- Vol. 10
- Chapter 02
fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished
so, do not focus on the side easiest on the eye
by cutting corners we fall into the trap
all colours have their own acute edges
shards of glass that seep under the skin
and make their way into the heart
together we can work it out
roaming across the lands
redressing all manner of wrongs
helping the world fall into place
for world order, is what it’s all about,
now, let us...
plunge our hands all the way up to the elbows into this thing they call adventures
(Extracts in italic from Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes)
A motif for death, decay
And what else?
Colours act like defiance:
In your face
So white it must be
Said the clairvoyant
But we dealt in polychrome
Not for us just monochrome
A lifetime friendship has formed
With Iblis, née shaytan
The shaman within
For we are delinquent
Even if we pretend to sing along
Radical even if we are left unformed
Our bodies floating in postlapsarian floods
Our faces smeared by prismatic blood
Crushed by our inability to conform
Beautifully resplendent against your disgust
Our traces wrenched out from lost sites
Adorn the permanent collections of your historical sleights
Marking your territory like a mindmap on the inside
The hurt doesn't cost us as much outside.
I saw a starling
shaken from its tree
by a chimney, wings
not strong enough
to beat away the smoke.
Who is going to fashion
face masks for all
the little animals?
Our hands too busy fumbling
in our greasy tills.
Everything becomes distorted
through the prism of a city:
dawn choruses are traffic jams,
a tree is a council-approved structure
given its own designated rectangle
surrounded by cement,
all the rivers forced underground,
wildflowers only seen as tattoos.
Dogs pavlov each other,
each bark a consolation
in their confined yards.
I too am enclosed in my yard,
the lead of survival salaried to my neck,
a yoke to an unnamed master,
the pinked flesh of field long dead from progress,
now digitalised and uploaded
so we can all fight over the remaining crop.
The minds and spirits of others are unknowable.
We pluck hints from their actions and words,
but can never fully grasp their essence.
Our own emotions can sneak past our perception,
mysteries within enigmas wrapped in conundrums.
We can fail to know ourselves, let alone have
any clue about our neighbours.
We engage with each other and the world
through our bodies and words, but
not everyone says what they mean
or means what they say.
To survive, we learn to
divine who to trust.
To thrive, we build trust, both with
ourselves and others.
But that is not always easy.
Each of us, seeks to find
mechanisms to connect with our true self.
If that fails, we morph into roles
we think will join us to a group, friends, or a mate.
We settle for a fake skin, a diffused identity, which
flits from persona to facade until
there is no ‘I’.
Across the spectrum of humanity, we settle for skin deep, but
may we find the courage, to dig to emotional muscle and bone,
to tap into our souls.
I hold the house in my hands.
It sits snug, comfortably, like
it was always meant to do this,
a destiny until now unrevealed,
to shrink so it could one day fit
into a pocket, to fulfil a dream
of micro-living we once had in
IKEA. To remind us that when
things get small enough – breeze
blocks, picture frames, vases,
arguments, despair, kisses –
they don’t disappear but instead
surround us, then become part of
us. You could inhale a lifestyle if
you weren’t paying attention, and
where would that get you? Let’s vote
for a doll’s house manifesto, where we
concentrate on the smallest beauty
possible. Knives the size of toothpicks
raised in a prayer because even the
tiniest voice is heard. Isn’t it, God?
Oh for the Rubik’s colours to line up
Folded laundry | kids ate their vegetables | floor swept |
work project completed | Christmas presents wrapped
One day all will be in order
mixes it all up
“Where, oh where did `I put my work laptop? I literally have to have it for my presentation today. Paige, why is there yogurt on my laptop? Who has seen the charger? It was right here ten minutes ago”.
“Does anyone know how to flush the toilet?”
But all of us, swan pedalling towards the finish line, (sorry, I meant finish wine), wouldn’t have it any other way.
For a perfectly arranged Rubik’s pyramid is boring.
Hold on: who smeared Nutella on the Rubik’s pyramid?
Not truly caught, but glimpsed.
The slick of a wet rainbow,
brushed for a gleaming moment –
Not truly tasted, but teased.
A speck on the tip of the tongue,
dissolving too quick to say
sweet or sour,
hot or cold.
It is split light.
It is crashing waves.
It is unclinchable.
But still my fingers seek it out,
like bare hands trying to
grasp the silver body of a
I did create it, but oh dear, what have they done to it? Are, will? It is too much. I should throw in a few more rainbows each day. Pretty things make people smile. I know. Leave baskets of brioche for French peasants before all hell breaks loose and they storm the Bastille. That cannot be good. Why is that man wearing a hideous bicorne? And why is he wearing it sideways? Not all is lost. Thank heavens for Rosa Bonheur painting my little darlings in such a beautiful way. What is this? A war, and another, and another. I am powerless. I can only award, punish after their souls leave that whatever you call it down there because it is certainly not what I created. Colour? Just a splash here and there. I can break the rules, just a little. Where are those cherubs? Good. Plucking harp strings. That should keep them busy for another fifty years. Plenty of time at the colour wheel. Add a speck of this. A speck of that. Add one hundred years’ worth of food colouring. Pink, yellow, blue. What fun. Mashed up colours of the rainbow transforming hard to soft. Add colour to my garden again. Turn gloom into bloom. Voilà, as future chefs will say. Over to you Mr. Walter E. Diemer.
A tribute to Mr. Walter E. Diemer, the inventor of bubble gum.
As a kid, I didn't have a lot of trinkety toys. Don't get me wrong, we had plenty of things. Action figures, games, blocks. My parents just didn't really buy gadgets and doodads. And as most of our parent's choices from our childhood tend to do, this has affected me as an adult. Only, its effect may not be what you'd expect.
You see, I am a grown man, having been deprived of whatsits and hoohaws for years, but suddenly with the capital to drop tens of dollars a year on little things I absolutely do not need, and yet absolutely must have. It's tempered, mind you. It's not as if I have a drawer full of bendy plastic and clinkity metal junk. But if you walk through the rooms of my house, you will find my fair share of things...dealeos...knick-knacks.
And my wife doesn't love it, but she also doesn't really care. She just wishes I wouldn't leave them out on the counters, or next to the TV, or in the laundry room. But where do baubles really go? I’m a grown man, so it isn’t like I have a place for bric-a-brac to live. Except maybe in my kids’ rooms.
That’s right. The other way my childhood lack of whatnots has affected me is in how I let my kids buy doohickeys. Whenever we’re at the store, or looking online, and one of my kids asks to buy a thingy, I’m torn. There is a part of me that hears my mom or dad’s voice telling me it’s a waste of money on junk. But there is of course another part of me that remembers wanting that junk when I was their age. So who wins?
7-year-old me. If what they want to buy catches (or has already before they even see it caught) my eye, it’s coming home. When I tell one of my kiddos, “we don’t need that gizmo,” what I really mean is “that thingambob doesn’t look fun to me, let’s grab this one instead!”Read more >
in the everyday spinning
a car on its side
its fling of glass petals
and pooling oil
mirrors an owl’s
in the body’s
loops & worms.
Our palms’ blood
tight as wrinkles
until the falling
the way hope’s wrist
from the mind
we are helpless
Here is your cube
of key privilege allowers,
You squeeze for results,
Just be kind with your powers,
A thumb on the yellow,
those in prison go free;
A smudge of the blue
buys you true sanity –
a calm far more peaceful
than the ultra-serene
have ever known prior…
But beware of the green,
for therein lies trappings
that entangle clocks,
that unleash our version
of Pandora’s box.
Hellscape so hideous
it can’t be undone,
an endless contagion
of life overrun,
any real recognition,
with unfettered affliction.
Of course, other combos
of colors and pressures
will change the results,
turn your blights into treasures.
