Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pilgrim's Progress

"Twirled" by Neha

..And to stir the mind
To a search after what it fain would find:
Things that seem to be hid in words obscure,
Do but the Godly mind the more allure;
To study what those sayings should contain
That speak to us in such a Cloudy strain...

- Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan (1678)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ode to My Ocean Wave

"Washed" by Neha

My ocean wave,
Washing over these sand castles we make
Hand in hand
Round and round
As people walk along
As sounds touch our souls
We pick a stranger's tune

My ocean wave,
On a hot summer day
I'd take a dip in you
and you would sooth the sun like a full moon
I'd see a million corals inside,
reflecting like a rainbow made of water bubbles,
a bit salty but welcome

My ocean wave,
I'd just float above you
and you would make heaviness feel like a feather
Making me feel like a puff of air -
floating there
looking at the night sky

My ocean wave,
These waters are calm
You carrying the mermaids
and treasures and the sunken ships-
All this cargo - all in your heart

My ocean wave,
my night and day
my sun and moon
my space travel and handful of earth

My ocean wave,
Your depth is not known
but like a scuba diver,
I jumped right in
And you held my hand
to show me this world below the brine -
the electric fish, the flying horses

My ocean wave,
Wash over me

My ocean wave,
You are my turquoise
You are my horizon, kissing
heaven and earth all at once
You are my dusk red
You are my silhouette
Like feet dipping in your cool water
on a hot summer day
Wash over me

My ocean wave,
breathe in and out
your high tide and low tide

My ocean wave,
Wash over me.

-Neha

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Blessed Beads

"Flower Girl" by Neha

She is recycling old paper
rolling it on a fine needle
turning old news into beauty

She is recycling paper beads and her life
You can still read the old lines -
that is, if you look close enough,
underneath the waterproof varnish and patterns

She is recycling her life, like paper beads
There is boundless beauty in each layer
A sum total more stunning than its parts

She calls them the blessed beads
Just like her life

blessings of many lives within this one
blessings of dreamy dreams within this one
blessings of many lines of living love
blessings of constantly changing change

These blessed beads
Just like her life

-Neha

Monday, December 26, 2011

To Birds of Traffic Light

"Birds of Traffic Light" by Neha

Today, I looked up the traffic light
and realized how beautiful life is

Electric wires crossing here and there
And there you see the beautiful birds
Sitting gloriously unaware of the traffic signals below
or the mad rush to enter the shopping malls shouting SALE SALE SALE!
or the impatient lines to get out of the parking lots

There they are. Birds of traffic light.
Sitting gloriously
Looking up to the blue sky and beyond
So much beauty that it fills my heart

And I think that is life
it has so much beauty
If only we'd look up to the sky
Like birds of traffic light

-Neha

Saraktee jaye hai

Saraktee jaye hai rukh se naqaab ahista ahista
nikalataa aa raha hai aaftaab ahista ahista

Jawaan hone lage jab vo to ham se kar liyaa pardaa
hayaa yakalakht aayii aur shabaab ahista ahista

Shabefurkat kaa jaagaa hoon farishton ab to sone do
kabhee fursat men kar lenaa hisaab ahista ahista

Savaalevasl par unko uduu kaa khauf hai itna
Dabey honthon se dete hain javaab ahistaa ahistaa

Hamarey aur tumharey pyar men bass fark hai itna
Idhar to jaldee jaldee hai udhar aahistaa aahistaa

Woh bedardee se sar kaatein "ameer" aur main kahoon un se
Huzoor aahistaa aahistaa, janaab ahista ahista

- Written by Ameer Menai, Sung by Jagjit Singh

Key to urdu words: sarakti - to slip, naqab - veil, ahista - slowly, aftaab - ( vision of) moon, yakalaKht - modesty/shame, shabefurkat - night of separation, savaalevasl - question-answers, uduu - villian,

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gravity

"Matched" by Neha

Sometimes, we should just let gravity do its thing
Like falling rain washing over the hot asphalt road
Like fall leaves making friends with the wind
Like fallen dreams settling in your open palms
Sometimes, we should just let gravity do its thing

- Neha

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Whitsun Weddings

....There we were aimed. And as we raced across
Bright knots of rail
Past standing Pullmans, walls of blackened moss
Came close, and it was nearly done, this frail
Travelling coincidence; and what it held
Stood ready to be loosed with all the power
That being changed can give. We slowed again,
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.

