Sweet Valentines

You all who wish to save my soul,
Infecting me with sanity,
I stand here vaccinated to
Your toxic positivity.

You send your love in fancy dress
Of wrapped up gifts from Amazon.
I can’t enact your fairy tale
And there pretend to be your One.

Your chocolate hug and rosé kiss
And promised flow of teddy treats
Are weak proposals lost on me:
I’ve given up all processed sweets.

The gravel of my gnashing teeth
Has skinned the fore-end of my tongue
For I’m a bitter biting man
Inside a bag of sandy dung.

Pigeons

For many months, I mistook the pigeons’ cooing
For her incessant under-the-breath grumbling
That had been a source of widowed white noise
Through my Cartoon Network afternoons.
I now leave a little bowl of water for them
To drink from, to play with, to spill over,
Like she had done in those last few weeks
When she had become the quiet kid,
And I the garrulous grandmother.

We feed the departed when we feed crows,
She had said, not knowing she would be alive
In the simple home-making gootergoo
Of portly pigeons that dipped their plumage
Every evening in the smoky haze
Hovering over the cremation grounds,
Above the sooty patches of ash and cinder,
Left behind by the departing souls
Skyrocketing into their judged heavens.

Is it any wonder when her garlanded photo
Is overlaid by ghostly grumbling pigeons
When the morning rays from the skylight
Hit obliquely across the glass frame?

I Don’t Like Waiting

Why do you think it’s okay
To take my time for granted?
I value your attention.
And all I’ve ever wanted
Is for you to value mine.
How difficult is that?
If you won’t give an answer,
Don’t say you will get back.
Don’t beat around the bushes
Like lawyers prevaricate
When they don’t like an offer,
But won’t tell it to your face.
Don’t leave me in the dark here.
Both yay and nay are fine.
Just tell me now, if ever,
Will you be my valentine?

Letting Go

The art of letting feelings go
Begins with losing all you know.
For what you know is dear to you.
And dearness is a feeling too.
This game is not a finite game.
Your every moment is the same.
Your feeling comes, you feel it grow.
Observe it now and let it go.
Your feeling comes, you feel it stay.
Observe it here, then peel away.
Your feeling comes, you feel it is.
Observe it so and stay in peace.
Your feeling comes… you get the drift?
Accept the feeling as a gift.

Gaah!

Again I struggle with ink today.
At the paper blank, I blink today.

With the streak at stake, about to break,
I find myself at the brink today.

The street’s so quiet, muse on diet,
I am on my own, I think, today.

In form I trust, for write I must:
Some ghazal couplets I link today.

These muddy lines, like spilled over wines,
To my shamelessness, I drink today.

Do you hear the scare? “Misra, beware!
Your words are going to stink today.”

Gajapati

At the portrait of the man, I frown:
Is he getting up or sitting down?
The chair and crown are still his for sure,
And the heirs around seem to endure
His testing presence among their kind.
And he must rest his august behind,
For age has set in, and so has gout.
His rage is sharp, though, without a doubt.
He will holler on for two years more
While his heirs die crawling on the floor,
Each punished for High Conspiracy:
Ambition over intimacy.
The throne will pass to the cowherd king
Whose prowess today our children sing.

Twelve Kilometers

The fifteenth lap around the track
Was when I first became aware
Of dust on my emerging jaw
And itch in my eroding hair.

For with no music in my ears,
No tracker band around my wrist,
I wondered how I ran so long
And how my mind did not resist.

Rooftop Bots

I hum a tune about the moon
While watering some rooftop pots.
But then I spy a distant eye
On me from other rooftop spots.
At once I freeze, full of unease,
Aware of all the rooftop shots
Her iPhone takes, as she makes
Her drone fly over rooftop lots.
I turn around to the buzzing sound
To see the drone in rooftop knots
Of clotheslines, as tangled vines,
Hatching their own rooftop plots
To catch all spies, and foil their tries,
Defending us from rooftop bots.

At Ease

He’s eaten nothing all day
Except his own words
At the end of sentences,
Which he washes down
With an occasional sip
Of the electrolyte water
On his bedside table.

He’s read nothing all day
Except his own palms,
Cupped as a folded leaf,
I don’t know whether to
Receive divine healing grace
Or offer up his own divinity
To the nondual infinite.

His beatific smile is scaring me.

How to catch a petty thief

It was the year 2007, when
A new Inspector of Police
Visited our street and asked around,
Who steals the municipal water taps?
The street responded as it always does:
Must be the ghosts on the tamarind tree.
The Inspector blinked as others had before.
His Constables also smiled for a bit
But quickly looked down again, perhaps,
To investigate the splatter pattern
Of litres and litres of spilled water.

This was the seventh tap to be stolen,
And the seventh time the pipe had peed
Into the street, like morning kids,
Long after the women had left
With heads and armpits and hips full
Of large pots and larger gossip.
The Police of past had failed to nab
The ghosts who took the taps away,
But the new Inspector declared aloud
That he will catch the petty thief.

The next day a new tap was fixed.
And on the tamarind tree was tied
Two closed-circuit TV cameras,
The cross-eyes of Blindfolded Justice:
One looking up the street,
One looking down the street,
With a long optic nerve descending
And entering a grilled window where
The Inspector had taken permission
To leave a powered magnetic brain
That he called a CPU
But the street heard as Seipeyu,
The daughter deity of Mother Goddess
Who watched over the street’s safety.

A few weeks passed with no event
And the Inspector sat up proudly tall
Each time he passed by in his Jeep
Until the day he held in his hand
A severed optic nerve lying down
With no tap on the pipe
And no cameras on the tree
And lots of water on the street.
He took the CPU away.

Next day, the women filled their pots,
And laughed aloud at the Inspector’s
“Extra oversmart idea”
That had so many gaping blindspots.
That was when he came in his Jeep
And sent a lady constable
To cuff one of the laughing maids
And take her back to the Police Station.
The women around raised alarm
And within two blinks came armed men
With sharp blades and sharper eyes
And a deficiency of self-restraint.

The Inspector had predicted this
And pointed his baton up and straight
When two constables came running out
With large printed gray-scale photos
Of the woman cutting and stealing.
The people knew from the photo angle
The camera had been in the grilled window
Where the Inspector had left the CPU.
The Inspector then brought it out,
Placed it on his Jeep’s bonnet,
Removed the outer metal cover
To reveal a glimpse of divinity
Where the large exhaust holes had been.
The people saw Seipeyu’s third eye:
A webcam looking straight at them
Burning down their aggression.
The Inspector asked his constable
To step back into the Jeep
With the cuffs but without the maid,
And himself stood tall and told them all
He’s exorcised the tamarind tree.

And truly it has been fourteen years
Since a tap has been spirited away.