Read more >
"…pink is an invention. It's not a name we give to something out there. Pink isn't out there." Robert Krulwich, Radiolab podcast
I hold the answers close to me
warm fuchsia dreams cupped in my hand
I don’t dare allow them to escape
lest they disappear in to white
this colour is not on the spectrum
we have invented its warmth
mixed the opulence of purple
with the danger of red
produced something altogether more open
to misinterpretation, it's what we are best at
so I won’t reveal this swirl of beauty
nestling in my sweaty palm
you will see something else entirely
take this offering, baby blue, safe
these pastels will calm your fury
their puzzle is solvable, it fits nicely
into a shaped hole, you can post your feelings
not like the spectrum reaching infinity
I’m not a mix-match person
preferring to scatter my colours
in haphazard ways
blocking like with unlike
bottom up or top down
twisting in pyramid shapes
turning my kaleidoscope skirts
and dropping one hue for another
in shattered crystal
trailing splashes of red and blue
yellow and green fabric where I go
Yellow was black with shades of pastel
divided against the core of reds.
What colour makes light of the sun?
Pink thought it was red,
but white whispered 'ash'
Life is portrayed by the colour of the wind
when cake equals sugary stone
made in formless bowls of colouring
– so, nature is processed
Man was made painted in peace,
Colours could be concepts/terms/lines
Red turned solid in the face of the cross
when unworthy nails pierced flesh and bones
but Spirit is boneless and vocal,
Colour is an art
and Earth chose grey to shame green
Sand adopted cerulean and the green
sea rippled, melting into azure where
it reached the sky,
With bushes beaten and
impossibles written with bleeding ink,
life rivals faded hue,
It chose colour.
They held the
Of everyday life
In their hand
All its solutions
They could imagine
Life neatly in boxy rows
Rows that rarely, if
Ever, reflect a reality
Of coming together
Because they knew
The universe defies
The linear, laughs it
All into place, but one
Demands you see, accept
The spectrum of colors that
Define the pieces of the whole
Making the illusionary win
Only possible through
The pensiveness of thought,
Recognition, enlightenment of
Some deeper, mystical
Knowledge of the Ken
The Obi-wan KenobiC
Force of nature within
I can hold you in my hand,
A puzzle, a piece,
Pieces of an us, a we, a me,
And there's no manual, no one way to make this work, to fit, my edges with your corners, sides with spaces:
First comes the error –
We'll argue over the spilt milk, or liquor, or the coffee that's stained the rug that isn't ours,
The cold nights in Winter when the feathers are down and the bed once Tropical is now the Artic, when all I want to feel is your heat but the radiators must be broken,
And then there's the silence of the blue tick, the last seen but no words spoken, messages left unanswered and days culminating into weeks and you acting like nothing has changed, even when distance has turned this heart frostier.
And then comes the trial –
the salvaging the shards of the fight last night to form that apology, that awkward smile,
when we realise we're still mulling over the little things, the silly things, the pieces of another puzzle that don't fit into ours –
I cube emotion
dice into tesserae
mosaics for my dreams
colours of my mind
clicked into place
so I can hold
like a heart
in my palm
I am careless
break my cube
for hopes are soft
do not hold firm
become as jelly
trickle down my hand
a void lies waiting
I must let nothing fall
I wish for better memory
of personal details. Despite
an agenda, I miss important
things like doctor appointments.
Rescheduling places me a month
into the future, while ring
and pinkie fingers on right hand
refuse to straighten, curl claw-like
toward palm's lumpy landscape.
Strange bumps commandeer tendons
unable to fully retract.
Dupuytren lifted his leg
on this debilitating vector, while
solving more important puzzles
trepanning 19th Century brains.
Simple answer: surgery
to prevent me
losing my grip.
Her hands tunnel a roseate orifice,
unexpected and funnelling temptation;
drawing me to enter her plastic, elastic mind
and her soft-downed corporeal self, damp with love.
Gentle suction pulls my malleable, pallid shadow-soul
into her pastel-sexed world where new ideas form
and proliferate. I am putty in her nivea'd hands.
Pretty soon we slip together, joined,
fingers entwined. No-one may tell
our narratives apart, one
from the other.
Our sides painted
Colours fading at the edges,
Palms, still pink of
sunny side up with
Green of kindness
and blue of
Out of our fingertips
Our fist piercing
The creamy white canvas
To paint the wind, fire and water
The vata, pitta, and kapha.
To bleed a pyramid of colours
Pigments of life.
On this blueprint your calloused hand
squeeze before me, the warrant luscious,
bursting along seams and stained, wavering edges,
I choose to pursue,
the grid will mark my trail to you and you,
you trace your finger through pink slime,
– our future you promise –
no need for words, just feelings:
not only you and I alone, a tandem miracle will travel,
the promised road I imagine absorbed by
your skin, thin and leathery
as if water and sun hit it constantly.
Along its promise, on the 3D map,
blinded I follow, pattern routing the complexities
of my life,
Your fingers drum here, and there
leaving fingerprints on the map
we're a miracle together, you solitary singles,
You promise. Take my hand, your eyes say.
There are ridges, the way the map was folded
as you kept it in your breast pocket,
they birthed gorges.
There are highlands,
for good measure, following suit,
click the keys, print the page,
move the pen, file the paper;
wield the chalk, waggle the finger,
show the way, mark the work;
mop up the spillage, wipe the tears,
pat the arm, squeeze the shoulder;
put up the pictures, clap the successes,
give out the stars to everyone;
button the coat, tie the laces,
hold the door open, blow the kisses;
tenderly wave them on their way;
wrap themselves around a steaming coffee cup.
Let’s make this harder, he said,
taking the Rubik’s Cube from me, a puzzle I had almost solved.
It was his mantra, always, harder.
I let him place the triangle in my hand,
the triangle that was not a triangle, a name I couldn’t grasp.
Prism? Pyramid? A place of death?
The shape felt so good in my hand, as I turned it,
the colors reminding me of Promising Young Woman.
A film I didn’t like,
a film soaked in pastels, making the images feminine and soft.
Let’s make this harder, he said.
It was hard enough already.
It was time to put the object down.
Isn't it you always donned in peculiar feathers in those starkly illusive brilliant colours holding your truths while you write on your wall?
I guess only you know that but for the sake of belonging, of being accepted and being loved, there are no true colours to show, just reflections of the mirror you haven't learned how to hold. Your therapy is a demonstration of a state of happiness. You must have it this way. They are pleased with yourself because they can't see you. An achievement.
And there's a glimpse, can you see it, across the dark pink horizon of yesterday's sky? There's a feather that has run away, it's on a quest, it has found courage to hold the burden of the things not said, the skin not felt, the walls not touched, the whispers meant for others, wings meant for others. It endures looking at the sky.
My god begins from wound,
palm flat on wood—a point
in the universe, each brick a semi
coloured trauma, a straight line from star
to distance, tree root to mouth opened
in carnal knowledge. The wound
is a bullet learning the reshaping
of a body discovering softness
is a country that has stopped
careening into heaven. My god
is a nuclear, formless sludge
dripping from wooden beam
like sunshine in water, a red puddle
of wine on the bar floor & each cup
is communing with where the hurt
should be if the body can feel itself
break again, against the door,
splintering like light into a thousand
rainbows but my god, I'm a man numb,
shrieking into the wounded palm.
I mean the maggots crawl out of torso
instead of water & bile, & I slit the door
wider with my beak so I can peck
the needle eye where the poor find path.
My god is a church without roof,
crude oil poison on his lips & who
can take his crown from the birth canal
of light pouring down from his own hand
& he will not speak; my god will not
Here’s rhizome flesh, this ginger snap,
but varnished by chromatic swipe,
a pastel writhing through to cubes -
Platonic solids, prism too -
tattoo mark nailed, ink index held.
Math in art, a moulded view,
but soaking in a white sheet mood,
though through soup float, leave bits to gloat.
Space splashes light, fraught cuticle,
but how does derm grip angular -
though palmistry might trace life’s lines,
and xylem, phloem brings growth from roots -
uneasy flow from curl to straight?
The serif route, with guide of tropes,
brings creative, style to font,
refreshing spring at start of path,
the wont of rite to write as want.
