We wait-
We wait a lot-
We have to do coffee,
we say, someday-
maybe tomorrow-
next week-
next time you’re around-
next weekend-
we’ll have coffee-
we’ll have cake-
we’ll see that city-
or share that lunch break-
someday-
or when we’re retired-
there’ll be time-
there’s time-
until there isn’t.
And then you were gone.
When the car crashed.
riding with your friends.
When they shot you.
on a trip to the mall.
When the plane fell.
out of the bright blue sky
on just another flight.
When you leaned back
off a balcony
at just another party
on just another night.
One morning, you were just
not at the train station.
And I rode to work wondering.
We never had that coffee.

Becoming.

I stayed in your shadow because you preferred me there
gazing adoringly up at your backlit silhouette
You stole my words, my ideas and presented them
as yours, and I let you, because
looking good meant so much more to you
than anything else; than family, than substance.
You snatched away the limelight
as soon as it so much as edged towards me
You had to sing better, to sound better,
to impress anyone who came to talk to me
or to you; and at the end of conversations
(or monologues), you’d ask, what was her name again?
Everyone else had the complex, everyone else
had something to prove, everyone else
thought they knew everything, everyone else
wanted to impress; oh, but not you, of course not.
Because you’d done so much in your past!
But you stopped living some time in the 70s. As if
as soon as it was no longer all about you, you
didn’t know how to react, so you just withdrew,
sulkily, resentfully, and clawing back any attention
desperately, like an insecure, neglected child.
Everyone else had the problem, because nobody else
acted exactly as you thought they should,
nobody else adored you the way you felt
they should, or fell at your feet in worship of you.
Children were easy to impress, and you liked them,
of course; but only if they listened to you, and were
obedient and good. Once they grew up, into teenagers,
those creatures who own their own changing hearts wholly
for the first and last time in their lives, you despised them.
I don’t like her any more, you said, she’s stubborn now,
she’s difficult, she’s spoilt. She’s not the perfect little
illusion with curls looking at you in wonder any more.
I was always so needy, so hungry, so empty; so
attention-seeking; now I have found my own way to
fill that cavernous void, through rough waters and close
shaves. But now I see that you have not moved— it was
always you who was needy, hungry and empty, and still are.
But I have learnt that it is only you who can decide to
take that painful, arduous journey of devastating honesty
to wholeness, and I have learnt that a person can do that
with no one standing in their shadow. Because we are each
enough, and more.

Letting go

I mourned you before I lost you
The pain of the past creeping like
tendrils sinking hooks into my heart,
its meek flowers fearful.
Hope colours everything
poisons everything
muddies the purity of the moment
and the joy of the doing
with its want, its implicit
expectation.

we are broken in the same ways
but in different places

Now I have a life to lead and things to do
I have scars and wounds to heal too
(like the currently open one you inflicted)
And people to love
Who want that love
and time and moments
with me.

Recipe for disaster.

Ingredients:
2 directors disagreeing
1 dictator supervising
1 litre of bureaucracy
2 litres insecurity
A hint of suspicion
A pinch of corruption
Nepotism, just a scrape
To decorate: red tape
Several cupfuls silo thinking
Optional ingredient: Funding

Method:
Mix all in monolith
mixing bowl along with
strong-headed creatives.

Cover with layer of opaque
baking paper, and shake
slightly to release
air bubbles of
team spirit.

Stuff into powder keg
tightly and ensure
no contradiction
near it.

Seal with red tape.


Day 2 of GloPoWriMo/NaPoWriMo.

Cut flowers.

Cut flowers
are stupid,
a cruel
kind of beauty
industry
counted
in hours
and stolen
no less
for: colour
in Zen rooms;
institutions;
empty tombs;
and wanting
Cupid’s favour.
If you love
something,
leave it.
let it grow.


Day 1 of GloPoWriMo/NaPoWriMo. I’m going to follow the prompts this year, for discipline and range.

Pond. 

I can stare at the pond forever–
the murky grey-green furry algae
thickening the still water
skittish skaters on spindly legs
unseen by the fat leisurely koi
sliding through the swampy stems;
fingerling orange goldfish dart
through weed clung to concrete,
hover away from the other fish
and gorge themselves. 

Rage.

~

Rage is like a blazing brushfire, spitting 
white-hot at the core,
searing to ash all flowers of sufferance 
in its path. 

Nothing ambivalent remains. 

Only bone-dry ground
swept clear of debris,
and eerie certainty. 

Wear your joy

Wear your joy
the way other people wear
their stress, anger, ambition
like they are the latest fashion.

Wear it on your skin
like moisturiser, feel for it
in the tub that sits between
your lowest ribs.

Breathe it through your body
so that joy tingles on your scalp
and rises through your cheekbones

Wear your joy,
your chosen hue of happiness
from an infinite colour stable
though it may be unfashionable.

Wear your joy
like a thick wool blanket
draped over your shoulders
perfumed with sunshine.

The calm after the storm. 

~

I miss I miss the numbness at the end of pain,
at the bottom of the well,
damp with fallen tears.

I miss I miss the thick muffled silence
after the howling pull of missing,
the empty chest twisted inside out
and hung on a line to dry.

I miss I miss the cool impervious cloak
after the raw weeping wounds
bleed dry into a crusty scab

I miss the drained and weary
calm after the storm.

Terror.

The seawalls tremble as news breaks and breaks–

like first the distant boom of fury, hate-fuelled bomb–

then tinny shots of gunfire growing louder–

and the screams, the screams seem nearer–

then the whispers of someone’s someone’s wake–

and then they took you, my friend, and the war–

the war burst through and caught me at my door.


This poem was inspired by a friend who lost a friend in the recent terrorist bombings at a hotel in Mogadishu.