poetry drafts


Perfect night perfect light
Cat broke the flowerpot
Jumped out the window

Journey to the Sun

From the still contours of silver leaves
She arrives

Orders a beef fry
Dilutes the soup
Devours a banana
Plans the next meal
Smiles at the TV

Hasten, all, hurry none
We resume
Our endless and finite
Journey toward the sun

Serene the Moon

Serene the moon
The madness is mine
My little white horse
Rests in slack tethers
Dreaming of sparkling springs
Subterranean wells
The rain’s secret pathways
Her hooves tingling
Only awakening by the full moon
Silent serene
All of a sudden she springs
Around her the stars
The madness is mine

Serene the moon
The darkness is mine
Under the skin
The quiet virus
Blooms in poison pools
Slithers into fresh sores
Feeding on ill blood
Leukemia the destiny of the father
Loneliness the destiny of the descendants

Serene the moon
The desire is mine
The serpent scented flowers
Bloom into late night
The budding limbs
Know no season
The Himalayan flowers
Know no reason

Serene the moon
The disarray is mine
How vast this empire?
How long this reign?
How quick the finite?
How deep the waters?
How futile the labor
How futile the leisure

Serene the moon
The sadness is mine
Little wild dogs
Hunt my deer’s eyes
Behind, a man with a wet sword
Ahead the headlights in the road

serene the moon
the chutney is mine
coconut, ginger, green chillies, small onions, kari patta, more salt
a memory of tamarind
Chemotherapy’s blind tongue
Gets a gift of taste
Belly’s the button
My mother’s mine

Serene the moon
The flowers are mine
The golden arali
The sweet jasmine
The mellow hibiscus
Betel leaves for my grandmother

serene the moon
the miracles are ceaseless
here comes Ganesh
bearing three blue uprooted thulasis
swimming up in my sky
here comes Antiques Jose
to heal the broken bone china cup
from the mad aunt’s dowry

Serene the moon
The venom is mine
I secrete the secret
That devours the lunar light
That creates the shapeless night
The bitter stars the curdled milky ways
The lost planets the random spins
The astray curls the demented dance

Serene the moon
The passion’s mine
How fertile the unknown
How finite the definite
How infinite the unborn
How eagerly in an ambulance
Dying hands await
the touch of a warm virgin’s life

Serene the moon
The dosa kallu is mine
Flat iron sizzling
In an abandoned kitchen
Once outside flowed our river
Now who’s to put out the fire?

Serene the moon
The fear is ours
Needles, tubes, syringes, liquids
Of unknown origin
Shoot out to unforeseen destinations
In a galaxy of innocent cells
Which multiply ceaselessly
In the hope that one, if only one, would be loved

Serene the moon
This deserted temple is mine
Sthithi samharam srishti
Together they add up to a single banyan tree
A lost jewel a giant green lake long grass paths
The shade of a forest the shaft of the blessing sun
A meter away from the craving city
Still mandapams of ancient stone
Childhood’s white flowers on the circumambulation paths
Lamps lit for no one
Sentient serpent gods guard the giant trees
Samharam srishti sthithi
The rhythm is mine

Serene the moon
the ecstasy is mine
how close the rainclouds
that blow past without shedding a drop
how aloof the vision
of Agastyarkoodam
smeared with clouds of bhasmam

Serene the moon
The dead uncles are mine
Two earthed, one more to go
Already walking like a bone
No one’s orphan father
Liver in a shiver
It’s a huge cancer
Will brandy fit the answer?

