National Poetry Writing Month 2021 with The Alipore Post
TENDERNESS Grey clouds surround the forest Darkening the canopies and mosses, While gentle drops flirt with the flowers The fierce winds turn jealous. A little droplet trickles halfway a Peepal leaf on the ground It’s disturbed by a grasshopper As it treads without a sound. The dark rainy day engulfs, even the darkest green in tenderness. The poet under a tree wonders What made you cry oh wilderness? It is such a day in the mountain When it rains without a reason Although Monsoon is three months away Here it is a permanent season.
EXCESS What is joy? A hand overflowing with grains for a starving child or parties with fountains of champagne? Where do we find it? when we’re making up for the things we lack with things we have in excess. Don’t ask me why the world is sad when we have all the melancholy creatures Running after things they can’t possess.
ASK You ask what I see in you that others don’t, I say, ‘probably the love you have for me’, Unsatisfied. You ask again, Why I love you, And I say, ‘probably because you see me for me’. You ask what I’d do for you, I say, ‘I dare to write poems that are cringe, They don’t really make any sense But the emotions that I put into them are genuine’.
VACCINE The murmur of visitors had filled his house While his picture hung from the wall, What happened to that brave young man, What led him to desert us all? ‘I heard he had the rona’, ‘But I thought he had recovered?’ Another would say he never spoke of his sickness, Not even a single word. ‘If only we had asked’. ‘If only we had helped’. Someone they didn’t care about in life, Was the dearest to them when dead. A whole year later, I still think About his lonesome suffering. Loneliness is a fatal disease Not even cured by a vaccine.
EARTH Take a deep breath and look outside The wet earth after the showers are calling, To shape them into pots and stoves For ‘shopkeeper’ and ‘house’, role-playing. Sometimes, little insects will crawl Into holes, children dig in the soil, Snails will slowly yet steadily crawl Under the earth to sleep in a coil. It is terrifying when the same earth trembles Under burdens, she can no more take The same mother that feeds her children Can be the one to send them to the grave. The hills have felt her tremors today And poet writes this as her fear strikes If there’s another earthquake and it kills me I’ll be writing April’s poetry in the afterlife.
HABITS People make habits And habits routines. The morning runs And the need to keep clean. When he parts his hair to the right Instead of left, Or the manner in which she tilts her head. A personal style acquired overtime A laugh that defines him Procrastination, (I haven't been able to get rid of mine). Other bad ones I've had to outgrow They bring momentary pleasures, Long term sorrow. Little habits, they act subconsciously It personifies you And makes me, me.
WORDS If only spitting out the words from my mouth were as easy as the manner in which the most random thoughts enwrap me. If I was a parliamentarian Then it probably wouldn’t be as difficult To make empty promises with these words And let future decide if it would be honoured or forgotten. But alas! I’m a commoner And words are the only thing I have To give and receive; proof that I’m alive. The words that build my promises aren’t ever empty The sharpness in them when I’m wounded carry hate It describes what I do and why I do what I do, also When I say “I love you”, I mean them with every breath. Words that are spoken are the only remembrance I carry Sometimes when I forget the speaker’s face Words they’re powerful and the greatest weapon If only every commoner knew about the word’s weight.
STOP Love, Today’s the 53rd day of falling in love with you and I've never experienced anything more exhilarating. I can’t say how far we’ll go; life’s uncertain But whatever turns it may take it’s a comfort to know you’ll be there waiting. I won’t say I can’t live without you because I can, But living’s better When you’re holding my hand. Now I’m a blind moth if you’re the flame burning, I might turn to dust But I can’t stop loving.
ELEGY: LAMENT OF THE ELDERS We burnt offerings to the gods in the pier For the last time as we lit the fire Muttering chants as we breathe We offer them the olive wreath. The king who now rules us Is a tyrant and frivolous. The pillar of freedom has crumbled Under the weight of armies rumbled The cities turned to dust And the heroes have shed their golden crust. We ruled the lands for centuries Now the time has made us her enemies We reap what we sow By much pain this we know As we write our own epitaph Closer grows death and its haunting laugh.
