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

The Making Of ‘Duets’ – Our Book Of Collaborative Poems


As the publication date for Duets draws close I thought of sharing how James and I wrote all the poems that are part of the collection.

Very often people say that writing poetry is a solitary art. For some it may be true but at the same time collaborative poetry also has a long history and now, especially in the days of the Internet, it has become easier to collaborate over messages, text, emails, or even working within the same document while living miles apart, sometimes the collaborators do not even know or meet each other before sharing the space in a book. The collaboration of visual art and poetry is also very exciting thing that we get to see now more often than before.

There are so many mediums to collaborate and so many ways to write the poems too. Renga in Japan and Renku in China are good examples of collaborative poetry forms. French Renaissance poetry was often a joint project where poets collaborated with their contemporaries.

The poems in Duet originated in the conversations between James and I on Facebook Messenger. The process was simple. We decide on posting the poems alternately. The one whose turn it was to post came up with a first line, and then we added lines alternately until one of us yelled stop. Then we each took the text and edited it into a form that we thought worked.  We then had two versions of the piece and decided which one we should post. Sometimes we didn’t agree and kept both the versions but it was rare. These poems can be termed impromptu as they were written and posted at the same time. Usually it took us an hour or three approximately to finish one poem and post.

When we began neither of us had thought it would come this far. We did it for fun and posted for friends to read and within a short span we had some twenty poems and then the number kept growing. It was then we decided to save them in a document file. We could see an opportunity of a book. James is a seasoned writer so this whole exercise was very exciting for me and a great learning process too. I think it was difficult than the usual process of collaboration where you have time to think and create once the other person has written his/her lines. Here we had no time. Once we sat down in front of the open chat window and the first line was posted it had to take shape of a poem. There was no escape or postponing. This kind of built a pressure especially on me as I am yet a student learning the craft but I must say it kicked me out of my comfort zone ..lol.. It also taught me discipline though James will laugh and say I still need a lot of it.. 😀

It is exciting and at the same time liberating to watch a new voice emerge as a piece develops. We were open to the poem leading us rather than one of us leading it and yet it was an intimate experience. Words are portals and we saw this during our writing of these poems. Suddenly a line would change the entire thought process and lead you to somewhere totally different. It was an exercise to be ready for a quick response to the wordplay that is not yours, a thought completely different from yours, to recognize another voice and be comfortable with its uniqueness and be ready to get startled by constant surprises. Sometimes not being in control gives you more strength to break mental barriers and create something beautiful and totally unexpected. The feeling is overwhelming. Sometimes frustrating too, which of course is human. We are conditioned to follow our thought process and this sort of intense exercise messes with the brain’s normal conditioned way of working. I can tell you that many times I would envisage a poem leading in a certain way and suddenly a line from James would change the coarse leaving me lost for words and ideas but he would patiently wait till I gathered my thoughts again and wrote my part. Many times I would try to steer it in a certain direction but then eventually the poem would take its own course. That is the beauty of words. They lead the way.

It is amazing how an impromptu collaborative work grows organically into a form challenging the roles like gender, age, personality, culture and other differences which usually mark your individual work.  Here all bets were off. We trusted each other and took the direction we were steered into without being judgmental. What we loved most about our work is how this exercise blurred individual lines. While reading the final poem one could really not point out who wrote which line and that was something beautiful.

The joy to create something together is irreplaceable. Time was a big challenge as both of us are writers with a tremendous amount of workload but we somehow managed to hold on to it and assigned a time to get online just to write a new piece and enjoyed our collaborative time together.  I think my creativity has grown with this collaboration.

The name ‘Duets’ is the brainchild of our mutual friend Sabine who was one of the regular readers of the poems as they were shared on Facebook. She began calling them Duets and the name stuck. Thank you Sabine for the love.

 

I asked James to give his side of the story and this is what he sent me :

 

I quote

I’m not totally sure how the collaborative poems between Tikuli and I came about. I think perhaps one of us said—and I’ll give the credit to Tikuli—“let’s write a poem together”, and so we did. Then we wrote another and another and another, and suddenly there were enough poems for our book ‘Duets’, even after leaving a few of the less good poems out of the mix.

 

For some time before we started collaborating, I had been using whatever expertise I have as an editor in trying to help Tikuli with her writing—mostly working on fiction, a long-form narrative, an as yet incomplete novel, and short stories.I think Tikuli came to realise that the best way to learn is often by example, and so she suggested that perhaps we could write something together. As I didn’t have the time to commit to writing anything of length, we began writing poems whenever we could find a bit of time to work together.

