The Unfinished Life

There are unbought items in your cart,
reminds the app,
ever so helpful,
deals about to expire
last days, hours, minutes,
extended just for you
day after day,
carts need to be checked out
“buy later”s need to be bought
now, because tomorrow,
who knows,
the prices will change
you will be no more
they will be no more
your money, your will,
all that needs to be
exercised, today

There are unread books on my bookshelves,
there are unsolved mysteries in my head,
there are unfinished plans in my mind,
bookmarks are overflowing
twenty three different services
music, movies, documentaries,
recipes waiting to be made,
blog posts in various states of being drafted
book and story ideas, half-baked
skills waiting to be learned
places waiting to be visited

This myth,
that there is ever a clean slate,
an ordered departure
all things taken care of
projects wrapped up
ideas taken to logical conclusions
todo lists finished
bucket lists scratched out,
this myth,
of a perfect order,
has become an industry
do it now
eat it once in your life
experience it before you die
go there before you’re too old to …

the unbought items should pale,
in comparison,
to the unlived life
but we only get reminders
for that which can be sold

Advertisements

Muse, Interrupted

Stories lost in no man’s land,
ideas fleeting through the mind,
before one could catch them,
be possessed by them
we do manage to catch
ideas, dead, dry like creepers hanging on to empty skeletons of their former selves,
characters who refuse to open up their souls to you,
a medley of distractions,
chasing without a target, rhyme, reason
 
the muse, how long will she wait?
and why?
we all believe we’re special
raised on a diet of pulped up culture
and peppy psychology of winning
we’ve turned the mirrors into disco lights
we’re dazzled by their empty iridescence
and when
at the end of the day
we turn ’em off
we wonder why we didn’t
get enough done
and perfect that we are
in our own exalted images of selves
we find an honorable blame
enough to prove our conscience
a generic, opaque fallibility

 

we fail like everyone else
but we want to succeed like no one has
and we don’t
the muse leaves
to better homes, or better prospects at any rate
and we stare
at the emptiness
in disbelief
a shallow incomprehension
because we’ve lost
the habit of hanging on
to a futile looking dream
like the creepers, almost dead

Memories and Us

Only false memories can be so vivid,
to seem unquestionably real …
false, or manufactured, or wilfully distorted,
maybe it’s the effort —
to invent them out of thin air,
to recreate them, as per our whims,
to mold them into what we wished they were —
is what makes them seem more vivid
than real memories …

The real memories
that are struggling
to hold on to the last straw
as they drown in an abyss of oblivion
bereft of colors,
their once unforgettable scent fading,
the fabric of their real slice of reality
ragged, and tattered …
their very being turning into an apparition

No, it’s not us who need memories to survive
that’s a lie
planted by memories,
a survival tactic,
for it’s they who need us
without us, they are orphaned,
obliterated

Just Living Should Be Enough

Just living should be enough,
many are not even that lucky
life, with all its troubles
heartaches and heartbreaks
lost opportunities
forgotten friendships
broken relationships
soured dreams

Just love should be enough,
a few manage even a glimpse at it,
forget a love that lasts lifetimes,
just a love that sets you aflame
on the inside,
and makes you alive, on the outside,
fleetingly, even,

Just a kid should be enough,
looking up to you,
trusting you,
emulating you,
loving you,
waiting for you,
when you enter
that door,
every day …

Just a job should be enough,
to put a roof over your head,
to put food on your plate,
to pay for things,
that money can buy:
education for kids,
medical insurance,
entertainment,
a bit of travel

Just a house should be enough,
just a loved one caring for you,
just a decent health,
just a few minutes a day to ruminate,
just a hint of opportunity, to go after
just the nature to calm you
just a cloud to give hope of rain,
just a silver lining
just the petrichor
just the rainbow,
without the mythical pot
at its illusory end

But we want it all,
and more,
forgetting the list,
as we ask,
for that
one
more
thing,
to make us happy.

On Melancholy and Poetic Prose

Sometimes twitter throws at you something which suddenly makes all the garbage there inconsequential (including garbage one contributes to), even an okay price to pay for sublimity.

