of the kerosene lamp notwithstanding- it offers no courage- while the door of the house was open- but the light dragged itself only to five hands- far away from the boy- away, away from the old earthen house- as there was no toilet inside and every dirt is to be thrown as far away from home- but no parents were watching over him- in fact, they were safely sleeping- as he was grown up now, and as his urge to pee was only his own- completely!- and therefore he was pretend-courageous, and he was not probably counted as precious by anyone- the boy in the darkness became thrilled hearing the mouse hurriedly trotting the straw mound and screech.

It’s the thrill, as the pee water jet hit the leaves and thereafter the ground and no one could hear anything except the sound of the water, it’s in that moment, the unbearable rush along the axis joining the head and his buttocks, that was felt- like fear, like joy- the little rhythmic throbs matching the contraction that was felt in his penis and below and behind; a sudden release, but not to be revealed its occurrence to anyone- a secret euphoria- a giving up of self and becoming no one for a moment- that feeling.

In that loveliness, that being- that he would later know as the precursor of adult ecstasy- that had begun as fear and ended as fear- he would know that he would end someday, that he would cease to exist; that helplessness would drive him back to the house, peeing not over, he would hide in the bed even before doing his buttons; and in the adulthood, when he would make love to a woman, he would slowly shiver, before and after the act, so afraid he would be of death.