 

Writing is, by it’s very nature, a solitary occupation, so collaborating on the writing of poetry or anything else is not a natural process, but is instead a challenge, something to be mastered for no other reason than the determination to master it. In the finished work two minds have to come together as one. The writing must seem as fluid and natural as if it had been written by one person. This means compromise from both writers, without compromise nothing would ever be completed. Compromise was difficult when we both had fixed ideas in mind.

 

How can I describe the process of writing together? Think of it as being like a tug-of-war between two mules, for we both have a capacity for stubbornness. There’s a knot in the centre of a rope and a marker on the ground dividing the territories of the mules, then the mules pull in different directions until that knot passes into the territory of one mule or the other. That rope, of course, is woven from the alternate lines we wrote, the territories are the directions that we each thought the poems should turn towards. Sometimes we argued. Sometimes we discussed. Sometimes we disagreed. But always we remained amicable, for our friendship is far, far stronger than any momentary disagreement.

 

I differ with him on one point. It was his suggestion to start writing collaborative poems. Trust him for not taking credit. I wouldn’t have suggested at any cost ..lol.. I’m so jittery about getting into a new thing. I can tell now that it was worth all the fretting, nervousness and brain storming.

Here is a treat for all of you, a poem from the collection.

DINNER

only tears would clean the stains
hunger left on her face
as she tried to understand
what was wrong with the rich
and decadent food she ate
as unsatisfying as lost love
it left her gaunt and empty
her starved reflection stared at her
from the shine of her empty plate
absentmindedly her finger
traced the contours
of the plate’s cracked surface
as she dreamed of better times
twilight gathered in her eyes
and fed her inner darkness
soon the starless night would come
and invisible in the night
her empty plate might fill

( © Duets – collaborative poems by Tikuli & James Goddard)

Do pre-order your copies. The book releases on 19th of November. It will be available with all online book vendors.

Crossing The Threshold – A Poem


 

 

in the half light of dawn the breeze-

laden with the scent of mango blossom-

drifts in from the courtyard,

calling her thoughts to the waiting river;

quietly she leaves her bed,

gathers her unkempt hair in a loose bun

then pauses for a moment,

listens to her husband’s measured breathing,

then silently tiptoes out,

tucking in the corner of her sari at the waist

she hastily collects the fallen Parijatak in her pallu

placing a few in her hair at the same time,

the red from their stalks rising to her cheeks;

beside the well the empty pitchers wait,

nearby the battered clay stove

recalls her own scars,

for a split second she wavers, then crosses

the threshold, her heart frantic with haste,

leaving behind the walls

that had risen around her brick by brick;

the river hears her hurried footsteps 

with rapt attention, at its bend

under the shade of the mangroves,

a boat and a promise patiently wait

ready to carry her away.

 

New Poem – The Convergence


she stands among the ancient trees,

hair fluttering protestingly over her full breasts,

strings of beads resting around her neck,

draped in red cotton her dark skin glistening in sweat,

her kohl eyes like fiery embers,

a sliver of sun on her forehead,

behind her, smeared in symbolic vermilion,

the Goddess sits cross-legged,

leaning against the matted roots of a tree,

defiant, wise, independent,

the power stemming from her womb,

non-conformist, non-submissive.

from a quiet corner I watch them,

fierce, unapologetic; both born of the soil,

somewhere beyond the hills a river turns red,

an embodiment of the eternal truth –

sa’ham asmi

the Aashad clouds gather

beating their ancient drums

as the earth receives its first rain

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.

Mini-Reviews And Some Other News


Le Zap

I never took writing fiction seriously. Someday I would just open a word doc and type furiously as if possessed by the very words I was writing and slowly a story would come to life.  El Pino Ruins is one such story that I am very proud of. It recently got published in the final edition of Le Zaporogue XVIII by various authors.  You can read it by downloading the ebook format free of cost from HERE  

This is what a fantastic writer friend Jerry Wilson had to say about my story

 

Jerry is one of the finest short story writers today and you must pick up his books. Just click on the link above.

Another writer/ columnist Kiran Chaturvedi also shared her thoughts with me.  You can read some of her articles by clicking the link.

 

Here’s the complete note.

“Dear Tikuli,

I read your wonderful El Pino Ruins short story today and enjoyed it very much. Loved the classic style and haunting mood. It has such a vividly evoked setting, and a rich narration that makes for a captivating read. You have paced the action fluidly and built the puzzle beautifully. You should write more prose and I suspect you are specially good at such other worldly story twists. “

Thanks so much Kiran.

Have you downloaded the free ebook? Please do by clicking the link above. 

 

Meanwhile, my second poetry book Wayfaring reached Sabine Pollack Merle in France. She sent me a very heartwarming note after reading the poems.

“I read your poetry book, Tikuli, and once again you have moved me with your words written here, and that you whisper in my ear…
Some of these poems have made me cry because they are so meaningful. 
It is such a precious one. 
I really can say but one thing, many people should read Wayfarer.
Tikuli, you are a beautiful woman. 
Brava !”