Melancholy, the rethinking of the disaster we are in, shares nothing with the desire for death. It is a form of resistance. And this is emphatically so on the level of art, where its function is far from merely reactive or reactionary. When, with a fixed gaze, melancholy again reconsiders just how things could have gone this far, it becomes clear that the dynamics of inconsolability and of knowledge are identical in function. In the description of the disaster lies the possibility of overcoming it.

From W. G. Sebald, Die Beschreibung des Unglucks (1985), trans. Louis Klee.

I found this thanks to a tweet by  (strong recommendation to follow if you are in love with words), and have reread it a few times. Recently, thanks to couple of excellent twitter feeds, I’ve been reunited with poetry — in the sense of reading poetry to be precise. Although I’ve scribbled a few bad to okay poems (most of those posted to this blog), I’ve never been into poetry that much. Read a few urdu shaayari, in the adolescent years, when everyone reads it. Tried to read Wasteland multiple times, always got lost in its labyrinths, and gave up eventually. Read bit of Neruda, a bit of Anna Akhmatova, bit of Wisława Szymborska, bit of this and that, took a few random trails down the Wandering Minstrels (wasn’t there a poetry site with this name — one with random poetry hopping function for a serendipitous meeting with a poem, a tinder for poetry really?). But I’ve never read the classics, nor can I claim to be a good reader of poetry.

And yet, I’ve yearned for the poetic writing, the kind that comes naturally to some writers. It’s more common among the fiction writing, but sometimes even non-fiction surprises you with that fluidity, that poetic flow of prose, that innate rhythm, that poignant dance of thoughts. It blurs the borders between prose and poetry. And what remains is an almost visceral understanding of thoughts. It’s to that aim that I keep on dabbling with writing, despite all the evidence to the contrary. And it’s because of that, that when I see it, I pause and marvel, and cannot help but share it. God knows there is enough there already that even unearthing some of it might be worthy enough use of a lifetime.


PS: Wandering Minstrels is still there, only as a blog now, with all the archives too! You can check it out at : http://wonderingminstrels.blogspot.com/. Oh, yes, there is still the random hop button, too.

PS2: Melancholy, the subject of the excerpts, is really the rarefied essence of most great art, isn’t it? I mean, to use Tolstoy’s take on happy/unhappy families, in this context, all happy art seems to be same, but there are a thousand shades of the melancholy that make art that dabbles in melancholy so different, almost every time.

No Man’s Land

We’ve shrunk
the no man’s land
now it looks like
a thin red line
and both sides
want you to redraw it
fresh, with your blood
as a token
of your membership,
and there are lines
long, tiring lines
on both sides
of people out to prove
their allegiance
to their one truth,
unquestionable,
timeless, even self-evident,
with a drop of their blood
drawn out with
a sterilized syringe
bravely enduring
the harmless little prick,
and intent to paint
the line red
again, and again
lest we forget
the wrongs,
of the other side,
and the line
doesn’t ever dry out
or change color,
because
on both sides,
the color of blood,
and the color of rage,
is the same red.

We’ve raised
our fences
made them formidable
tall, and strong,
with spikes on them,
electricity flowing
through them,
and menacing reminders —
the skulls,
of erstwhile fence-sitters,
naive idiots,
who couldn’t take sides,
adorning them,
and there are watchers
on both sides, watching
intently, your every step,
weapons ready,
just in case,
you climbed the fence
but they needn’t bother,
because no one,
wants to sit on the fence
anymore.


Featured Image: Church Behind a Fence by Atul Sabnis

Pulp Poetry: In the Fifth …

[Only for Pulp Fiction fans, the rest may OD on it]

In the fifth your ass goes down

In the fifth, your ass goes down
the fifth is just ’round the corner
sometimes, you open the door
and life stands there
with a barrel of a gun
pointed at you
and if you surprise her
she shoots you

In the fifth, your ass goes down
yes, I know you want to choose
mainly because
you want to believe
you can

that’s pride, fucking with you
fuck pride
for, pride — He will tell you —
only hurts
it never helps;
especially not
in the fifth
when your ass
goes down

but then He lies…
what He means
is this:
pride is only for those
who decide
who’s ass
goes down
in the fifth

and if it’s your ass
that’s supposed to go down,
you swallow your pride
or be prepared
to run
to survive,
you’ve to run with your pride

yes, Zed is dead, babe
Zed did not realize
that you don’t
mess with those
who decide
who’s ass
goes down
in the fifth

Zed was a character
but that doesn’t mean
he had character
in fact
he was
a filthy animal

What you don’t like this?
English, motherfucker
do you speak it?
say what again?
I dare ya
I double dare ya

Anyways,
I don’t even have
an opinion;
I’m sorry
did I break your concentration?
But you see
we have a Bonnie situation
and the fifth,
it’s just round the corner

In the fifth,
your ass goes down.

