Thursday, September 17, 2015

Only a Fool can be Totally Original: Javed Akhtar

Veteran lyricist, script-writer and poet Javed Akhtar continued his charm offensive in Hyderabad as he soaked in the adulation on the centrestage and the sidelines of the Literature Festival. If on Friday, he had audiences listening attentively at a plush hotel, on Saturday it was in the corridors of Hyderabad Public School that he cast a spell on people he interacted with. The man of one-liners and putdowns spoke up about fear of deadlines and how any form of art, poetry, music is emulative. 


"Batayiye dahi hota hai ke dahi hoti hai? Hyderabad mein dahi hoti hai! But phir bhi Hyderabad mein yahan ke logon se zyada khubsoorat kya hoga?" he asks with a laugh about continuing nok-jhonk about the correct diction and accent of Urdu. 

Born in Gwalior, Javed Akhtar's name was Jadu Akhtar. Jadu was the name derived from one of the poems written by his father Jaan Nisar Akhtar, a well known poet. "If my name is Jadu, definitely people will call me Jadu," he says as he becomes nostalgic about his father, "I still remember how my father used to talk about the difficulty in writing in simple language. Simple writing can come from a writer who is very sure of himself. Only a fool can be totally original. All art forms are influenced and emulated. What's new about these art forms? It is very difficult to find new avenues after what the maestros have already done. In my college days, I was very impressed by Sahir Ludhianvi. It's impossible to remain uninfluenced by your favourite writer." 

Even now, his source of inspiration remains: fear of deadline. "I am very scared of deadlines. If someone tells me I have to write within a deadline, I leave everything aside and focus on the ticking clock," he says, adding, "Sometimes, I am stuck with two or three lines. I keep the paper in a drawer and after six or eight months, when I feel I am emotionally more prepared, I add a few more lines and it becomes a longer poem then." When asked if his wife Shabana Azmi is the inspiration for his romantic poetry, he blushes, and nods. Then he says, "Sab kuchh aap ko nahi bataunga. Phir mazaa hii kya!" 

A strong votary of Telangana agitation, Javed reminiscences about Krishna Chander's novel Jab Khet Jage, which is about Telangana Rebellion before India's Independence, "Urdu writers were writing exceptional pieces during the Telangana rebellion. I salute people of Telangana for what they have achieved." 

Incidentally, Javed's journey into poetic world began at Hyderabad where he recited his first ghazal. "I had come with Kaifi Azmi Sa'ab. I was very nervous on the stage. His presence made me comfortable," he says. Though he may be writing some of the better known songs and stories of Hindi film industry, Javed has a soft corner for the poets of Hyderabad, "Makhdoom Mohiuddin was my favourite. And so were Shaz Tamkanat and Aziz Qaisi."

Published in The Times of India. I met Javed Sa'ab at Hyderabad Litfest, 2015.

The Merchant of Verses

For him, the world appears the size of a child’s play-board. This is poet Hoshang Merchant for you, who weaves different colours of life in his rhymes that transport you to exotic worlds.

“How can you write a single line unless you first read a thousand books and travel ten thousand miles?” This old Chinese proverb perfectly personifies poet Hoshang Merchant. He is a merchant of verses who brings words from the world of dreams. His words breathe of the many places he has travelled to, be it Iran, Jerusalem or Heidelberg.  With looks of Dumbledore and wit of Walt Whitman he celebrates his poetry.

Hoshang was born in a Zoroastrian family in Bombay. The year of his birth 1947 defines his individuality that he celebrates with élan both in his works and his life. An open gay poet that he is, he used to teach English Literature and Gay Studies in University of Hyderabad. He retired last year. On his would-have-been role as the Director of Poetry Centre that didn’t come up at Golden Threshold, he responds that it’s not necessary that he would be its Director. The VC had casually brought this offer to him on his retirement, and he declined. 

