Thursday, April 01, 2010

Hot (for NaPoWriMo)

Ice smoke kisses cool
the passion of a summer
still sweating for him

My bare breath and I
listless longing for a life
on dry summer days

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Writing Exercise: April is the Cruellest Month

The girl is beautiful
I am in awe, but need to blurt out:
What kind of name is April?
That’s a month.


So how can your name be April?

She towers up in gorgeous splendour
and looks at me with pity.

There’s the actress called January –
you know her.

I do?

And I have a friend called February.
This, with a haughty note of authority.

I did odd jobs for Mr. March on weekends,
so I look at her glossy mouth instead.

And I am April
And as if you haven’t met the girls called May
- such an old-fashioned pretty name
There’s a June wherever you go
Usually the silly tomboy type.
And July…

Ah-ha. Who do you know by the name of July?I
I had her there.

More pity, disdainful now.
Julie, Julian, Julius –
for God’s sake, July was named after Julius.
And then quickly,
..and my father’s good friend in Rome
is August Pirelli

Yes, I say triumphantly,
but there are NO Septembers, Octobers, Novembers or Decembers
So there!

Those aren’t months, you moron.
That’s the end of the year.

Unless you count May-December weddings
Surely December is the guy in those,
mutters my sister, the traitor.

It’s still dumb.
Why would parents name their kids after months?

What happened to yours, Tom?
They didn’t like Dick or Harry?
And with that, goddess April turns
and swings away forever
The end of a beautiful friendship.

The cute dimpled one who is new at school
and has been watching this whole charade
smiles over and comforts me:

Hi, I'm June
Don’t pay any attention to her
Everyone knows she’s awful
Don’t you know what they say?
April is the cruellest month.

And the coolest, mumbles Sibling,
two steps behind me
as I walk away, already better,
past warm May
towards hot June.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Hiding Places

I do my friendship test on him :
Where do you go when you hide from yourself?

We are suddenly buddies.
He turns to me, shoulder to shoulder, soul to soul
“Like when you want to cry as the plane takes off
and you cant tell anyone that you hate flying
and are scared of going crash-bang –over?
And when you really want to pick up the free
pens and pads at the conference -
everyone does but your guilt brought you up
to hesitate and see?
And like when you admire the watch
some friend wears that cost 20 K
and you want to tell him, hey,
there are people dying in our backyard
and there are watches that cost 200
But your politeness freezes your smile,
and you did buy that shirt for two grand
Also you fear he might call you a commie
and its a word you hate –
surely you stand for Free Enterprise
But want to make sure that those
kids in your country that you know through your TV
don’t have to grovel and get raped for
2 bucks a day
and you no longer know what system or economies
can guarantee that
and what should you do and what can you do?”

He pauses to breathe.

“And also like when you really have
no compassion, no, none
And want to be left alone to read and dream
and not get involved
or smile at your friends
or listen to some crap or the other
that your loved ones are bound to dole out?
And when you lie about things that don’t
seem to matter and …. “

OK, I said , something like that.
(He might make it I think)
But where do you go and hide then?

Where do you go and hide then? he says

I don’t, I murmur

Where are you now?

Not here, I whisper

Are you hiding? He is curious

If you can’t see me, I am

So you’re hidden! He says triumphantly

No, not from myself, I shout in my head.

See, he says – we’re the same, we’re friends - we both want to hide.

So does everyone else. But where do you go when you hide from yourself?

He looks at me blankly.

Did he fail that test? Well, we aren’t friends yet.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wine Ramble

I read to you
- my words may slur
and run around the room –
my tongue may slip.
I began toasting tonight pre-lunch
and into the hot eye-burning evening
hoping that words and grapes will hold me up.

But did you drink the wine today
on this sunshine day rich with words
that blur your soaked skin and soul?