VAST: THE CONQUEST OF THE TYRANT When the sun lost its light And the moon couldn’t shine bright They looked to the thunder for help. The thunder he groaned Hope for a futile second shone As his tail grazed mother mountains throne And a child from the shadow of the three lights was born. A young man of sixteen with the temperament of a dragon His chest would puff with every looted wagon. By the time he was twenty He’d conquered kingdoms in plenty But a holy land of mages he dreamt of ruling So he marched with his forges, their leather boots booming. He plucked and he plundered, chasing witches and wizards Left not a house; every home was in hazard. After the old council of elders, he put to death On the 7th day, he put the land’s greatest gem to his head. As black rains started pouring And the old thunder roaring “My son! What have you done!”
PROTEST For the heart to believe What the brain already knows Is more difficult to practice Then how the saying goes. That's when the inner child refuses to accept Logic and facts And throws tantrums in protest. Then the silk pillows they soak Drops of saline, sad and cold Maybe if not in youth Later, the truth will settle Better wisdom when we're grey and old.
RAINBOW “To that one girl Who said she liked me two years ago, I liked you too…. I just hadn’t accepted my rainbow.”
Lisa, when the blood strewn down my eyes From the open cut on my head, I thought of you and your corpse so dead. The bowel hunter from the west Who never felt the warmth of her mother’s breast I felt you had an unhappy life I felt you were different from the rest. Now that you’re dead and gone I hope you’re forgiven for everything you did wrong You will forever be my star of the show I hope your soul is happy and warm.
STILLNESS Vehicle horns and rickshaws And the dog’s slow pants, Echoes through the ceilings And the low fans. No sign of life other than the flies buzzing by, We lay on the floor You let out a sigh. The summer heat has reached It’s highest of the high But it’s the heat of your skin That makes my throat dry. Too lazy to move We just spread on the ground, Waiting for the rain to fall You call: I forget all the sounds. We’ve never been so patient But the summer’s tamed our wildness, Now we’re waiting for the monsoon To say goodbye to this stillness.
NEED A little more time in one day A little less laziness would go a long way. Maybe to make oranges taste like apples Or a shirt that makes me invisible. A bit more serotonin would not hurt Or for the shops in town to sell pixie dust. Maybe a little more sunlight than the rain Or some potion to deal with all sorts of pain. But all the things that I actually need Cannot be bought or coveted with greed, It’s neither silver nor is it gold I don’t know where it’s found or sold.
FAVOURITE It takes a while to accept your nose That neither reduces nor does it grow. The nose that carries the weight of your pride And in laying low of the temper you hide It may not be the favourite part of your body But that's quite alright At least it lets you smell, Your favourite perfume and makes your heart swell. Your nose is supposedly The equivalent of your dignity I didn't say that That's what is said by the brown society. And honestly, it doesn't make a lot of sense But it's hard to be a woman when you have a nose to defend.
LOVE Mother, I think I love him. Please don't say I'm naive The comfort that you give me, He gives me the same relief. Father, I think I love him. Because he sets my soul free, The independence that you've taught me, In his wide arms I see. God, I think I love him. A human more than you, He may be a mortal but He's been so loyal and true. Yes, I think I love him. He makes me feel alive, With him, I want to live forever, With him, I want to die. Darling, I think I love you. You're my sun, moon and earth,
When you smile I see heaven And your pain makes me hurt. Is this what I think love is? Is this what makes you heal? Is this what you die for? Is this what makes you kill?
BURDEN The burden of your existence Look how your feet handle, Old people and unwanted children They all share the same title. You run around with no name No one to claim you as their own The unwatered plant in the garden While all the other trees have grown. You roll around in the street
While I watch you from afar Your feet free from the grip of shoes But bare and covered in tar. How similar we are in that way we exist But someone thought your life was a burden And mine was a gift. You make me wonder Which one of us is more sinister Your will to live even in nothingness Or my guilt of not pulling the trigger.
MEANWHILE Normality is no more than a word, Ignorance wrapped in thin films of bliss. With all this chaos everywhere I look It seems like the world’s received her last death kiss. But some of us, we can go on no more Continue with the usual, Fights over religion, Wars over women, Ashes, death, and pain. Since we’ve all somewhat agreed to be silent Only slightly better than beasts wild and violent.
Meanwhile, Some of us will sob in the corner And some of us will defend our honour When no one else listens to your cries You pick up the weapon yourself And fight till someone dies.
BUCKET LIST My bucket list is long But my pockets are shallow It would be nice to travel the world If there was no tomorrow. Imagine eating without getting fat Or to be a witch in Hogwarts On a broomstick with a hat. But if everything I wished for Actually came true Then bucket lists would be irrelevant And my wishes, stripped of their value.
