I do not cling to life
That hat is worn out now
I've seen this world
Felt its pain
And now the earth,
It claims me back again
It's time to lose all time
To leave it all
Leave you all behind
I will be greeted at the gate
A mother, father, brother, sister, wife
All await me there
I leave you all with wishes kind
Stories of war, peace and adventures maritime
But most of all
The last few passengers hopped on catching their breaths with a huff and a puff and taking the remaining seats where they could, while handling their bags in one hand and their mufflers and hats with the other. It was just an ordinary day for them. A day when work and reaching their office on time was the only thing they could think about. A day when half their time on the launch was spent worrying if the Tiffin box packed so lovingly by their wives toppled over to create a mess. A day when they couldn't stop and stare. A day when materialism came before appreciating nature’s beauty.
Kolkata woke up one fine chilly morning to a sky set ablaze. There was always something about Kolkata and its lights that intrigued me. The perfection with which every corner was lit just as much as it should be, the hidden eye candy which could only be seen if you look into your soul to appreciate. Worshipers from all over flocked to the ghats to offer their prayers. And with the mindless honking of the city behind them and the open river in front, they dipped themselves in continuously to be forgiven of their sins. As they lifted their folded hands above their heads to pray and dipped themselves, they made the water all around them make huge ripples which were lost in the vastness of the mighty river. And with that, they were forgiven of their wrong doings, or at least that’s what they believed.
The engines roared to life as one of the crew, miserably opened the ropes and threw them on board after ringing a bell. I stood in one corner of the launch eyeing Kolkata, taking every bit of it in - its morning awakening, its old red bricked buildings, or at least the ones which still stood straight, its ghats green with moss and over crowded with devotees, its icy cold winter morning, and the current of the river beneath the launch floor. Kolkata had woken up to one of the coldest days in recent history. 9 degrees and the wind was up. On the Ganga it felt as if I had come away to some faraway land, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, to find peace. Silence surrounded me and the only sound faintly audible was the low whistle of the breeze brushing past my cheeks kissing them which felt like tiny needles poking me all at once.
The water looked like liquid glass, floating away to infinity and beyond, as far as my eyes took my vision. As the launch turned to face its destination the Howrah Bridge came into view. Standing tall with its two gigantic pillars the sun peeped from between the cables to shine on the water creating a river of gold while the sun’s reflection seemed a ball of fire just within our reach. The bridge cast huge shadows causing a sudden darkness to arise in the water which otherwise seemed ablaze.
Across the river the world waiting for me felt distant. Was civilization actually that beautiful? Or did nature just wrap its covers around to hide the flaws of mankind, his ruthlessness, his ignorance towards other beings and its lack of humanity? The dashes of green popped out of the corners of towering buildings, as sun cast its golden rays on them creating shadows on the opposite side.
The small boats sailed on as the launch took me from bank to bank. The rowers sat at the back on the edge with their rows half immersed in the water. And as the currents made them flow by, the ripples came and hit our launch and travelled back into the vastness and disappeared. They sailed through the disturbed water, and its shadows sailed alongside. The rivers serenity was contrasted with the blobs of weed floating by, entangled with driftwood and mixed with shiny cloths, probably the leftovers of the previous durga puja celebrations.
The sky was a game of colors by now. The sun, still a ball of fire, was slowly creeping upwards, the light grey clouds just behind it shot rays of gold down through the gaps they found on the world below, the sky otherwise was a play of grey, blue, red and orange set in order from the ground upwards without a definite point of distinction. A group of three birds, crows most probably, flew overhead enjoying the sun’s late arrival to the cold morning.
My hands reached for the railing. I gripped the rods tightly looking for security. I looked around me to spot the different lives sailing with me. Some on their phones, some sat with their eyes glued to the cold blank floor, as if they didn’t deserve to be uplifted by nature’s display of her beauty, some staring down at their watches to scrutinize each second to realize how late there were while others stood with a blank expression staring out onto the river, probably going over what they did wrong, playing the images on repeat, making themselves miserable. Me? I stood leaning on the railing looking out also. But I wasn’t in my misery. My misery was behind me. I looked forward to life. And for now I looked forward to my destination. And amongst the crowd I was alone. This was my moment and mine alone. No one could have robbed me of this moment, and no one can make me forget.
The river gave me peace of mind. Its tranquility and its continuity made an energy of constancy flow within me. A belief that this too shall pass, that every moment shall pass. Never ending was its path. A path which life had chosen. Who are we to disrupt it? Who are we to stop? Life flowed on. And times were not always smooth sailing. There will be waves rocking you, making you lose your balance, there will be rocks at the bottom, sometimes holding you together while other times damaging your base. With time and distance the river will get polluted, but it all depends on what you want to show and what you choose to see. It will be used, to its maximum capacity, with only a handful of souls to stop and think about it and do something about it to the best of their abilities. Things varying in all sizes will cross it, sail by without paying any heed to the water beneath it making them sail smoothly, never appreciating it, and soon it becomes a part of them which they pay no attention to it. It will always be there though. Its existence will always prevail over it being ignored. And when you stop to think, it’ll be there pushing you along the way, to your destination, where you will have to say goodbye to the picture perfect moments, the soul touching feelings and the voice within you which screams in its silence to set yourself free.
