Tag Archive: jazz poetry


The Whispering Leaf …

The Whispering Leaf …

1.

Infinite tendrils,
weave exquisite meanders,

sketching an immaculate, delicate sheaf,

while morning’s dew whispers,

tales of forgotten woes, of vanished yesterdays,

scribbled on the solitary leaf.

2.

Murmurs float gently across lonesome trees,

in distant forests lush and dense,

caressing waltzing grasses in a sensual dance,

coquettishly inflaming every sense.

3.

Listen!

For the murmurs whisper to us all,

listen intently,

as the whispers recall,

countless crushed memories of many a lovers call …

Listen!

For the whispering leaf shares,

tales traversing distances,

to you, to me,
if we only still our raucous minds,

gazing upon each leaf,

dispelling the mirage of the superficial lives we lead,

revealing to us the truths that lie just beneath.

the duality of time

 

      

 

 

the duality of time …

 

   

 

time

erodes.
loves, lives, hearts.

 

 

souls, spirits, selves …

time

mends,
wounds
a salve,

a balm.

 


knowing only that

in the end,

 


there shall be,

 


only
stillness,

silence,
peace,

calm.

 

 

 

 

 

for women everywhere






for women everywhere …




they said she was opinionated.


they castigated her for not following the norm.


they dismissed her for being “loud-mouthed”.


they spoke disparagingly of her for flouting cultural, religious, sectarian narrow-minded claptrap.


they damned her for unclipping her wings, as she soared free into the open skies.



she is you. 



and may you always be you …





​in love with hope








​in love with hope …



she comes to me,

offering solace, gentle words whispered in my ear,


she placates me,

her words a tender caress, dispelling fear,


she seduces me, as sure as she breathes fire into my soul,


she teases me, offering glimpses of the promise of being whole,


she heals me, when i’m down, battered blue black,


she picks me up, shuffling my self as bones achingly crack.




in love with her, i know now, without her, i would not cope,


in love with her, i know now, she is abiding hope,


hope lives,

hope breathes,


always … 















for Ché



(14 June 1928 – 9 October 1967)



The Wind Carries His Name.




They shot him down,
to silence a man of flesh and bone.


Even as the bullets tore through him,


the wind carried his name.





Far across the weary fields,
high above the stubborn peaks,


over the blood soaked streams,


the wind carried his name.




They shot him down,


to silence a man of flesh and bone.



Yet the wind carries his name,


to you and to me,


to them and to us.




They shot him down,


but his name resounds,


as it floats on the breeze.




They still try to shoot him down


to silence us all, 


to stifle an ideal.




But the wind cannot be stilled,


and the wind carries his name.


Ché





(50th Anniversary of the assassination of Ché)
               _________
my Chè tattoo – right arm

if i only could










if i could …




if i could sip the nectar of your honey-soaked lips, etching poems on your burnished skin with my fingertips,



if i could embrace you, enveloping your body whole, whispering odes to love mined deep from my famished soul,


if i could share this desolate life turned true by your side, no longer fleeing, nor searching for places to hide,


if i could, if i only could.


i would …






freeversing the blues



freeversing the blues …






tears trickle down far too many a cheek,

while bigotry and hate like raw sewage reek,

down these cellophane faces in plastic towns,

while hope in the well of misery drowns.




the fractured spirits never seem to mend,

even when swallowing the latest trend,

gagging at the emptiness of last week’s buys,

desperately polishing facades while the barren heart cries.




we crawl as we trawl the roads for joy,

spitting yesterdays away like some overused toy,

fleeting moments never savoured whatever the ploy,

we become the enemies we seek to destroy.




why do we slam the doors shut on faces hungry and needy,

don’t we already have it all for us to be so callously greedy,

while we suck the blood and drink the tears of the ones we chase away,

condemning them to ghettoes in which they absolutely must stay.




when will we excise the demons on which apathy feeds,

will we ever kill off sweatshops serving our wants and not our needs,

will we ever stop putting guns in children’s hands,

will we perpetuate the lie of where the tomahawk missile really lands.




what grotesque metamorphosis have we been subjected to,

where we whistle down corridors oblivious, blinded to all that is true,

throttling the many for the benefit of the few,

all the while supping on heaving tables as if we don’t have a clue.




will we continue to feign ignorance of marital, partner, and child sexual abuse,

discarding each fractured soul as if they were stale news,

blindly turning our heads and thusly perpetuating male hetero-patriarchy,

keeping the blinkers on, while banishing the sordid truth we pretend not to see.




when will people of colour all around the world be seen, as human beings and not merely chattel,

as people, as a part of humanity, and not as some half-bred form of vassal,

to be used and discarded like stale garbage that needs to be trashed,

while on single malt whisky we gleefully get smashed …




… and when will all the world share in the bounties of this earth,



so that we may truly bring a more equitable, a more fair, a more just world to birth.











