Exile


the sky that final evening
was smeared red with death,
and a tangible odour of fear
hung oppressively in the air,
by the half-shut windows,
blood had petrified in my veins

mother moved about the rooms
unsettling the unnatural quiet,
the few things we still owned
were in neat bundles beside the door,
slowly, on his artistic limbs,
baba mapped the contours of home

he absorbed the fading colours,
let memories settle on his skin
as fragile as a fine layer of dust,
in a corner grandma sat quietly
huddled with her kangri,
her gaze lost in a different world

the children had long forgotten time
and surrendered to exhaustion,
from my place near the window,
I envied their restive slumber
as I watched our topographies of pain,
trapped between somewhere and nowhere

the eerie wail of an ambulance sounded,
gunshots echoed through the air,
choked on dust and soot and pain
we waited, and watched the day reduce
to ash, then we passed into the night,
quietly, towards an unfamiliar sky

First published in Dissident Voice’s Sunday Poetry section. DV is a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice.

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Broken Lives – Two Poems


I’ve been in a perpetual state of (un)belonging since childhood. It is difficult to imagine the pain of loss, the angst, the outrage and the constant longing of those who are yearning to return to their homeland. People who are displaced/ exiled for any number of reasons. Personally, the feeling of homelessness is the closest that can come to what a person may feel when he/she is forced out of his/her birth country. This sense of alienation, of despair seems similar to me. It is one thing to live in a house and another to have a home, to feel at home.

I feed on my dreams just as they do, longing for a home that is perhaps not even there, searching for my identity, my purpose in this world. For me exile is not just a geographical concept it is also an emotional, mental state of being. I will do a post on this very soon.

I decided to do poems about exile, displacement and my own desire for a home. The first two poems were published in Cafe Dissensus Everyday and the next two found a ‘home’ in this wonderful newsletter Dissident Voice’s Sunday Poetry section. DV is a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice. I am grateful to the Senior DV editor Angie Tibbs for helping me reach out by my poetry.

You can read both the poems by clicking the links below.

BROKEN LIVES 

EXILE  

I would also like to thank all my readers for constantly encouraging and supporting me as a blogger and writer.

Keep visiting and sharing your views.

Two Poems Of Exile


first published in Cafe Dissensus Everyday 

 

 

1

years ago I bid adieu to my homeland
the colours of autumn that stained my heart
have long faded and the rivers that ran
deep in the lines of my hands have dried

the place of my birth is a forgotten fragrance
a half-remembered dream whose ending is lost
but sometimes my sleepless nights are sheened
by the light of the winter moon I watched

leaning from the window of the bus I took,
the cool air awakens distant memories
it takes me back to a village
nestled between the mountains and streams

I run shoeless across the fields of saffron
chasing an invisible kite. the fiery chinar
warms my chilled heart, the bare silhouettes
of walnut trees spread their arms in welcome

on the steps of home you await my return
but as I reach out to you, you fade away
like soft summer light when evening comes
it’s been years since I last saw your face

maybe someday when you see the moon
reflecting in the quiet waters of the lake
and hear a boatman’s song echo in the breeze
I will be home never to leave you again

2

the spice shop perfumes the morning
in the streets of the old-city bazaar
as people hurry to private errands
a bangle seller displays his wares
promising good fortune to those who buy
at the tea stalls, people share stories
over a cup of hot masala chai
barefoot children chase imaginary kites
oblivious to the bustling crowd
a cow sits contemplating life
beset by flies it blinks its soulful eyes
women bargain with the grocers
for rice and lentils to feed hungry mouths
amidst traffic chaos people jostle for space
the late afternoon sun drifts towards evening
strings of lights twinkle like fireflies
laughter and singing echo everywhere
flavours and aromas fill the night
and the city – like a new bride
sashays dreamlike until the sun rises again.

Six Acrostic Poems


These poems were first published in The Thumb Print – A Magazine From The East

Acrostic is a composition in which the initial or final letter of each line taken in order form the title of the verse or tells about the subject.

This is my first attempt in writing Acrostics. Enjoy! and please leave your views.

This what the poetry editor Ananya Guha had to say about these poems, “Tikuli Dogra’s poems are etched with line, colour and music. Somewhere they are nostalgic, and small memories are lit up in a quiet but clear  voice. Not overtly emotional, they rake up pathos and, sensibility of the times. They are evocative of landscape, rural places, the river and ghats. They have history and landscape running through the veins. They are beautiful poems, placed here, for the reader to saturate in their quiet melody, poise and appealing imagery, capturing moments, in transition and at cross roads of time.”