So who says right to angle shape,
protract a figure when figure there -
and protracted, so long drawn count?
To marry it, and interrupt -
what might just be if block kept out?
A compliment to complement,
to be, when others nail their writ;
is this the cause, my writer’s block?
The last twist contains
a hidden cloud,
dye pack from the logic bank.
a six color combination
meant to be endless,
three billion tortured twists,
a mathematical fix;
I’ve sectioned something sacred.
One square at a time,
I’ll have to explain
my sorting secret,
nine homogenous panes.
My violet hands
tell the fanatics
we’ve all been duped,
there’s no magical truth
found by sorting the colors
of a Rubik's cube.
One Christmas in the eighties
when the house was clad in winking plastic
she gave him a Rubik’s cube™
and lo! a tradition grew from a stub of desperation
at what to buy a man who says
he has everything he needs.
It was a pleasing object in his palms
delivering frustration just the right side
of motivational. Sometimes
he would succeed in assembling a uniform face
as she boiled sprouts and basted
the turkey and swore at the cats circling her feet.
In the garden the frog pond (an old baby
bath) froze over and each year was harder
to crack. The one called Magic was
all surface: three interlocking rings fragmented
in his hands, pieces closed and opened
with a satisfying clack.
The windows fogged. The cats went
in and out the catflap, transporting devastating gifts
feathered, losing heat. His hands
grew stiff. The last puzzle was a pyramid, harder
to hold onto, some ancient truth
spinning in its angles, narrowed to a point.
I never saw a puzzle all complete.
He’d put each one aside to find her, help her carry
Six straight edges
Four vertices, four faces
One always hidden
Yellow, blue and green
Hidden face bleeding purple
Royal blood, holy blood
Four letter theonym
God of the burning bush
He who brings into existence
Little fish swimming
Glittering in fresh
Her right hand cradled a pyramid comprised of plastic and rainbow-hued stickers. Her left-hand traced printed instructions. Printed paper with small font lay on the store’s countertop. She had spent several minutes flattening the creases. As she read, her reflection poured through finger-smudged glass. She was a single mom who worked nights at a local drugstore. The sitter often failed to report for duty – a puzzle with an obvious solution. Her son was just as much a regular as the customers who sought a box of Camels, a tray of caramels, and/or a cup of coffee. The job was as predictable as the ABCs (always smile, beat the purchaser to the register, count change twice) and came with one break – fifteen minutes for each eight-hour shift.
That night, during fifteen minutes of quiet in the shop’s backroom, her son sat to her left. As her eyes scanned the fine print, his caught her reflection on the other side of the glass. Windex unable to conceal her worry. His eyes traced the wrinkles at the corners of her green eyes and cracked lips. Each shaded like the pyramid’s paper stickers.
“Mama,” he said, “do long creases symbolize long life?”
She startled. “Reading palms again, Baby,” she teased. “You’ll read anything you can get your hands on, won’t you.”
As the young boy nodded, his curls bounced. He continued to trace her facial features.
“Okay, I’ve got it,” she said. “This should keep you busy for a while. The boy continued to scan her face as she explained the puzzle – “Twist right. Twist left. Twist until each side is one solid color.” As she worked, the pyramid’s sides morphed into a kaleidoscope of hues.Read more >
outside dank as bad meat,
hands turn to hearths for comfort,
now nothing else bears touching:
chimney cloud suffocates the town
into a kind of Soviet eastern European village;
chills and fever, even God is coughing;
gray flakes, dead man traverses dead landscape
a funeral escapes further punishment
through the intercession of snow;
pigeons, mills, a river hooded by ice,
the heart is an unholy trumpeter,
a flat note for every family kiss;
epileptic weather, fits of wind,
dogs barking, trucks broken down,
a field of broken bikes, rusty nails;
brown Christmas tree on pavement,
white angel, done with shoulders.
clings to broken branch;
First came the dizziness,
a sense of disconnection,
as if I were floating somewhere
between the piazza's marbled floor
and the glass dome of the atrium.
You grabbed me as my knees buckled,
lowered me to the ground,
crowds gathering to watch –
such a public place to collapse,
so bright and white, so theatrical.
I remember the paramedic,
his cool fingers on my wrist,
his voice calm and reassuring.
The beacon of ambulance blue
sweeping across the carpark
before the doors swung shut.
Later the whirr of radiology,
the mechanics of diagnosis,
a nurse holding out her open hand,
five purple tablets, a cup of water,
her palm bathed in fuchsia light.
Revealed at the scanner's centre,
barely human: a collection of synapses,
a puzzle waiting to be solved.
the bus rattles along the winding road
fluorescent light from within
blackens the new moon night
as we hurtle through space and time
with nowhere to rest our gaze
except the reflections of our own faces
weary yet alert
we are not afraid of the dark
we are afraid of what she hides
and what she reveals.
For all the time I've spent solving the problem,
I've lost sight of the puzzle—
your name's still in my phone,
is it a relic or an altar?
Regardless, it's in there and you exist,
at least in the combination—
of letters and numbers in my contacts.
If it's a relic, where did you go?
If it's an altar, why do I care?
I pounded to pastel its softness
I took to turning, twisting, hoping.
Turning Left, turning Right.
Turn again Whittington thou unworthy
citizen. The bleed of red fills my weeping
I twist, contort, deform,
Oh the tortuous morphing to release
My crepuscular hold to wring one Lie
from the sealed lips of denial
before the year's end.
that or this?
and shaped like
a puzzle, the prism
asks us to decide
of the ways
of being will we
after the other,
each says “pick me”—
this one holds
the sun, this one
resembles the sea—
each has its own
is every portal,
any portal, ever
what will we be
will be taken
away by time?—
all of it
a mirror image
meant to be
One moment in the day,
when the glaring sun
drains color from the sky
we were talking about
the Hungarian house on the hill,
that it needs paint
and you suggested pink
bubble gum pink. You said
the house has no front door
and we all laughed
as you raised your hand
and offered us mints
from a box that resembled
a Rubik's Cube. Its signature
colors and your hand,
in the shimmering white
light, partly vanished.
the hand blooms
upward on a stalk
of flesh and humility
violet pink petals
our only gift to a deity
we long to touch
what offerings to give
but those of geometric
design, gifts of the mind
our pale reflection of nature
with the colors of hope
for our limitless sky
thick bright yellow
in gratitude of sun
we lift our hand
ask that we be
for our clumsy
She traveled Didn't take any luggage Not even memories I believe it will never come back My empty heart, just filled with longing, sings the song of those who stayed His aged face revealed the feeling of someone who knows he is going to leave Now I immerse myself in her image, I look absently at her body broken by work, the routine, the zeal in leaving the house clean, fragrant and with everything in place Its story began in a small town wooden house Since he was 10 years old, he started to take care of of his younger brothers When I was 13 years old, it was already seven Your eyes tell this story They shine because they are bathed in innocence and care She left without time say goodbye; returned to its heavenly origin At age 10, he carried a bucket of water from the well to the kitchen where his mother made bread, cookies, sweets that he packed in glass cups She left the little ones in their care earn money for the next meal, pay water and electricity bills From a young age, she learned to be a mother I remember now the image of your hands cared for nails, which she enamelled But I could see it in the tracks and calluses of his open hands, a heroine biography Skinny hands, victims of precocious and necessary work these hands, on cold winter nights they touched my hair, glided across my eyes, welcomed my face with its warmth Those hands that planted flowers in the garden, that drew flowers and butterflies in jars and bottles of their handicrafts On the walls your drawings of oil painted sunflowers They are memories of a woman I met when I was alone in a strange city He approached me and unstuck me from my stubborn solitude It's been more than twenty years learning to live with this princess with worn hands where I put a wedding ring, then a gold bracelet on her left wrist we live years of joy, also sharing conflicts, flavors and knowledge His hands, the masters of his humble but profoundly meaningful existence, always moving between the shining house and the flowering garden It took two years of struggle to defeat an enemy that spread throughout his body beat them like a warrior 2Read more >
Behold the hand
The mythical hand
The hand the blends
light and colour betwixt
finger and tip point
The hand that confuses
that entertains and contains
that teaches and delights
Behold the hand
The mighty hand
The hand that protects
Holding safe and near
The beloved the weak
The hand that builds
Strong and true long
Lasting comfort home
Behold the hand
The nimble hand
The hand that creates
Crafts and arts for
Function for beauty
The hand that makes
Easier daily living
Makes it a blessing
Beware the hand
The cruel hand
The hand that clinches
Tightens hard and mean
Read more >
She took the bright and slick-smooth thing,
because they told her it was hers
to have and hold, though the colours bled
into her skin, and the edges cut
her like a knife.