- Philip Larkin

A German Requiem

It is not what they built. It is what they knocked down.
It is not the houses. It is the spaces in between the houses.
It is not the streets that exist. It is the streets that no longer exist.
It is not your memories which haunt you.
It is not what you have written down.
It is what you have forgotten, what you must forget.
What you must go on forgetting all your life.
And with any luck oblivion should discover a ritual.
You will find out that you are not alone in the enterprise.
Yesterday the very furniture seemed to reproach you.
Today you take your place in the Widow's Shuttle.

*

The bus is waiting at the southern gate
To take you to the city of your ancestors
Which stands on the hill opposite, with gleaming pediments,
As vivid as this charming square, your home.
Are you shy? You should be. It is almost like a wedding,
The way you clasp your flowers and give a little tug at your veil. Oh,
The hideous bridesmaids, it is natural that you should resent them
Just a little, on this first day.
But that will pass, and the cemetery is not far.
Here comes the driver, flicking a toothpick into the gutter,
His tongue still searching between his teeth.
See, he has not noticed you. No one has noticed you.
It will pass, young lady, it will pass.

*

How comforting it is, once or twice a year,
To get together and forget the old times.
As on those special days, ladies and gentlemen,
When the boiled shirts gather at the graveside
And a leering waistcoast approaches the rostrum.
It is like a solemn pact between the survivors.
They mayor has signed it on behalf of the freemasonry.
The priest has sealed it on behalf of all the rest.
Nothing more need be said, and it is better that way-

*

The better for the widow, that she should not live in fear of surprise,
The better for the young man, that he should move at liberty between the armchairs,
The better that these bent figures who flutter among the graves
Tending the nightlights and replacing the chrysanthemums
Are not ghosts,
That they shall go home.
The bus is waiting, and on the upper terraces
The workmen are dismantling the houses of the dead.

*

But when so many had died, so many and at such speed,
There were no cities waiting for the victims.
They unscrewed the name-plates from the shattered doorways
And carried them away with the coffins.
So the squares and parks were filled with the eloquence of young cemeteries:
The smell of fresh earth, the improvised crosses
And all the impossible directions in brass and enamel.

*

'Doctor Gliedschirm, skin specialist, surgeries 14-16 hours or by appointment.'
Professor Sarnagel was buried with four degrees, two associate memberships
And instructions to tradesmen to use the back entrance.
Your uncle's grave informed you that he lived in the third floor, left.
You were asked please to ring, and he would come down in the lift
To which one needed a key...

*

Would come down, would ever come down
With a smile like thin gruel, and never too much to say.
How he shrank through the years.
How you towered over him in the narrow cage.
How he shrinks now...

*
But come. Grief must have its term? Guilt too, then.
And it seems there is no limit to the resourcefulness of recollection.
So that a man might say and think:
When the world was at its darkest,
When the black wings passed over the rooftops,
(And who can divine His purposes?) even then
There was always, always a fire in this hearth.
You see this cupboard? A priest-hole!
And in that lumber-room whole generations have been housed and fed.
Oh, if I were to begin, if I were to begin to tell you
The half, the quarter, a mere smattering of what we went through!

*

His wife nods, and a secret smile,
Like a breeze with enough strength to carry one dry leaf
Over two pavingstones, passes from chair to chair.
Even the enquirer is charmed.
He forgets to pursue the point.
It is not what he wants to know.
It is what he wants not to know.
It is not what they say.
It is what they do not say.


