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Contentus Horribilis

30 Nov

To write poetry, something must stir.

Come undone crawlingly, raise its hydra head.

Sit by raging waters, let your dark side churn.

Toss back imaginary curls and wade into lines.


To write poetry, something must give.

A singleness of being, the dizzying freedom of time,

A torrid landscape and

anguish of heart.


To write poetry, something must fold.

Silently, dangerously, beckon you


To play.


Darkened rooms, burning spirit, the severing of all ties


Solitude, restlessness, the non-mundane

Let it storm tonight, like

I’m nobody’s wife.


To write poetry, something must shift.

If I can locate the gear

Of my charmed Californian existence and

Reset happiness, calm, to baseline with

the edge of my



Until then, love

me still,

As a being

of peace.

While the phrases float

away, on

paper boats of

my own


Bloodletting, Memory

30 Aug

I bleed the City.

With shards of rejection in my veins

The fury, the heartbreak, the

Slamming of gates.

A human wall, of

Purified hands, closing in, shutting out,

Spewing fumes of vile smugness.


I bleed the City.

The cradle, the earth,

Glass bowls that

Rock babies, among gravel and green.

Passed around communal arms, eyes taped

With certainty, stunted by fawning,

Inspecting sodden roots,

While new leaves are snipped off

For daring to be fresh.


I bleed the City.

The fabric I carry, the honks in my

Head; the corners of childhood, neon signs that scream

No, the stripping of self, divesting of entity.

Hurled into a morass of the unknown and

Unknowing, the joy and the light frame my

Dark core, the bounty that decorates

Crumbled pieces of



I bleed the City.

I bleed the City.

Through lumps in the throat and knots in the spirit

May my ministrations redeem me.


You Bring Out the Parsi in Me

27 Sep

Another identity, another take on Sandra Cisneros’ You Bring Out the Mexican in Me.


You bring out the Parsi in me.

The choy-foodna-ni-choy and

dhandar patio in me.

The smell of lobaan, eau-de-cologne

and all things from the sea in me.


You’re the one who

draws out my Gujarati, the

dhus-pus bolni and O mora khodae in me.

The tori sasoo kanda khai and

insistence on preservation in me.

Cling to the garas,

dry-clean those kors,

lovingly wipe Granny’s pearls in me.


You bring out the Parsi in me.

The Sunday kavaabs and aapro Zubin

in me.

The Bachi Karkaria and Sam Bahadur in me.


scarves and frocks and

gout no dukhavo,

the refugee from Iran in me.


Take me to Udwada,

Where food and worship blend.

The doodh-na-puff and din no kalmo and

orgasm-worthy kharia in me.

The nasal chants of the dastoorjis in me,

The love of antiques, heritage anything and spiffy vintage cars in me.

And half a dozen boomlas for breakfast,

jara limboo aapjo ji.


Only you, only yours.

Love me the way lagan-nu-bhonu does,

all four glorious courses of sit-down perfection,

post fox-trots and cha-chas with Dinsa and Dorab.

Caress me like the kusti skims my waist,

the sadra white from Ala bleach

and an obsessive mother’s scrubbing.


You bring out the Parsi in me.

The saaf-safai and chappal pehro in me.


love of pegs and bawdy jokes

and koyla nataks on Navroze in me.

Whip out your fingers

Play tuj-khalloo-peejun-savak

Speak esmem-tesmem to me

Marere mua, what will the ghatas know?

Aapri rani su sojji majheni!


You bring out the Parsi in me.

The BPP politics, orthodox-reformist wars, the

silently dying breed in me.

The visits to Doongerwadi get frequenter.

A community is passing on.

The parjaats are eyeing our land.

Aapri colonies, aapri ketli jameen,

pun aapra Hindoos are always docile in me.


Run to Sai Baba

and Mahim Church

and whoever listens to the

South Bombay bred-missionary schooled-elocution-trained-haw, you don’t read Chaucer-English accent

in me.

Life membership at the NCPA is mandatory.

They give you a free form with your birth certificate at

The Parsee General.


You bring out the Parsi in me.

The pale skin, green-veined thighs and khar-khar laughter in me.

The majha masti, the salaamati, the

khushali na jashan in me.

(Only if malido follows).


Love me, hold me, say

I’m special.

Call your friendly neighborhood Parsi now.

Soon to be extinct but

never down-and-out,

grab your slice of history

before she walks off

for another helping of



Jamva chalo ji!


17 Jul

I recognize

this choking sensation

from the last time she

snuck up on me,

fingers lingering

in caress,

grasping in


clasping, tightening, crush-until-you-


You still your senses,

then struggle to heave,

break free, fling away,

drag knees like leper beggar,

clamber inner walls of

moss-lined minds

and dis-engorge your spleen;

but don’t look back

oh don’t look back,

she’s waiting hungrily still.

Sadness, feline predator,

she’s a right jail warden bitch.

The Occasional Writer

8 Mar

The smell of egg

Offends you,

A cake is lemon sin.

Your thoughts collect


And hankerings

And scatter nail clippings in

The wind.

The walk to the temple

Cuts your heels

Devotional scars sprout maps

What would they say if you

Hurried away, unwilling to roast the


Gandoo, he cusses at the

Newborn child

While grandma stirs his kanji

Your worlds they crash and spray

sweet gut,

the heart as free as



9 Feb

When you look at me

I want you to see

a thrush, a hedge, a

garbage can.

The wind, the mansions

and cotton candy;

the bells, the lights,

the smooth-paved street.

Anything, oh anything,

but a five foot nine inch woman

whose eyes you will never



3 Feb

I am


None in this town

know me.

Delighted to return the favor, I

know my body would

become native

were I to die of joy.

I cling to the hour.

(A leech, a vine, a woman besotted)

Privileges such as these

transgress my existence only