She held the faded broken thing,
its promises streamed into the night,
and all the tears that ever fell
were not enough to wash away
the bloody lies.
To my younger self, optimistic and blind,
through the white-out of time,
where shadows played vividly on the walls of the cave,
here, take what I have.
To a brother who will not click reply to me,
through the digital white-out of time,
though intent on interring thirty years in the grave,
here, take what I have.
To my daughter, far away in the north country,
through the hills, the white-out of time,
though paths lie untrodden to the orange grove,
here, take what I have.
To the boy in rags beneath the Broadway lamppost,
brightly lit in the white-out of time,
though you won’t call me, or look up, beneath the wave,
here, take whatever I have.
To an irascible, unconfident father,
through the white-out threatening of those times,
through upbringing, labour, a lost past, you moved,
now here, take what I have.
To a mother’s years-long shuttered gaze,
through the white-out of time,
though sternly judgemental, there was nothing but love,
here, take what I have.
The last rays of sunset
run down my palm
bequeathing the cages
of ashen blue skies and deep disquiet
of mossy green waters-
melting amid sacred lines
marking conflict, pain, love and life,
flowing like lava pursued by strange anxieties.
Incessant ringing of temple bells,
voices of a child fleeing the square confines-
humming of a hive, then silence.
All the colours in the prism
of the rainbow,
encircling soap bubbles
floating on air.
All the colours in a peacock’s tail
or a butterfly’s wing.
or on the back of a bluebottle,
all puzzled and puddled together.
All the colours in fruit,
pebbles and sand,
the blue of the sky,
sharp white of lightning,
soft light of the moon,
amber and rose,
mother of pearl,
reflecting glimmer and glint.
All the greens, yellows
of the countryside,
dew on a blade of grass
in the sunshine.
When layl turns my mouth, a tabernacle
I budge my tongue against ruins of colors
A girl— gown— bulging eyes
and broken body with clots of red color
A pregnant woman robbed of words, life,
then a torso in the realm— of white color.
I dream of loss— of love, boy gliding off
the horizon of his beauty, like wet colors
& when my mother says, Allahu Akbar
nothing seems alive like the sun's color.
I dream of this opening that we're, this space, how we put pebbles over decaying colors
this vacuum in our hearts, this wearing off, the daily lodging in our bones of grey colors.
Partir c'est mourir un peu, to leave is to die a little, how little— do we dye into wild colors
Before we leave.
Is it not the spell of the winds that cast greens from trees— to wear quickly into dead colors
how do we swallow grief —without chewing them, to bloom amid eerie colors
Dele, how do we come again— eabir sabil
to continue this voyage— into what colors?
as you feed from my hand
the lips you printed there
I only feel it now
the pull of rescue
a child told to wait in one place
till washed away by a rising tide
will wait till retreating sun
underwater sounds of drowning
overtake that one
arms stronger than mine
reaching to pull me back,
and the lips in my hand breathe
if we are all mixed up
like some Rubik's Cube
are we not in the right place?
twisting green back to green
yellow back to yellow
is that what people are?
Now, picture this
what can we do
with that odd wedge-shaped space?
A shed perhaps, or even two
for softwood in a drier place.
If sheds are built, if roof is set
and all the logs are there well-faced
why it’s a courtesy of grace.
The wedge exalted, sure
another thing we can’t forget
there’s something else: a useful bet
a store for things, all kinds of stuff
until we pack them full enough.
Or . . . you know
when precious life high up the steep
fellside turns passing tough—
a shelter for the goats and sheep
and water in the trough.
Ah yes, of course, epiphany.
Yes, flexibility! We smile
at making good that wedge
just hidden there behind the hedge—
a bonus of the country life, while
Plastic is the colour
of my neighbour’s left eye.
Yellow is the colour
of his liver.
And if this was a story,
it would twist
like a Rubik’s cube.
All the characters would
have an angle,
and I’d give them names,
like Rhombus and Scalene.
But this isn’t a story,
and my neighbour’s liver
is apt to be the death of him,
his words resonating,
Blue is the colour of plastic.
It seems I've caught a rainbow, blues and greens and yellows
gone pale within my hand in the time it took me to pull it from the sky. The reds suffused together with their fellows on the spectrum to pour a brilliant pink into my palm, the largesse of it spilling over to my nails. The chill of my hand has lined up those blues and greens and yellows, pushed them into blocks, leaving their arc form, re-ordering themselves to the new reality of being captured. Not so the red, now bright pink—she has resisted the new form, and flows freely over my hand. She is no longer red but pink in her new reality. But where is the treasure? Isn't that promised to the one who captures the rainbow? Oh wait! That's if you capture a leprechaun, the creature who knows the rainbow's secret hiding place. As I look at my hand, I see perhaps it was folly to pull it down from the sky—my hand begins to disappear. It is the rogue pink that is working on me, working to make me disappear as I made the rainbow disappear from the sky. Perhaps I should rethink my strategy. Perhaps if I open my hand the rainbow will, birdlike, take to the sky and resume its place. I feel a lightness where my hand should be. I think I am forever changed. I hear the laughter of the red and a subtle whisper inviting me to join it.
I'm passing through the city
I draw on the walls with red chalk
formulas and equations
that are not related to my day
which are not related to what I feel
which are not related to me
because today color is what
... which tells my feelings
And formulas and equations
they are just a step behind them.
This is a birth like no other,
the midwife’s gentle twist
pulling you pink like a jewel.
No longer blue for a boy,
we celebrate your colours,
every face of you square on.
The hardest part is the game
you’ll need to play now you’re out,
being the shape you are in mid air.
I want to wear pink taffeta
Walk barefoot in the snow
chandelier earrings hanging low
With a lover in tow
Gripping the intangible every day
Brainwashed – thinking this is reality
Truth is nobody really understands
Greedy Technology gobbled our brains
Who puzzle over the unsolvable
Twisting the pieces that will never fit
A wine cork pops. The sound of modern joy
Glasses, now bottles seamlessly swallowed
The charade of invincibility
When it is finished despair returns, grips
Squeezes, every last drop of confidence
Thoughts a hollow drumbeat: weak, found wanting….
Forgetting my first party shoes
Wasting minutes and years
Red patent leather with black bows
Sunlight flicking my tears
I remember her laughing,
blonde hair spilling forth.
A foaming wave of gold
over a sea of pink silk.
The sound of her voice
deep and throaty.
That weird snort,
when she sucked in her breath.
What was so funny,
I had wondered.
She was an enigma,
a puzzle that couldn’t
But there I was,
Completely in awe of her.
Reaching out to hold her,
draw her into my soul.
But she couldn’t be tamed,
just one touch, one word,
And she would be gone.