deciphering silence …




you and i,


shielded by silence,


barred from ourselves,


inured against feelings,
exiled hearts,


building ramparts,
a berlin wall,


that may fall.



so my friend,


lay your head upon my chest,


and let my fingers run through your hair,



lulling you gently to rest.



life is far too short anyway,


to squander even a day,


so rest, my friend,


rest,


and lay your head,


upon my chest …








let us …





let us …




let us leave this place of jagged shards of glass, this place of crude spiked splinters.



let us leave this place of rotting words, this place of camouflaged jibes.



let us leave this place of race and of class, this place of us and of them, this place of prejudice and of tribes.



let us forge our own path ahead, choosing the simple purity of love instead.



let us walk on together till our hair turns white and till our skin wrinkles and pales,


we will have each other at least, if all in all, our great escape fails …















the bipolar conundrum …





something splintered
the fragmented mind,

deep within
flimsy neurons,

on
that day in may.


something splinters
flimsier dendrites,

each and every bloody day.







The rains over Jo’burg






The rains over Jo’burg* …





The parched African earth soaks up the liquid offering from the heavens,


birds sing, ululate,


a chorus of catharsis flows through the barren land,


merging into a symphony of renewal.



The rains pour down,


transcending dry tinder of yesterday,


chasing insipid moments away,


drowning in a cacophony of jubilant life.



Life that rumbles,


streaming down desolate alleyways like meandering tears of joy,


drenching this mad, 
wonderful, insane, bubbling city of gold*,


this Jozi*, our eGoli*,


thirsting for nectar from the skies above.



Moments of undistilled mirth,


herald the arrival of spring,
a triumphant rebirth,


jubilant,
ecstatic,


as the Gods of Africa, the spirits of the ancestors,
smile down upon us.



We of flesh and of blood, of muscle and of bone,


thawing our hearts from frozen winter cold as stone,
infusing hope,


as the fragrance of rain on dry soil sketches rainbows,


seeking respite behind heaving clouds of charcoal grey,


the rains banishing winter chills away,


while graciously welcoming spring to stay.



The rains over Jo’Burg cleanse leaves on trees,


rinsing the detritus that listlessly hung,


dry and scorched by the merciless winter sun.



But today,


there are songs to be sung.



Today I am with the heavens,


no longer a mishmash of fragments,


and as our city breathes, 
purified by bounteous, rejuvenating rain,


I am whole, once again.

   
            __________

* – the different names that refer to Johannesburg.

* – eGoli is an isiZulu name that means “City of Gold”.





My Bruce Springsteen Songbook …




Growin’ Up in Delhi town, far away,
from being Born in the USA,

your words rang true to me,

nothing more so than when you sang Cover Me,

as i ached for release from my urban Jungleland,

to the rock ‘n’ roll tunes of The E-Street Band.

you made me weep with your melancholic My Hometown,

as i related so deeply to I’m goin’ Down,

cos’ when you sang, you sang from the depths of your Hungry Heart,

all the way beyond the seas from Asbury Park.

your lyrics slicing deep, scraping away the veneer of cellophane,

stuck inside the prison of my Downbound Train.

i remember the first girl i met,

with Bobby Jean stuck in my lovestruck head,

and as we walked hand in hand through the city’s park,

all i wanted was to be, with her, Dancing in the Dark.

i believed that we were Born to Run, far away from that Brilliant Disguise,

far beyond the Darkness on the edge of Town,

escaping our fragile spaces, on our Rocky Ground.

when Little Steven sang Sun City, it gave me more of a Reason to Believe,

singing truth to power, raging against Apartheid’s vile hell,

for all who from racial discrimination had no reprieve.

and when you sang with Tracy Chapman, Peter Gabriel, and Sting, all of you on stage for the Amnesty international concert,

you carefully picked your principled fights,

as we all sang Bob Marley’s Get up, Stand up, stand for your rights.

as i grew up, on that forked Thunder Road,

you reminded me of The Ballad of Tom Joad,

you lyrics cut straight to the bone,

when you belted out your sarcastic classic We take care of our Own.

you made me cry some more on the Streets of Philadelphia,

while so many sweated it out in many a Darlington County,


and the wealthy smiled and grabbed at this earth’s common bounty.




oh how we joined you in the chorus, when you sang Woody’s angry This Land is your Land,

while you paid homage to the countless immigrants in your powerful and visceral American Land.

i imbibed your words, feeling them course threw my veins when i was bruised and tender,

because you spoke to me of holding on tight to hope, to the words of No Surrender.