Around you they speak in Attics with casks of wine
that have been aged
and gained in taste and fullness
with years that come alive to speak aloud
even while you thought the past had vanished from your mind, thank God,
but it remained etched on labels in provences and years that whisper
the richness of the soil
the moisture in the air
the flavour of the liquid
the grape and its mating
the season
the year
the year again.

And some swirl the goblets and
draw in the aroma of the
glowing ambers and warm burgundies
while others talk - can you hear them now? –
of the sensuous pleasure as the liquid is poured into the
sharp cut of crystal blown in remote romantic sounding cities,
and those in that corner hold their stems
and gulp in the words sounding around them
making music and noise,
always more noise
as your soul dims down

Are there a few eyes here
that mirror dreams of vineyards perhaps
where passion twined under an unknown Tuscan sky
-as it was always meant to in your visions -
and does the air make you light headed
for is it not laden with wine and words today as you had always imagined,
a tryst in sepia coloured movies on canvas screens in which you lived many times, not knowing whether it was the movie or the wine or the vineyard
or the biblical breaking bread and sharing wine
or was it just Bogart who made you cry in ecstasy?

And do you ask yourself now – right now - Has the wine aged?
Or have you aged with the wine?
Or did the wines just change as you aged?
And what does it all really mean?
And have you ever abandoned the rest to just go with Khayyam
and take the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse
and if not
why not?

While they touch glasses and glances, are you even listening?
Or are you lost in the familiar measuring of your life in cups, even bottles,
like all of us who live our life in clichés that are tailored perfectly to our taste
as we scramble to find better ways to say things that only need silence
and perhaps
a glass of the grape?

The first half-glass offered to you when you were twelve,
goblets that reflect the loving laughing light in your father’s eyes
the freedom of trust in your mother’s
as the family raised its spirit to toast every grateful occasion
the flavour of that wine filled with so much love
that you forever search in vain for the same
in every glass you’ve ever drunk
since then.

And then the first full bottles on beach drunk nights
the cheapness of the unknown wine
the roughness of the grain that stroked your palate
drowned under the drunk laughter
and sometimes lust
none of which you can quite capture
with the smooth rare year offered to you today
laced with some poets emoting sonorously at a distant nearness
while you wish they were completely drunk
or terribly sober
to throw up and catch the wonder of their words.

As you sit in this illuminating night
punching your mind into the machine with a glass of that truly inspiring year
you wonder
if –
when you die
will the wines of your life flash past your eyes -
the fat wet-rope tied ones in Frascati at roadside cafes
on boats in France
in casinos in Germany
absurdly in the pink of an Indian desert town
in kitchens
in bedrooms
in bathtubs
desperately at endless evenings
with strangers on long flights
on quiet shared nights under soft quilts
against a giddy body and a brilliant smile
recklessly through the worst moments of your days
and exuberantly shouting Cheers, Salut in wildly happy times.

And as you died
you would not know the provence the region the price or the year
but the taste the smell the colour would fill your fading body
while the warmth would headily embrace your soul
in a silence beyond words -
a fitting entry into another world

Enough tonight
Tomorrow you will search your fantasies for stories and poems
a different one for every glass moment year
yes perhaps, even one for every year

© January 2007

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Thursday, January 25, 2007


Later, he would say
I think I first really saw her in a sheet
clutching the crumpled cloth
her body awkward in surprise
that she had slept the night with him

The memory of last night written on
the faded grey patches of that sheet
(scarred by harsh detergent
in a mediocre laundry service)
a ball-scratching receptionist
the outside neon light leering
at the sweaty forgotten orgasm,
or not,
in a bare room

He lay on the stained striped mattress
pretending not to cover the flab
on his stranger’s body
with only a smile
now that the sheet, with its story,
was in her hands

Later, the sheet that covered
her angled body
as she was wheeled out of the building
was white and clean,
sharply creased,
no hint of what lay beneath
She would have been pleased
by the final naked sense of order
A woman who had measured her life
by sheets