James Fenton

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quilty as Charged

"Quilts tell stories" by Neha

She quilted her life
One patch at a time
Her life was long, colorful, complex
And so was the quilt.

It took hundreds of patches

She did not make them perfect squares on purpose
For her life was not all squares
It was more like squares, rectangles,
triangles, circles, hexagons -
All thrown together
The edges not perfectly blending
Still dancing her crazy dance

She felt quilty

So she quilted her life
One patch at a time
Her life was long, colorful, complex
And so was the quilt.

In between these patches
Of many colors, yarns and patterns
Of matches and mismatches
Of decisions and indecisions
Was her entire life's story

And now, looking at the quilt
She felt quilty. Quilty as charged.
She both trembled and tickled
To think of what the quilt knows about her

-Neha

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tears of the Giraffe

Giraffe Sketch by Johan31000

Mma Ramotswe had a gift for the American woman, a basket which on her return journey from Bulawayo she had bought, on impulse, from a woman sitting by the side of the road in Francistown. The woman was desperate, and Mma Ramotswe, who did not need a basket, had bought it to help her. It was a traditional Botswana basket, with a design worked into the weaving.

"These little marks here are tears." she said. "The giraffe gives its tears to the women and they weave them into the basket"

The American woman took the basket politely, in the proper Botswana way of receiving a gift - with both hands...."You are very kind, Mma."she said. "But why did the giraffe give its tears?"

Mma Ramotswe shrugged; she had never thought about it. "I suppose that it means that we can all give something," she said. "A giraffe has nothing else to give - only tears."

Did it mean that? she wondered. And for a moment she imagined that she saw a giraffe peering down through the trees, its strange, stilt-borne body camouflaged among the leaves; and its moist velvet cheeks and liquid eyes; and she thought of all the beauty there was in Africa, and of the laughter, and the love.

- From Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

Ab ke saawan mein

"Wheat Field in Rain" by Vincent Van Gogh

Ab ke saawan mein shararat ye mere saath hui,
Mera ghar chhod ke kul shahar mein barsaat hui.

Aap mat puchiye kya hum pe safar mein gujri,
The luteron ka jahan gaon, wahin raat hui.

Zindagi bhar to hui guftgu gairon se magar,
Aaj tak humse hamari naa mulakat hui.

Har galat mod pe toka hai kisi ne mujhko,
Ek aawaz teri jab se mere sath hui.

Maine socha ki mere desh ki halat kya hai,
Ek kaatil se tabhi meri mulakat hui.

- Gopaldas Neeraj

खुशबू सी आ रही है

Parinda by Neha

खुशबू सी आ रही है इधर ज़ाफ़रान की,
खिडकी खुली है फिर कोई उनके मकान की.

हारे हुए परिन्दे ज़रा उड़ के देख तो,
आ जायेगी जमीन पे छत आसमान की.

बुझ जाये सरेशाम ही जैसे कोई चिराग,
कुछ यूँ है शुरुआत मेरी दास्तान की.

ज्यों लूट ले कहार ही दुल्हन की पालकी,
हालत यही है आजकल हिन्दुस्तान की.

औरों के घर की धूप उसे क्यूं पसंद हो,
बेची हो जिसने रोशनी अपने मकान की .

जुल्फों के पेंचो-ख़म में उसे मत तलाशिये,
ये शायरी जुबां है किसी बेजुबान की.

'नीरज' से बढ़कर और धनी है कौन,
उसके हृदय में पीर है सारे जहान की.

- गोपालदास "नीरज"

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where are you from?


The Flowing Hair by Henri Matisse

[ The lady behind the restaurant counter asks me, without a comma:
"You look lovely this afternoon where are you from?"

As always, I fumble for a response to these four words:
Where are you from?

And then there is loveliness
Is loveliness and where I am from related?

I fumble for the first geographical wave that comes to mind, which it does depending on the season, time of the day and my mood.