Her laughter echoing
She clicked into all parts of him like a puzzle piece of a Rubik's cube, fitting herself in all aspects of his life: he played guitar and sang a song for her, she punched on her phone and ordered an ukulele to make music together. He taught her chords and how to strum, but she grew tired of having to practice every day. She shoved the ukulele to the back of the closet. He liked to watch racing cars and she gifted him a one-day $2,000 Xtreme Xperience racing car course months ahead of his birthday. She watched him speed around and round while she sat on the first row, jumping and shouting as he zoomed by, tears from the wind and rubber flecks streaming on her rosy cheeks, her words drowned by roars of engines. He donated money to Adopt a Gorilla in Tanzania, so she bought a yellow Cockatiel so they could raise it together, but the bird's shrieks gave him a headache, so she took it out of the cage and left it on the balcony rail before a cat got to it. He danced salsa with a school friend once a week. She signed up for the same class and he felt obliged to switch partner with her. She stepped on his feet, kept forgetting the moves. He turned around to steal a glance at his old partner who was twirling and shaking her hips with someone else. He got the silent treatment that night. Then she burst into tears. How had he dared gape at another woman after everything she'd done for him, the gifts, the support she offered for his hobbies, his favorite curry fish dishes she'd cooked for him, the chocolate strawberry cake she'd baked for him. He agreed to not see his friend anymore. He even bought her apology roses. She beamed of joy. They stopped going to salsa for fear they would run into his friend. How awkward that would be! She kept a close watch on his phone while he showered at night. There was no part of him that should be foreign to her. She had turned and twisted herself in all shapes so each part of her became his and his hers and he tumbled along until all the pieces broke apart. He left her a note at the back of a picture of a hand holding a Rubik's Pyramid "I feel claustrophobic. I need some fresh air elsewhere. I hope you find someone you click with better."
I quarrelled with my mister.
The pleasantry of mistake
For his childhood cube
In conflicted trenches.
It will calm him.
His therapist assures
us during every session.
In a drum's pound
the flood does efface.
Once again, I find myself
On his wall display,
a portrait of his solace,
For overused agonies.
What would they look like
If my palm pressed the heat
Of my partner for too long?
What would mere feeling
If we pressed palms
Everything's covered in white,
as if the pages of an unwanted draft
had been torn
The cold air silent until a child
squeals with excitement
at the sight of snow,
as if a rainbow had reached out
beyond its gold
to hold his small, mittened hands;
as if it turned around to show me
here's another blank page,
here's your poem.
Sinking into a pool of milk
holding a puzzle cube high
like the Terminator
and his iconic thumbs up
holding a puzzle cube high
declaring dominance over man
and his iconic thumbs up
we are always dwarfed by our children
declaring dominance over man
brow-beaten, shoulders sagging
we are always dwarfed by our children
if only we had the grace to submit
brow-beaten, shoulders sagging
sinking into a pool of milk
if only we had the grace to submit
like the Terminator
She was leaning in to wield what she held, with its faces of yellow, blue, and green. She could only use one hand because the other was erased in a deep sticky liquid that looked like Elmer’s glue but had the pull of something greater than gravity. She needed to act quickly, for already her free hand was starting to give way to the same whisperings of this particular brand of white supremacy.
The object, which seemed an attempt to triangulate the square mediocrity of a traditional Rubik’s Cube, kept digging into her hand. It had a tenacity to thwart her efforts, and she knew she must gather its wild energy with a force unsuspecting to it, an intensity which she knew that to work, must also be a shock to her own system. So far her own pink pooled in her hand, exposing the strain of her muscles in their exertion to bind and transcend that which sought to destroy her.
She would first try to penetrate yellow, and she knew she would succeed upon its change to orange. She could feel the yellow rays beating down upon her, gradually baking her pale freckled skin. Once conquered, she knew that the full-bodied warmth of orange would radiate outward from her being, and with its darker color, overpower the yellow rays. She would, she must; warm this cold world.
The blue was creating an oppressive and unrelenting push on her being, thick with a narrative that kept telling her to collapse and unravel into concavity. She knew that when she overpowered this, it would turn into a purple with an insight so strong that it could pierce through the low barometric pressure of the cloud layer, and that it would rain – hard. With the collective power of her pink and its blue, she would nourish the ground with the staccato impact of the justice that the earth was overdue.
And finally with the green, she could feel the wrapping of vines around herRead more >
This place we call home faces a crisis – an acute shortage of several essential supplies. People are short of energy, food, water. People are short of money. People are short of time.
People are short of happiness.
And this last one on the list is the most critical in the list of shortages we face. To address this shortage, each day, each one of us is requested to abide by the below mentioned procedure:
1. Collect every kind of chartreuse word you can find.
2. Gather each blue flicker (even faint ones) of smile playing on your lips.
3. Garner the warm touch of every yellow hug you can give.
4. Bottle it all up in a glass pyramid of love born from the depths of the clear pink of the heart, only a human can have.
5. Offer it freely with upturned palms for others to partake.
Only then can our home be a happy place.
Finite ink on eternal page
This passionate river unfolds before me
I walk a pebbled path into the horizon.
Blinding sun and marble moonrise
Paper silken on my skin
I wield the pen as the suitor wields the flower.
Gold on the bottom of my shoe
Smell of wax and honey abundant in the air
Crimson ribbon and sea foam tissue
Sound of delight resounding.
Come on, dude, you can do this.
Get your ducks in a row. Deny,
dissociate, suppress, repress,
intellectualize. A simple game
of mental gymnastics. No, no,
no! Pain is breaking through.
Can't have any pain. Keep at it.
New world order within. Dissociate first,
then rationalize, follow these with suppress.
No, repress first, then suppress, then deny and
finish with compartmentalize. No, no, no!
You have to remember to intellectualize!
Prime directive: no pain, no pain, no pain!
Put all of your energy into it! The pain will
kill you! It leaches in like arsenic into the
drinking water. There should be enough in
your defense budget. If not, budget
more. Forget infrastructure for now.
Let it go. Without adequate defense,
there will be no infrastructure. No life,
no vulnerability to protect, no joy,
no peace. Keep at it. New world
order within. Again. Ducks in a new row.
Compartmentalize first, then suppress,
rationalize comes after, then repress,
deny, deny, deny, dissociate, and don't
forget to intellectualize. Never forget
to intellectualize! You can't allow yourself
Read more >
blissfully squeezing enjoying
the tactile response
an amorous pleasure
her secret weapon     recorder
Swiss Army multi-kit     password
one fatal lick
unplugged she holds it loosely
Oh to be a wavelength
you would not believe
the gossip she receives through
this indiscreet device
like Christmas perfume ads
goldenly surreal sparkle-dust chiffon
an air-brushed ideal
Magenta dupatta of my resham salwar kameez,
the centre of my married universe.
Its bright colour spices my skin tone
like the splash of tesu flowers on Holi.
My home rests in its furrows and ridges.
Be it N, E, S, W, all directions celebratory hues.
The apical of our pyramidal tree shifts,
and my palm grip soaks in the unthought-of candid rain.
It begins to crumble into contagion segments.
Green hearts change to yellow like dandelions in limen.
The indigo sky is invisible from its piercing foundation.
And magenta no longer brings auspiciousness.
dupatta: long scarf worn over chest and shoulder by women in India
salwar kameez: an Indian outfit comprising of a long tunic worn with loose, pleated trousers
Holi: festival of colours
The shape is irregular, angular, pointy.
A tricky one.
It’s texture is smooth and slippy,
the material plastic, firm yet squeezy,
with colours unnaturally pastel,
and strong enough to show
through a bright semi-translucent sheath.
It has no smell
and its element is indeterminate.
There is nothing here of air or earth.
Toxic if burned, so drown it?
This is wrapping hell.
It would be better held, touched, felt than wrapped,
and disappointment masked within.
I remember writing at the laptop on a little built-in desk in my kitchen, thinking painting would be another way to express myself, but I couldn’t tolerate the mess. I went on using my mind as if it were a removable body part.
During Covid, when everything changed, I stopped worrying about cleaning and other endless mindlessness.
Today, I hover over the work table in my room at the end of the hall, moving between gesso, fuchsia pan pastel, a water spray bottle, a coffee spray bottle, ModPodge, the Stabilo pencil, and aqua and yellow acrylic paints. Some of everything is on my hands and my forearms, smeared across my yoga pants. I lift up my creation and spot a violet rash in the shape of the Caribbean islands peppering the inside of my arm where I sprayed fabric glue and forgot to wash it last week.
