Kaavya Sep 25
the secret to
   any open window
i found over
   three different lives.

i spend the
   next trying to
share it. but

what matters is:
   a broken ocean
a gentle gradient
   your breathing heart.
Kaavya Sep 11
Say I defined time in quarters -
A flash of lightning, an inflamed heart
a silent revolution, a fallen photograph.
Suddenly life is too short.

Say I divided a circle into thirds -
Hush, no space for shelved dreams
And buttoned up plaid shirts.
We do not break bread with discontinuity.

Say I had two hemispheres of life -
too many secrets spill from my ears:
the nook where I braid my hair into knots
the reason not to walk a beach at night.

Say I was brave enough to erase all lines -
unexpectedly, it is not enough, not at all.
I breathe even with the wind-whistle in my skull,
but then it is not a breath, how unready am I?
Kaavya Aug 11
The stories I have to tell may not all be true. This is why,
when I break open my fortune cookie at family dinner I
get a message, poetry is for the selfish. Words that come
from my father who holds my cosmos in his reading glass,
thoughts stolen from my mother who is determined to curve
my shadow into a snow globe.

You see, I have a theory about resistance: I exist
in the tension between warring magnets, a wormhole
between universes that have no blue and green for me,
my soul a tribute to the fact: poetry is for the selfish. I made
my apologies already, sorry for being loud in the wrong
ways and quiet in the right ones.

You see, in this life I can have only one favorite color but
in reality the answer is always C#. In this life I have woven
a web to keep my head above the clouds just so my feet can sink
two inches into ocean sand. Poetry is for the selfish, says the spider
at the crown of my head. And if all I can allow myself is four letters,
I’ll take them with the uneven edges of piano keys and the shadow
of something more wholehearted.
Kaavya Jul 28
i’ll say it again. this is the only
time i write with music. listen now and i’ll spin
the wheel again, an ocean is no excuse for a tipped balance. trace
origins back to சாதம், வீடு, பறவை. tip-toe to reach the top half of the
stove, where the stories and the music are, but hand on head, not quite there yet. in the meantime, i hope my hands become as fire-glazed as yours one day. listen now and i’ll tell you how to live a life in compromises. here, come help me with my சாறி, no, i don’t have flowers for your hair, because there are are two different languages
in this house. inhale savory vowels and lives rolled into the sun, exhale தயிர் without salt, a theoretical childhood, heart with
half  the guilt. listen now for something i told my அம்மா:
travel eight thousand miles by foot and open one eye,
make a phone call and taste dew- glittering நெய்
தோசை. listen now for a final time. when
there are not enough unfurled petals of
this world, look up and find the
பௌர்ணமி in a hidden
corner of your heart.
blink once to skip time
zones, twice to remember the
promise of a thousand locusts and monsoon rain.
Glossary of தமிழ்/tamil words (in order of appearance)
சாதம்/saadham: cooked rice
வீடு/veedu: house
பறவை/paravai: bird
சாறி/saree: traditional clothing
தயிர்/thayir: yogurt, curd
அம்மா/amma: mom, mother
நெய் தோசை/ney dosai: rice pancake with ghee
பௌர்ணமி/pournami: full moon
Kaavya Jul 22
I learned how to write from ghosts,
at a time I didn’t trust anything
more concrete.
Afraid of the ravens, searching for my eyes,
I drew heat from the thinnest whispers
the most deceptive mountains.
And when I couldn’t take it, I also grew feathers,
to escape the birds tearing at my hair.
Letter by letter, I claw back.

I learned how to write from the bottom of a cave
a place I thought I’d been to
already.
I felt it this time, the poetry
humming from my lips
and my heart
tip-toeing across an open window.
The sun pours in, dripping fire and honesty.
I swallow.

I learned to write so I could follow the river,
imagine the mirror
that is a drop of rain
so that I’d find the curve
in the plane of my soul.
And now, I write from the ghost
of my thoughts,
the metallic edges that spin breathing colors
the worlds in which I have wings.
Kaavya Jul 16
regret number one: i didn’t do it for love
i confess i know too many languages
i didn’t ferry the moon across my heart.
too much fear to break the rules.

regret number two: i wrapped my voice
into a seashell and buried it into the sand.
i broke my poet’s promise to always write in caps.
i am too unsure to write in triplets.

this is where i apologize
for bringing us to the end.
every poem is too long
never enough slices of happiness.

this is where i admit
i broke yet another promise
fingers dripping with orange juice
and i couldn’t give you a slice.

final regret: this one’s a whisper
as my legs stumble a beat
and my heart misses the horizon.
don’t let go of me just yet.

i take it back. there is
no conformity in lowercase.
a quiet breeze, a soft freedom
a will to sketch a greyer plot.

and now, for once
there isn’t enough room for regret
all i can do is hope
this is not the end

sit here with me, won’t you
and hope this is not the end
that this moment will come again
and there will be more oranges to slice.
On the verge of change.
Kaavya Jul 11
There are too many words in English
(for me, at least)
for what a fire does.
None of them tell me
what a fire is -
for that, i suppose
all you need
are images
and memories
and eyes.

And there is no point
(for anybody at all)
trying to describe what a fire looks like.
No point in charcoal imagery
and allusions to ****
and poems with holes in them.
Because that’s all a fire leaves behind.
Charcoal
and what feels like ****.
This poem would have holes anyway.

But there is always a reason
to fill these holes
with words.
Why is it
there are always words
when there are holes?
Oh,
why are there words?
Yes, words are human
but ***,
so are the holes,
those between the spidery embers
that we dare to call trees.
(which are human too.)


And since I’m also made
of holes
and words
and dying embers
I (instead) focus on those holes between trees
and think that
wood is not really food for fire
and realize that
this wasn’t supposed to be about me
and pretend that
I am not at a loss,
I've never seen the recent fires in the Pacific Northwest in person. But that's not important, because now all I hear about and smell in the air and feel - is fire.
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