Cut By Your Toe

Momentary Rain

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Outside it was momentary rain,
But, in our amalgam of
Flesh seeking flesh
There were no grass or flowers
Receptive to the change in weather.

With a second’s or two seconds’ pause
To ascertain the sky break down
In torrents, we resume where
Unlocked lip locks desire in,
Breathing into the other the insistent fire of love.



Channel 5 Documentary of Sri Lanka

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In 1990, when the mothers, wives
And beloved others of those disappeared and dead,
Candles in hand lit miles and miles of clay oil lamps,
When mass graves were uncovered of those butchered,
Decimated, cut in two and discarded into the ground,
A younger Rajapakshe stood by the horrified crowd.

A younger Rajapakshe — no Gota, no Basil,
All sons, mere cubs —, as half decomposed,
Visible horrors of Torture Camp brutality,
Carried out by paid militants on the whim of
Corroded poli-trickery, patiently watch as once
Mutilated stories emerge of Southern lives lost to Southern guns.

So, today, when mothers, wives, beloved ones have
Stories to tell — stories that are incompetent
As to beg a listener to listen to —
With sub-humanity their de facto status
In a de facto state that is not given as home,
Should tears blot out, for they are Tamilian tears alone?

In that sour divide of who is “Patriot” and not,
The sad truth is that the government has too much left for
Too late to conceal. That they have collected the dead bodies
— While others are still counting the dead — and had
Carried them along with it, covering the gruesome collection with lies.
Now, it takes too much to keep a dead limb from falling, a cracked
Skull from dropping brain, all the while.

And in that lie that is spoken, promoted as truth,
We have been made to be liars, too; and on that is thrown
What the “dignity” of the “nation” they call. Has made
All of us Funeral Directors, and an “enemy” of any person who
Carries a spade. Those highways and concrete layers on which the
“Nation” is made are shallow coatings — unconvincing; just laid.

So, to do what works best with the infirm masses
— To distract (where you can’t force, buy or share) —
All milky CHOGAsMic dancers rock the boat with midriffs bare,
And swirl around and around to the speed of sound
As he sits by Old Charlie’s Chair while Outside, the Opposition’s
Attacked, Channel 4 is hounded: this is why you shouldn’t ever power-share.

Journalists followed and waylaid in the very heart of the week,
— Even in unfamiliar democratic jargon the assembly speaks —
The apple cart being pushed with many turns to negotiate
And each apple that threatens to topple with a halt to compensate.
Everything Channel 4 does, state heads say and questions asked are
Seen as magic and as unreal, as from democracy we are far,

For, by ignorance, blood, iron, lies and small kicks
Are we being ruled: those are our five-fold faith.
As our tragic journalists — the detrius retained —
And uneducated thugs sing songs where the regime is sane.
So, history repeats, first as tragedy; so, now as farce
As the emperor and his new clothes roll in a house of glass.



Spotting You In a Crowd

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They said that you were stuck up,
But that was not good enough for me,
As I waited for you by a half covered drain
— With the ill-prospect of unprovoked rain –,
While they were walking towards me, past me,
Desultorily — you, I kept an eye for,
Sweating underneath my clothes, in that heat.

It was January, then,
And ten years later,
We agree that of you a verse I must write.
But, we are strangers now — like voters in a polling booth —
Though your angel-like image is yet half dissolved to blot.
My feelings have long crumpled, as I felt for you back then,
Only scattered souvenirs of your youth remain.

But, I remember, how you mattered to me,
How there was about it an innocence
In that love with which I thought your mere breath I held.
It was a matter of mattering that would only happen
Back then, when you are spirited and lost to your own;
When that moment’s fragrance will stay on and would linger
Long long after that touch you’d scorn.

Undated file photo of Etan Patz

The Letter Never Read

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Depression and hurt often made her dramatic,
And it was something she had written to me
In one of her traumatic depression moods:
Now, lately discovered, a decade later,
Placed among some letters, receipts,

As safe as I — ten years ago — had left it,
Other dull, unimportant irrelevant things have since
Accumulated on top of it. I was not that keen
In reading a letter — as she told me — would tell me
What a heartless prude devoid of emotion I had been

And as I read it today, way past the deadline and its author,
I tell myself, well, this — this cannot be about me!
Not that I’m misted by narcissist self-importance
— Well I am, I am: but, what I mean is — not now —
But, this document is a pure disgrace to the lover in me.

Whom can I show this to, just for a second opinion?
This slander on who I am, what hurt, pain, cold-hearted
Neglect and past-caring-nonchalance I am said to give?
Perhaps, her frustration had driven her to morbid insanity,
But, that is what the men said of all women who riled to live.

I return it to where it was left for a decade,
The paper tinted yellow, now, guttered at the crease;
I still don’t think, in spite of what she says,
That I could have been what the paper states it is:
But, then, of course: we were wrongfully attached all the more.



Vihanga Watching

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We have — the fair large bulk of us —
Grown up to be humps, if not
Logs of wood;
Spent the best of a decade as
A drunk blunder spends the lottery,
And didn’t notice what innocence pass;
Collapsed what’s life into ugly categories; into a class;
Decayed into vermin, who — at the best —
Are dripping and became fat in the process of that becoming.

You — who are
Younger than I am, by a
Decade and a half –,
Who matter to me this much,
Who are close to my heart,
Much intelligent than we ever were to be,
More able, passionate and perceptive
— My endeared hope for the future of the universe –,

As I watch you, there,
I pray for you from where I watch,
That to make meaning of who you are
Without losing out on life, you would go on,
Though I feel — all the same — from where I am
That ten years from now
You might not ever know me,
Wouldn’t remember having seen me; or see me eye to eye.

Melissa P (15)


Before She Made Tea

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Then, in a moment’s silence,
While between sentences we stopped
— Almost a pause in our own thoughts —
And as you skimmed deeper and deeper
To a faraway thought of your own

I saw — though in a glimpse — the
Unbearable regret, where you balanced it,
Shut away from the world, unknown to the
Flattery that I offer, untouched by
Your earnest love I had earned.

There, as we conversed, as that lapse emerged,
You looked as uncritical as you could ever
Be to the world. I gauged that you were longing for
A different fate and future: a submission to the best
Of meditated flattery. The short of it, though, was that I had erred.

You knew I was watching you, even as you turned to me
And asked why; but, I didn’t say why,
But re-worded that story which you already knew
And we both listened to what I said; eye evading eye.
You stood up and said you’ll make us some tea.



Gertrude In September

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I turn back for a memory, in my need, to hold on to
And like a flash in a barren open field
— Like the smattering of glass –, the
Collected, carefully preserved past
— Preserved somewhere as the
Preserve of innocent boys —
Stares back at me like dead, white noise.

Mother is left. Gertrude is here.
But, since you were gone
— But for my formal education
For which you had paid —
And since that education was by now complete,
I shrug off what’s dust, turn to poetry;
To your grave.

And there
In between channels,
Where one unstrummed end
Blunderingly hangs, balances on its own,
Flickering in the hope to connect to
The next imminent strand
— There, there is a silence which tells me
In imitation of the Father to the Virgin before the Fall —
That that your education cannot give to you all.

She smiles, benevolently, finds humour
In her own quick stride,
Finds humour in banter, jokes of a different kind:
Makes me wonder at her
Transformed state, her frame of mind.
Flowers dangle, where with delicate touch
She’s brought life back on earth.
I sink to resurface at the sign of birth.