It is more than a love affair that he has with poetry. Poetry has ‘chosen’ him. He is deeply influenced by Buddhism and Sufism. For him these two philosophies flash the light called life, which oscillates between Birth and Death. He avers, “Rhyme, meter and other forms of poetry are the clothes we put on Emptiness which is at the heart of all poetry, out of which we create. All creations come from Nothingness. Buddhism talks of Sunyataa, while Sufism talks of Death: life in another world.” He goes on, “Mohammed, the Prophet said, ‘Seek knowledge even if you have to go to China.’ The Sufis picked this up and became the wandering Dervishes. I went around the world and returned like Marco Polo.” In his book ‘Talking to the Djinns’ he writes about Baghdad and Aladdin, and takes his readers to Oriental lands on a flying carpet.

Hoshang denies the role of a poet as Prophet in this world of nuclear threats, terrorism and racism. He says, “The poet is exactly of his time. It’s the others who are behind. So, they have nonsensical terms like ‘avant garde’! The poet picks up the vibes of the times like an antenna. There’s no difference between fact and fiction, except that fiction has to make sense, and poets make that sense.” He wants that the cliques should go. “Bombay isn’t the centre of the universe for Indian English poetry. We need to have more translations and get de-centred from the cities and the universities,” he berates.

For Hoshang the chutneyfication of Indian English literature is not less than a potpourri. He likes the biryanification of the same by Agha Shahid Ali as much as he loves Shobha De’s coinage of Hinglish. A veteran professor that he has been, he takes language as the living thing that grows, “Think of the words Queen Elizabeth’s ships brought to Shakespeare! Why should we be prudish in India?”

He lambasts the nobility of the Nobel Prize, “There’s no nobility in the Nobel or ANY other prize! All prizes are political. Alice Munro won because Canada has not won so far. Whoever heard of Under the Volcano coming out of a Canadian in Mexico? ‘Tagore won because not only was he a great man of nature but also a great man in his society,’ as John Bayley reminded us recently. It would have been impossible otherwise for a ‘Brown’ man to win in 1913. The Nobel Prize for the Chinese Laureate was a slap for Red China!”

He had broken his pen after the death of Whabiz Merchant, his sister and his best friend in 2011. However, he is now re-issuing his Writers Workshop titles as Collected Works in three volumes named Quartet, Quintet and Sextet. He is shipping his own works back to the shores where his readers wait for old and fresh verses to arrive.

The interview appeared in Jagran CityPlus, Hyderabad edition.

City's Festivity of Literature


The fourth edition of Hyderabad Literary Festival made some brows frown and voices heard. Giving a sweet taste to bibliophiles, it left a void that was both un-accommodated and yet accommodated with writers in 'demand'. Cityplus brings you its snapshots.

If books bring you closer to different literatures of the world, then literary fests bring those to you who actually create them. Under the giant umbrella of lit fests 'literally' important and oh-so-serious-discussions brew up on the dais ending with a cup of frothy tea in the open lounge areas - the flavour depending on which side of the globe you are from. From the hip hop Jaipur Lit Fest to the lesser-known Taj Lit Fest, India's presence on literary map is making its stamp.

This year's Hyderabad Literary Festival saw a flock of writers who flew from countries as far as Czechoslovakia, Germany, Scotland and United States to Ireland, which was the guest nation of the lit fest.

Literary Street

At the five venues on Road No. 8, Banjara Hills Ashiana was abuzz with hubbub of literary activities. Amidst the small book stalls set up in the lawn established writers, wannabes, transgender writers, gay poets, Dalit writers to teeny boppers and I-also-read flash mob jostled for space bumping into occasional Oh-I-know-you figures.

Slight pecks, little shrieks, hands trying to balance 'Amish' atop 'The Chomsky Effect' saw discussions on Wilde and Whitman to Ireland and Israel to lambasts on fading Spring Revolution. Other than the jostling jamboree Hyderabad Lit Fest turned out to be heated cubicle for imperialistic English.

The Panel

In the panel discussion 'Literature of Ireland' chaired by Declan Meade, Kashmiri US poet and photographer RafiqKathwari, who is also an honorary citizen of Ireland, called the English speakers in once-British-colonies 'the children of Macaulay', "Our English pronunciations tell how costly our education has been! Eight hundred years before the British colonized India they had practiced Imperialism in Ireland. That's how G. B. Shaw's writings are glorious as well as abusive. Writing should find its way in tradition and still belong to the world of literature." Irish writer Gabriel Rosenstock took over saying, "Apart from Latin and Greek Irish is the oldest language and literature of the world. The heritage we have is very rich."

