Rejected Poems


Two of my poems did not find a home in any online magazine. They were not considered “poems” but a jumble of words. Well, what can I say, most of my work is a jumble of words.  I’ve been away from blogging for more than one reason but thought of sharing them with you. Maybe one of you will be able to unscramble these words.

1.

Somewhere in the thick of the night between sleep and wakefulness I suddenly found myself furiously typing away on my mobile. It continued till I got exhausted and then I cut pasted it an email draft before turning the device off.  In the morning I read what my possessed fingers wrote, rearranged the words and decided it was a decent poem. The poetry experts thought otherwise so here it is.

NIGHT THOUGHTS

In my search for a home

All I wanted

was two arms

that would hold me in love,

a quiet lap for my head,

fingers stroking my hair

a shoulder to lean on

when my heart was heavy

But that was asking too much

all they gave me

was four walls and a roof

A window to see the world

and a door that kept me in

Often

i would stretch my arms

out through the window,

close my eyes and free myself

of everything that held me,

often

i would try to fly

but would fall instead

my injuries seldom showed

Once

i found the door open and fled

as if my life depended on it

No,

my life did depend on it

I had no experience of freedom

there were arms, laps,

shoulders everywhere

luring as a spider lures a fly

to make the kill

With sinking heart

i searched for those four walls,

a roof, a door

that would keep me in,

a window that was closed

unless i wished it otherwise

I wanted to hide away in the dark

Away from prying eyes

but they found me…

Every single time

I wanted to bury myself in a hole

but they would only dig me out

Instead

I was a forever drifting

between what was

and what might have been

The only constants

were the walls and the roof

enclosing me,

morphing into arms, laps, shoulders

that pushed and groped and pressed

Till i was like a palimpsest

Absent yet strangely there

Sometimes

everything was a black expanse

Even in the searing daylight

from that blackness

They would pull me in

Deeper

deeper

Until my breathing failed

until my heart exploded

yet still i stretched my arms

Trying to find freedom

from all that held me

Sometimes

hands would pull me out

only to abandon me as i held tight

then i would fall again

invisible injuries hurting so much

Sitting in this black hole

desperately

i stare at a patch of sky

I feel the sides for hand and footholds

I find a few

but my legs

Have forgotten how to climb

I stretch my fingers

Press them hard against the cold

Hoping they’ll grow into vines

Vines climb upwards

Follow the light

Snip

Snip

Snip

A sound echoes

………………..

2.

An autobiographical sort of poem written in moments of deep anguish. Sometimes this is the only way to release the stress, the emotional burden and the anxiety. My search for a place I can call my home continues, the struggle with my emotional, physical health continues and so does the constant effort to keep my finances stable. Many times I reach a breaking point and then pick myself up. Sometimes writing it out helps. A lot of people question my public writing of my personal struggles. Why do I write and share? Do they serve any purpose? Well, perhaps not to the readers but to me they do. They help me with many things and that I will keep to myself. On practical grounds writing may not helps, it may not get me a house or improve my monetary situation but it is a a stepping out of blocks that choke my mind.

There have been betrayals and backstabbing, abuse and gaslighting, there have been people who snatched what was truly mine but then one learns. It is all about moving on. Writing helps.

LONELINESS

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

for being born when no one wanted me

not even me nor the womb that carried me

as I wrapped the placenta around my neck

as I tried to end what should not have begun

a son was enough to continue the family name

a son was enough for a mother to love

who needs a daughter

conceived perhaps to spite the mother

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

for shuffling between life and death

a cause of utmost bother to caregivers

forced to revive a child

in almost vegetable like state

it snapped their backs and their feelings

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

            for abandoning that little pup

            on a side street many years ago

            a pup who had cried with me

            when mother was taken to the hospital

            her heart weary

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

for that is all I had to call my own

as I wandered the streets after school

not wanting to go back to a loveless home

whose key hung around my neck like a noose

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

for witnessing what I shouldn’t have seen

someone close and her lover

a man who played uncle

his hands reaching for places

that I was beginning to discover

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

for trying to wash away

that dreadful touch

which scarred my innocence

which made me flinch away from men

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

for giving it all

sometimes at will at other times forced

for retreating within my adolescent heart

as I was forced to atone for sins I didn’t commit

punished by my father every other day

the gaze of the neighbourhood scalding my skin

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

because that is all I had to call my own

my mother too busy

my father mostly absent

my brother indifferent

not much has changed

except my father is dead

he doesn’t come home every season

to replace his clothes.

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

for marrying a man I thought loved me

as I wanted to love him

tied to his mother’s apron strings

he could never give enough

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

for clenching my tongue between my teeth

so that no words escaped

for drinking the bitter taste of agony

as they fought for breath then gave up

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

for crossing a line women in India

are not supposed to cross

better to die in the marital bed

than return to the childhood home

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

            for abandoning my sons

            for leaving them in a toxic house

            that I could never call a home

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

for craving love either non-existent or forbidden

years of carrying a curse has turned me into one

though when I raise my voice in protest

I’m labelled with the choicest of names

reserved for women of my kind

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

things go full circle

a placenta wrapped around my neck

slowly and steadily tightening its grip

what begins has to end

loneliness is a curse I’m tired of carrying

Loneliness is a curse I carry—

for it is still all I have to call my own

Two New Poems


242393_10150203839973297_633975_o

1. SOLITUDE

I linger unperceived
in the labyrinth of solitude,
not knowing the onward path
or the path of my return
I see a flight of stairs
a portal to a past forgotten
the contours of shadows
create a landscape of dreams
something forgotten stirs,
a lost memory returns
from between somewhere and nowhere
seeking something nebulous
that is always out of reach

 

Copyright Tikuli

2. INSOMNIA 

two a.m. on Delhi’s post-rain Sunday
I try to wash away the sleepiness
from my insomnia laden eyes
pick a fresh sheet of paper
spread clean water till it sheens
like fresh snow on a sunny day
clean and load the brushes with colours
drop and watch in wonderment
as the colours bleed and waltz
into the white stillness
the ripe colours of autumn,
a drop of sea, the harvest fields,
the washes of sunsets layer after layer
and a moon laid on lake waters
a tender breath of green
a river filled with apparitions,
here now—then gone
wet roads winding around echoing hills
the crisp autumn breeze
floating across the valley
steam rising from a coffee left at the deck
my eyes closed I feel the calm glow
of lights at the water edge
the silent shadows
the peace of the submerged river banks
I dip my brush again as the pigeons rise
followed by the squirrel
and the upstairs neighbour
pounding fresh ginger for morning chai
the trees rise, the day rises
night slowly walks towards summer morning

Poem – Where We Lived


I often visit the
abandoned house
off the beaten track
Its yard
no longer tended
Here
In the forgotten places
Littered with broken shards,
Rotting leaves, gnarled branches,
Entwined vines and
Dried unruly weeds
I follow the scent
Of unseen blossoms
I trace my fingers
On the ancient walls
Moist with night dew and
On which
Memory has turned mossy green
In places
I look through the dusty windows
That reflect nothing
The sadness of which
Speaks to me
Then, as the seasons change,
In the midst of decay
The tree of sorrow blooms
Night after night
Romancing the August moon

 

First published in ‘Collection Of Chaos‘. You can buy the book from any online book vendor.

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.

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.