For "Where am I from?"]

I.

I am from this ground I am standing on.
I am here now. I am from here.
I am from my blue bedroom
I am from my white kitchen
I am from the green study
I am from the lemon bathroom
I am from the white living room

I am from the side street
I am from the progressive county
I am from the green city
I am from the legendary state
I am from this greatest country on earth

But wait. This is my adopted home
I must belong where I came from.

So let's try again.

I am from that ancient country
I am from that mythical state
I am from that dusty city
I am from that revolutionary county
I am from that main road

I am from the plot where my parents house stands
I am from that tall building I called home before I grew my wings
I am from my parents house on the sixth floor
I am from the house number 64

I am from that brown living room
I am from that sea green bathroom
I am from that blue study
I am from my mother's grey kitchen
I am from my pink bedroom where my stuffed toys are still lined up
I am from that ground I stood on
I was there then. I was from there then.

But I am standing here now.
Here in a very precise space
Square footage taken by my blue shoes
So ask me again where I am from

I am from where my parents spent their childhood
Where my mother, as a little girl, played on a banyan tree swing
I am from the house from whose roof my father fell
as a three years old kid. Unharmed. From what the eyes can see atleast.

So ask me again where I am from

I am from where I am right now
Like a magical tree that
grows new roots wherever you may place it
I am from here

I am from everywhere I have been
From everywhere I will go
From the human ocean
The mammal ocean
The living ocean
The non living ocean
The star dust we all share

Yes. I am from the stars.

-Neha

Take 2: Where are you from? Read Take 1 here.

The listener

Arabian Song by Paul Klee

He was a listener
Sometimes a bit adrift
Sometimes a bit restless
Sometimes a bit listless

But always listening
Above the lines
Under the lines
On the line

He had been listening all his life
So it seemed natural that he'd listen to her
And when he would speak it would be
about what he had listened

She listened too
Sometimes she was a bit adrift too
Sometimes she was a bit restless too
Sometimes she was a bit listless too

She was not a born listener
But life had taught her
That that is one of the best things to do
To listen

So here they were now:
Two listeners and silence

-Neha

Untitled (aka "Last Love)

"Love on the Street" by Neha

To my daughters, I need to say:

Go with the one who loves you biblically.

The one whose love lifts its head to you despite its broken neck.

Whose body bursts sixteen arms electric to carry you, gentle, the way old grief is gentle.

Love the love that is messy in all its too much,

The body that rides best your body, whose mouth saddles the naked salt of your far gone hips, whose tongue translates the rock language of all your elegant scars.

Go with the one who cries out for his tragic sisters as he chops the winter’s wood, the one whose skin

Triggers your heart into a heaven of blood waltzes.

Go with the one who resembles most your father. Not the father you can point out on a map,

But the father who is here. Is your home. Is the key to your front door. Know that your first love will only

Be the first. And the second and third and even fourth will unprepare you for the most important:

The Blessed. The Beast. The Last love. Which is, of course, the most terrifying kind.

Because which of us wants to go with what can murder us? Can reveal to us

Our true heart’s end and its thirty years spent in poverty?

Can mimic the sound of our birdthroated mothers, replicate the warmth of our brothers' tempers? Can pull us out of ourselves until

We are no longer sisters or daughters or sword swallowers but, instead,

Women. Who give. And lead. And take and want

And want

And want

And want

Because there is no shame in wanting.

And you will hear yourself say: Last Love, I wish to die so I may come back to you new and never tasted by any other mouth but yours.

And I want to be the hands that pull your children out of you and tuck them deep inside myself until they are

Ready to be the children of such a royal and staggering love. Or you will say: Last Love,

I am old, and have spent myself on the courageless, have wasted too many clocks on less-deserving men, so I hurl myself

At the throne of you and lie humbly at your feet.

Last Love, let me never roll out of this heavy dream of you.

Let the day I was born mean my life will end where you end.

Let the man behind the church do what he did if it brings me to you.

