Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Batty Nights

Sometimes, it is useless to wonder
Why bats play on the radio every purple night.
Look at them rise in flight.
Bats of every colour
Bringing news of Delhi to the Savannas.
There goes Papa Bat,
His wide-rimmed spectacles askew
Off to his morning nap.
Mama turns on the radio louder
"Look what cousin Freddie has to say."
The sun loop-de-looping every day
On its unsuspecting orbit.
'I am tired of going around in circles '
The bat from Kentucky whispers
Looking at her shiny green nail paint
Sometimes, it is good to let go.

Panther's Bell

Moon peeps through the misty curls
Mysteries of the world unfurl
Darkness weeps in mirror rain,
Black paws tread the forest lanes.

Fruit bats screech and soar in flight,
The ebony stalker prowls tonight.
What can the predator's purpose be
For him to walk so temptingly?

Is it the blood of new-born deer
Or the heady scent of her mother's fear?
Is it hunger or is it lust that draws
The fearsome snarl and glinting claws?

None but a distant tinkling bell
Through the forest's silence swells.
A maiden who, in village, dwells
Has come for a drink to the lonesome well.

The panther, as if in a haze
Finds his way through the leafy maze;
As wolves, smitten by moonlight,
Howl into the full moon night.

Crickets chirp and you can hear
Bat-claws pierce the water clear.
Who is this lady, out, fearless
In the hunting time of the wilderness?

Stardust smiles on flowing hair
As water drips to neverwhere,
He moves alone through rosy thorns,
To where passion for the bell was born.

It pulls him like an iron chain
Which cuffed to an ankle, pains.
Intoxicated by the sound
He walks deluded, tinkle-bound.

Slyly grins the wily moon
As he dances to the piper's tune.
Only, the piper here is she
Whose bell chimes so invitingly.

There the moon-bathed tinkler sways
As he, now weary of his chase
Crouching 'neath the bushes, spies
The nightly maiden's sightless eyes.

Teeth and claws on metal spark
As the hunter leaps in the thickening dark,
Satan smiles at fusing souls
When darkness swallows the forest whole.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I've seen you, glossy squares of rainbow paper
hanging on the corridors of my toddling days
you've pulled me along on mindless capers
into the depths of your meandering ways

smoothened colours, like showers of sand
monet's radiant brushstrokes set aflame
gauguin wrought chaos without his hand
yet no one knew the mad dutchman's game

in a wheatfield of netherland's plains
furrowed strokes of grain turn gold in may
dark cypresses of the mind insane
break the mellow rythm of their sway

years have passed, and so have men
who changed shape as time does mould
always the miracle that you were then
rainbows caught in canvas-folds

Who Are You?

i look within me
for a patch of pain that isn't there
a nonexistent little spot
which was, sometime back, a disease
that had afflicted my entire being

there are no shortcuts
they say
no easy way
out of the quicksand

if so, then
who are you?

are you the sunshine that lights up the cobwebs
in the attic of my tower of stone
perched precariously above a raging ocean?

or are you the wisp of ivory breath
that takes flight
on a moonlit january night
when i say hello

i think you are a handkerchief

one that someday shall be dug out of my grave
when i am a part of everything.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Recollection Of An Eternal Vision On A Summer Afternoon

it was a day
as some would say
of sunshine after rain

when thoughts do flash
beneath the lash
in trilling notes of pain

a simple touch
that said so much
and wormed its way within us

hand and mouth
did fight it out
we writhed like stony sinners

the man of stone
a god, alone
webs of lust had woven

arms of white
in passion's flight
opened doors to heaven

my blood and flesh
and knobs, enmeshed
were pushed like lumps of metal

fingers strong
did pain prolong
and plunged deep on their mettle

i could not cry
my cup ran dry
my rusty eyes were bleeding

i saw them shine
my shades, divine
amidst my moans of pleading

and then i knew
the purpose true
for i had loved each moment

small hands so dear
they drew me near
and clothed in kisses' raiment

i saw you smile
a hopeful child
the lull before the thunder

i shuddered, bent
broken but unspent
and gazed at me in wonder

moments flew
came roles anew
scores of scores were settled

not loss nor gain
in pleasure's pain
the gates of hell did rattle

the touch unbound
the mind unsound
choked by chills of diamond

between the gasps
and sting of wasps
patience, black, was summoned

marble's child
had turned me wild
and me, a babe unknowing

mirth, deep
did bring me sleep
as winds of change were blowing

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Robin Redbreast

She was Madalena. Madalena, the young landlord's wife who had raven-black hair, glossier than that of the Countess. She brushed her curls gently, with the ivory-toothed comb and watched the flickering lamplight dancing in changing patterns on the road. She waited tonight, as she had waited every night for the last nine months. Yet, no one came.