We are Alive
spoke of the many who died trying to reach The Promised Land,

to give it a shot, of Working on a Dream,

when crossing The River would impossible seem.

today, as so many are still sweating it out Working on the Highway,

you never fail to infuse hope,

the eternal hope,

of Waitin’ on a Sunny Day …






Dedicated to Clarence Anicholas Clemons Jr.


(January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011)



the owl







the owl …



perched atop a tree stump,

it watches.

it sees.

seeing through ancient eyes,


it watches.

it sees.



shuffling its feathers,


it watches.

it sees.

its free skies stolen, its branches broken,



leaving just stumps to sit on,
having seen too much.




my loveliness 

my loveliness waits,



through decades of lost haste,


through trials and grief,
peaceful days and dire straits,


my loveliness waits.



i wait …


through decades past,
for kisses meant to last,


i wait,


to hold my loveliness,
in these lonesome arms,


i wait,


transcending lust,
overcoming desire,


i wait,


to be burnt to ash,

in the furnace of her raging fire.







​the subtle constant of mathematics …






rigorous proof.


simple. constant. real.


not this implausible charade, this illogical masquerade,


all our perambulations,
wasted wordy navigation,



our tottering,
our swaying,



our constant greed,
to believe,


clinging onto inexplicable human need,



the belief in fantasy:


fantasy as staple nutrition,

upon which our collective illusions,



continually feed.


















on the cusp …






trawling turquoise seas,

cast adrift,

                   your eyes caressing fitful slumber,

                        whispering paens,

           soothing the ache,


of this weary traveller,

parched,

               thirsty,

                            alone,


cresting waves,

                           treading water,

             hither and thither,


a tattered heart,

                             a wounded soul,

        bathing my being,

                                      nestling,

       in cocooned dreams of your sugarcane lips,



seeing,

            feeling,

                         tasting,

                                      your breath,


soaked in visions of you,


the mirage,

                    a crescendo fanning flames of desire,

                                            of love, lust, tremulous fingers,


brushing your hair away,

sipping kisses,


consumed by the furnace,

your body, mine,

                                    entwined,


hungering for your tongue,

fiery,

         insistent,

                         true,



soaring above vagabond skies of blue,

             unshackled at last,


             craving only you …



















my bipolar scribble …




thoughts racing, taking on the whole world so cruel and wide,



‘I’m fine, I say, I just have to decide’,



do i stay in bed again, swirling down a maelstrom of gloom,


or commence the spring-cleaning of my already spotless room,



ah, decisions decisions,
far too many to divine,



‘I think I’ll scribble endlessly on,


because really, really, really,



I really am just fine’.



she smiled


she smiled.




I told her that I love her.


she smiled.


I vowed to love her forevermore.


she smiled.


I said “let’s walk this earth together, not knowing where the paths lead”.


she smiled,

“let’s” …









minutes merge into tears, spilling from eyes dimmed by the years, lost in the blurred fog that never clears, screaming out silently so no one hears,


the tormented cries of a man lost and broken, shredding  scribbled rhymes never to be spoken, amidst the charade, nothing but a mere token, baring his heart, nakedly open,


to wander these slippery streets alone, far from the promises set in stone, cut deep, the wound stinging down to the bone, yet still searching for the means to atone,


after all these years swirling down the drain, the rough taste insipid and plain, whistling a bygone dreary refrain, always first at the station, yet always the one to miss the last train,


setting off on a journey, seeking redemption for the lies, tearing at the shackles, twisting a lifelong of severed ties, to that place where sorrow eventually dies, away from the deafening deluge of hollow cries,


where peaceful waters gently flow, where the pace of breathing is soothingly slow, where lush green meadows grow, where anything is possible, where feelings are malleable as dough,


at last reaching that hallowed space, where misery evaporates without a trace, to finally feel a belonging, a bond to a place, to no longer be ashamed to wear this same old face,


to lose oneself beneath the brightest skies of blue, with you by my side, feeling my only wish coming true, tasting the freshness of the early morning dew, at peace, finally, in a haven built for me and for you …







i love her





i love her.




1.



she found me, when torrents raged, splinters gnawed,

she found me, when my wings were shattered, my heart tattered,

she found me, when i was desolate, aimlessly crawling,

she found me, in the depths of despair, deep in the maelstrom, aching for air,

she found me, trapped in the quagmire, sinking in the clutches of the foggy bog,

she found me.



2.



she reached down, her hand extended, a gesture that infused hope in me,

she pulled me out of the den of emptiness, the abyss of loneliness,

she helped me stand, on my torn legs, her shoulders bearing my weight,

she fed me, nourishing my soul, as i imbibed her warmth,

she led me into pastures green and alive, awash with colour,

she held me, in the cocoon of her embrace, her hair a waterfall drenching my face.