From the discussions on 'World Englishes' to 'The Magical Journey of Indian Cinema' the topics were as diverse as 'Speaking in Many Voices' by noted writer Githa Hariharan. She launched a book of essays edited by her named 'From India to Palestine: Essays in Solidarity'. She said, "When it comes to Palestine, it is a product of movement against colonization. Palestine is the last bastion of colonization. Within Israel it is doing injustice not only to Palestinians but also to Israelis. There are different strategies of attack over there. If you want to attack religion the target is Jerusalem; commerce the target is Hebron, the commercial centre."

On Translations

Spivak, arguably the most difficult cultural theorist of our times emphasized that translations can be dangerously deceptive. But US poet and translator Bill Wolak's translation of Persian poet Hafez's verses from Persian into English was a breather. Many other Indian language poets like DileepJhaveri conducted poetry readings with fluidity. The lying-low activists were woken up with a jolt by the panel discussion 'Translating a Movement' comprising the strong voices of flaring Telugu Dalit poet Gogu Shyamala and others like Gita Ramaswamy and Purushotham K.

The Mix

Crunched between the readings were workshops, theatre performances, new book releases for those on literary overdose. From the popcorn munching hip students to old lit-lovers in crisp saris the five venues of Hyderabad literary Festival, 2014 saw gossips on emerging writers, South Asian voices, US residency programs to high profile publishing pimps on the three days of the festival that began on January 24th and came to an end on 26th. Academics and literature watch dogs are already speculating what HLF 2015 will bring.

[This article had originally appeared in Jagran CityPlus (Feb 1-7, 2014) Issue.

Geetha Hariharan: In discussion with Saima Afreen

She sets stones on fire. She wakes the dead history up. Her words bust crawling maps. She is Githa Hariharan. A prolific writer Githa has mapped the world through her journalistic pieces that mirror back from innumerable short stories, books and essays she has written. In an interview with Saima Afreen she talks briefly about the new non-fiction book of essays that she has edited and co-authored with other writers, journalists and authors.

Tell us about your new book 'From India to Palestine: Essays in Solidarity' that contains political essays from other writers as well.

The idea was to renew, revisit an old relationship between India and not only Palestine but that region where India has had historically strong ties and in West Asian region in particular. When it comes to Palestine there are two things; one is that it is a product of movement against colonization. The second is that Palestine is the last bastion of colonialism. It is a particular form that we have taken a stand on as in the case of South Africa. There are certain apartheid policies. And what does apartheid mean? It means separate unequal! And this is just happening in the occupied West Bank where it is in a way bit more flagrant because it is occupied by military, but also within Israel which is not only doing injustice to the Palestinians over there but to the Israelis as well. As we know in India that if somebody attacks on Muslims and Christians you don't have to be a Muslim or a Christian to take a stand on that. This is the logic that the book began with.

Interesting things about the theme of the book...

Some of us who have been to Palestine, it was also a curiosity to know what was occupation like in the lives of people on a day to day basis. With colonialism, we know there are different strategies of attack. If you want to attack religion the target is Jerusalem, for commerce it is Hebron - the commercial centre. At the check points you see walls that grab land on both sides. It could be in the middle of olive groves. It could be in front of somebody's house. The other aspect we had is the analysis of India's relationship. There are essays by Nayantara Sahgal, there are also analyses as to what happened in early nineties despite India's lip service in support of Palestine. NAM was not meant to be a passive movement. It was an active policy to support decolonization talking of independence in economic and foreign policy. What is discussed in the essays in the book is that when your economic policies give up the independence it's surprising that your seeding the foreign policy matters is co-terminus in seeding the economic space.

What is your idea of India today?