The tired eyes stared into the distance, eyes which used to remind Robin of the sea. Everyone called him Robert. Everyone except she, who would call him Robin and laugh in her fairy voice, as the loving word would soar up in the air like a little robin redbreast, bringing hope of springtime.

Where are you, Robin? How long must I live on this way?

She turned to look at the room. Light from the tallow candle illuminated the tiny, pink face that lay swathed in soft blankets.

I named her Lilian, just as you wished.

The servants had all retired to their beds and she was perhaps the only stirring soul in miles around. Night fell early in these parts, especially after the wartime tallow ration had been cut to half.

Much could be seen reflected in those two sea-hued eyes. Her whole life passed before her, like shadows of unnamed men on the wall. A little girl of fourteen, with no wordly possession except a bed of violets. Her mother had thought it immensely fortunate that the wealthy landlord's son had smiled at her at the fair. Such a lucky girl!

She began to wear a golden ring before long. Soon, and with much ceremony she was wed. Madalena may have been a peasant's daughter, but she was as frigid as a lady with Robert. She disdainfully rejected all his little trifles, and hid behind the wide skirts of her laughing, bright-eyed mother-in-law. "Don't you touch my little doe, you naughty boy!" her savior would warn playfully, stroking the young girl's raven locks.

Eleanor, though protective of her son's child-wife, was a hard taskmaster. She insisted in teaching her the correct way to bake bread, cook meat, wash clothes and be proficient in every other chore around their large, populous house. True, there were servants galore, but Eleanor maintained that no daughter-in-law of hers would be a lazy slop. Especially if it meant her only daughter-in-law.

Madalena soon found her place in the household. Her new relations did not mock her simple background, as Eleanor had been a peasant girl herself. They just took her in like a long-lost daughter and gave her a bit of earth of her own. To make flowerbeds, as many as she wanted.

Robert Gasquet was a sharp-looking youth, who spent his time gallivanting with his friends, holding archery contests, shooting tournaments and, and competing for the eyes of the pretty maidens at the town square. Madalena did not pay her philandering husband much attention, and busied herself with her work. All her spare time was spent in deep discussion with the gardeners on how to nourish the tiny, emerald shoots that were pushing up their heads from the wet, brown earth.

Many a times, when she was immersed in tending to her leafy children, she saw from the corners of her eyes, Robert confidently gallop past on his dapple-gray. Her confused heart did skip a beat, but she tried her best to stop the blood from rushing to her cheeks. She prided herself on being a lady, not a wanton little tramp. Her decision to completely ignore his twinkling eyes was taken, when Starlight, Robert's beloved mare left two hoof-prints on her flower-beds.

Sleep extended its cool tendrils and wrapped itself around her consciousness... No, she must not think so much... especially not about his eyes... Madalena's face, almost translucent in its pallor, turned upwards at the glittering expanse of midnight blue...hoping , yet cursing herself for the forbidden hope, to see a reflection of that fond glow in those huge balls of gas, burning brilliantly millions of miles away.

Not much longer, my little apple, they seemed to say.

The dreamlets of her broken slumber took her back in time, when Starlight was yet to be forgiven, and the little wife had promised herself forever to hate the arrogant and worthless husband. Yet, promises were so easily broken. More so, when there was a little tragedy to assist it to its demise.

The sweat. It carried off little babies from their cots, disentangled young lovers from their amorous embraces, and put an early end to the archery contests.

The entire farm seemed drooping in sorrow when Robert was confined to bed for a fortnight. The inhabitants of the stable refused their fodder, and Eleanor remained in the attic with her son, tending to him at all hours of the day. At first, it had seemed to Madalena a fitting punishment for the ruthless murder of her precious violets. Then, slowly it dawned on her that her arrogant, worthless philanderer of a husband may not live to hear the trills of the first robin that spring. Little Madalena suddenly remembered those sinful, sweet feelings that she had guiltily stowed away in a forgotten corner of her heart.