Serene the moon
This family is mine
Hollow eyes, bald heads, wasted brains, washed out bodies
Crowded into the regional cancer center
Dependents all
Supporters none
Waiting in line
None so patient
As a patient
None so impatient
As a patient
Patiently and impatiently
We work on denial

Serene the moon
Death’s a burden
For those who love certainties
Lose it all, she says
Leave it to me, she says
I figure it all out
When where why how who
It’s my job
Drop your burden
Walk free

Serene the moon
The freedom is mine
I left the baggage with her
The less you have the less you carry
It’s all yours mother
My inheritance that could dismay the sacrificial horse
Stunt the rising sun
Throw rainclouds asunder
Yet they stand
So I breathe

Serene the moon
It’s time for the sacrifice
Human’s the call
Warm live the offering
None less will do
No elephant no suckling calf no cow no goat
Give of yourself
It’s time for the sacrifice
Blood’s too thin, flesh is too thick
Soul’s the key, hair’s a must
Eyes the best, lung’s a bet
Together or one at a time
Food for food
Eating for eaten

Serene the moon
The possessed chant
Serene the moon
The possessed chant
Knowing not, and knowing all
Serene the moon
The possessed chant
Serene the moon
The madness is mine


White light on the terrace,
Obeisance to the new moon
Why this Kolaveri
It’s shivaratri dude
Up here on the terrace
Three stars hide from the neon

Me, afraid
Of the woman and child
The child that disappeared
The child I ate

It’s Shivaratri
The time of samhara has come
We’re in the path
I’m in the path
She is in the path
She was in the path

Everyone on the path
Will be destroyed
She, she, and me

It’s shivaratri
Take out your phones
Listen to varaveena
It’s time for her
For her to arrive
At the feast of shiva

Go to the chudukaadu temple in Kovalam
Our local madman advised

So I go
On shivaratri
To the cremation grounds
Where the ashes triumph
Wearing the ashes
We emerge
She, she, and me

Three stars
Now hidden in the brightness below
It’s shivaratri on the terrace
The guitars are tuned
The drums are ready
We await the dancer
O Bhairavi
O Bhairavi
Arrive in play
Arrive adorned
Arrive in outpouring

Anninna in the Cradle

Sweet of the wind, chime of the night
Bonnie, bonnie, sleep so light!

Charm of the moon, rhyme of the stars
Bonnie, bonnie, sleep so tight!

Light of the rain, weight of the clouds
Bonnie, bonnie, sleep so light!

Cradle’s empty, sun’s down
Bonnie, bonnie, sleep so light!

Jasmine’s smile, mango cheeks
Bonnie, bonnie, sleep so tight

Rounded lips, milky mouth
Bonnie, bonnie, sleep so light!

Mother’s a parrot, father a squirrel
Bonnie bonnie, sleep so light

Spring’s for sure, monsoon’s in the moon
Bonnie, Bonnie, sleep so light!

Flowering dolls, leafy toys,
buzzing bees and sunshadows

Night of the magic, realm of the pure
Bonnie bonnie, dream so light

Queen of the seas, borne by the whales
Bonnie bonnie dream so light

Chant of the wind, mountain’s charm
Bonnie bonnie sleep so light!

Morning’s child, noon’s cry
Life of the light, sobbing dusk

Bonnie bonnie sleep so light

The moon’s rocky boat

One fateful night I climbed into
The moon’s rocky boat
There was nowhere else to go
No promise ahead
Only a thin crescent
To hold on to
In the churning dark waters

When I breathed again
I was on a mountaintop
Disappearing into fresh flying mists
A baby eagle came close
Very close, just here
All the way from the first cosmic egg

The moon waxed
I went sailing
When it became full
It began to swallow me
Food for the moon
Molten lead in my ears
Pitiless silver in my veins
White butterflies in my mouth

The jasmine buds I hid in my head
Took fright in the heat
The tender skin of my volcano
Sealed itself with moonwax
I became the moon’s new darkness
In my passion I created craters
Eating what ate me
I made holes in my boat
So we paired, the moon and I
I eating my boat, my boat eating me

All the while
Mrityunjaya bathed
in the luminous waterfall
dripping from his jada
where he hid
the languages that have no synonym for the moon

Send Khandakarnan to lick clean (devour) their alphabets
I cried
I will be free
Except for the craters on my face