3.



i was not worthy, of her delicate touch,

i was not worthy, lying in a discarded alleyway,

i was not worthy, of her healing embrace,

i was not worthy, of her tender love,

i was not worthy then, i am not worthy now,

i had nothing, and still have nothing to give,

still, she loved me, and loves me still.



and i love her still …



i shall love her forevermore.





a question






soft rain settles, infusing the parched soil, rejuvenating life …


… what of the parched heart, waiting to be quenched, after a lifetime of drought.










I am Woman …




just when you think you’ve broken me,

with your cowardly fists,

with your diseased tongue,


I will not cower.

your fake macho shell does not frighten me,

your violence will not silence me.



I am I,

the mother,
the sister,
the partner,


the woman!


I am me.


I am Woman!






and you are not,


nor can you ever be.




moment by moment



moment by moment.





Rough pebbles on a deserted beach,


wait for the coming tide to take its toll,


moment by moment,


eroding each pebble,


the jagged edges made whole.



I too lie on that empty beach of fate,


inured by the coarseness I have seen,


moment by moment,


of contorting myself to belong,


while losing my soul in the screeching throng.




The waves keep battering my soul, incessantly,


as I desperately try to fit into the role,


moment by moment,


splintered by the slivers of life’s icy shower,


a drop of dew in the early dawn hour,


perched on a fresh petal of a morning flower.









Your orders may come now,


or at 19h45 this evening.


‘Shoot to kill’.
‘Engage the enemy’.
‘Hold the line’.
‘Break up the gathering’.



‘Ready, aim, fire’.



But you have felt it as well,

the stab of hunger,
the bite of thirst,
the bayonet of loss,
the wounds of despair.



You have seen,


the pain in a mother’s eyes,


the grief in a father’s face,


the incomprehension in a child’s down-cast look.

‘Ready, aim, fire’.


But you, the nameless soldier have heard,

the cries of the grieving family,


the wailing of the widowed wife,


the quiet agonizing sound of the child’s weeping.


‘Ready, aim, fire’.
Your orders may come now,


or at 23h30 tonight,


or tomorrow,


or the day after that.

But you have felt,

the agony of a peoples’ simple desire for freedom,

dignity,

food,

peace,

employment,



for hope!




You have felt the stab being long bludgeoned,

the wounds of your stolen generation.

So when that order comes,
now,


or at 03h30 tomorrow morning,

‘Ready, aim, fire’,


let your humanity muzzle your rifle,

let your conscience dismiss the order,


let your human side come to the fore,


let the people in your gun-sights be akin to,


your mother and your father,


your sister and your brother,


your son and your daughter,


your friend and your lover.


Let them live!


Let them be!


Let your rifle fall to the soil,



O’ Nameless Soldier.






The Persistence of Memory





The persistence of Memory.





thoughts whizz past, embers meant never to last,



leaving memories behind, grappling fears in spaces of the blind,



memories, with all their nostalgic tugging,



stand blurred, hazy sentinels against excessive lugging,



sentinels, silently harbouring, threads of you, and of me,



sentinels, hewn into our being,



protecting the persistence of memory.




Heritage Day: The African Rains





The African Rains …



Soaking,


the rains settle,
meandering over jagged faultlines of our memory.



Drenching,


the rains settle,
streaming through veins,

the thud-thudding of the heartbeat of Africa.



Absorbing,


the rains that settle,
within each of us,

herald rebirth.



if you listen,


if you strain to hear,


while shedding the raucous noise of your inner turmoil.


If you listen,


the whispers of the ancestors,


speak to us all,
lending us warmth,


urging us to stand,
even though we may stumble,


even though we may fall.











South Africa:

Heritage Day 24 September 2017.




Today we celebrate our shared heritage,


through smiles and tears, the ache of the past and the hopes of today and tomorrows yet unborn.


Today we share our Africanness, our blood enmeshed within each other – bright red thumping through countless veins, 


reminding us of the spirit of uBuntu – I am because we are,


we are because of each other, fellow travellers through the travails of life, 


seeking not riches nor title, seeking the bright sunshine of peace banishing the darkness of strife.


We are one people, myriad hues of the rainbow enveloping us all,


lending a hand to each other,


every time we stumble, each time we fall. 




The Veins of Africa






The Veins of Africa …



Interwoven veins, crisscrossing these lands,

these savannahs, deserts, forests, lakes, streaming through the people of this continent of our ancestors,

linking the north to the south, the east to the west,

these veins, alive, infusing life, thumping through,

silently,

binding our peoples,

wrapped beneath the canopies of the humid forests,

buzzing with life in the cacophony of the bustling cities,

silent in the arid deserts, amidst the shifting sands of the dunes,

meandering between the mangroves, teasing the weeping willows, swaying in the wind,

these lakes, waters, subterranean rivers flowing gracefully into the oceans,


breathing new life to the plains,

at one with the seas.