Nights were spent in tears, self reproach and a solemn oath to forget all the apathy she held for Robert. She waited at the bottom of the staircase the entire week, looking hopefully at Eleanor's worried face whenever her mother-in-law came out to fetch new sheets. Once, when Eleanor had left for dinner, Madalena sneaked in to the room, to see her husband in deep, peaceful sleep, the serene moonlight shining on his comely face. For a minute, she despised her stupid, juvenile self. Oh, how could she have hated him, for a silly bunch of flowers!

After the two weeks, which seemed longer than a year to Madalena, passed by, she plucked up the courage to ask Eleanor if she could sit by his bedside for a while. The woman smiled to herself, to see the woman blossoming from the wilful child that she knew so well.

Robert realised that the light pitter-patter steps that were approaching the round hobbit-hole door of the attic were not those of his buxom mother. So, he pretended to sleep. From within the tiny slit of his half-closed eyelids, he watched gleefully as a pretty, dark haired maiden, pale with worry, entered the room carefully and knelt by his low bed. As a sweet and half-familiar frangrance played with his senses, he saw the delicate fingers reach out to touch his cheek, but retreat in shyness. "I was so foolish,' the teary eyed little wife of Robert Gasquet murmured. " I'm so sorry, Robin."

Her whispered penance was like ambrosia to his elated ears and he could not keep himself from open one cheeky eye.
"Robin? Is that what you call me, little Miss Avoyelles?"

"Don't say that!" she cried hastily and touched her fingertips to his parched lips, before realizing the intimacy of her thoughtless gesture. Embarrassed, she bolted from his room, with her Robin's amused laughter chasing her all the way.

Robin always did thank God for the sweat. For that made me realize how much I...

The villagers said, if there ever was a pretty couple, it was the young Gasquets. And a happier one you would be hard-pressed to find in all the valley. Robert had not completely lost the wander-thirsting eyes, yet he knew that he would not have to look very far anymore. The slender throat, those ebony curls and the faraway eyes of Madalena, the peasant girl, were enough to keep them quenched for a thousand years.

Yet he was constantly and painfully aware of Madalena's tender age, and felt that she was a fairy doll of milk white china who could break into a million pieces at the briefest touch. He therefore decided to take her for strolls by the forest, and after a month of coaxing, a gallop on the back of her sworn enemy. She, on the other hand, had suddenly and without almost any prior notice emerged for her chrysalis and spread her rainbow wings, to bask in the first blushes of womanhood, and had no patience for his mild, gentlemanly advances.

While he would jabber away about clearing the unused patch by the southeast end of the garden, to make space for the Empress of India lilies, she would glance at his ruffled brown hair, and secretly inhale his musky scent, and look for a way to make him understand.
It arrived quite soon, as the red-gold leaves of September readied themselves for the autumnal ballet. Madalena smiled in remembrance.

One evening, as she was getting dressed to go down for dinner, Robert knocked at the door, and entered with a bouquet of flowers of the sunniest yellow. For a second, his eyes lingered on her bare shoulders. He averted his gaze as quickly as he could manage, but to Madalena, the battle was half won. Almost as soon as he began talking, she cut short his long, fruitless discourse by simply engaging his lips in a worthier quest. Robert could not trust his senses! This little child...yet...

The bouquet lay forgotten, and it was a sign of incredible propriety on the part of the maid that she did not giggle when she announced at the dinner-table that the young master and mistress were otherwise engaged.

They left no territory uncharted. From stable to haystack to the little expanse of woods by the spring-pool, the traces of his touch excited within her stomach little eddies of passion- sudden as the whirlwind, deep as the sea. The thought of his firm, yet light frame made her careworn mind sink deeper in despair.

I am a mother now.

She had wanted so badly to swell like a shapeless balloon. To carry in her proud body, the declaration of his love. She had dreamt of Eleanor, shooing away Robin in her mother-hen way, while he would play faultlessly the role of the adoring onlooker. She had dreamt of her gruff father-in-law, the worst-tempered landlord of the valley, unexpectedly pulling out a chair and barking, "You must be careful now." And best of all, her Robin would hold her in his maddeningly sweet embrace, "And how does little Lilian fare today?"

