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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



9 Dec

I live in the Grand Canyon,

a chasm between

where I am and

where I want

to be;

A dry river bed that once

bubbled over with mirth, raindrops

and sparklings garnets along the

banks of the gentle Teesta.

We hang nets to dry, on

the ropes that gag us, and

strain skyward to remind ourselves

of how unforgiving blue can be.

Over on the other side, the

desert rocks moan

narratives of mothers, babes born tense,

and lesser wars.

Riding spider legs

on the long trudge home,

I am Ophelia, I am Atlas,

powder within, plaster without

and the best is night

when the walls mirror roof mirrors deep, deep heart

and we stand on a cliff

windless, sail-less, bending over





To the Caterpillar I Love/d:

19 Nov

In you I sought the

steadiness of rock

and found

an ocean



So I clung to driftwood

and rode the waves,

eyes burning for the sight

of crust and spores;

My feet, like

drunken sailors

enjoying the air,

shifted lurchingly above

merry waltzing sands.



fish they tittered,


sparkles they winked,

and I held on, held on,

melted my meat,

gulped the terror,

blew back at the wind

with lopsided cheeks.


Then your wings,

gossamer like stone, earth, sky,

they closed around me

and I built

my castle

on a houseboat

that rocked my

crinkled notions

to sleep.

Bugbears of the Heart

5 Oct

And that there is the

trapeze woman,

hurtling toward faux destiny;

Fault lines perched upon her lashes

downcast and flattened genetically.

An arm and she is swung,

the other grasping sheer veils

that reveal cruelly, vindictively, the

horrors of her future.

The past, it will not have her,

the present populated with too many

red couches;

Would you live in a moment you had to

share with crimson suede?

Mid-air tastes salty-sweet, it

crumbles around the edges

and when she streams down they


Oh look! No



Her smile is upside down, and wide,

the skull late autumn’s bloom,

A lifetime of couches is


painted a bloody


October Already

18 Sep

October already, and

the trees lose their damp;

Silently into the night

it slips,

taking umbrage in sleeping forms and steam,

picking its way through drunken brawls and



October already, and

the clouds are amiss;

Gone to their grandma’s across

the bay,

Family feuds incite migrations

But if you never look upward

you can pretend they’re here still.


October already, and

the guttural discontent

climbs out of our bellies,

loops over shoulders and necks,

stops by the iris to nod hello,

before strangling us smugly

in our beds.

To Adina, Who Came First

1 Sep

Your blood is not your own, Child,

not of your people or choosing,

Its thickness determined in the trenches,

the color as lurid as rape.

Be not unduly proud of your lineage,

for you have contributed nought thus far.

(And merely add to the numbers with the straightness of

your nose and character.)


You are Aryan, says the lilt in Mamma’s voice, her

swarthy face mocking the delusion of tone.

There are none so blind as those who will not

see, and you must not wish for

The reputation of your bloodline,

your stories, your creed,

to carve your path,

precede you.


When, at the hour of reckoning,

they ask what you have done,

You cannot believe

that merely being spawned,

birthed among the anointed:

blessed thousands on stretches of prime earth and vaster benefits,

was your greatest contribution to the land that

embalmed you.


Be not of your blood, Child,

for they will anchor you,

in chains that beseech and soggy knots that shrink

until you morph-molt-manifest,

Your nose, height and hair

shrieking hosannas to history,

And the iron gates, they will creakingly close,

locking you inside, among the Sayers,

arrested, taut and proud,


Some Words You Must Towel Dry

12 Jul

Tonight is a night for poetry.

For Neruda, Manivannan, Szymborska to convene,

Singe the dampness and my inner stone,

Purging loss, blood, memory as return gifts.

Tonight is a night for poetry.

For haze, aching and city lights,

Churn the heaves into bite-sized portions,

Packed in steel boxes for tea time.

Tonight is a night for poetry.

For the future that will happen without me,

I will watch that life with binoculars,

Offer improper condolences when it is time.

Wash away

the wetness.

Wash away

the night.

Scrape spirits within an inch of breath;


Cleave resignation with familiar spade

Line up in dated rows

He’ll come back like he said he would

And find orange peels and your scent

on the wind.