I sit in the sun room, I am shaded for the sun
is only newly risen, low slung, just above the horizon,
behind me, over my shoulder, early morn warm
Slivers of sun rays yellow highlight the wild green lawn,
freshly nourished by torrential rains of the prior eve
The wind gusts are residuals, memoirs of the hurricane
that came for a peripheral visit, your unwanted cousin Earl,
in town for the day, too bad your schedule
is fully booked, but he keeps raining on you,
staying on the phone for so long, that the goodbye,
go away, hang up relief is palpable
The oak trees are top heavy with leaves frothy like a new cappuccino,
the leaves resist the sun slivers, guarding the grass
from browning out, by knocking the rookie rays to and fro,
just for now, just for a few minutes more,
it is advantage trees, for they stand taller in the sky
than the youthful teenage yellow ball
I sit in the sun room buffered from nature's battles external,
by white lace curtains which are the hallmark
of all that is fine in Western Civilization,
and my thoughts drift to suicide.
I have sat in the sun room of my mind, unprotected.
with front row seats, first hand witness to a battle unceasing
Such that my investigations, my travails along the boundary line
between internal madness and infernal relief from mental pain
so crippling, is such that you recall begging for cancer or Aids
Such that my investigations, my travails along the sanity boundary
are substantive, modestly put, not inconsiderable
Point your finger at me, demanding like every
needy neurotic moderne, reassurance total,
proof negative in this instance, of relevant expertise!
Tell us you bona fides, what is your knowing in these matters?
Show us the wrist scars, evidential,
prove to us your "hands on" experiential!
True, true, I am without demonstrable proofs
of the first hand, my resume is absent of
razors and pills, poisons and daredevil spills,
guns, knives, utensils purposed for taking lives
*Here are my truths, here are my sums; *
If the numerator is the minutes spent resisting the promised relief
of the East River currents from the crushing loneliness that
consumed my every waking second of every night of my years of despair
a denominator that is my unitary, solitary name,
then my fraction, my remainder, is greater than one,
the one step away from supposed salvation...
Yet, here I am sitting in the sun room buffered from
nature's battles by white lace curtains which are the hallmark
of all that is fine in Western Civilization
I am a survivor of mine own World War III,
carnaged battlefields, where white lace curtains,
were not buffers but dividers tween mis en scenes,
variegated veins of colored nightmares, reenactments of
death heroics worthy of Shakespeare
Did I lack for courage?
Was my fear/despair ratio insufficient?
These are questions for which the answers matter only to me,
tho the questions are fair ones, my unsolicited voyeur,
they are not the ones for which I herein write,
for they no longer have relevance, meaning or validity,
for yours truly
I write poetry by command, by request, good or bad,
this one is a bequest to myself, and also a sidecar for an old friend,
who asked in passing to write what I know of suicide,
unaware that the damage of hurricanes is not always
visible to the naked heart
These hands, that type these words are the resume of a life
life line remains scarred, but after an inter-mission, after an inter-diction, an inter-re-invention
in a play where I was an actor who could not speak
but knew every line, I am now the approving audience too...
But I speak now and I say this:
There are natural toxins in us all,
if you wish to understand the whys, the reasons,
of the nearness of taking/giving away what belongs to you,
do your own sums, admit your own truths
query not the lives of others, approach the mirror...
If you want to understand suicide,
no need to phone a friend, ask the expert,
ask yourself, parse the curtains of the
sun room and admit, that you do understand,
that you once swung one leg over the roof,
gauged the currents speed and direction,
went deep sea fishing without rod or reel
and you recall it all too well, for you did the math
and here I am, tho the tug ne'er fully disappears,
here I am, here I am writing to you,
as I sit in the sun room.
Memorial Day, 2011
Corruption is like a ghost-
intangible but eerily solid, there but untouchable.
Like smoke, it dissipates into the air around us-
weaving itself into our breath faster than we can
inhale and exhale the lies that thicken and pollute
the oxygen that blackens our lungs with thick, black vines of tar
like poison ivy vines that creep across cracks onto ancient buildings,
forming a web that represents the false truths that have come to define our history-
triumphs and tragedies morphed so inconsistently by the victors.
And we lie to ourselves as we say we find beauty in this-
in a society so fed by falsehood that we're bloated by it-
dragged down by it.
Carrying this extra weight with a smile
living in a world that sees blinders
as a euphemism for freedom.
For all I know,
the moment I first believed in love,
trapped in the sight of
the beaming hot eye of god,
hand raised, defenseless,
Breathing hot on my skin,
The sweet-perfumed voice,
Tender and shrill,
words dancing from your lips:
laughing-mad and tender in my ears
eyes wet, wreathed in the gold
that powders the air .
For all I know,
That was the moment,
Though love be blind,
I could see that your
With the rain and thunder
Came the feeling of void
I wish I knew
What is my soul longing for
Daunted by the storm
I feel non essential and small
My defeated mind
Sunk deep into uneasiness
Of my pounding heart
Weighted with the fright
Humbled by the nature's might
As each day passes the sun sets sooner in the sky,
Lifted above us each day, never going awry.
We long to share that light; we live to see,
Alone, standing waiting to feel free.
Away from the pain, the torture we endure,
While time leaves us to mature.
As the sun rises, we count down the days,
To feel something even if it's just it's rays.
The warmth keeps us going, until then we wait,
Wait until there is something else to set us straight.
Until then, we're here to live the life that remains,
Fighting through what gives us sadness and pains.
We struggle through the fires and trials of life,
But in the end everything always ends in strife.
One day the sun will no longer rise or shine,
The stars slowly dim; planets cease to align.
In the darkness we will find it; a guide, a light,
That will show us the way through the darkest night.