A forbidding luxury of lace
on the Irish cotton fabric
of a parental bed
- the first untitled chapter

Later, she would wonder
how he ever fucked her on the
strictly-guarded convent-made splendour
or perhaps he didn’t
and drank
and screwed
and lived a broken life in some other world
where he died one childhood day
and she had the luck
to grow estranged from
only one embittered parent
and live out the nights of her youth
on rich satin cloth in deep sluttish colours
that would outrage her mother
more than the men who lay on them
- the number, or kind

Those bold burgundy days
never foretold of
the prettiness of paisley polycot
with which she would adorn her life and home
with a vigor and fervour
that polished the pretence
of her home-making virtue
into a skill her babies learned to hate
and violate
with messy and crumpled decades
that she straightened behind them
until she grew weary of the role
and lay herself down
on her marriage bed
on sheets she would never later remember
and without the man
who must have driven her to
department store bargains
with some passion,
surely only a passion would have made her
forsake the heady freedom of black satin
in return for this shrivelled hole
tucked diagonally at the edges
to fit neatly into the corners of an impotent bed

Later, she would wonder
and marvel at how the world had changed
in texture, touch and color
to welcome her jubilant return to life
as she would wander
through people’s lives and homes
smiling at the beds they slept on
and the sheets that covered them,
and, some nights, her own body,
or soul

And much later, they would whisper
about her mad ranting
that blamed the sheets
daily more rough and plain
in motel rooms
now that she was invited less
to stay with friends who had husbands
and sons and fathers and men
who learned to laugh and talk with
a whole smiling woman

It was the sheets she said
as she burned holes in dull dis-coloured days
drawing deeply at some last silken thread
that may vanish in smoke
Not the money that ran out
not the children she forgot and
her breasts still remembered
not the pain of a drained body
and a sleepless soul
It was the sheets on which she slept
with unrecognizable men in exchange for life
the sheets would wrap her days
tightly to an end

Later, he would say
I think what attracted me to her,
the night before,
was perhaps her dress that looked like
some sexy bedsheet lighting her bedroom eyes.

He was a stranger
too young, too drunk
How could he have known?

© Anita Vasudeva, 2007

Sunday, November 12, 2006

How do I say this?

She is upset
and regrets that he has behaved so contrarily
She is silent or curt when she speaks
She doesn’t look him in the eye
nor allows his touch to brush her
even casually.
But her eyes are alive
and she has left the window open
for him to make up
not overtly, not immediately.
He must be subtle and sensitive
and coax her gently, perhaps silently
He must apologize yet not be servile.
Gestures will help.
And casually, as if nothing ever happened,
she will be the same again.
perhaps in an hour, perhaps in a few days –
seldom longer

This is not a gender thing
We could have begun by saying
“He is upset…”

In Hindi, there is one word to describe this – “roothna”
In English, I struggle with sentences and paragraphs,
sometimes entire chapters.

(In appreciation of all you transcreators and translators)
(c) November 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

Old School Ties I

35 years ago
a 15 year old boy
cried out for help, darkly,
through a swirling abyss
circled by desperately
clutching arms, black fighting white..
No one seemed to have listened.
Instead they gave him the prize for
'best artist of the year'.

35 years later
50 year old schoolboys
stand unsteadily on a cocktail forum
and express chaotic concern
over a mate whose status
in their limited evening lexicon
they can only describe as
'bad, very bad'
'like the peon in your office'.
They are a privileged class
and it hurts them to see
one of their own, fallen to a state
reserved for 'other' people.
They must lift him up
by the best means they know:

They mean well.

But one or two have heard
the quiet screams from that old canvas
and are collecting paints and brushes
and paper, and are booking galleries
so that 15 year old 'artist of the year'
can start speaking his own language again
so that he may be heard
so that someone may reply
and perhaps, he be set free.

There are always reasons to hope
There are always men
who will look deeply into you
and not let you down.