portrait of the poet

Sketch

Remember, one day,
While sitting at my table
You sketched on a cigarette box
A tiny plant

Come and see,
That plant has bloomed!

— Gulzar, tr. Pavan K. Varma

the box stayed closed as if
hiding a lost thought
from another time, when
your words would settle
like sediment
at the bottom
of my breath,

as i read you out loud,
flicking ash from one wrist,
upending the goblet in
gesticulation
from another.

you draw words
like those vessels
bursting forth in the kitchen,
strung to a high note
of despair & hope,

your love speaks to me,
even though i have barely scratched
the skin of that mischievous marauder,
and yet i feel i know, as if
from another life, another rhyme.

you free my closed thoughts,
and water seeds of my silence
as i sing you and praise you
to myself.

.
© Anmol Arora

For A Tribute to Poets of Our Time at WTR. I am paying my tribute to one of my favourite poets and lyricists, Gulzar. Gulzar is 84 now. So, whenever I talk about him and his sprawling work with anyone, I only hope that we wring it out of him — his poetic brilliance, his sensibility, his love, and all he has offered to us for decades — in this lifetime.

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sanctification

holding a prayer close to my cold chest,
i have put my lips on roses that do not
open their buds, and cheeks that do not
reach to meet my sutured-smile of hope
for love, and all that yields to its touch,

it’s a liberation of a sky riddled with mist
to shine through, and carry the kernels of
a belated sun in its womb, as if a strange
specimen of breath, finding it hard to hold

on to for a sympathetic spring of acceptance,
of unhindered rising, and a welcoming sight
of truth, of places & people, i can call home.

© Anmol Arora

Image source (Torso (The Minotaur) by Michael Leonard)
For Music with Marian: Revelation at With Real Toads

at the quarter of a life

as skin sheds for another skin
and lips curl in a rueful smile
and veins stand in a soft sight
of green and black and blue,

i understand that blood thickens with
years that pass by through the organism
of a body, beginning to feel its own death.

as winter transfuses with the cold of
big bones, the elasticity of meek muscles
beckon a certain warmth of touch for
life, in the always prevailing lack of time.

i have seen the concentric circles on
my limbs change in half a decade,
and my eyes bloom in hues of hibiscus
and rising-rose, like a lamp, left with
a slight glimmer when the light has been
dimmed with the passing act of another day.

i wonder if my aging is my decline
(the wild image of calm & turmoil),

or is it the other way round?

© Anmol Arora

Image source (Shedding Skin Painting by Newel Hunter)
Linking it up with the Tuesday Platform at With Real Toads

on self-sabotaging

rene-milot-fall-of-icarus-illustration-painting-art-rene-milot


your voice carried the weight of your histories,
like those block prints on a century-old manuscript
that you cherish,

you seem to have lived multiple lifetimes
in a span of one (not singular),
as people often do, like a bejeweled carving
on an empty palm,

you set the reel rolling from the desolation of Mongolia
to the ruins of Pompeii, in quest of an experience
of its own volition, of its own existence,

as i recovered from the resting thought
of my own creation, the progeny of woe,
the offspring of caged freedoms (self-imposed)—

ash and want strewn between the feet (four and many)
i, a moon-monstrosity, of a magician’s curse
ignorant in my limited imagination,

and all of a sudden, i wanted to see a sunrise
unfold in its innocence of birth, and hold
my own body aloft, at the cliff of longing,
and plunge into the cold-bitter sea of despair,
with another cutting-off, of ties, with Elpis —

a ritual closing off in its burning delight,

like the Icarian wing, with its abrupt necessity
to rebel against the desire of life.

.
© Anmol Arora

Image source (The fall of Icarus by René Milot)

Perhaps a category of confessional verses, accompanied with on loneliness.
Linking it up with the Poetry Pantry at PU

water

let-a-smile

his music trickled down my spine,

like water, it registered my thirst
for something new, for something

i forgot i could feel — in a circular
exhale of his smile, i smiled too, and
resting my feet, i waited for more.

.

© Anmol Arora 2018

Another one for Fussy Little Forms at With Real Toads. Cherita is a three-stanza poem, of one, two, and three lines respectively; it generally tells a story and was created by the UK poet and artist, ai li.
Image source (Let A Smile be Your Umbrella by davisbrotherlylove.com)

on loneliness

depression-5859313455e7e__700
can i believe my own empty sighs
when they appear too far and too little
between my symptomatic need for
despair and disrepair?

“be strong,” they say, “exercise your
agency over your adust remains,”

i wonder if wisdom lies in being aware
or being a practitioner of that awareness —

i, for one, seek redemption in verifying and living
the knowledge of destruction, holding it like
a cosseted corolla of memory,
that is becoming of me — a spoiled sepia-
sequestered detail in the possibility of
existence — a fierce idea without a fulcrum
to safeguard harmony.

“you are not lonely,” i say to myself,
but i do not know where it becomes me
and when i become an evidence to
breaking, and a splintered sensation
of nothing.

i am the last inhalation of smoke,
a testament to the fallacy
of my name.

after all,
where did loneliness surge & stage its act
if not at the juncture where my words trigger
an acid reflux, and transmogrify into aphanitic ash?

.

© Anmol Arora 2018

Image source (Falling by Clara Lieu)
For “How Does the Story End?” at With Real Toads.

 

all our riches

a-trompe-loeil-of-paper-money-coins-french-school
i spend the exact change (i have left) of simple words,
gentle words, neurotic words, hunchbacked words,

to have the evening speak and last for some more time —
every second of the same quality and ruse as the lingering

fragrance of raat ki rani, dreaming dreadful thoughts
and foregoing them in a simple parable – “it is only a phase” –
i laugh at my own conjecture that it will perchance still
get better — normalcy lies ahead in a neo-noir paradise,
waiting around the corner.

“life is like a dubious pile of ash” — but Gulzar has already said
that the ashtray is full — no more space (maybe money) left
to fulfill the urge for another puff.

perhaps it is not, perhaps it is another currency,
unfamiliar in shape/size, when the exchange rate
is not known and sapphires already spent —
the parched mouths do not ask for another name
of the word — the spendthrift work over moments

to make sense of a cloud-befuddled mood, depicting natures
of the orange moon (lost in the haze of untarnished selves).

“there is a worm within us that turns everything into a threadbare
experience, a frayed impression of our yearnings,” you said.

it is good that i have another penny left in the pocket within the
pocket, where words do not reach, budgets do not measure
our wealth.

you can have it.

.

*raat ki rani (lit. the queen of the night; Night Blooming Jasmine; scientific name: cestrum nocturnum) — the fragrance abounds anywhere and everywhere these evenings
**Gulzar’s poem, Ashtray puri bhar gyi hai; trans. The Ashtray is Overflowing

© Anmol Arora 2018

For Midweek Motif at PU
Also linking it up with dVerse OLN
Image source (A Trompe Loeil Of Paper Money Coins by French School)