If we talk about Palestine, it is also one of the many ways through which we can talk about as to what is our idea of India today. We have to see what was the idea of India we began with! Both Gandhi and Golwalkar wrote about Israel and Palestine crisis. There is a contrast there. For Golwalkar, it made sense. Because that model of a nation is a homogenized model. Jews have the right to return to Israel, but the Palestinians who were displaced in 1948 and late 60s do not have the right to return! Today our idea of India is different from what it used to be. What is this new emphasis on strategic relations with the U.S.? And what does that tell about us and what kind of a nation we want to become?

What does solidarity mean as it has been discussed a lot in the book?

First, we have to redefine words like 'secular' and 'democracy'. We hardly know what they mean! Solidarity, today in the international context, means putting pressure on your own government, your own media, your own industries, your own academic and culture practitioners. And there are levels of solidarity. There are real people and real political forces at work.

Do you see a new form of colonialism rising?

There is no question about of new colonialism! It is there. Though I am not a historian or an expert on the same, colonialism has visited different parts of the world in different ways and in different times. In some places it was secular colonialism. Our own experience of colonialism was quite different from that of Africa. With Palestine, of course, it is its specificities that mark it. The question is now that it continues to manifest itself not only as occupation but also in this kind of almost impossible situation where there has to be a two state solution, but then what sort of two state solution? And there is an essay in the book by economist Prabhat Patnaik who asks if there are going to be two states are they going to be 'states' with democratic framework in both? It must not fall under the propaganda that 'Israel has working democracy'!

I met Geetha Hariharan at Hyderabad LitFest, 2014.

Gabriel Rosenstock: In Conversation with Saima Afreen

From pastoral poetry to Celtic revival and the brilliant exactitude of W B Yeats, Irish poetry has travelled on a mountainous topography of changes that has only enriched its lyrical landscape. After the era of symbolism, poets like Gabriel Rosenstock have amalgamated Irish tradition of poetry with influences from other cultures and languages tucked faraway on the mental map. In an interview with Saima Afreen, Gabriel Rosenstock talks about his new book 'The Flea Market in Valparaiso', and the aftertaste that British imperialism left on the tongue of Ireland. 

The Indian connection

It is not just a search of another 'I' that brings Gabriel from Ireland to India so many times. He finds a myriad of things that are common between the two countries though they are miles apart. He finds the contrasts amazing in India, "Life in India is so different. There are so many colours and scents around, the flowers and dresses - a delightful shock to the senses. This reflects in the great diversity of Indian linguistic and cultural scene. And, ostensibly, we share a common past in colonialism. It was not for nothing that Edwin Thumboo described Ireland as the first colony of the British. They practised imperialism here and Ireland's forests were robbed to build the British Navy.".

On English language

With a deep sigh Gabriel quotes Hugh MacDiarmid, "The Scottish poet said, 'English is not a language, it is a disease.' Poetry has its roots in songs, chants and metres and I don't believe that the English language is a suitable vehicle for poetic art in former British colonies in Asia and Africa. The language in which you name your rivers, sing your lullabies and laments; the language you speak after waking up from a sweet dream - this language has a direct route to the heart, the heart that sings and sees. Why should English master my mind if it is not the language of the heart? It is the language of weather reports and the broken English of international so-called communication."

Great Art is always channelled; it draws on the stream of the language of ancestry. Gabriel ponders, "Looking back a thousand years, this language can be equipped with numerous secrets and blessings. Writing poetry in the language of the colonizer is something forced. I do not know how one can fully recover from the shocks which the colonizer inflicts upon a sensitive heart. There are Indian masters of English language, surely, and Irish masters; but English is not a pass, in itself, to greatness or distinction. I see advertisements in India which couple English classes with improved personality. The opposite is true. Followers of Macaulay have no true personality of their own!

Linguistic landscapes

"We in Ireland have a Language Commissioner who resigned recently because he thought the present government was not accommodating Irish speakers and the State was neglecting its recruitment policies. Less than 2% of the employees of the Department of Education are able to communicate in Irish. This would have astounded the Gaelic enthusiasts who fought and died during the 1916 Rising, hoping for an Ireland that would be a true Republic and one that would show respect for the ancestral tongue"

He calls for an awakening of consciousness on language survival, something that does not engage the opinion makers of the world's media. He fears that in fifty years time only three or four Indian languages will survive, as literary media. We need to wake up!

