We met on a street out in the middle of Brunberry. Often times, we'd sit on the curb, watching the middle aged man in the corner house fix up his boat-of-a-car. Or, on Sundays, the chubby, bakery-esque woman would walk her grandchildren down the road to church. We were young, then. I still visit that street in Brunberry, and, in fact, it is called Feldspar Road. The man on the corner, with the old car? His name is Charles North, and he's a retired mechanic. The grandmother is dead now, but her daughter and grandkids moved in a couple years ago. I still come back and check up on those people, and I still watch the leaves fall in autumn and watch water pool around our favorite bench in spring. The air is just as crisp as when we were children. Feldspar Road is just as it was when we were young.
Just off of Feldspar Road, there is a park. Really, it's just a wide, open field, with unkempt grass that the neighborhood has picnics and late afternoon barbecues on. Do you remember when we stopped by the Feldspar block party on your twentieth birthday weekend? It was warm and the sun was blinding; a perfect July day for grilling out in the park. You pulled me down onto the dried grass and we watched all of the familiar people gabbing and gossiping with neighbors. Charles, grandma and the children, that young couple that had recently moved in. These people were like our family, even though we didn't live here. They made us feel at home.
It's October, and Feldspar Road is coated in bright yellow leaves. I haven't heard from you in a few months, but I'm sure you're doing okay. You've been busy with your new friends at your university a few states away. Feldspar misses you, as do I. Charles is getting old; his car sits, rusted, in the driveway. The young couple got divorced, and I'm pretty sure the girl kicked the boy out of the house. Things are getting dark, despite the turning leaves. I do sure hope you're doing okay. The park has a playground, now, and the few children in the neighborhood play there after school. I've memorized jump rope rhymes, patterns in cat's cradle, and the hardest hopscotch courses. I know you always loved kids, and watching them play makes me wish you could be here to laugh along with me.
I moved out to Kentucky this April. I needed to get away from home, and away from Feldspar Road. I visited much too often, and after Charles died, and all new people lived on the block, I felt out of place. Whatever made Feldspar feel like home was gone. It's been years since I saw you, and I can only assume you've found someone to love, someone to lay in the grass with, someone to marry. Me? I'm starting to meet new people in the area. I like to spend my time out in the fields by the border. It's quiet, unless you count the crows and crickets. It's peaceful, and standing there in the breeze, with the wheat up to my chest, watching the sky turn bright orange in the evening, makes me feel a bit happier. A little less lonely and a little more at home.
I'm sitting here
On this filthy sidewalk
Drinking my coffee
And writing this poem
By the way,
My coffee is awful
I could have prepared it so much better
I know this place so well
Cigarette butts, practically everywhere
Some of which are my own
Here I am
Still sitting here,
Writing this poem
And drinking my coffee
Each drink I taste gets a tad bit better
So, really I shouldn't complain
But no one is listening anyway
I think I'll just continue to sit here
Maybe write another poem,
Light another cigarette,
And continue drinking this awful cup of coffee.
No one sees me anyway.
i used to go to my grandmother's house during the summer
and in her backyard, behind all the trees
was a river
some days it'd be weak
sitting still without interruption
some days it'd be violent
crashing against the bank
and one day
i was laying by the river
watching it flow by to somewhere i couldn't see
and i stuck my hand in the water
and it rushed between my finger tips
i heard my grandmother shout,
"try to hold the river back"
and i laughed "i can't do that grandma"
and i pulled my hand out
a year after i went to my grandmother's house for the summer
and in her back yard some of the trees
had snapped and fallen over
but there was still the river
and it was gentle
i kneeled down by the river
and stuck my hand in the water
it danced around my finger tips
and i shouted
i can hold the river back grandma
and she smiled softly, "that's lovely"
and she walked out
today i went to my grandma's house
and in her back yard the trees
were rotting away and everything was silent
but there was still the river
as if it absorbed every bit of life that had once existed around it
and it was trashing viciously
like a dog wanting to be let from its cage
and i stood staring at the water
and thought of summer
i heard myself saying
"try to hold your river back"
and i couldn't
Been lonesome when you didn’t enter that university where your closest friends did?
Bet you even cried like a mad kid
Been completely discouraged when you were obliged to take the course which was never your option?
It didn’t even interest you a bit, not to mention
Been upset when you found out that your first love still flirts with a whole lot of pretty girls in his campus?
Surely did hurt even more if he’s still the one your heart does choose
Been depressed when you failed a major subject last term?
But still, you showed everybody that you’re positive and firm
Ever wondered why all those had to happen
And left your mind and soul somewhat misshapen?
If you could control your life completely, would things have happened differently?
Whatever your answers may be, take the following cause there’s nothing much better than reality
If you entered that university where your closest friends did,
Would you meet the circle of friends whom you’re now always with?
If you didn’t take the course you were told to,
Would you learn that you have the potential to create a professional out of you?
