Archive for the ‘verse’ Category


Friday, June 5th, 2015

Original: Pencil by Marianne Boruch




मेरी कला-अध्यापिका ने कहा: ‘देखो, सोचो, निशान लगाओ।’

देखो, मैंने खुद से कहा।

और इंतज़ार में रहा निशान के।


बादल सफ़ेद हों लेकिन कजला जाते हैं

बारिश में। बच्चा भी उन्हें धुंधला देता है

ज्यों टीले पे हों गुदड़ियाँ, छोटी

बे-पैर ढेरियां। देखो, मेरी अध्यापिका

ज़रूर कहेगी, बिलकुल नहीं है


वो वैसे। वैसा’ जैसे: झूठ। वैसी’ जैसे: कविता।

वो बोली: सूरत के सबसे भारी पहलू

को पहले सूझो। घने होने में

रूप है। जबकि मैं सुनता रहता हूँ होनी’


ये तो सिफ़त का ठप्पा नहीं। जैसे सवाब’

शोरगुल में बदल गया सराब’ में, मेरे कानों पे

किसी का जोशीला बयां। फिर सबब’ फिसला।

सर-आब’, ‘सर-आब’, सुनता रहा उस मशहूर कवि को,

मरोड़ते हुए माइक्रोफोन में, अपने शऊर।


जिसकी सूरत बनानी है -

उम्र में मुझसे आधी भी नहीं। उसने अपना पूरा

चेहरा उड़ेल दिया है बुत जैसे खड़े होकर एक घंटे तक।

देखो।’ अच्छा। लेकिन छोटा


सा ख्वाब है वहां, उस सोच’ में

जो कि अगला कदम है। मेरे हाथ की क़लम, जिसका मर्म

है कोयला, लकड़ी जल चुकी है, दे चुकी है


Buda & Pest

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Blue funk contagions
gash through Pest air
into human pores
to clog hope
that no rain washes
Away sits home.
Here I lie.
Take me away.

Buda is all pine:
A tree, evergreen.
Sentiment, unclean,
leaves of which
fly across the river
to fall piecemeal
into Pest’s lap.

Drunk artists climb
up fire-escapes
to view Buda
lit by night;
lights that are
cameras of tourists
on Buda hill, flashing,
as they capture Pest.


Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Mid-way through our stroll in Albertina,

I am overcome.


I want to know, nah, solve her..

just like Alex tries when he

draws her.. over & over.

She is like the moisture

that slips out just as

color dries on the sheets.

Are those her notations

or her footprints on the

margins of his linoleum?

She must have other chores.

(When she is not his model, she runs

past windows and stops rarely

for a side-glance.. in my head.)


I imagine one afternoon

when he outlined

her face on paper

as a monody

to estrangement,

his flat-brush flirting

with her tuning-fork

as he filtered flat lines

of her turbid face.

Or does he sketch from/ of memory;

Worse! Does he have to look away

from his favorite subject to paint?


I wonder if he practices portraits

of people in the subway

only to return to Ada,

like a warlock rehearsing a new

sleight on the streets for free.

Or is she his home-work,

so the world may seep

into his canvas


(So many people drop

pennies on the street,

we keep stepping on luck.)


Or.. is he

turning himself inside out

like we do an old hand-bag

looking for a favorite, lost, pen -

for he can paint rain in motion,

make each transient falling drop

of water freeze to life

and it makes me mad

that he gives her sunglasses


because her eyes are where I see him.

(Before shaking out the insides of that bag,

our fingers forage through forgotten felt

while the grousing pen hides in a crevice.)


I have run out of exhibits

and I still have no proof

that love is repetition

- summer after summer

you & I

will spend afternoons

in museums

keeping ourselves

at hand -

its provenance is our every day.

ear-mark #14

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Love Jihad

If you put two nouns together,
without wedging in a hyphen,
are not they a dash too intimate
for comprehension’s sake?

Love, adjectivally,
as in false adverts,
attaches to Jihad
on billboards, violently
blocking our vision
of an endogamously
saffron sunset.

What is the return-policy on this?
How did the unilinguists coin it?
May I have one in XL please?
Did they put a full-stop after Jihad?
Can I pay by American Express?

If Love be a noun, &
“myself” a *insert religion here* *insert gender here*,
I would self-describe
my Jihad as none
of your business.