 

JOURNEY

January night, grim and desolate

on a lonely moonlit highway

unfurling quietly, frostilly still,

rugged mountains scratching the dark,

nocturnal creatures calling the moon,

even the leafless trees whisper,

yesterday is gone, tomorrow is asleep

~

 

SILHOUETTE

 

solitary against the evening sky

in a land no longer hers she stands

leaning against an ancient tree

haunting–like a shadow of herself

overhead the branches braid the sky

uncanny limbs laid bare and stark

empty of all offerings

time stands still–like her heart

the sun has died a crimson death

easing her transition into night

~

 

RIVER – SONG

 

Reverberating with echoes of the past

iridescent against the silver of the sky

veering west along the fringes of the forests

embracing the contours of stony outcrops

roll the haunted waters in a deepening gloom

singing a requiem for things that are lost

of the people who are no more

nestled at its bank sorrow grieves

growing green with the slightest rain

~

 

PHANTASM

poised between the known and unknown

hidden in the depth of night’s shadows

an ancient dream lingers barely alive

nebulous, an ethereal remnant of desire

tangled in the endless skeins of time

a spectre of so many memories

sorrow fills my heart as I see it fade

merging effortlessly into the morning light

~

 

TOPOGRAPHY

 

That mole in the hollow of your back is a secret place

obscure till my tongue traces your spine’s trajectory

painting an intimate landscape, vast and varied

often the feral scent of sex clings to my skin

growing as you move to uncharted places

reclaiming territories old and new

and spaces filled with the weight of love

pressed together our bodies are a terra incognita where

heat lines radiate like the contours of the earth

your mole a primeval star leading me homewards

~

 

FUNERAL PYRE

 

fire licked corpses are the first thing you witness,

upstream the hot air carries the stench of death,

near the foul water mixing with the black ash

each body, covered in brightly spangled shrouds,

rests on a bier before being taken to a pyre

alongside the ghats that lead down to the river,

looking peaceful, but tainted with misery and sin,

pyres blaze, smoke rises, flames flash sunwards

you hear the cracking of bones, the crackle of logs

recently you were consumed in that searing heat

eyes closed dreaming, melting, floating, yielding

*Ghats – stone steps that lead to the  holy river Ganges in Banaras.

 

Poems – Homeland Memories


I am weary of houses 

I want to be home 

Some poems are born in the margins. They emerge from the feelings of rootlessness, despair and loss. I wonder if someone can actually know the agony of being exiled from their homeland without experiencing it. Perhaps not.

I wrote six poems from the point of view of someone in exile and I don’t know if I could bring out what I actually felt while writing. The pain seeped deep inside my fragmented self making its way into the hollow of the bones and I wondered if the feeling of exile is just limited to the physical banishment of people from their own land or does it go deeper than that and if there is an emotional exile too? Is a life in margin also an exile?

Two of my poems, from the six I wrote, were recently published in Cafe Dissensus Everyday a blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine under an umbrella title ‘Homeland Memories‘. All these poems are dedicated to a friend who is away from his homeland and to everyone who is longing to go back home.

Do read and leave your views.

Here is an excerpt from one of the poems:

the place of my birth is a forgotten fragrance
a half-remembered dream whose ending is lost
but sometimes my sleepless nights are sheened
by the light of the winter moon I watched

leaning from the window of the bus I took…..”

Do click on the link above to read the rest.

 

Weekend Poems


MELANCHOLIA

Melancholia is…

a language beyond words

a language…

that breathes and festers behind

the shadowy precincts of time

a language…

that lingers like a nightmare

beneath the waking mind

a language…

of ancient hills, weary roads

and winter nights

a language…

of falling snow, of distant shorelines

of a dissonance dark yet endearing

it is…

the moaning of the rocks,

a poem gone astray

it is…

a reflective footnote

a haunting noctuary

it is…

the sound of footsteps on narrow

staircases and draughty corridors

it is…

a funeral in the rain

a shadow of despair

Melancholia is…

a feeling for dark days

that grow in loneliness and sorrow

Melancholia is…

as low as your life can become

before you remember the sunrise

NEEDS 

love waits at a street corner

where shadows hold the sunlight

remembering places

we had promised to visit

but never did

you were always busy

I was always living

our needs never coincided

 

Poem – Daydream


This poem was first published in the magazine Life And Legends  – A Silent River Film and Literary Society magazine with Kalpna Singh-Chitnis as editor – in -chief . 