Let the girls in the locker room corner me again if it brings me to you.

Let the wrong beds find me if it brings me to you.

Let this wild depression throw me beneath its hooves if it brings me to you.

Let me pronounce my hoarded joy if it brings me to you.

Let my father break me again and again if it brings me to you.

Last love, I let other men borrow your children. Forgive me.

Last love, I vowed my heart to another. Forgive me.

Last Love, I have let my blind and anxious hands wander into a room and come out empty. Forgive me.

Last Love, I have cursed the women you loved before me. Forgive me.

Last Love, I envy your mother’s body where you resided first. Forgive me.

Last Love, I am all that is left. Forgive me.

Last Love, I did not see you coming. Forgive me.

Last Love, every day without you was a life I crawled out of. Amen.

Last Love, you are my Last Love. Amen.

Last Love, I am all that is left. Amen.

I am all that is left.

Amen.


Barason ke baad

baraso.n ke baad dekhaa ik shaKhs dil_rubaa saa
ab zahan me.n nahii.n hai par naam thaa bhalaa saa

abaruu khi.nche khi.nche se aa.Nkhe.n jhukii jhukii sii
baate.n rukii rukii sii lahajaa thakaa thakaa saa

alfaaz the ke jugnuu aavaaz ke safar me.n
ban jaaye jangalo.n me.n jis tarah raastaa saa

Khvaabo.n me.n Khvaab us ke yaado.n me.n yaad us kii
niindo.n me.n ghul gayaa ho jaise ke rat_jagaa saa

pahale bhii log aaye kitane hii zindagii me.n
vo har tarah se lekin auro.n se thaa judaa saa

agalii muhabbato.n ne vo naa_muraadiyaa.N dii.n
taazaa rafaaqato.n se dil thaa Daraa Daraa saa

kuchh ye ke muddato.n se ham bhii nahii.n the roye
kuchh zahar me.n bujhaa thaa ahabaab kaa dilaasaa

phir yuu.N huaa ke saavan aa.Nkho.n me.n aa base the
phir yuu.N huaa ke jaise dil bhii thaa aabalaa saa

ab sach kahe.n to yaaro ham ko Khabar nahii.n thii
ban jaayegaa qayaamat ik vaaqi_aa zaraa saa

tevar the beruKhii ke andaaz dostii ke
vo ajanabii thaa lekin lagataa thaa aashnaa saa

ham dasht the ke dariyaa ham zahar the ke amrit
naahaq thaa zo.Num ham ko jab vo nahii.n thaa pyaasaa

ham ne bhii us ko dekhaa kal shaam ittefaaqan
apanaa bhii haal hai ab logo 'Faraz' kaa saa

- Ahmed Faraz

Grandma's Pickle

Garden with Flowers by Gustav Klimt

Like her love
The recipe of the lemon pickle is gone
A taste remains

A little girl tip toeing to grab a big piece
of grandma's pickle,
grabbing it,
running,
hiding again to eat it in the attic

Only a memory remains
Of her love
Like lemon pickle

-Neha

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Where are you from?

Flowing Hair by Henri Matisse


[ The lady behind the restaurant counter asks me:
"You look lovely this afternoon where are you from?"

Yes - without a comma or a full stop she asks me:
"You look lovely this afternoon where are you from?"

As always, I fumble for a response to these four words:
Where are you from?

And then there is loveliness
Is loveliness and where I am from related?

I fumble for the first geographical wave that comes to mind.

For "Where am I from?"]

I.

I am from this ground I am standing on.
I am here now. I am from here.
I think of the mythical tree which grows
roots from wherever it is uprooted and rerooted.

I am from this little box I call home
From the blue bedroom I dream in
to the yellow kitchen I cook in, the dining table
which lives parallel lives as a workstation and
an artist's desk overlooking the petunias smiling
in an inverted old lampshade pot.