On Irish poetry

The poetry of Ireland, in the Irish language (Gaelic) dates back to the pre-Christian era. Latin and Greek aside, Irish is the oldest written literature in Europe. "We come from a country that enjoys talking and conviviality. Our literature - our superb short stories in English and Irish - derive from this storytelling tradition. Much of the originality and humour comes from an anarchic streak. If you have seven hundred years of colonial imperialism, it nurtures a suspicion of authority. Your intelligence demands a rebellious questioning of symbols and clichés. These instincts are highly developed in many artists. Ireland, an island, is less than a metropolis in size; everybody knows everybody. We familiarize ourselves with our poetry."

On his works

Gabriel writes both in Irish and English. Other than writing in free verse, he writes haiku and has translated widely. His famous work 'Portrait of the artist as an Abominable Snowman' won him accolades. His new book 'The Flea Market in Valparaiso' bears Indian imprints in lines such as:

at the foot of the cross
a snail trailing blood
becomes a Buddha

A bilingual book called Bliain an Bhandé/ Year of the Goddess is an attempt towards incorporating the spirit of bhakti into Western poetry. He elaborates, "I write out of the unknown, to make known the unknown, or if not to make it known, at least shimmering and musical, somehow. What I know I don't write about. What I know is not poetry. The poet is always on a voyage on an unknown vast sea inside him/her. When we begin to open our eyes we see that we, too, are being watched unconsciously. The more our consciousness expands the more we see things clearer. There are some in the Kalahari Desert, who have experienced the expanse of the stars and other events unfolding, naming stars visible only to the telescope. Explosion and implosion is required for Art can't remain idle for long. Art is an essential awakening to the mystery of Life." He signs off, "If pundits, professors and priests miss the vital role of mystery in poetry, they will miss it too in their lives! Living the mystery is all we need to do."


Published in Museindia. I met Gabriel at Hyderabad LitFest, 2014.

A Small Wish

When the Moon
Drowns herself in the dreams of Monét-
pin a few broken
at the satin edge
of my skirt
with poppies and pansies

let a torn lace
from-my bodice-
the crushed-
on your mahogany bed

And when
the naked mirrors
cover themselves
with blue starlight-
tuck the emerald
of the earth
in my hair
and let these forests bloom
as jasmines, olives, and sandalwood
on the white horse of your pillow
That rides
On the wet waist
of Heer

And when
Each drunk moment
opens as a full-blown pink lilac
Climbing to the ceiling
That onyx eyelashes paint
Frescoes on-
hook the anchors
of my floating soul
to the crystal beaches
of maple songs-
On the folds of a naked rose

sleep, sleep, my Love, Sleep…

The blush dawning on hill-tops
Shall wipe your
d o w s

C l e a n… 

Shades of Life

His ‘Nude’ series shocked many, his splashes of colour paint gigantic themes that appear not just poetic, but shriek with stark reality as well. Yes, we are talking about Wasim Kapoor – the eminent artist whose oeuvres have changed the world of contemporary Indian Art. Read on to find more:


Pablo Picasso had said, “The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web.” And in the midst of the rubble of long forgotten Oriental philosophies the opuses of eminent painter Wasim R. Kapoor seem to emerge both from the real and the surreal world. No wonder then they wake up the dreamless eyes to see the unseen with a rain-washed clarity.  If the raw innocence blooms only to disappear amidst steel cityscapes it finds its manifestation in Kapoor’s strokes through elements of abstract, realism, and surrealism. Born in Lucknow Wasim Kapoor lives in the heart of Calcutta: Prafulla Sarkar Street that is.