The veins of Africa,

knitting us together,

despite the cruel slashing of these veins,

the plunder of these lands,

the desecration of the peace of the ancestors,

tearing these veins open,

pilfering the continent’s innards,

gold and silver and copper and platinum and diamonds and so much more,

so much more painful to the millions of living souls,

herded as cattle, packed onto those grotesque slave ships,

doomed to live and die in shackled misery, on continents away,

bearing the raw horror of the whip, the backbreaking labour in the belly of the beast of colonialism.


yes,


these veins have felt it all,

these veins that continually,


silently,

peacefully,


benevolently,


spread the precious gift of life across these lands …


our lands,


our continent,



Africa.








dawn breaking.





1.



willowy brushstrokes,

conjured sketches,
painted,

etched,

embossed,
hewn between forgotten morns,
waking,

splintering,

straining, against each other,
ceaseless,

relentless,

endless,
empty,

a vacuum,
an abyss of night.



2.



still,

hope blazes,
bright,

radiant,

smiling,
though measured,

disciplined,
while embracing,

enveloping,
and always

surrendering to the eternal promise,
raging,

hungering,

aching,

the promise of a new dawn breaking.






for Dr. Carl Sagan





for Carl ….





for Dr. Carl Sagan

( 1934 – 1996 )





when you visited us each week,

                    stirring wonder in all,
billions of synapses fired,

         or according to my teachers at the time,

         misfired!


        
                           and yet you comforted us,

                          your reason,

             logic,

                       and,
                dedication to the facts and always,

          

                              always

            to the science,

               and to science,
mentored us.



… and so as you left us here on this pale blue dot,


                you still live in the starstuff,


the stuff of life,

                                     mingling with the infinite depths of the cosmos,

                      

                      and as you taught us,

                          that there are more stars in the universe than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of earth,
                               still your vision lives within us all,

                       a testament to your humanism,

                    your genius,

             your warmth and all that you left behind,
& that, that humanity of yours,
             shall live on in the imagination of this speck of starstuff,

                as it floats,

                on the vastness of the great cosmic ocean …











this immigrant skin.





empty bottles, discarded cartons, garbage bins,


littered with fragmented shards of myself,


shed, left behind,


amidst the haze of memory, strewn, deafened by the cacophony of hollow tins,


tossed away pieces of who i was, of who i am, of who i ought to be,


ever trying to belong, to fit in,


to touch, to be touched, to be seen, to be able to see.

so i moult, a deceptive social chameleon,


slimy,

deceitful,

charming,

soulless,

smiling,

barren,



casually dumping tattered emotions,

flung aside here,
bits of that old life,

that in the blurry mist swirls,


leaving laughter, streaks of tears down drain hugging boulevards,


of platinum and of pearls,
trashed alongside crushed petals,


as numbed frigid night unfurls.




this immigrant skin,

this malleable face,
my numberless, 

incomprehensible masks staring back,


a mishmash, a grotesque mosaic,


shadows of yesteryears faces,

worn and torn,


ever straining to break flee,
of this relentless restlessness that gnaws,


teetering on tightropes,
clutching on filaments of 

hope,


hope,


yes, hope,


hope that i may once again walk free,


all the while searching to find, what i have become, 


the scurrying around to find,



the real me.





         _______



( inspired  by Erich Fried’s poem “In Hiding” )





barefoot in the rain





barefoot in the rain.





tiny splashes,

toes teasing toes,

as the rain lashes,
dancing under moonbeams,

hazy lazy clouds dripping nectar,


cheek to dripping cheek,

your hand in mine,

your eyes sparkling with a fire divine.




dancing barefoot in the rain,


with you, my whole, my own, my life,


dancing with you,

barefoot in the rain,


toes tickle toes,

far from this life’s pain, 


away from the strife,


with you, within you,



I have found renewed life.








would you ?





would you ?





would you walk with me through serene fields of green,


beneath the canopy of unseen night,


where yearning aches,


in the shimmer

of moonlight.





would you take my hand so we may disappear,


finding each other

in pastel shades,


so very far away from the here.




would you lay your heart,


to rest

beside mine,



          sharing



smiles



         tears,



                  reflections



         fears,



                  aches



           joys



                  sorrows.


together,

cocooned,

rested,



in landscapes etched and sketched,


embossed,


absorbed into a cardamom mosaic

of shared tomorrows.




would you wander these clouds of dreams?


bathed in rain-drenched kisses,


soaring across the seas,


             dancing

hopping


              afloat,


together in cinnamon waters,


sharing this lifes myriad streams.




would you ?

















we get on by.



through half-dreamed emotions, the tears and the laughter of years in between, find their way back to settle in our souls, to coax hope out of despair, to try to keep it all together, as we get on by.