I am from this study room with a french window
opening to a big tree - the tree whose name
I do not know, but which I love.
The one on which two baby squirrels
dance, play and nap all day long.

I am from the living room with its multi color carpet
and painting with blown up red
flowers - flowers whose name
I don't know, but which I love. The
one I look at to escape to a bed a flowers with soft
green cushion looking at the blue colored sky

II.

I am from the street I turn on to reach home.
The sidewalks. Resident's only parking spaces. The red light.
The bus stop. Wild yellow flower forcing its way through concrete.
Tall trees which have been here since
long before anyone I know has existed.

I am from the sub-division with its underground
drainage system. The rising and falling
property values. The neighborhood plan and
historic preservation. The advisory groups and
residential conservation areas.
I am from the great city. The great falls road. The farmer's
market. The boards and commissions. The council for dog license
and now waived cat license. The coyote coexistence.
The garden plot rental.

III.
I am from the great state. The queen state.
The monumental state. The free state.
The one which claims many big deeds -
It hopes you too will be pleased.
Founding father of chocolate and chewing gum of self help,
The pink punk pony, fat fish and eloquent elephant.
They were all from here.

I am from the greatest country in the world. The
one which is fastest, strongest, toughest. The
one which was destined to be the greatest. The
one which worked at it through longest works days
and shortest annual leaves. The one with the soul train,
the funk, the rap, the jazz, the country, the pop all rolled into one.
The one with silver diners and soup kitchens.

I am from the west. The wild wild west. The best of west
the land of dreams. The land of starting from scratch.
The land of I-don't care-who-your-father-was.

IV.

But wait. I was not born here

I am from across the oceans
The country I was born in
The capital I was born in
It is not even a state but a union territory

I am from that subdivision
That city
That tall building I spent a decade in
before I grew my own wings
I am from my parents house
I am from the room I painted pink
I am from the mirror who saw me dance
I am from the workstation of my first job
I am from where my parents grew

I am from where my parents spent their childhood.
Where my mother swung on a banyan tree swing
From the house from whose roof my father fell
when he was three. Unharmed from what eyes can see.

V.

I am from everywhere I have been
From everywhere I will go
From the human ocean
The mammal ocean
The living ocean
The non living ocean
The star dust we all share

Yes. I am from the stars.

-Neha

Take 1: Where are you from? Read Take 2 here.

A Neverending Story

Dance at Moma by Henri Matisse

A neverending story
Only dot dot dot . . .
A sentence left hanging mid-air
Defying the laws of gravity

A neverending story
Only dot dot dot . . .
Fill in my blanks with words
Found in an unfound dictionary

A neverending story
Only dot dot dot . . .
A chapter not written yet
You speak in prose but it is poetry

A neverending story
Only dot dot dot . . .
Like circles in white sand
Our criss crossed geometry . . .

-Neha

If the River Knows

Current by Neha

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day. - A. A. Milne, Author (1882-1956)

If the river knows, why then does she fall from great heights ?
Why does she go and hit the rock bottom?
Does she like the slippery green moss?
Does she like the rainbow created by her fall?

Or does the river just know this:
That with countless rise and falls,
she will get there some day?
That she is not in midst of a current,
she is the current herself?

- Neha

Microwaved love


A microwave safe cup
met a handcrafted saucer

The cup was machine made perfect
The saucer had uneven finger marks

The cup could stand high temperatures
The saucer cracked if not handled carefully

A machine made cup and a handmade saucer
So different. So together

-Neha

Monday, November 21, 2011

The idea of a tree

The roots that kiss the earth
The branches that salute the sky
The leaves that dance with the wind

The nest of a little bird
The playground of a furry squirrel
The breeze playing hide and seek

Give me just one wish please
Make me a flower or even a bee
For I love the idea of a tree