With my arm raised I wait in mindfulness. The sun shifts, angling in to the fusion of hand and handiwork, a radiant boundaryless expression.
into a pyramid
I cannot have
pointing at me
like a puzzle
flickers of inadequacy
on an outstretched
a plastic life
of wants crowding
a different facet
and you still the same
smile of the lonely
Pyramid block with internal triangles,
making many shapes, counting for clever sods,
gripped by fingers holding an unfurling rose, neon pink,
lined joints, how do you turn it?
What happens in the joints,
is it equilateral -
is the pyramid protruding from the palm
causing the bleeding blossom?
Or is it the other way round?
Can you take it and twist or just drop and watch it sit, balanced, in its own equilibrium?
Allow a moment but not a moment longer
to savor the palm so piquant
and arched with bowed life
Pluck at the blue that bruised its beat
and gently buff and preen it
with tacky love
Untwine the green,
striping the stem - strand by strand
loves me/loves me not
Cut the roots,
dead the head that threatens
Salt the yellow, prevent the slip to gold
douse ombre rays - sickly sour
Those last indigo lights
dancing amber to red
problematic fire-flies, winged with escape
Pinion them flightless
palliating to white
erasing the rainbow.
I've been trying to find a new colour. If I can just work out this puzzlebox - that's what it's for - and I can almost see it. As the pieces click, clack past each other, three by three... again and again and again, I'm sure it's almost there, and then these pieces slide over those pieces in such a way that they elide the unknown; skirt the exotic; brush the border of the new. So I'm left again with hues you, and I, and everyone, have seen before.
Baby blue. Mint green. Lemon yellow.
I think my new colour might be some kind of disruptive pink like shiny candy. An unstable pink. A shade that decays to pink. It has a half-life which tells you how long it will, be before half of it has collapsed into a state of simply being pink. I can't recreate it in the puzzlebox, but I can feel it within myself. While I've been working the click-clack toy over and over it's moved from the depths of my id, through my nervous system to my fingers, somewhere between skin and bone and tendon. But it won't do to cut me open. You'll only see red.
No. I need to find the way to get it from here, within my hands, to there, in the puzzlebox. Somewhere between the baby and the mint and the lemon. Or... not between them. Away from them. Somewhere in the gaps, I need to...
I need mint yellow. Baby green. Lemon blue.
I need none of these.
The order is wrong, I will realise later. I am too busy being in love with the table. Morning’s copper aura invades this cafe, and dances upon the polished glass. Shades of emerald dance a waltz before my eyes. Nobody else hears the tune.
Are you not hearing this? I want to shout, but I don’t. I might be amazed, but I’m easily embarrassed. I keep the sight a secret, just for me.
Back to the music that these colours are dancing to. Every plonk of mug on table, every hiss from the steamer summons fresh colours. Icy blues and brave reds join the hall. My heart tells me it is full of these colours. There may not be space for any more.
Hush! I tell it, and drink my drink. If it’s overwhelming, so be it. The dance is not over.
I ignore my sense’s pleas and name-calling. Too much! Greedy! Many more come, but they pass like fog on water.
It’s evening now. There’s no longer light on the table. December blows in pretty young people, and I resent sitting so near the door. The tinkling of glasses casts sparks of silver into the air, the din a background wash of earthy brown.
I rushed forward
I knew I knew. This time was my time
I entered the mist, multicoloured
Yes this time it would be mine
I felt an unseen hand try to pull me back
But I grabbed until I felt a tingling in my hand
I looked down uncomprehending
At the fading coloured shapes
Whist above me an arc of of colours filled my eyes
A conglomeration of juxtaposed shapes
Filling my eyes.
The magical mist surrounds me
I had wanted this for so long
But I was heavy, drugged by the fog
That suffused my earthly body
Ears ringing, pulsing as their brilliance fades
Paler into an abstract impressionist
Frankenhaler vision. Disappearing into a new unknown.
I’ve curated a perfect little life.
I look at it like a newborn sleeping in my arms, often
Turn it inside out, deep clean it piece by piece searching
For possibilities as if, it’s not of my body. Stand still within
its contortion, observe the space as if it were
my natural state not staying in one place
but not moving
In dream form obstacles are not to be avoided
But in this perfect little life
I watch myself fade
An icy wind tried to bite ungloved hands,
Another day of work ticked off Life’s calendar,
Buses delayed because of melting snow,
Slipping on pavements in unsuitable shoes,
Designed for the office and not inclement weather.
The prospect of an evening of chores in an underheated flat,
Looming like a grim spectre ahead of them.
Street sleepers buried under damp duvets,
Sheltering under archways and frail cardboard homes.
No respite even in a city,
Where sleek cars glided silently along streets,
Glowing with seasonal lights, golden angels and toys
Costing more than a month’s salary.
Heads down, faces hidden by scarves,
Ignoring the carousing of festive workers littering pavements outside pubs,
High on spirits and the illusion of having fun.
Reaching the gates,
Time to take a deep breath,
Windows plastered with a firmament of homemade stars,
Welcoming cheerful chatter from children at the after-school club,
A hum of happiness bursting through the door as it opens,
A small hand reaching out in love,
A solution to Life’s perplexing puzzle,
Transforming an unfriendly world into one filled with light, joy and hope.
the untangling was slow.
disengaging from our dynasty, and the pain
we so often reproduce,
even when you swear you've changed, i took
ten thousand hours
at my dimmest points, blaming you
for your shortcomings; resentment shaped like
a rubik's pyramid.
how dare you make mistakes
raising me at 22
didn't you know gender was a construct,
that i could play with barbies and not be broken?
that i could sing my nursery rhymes to you
and have applause instead of disapproving eyes.
"those are for girls, son."
you caught me dancing on the bed,
watching sailor moon with the hoodie of a jumper
on my head, flaunting it like hair.
i scrambled a lousy excuse.
Don’t squeeze too firmly
you never know what will emerge
from inside solid walls
and even caring hands can be destructive.
something beautiful can emerge
from that which is destroyed.
it’s good to take a chance
give a squeeze
the new growth burst into being.
All people, things and colours go into oblivion
Into the all-encompassing white
What is born must die
What is created must perish
What is started must end
Facts known but little understood
The journey in between is what counts
The present moment is what counts
The relationships we build is what counts
How we channel our energy in the right direction is what counts
How true we are to ourselves is what counts
Facts known but little understood
All colours finally into the all-encompassing white.
The earth, turning in Her hands
is placed in ours.
How we wish by some magic trick
say with a cloth, we could make everything right.
Our world, so small in the scheme of it all
seems too daunting too large, too much
for us creatures to figure it out.
We are part of the puzzle, coddled and cuddled
so efforts seem too great
yet the future of our kind rests with us.
The solutions are out there, we just have to work at it.
Hold the Pyraminx with any face, facing us.
As the years go by,
will the bubble of cells in my brain
change shape, reconfigure
into a puzzle I no longer recognize?
Will the scroll of knowledge
start to fade, pencil markings
smudging on paper,
words becoming blurred?
My father was midway through
this long journey of memory’s maze
when he was called away.
Genetics could swallow me, too.
Each generation walking that path,
the hallway where books close,
pages inexplicably get torn out,
doors lead to once familiar fields.
You can’t quite put your finger
on a name or a date, but your eyes linger,
pondering the vast, wide openness
of known things.
I open the window,
breathe in fresh air,
ask my grandmother
and great grandmother for guidance.
One of them holds out a cup of tea,
cracked china mended with gold.
Everything breaks before being reborn.
With cupped hands,
I hold space for every lost letter.
I vow to catch what falls from their lips.
You’re plastic pieces in my hand,
rotating to form handsome faces;
eyelashes sweep as ballgowns
where eyeshadow, satin-soft,
dapples your chiselled cheek
from near kisses that excite your mind:
you’re transfixed and under my spell…
I’m your Sugar Plum Fairy.
I turn your sliding sides
aiming for precision
seeing you in each triangular wall;
smoothing edges like sandpaper,
tapering off spiky sinews;
striving to form perfect portraits
(you always had too many faces).
