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The Wail of Trincomalee

25 Mar

Bring me fresh spices from Trincomalee

How can I, they be all dead there

Cardamom, pepper, and orange leaf tea

Only arms and torso and head there

~

Vetiver, sandalwood, tales of yore

Colonizers were led there

Rivers of tears are what’s left of the war

Savagely mothers have bled there

~

Orphaned children amass at the graves

Who will see that they’re fed there?

The peace of existence that everyone craves

Forgot to be born and bred there

~

Show me the signs from the paradise hills

Angels now fear to tread there

As dusk descends and bird-call stills

Spirits howl in their bed there

~

Pearls and ships and eastern winds

Vast fortunes lay spread there

What nature offers, man rescinds

No one will rest their head there

~

The flowers are gone from Trincomalee

To adorn the pyres, they said there

And those of us left by fortune’s decree

Must shortly depart in dread there

Guest Post: by Anindita

4 Feb

When an award-winning poetess writes lines for you, it’s a really good idea to zip it and let her do the talking. Like I’m going to do now. Watch. Almost…..see? Getting there….7….6….5.5….. Fine! I’m gone!

~~~

I first met OJ almost two decades ago, when we were giddy with the thrill of junior college. She was exceptionally warm, funny and generous. Yes, even back then. Seven years and two cities later, we reconnected through our blogs and discovered so much in common—the love of a city, the love of cities in general, the love of grammar, gender, books.

I also discovered that her writing is like her–vivid, often startling, bright, strong and humorous.  I asked OJ to get involved with Ultra Violet, a feminist website I started in 2007.  She has been its most prolific writer, most committed support and now, a brilliant and dedicated editor.

There is the sort of friendship based on slumber parties. There is also the sort based on building something together, slowly, with infinite patience and generosity. I am happy to have known both with this wonderful girl. (And yes, she will always be a girl.)  Here’s to you, OJ, and to many more years of writing, blogging and being your wonderful self!
(and here’s a bit of wordplay because i couldn’t resist)

What I think of when I think of you
We inhabit this parade of words, intimate
as the press of a stranger’s hands at a wedding.

We are more than the faces we hold up,
these books of glitter and jade. Even the coincidences

of nation, culture, cities may fade.
(Though we have known the love of that lost one

like a common lover.) But beyond that, and above,
there is something else–a sense, perhaps,

of what is possible in another human being.
If this sounds sentimental, consider:

when I type no, the computer spells hope.
In its language, the two must be similar.

Like solar and plexus, like distance
and resistance, like write and entire.

To the Unrecognizable Pink-faced Bride:

28 Aug

First, prep with moisturizer.

Humidity and lotion blend,

Make a base for your case,

A tenuous foundation for

Your evening’s battleship.

 

Next, slap on the goop,

Three shades pinker than

Your steadfast brown,

So your neck and face look like

Distant cousins, four times removed.

 

Darken the brow, line it with dots of color,

Interchangeable, like men & destiny, then

Brush on a violent fuchsia, as vivid as your

Dreams, your natural blush buried deep within,

Like practice for latent desires.

 

Line your mouth, the boundaries of

Your speech, carefully crafted in

Lurid tones, soon to seep away.

Don’t stretch its corners, for cracks will

Show, and it is too soon for that: yet.

 

Trace the hoods of your

Eyes, lowered in compliance,

Unfilled with dreams, you just want your

Liner to dry. Sweep on mascara, brush-on dark pleasure,

Gaze wide and unseeing at the throngs that come to view.

 

Garish and ghastly, you’re the pink-faced bride,

Another for a day, admired in hi-definition avatar,

Brightness and color at max. When the war paint is off,

You’ll revert to someone you know, and I’ll rejoice that

Wedding days are rather few in a lifetime.

Steam

30 Jul

It takes time for things, ideas, people to

warm. Pour oil into the crucible, trail fingers down her

skin, and slowly flame until ready to

sizzle.

~~~

A fistful of cumin, flung with abandon, simmer in the

heat his body exudes, a deep, slow burn, aromas releasing into

the darkness, awaiting the company of herbs.

Watch molten butter in the

brownness of eyes; sweet, salted, gliding past her

collarbones.

~~~

Curls of glistening onions, scatter at his

touch, slide into the heated pool, shimmy

madly. Garlic browns, like mouth on

polished shoulders, exudes the scents of demanding

lovers.

~~~

Turmeric flutters, chilli invades interlocked

tongues, and green flecks of coriander nestle in the

recesses of her loins. Coconut and cardamom shudder

together. Creamy milk swirls

a simmering subconscious

awake.

~~~

Basa crisps cracklingly, tossing in abandon, like

a long night under the covers, claims flavors as its

own, hugs their identities

possessively.

