Conflagration

After I had yelled at my brother
on the phone for taking away
my aftershave with him,

I hoped that he, as a fellow
man, understood how it feels

to have a face burning from razor
scratches, with no salve around
to soothe.

When a haircut cost a tenth
of what it does today,
and sometimes, even free,

because our barber was a kind
guy—that’s how far back we go.

The memory now light as lather,
softening time’s beard bristles—

those strands of elapsed years
growing out of our cheeks, only

to be hacked off like branches
of family tree.

Presence

Which word would you use
 to describe that birdsong?

I imagine myself asking you.
For you to answer, will you

need to be sitting next to me,
synonyms emanating from

your mouth? Can I not pluck
thoughts out of thin air & figure

it must be you thinking? How
much time & sacrifice goes into

locking things up behind a gate?
Does the key hold possibilities

at par? I try to find the vocalist
camouflaged in leaves for as long

as the sun would permit me to
tilt my head skyward. Out on the

street a hawker’s calls to buy warm
mattress covers, receding.

Dropped

A second passes, then five.
How long will you wait to be picked up?

It’s a discarded water hole, this,
and you: a bucket, its faded memory
of turquoise swirl, sitting amongst bleeding
leaves & flung pebbles in the well’s dried up

chamber where even the ray’s incidence is
bittersweet like nightshade berries,

illuminating the silvery hook-shaped scars,
the peeled-off meniscus,
the metal insides once wet now corroded,
rust-red like faces gathered around

an animal-roasting fire, chewing the juicy bits,
tossing the bones like confetti.

Interment

Our dead taught us to hold the fork.
After dinner, handing us a bar of soap,

they showed us how to produce white,
foamy lather over the sink
they accompanied us to in the dark

backyard, and to wring the washed
hands—that our skin is porous, and water
needs to be squeezed out.

Perhaps that is why we buried them
when they died, to decompose
their pale faces out of our reminiscence.

Had we dropped their bodies into the river,
the bloated carrion would have floated
in our minds forever, the burial sand’s

each yard cramped with multiple limbs
already, with no more land left
to dig.

Low BP

When your blood pressure drops,
your head hurts
from the inside.

It is an alarm to eat
something.

When you eat something,
the pain stops.

Though it is not really
a halt.

The pain simply starts
biting into your food
in place of
into your head.

Love

You would think love is
beautiful. It is not.
It is ugly.
It is not you liking the long,
smooth hair of your partner.
It is you not cringing
at the same hair clogging
the bathroom drain.

Insurrection

I came across a poem that was
not for sensitive audience.

Those bloody insensitive bastards.
They can sleep with lights on,
read under loud music, or not
read at all; never fall sick
from street food, sit in any posture
and their backs just wouldn’t hurt.

They cover their heads with horns & yak
hair, and leave their chests bare,
like they were the only ones that followed
the party dress code. You ask them
the party’s theme; they just smash
your windows. When you draw
your gun, they call their cousins
who are younger because they are
the eldest sibling even though
they themselves are so little.
And that’s just so darn cute.