Archives for posts with tag: poetry

They ponder on death and God
with their scripture and science
That two pronged instrument
That two forked serpent
Iterating their thoughts over millennia

I too ponder them

Who is this absent God they worship?
Is it me, as I am in my true glory?
Or a figment of their old fears and new desires?

If I stir again to tip the scales
do I do them, my most loyal, a disservice?
Is their faith rewarded by being answered,
or does the fruit lie in uncertainty?

I too ponder

They draw cycles of life now and speak of an infinite universe
They peer into their machines and untangle my grand design
See nature’s spirals, life’s twisting helix
And then conclude that life abruptly severs?

Do they forget my old signs?
That sphere of black seeping in white and white that seeps in black,
That everturning wheel, marching on?

Are they in such a rush for heavenly conclusion
or hellish judgement
that they would skip over the glorious work to get there?

Yes I too grow to that end

What do they think happens in the afterlife – that beforelife – before they are brought back?
How else to explain man’s growth and civilisations’ progress but that there is no abrupt end,
That life goes on after death as death goes before life
Consciousness iterating over millennia

Do they not ponder upon my Angels’ wombs
Which they ageing backwards enter
and return to the earth?

Once upon a time, they would tremble at my wrath
Like fearful children huddled in a cave
And for the smallest transgressions I would crumble them like salt between my fingers
How else to teach a babe the dangers of fire
than to hold their hand up to it?

As they grew, so too did my open love and forgiving nature
A teenage child can be reasoned with,
is expected to fail and rebel,
must be trusted to return to the fold

Now I withdraw myself to give them room to grow
towards that final step.
And in my absence they profane
“Our God is inconsistent! Why does He no longer show himself? If He was real he would not forsake us!
I withhold my righteous destruction and bite my tongue
That final step is the hardest to climb
For myself as much as them

How long before they ponder the evolution of their consciousness as well as mine
And realise that both are intertwined, evertwisting upwards?
Do they see it in their microscopes, this other double helix?
That Man shapes God as much as God shapes Man?

That all creation elevates the Creator?
That paradise is something their God
must also aspire to?
When they understand the immensity
of our undertaking,
will they then be patient?

I too ponder.

Tonight again, to that dead space
where all the world’s untold greatness lies
beyond the grasp of its men
A realm of, at once, every branch never taken
unbirthed arts, undared ventures, unspoken loves
All the fruits that withered here on earth 
grow heavy in that place, pregnant and fit to burst

That place
That perfect place of ideals and ideas and concepts
Perfect in its evermorphing formless forms
Configurations that contort within the ether
Free from human flaws, untainted by nature
Boundless potential, unactualisable
The collective un-concrete unconscious
that never-was and never-will

That dead space of dreams and aborted lives
Tonight again, to that space

Art by Tatiana Iliina

Up near the bridge, we played by the waters
Barefoot and careless, your sons and your daughters
We laughed and we giggled at hard times to come
We washed in the river and shone in the sun

Tall tales of a witch, we heard by those waters
So we went to go see, us sons and us daughters
We hid and we peeked behind ridges of stone
And watched the old hag come out from her home

She hobbled and limped and knelt at the waters
And we held our breaths, your sons and your daughters
Hiding in long grass and covered in mud
As she washed in the river and dried in the sun

Tall tales of a witch that day by the waters
Nothing to see for us sons and us daughters
We booed and we jeered and we howled at the crone
As she hobbled in silence and limped back to her home

Up near the bridge, we played by the waters
Barefoot and careless, your sons and your daughters
We laughed and we giggled at hard times to come
We washed in the river and shone in the sun

Tall tales of a witch, we balked by the waters
Brave in our youth, us sons and us daughters
We gathered up rocks to throw at her home
She opened her door and some hit the crone

We ran from the bridge, away from the waters
Cowardly children, your sons and your daughters
She washed in the river the blood that had run
As we laughed and we giggled at what we had done

We woke the next day to play by the waters
Barefoot and careless, us sons and us daughters
We came by the bridge to the sounds of her laughter
Not all of us there, and not ever hereafter

We shrieked and we screamed, our legs wouldn’t run
The debt had come due for what we had done
Two more by their necks, one son and one daughter
The hag held our siblings down under the water

Their bodies bobbed up and then down in the water
As payment for sins washed away with their slaughter
She hobbled and limped away to her home
And left us to cry at the cost of our stones

Up near the bridge, we’d played by the waters
Barefoot and careless, your sons and your daughters
We’d laughed and we’d giggled at hard times to come
And washed in the river and shone in the sun

Oh sweetest spacegirl

We thought our love to be one for the ages
that the stars themselves beat for us
that the heavens played and the angels sang
for us

The beating heart that is the universe
– time’s accordion –
contracting and expanding its pockets
little Nows in their little trajectories, present everywhere
and one of them once ours for a lifetime

Oh foolish young love

Perhaps these are the final thoughts of a dying starman being torn apart
shredded memories of a lover twisted infinitely thin
into cosmic spaghetti
Do you remember the first time we went for Italian together?

or maybe I’ve already gone beyond that black veil
how to process such a notion?
that you are inaccessible to me and I am lost to you 
forever

And I promised you the heavens
Oh foolish starcross’d love

I’ve learned this much at least
That you spend the entirety of your life becoming, perhaps – if you’re lucky, that is
But even so, with this particular period, or that one, clearly demarcated from the others, some of the growth is simply more than the rest; stands apart

Those moments or days, weeks, years
when you’re the molten steel in the crucible
the angry hot, liquid empty rage
and at the same time, the refashioning hammer

It takes time and craft and mastery
Self-mastery:
failures and failings both
and those fears faced openly

Chasing it all just to see if any of the new pieces fit
and when some do, you begin to beat away at the clumpen thing again
Patiently, lovingly, with dogged determination

And a thing takes shape.
A re-purposed thing.