Yet, my efforts fail.
After tunnels of time,
your surfaces are planed clean,
formatted like streamlined autobahns
of monotonous, predictable grey;
dissolving are your colours
as paint globules in water-pots,
crumbling to sticky residue
upon the glass jar bottom.
gold or green
a hint of violet
Should I take
up the pieces
of your mystery?
such a gift?
Or should I
of not knowing?
Read more >
I sit back in the treatment chair. I look at my hand. Is this another test? Dr. Smith tells me to imagine I'm holding a small box. A box? I ask. Yes. Or a Rubik's cube – do you know what that is? Yes, I say. I remember them from my childhood. I imagine the Rubik's cube resting on my palm. Can you manipulate it, rotate the lower section? I flex my hand. I don't feel like I'm holding a Rubik's cube. I feel nothing, then a sharp bitter sting of nerve pain snaking out from my wrist. Dr. Smith looks at the screen. A stylised image of a hand shows up on there, the palm flashing magenta. Let's try again, suggests Dr. Smith. Imagine your childhood. Imagine a bright summer's day. I take an involuntary deep breath. I feel like I'm pinned to the chair by a restraining band across my chest. I look at my hand and I see it. It's as if I'm holding a field of ripe corn, complete with fluttering butterflies. I hear birdsong and the bees humming. I feel the heat of sunshine on my skin. It's emanating from a blue sky sparsely dotted with high wispy clouds. That's good, says Dr. Smith. Reach out. Can you touch the sky? Can you grab hold of it? I stretch my fingers, farther, farther. I try to pinch the clouds between my thumb and forefinger. The sky stays out of reach. Try harder, encourages Dr. Smith. I reach and grasp. I concentrate. I can see steeply rolling green hills on the edge of the field, some still with snow-caps despite the summer heat. I smell an electric tang like ozone before a storm. I hear a sizzling, thrumming noise, slowly rising in intensity. I look over to the screen. The image of the hand is flashing yellow now, gradually changing to green. Just a little more, says Dr. Smith. You're doing really well. Try to grab hold of it. Keep going. I concentrate on the cornfield in my hand till the undulating waves of ripe grain fill my vision. I feel the ripe plumpness of each ear of corn. The thrumming, buzzing sound rises to an uncomfortable level, then suddenly snaps off. Well done, says Dr. Smith and turns back to the screen. Take a moment to rest. The limb regeneration program has completed successfully. Tomorrow we'll work on your other hand.
The names in our hands,
The world we have seen,
The path we have taken,
The miles before us,
The unexplored unknown,
The deeper dive into the unseen,
The door opens on its accord,
Dawn harbingers each session,
We go through in pursuit of our desires,
We face recalcitrant storms,
Obstinate gloom pervades,
Our souls merge with our purpose,
We hold tenaciously on to hope,
Gradually we are haloed with light.
There in unsettling madness, stood I,
My mind was squishy, squished into a box,
No dream would make less sense, standing by,
Waiting on the welfare line,
There we stood, no longer lies,
A field somewhere,
Running through the challenge once more,
Our eyes held high,
To a world we did not create,
But here we are,
Running through a thing called life,
That which does not reveal itself,
Walk away and be fruitful,
Some day, we shall see again,
That which does not kill us,
Makes us stronger!
Colours of light and shadows
Will always shine upon those whose hands
Hold out for hope and kindness
Reflecting outwards and outwards and onto skin and
Onto each other
Or reach out
To grip and hold on
To one another
One kind hand to hold another and another and another
Holding on to reach out across all lands
Every human hand in hand
Circling round and over until arriving uplifted back at the beginning
Creating an unbreakable chain of light and kindness and hope.
A pastel prism puzzle held aloft softly,
Here delicate and ready to shine now
“There was this song when I was young,” the mother tells her daughter. The girl sits on her mother’s lap and her mother sits on a blanket and the blanket isn’t really a blanket, at least not one from anyone’s bed, freshly washed, smelling of soap and fabric softener. No. This blanket has “seen better days,” as her mother likes to put it. They’ve seen better days too. The child doesn’t know what “a better day” is, although she catches glimpses when her mother tells her stories about the little house, the violets her mother planted along the broken cement leading to their door.
“What was the song, Mama?”
“Oh, lemme see.” She hums. Clears her throat.
“Gimme a minute. Duh, duh, duh duh…”
The angry voice makes them struggle up, grab their meager belongings and the faded squares of fabric, once a brilliant sun-yellow, a mellow blue sky, a grassy green, now stained and blotched with dried mud, spilled soda, catsup.
“Get moving. You can’t sit here. Around the corner with the rest of the freeloaders.”
They scurry onto Fifth Street, blanket sweeping the sidewalk.
Men and women crowd together beneath tarps, blankets, sheets of plastic in multiple states of disrepair held up by brooms, chairs, boxes.Read more >
Claire-Anne sat by the window, cradling a delicate object in her trembling hands.
Its name was lost to her, as well as its origin. The parcel that contained it had simply been resting on her bedside table when she woke up from yet another of the nightmares that had been plaguing her since childhood. The bay window had been slightly ajar, allowing the moon to sift in through the curtains and illuminate the glittering wrapping paper that held it. Stardust, tied together by midnight string. And here it was, unwrapped; a transparent pyramid shape.
A cool breeze reminded her that the window was, in fact, still open. She reached up to close it, pyramid still in hand. Then, as if inspired by the Christmas magic that lingered in the night, the pyramid began to thrum with warmth. She barely had time to notice it before she heard it speak. All logic defied it, yet she knew it was the object that spoke; a faint whisper of shimmering syllables that twinkled in the air around her.
Claire-Anne sank to her knees by the window. Mesmerised, she caressed the sides of the pyramid, tears gathering in her eyes. Could it truly be so simple?
Despite the insanity in it, she heard herself voice her despair to the pyramid. Life had been so harsh on her. She had tried, and tried again, yet nothing ever seemed to change. She was constantly overlooked, not given chances, ignored and cast aside. Despite trying her best it was not enough.
The tears came trickling as she spoke, sliding down her face and landing on the front of her nightgown. She was ashamed of herself. Broken. Claire-Anne’s head sunk low over the pyramid.
A pearly teardrop fell through the air and landed on the side of theRead more >
It is tetrahedron in its dimensions, this truth, many sided and many tongued, spinning truths like the spider spins silk into already thin and then thinner strands. Many shades of truth conflate from one whole colour to another, morphing and twisting until the eye of the beholder – the holder of truth – sees new hues, shadows of greens and pinks that hint at happiness.
We have it at our fingertips, this truth. Within our grasp – but it is silent when it slips away like chiffon in the wind.
Unknowing of its form, we strive for this. Day after day we try to fashion it, shape it, make sense of it only to twist it, bend it to suit our intentions, play our hand at honesty. Two faces, nay, more. We cannot say how many. It is unending, and we ask ourselves, “Is this the only truth?”
Once I lived blind to the architecture of the universe, because I failed to reach out. I was so wrapped up in myself, my Self stayed small; self-protecting, if you will; just a single point without purpose.
Now I live, stretched out and reaching; extending in all six directions; up and down, left and right, front and back. My Self emerged, out of the isolating confusion of white noise, to see the universe in glorious 4D.
From a single point I had become a tetrahedron, with all my dimensions fitting perfectly into the larger sphere. But though I could strike fire now, apparently, I was still not whole: I had no ‘other’ to complete a Merkabah.
All my corners must be touched, they say, or my potential power will be held back by lack of a perfect harmony. Yet I wonder if it’s possible to match an ‘other’ so perfectly...Their every face, every angle, every edge?
So where is my perfect intersection then? My balancing, opposite rotator, without whom my light must just bleed out? And why is one tetrahedron not powerful enough to reach those higher dimensions alone?