Unbearable Lightness of Silence

I

These awkward silences
don’t feel sorry about them
they’re just a reminder
that we need to tune better;
that awkwardness
is just a discordant note
a note misplaced.

if at all
we should be awkward
about forced conversations
something
we’ve been trained
to feel natural,
comfortable about

the two of us
we need to practise
our timing
of silence,
that is all

II

Who are these people
who leave a thank you note
on your doorstep?

are they “your people”?
are they us or them?
do we even know?

they’re not trying
to be kind
because why would they?
it’s not like they know you
or you them
they just stopped
at your closed door
and left a bunch of flowers
because they cared
about something
you said, or did, or made
something that touched them

not because you are
their brother, sister,
friend, teacher,
whatever;
so I ask again,
are they,
“your people”?

III

The unbearable lightness
of silence
of power failures
of no network access
of a book forgotten at home,
it weighs on us
because in that moment
when it happens,
we’re there,
in the moment

but
what really is weighing
us down —
the information noise
the constant agitation
petty debates
allegiances to party lines
substance free addictions
warning sounds of distractions
need to belong
need to be seen liberated
the dogmas and the isms
tyrannies of loves and hates —
isn’t unbearable
because we’re never
in the moment
to feel it

Stardust Memories

Yes we’re all made
of stardust
but it’s the stardust
that is tired
after traveling forbidding
cosmic distances;
stardust
that’s long since cooled off,
robbed on the way
of the last bit of energy

stardust
that’s a forgotten legacy
of an exploding sun;
the residue of a failure
glorious in death,
but glory does not survive
the cold inter-space travels
on dull, semi-dead comets
and uninhabited planets
a game of pass the parcel,
changing form
without will
without ambition
without a plan

Instinctively,
we aspire to be stars
but we’re afraid to burn
the stardust that made us
only remembers
that a star is as ephemeral
as a flower
when one looks back
with hindsight
of a cosmic scale;
that star-ity
is a humble reminder
of near-permanence
of failure

Yes we’re all
made of stardust
but we’re not stars
we’re cold, calculating,
and immensely lucky
arrangements of stardust
on improbable islands
of cold starstuff,
who need someone else
to burn
to shine
to explode spectacularly
just for us to be born

 


Title is lift-off of Woody Allen film that I’ve yet to watch, strangely.

Photo Credits: Atul Sabnis.

 

Between the World and You

Son,
they will tell you never to lie
that’s the biggest lie
but you’ll learn that soon
you’ll learn
that the most important thing
in a grown up world
is to learn when to lie
and how to lie
without being called out
because the only thing
that civil society does not like
is someone caught lying
because that requires us all
to repeat the lie
about never lying

Son,
you’ll learn soon
that one choice
you’ll have to make
again and again
is between
the others hating you
and you hating yourself
and how you make that choice
will make you.
no, I will not
influence it one way
or another
because I’m already made
by those choices
or unmade
the way you look at it

Son,
you’ll learn soon
that personality ethics
trumps character ethics
more often, than not
and hollow victories
seem sweeter
than honorable defeats
that we humans
are addicted
to hollow victories
and that all the books
you read
history and fiction
will try to tell you
otherwise
because we need
those myths
to endure
honorable defeats

Son,
you’ll learn soon
that that
which you thought
you couldn’t live without
is probably something
you’ll not even miss
in years, months, weeks
yes
people, things,
even ideas …
especially ideas …
but that does not mean
you should live
as if
there is nothing
you cannot live without

or maybe you should
who knows
what will work
for you

Son,
you’ll learn soon,
that the world is not
what it tells you it is
and that it’s a good thing
maybe
just don’t let it
hurt you a lot
maybe a little
for if you never
shed a tear
over such things
you’ll never know
what it is
that you really want
what you lost
or found


[1] Title inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates’s poignant book “Between World and Me”, that I blogged about recently.

[2] Character vs Personality ethics: From Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.