The Secret

Although tall trees
Offered secretive mansions
Two bulbuls built their nest
In our little shrub
Leaves still light green
Branches tender
From the last garden shears

I chased the pet cats away
The bulbul glared at me
With her sharp red crown
Hush, she said, hush, he said too

O a dear sight
Two fierce bulbuls
Flying down to perch on the papaya
Everytime I opened the door
My heart’s desire
My heart’s secret flower
The bulbul’s promise

Two days passed
One brought a hunchbacked nun
The second a runaway mother
The third day I looked out
There was no bulbul
To scold me peering

Inside the light green shrub
Hid still the little nest
No secrets
Except itself
My heart’s flower
My heart’s own egg

Thiruvathira in the spell of Dhanu

Five mud lamps lit late on the terrace
Provoked the moon
She stepped out, full-breasted, from the dark river
Scattering mandaram flowers from her hair
Only to find
The dance of bhairava
Set fly whirlpools around her again
But then the river wept gently
So unforeseen the joy of thiruvathira
So unforeseen the sorrow of thiruvathira
As the last lamp died
Its dual wicks refusing to melt into a single tongue
Two and one
Two and two
So the river wept gently
Seeing the lamps on the terrace die
Without knowing oneness
As the moon arose from its deep waters
Scattering her flowers to the rainwinds
Loosening the wild night of her hair

The Night the Nishagandhi Bloomed

Two white serpents
Sleeping in the cactus leaves
Uncoiled one night
From the peak of Dhaulagiri
Sharp as lightning
True as love
Only for a night
Smelling of the waters
The swift waters of Kali Gandaki
Burying the past of the forgotten oceans
The parting continents the molten burning earth within
Because everything is perfect

Two white serpents
The power of truth
The white lotus
One thousand petals
Sharp as silver swords
Circled by fierce fangs
Love smells
Of the Himalayas
Pure as serpents
The white flowers bloomed
Venomous as queens
The white flowers bloomed
Reigning over the moonless night
True as lightning
Wild as Gandaki
Shamans possessed by their own power
Held in thrall of their own spells
Two white serpents
Reared up
Perfect, poisonous, pure
From the icy peaks of the Himalayas
Holding tight the dark sky the ice-capped peaks the wild river in their coils
The moonless night the path of the silver fingers
Awaiting the pindam
For the ancestors
Awaiting the pindam
For the descendents
All in a night’s work
All that came and was to come
Is perfect
Coiled into one thousand petals
One thousand moons
Calling the dark night
Hide in my petals
Hide in my hood
Hide in my forked true tongue
Withdraw the sky
Swallow the stars
A flower
Coiling around the cosmos
It gave birth to
Helpless the universe spins back
into the closing white petals
the scent of sated serpents
fills the night

Flowers in Fight

I never knew
How much flowers quarrel!
The yellow arali
Threw her flower at the jasmine
That had forgotten to blossom in the arid month
The jasmine told her bigger friend
She, arms tight outstretched taut
Opened two tight buds
The very next day!
The bougeanvilla smiled in supremacy
In violet and yellow
Forever forever she said
I’m forever
The nisagandhi
Was silent
Storing water in its cactus leaves
Never less or more
I only need one night, she thought inside
To make the world swoon
But the mukutti was not dampened
She came up with noserings and earrings
Finger ring studs, crown jewels
All in pure gold
That was until the hibiscus awoke
Sent out a single stamen
To anchor the universe
Draped itself in five petals
That hid the sun
I am, she said
I am the all
The one, the only
I am absolute
Without a second
You think, said kalyanasowgandhikam
Know how Bhima came looking for me?
Know how Draupadi would not
Tie her hair until I bloomed within?
Just the opposite, the Kanakambaram
It’s not me, said she!
It’s not water, it’s not sun
It’s Shiva
I cannot help blooming
In the month of Shivaratri
All the while the mandaram
Was painting within, in secret
the colors in the universe
She mixed, and emerged one day
Hiding in her folds
The white princess of silence