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.

 

Poetry News – A thing of beauty is a joy forever


Good news has a way to find its path in the middle of all the chaos life throws at you. A few weeks ago two of my poems were published in the fabulous Peacock Journal. Little did I know that one of them will find home in their inaugural print anthology.  When I received Kate’s email informing about the selection I was over the moon. This is big leap for me as a poet/writer.

The Peacock Journal Anthology :Beauty First  has both poetry and fiction by some very talented writers and it is an honour for me to be a part of such prestigious collection.  I thank Bill and Kate Lantry for the opportunity.

This online journal of beauty and art is just an year old and their first anthology published by Little Red Tree Publishing (Michael Linnard) is already flying off the shelves. It was at amazon #1 in Hot New Releases a few days ago.

You can buy this first edition of the anthology from amazon.com  or amazon.in .

Do visit the journal’s website and their FB pages for more beautiful work. You can follow them on twitter too.

Another very exiting news came from The Thumb Print – A  magazine from the East. Poetry editor Ananya. S.Guha informed that my six acrostics got accepted for the February issue of the magazine and were live now. This is my first attempt at acrostics and I am stoked to see the positive response to them.

Thank you editors for including my work in this wonderful magazine.

 

Sketch credit and copyright Aditya Dogra

 

Here is an excerpt from one of the poems:

 

“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……Conti. reading

There is a typo in the title of poem 2 and I hope the editors correct it soon.

Some more news is awaited and a few poetry lovers are reading my book. I am nervously waiting for their reviews.

I thank all of you for being so patient with me. I am at a threshold once again and trying to find direction.  Do forgive me for not being so regular in posting here. I will try to do so more often. Till then, go with the flow.

 

New Poem


This poem was first published in Peacock Journal, an excellent journal edited by W.F.Lantry (award winning poet and writer) and his team.

Illusions

I read, I read and I read
until there is nothing more to read
except the newspapers
then I take to the windows
begin to fill my empty hours
gazing into time
that seldom seems to move
on either side of the frame
on the wall my calendar changes
seasons change… people change
but the stillness remains
the silence within me remains
untouched… unchanging

at night the walls become a
presence
and then become walls again
as they merge into each other
to leave only an expanse of black
and then the light
that always hides at the edges
rises swiftly and crumbles my illusion

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

 

Poetry News


Two of my Poems were published in the prestigious Tuck Magazine in August. Tuck is a political lit, music and arts  journal with a difference run by Michael and Valda Organ.

I don’t know how I forgot to share this news on my blog. I do remember posting the original link to my poems on all social channels. I am really enjoying these small memories from my travel in the Himalayas. Something I miss so much. A lot has been put on hold due to lack of funds, a lot is at stake too due to a sudden financial jolt but I have a belief that the hand that taketh also giveth. 🙂

Here is an excerpt from the poem the poem ‘Waiting

“a missed turn can lead you to the most unexpected places

and here I was beneath a canopy of dripping leaves,

in the backyard of nowhere, watching a dream unfold…..”

Read the TWO POEMS by clicking here. Also read the other splendid work on the website.

Thank you editors for giving me this wonderful platform.

Meanwhile good things continue to happen. Rebecca Behar, a poet friend from France read one of the poems, written impromptu by me and my mentor friend James Goddard, at a poetry event. Do listen to it by clicking the link below.

VOWELS

Thank you Dear Rebecca for giving your voice to our poem..

 

 

Four Poems


That feeling when you have one foot at the edge of the void and the other on a loose stone. Times have changed and I am trying to cope with the current challenges. Challenges in terms of health, finances and relationships. I know the universe is benevolent and listening so here’s to that and writing more.

 

1.

My shadow, dressed in handed down rags,

and smelling of hunger and weed,

melts in the margins, stains them

an invisible red, revealing itself only

in the warm skin of your fingertip.

2.

Carelessly thrown over a chair,

the shirt is the first thing I noticed

as I enter my house,

your fragrance, playing with the night,

settles in the folds of my skin,

seared with grief my heart flutters,

I’m glad you left the shirt, not the key.

(Two more poems published in Peregrine Muse)

  1. Reminiscence

Reminiscing, I roam the paths with him,
my loss hangs heavy in the air,
the landscape as parched as my heart,
you a shadow, a ghost, a dream unfulfilled.

Sometimes I hear you… soft  whispers
riffled by the warm summer breeze,
your smile lights a dew drop,
I catch your scent from the fragrant trees.

Aromas of food and sleep are in the air
the house is flushed with warmth.
in my loneliness I call your name,
feel your misty breath on my face.

Your face is reflected in the window
you call out, but I don’t hear…
my face is in the raindrops of your tears,
you live in me… it’s you I know

My body holds the shadows of your love,
you are no more, you left me all alone,
my body a graffiti of your fingerprints,
like those you left on everything you touched.

Time is just the blur of your shadow.
I won’t forget you, I won’t forget you…
or the soft tread of your feet
and your music echoing in my dreams.

Long years have passed since you left,
my sorrow failed to become songs of love,
the invisible remained invisible…
I miss you… I miss you… first love of my life.

(first published in learning and creativity magazine)

 

  1. Parting

on the table at dawn
scattered breadcrumbs
unfinished coffee
and a few parting words
pinned to a page
beautiful but dead
everything was beautiful
until familiarity and ego
cast their long shadows
across this winter morning
veiled in mist and rain
I mourn the love killed
and struggle to cope
with this ending
so ruthlessly imposed on me
and I wonder if he won
or if I lost.

( A new one 🙂 )

Poem – At The River Ganges


First published in Learning & Creativity magazine in August 2015.

 

Time stands still on the stone steps by the river;
a silhouette takes a dip and emerges from its waters,
hands folded in obeisance to the rising sun.
A moment of transition from mundane to divine.
A marigold garland drifts by with ash in a plastic bag.

With a conch’s cry, the temple city quivers to life,
a flower boy approaches and with him a frail form
in white, a prayer basket trembling in her hands.
Oblivious, she faces the river, chants mantras,
lights the flower lamp and sets it afloat.

A song comes as a boatman begins his day.
The sun rises from the saffron tinted waters,
lifting the veil from Shiva’s abode. The air thickens
with smoke from funeral pyres and cooking fires,
the skyline of soot-darkened temples their backdrop.

In the sacred city of Varanasi a union of opposites—
suffering and liberty, birth and death, sacred rituals
and the unfolding of daily life. I walk the ghats,
that are alive with rhythmic sounds of cleansing
as washer men thrash laundry against stone slabs.

A holy man—his body smeared with ash—
lifts his hands above his head in prayer,
another, with Shiva-like dreadlocks,
sits in deep meditation at the sunken temple.
The air echoes with the clamour of temple bells.

Pigeons take flight. I sit beneath a canopy
and watch the river of life gasp for breath
at the confluence of the city of light and death.

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 .