Soothing agonies

The human agonies, the deep pains, the orthodox chains find their own voices to speak from the deep furrows on the human faces formed from the groans of Life. A facial portrait of brooding Mother Teresa seems to spread her aura of compassion rooted deeply in her wrinkles filled with tales of time. Kapoor’s vision magnifies the thankless labour of Sisyphus in the toll of Calcutta’s hand rickshaw pullers that he calls,” The worst example of human violation in a civic society of cultured people!” The faces turned stones from inhuman labour seem conspicuous by their absence in his painting of a rickshaw stretched beyond the clouds perhaps traversing the expanse of the endless sky with a golden bell to tinkle unconsciously near His Majestic Palace. A nightmare turns into dream riding on fluffy clouds yet cloaked in shades of black and white as colours would mock the plight more than to define it. What flashes from behind dark faces isn’t ephemeral but takes the conscience to a universe where grief croaks with a belief and dreams break into photons.

‘Burqa’ busted!

The stature of Kapoor’s dexterity emerges from dark crevices that have resounding effects in the society on a level that can’t be anything but humongous. Khamenei’s fanaticism made his revolutionary conscience pour the angst in ‘Burqa’ series that shows women trapped inside a prison of black fabric that doesn’t let even the whisper of wind brush the tender faces confined inside, that could otherwise have smelt the sky. The shriek of women transmutes into his series of prostitutes entitled ‘Victims’. An aching honesty glisters from these paintings that only a maestro’s sensibility and sense of aesthetics can bring alive on canvas.

Mastering the art

If the world is God’s canvas, Kapoor’s canvas is his entire world where dreams take shape and reality speaks. Confined to a hospital bed for twelve years due to his fall at the age of six months he’d nothing but a handful of sky peeping from a window to watch from his hospital room. He would try to emulate pictures of apples and animals from his brother’s book. And that’s how a new world of colours and figures came calling to him. His father the legendary Urdu poet Salik Lucknawi arranged for him teachers to teach him painting inside the room. “I have been a student of masters like Atul Bose, Debiprasad Roychowdhury, Gopal Ghosh, Chittarnjan Das.”

His father Salik Lucknawi, one of the founders of Progressive Writers’ Association: Calcutta Chapter, was the biggest pillar of support for him. Had he not realized Wasim talent for painting thing would have been different for him. “Even now when he is gone I still feel the warmth coming from his room and enveloping me,” reminisces Wasim, clad in his signature black outfit.

The ‘Nude’ series

The vast expanse of a blue sky remains the backdrop of many of his paintings that according to him, “Is an endless book of mysticism holding the secrets of universe in its pages.” It also denotes his deep wish to soar in the open sky: a sky of freedom where thoughts can be expressed as naturally as stars or rain and where no one stops a Husain or a Rushdie from what he wishes to express. That’s why despite hailing from a Muslim background his works celebrate sensual beauty of woman that’s raw, tender yet blossom into a myriad forms.
“What’s bigger than beauty is attractiveness otherwise it’ll be lost in a sea of other humans,” says the painter. In his ‘Nudes’ series the woman is again confined in a room but a window opens perhaps to let her fly into another sky or shows the coming together of two worlds one that is bleak and the other one juxtaposed as a planet of light.  It appears more like a dream within dream while the window becomes the candid raconteur of silent stories. And the series attracted the hardcore fundamentalists who had gathered around his house demanding he stop his work.

Tribute to Tinsel Town

His series ‘Shades of Time’ celebrates 75 years of Indian cinema encompassing the era of Kanan Devi, Madhubala to Konkona Sen Sharma as a tribute to Indian screen beauties. Awards are nothing but recognition that come to his opuses naturally. No wonder his inspirations are the likes of Rembrandt, Husain, Picasso, Michelangelo, and Salvador Dali to Rubens. And he’s an artist who welcomes darkness and pain with equal élan while he celebrates beauty in places sordid and dingy in the light of absolute mysticism.

Across the world

Wasim’s paintings have been showcased in different exhibitions across many countries such as England, France, Sweden, Germany and Japan. What appeals to the art aficianadoes is his use of self-sensuality of the human images that he chooses. For example recently his painting that was sold in London for a whopping price displays Krishna in muscular form with his dark ebony hair flying as he mellifluously plays the flute golden in colour. His blue body blends yet remains distinct from the misty white background. The enigmatic co-mingling of three dimensions of art complete its aesthetic sense that brushes artistic sensibilities with its composition.