LOST Far, far away from the present, Where memories live safe and sound, You and I still hang out Comfort surrounds us abound. We haven’t quarrelled over anything Had it turn ugly and then cried on the ground. The dinging of texts chase away silence One stays entertained when the other is around. But a little snap of fingers And to the painful present, I am wound, Here we’ve argued and hurt each other And for hours I’ve cried on the ground. All our good memories have now turned sour, I’m the hunter and you’re the hound. Here’s to a once good friend Once lost and never again found.
INSTRUCTION It is for certain that we are all to die, Sooner or later but surely I can say. So when I’m dead, No more alive than a doornail, Then for my soul, I beg you to pray. For in life I have sinned, Perhaps, More than the morningstar For which I may get dragged to hell And I'll surely be suffering Because then you’ll be far. But much to say When your turn comes You’ll follow me there, For we’ve both failed To follow instructions, You from your father And me from the lessons I’ve learned.
MOON The night is for the lonely And the moon their only friend, When the whole world is sleeping They dance till the horizons bend. The moon is for the blemished With ageing on their skin and soul, When they look to the moon, she’s a mirror The flaws are their history’s ghoul. The moon is for the lovers When they suffer from yearning the most, Looking up at Artemis and her sisters Visualizing their beloved’s ghost. The moon is for the poets Who sing to her every night Without her, there’d be no poems Or in the dark the gentle guide of moonlight.
JASMINE I once stayed at a southern beach, there, the sand and serenity were within my reach. The breezes from the salty waves would wash away the fatigue of my lonely days. I’d walked along the shores with no shoes, shells slipping from between my toes. And I’d buy a Jasmine gajra from the store at the back, every time I got a discount at the shack. For a while, my parents thought I had lost my mind when three days in a row I came back with my hands hidden behind, And out would come at least two large strings, of scented white lovelies, beauties of spring. I think I was somewhat obsessed, with the strong perfume and the charming little shapes, Of Jasmines that looked like fallen stars, that when I wore them I’d look in the mirror and admire its innocence from afar.
BROKEN Music from broken strings And birds with broken wings They both may first seem useless But everything broken can be fixed Healing is a beautiful process.
MIGRATION The longing for your homeland is much different than your usual desire, It is the kind that seeps into your skin, slowly but deeply, and reminds you ‘you’re an outcast’, randomly, when you’re washing the dishes. Sometimes it’ll feel like looking into a distant past and starting a fire, Small but insatiable like the hunger that craves
for the street food that can only be satisfied by the shop at the corner of your street. You’ll prick up your ears at the mention of anything said in your mother tongue and look for the flavours of your homeland that alien lands attempt to fulfil by creating a mere mirage of the proper picture. Being away makes an average person homesick but migration makes you long for the feeling of belonging somewhere that completes your identity.
REUNION The glass is cold and so is my soul It has missed you dearly Tears they fall, waiting to be wiped By your shivering hands, slowly. How long have we waited for things to get better Today, tomorrow, how long is forever? I had feared we would change if troubles were prolonged And I was afraid you wouldn’t return to where you belonged. Now I’ve tasted the nectar of sweet reunion Times ticks again; my heart resumes beating. Homecoming has never been more difficult But right here right now my fears are retreating.
Monsoon brings a certain thrill To every normal activity, I’d be sitting on a sofa sipping cocoa And the Cuckoo would call out to me. She would say, “The season’s here again”, I’d think, ‘early as always’, Though the gentle drops are inviting I listen closely to the pitter-patter on the tin roof And doze off until I’m awakened by the lightning. Remember when we were young We used to play with paper boats Now those times have been left behind We chase after it just like our slippers When the drain water swept it Far and away from our site. Monsoon’s here calling me out But I’m lonely here today The rains don’t stop
Neither does growth It tucked childhood Far away.
HOPE A word, an action, a sight, A teaching by god, a ray of light. A blind faith that keeps you alive But blind faith could also cost you your life. It doesn’t even come with an instruction manual Moderation works wonders But hope in excess drives you away from reality Baseless hope is an open door for blunders.
DAYDREAM The moment when you zone out is when you stand on the line of daydream and reality bidding farewell to time. Somewhere to escape when the world hunts you down or when you’re beaten by the increased burden of your crown. Daydream, and live in the safehouse of your mind. Living can be absurd sometimes and dying’s not an option? Then daydream, and see what’s worth in living Winning is a pain in the arse sometimes then give up and daydream.
~ Shivanee Rai