Your signature wasn’t legible and nobody cared but I know; I know you and your handiwork. A single line that grew laterally and then vertically. A rectangle for the base and a cross for the height. A big O on top or a shadow for the foil-paper sky. That was how you set and centered the work. It was a time anything you touched felt like a wonder. Your fans made you think so; they were drunk on you and filled you with you. Up to the brim. They thought paint poured from your fingertips. Fawning over you all the time, taking your hands, your telephone-cord curly hair - come on- all of us siblings had spiky, broom-stick hair; our scalps had deposits of cement from the construction sites we roamed about. Why, the site was where your 'talent' took shape. I remember your 'wall art' along the River Cooum. Your charcoal and spit cityscapes. I was put to the task of pissing on the pan-juice stains. Prepare the canvas.
Scam- that is what the old paper shop owner is calling your pared-down line drawings. "He is self-taught," I want to clutch the back of his neck to make him peer closely. Cut you the slack you- your talent deserves. "Ah," he clicks his tongue, entitled to his dismissal, like your fans, the fickle creative world that is now screaming the name of one of your disciples. "These are child's play," he laments, grabbing a paper and graphite pencil to do a look-alike, a cartoon-scrawl. Pouting-pointing to the whole series in dust when I still look defiant. Suddenly reality hits him to check if I was your...wife-first, second or third? Or his mistress? Or foster-children you had newly pinned on your kurta to emboss your prodigal charisma.
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This is a poem that was once written
On a computer that is now outdated
I am a computer program
I write poems on a flash drive
I see a hand in a virtual space
Holding a neon-coloured Rubik's Cube
I am an artificial intelligence
Writing this poem
Which is a description
Of an image in my mind
Hold up a mirror to my heart
That is not real
In front of a neon-coloured
That is not real
(That is not real)
The heart beats on the third floor
Of a building that is not visible
A Rubik's Cube
The heart beats in a place
Where no one else can see
And when the heart beats
A song is sung
And a tune is played
That is heard by no one
Do you know the story of the lone rose
Found only on a remote planet?
Her little hand peeks through the folds of her speckled gown. A cube of rainbow colours glows through her fingers. An offering.
I shake my head. Weariness, like dark dregs, weighs me down.
Do you want to hear it?
Do you have time?
Her questions mark her in the tradition of storytellers.
“No” quivers at the edge of my tongue.
I have tasks to do, and another, and another. The day’s work stretches before me. A long road in this planet of practical things.
But her face, rosy-pink with hope, stops my tongue. I remember that once there was a time when I too was the architect of my dreams, instead of being the servant of another’s.
Yes, yes. My lips make shape. My hand grasps her offering. She beams with delight and we begin making a universe.
Afterwards, when she isn’t looking, I take the cube. It’s dull now, a dying star in my palm, nearly exhausted of its gift. I hold it behind my back and leave, heading out into the night. To proffer another offer, be the light.
Just one look at the puzzle,
Before eyes are shielded,
Revealed the answers are,
Held grasped in the hand,
The hand guiding the light,
In direction of the reflection,
A puzzled life,
Shut your eyes,
Shut them tight,
The reflection lasts,
Lasts a life time,
A life time searching,
For just one more look,
At the puzzle,
A puzzled life,
Before it passes,
Passes on with the light.
Click. Milk spilled over the floor was worth crying about.
White negative space filled with clumsiness and naivety.
Click. Viva magenta was it? The rose, no, camellia--
Was it peonies? We held cautiously, along with the fear
Of ruining the short-lived, prettiest things.
Click. Solved Rubik's cube. But you rectified it was called
Pyraminx. Pyramids, triangular puzzles, unearth secrets.
Your hands. Mysteries with no answer. I ask.
Click. What was the question?
What did I eat for breakfast?
Passing the doors makes me forget.
Where was I going?
What was your name?
Did I forget
Bent yellow, twisted green,
faded blue, pale pink—
a fluorescent snake
seeking new shape,
cushioned in feathers,
flies through memorized twists,
counts turns left, right, left, right.
Triangles snap into squares;
squares become rectangles.
A writhing geometry test,
one color to a side.
Is that the way
it has to be?
Fold and Stick
Tab A to Tab D
F to B
Tab C to Tab E
Yellow for sky
Blue for the tree
Light makes dark
Y and B make green
No hat trick!
Just follow me.
A flick of the wrist
You can almost touch
color. Light filters through the prism
in your window. Dances over
wall, and floor, and skin. Feel it?
Prickle of lemon yellow. Warm red.
Icy blue. Lift them to your lips
Can you taste?
No, the dazzle slips through
your fingers. A puzzle that won't
Again, we cast dies of noons into rivers of zephyrs
and pluck refracting prophecies out of the office
of a shark-toothed sea urchin by which I mean
what better way to Jonah one's gloom call into the
belly fat of a nitrifying chamber. I mean, I ammonify
sadness and photosynthesize happiness from the light
of silhouettes dancing in the shadows of my murk reality.
Below this Mediterranean of divine revival, I am an analagyph
of dark matter seeking the swallow of a trellis of light.
crescendo cubes creased over paper thin hypnosis
succulent skin prints suffocated by polyethylene magic
fingers in spinning lightbulb sockets electrified pyramids
hand built from black flames and crushed mithai
drowning in lakes of unsweetened almond milk, irani saffron and pink cardamom seeds
she clicks the button shooting sweet jaggery through its umbilical cord
her silent hand slaps the surface of air in the parallel world
ripples turn to boiling spheres filled with oily hair and flower petals
splattering icy hues airbrushed across layer caught in consecutive glaciations
launched like rockets from white tents smothered by the humid blue sky
pristine white clouds and a murmuration of toffee custard shades and caramel crystals
weapons of war wilt as incense burns – offerings are thrust into the havan
heat from the lovers sizzles with each bite of flesh and crack of bone
divination for future civilisations spoken through prayers and the inhalation of fragrant sound
demons and gods churn the ancient amrit sea as inky molasses fish swim in synchronised patterns deep under the snow
solarised photocopies pop with the pungency of fleur d’oranger, pine nuts and pomegranate tea
a goddess inhales through a ceremonial pipe carved out from the pit of a mango
lying in the haveli she is awakened from a dream
her hand speaks as her tongue did long ago when the stars were born
her blazing words set fire to mortals
the pious flower cuts into her finger
a drop of blood diving into an ocean of melted hearts
The puzzle was one Lolly couldn’t quite grasp, though it seemed familiar. The colors. The angles. She told her hand to move but it didn’t, couldn’t, and so she stared at it, turned it over and over in her palm like that was enough. Lolly didn’t want her granddaughter to see how much it unnerved her, to be unable to place this shape that was clearly so important. Her granddaughter sat on the edge of the armchair, close enough to reach, if only Lolly’s arms would move.
The way the girl’s face shone when she passed the puzzle to Lolly at the beginning of the visit showed how much it meant to her. Lolly initially thought it was something her granddaughter had made herself due to the pride in her eyes, but as soon as her fingers slid over the hard plastic sides, she knew what it was. Or, rather, knew she should.
Lolly breathed through her frustration the way the yoga instructor taught them, every Tuesday and Thursday at ten. Most residents here couldn’t actually do the poses, so the center billed it as chair yoga, but Lolly didn’t care about that. She appreciated how the deep breaths made her feel. She felt like she was bringing youth back into her body with each inhale, blowing the cobwebs from her brain with each exhale.
“Oh Lolly!” Her granddaughter jumped out of her chair. “I knew it would help!” Lolly followed the girl’s gaze to the shape in her hand, now solid sides of yellow, blue, and green. The girl wrapped her arms around Lolly’s neck. “I knew you remembered.”
If I could choose the colour of my own blood.
amethyst (if feeling exotically minded)
down my sleeve.
Flowing the shade of the rose
whose thorn broke the skin.
Could it change with
the hour of the day?
Would I insist on like for like,
if somewhat clumsily,
I lost a pint or two?
Running thick like viscous treacle,
thin like icy waters
or stagnant, motionless, still.
Defining me and those I love.
Because as they say,
haem is where the heart is.