If Love was a verb,
it would “itself” Jihad (a brown bearded object);
passionately, daily,
but also, more so,

Love Jihad
is, in fact,
Toils of love
chafe those
who get
neither Love
nor Jihad.

lolita, translated

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

याद नहीं तुम्हें मैंने कहाँ
सबसे पहले देखा था।
मुमकिन है उस गली में
एक अकेली दोपहर को, जब एक परिंदा
मेरे बाएं कान के बहुत करीब से गुज़रा था।
या सिर्फ सुना था तुम्हारे गीले मोज़ों के बारे में
जो किसी और के गंदे जूतों में
सड़ रहे थे बैंगनी फ़ूलों की तरह।

बात बहुत पुरानी हो चली है।

याद है लेकिन कैसे पहली बार तुम
मेरे ज़ेहन में उभरे थे, मानो एक बच्चा
किसी बीमार माँ की कोख़ में हो।
तुमने मेरा नाम पूछा और मैंने इशारा किया
खेत में गढ़े हव्वे कि तरफ़।
कहकहे के साथ तुम उसके पास जा खड़े हुए
एक बेबाक बन्दर के जैसे।
अचानक सूरज फ़ीका पड़ गया।
मैंने हर उस रंग की धुन तुम्हें सुनाई
जिसका कोई नाम नहीं होता।
और शायद मनमर्ज़ी से नाम बनाये
जो तुम्हारे जादू ने
मुझे भुला दिए, हमेशा के लिए।
हमने कितने ही करतब खेले
उन पुरानी किताबों के पन्नों से
जिनसे दुनिया कतराती है।
लेकिन हमारा ख़ून मुलायम था
और आँखें नरम, जो एक दूसरे को
अपने ही सैलाब में थाम लेती थीं.
जब तुमने मुझसे पूछा, क्या गलत है, खुद को
शीशे में नंगा होकर देखना
जैसे किसी और को दिखता हो।
मैंने हामी भर दी क्योंकि मुझे नहीं बर्दाश्त
के तुम्हारी छाया भी हमारे बीच आये।

अपनी ही क़ब्र में ज़िंदा रहने के जैसा था
तुमसे प्यार करना।




I don’t remember when I saw

You the first time.

It was possibly that street

In a lonely afternoon when a bird

Flew very close past my left ear.

Or perhaps I had only read of your wet socks

Getting rotten like violet flowers in the dirty

Shoes of someone’s prose.


It’s too far back to recollect.


But I remember how you had first

Stirred inside my head like a child

In a sick mother’s womb.

You asked my name and I pointed

To the scarecrow in the field.

You laughed and posed alongside it

Like an audacious monkey.

The sun grew suddenly dark.

I fed you the tunes of all

Those colours without names.

Or maybe I invented the names

Which you skillfully made us

Forget and do not remember again.

We played those games from

Very old books which the saints

Would blush to try.

But our blood was tender and

Eyes warm as we sheltered each

Other inside our own storm.

Once you asked me if it was wrong to

Stand naked before the mirror and

See yourself as another.

I said yes because I couldn’t stand

Your shadow between us.


To love you was like staying alive

Inside my grave.

ear-mark #13

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

You were the guy that got away
Till we met yet again
In the after-tremor of youth
Riding the mechanical bull
Of art & accomplishment

You had lost and lived
I had loved and lost
Before we time-traveled
Hoping we were younger lovers
With grit & glam

You are my cost of living
Chariness, Questions
Of the when & how
Are all irrelevant
To you & me

ear-mark #12

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

On that floor we lay then, where now
light, like leaves,
mentions, makes murals
on that floor we lay then. Where now?

ear-mark #11

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

(this, the last two paragraphs:


i’ll watch my dead

through the peelings

of her night,

as she blankets mine


i’ll sit in attendance

as i miss her

& mark my presence

on her tombstone


i’ll exonerate her cinders

and the scrapings

of her life

that flecked mine


i’ll string her stories

into a starry sky

where not cloud nor dust

dare bring me tears


when the bayonet comes

to dig out her memory

the moss of my sorrow

will fight, if i fall


the granite will speak

not a set of words

you’ve turned her to,

but of my epic ardor


i’ll watch my dead

and learn,

till you learn

that i remember

and i still live

and she breathes in me


you will no longer take her away from me

ear-mark #10

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013


is a grainy sentiment
sometimes you can predict it
like petrichor

it is a common misbelief
that it needs practice
those who’ve never felt it
have smelt it (too)
like rain in the air
& stayed indoors

it is a full cycle of not-knowing

it begins with fear, and ends there

sometimes, a peripheral
like a chocolate whip-stick
that ‘smells sweet and tastes cheap’
can offset a trek
into the unknown
challenge not-knowing
as a precautionary measure

that is regret
like sheldon’s “i informed you thusly”

like desert sand grains, collecting
in water, precipitating, 900 miles above sea level,
regret has only a temporary cure

the knowledge
that there is no way
to always be
hands-on with life,

and that rain is company

ear-mark #9

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

a rivulet grays by
trees of another blaze
an evening breeze
on a mill’s blue blade

i assemble images
i see into poetry

a child tosses the word
into the air like a frisbee

the synchrony of windfall
nursing the approaching dark
providing planes:

- take a turn
- bend somewhat
- close up
- any of the above -

will shift the view
tilt the plane
turn a stale bucketful
into a running stream

the child is