You can read her review on amazon.fr 

I posted these on Instagram earlier. You can follow me there.

Some copies of the book are up for review and I am eagerly waiting for more feedback. Do write to me if you are reading Wayfaring. The book is available with all online booksellers across the globe. Do get your copy soon.

Bhavana Nissima  is a fabulous writer, artist, educator and NLP practitioner. She is based in Hyderabad, India. I have always loved her writing. She is also a very compassionate human being and a friend I cherish. In last few months she unconditionally healed me from distance in one of the toughest phases of my life.  I am grateful to her for helping me connect with myself.

In August last year she did a wonderful write-up with one of my poems along with one another poet I admire. You can read it here –

#FridayLights — Issue2 

Thank you Bhavana for this generous gesture.

 

#superblurbloodmoon #shotwithOnePlus3T

 

The whole world watched the phenomenal #SuperBlueBloodMoon on 31st on Jan. I took these pix from my #OnePlus3T Sometimes I regret not having a good camera. The sight was enthralling to say the least, the rare convergence of a ‘supermoon’, a ‘blue moon’ and a ‘blood moon’. Thankfully Delhi weather didn’t play up that night and I was able to watch the total lunar eclipse.

I am writing some more of Hindi poems on Delhi and will soon start sharing. Last two months have been very hectic and I have been unwell too. Apart from a verse here and there I haven’t written much.

i

my soul
is impatient with itself, 
my inner – disquiet, 
my intellect – not satisfied, 
my heart – not still,
my mind – ruffled,
I’m restless as a
willow in windstorm.
If you are afraid to step into quicksand

stay away.

ii

mystery 
madness
chaos 
carnage 
passion
intrigue
phantasm –
landmines in poet’s mind 
tread softly

 

I am trying to get back into the rhythm and start reading more blogs from friends. Do keep giving the support and leave your comments if you visit the blog so I know you’ve been reading my stuff.

A small note to end the post –

We take people for granted. We feel ‘entitled” and this feeling of entitlement blocks us from giving or receiving and when we aren’t receptive to gratitude whether in receiving or giving then we may be lacking many other positive emotions.
Relationship becomes stronger and deeper when a little grace and humility is shown.
Great Relationships are precious gifts. Be grateful. 
Thank you for being part of my journey.

Love and Light.

Summer Of Love – A Poem


 

The sapling you planted
near the pond in the courtyard
has blossomed
The lusty boughs of your mango tree
are laden with pale green; ambrosia
is fragrant on the southern wind
The black bees flock to the nectar filled
mango blossom and fill the
pleasure garden with their songs
From a high branch a cuckoo
calls his mate, his song piercing
the shadows across my heart
Below, the sun flirts with the
water lilies as it warms
the cool waters of the pond
The swing, unused now,
moves gently when caressed by
even the lightest breeze
The days have lengthened
since the blossoming of our love
and summer is lonelier than ever
My hammock sways to music
I cannot hear, as I recall
Those fragrant, leisured days
Our joyful laughter and games,
our feet soothed by the
waters of the lotus pond
Twigs and flowers in our hair from
guilty afternoon naps in the grass,
books left upturned on our bellies
Seasons quickly change,
luscious fruits, long summer
evenings filled with birdsong
The blossoming of our love
in the pleasure garden
our first kiss, lying side by side
And then came the season for grief,
we parted in silence in the early morning
before the sun had dried the dew
Years passed and we were apart, but this year
the lane that leads to our garden
is fragrant with love
The lotus pond is brimming with pink buds
the courtyard is carpeted with golden petals
the air is filled with the cuckoo’s call
Won’t you come my love

From ‘Collection Of Chaos‘ my debut poetry book. You can buy the book from any online bookseller including amazon. Do check out my new collection ‘Wayfaring – Poems By Tikuli‘ that is available for pre-order now.

Exile – 2


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

 

Broken Lives 

In the stillness of the old house
my fingers leave traces on the
dust-shrouded sepias of broken lives—
their names only half remembered—
parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins—
in the courtyard of our ancestral home,
or surrounded by vast areas of snow
that now weigh heavy on my heart
as I close my eyes and find a dream
in which the mist of old memories
veils the far distant hills and
bare trees that stand transfixed
like bleached skeletons,
their summer songs exorcised
the grey of sorrow clouds the sky
I recall a bright wood fire blazing
fragrant with the scent of my homeland
making figures like themselves
to celebrate the coming of new snow
but that was before innocence was lost
and the snow turned red with blood
as their sculptures gradually died
and vanished from sight forever
in the years since I last saw snow fall
winter has become a grisly metaphor
for the loss of life and hope
and things that will never be again

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.