Baring it

I don’t mind being vulnerable today. It’s one of those days when I wonder about the point of my writing journey. Here’s what triggered it: In the past week, I received updates about the poems and short stories I had sent to magazines and contests. None of them made the cut. A few more rejects to file away with the previous ones. So this is one of those days when I sit and sulk a little. Wondering what I could have done better, wondering if it’s worth the effort, wondering if I’m chasing an illusion.

Tonight is one of those days when I feel tiny and insignificant as a writer. One of those days when my mind has shut down, when my rationality has deserted me, when gloom seems to cover me in its shroud.

I know such phases come and go. This one will too. I only hope the rainbow appears soon enough.

I looked through my poetry folder for inspiration, something to cheer me up, even give me a rap on the head and pull me out of this downward spiral.

I found a poem I had written in June 2014.

A sky of sadness has woven itself around me.

I have tossed grain into the fields,
the harvest is yet to make an appearance.

Years have passed, I have sharpened my tools.
My works lie in a shed, dying unnoticed,
Life seeping out of them through their fingertips into the earth.

Outside, birds make music, and in the nights the city dances to life.
I have been grinding my way in this well,
and still I am neck-deep in the water.

The waters have been rising all the time.
From ankles to knees to the waist.

A rope dangles near me.
It has been here since I ventured into this well.
All I need to do is grab the end and help myself out.

But that would mean abandoning the masterpiece I am creating under the water.
That would mean accepting an easier life.

I have to stay here and finish what I set out to do.

If I am good enough, I might create something beautiful.

Till then I have to keep working in this well,
even if it gets deeper,
even if it gets darker.

This is my calling, this is my curse.

 

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Struggling to write a happy poem

So I wanted to write a happy poem.
I’d make it all cheerful and smiley.
But there was a catch,
what would I write about?

I thought of the things that make me happy.

Relishing a mango, its luscious yellow flesh squishing between my fingers?
Nah, that would be too shallow.

How about reading Murakami?
Perhaps this would work.
I picked up The Elephant Vanishes,
and with every page turned, my happiness vanished too,
morphing first into intrigue,
then bewilderment.

Maybe, I was approaching this all wrong.
A happy poem would have to talk about some profound joy.
Yea, I understand now.
Profound joy.
Oh so difficult to grasp.

Just like writing a happy poem.

100 Days of Happy Poems, Poem 6

When voices spill out books

My fingers run in a frenzy over the keyboard,
words frothing out like a can popped open.

Except this time, the flow goes on for longer.

The café’s filled with chatter
from voices I might never hear again,
or if chance permits I might.
Not that I prefer one way over the other.

For long, I have wondered if people hide novels in their daily lives.
Here in this café, I am more certain.
Seated on stone benches under artsy lamps,
People spill out words from their day,
unedited, not a word crafted deliberately.

A female voice booms intermittently,
crushing the silence in the café.
She’s asking her friend if she’s in love,
or in love with being in love.

At the table to my right,
a man, his spectacles too old for him and ears like antennae,
is an attentive disciple to his companion
whose flowing discourse begins with economics and money,
then moves on to philosophy and theology and religion,
and settles for a while on Newtonian physics and time travel,
conjecturing how wrinkles age slower in space,
and whether a space traveller would look younger than his grandson
when he returns from a trip to Jupiter.
Next they discuss cultural invasions and the Chinese economy.

I return to the novel oozing from my fingers.
A productive time it has been, I think,
as I sip the tea tinged with ginger and lemon and honey.

The intellectuals are now discussing history,
debating between Gandhi and Godse.
Talk strays to invaders: Ghazni, Ashoka, Alexander, and Hitler.
The discussion reaches higher decibels, voices impassioned.
I think it’s time for me to go home.