The first ray of the warm light rested on her tired face. Was it almost dawn? She did nothing but wait, these days. Even though her garden was full of new life, everyone around the farm new that the little mistress's heart was very far away. A year without him had changed her completely. There was no frolic in her, not anymore. It took all her strength to keep those drooping eyelids from kissing...

Madalena woke with a start and whirled around to look at the window, at the other end of the room. Her mind felt cleansed by relief as she looked at the cocky little redbreast on the sill. "He's coming! Oh, I know he is!"

She ran downstairs and woke Eleanor with a hug, the very first warm, heartfelt embrace in several months. "They're on their way, Maman! I saw Robin on the sill... I mean, a robin...oh! I don't know!" Eleanor laughed at her daughter-in-law's happiness, and thanked the lord that this ghostly girl had now a little colour in her cheeks. She started giving out orders for preparation, and picked out a floral dress from the shelves. After all, Madalena was not the only one who missed her husband...

Madalena put on her ocean-blue silk, which, Robin said, made her look like a sea-nymph. Oh, how pleased he would be, when he would spot her eager face waiting at the windowsill, just as she had promised.

Wait, there comes a band of soldiers! Please, God...

He was not among them, the merry men who came galloping down the lane. Madalena, from her perch, saw the tearful farmer's wives' run into the arms of their war-hero husbands. How warm their hearth would be tonight. Their winters were finally over, and spring had come with its familiar kiss, bringing back to life the lips that that been numbed by endless snowfall in the months past.

Won't you come, my robin redbreast, my harbinger of spring?

Moments, and then hours past by. Eleanor began to doubt her word. Madalena, sat like a rock at the window, refusing to believe the worst. Then when the sun was just about to slip inside its blanket of nothingness, she heard the clippety clop of hooves, hooves she knew and hated and loved, hooves that sounded to her like a angelic chorus ringing in the evening sky.

She ran down the spiralled staircase in a rustle of skirts, and was out in the meadows, beyond the garden and into the road , waiting, as the dapple-grey who came in sight neighed to see a familiar face.

"Robin! Oh, my Robin!"

His face, nestled on the Starlight's neck, broke into a tired smile as his very own beautiful wife stood before him, tears shining in her eyes. She tugged his sleeve, impatiently and then slowly with one finger, traced the line of his nose, all the way to his lips, only to find it caught between his teeth. He staggered down from his horse and locked her in iron embrace, as both of them tumbled onto the soft turf. Her lips found his, and out came tumbling all the emotions that she had bitten back throughout the lonely winter.

"Lilian," croaked Eleanor, and held out her granddaughter, afraid of crying her heart out and spoiling the reunion. With much difficulty, Madalena disentangled herself from her husband's arms, and gave him the child. There would be enough time for everything.

Only then did she see. What she had thought to be sweat, was not so at all. Her ocean- blue silk was soaked in blood, just as his shirt was.

Robin redbreast! Was that what she had wished for?

His chest was covered in deep gashes, that had run deep, causing him to bleed profusely. She knew. Her Robin was, she couldn't say it....it couldn't be true...

Robert watched her comprehend the situation', as she looked at his wounds with horror. " I had to see you for once, for the last time...before..." he mumbled apologetically.

The grass beneath her feet seemed pull her into the abysmal vortex of a whirlpool. With a maddening laugh, she knew she would not waste the last moments of her final spring as she pulled him into a ravenous kiss.
Their teeth bit into each other, tasting the bittersweet mixture of blood and Madalena could feel the life slowly desert him, leaving the body senseless and cold. For the first time in nine eternal months, she broke down helplessly, and the robin redbreast, hovering above her, whispered her name into the oblivion as he stretched his wings for a long journey to the sunless country.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Splashes Of Cello

in the walls
of the mazes
of your mind
colours blind me

purple splashes
hummed by the cello
are sliced
by a single
issued from a violin

red is the shade
of your blood
that you
you could have spilt

and black is nothing
just like we all
will be
one day

carried away
by the muddy smell
of pigeon feathers
a decade ago

i know the words for the shade that you see

as a host of evil butterflies
are dispersed
by the holy light