nothing fills the void of restless desolation, more than memories floating on the wind, dandelion seeds scattered hither and thither, seeing at last the impermanence of this fragile life, as we get on by.



hidden in the folds of joy and of sorrow, fate often flits past, its brushstrokes lingering on the mosaic of our lives, leaving traces of colour, as we get on by.



the hammer of time bangs incessantly on, as we walk, as we talk, as we love, and as we dance in the spring rains, not a care in the world for those fleeting moments, and though we travel, we get on by.



we stare at our reflections in the mirror, age carving lines on our worn faces, where did all those years go, trickling down the sieve of time, leaving us to walk on, as we get on by.



looking back through the willowy mist, we all share our pocketful of regrets, things we could have said, things that should have remained unsaid, dreams unfulfilled, knocking on the door, urging us to let them in, and it may just be, that in those moments, we clutch onto hope,


and it is hope that perhaps, keeps us dreaming,


these gentle dreams we dream,


as we get on by …









Tread Lightly.





Tread lightly, for many hearts lay strewn upon these roads,


alone, their plaintive calls heard by none,


just the birds whose doleful odes sing out in the dawn skies.




The world sleeps, the daily grind yet to begin,


when polished shoes shall trample those lonesome hearts,


that lay on roads where garbage trucks rid the new day of yesterday’s memories,


where leaves and crushed petals are swept aside,


and tattered hearts, alone again, creep into corners to hide.






 

for Delhi-waalas everywhere

bunking classes in school, trying too hard to seem too cool.

those lazy humid summer days, nodding off on the bus ride home, with Delhi feeling like a greenhouse dome.

shedding our school bags, racing to round up the friends, the 40° heat never even an afterthought, batting and bowling in our small park, till bad-light caused us to gather in the dark.

my buddy and i, singing Beatles’ songs loud enough for the two girls we had crushes on, “Can’t buy me Love” belted out till we were hoarse, surviving the glaring looks of the disapproving  grannies of course.

those were the days, of cycling to the cinema, to watch “Sholay” for the umpteenth time, sitting in the 2-rupee seats right in front, rattling off the dialogue line by line.

racing back home to catch a few songs on “Chitrahaar”, sitting up close to our ancient black and white telly, the picture quality akin to snow, not that it mattered, this was after all our most coveted tv show.

getting our ears clipped at times for coming home late, the joyful sounds of laughter from our friends who were en-route home to a similar fate.

lighting clay diyas as Diwali approached, stuffing our faces with malaai burfi from “Bengal Sweet House”, downing sweet lassis as autumn upon summer encroached.

“borrowing” friends’ dad’s scooters, the wind in our hair, inhaling the pollution without any care, off to Connaught Place for an ice-cream at Nirulas, and to stock up on our filmi music cassettes from the ever smiling Sikh man at Palika Bazaar, till we emerged above ground, each of us smelling like an incense shop from afar.

stopping off in Defence Colony, to savour some gol-gappas and ganne-ka-ras, the only word never uttered those days was “bas”.

gliding down the streets of our colony, as if we were kings, with the brash swagger that being a teenager brings.

enjoying the Diwali nights, friends exchanging sweetmeats, as Delhi resounded with firecrackers and rocket streaked skies, having our fill of never-ending chais.

winter came along with its polluted fog blanketing the freezing early morn, our pleas of “only 5 minutes more” falling on deaf ears as from our warm beds we were torn.

when spring hopped along, we waited for Holi, to sing countless a filmi-song, with our pichkaaris, and water-filled balloons, aiming at all, giggling like buffoons.

if nostalgia is a seductive liar, as I somewhere once read, then allow me to be seduced, again and again, after all these years and all these miles that have been tread.

to be taken back to the Delhi of yesteryear, ignites a fierce passion, and I crave a coconut dipped syrupy meethha paan,

for after all these years inbetween here and there,

it’ll always be “meri Dilli, meri jaan”




               ____________



Glossary:



Sholay” – A popular Bollywood film of the 1970s.

Chitrahaar” – A musical television show.

Diyas” – small earthen lamps lit during Diwali.

Diwali” – the festival of light.

Malaai Burfi” – A popular sweetmeat.

Lassi” – A popular yoghurty drink.

Connaught Place” – the centre of New Delhi.

Palika Bazaar” – An underground shopping complex in Connaught Place.

Nirulas” – A popular fast food restaurant.

Gol-gappas” – A popular fast food

Ganne-ka-ras” – Sugarcane juice.

Defence Colony” – A suburb of New Delhi.

Bas” – A Hindi word meaning ‘enough’.

Chai” – Tea

Holi” – the festival of colours, heralding the arrival of spring.

Pichkaari” – A toy like device to spray water. Commonly used on Holi.

Meetha Paan” – sweet Betel leaf filled with syrup and other fragrant spices.