The street is sultry, shaded
by a curtain of light, the
mysterious green of
motionless leaves. In the
spaces between fronds are
plumes of cinder red evening
sky. The air, heavy with the
smell and heat of freshly
spread tarmac, is filled with
the clamor of unseen feet.

I sit in my own quiet place,
a private haven, shape shifting,
changing colors as I float
among wondrous hues
borrowed from my dreams.

I am visible and not visible,
present and absent, existing
and not existing. Thoughts
merge, ideas coincide, the
universe continues to evolve.

I, in a shifting reality, lose all
control, just as a poet does,
when he disappears into the
morass of his own words.

 

Travel Poems


I wish all my readers a very happy Diwali. May the light of your heart lead you home.

 

These days I don’t travel as much as I would love to but there is a constant pull to escape into the mountains. I long to be by the side of a river, in some nondescript village up in the hills or wandering among the trails that lead nowhere in particular. I miss the roadside dhabas, the little tea shops, the locals with their smiling face, the solitude and the coming home to myself.

I have been writing some travel poems lately and these two are part of that exercise. These were recently published in a fantastic bi-monthly online international nonprofit literary journal called ‘The Bombay Review‘ founded by Kaartikeya Bajpai and his team. Apart from publishing, The Bombay Review conducts literary events across cities in India and abroad.

This is what Rochelle Potkar, the poetry editor had to say about my poems in her acceptance mail, ” We enjoyed your poem ‘Two trails’ – a diptych of togetherness that manages to join hands and threads on the unfolding tapestry of the poetic visions.”

I appreciate editors who take out time to write to the contributors about the submitted work. This was the first for me and made me extremely happy.

Thank you Rochelle.

Here is an excerpt from one of the poems:

“I often walk on lonely trails

sometimes mist fills the jungle

it drifts like a sad song

sometimes it rains

then my only companions

are the silence inside me

           and the longing in my heart….”

The link to my poems TWO TRAILS

While you are on their website do browse through other content and support the journal by donating generously. Now, I usually do not put up such requests but this is an exception. These young students are doing a fabulous job in running the journal and the events / workshops etc and they are doing all this out of their pocket. Right now the journal is urgent need of funds. So please do your bit by clicking on the Donate button on the down left corner of the website or from this campaign link on Milap (for Indian readers). Help them keep alive their cause of spreading literature .

 

 

 

 

Poem – Scent Of A Season


This poem was first published in Asian Signature Magazine.

 

Sitting on the verandah at dusk

I count the curling crisp brown leaves on a tree

and feel the autumn trailing in my bones,

a lemon scented breeze stirs my memories…

clusters of saptparni blooms crumbling in my hands,

their scent rising from the white carpeted pavements ,

intoxicating the night above them,

a smell of winter – nostalgia – childhood, love,

adolescence, youth, late night cigarette sessions

around makeshift fires on the terrace,

old monk, spliffs, long drives,

and your breath against mine.

There is more to it that lingers on in Lutyen’s Delhi

memories of a time I can’t forget.

Poetry News and An Interview


The rains are here and I have been busy writing poems. Some are about my travels and some others are in collaboration with a very fine writer/poet. This is a project very close to my heart.

Meanwhile, a very good friend Health Writer, Columnist and Weight Management Consultant Kavita Devgan   recommended me to be interviewed by We Are The City – India  and I am stoked to be featured here .

You can read the interview HERE 

Thanks Kavita nad Ashish for this opportunity.

In another news, some very precious poems from the Delhi Series found home in the August issue of prestigious Asian Signature – An international English Literary Journal. . The poems are part of ‘Contemporary Poets‘ section.

Thank you Surabhi Bhattacharjee for providing this platform to me.

Here is an excerpt from one of the poems :

 

Dargah – Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia

Love and faith light up the dense tangle of streets

that lead to the dargah of mehboob –e – ilahi,

and the tomb of his beloved disciple Khusro,

garbed in rose petals, attars, offerings

and a heady whiff of spiced kebabs,

lost words float across the treetops,

arches, patios and tombs, sometimes,

quietly they nestle in an empty nest

or whirl down onto the marbled floor

in an aerial dance—like dervishes……. “

 

Read the rest and the other poems HERE 

 

Two more poems are accepted in a very good magazine. I will post the link soon. Till then, keep reading and don’t forget to share your views with me. Do follow the Blog FB page for other updates. .