Published in The Times of India, Central Calcutta edition.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Are You the Wolf who Stood at the Edge of a Forlorn Fairy Tale?

...against the pink sky the bones are still crackling
refusing to melt in the heat. The fire that lit up
anecdotes now folds winter in your eyes. Are you

the same that howled for Princess Vasilisa? Her
hair brush was a forest of fresh seasons. This mist
rises from your cold fur that you couldn't get rid of.

Don't wait for the moon. The threads of dry rivers
have used it to spin a forlorn valley where you
would catch her smell; that was a dew eons ago.

These tufts of grass that sleep at your legs are kingdoms
she surrendered for you. Your blood never heated again.
When the sky turns red, you might find an address:

You might find fire.

Published in Visual Verse

For Shakuni

Below the reign of pollen
Is a staircase where an
Ampersand awaits.

…and i throw the bones
of my forefathers
On the dusty Game Board

The dice cracks
            o   p   e   n – an atlas where
Cartilage boils to your whispers
Carthage and Hastinapur wake
In the slipping satin from
The tips of Time

And in the nucleus of sapphire
King Priam was already r i d i n’
on the minutes dripping
From the veins of crown
Shedding jungles of gold
Now a cluster of anemone
You decorated the slave girl’s
Hair with.

Did the moving stars not tell you
Termites will be the wise ones
with screeches of chariots  - lost
digested, safely

In their bellies?

Published in Contemporary Literary Review India


Time has become too old
Even for history
Here -                          Dust it off
                                    From window pains
                                    Polished planets
                                    Have played
                                    Chinese Checkers
                                    For too long!
From an empty
Glass square
A rusted season
Has fallen on
The wrinkled
Log hours
With bullets
for fruits
and shelter
in dead leaves!
                        Climb! Climb!
                        Up! Up and up!
                        Pluck the rainbow
                        Even though
It is half of a circle…
Open its Blue
For your
Sky is Lost
Find it in the long winter sleeves
Of your pherans

…ice will soon cover you
    The red explosions
    Will turn you

 Published in Contemporary Literary Review India

Post Script

Yesterday. Today. Many days...
Calpol of bad news
Saved your waxed laughter
For cold logs to burn


Mad Hatter takes you
To Brooklyn Bridge
To a market
Where your last coin
Will be your laughter.

Published in Coldnoon Travel Poetics

Caterpillar Voices

Stuffed with periods
To two worlds.
On cascading sewerage
Tossed into balls

Bell jars explode
In caterpillar voices

The green strip moves to Savannah fields
Pygmy pods open
With yellow seeds

The heart was never dark
Veins never change on map of blood...
Pitcher plants ate the last butterfly
Tattooed on my breath.

Who will make Russian salad with Chinese cabbage?

Red always cries
In tomatoes
Of Hanging Gardens buried
In tongues...

Published in Coldnoon Travel Poetics

At Lake Street

Light falls only   in    his     hut

He mixed night with porcelain
A strip of Czech
On bleached brunette head
The walnut
Missing its wires

Snaking through Apple’s map
Foxtails. E-mails. Blazers. Razors
Clumped into a globe of Day...

...your world, white, cold
A grey eyed child
Buries black bones
Every winter
In the hut – your Uncle whore as a crown!

Published in Coldnoon Travel Poetics

A Torn Note

The moon’s last cry
Sound of lilies
Frosted in the violin
Winter nest             bleeding womb of poppies
Wail of papyrus in summer                   n o o n

The petal Book of Black
A scalpel tears
the algebra of Braille...

My shadows fall apart
Thin sunlight s...i...m...m...e...r...s in rice pot
She stitches fresh roses
On dew dipped blouses

Inside hijaab          
Little tulips fight
For Spring

diaries you wrote
Still smell of camphor

Your letters sway on c-l-o-t-h-e-s-l-i-n-e

A blast somewhere
In-visible cities

Atlantis appears on your swollen skin
Tin kettle sweats of Shopian


Hijaab – a head covering worn by Muslim women

Shopian – A small town in Kashmir also known as the Valley’s Apple Orchard

Published in Brown Boat magazine