Meri Dilli, Meri Jaan” – literally meaning ‘my Delhi, my life”

Dilli” – Delhi



dreams.

simple dreams of us, not of riches, gaudy and plush,



dreams of the exquisite tingle of our lips brushing – of being swept away, 

imbibing that intoxicating rush –



dreams of soaking up our shared copper sun,
your silky hair bathing my face,

through whispering rivulets of streams, our haven, our secret place –



dreams of souls knit together, of yours, and of mine,
extricated from the numbness of this plastic pantomime –

dreams afloat on streams, on the ripples of our murmuring desire,
alive, inflamed,

forged in our cauldron of love,
sensuous, fiery, never tamed –


simple dreams.

whole …

whole.

her questions came quick – do i love her,
would we share,
would we dive, into the oceans of each other’s soul.

i was quiet then, silenced, mute.

but i felt something i had never felt before –

i felt whole.



this immigrant skin.





empty bottles, discarded cartons, garbage bins,
littered with fragmented shards of myself,
shed, left behind,

amidst the haze of memory, strewn, deafened by the cacophony of hollow tins,
tossed away pieces of who i was, of who i am, of who i ought to be,
ever trying to belong, to fit in,
to touch, to be touched, to be seen, to be able to see.

so i moult, a deceptive social chameleon,
slimy,

deceitful,

charming,

soulless,

smiling,

barren,
casually dumping tattered emotions,

flung aside here,
bits of that old life,

that in the blurry mist swirls,
leaving laughter, streaks of tears down drain hugging boulevards,
of platinum and of pearls,
trashed alongside crushed petals,
as numbed frigid night unfurls.


this immigrant skin,
this malleable face,
my numberless, incomprehensible masks staring back,
a mishmash, a grotesque mosaic,
shadows of yesteryears faces,

worn and torn,
ever straining to break flee,
of this relentless restlessness that gnaws,
teetering on tightropes,
clutching on filaments of hope,

hope,

yes, hope,

hope that i may once again walk free,
all the while searching to find, what i have become, 

the scurrying around to find,

the real me.

   
               _______

( inspired  by Erich Fried’s poem “In Hiding” )

the whys and the lies




​the whys and the lies …



why do tears fall from broken eyes,
in blinding times of the lies of the wise,
when spurious tongues dribble and drool,
deeply enmeshed in the cesspool,
of me myself and i.

when hunger is leased,
venom slips through unleashed,
me myself and i,
as the scavenging resumes,
its shut-up,

and buy-buy.

Delhi …






walking through tombs … … …


bicycle rides to ancient tombs, stealthily traversing the bygone years,

those days and nights of delhi long ago, plucked heartstrings, a sitar being tuned, the cricket matches in the park, fetching the ball from monuments to long dead sultans, and rajah’s,

feasting on a masala-dosa, my bike chained to the rusty pole next to the paan-wallah,

downing numberless cups of cardamom chai, in between home and school, bunking classes to catch Madhuri’s “ek doh teen” song in a bollywood flick, sitting amongst the people, singing along in days and nights that used to be so full, so long,

now just a fading memory, of diwalis at the kumars, and eid feasts at home, intermingling with splashes of holi colour,

a synthesis of cultures, of faiths, of friends transcending caste and creed,

a delhite whistling beatles’ songs,

ah yes, nostalgia that sly deceiver,

be mine again, come to me in rain-swept monsoon nights, lit by a million diyas of softly flickering lights,

wear your kaleidoscope dress,

rekindling memories,

stay with me,

my eternal, evergreen, seductive princess.

Passion


Passion …




undulating, lengthy, scorching kisses,


peppered with sensuous caresses,


with you, i am one,


a bouquet of feelings, infusing every pore,


our bodies in unison, fused at our passionate core.




scribbling verses on on your fiery skin,


dedicating odes to you, my love,


melting into a poem of desire,


burnished against our writhing bodies,
inflamed, on fire.




these nights of hungering need,


these days aching to upon each other ravishingly feed,


swept up by our orchestral crescendo,


the symphonies coursing through our veins with greed.




no scribbled verses may even begin, to convey the heat of our shared cauldron,


we become one, we are one, 

when the stars in the sultry nights disappear,



our sweat trickling off our flesh,


the sparkle in your  eyes so crystalline, so clear.




though the years have vanished and slipped into cupboards to sleep,


though the wrinkles have imperceptibly on our brows begun to creep,


we have yet many moons to savour,


bathed in moonlight of our hearts beating as one,


within each other so immeasurably deep …






Friday at Dusk …


Blanketed by charcoal clouds,



the evening brings respite,

banishing the heat,


with the promise of a cool fresh breeze.

