pejoratively happy

Lines in sand are not etched in stone, though
Give it time, and stone will be sand and lines
Will form – form is not platonic, it is coeval
With time, bursting with each free act digitized
By algorithmic machinations of an irregular
Context-sensitive grammar – grammar is not absence
Of joy but its background, necessarily in opposition
But definitive in structure – structure is not
A given but follows form which seeks joy that sits
Far from the rhetoric of the pejoratively happy.


A smatter ing of words pile on
within and out: a rabbit’s foot,
an emancipated goosebump, the
loud falsifications of rhyme.

Yield word ling to the scythe, to
the dull burrowing of each wordlike
wordlie; the semantics of the bull
horn will eclipse all that is smudged.

Prime some thing out of blobs of word
forms, as if creation is honor-bound
to reveal under oath of a slipped tongue,
a fairied tooth, unfairly tooled, singed.

Why stop the goddess in her tracks?

There is a void in the effluence of
A metaphor broken, a folktale eulogized, a
Myth taken for fact; the earth-yearning
Goddess balks in her tracks – not good.

“Fie then,” it follows. Fie then upon the
Track-stopperers, the metaphor-brokerers.
Refill the jars now, make them reek of
Praise, scream out “the goddess is thus and

Also thus.” You need a thousand and one tales
Of forgiveness for one insolence, you blasphemous
Lout, you un-carer of myth, you track stopperer
You. Counterpoint needs point, dialogue ogue.

Context: This started off as a somewhat serious commentary on the darker aspects of the fallout of the modern quest for identity: when the stories, folktales and songs that have been informing us for millennia have been stultified or forgotten. But then as the poem progresses, it acquires an irreverent tone (in line with one of the functions of folklore as explained by A.K Ramanujan).

Poetics of dissent

Sloughing off inner form,
          The grammar of dissent accedes
          To the howl in the vowel
          But only so much.

Tending to the tender build
          Up of an umptious velocity
          Of will, the preposition
          Proposes the act

Of severing the shill, the
          Bond of a trembling fever
          Of anxious relief; the
          Cymbals can sound 

Out now, the empire stands
          Naked. O root of the
          Predicate, take barbs
          At the conjugal noun!

“Empire follows art and not vice versa” – William Blake


ik bhikaari mazaar se thoRi door, dopehar
ki sangdaar shuaaoN se bhiRa hua

andar kisee darwesh ki boseeda haDDiyoN
ka Dher zameen me gaRa hua

beech kashkol maiN, kuChh sikkoN aur
rupoN ka ik halka raqs racha hua

ishq naheeN to na sahee, yeh raunaq-e
kashkol kisee mu’jizay se kum hai?

The immigration officer

Flips through my passport,
The ideograms of travel flit through: stamps at every port of entry/

There is the mark of Accra, the seal of Beirut, relics
Of gods sputtering their earthly residues of approval/

Creature of bureaucracy judging creature of bureaucracy,
Fully unaware that the rules that play him/
Play me.

An unquenched wanderlust reeks out to utter of the warmth
At Dar, the fear at the heart of war, the clink of glasses/

Time’s up, the gears of tic-toc dictate I make way for
The next in line; the slouch of time is yet to come/

Care of day

What befits the care of day, the soothing of shine, the coughing
Up of justice? The gaping hurt might turn slowly for a tad or the
Lashed out noose harp awhile for a hallowed transplantation.
Yet cusp of night meanders to find you in hallowed light. Might
You care enough to dispel myth of right, couch of blight, sleight
Of an unsought hand? The care of day is optional for some time.

So opts the blight, you would dare to say, but the limiting silence of
Caressed speech is an advocacy that repairs itself, an intonation
Of vowels that is mouthed in proportional misery giving minimal
Relief from pragmatics and irrationals; the parchment of soul is
Once again vetted for blue matchboxes and olive leftovers:  the
Symbols of dreamsong, catchment of afterdays and beforenoons.

Figurine of speech – II

the river does  
not settle, nor does 
it dribble enough color at night to 
want to forget what it  
was that spoke the syllable of lost nows (or lost 
the river
does not settle, nor does it 
make it any easier for  
    to forego  
the loss of spilled ink;  
maggots eat leftover 
adverbs for a late-ish supper, and there is a  
clip-clop of yonder  
lads clamoring to get ahead, 
but where  

Figurine of speech – I

The parsing of lush adverbial oppositions
in the context of a red aftermath of post

-yesterdays and pre-tomorrows: that is the
conjunctive relief, the prepositional trophy,

the limiting of an untapped vowel slipping
off the coast of half-blitzed sploshes

of remembrances and recalcitrances, sobered
up aftermaths of a washed out couthness.

premonition of musk

The sepulchrous howl is not a whit of wisdom
Shanked in utilitarian moss; it is given green.

To be sought as green; to match the inner lilt
Of verisimilitudinous graffiti; it likens

Hearth to the claw of day; to seek when green
Enough for the tendrils of day to unpause and

Show feigned delight; such is the green of
Moss; the musk is content to stay put till dawn.

“The musk is in the deer, but it seeks it not within itself: it  wanders in quest of grass” – Kabir; translated by Rabindranath Tagore.