~~~

Merge. Meld. Morph into

an unasked question.

Linger lurkingly in the hollows of

throats and eyes, ghosts and bodies, and ghosts of

bodies, the burst of ripe rawness and pliant tomatoes festooning our

spirits, our core, our memories, our justification for the

Other.

~~~

Feast. Satiate. Cling tighter.

Claim. Claw. Start over.

The dance of erotica, with its

ever-changing players, is an

endless

evening of

steaming forevers.

My Grandma’s Glasses

6 Jul

I’m sure it’s hardly news to you guys that I derive amusement from the search terms that bring visitors to this blog. Case in point, this entire category. So when the one below showed up, I giggled a little:

Then it occurred to me, what if someone really was looking for a poem for their 9-year-old? What if they searched and browsed and scoured books and the WWW and were disappointed not to find it here? What if they went home at night and apologized to their dejected child and they both stayed up worrying all night, the parent racked with guilt and the child quaking in fright at his teacher’s reaction the next morning? And because I’m nothing if not a bleeding heart and carrier of guilt about everything from the loss of a Palestinian homeland to the crisis in Kashmir, I arrived at a decision. “This child shall have his poem!” I cried and stood up with righteous purpose. Quickly realizing that it’s easier to write in seated position, rear end made contact with couch, and I hammered away at faithful Adele.

Here they are, simple enough verses that should hopefully satisfy all concerned parties. As for me, I’ll sleep well tonight, knowing a little boy somewhere averted a nasty remark in his school diary.

P.S. Do they still have school diaries these days?

P.P.S. I didn’t get a single mean remark in my diary. Ever. Thank you for letting me share boast  share.

My Grandma’s Glasses

by Orange Jammies

My Grandma wears big glasses

They’re blurry, thick and round

I bet if I sat on them

They’d make a cracking sound

~

Like children on a play slide

They slip down her nose

And bounce along her bosom

Everywhere she goes

~

Grandma says they help her

To sew, to read, to knit

So whenever I hide them

She gently throws a fit

~

One afternoon I stuffed them

Under the cushions round

And laughed as Grandma looked and looked

Then sighed and groaned and frowned

~

She tried to make some cookies

And rolled out the dough

But instead of adding sugar

She tossed in salt—what do you know!

~

She attempted to be helpful

By washing all my socks

But strangely enough what got soaked

Was my stamps in their box!

~

I shrieked, I howled, I hopped around

In anger and in pain

Salty cookies and unwashed socks

Were driving me insane

~

I dug under the cushions

The same ones oh-so-round

And pulled out Grandma’s glasses

From underneath the mound

~

Take them, take them, I pleaded

Let my world be alright

I promised never to hide Grandma’s

Crucial guides to sight

~

The next morning I arose from bed

And smelled something bake

In my drawer were bright, clean socks

As many as I wished to take!

~

We had cookies for breakfast

They were a special treat

Especially because, no, only because

They were so very sweet

~

My Grandma she must love me

I saw a glimmer in her eye

When she announced as her glasses bounced

Our next treat: apple pie!

~

I make sure Grandma’s glasses

Stay firmly on her nose

This time it was cookies and socks

Next time, who knows?!

My Cardamom Kitchen

22 Feb

First,

pour the milk,

frothy and warm.

Watch its

whiteness bubble to

hug the sides of the cup.

 

Scatter strands of saffron, red

flotillas of poetry, they seep

into verses by Rumi and Hafez.

 

Slip in the almonds, soft, blanched,

they descend to the bottom and

strengthen the brew.

 

Next,

sprinkle sugar, top it off with

cardamom, a splash of

vanilla, then gently stir.

 

Let sit the

quietness, the comfort, the

potion;

it awaits its

recipient,

eager to serve.

 

Sublimation

17 Jan

I didn’t cheat on him.

I only thought about her.

I didn’t cheat on him.

We only touched.

I didn’t cheat on him.

Her soft, pliant skin.

I didn’t cheat on him.

Quivering under my mouth.

I didn’t cheat on him.

Legs wrapped around waist.

I didn’t cheat on him.

The arching of backs.

I didn’t cheat on him.

The moaning of names.

I didn’t cheat on him.

I’m seeing her tomorrow.

I didn’t cheat on him.

Can hardly wait.

I didn’t cheat on him.

We’ll do this over and over.

I didn’t cheat on him.

I didn’t sleep with another man.

I didn’t cheat on him.

Women don’t count.