If you didn’t find out that your first love still flirts with some pretty girls like other men do,
Would you ever have any reason to forget him, if you wish to?
If you didn’t fail that major subject last term,
Would you have the same motivation you have right now to do way better next term?
We never could control the things that would happen to us like breathing
Cause if we could, life would definitely lose its meaning
We may not always experience the life that we wanted
But we would always live through the seed of life that He planted
I'm always falling for girls who are arrows shot through the hearts of prodigal sons.
You've been in my head for days.
I've been clinging to your later
Like a shipwrecked sailor
Clings to the shattered bow
As the ocean tries to swallow him whole.
You swallowed me whole,
And you barely even opened your mouth;
Just wide enough for me to taste honey
And see stars that have been three nights creating haloes around my drunken head.
But you'll only hold my hand in the shadows;
You'll only ask me how I am if you know the answer will be
I've got you under my skin
But you're under it, girl.
You're seven layers deep,
And suddenly you're rushing through my bloodstream
And filling my body with a five-dime dream
That is only of your face.
Everyone knows that web of red veins
All lead back to the heart.
So I'm putting up fences
But leaving gaps between the posts
So when you’ve circulated my system
and I can feel you tingling electricity in every one of my cells
It’ll look like the bars I’ve put up were to keep you out
But really the space between was to let you in.
I’ll be shining a light so bright that maybe you’ll grow powdered wings
and flutter towards me like a moth who can’t ignore the flame for even one more second.
You’re more like a butterfly though.
When I look at you I see every colour;
I see grace and beauty, and in your voice I hear a melody so sweet it makes me wonder
whether you’re a girl,
Or if maybe you’re a songbird.
Maybe you build a new nest every night
From twigs and feathers and broken hearts.
You showed me a cutting of your old boyfriend’s hair
That you keep in your wallet
Because you dream of recreating him.
I thought if I knew how I’d make an army of this boy for you,
I’d carve his face from limestone
And give him blossoms for eyes
But I’d give him my lips,
So that when you kissed him I’d taste you.
And it’s not like I’d make you,
But inside my head we’re every day making each other laugh;
We’re every day running through dappled fields,
Calling each other’s names,
Smelling each other’s hair.
It’s the sweetest thing.
That’s all I really want to say
Is that you make me smile and dream,
And sometimes I’m looking at your face
For just a bit longer than you’re looking at mine,
And in the half-light I think,
Isn’t she beautiful.
it's all a bit masochistic, isn't it.
well maybe I am a little bit
but we just keep pegging our hearts to clotheslines
and stringing them out into the void;
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.
By night, it all gets a little
Each measure of each song reaches a little
further into the pit of the stomach.
Each touch from each lover burns the skin with a little
sure to leave with more permanence.
Each breath of each lung pulls a little
more even; stretches the ribs a little further.
Each beat of each feeble heart feels a little
more sturdy; a little closer to the throat.
Each word from each mouth tastes a little
more like honesty, like humility,
like the plead to be discovered.
Each worry of each hopeful dawns a little
bit harder; seems a little more tragic.
Each memory of each soul has a
freshly sharpened blade, sinking a little
Each reality of each dreamer sits a little more
threatening on your chest, stealing your divine air.
Each fear of each mind lurks a little darker,
a little more suffocating,
a little more real.
By night our world is raw, unsheathed.
By night it is all a little heavier on our souls,
like dew on a too warm spring morning;
beautiful, but a little harder to breathe in.
i am a fighter. the most competitive and the most unforgiving. my heart is wilted, but i will take it. and so will you. my punching bag. worn from my incessant bickering. torn from my attempts to rip apart your spirit. but you. you roll with the punches. you feed my fire. and i ask you to feed my fire. crumple my insecurities and toss them in a waste basket. relentless but restless. persistant. insistent. why. why do you brace and watch. me. crossing my fingers. hoping the ice will crack. take us down. make us drown. i fall and will fall. into a million pieces. again and again. pathetic and needy. wanting you to need to me. wanting you to leave me for someone else’s taking. someone else’s breaking. but you don’t. you get down. on your hands and your knees. with a magnifying glass. looking for the pieces that fit together. every bit and every glimmer of my complication. my skeleton of a soul. why. why when i leave you to find me in the dark. my ruthless game of hide and seek. to find me. to unwind me. catch me and grind me. the ways i grind you. leaving you without any light. without a way back to me. do it yourself. i am relentless but restless. persistant. insistent. but still you play. you stay. why, why do you stay. waiting until i decide to switch the light back on. until i decide to give up. you think you will win. but i am the toxic type. the no missed calls. the watch you fall. the wants you to hurt. become bruised. and become used. become just like me. the needs to push you away. but wants you to stay. my heart is hard. my heart is tough. and you will never, ever understand. that love means surrender. to you. to me. and to all that i am.
A swiveling dark cloud
Seemed to land its home
Upon my head
There is nowhere
A cigarette seems
To quell it
Only for a bit
Lost in this