Offering consolation,
to me, and hopefully to the many weary,


soothing this day’s strains,

shedding the weight, of all that is dreary …

desire, trepidation, and hunger …

sprinkling cinnamon caresses, scribbling odes,


etching my words on your bare back,


desire inflames, engulfs flesh and blood and bone,
dispelling all trepidation,


the sin of hungering,


in a sweltering furnace of longing,


scribbling odes,

fingers meandering across your body,



desire, trepidation, and hunger,



fleeting, momentary,


yet abiding, infused,

relentless,


welcome.



Smile


smile …




let us walk,

knowing not the paths ahead,


let us talk,

knowing not each others tongues,


let us breathe,

the simple joys of life,

away from shredding strife,



so, take my hand,

in yours,

and let us walk and talk,


through many tears,

and an occasional smile,


as we walk on,

and on,


past our final mile …









love concedes … … …



love concedes, through bitter travails,



love recedes, into closeted wardrobes,
love exhausts, lover and loved alike,
but,
love endures, through the years,



traversing valleys of tears,



dispelling untruths,
exiling paralysing fears.


The Rohingya – A People Brutalised.




The deadened eyes scream, lashing out at our mute consciences,
the numbed faces cry out, tearing at our complicit deafness,
the streaming tears slice deep, slitting our accursed inaction,
the haunting faces of human suffering, tearing at our indifference,
the wailing children remind us, of a real evil that stalks this world.




The peacemakers, the nobel laureates, the impotent powers that be,
turn the other way, sewing their eyes shut, feigning not to see,


the misery that stalks the Rohingya, each brutal night, and every horrific day.




Where are the howls of protest,
Where are the voices of indignation?
Where are all of us, staring at this festering wound, septic and dripping with pus?




We live in a world of wretched hypocrisy, where pain and suffering abominably leers,
as we turn our heads, neglecting genocide,
unless it happens to ‘our’ people, and not to ‘theirs’.




The Rohingya stare deep into each and every soul, their eyes tunnelling into our inert shame,
while we argue passionately about the results of last night’s football game.




We are complicit, all of us to a person, having failed to be human once more,
stuttering words like these that I write, while into flesh unspeakable horrors tear and tore.




We are nothing, all of us, we are no longer human, as we drink and eat merrily, basking in our own closeted cells,
while tears of mothers, of fathers, of sons and of daughters, overflows reeking wells.




Where are the good people of this world, where are the voices so loud to proclaim, where are the obscenely wealthy countries,
cowardly silent,
as an entire people are brutalised, and savaged till they sink to their blistered knees.




The poet Erich Fried, who endured the savagery of the Nazis, wrote this …

” it happened, it happens, and it will go on happening, unless something is done to stop it from happening “.




It is happening now.
It will continue to happen, unless something is done to stop it from happening.




Now. Today.






 

The Path to the Road







The Path to the Road.




I have walked, barefoot,

gravel splintering my soul,


I have crawled, naked,

thorns piercing my heart,


I have fallen, broken,

rain slicing my mind,


I have stood, bearing,

weight on my twisting back,


I have reached,


finally,


the path I must travel,


to reach the road that shall lead me to you.








just a quick scribble …



sashaying to strains, melodies strumming my veins,



in low plateaus, through deepest vales,


soothing life’s pains,

banishing icy rains,


hushing sobs, shushing wails, grasping days by its reins,


steering a course on the seas of fate,

where fear and trepidation pales,


free winds coaxing me ever onwards, into fresh pathways, along unchartered trails,


with hope,

always hope, within sight of the lighthouse,


keeping me ever afloat, bolstering my sails.





Tribute to Steve Biko

For Stephen Bantu Biko.

Born: 18 December 1946

Murdered: 12 September 1977.

You fanned the fires of black pride,

facing down the racists trapped in their hollow white hide.


You breathed inspiration, infusing the many with renewed vigour,

though always knowing you were in the crosshairs of Apartheid’s trigger.


You never wavered, you stood tall and strong,

your words decimating the paltry platitudes of the fascist throng.

Your spirit, your courage, your words fanned the embers of resistance, with unshakeable determination,

you stood firm, always upright as you battled the scourge of racial discrimination,

and today, we as a people owe you the grateful tributes of a democratic nation.




They tortured you, they killed you, they murdered you, but they could never quell,

the conviction you instilled in a generation, the thirst for freedom and for dignity, and the tolling of the bell.

We salute you, fearless son of Africa, we remember you today, as we shall in all the tomorrows yet to come,

we shall never rest until the principled ideals for which you were killed are through our collective struggles won.

Only then shall we honour your selfless sacrifice, your dream of an equal society for all,

Only then shall we have truly honoured your eternally defiant, your ever valiant,

your forever truthful revolutionary call.

Viva the undying spirit of Steve Biko!

The struggles continue!

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