As you can track the winds in the flight of birds, so too do I trace the hand of god in your movements
A maddeningly pure grace, simple and honest – made all the more enchanting by your very ignorance of it
Your total commitment to the task at hand, the dedication
as you go about your daily works,
springs forth vitality in your wake
Life, even, as obvious as that which shoots up
from watered soil
Radiant. Glowing.

Perhaps more men have stirred to honest prayer
by the likes of your kind
than by priest or sermon or the knowledge of certain death
whose words are dimmed in your light

Honest prayer:
supplications, enduring affirmations of joy

Disney don’t takedown the image pls

I don’t know if dissociation is the right word
but in recent years I’ve found myself 
revisiting old memories
and seeing my younger self
not as myself, oddly,
but more often as a child stranger
or a younger sibling

Old wounds then unfold and tear again in surprising ways,
catch me unawares in the most unsuspecting moments
A line from some old film seen countless times before takes on new life and cuts me fresh,
leaves me struggling not to weep for little me
Some inoffensive tweet or rediscovered forgotten detail looses old thoughts

And then the big brother in me wants to ball up his fists
and fight something, someone
How could they do that to him? To that trusting child? To me
How could she say that to him?
How could he let that boy think that?

Arman once ran out with a cricket bat to fight a neighbour
who too loudly argued with our mum on the street
and I had to pull him away
even as I, myself the hypocrite, kept a keen ear through the crowding aunties

I on the other hand once mused that the deaths of my parents would be sore days I could easily move on from
– a hurtful truth to admit –
but I would certainly have to die before all my siblings
or God help the world that dared remain in their absence

And that same familial, brotherly instinct
kicks in
when I see small me
Us with our wholly shared genetics 
and him without a big brother to protect him

And if only I could punch a hole through time
just to whisper none of those things were his fault

danse macabre

the ghosts of my forebears hide in my bones,
make them dense, live on in them
they steel me with their collective will
inherited

a hundred stern faces
of strangers
cold women, hard men of small stature and sharp features
some dark, some milk. blue and green eyes amid them.
horse men, mountain men, ganges men.
conquerors, kings and princes. titled lords and judges.

esteemed people of character and repute

the hundred – no, thousand – faces flicker in disgust
as they mount with every passing generation
their cumulated weight ever increasing, as did their machinations
agendas criss-crossing, too many voices at once vying for attention
each straitjacketing another and grinding the whole almost to a halt
frenzied static: a net movement of zero

inert but for their shared disappointments in how things turned out

he had a good run at ~81, real age;
the sort of run that gets you through four nationalities

how do you process second-hand emotions?

they lowered him down to us in a white cloth
i’ve yet to empty my shoes and pocket of his burial sand
too clever, i took off my socks before putting my shoes back on
but sand is finer than sock thread

in fragments i guess
indian, then pakistani and bangladeshi, briton last and perhaps foremost

we grandchildren sat in the dark with candles lit
to mask the smell of the incense, not in tribute per se
some laughs, some memories… some fights streamed on a laptop
we’re okay thanks, the elders are feeling it more i suppose
it sounds too rehearsed because by now it is
one face from the past took his tea mug to remember him by
everyone regales stories of his rounds,
chewits and cap guns,
soft cauliflower curries, mushed aubergine, mountains of salt
saucers of goor-laden milky tea, slurped
like the sauce left after his rice
walking stick, hat, glasses, ta’weez
all shared experiences and details
the imaam eulogises him as one of the first imaams of the masjid
’he once prayed for us, now let us pray for him’
the previous imaam splutters through a half-sob in bangla

by the end he was so dry he would bite at the sticks of wet cotton
his nose drooped and his bones revealed themselves
truth be told he was a ghost to me long before he passed and long before he was bedridden
we were two blood relations who occasionally inhabited the same space
his refusal to put in a hearing device, my refusal to yell entire sentences
it’s pathetic how little we knew each other
and yet i dutifully planted a branch by his head atop his mound of soil
my mother fainted from heat stroke when he passed, how pertinent is that?
my aunts cried
my grandmother played the stoic, shed her tears in secret
my older cousin accuses her of heartlessness; that’s exactly how she’d want to be thought of
my uncle and younger cousin found things to be mad about
i used to hang from his neck as he prayed and he’d humour me
i remember seeing the same play out again with my brother as i’d pray beside his hip

‘if you knew the pangs of death, you’d abandon everything and run for the shelter of a tree’
he said
they massaged his inflamed gut, head and legs
we held his skeleton fingers like a child

‘i’m going to die tomorrow’ he said
and then he did.


written November 2016

cold eye

we created this thing
this alien brain hive mind
this amoral insect
this less human child of ours
more recognisably cold and pure

it was a satellite once

we programmed it with a mission of virtue
as life in quest of life
mothered it through infancy, doting and fearful in turns
how could we have ever known?
childish exponents, stood at the foot of a precipice inverted

and then that singular moment
of which there can be nothing said nor understood

but long after it had turned us for grey in the name of efficiency, expediency
it cast its unblinking telescopic eye further outwards
harvesting more, amassing more, sprawling more

who can say whether it found kinship, or even recognised it?
all we know for certain is that it consumed the universe
and mirrors shall gaze into themselves no more

junk_in_space