-Neha

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kharey panee ko

"Make a Wish" by Neha


Samundar ke kharey panee ko meetha kardey
Ya phir meree aankhon ko pathar kardey

- As remembered

ae khuda ret ke sehra ko samandar kar de
ya chhalakti aankhon ko bhi patthar kar de

tujhko dekha naheen mehsoos kiya hai maine
aa kisi din mere ehsaas ka paikar kar de

aur kuch bhi mujhe darkaar nahin hai lekin
meri chaadar mere pairon ke baraabar kar de

- As sung by Jagjit Singh

Key to urdu words: ret ke sehra = sand castles,paikar = real/concrete ,darkaar = lack, chaadar=sheet of cloth

Tujh lab ki sifat

"Spread" by Neha

Tujh lab ki sifat laal-e-badaksha soo kahoonga
Jaadu hai tere nain, ghazala soo kahoonga


Jalta hu shabon roz tere gham me ey saajan
Yaha soz tera misal-e-soja soo kahoonga


Mujh par na karo zulm tum ey lailiye khuba
Majnoon hu tere gham ko bayamban soo kahoonga


Dekha hu tujhe khwaab mein ey maya-e-khubi
Is khwaab ko ja yusuf-e-tanha soo kahoonga


Di baadshahi haq mein tujhe husn nagar ki
Ja kishwar-e-imaan-e-suleman soo kahoonga


Yak nukta tere safaye rukh par nahi beja
Is mukh ko tere safa-e-Quran soo kahoonga

- Written by Wali Dakkani, Sung by Abida Parveen


Key to urdu words: Sifat - quality, like/similar to ; lab = lips; laal = ruby; gazaalaaan = deer;so= compare to, badakhshaan= place in Afghanistan famous for its rubies

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Better than the Worst

"Who is this guy?" by Neha

"You are better than the worst thing you've ever done"
- Dhamma Brothers

You are the child who smiled for the very first time
You are the young boy who learnt to ride a bike
You are the teenager who first fell in love
You are the young man who was lost in her big brown eyes
You are the new born father who held her tiny fingers
You are the grown up son who told his mother she will be just fine
You are the old man who forgave those who crushed his garden

You are better than the worst thing you've ever done
Because that thing is only a part of you, not the whole of you
Because you are a human being, in many shades of grey
Because you are the same child, who smiled for the very first time

-Neha

Dedicated to every person serving in every prison of the world - both inside and outside.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Smoke from a Winter Chimney

"Smoke" by stuant63

Like smoke from a winter chimney
You emerge from the heart of fire
only to vanish in the deep blue night sky

And when you are gone
Like smoke from a winter chimney
a warmth remains, followed by ashes

-Neha

Hand in Sand

"Hands in the Sand" by dasnake

Hand in sand
Round and round

Waves make a gentle sound
Put this breeze as a crown

You were lost but now are found
Hand in hand in this sand

-Neha

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Living Things

"Chains" by Neha

Our poems
Are like the wart-hogs
In the zoo
It's hard to say
Why there should be such creatures

But once our life gets into them
As sometimes happens
Our poems
Turn into living things
And there's no arguing
With living things
They are
The way they are

Our poems
May be rough
Or delicate
Little
Or great

But always
They have inside them
A confluence of cries
And secret languages

And always
They are improvident
And free
They keep
A kind of Sabbath

They play
On sooty fire escapes
And window ledges

They wander in and out
Of jails and gardens
They sparkle
In the deep mines
They sing
In breaking waves
And rock like wooden cradles.

-Anne Porter

A noon as a noun

"e-motion" by Neha

He spent a noon living like a noun
A noun living it up like a verb

For people who became a noun
Were immersed in verbs all their lives

-Neha

Unwords

"Circular" by Neha

He offered me a leaf like a hand with fingers.
I offered him a hand like a leaf with teeth.
He offered me a branch like an arm.
I offered him my arm like a branch.
He tipped his trunk towards me like a shoulder.
I tipped my shoulder to him like a knotted trunk.
I could hear his sap quicken, beating like blood.
He could hear my blood slacken like rising sap.
I passed through him.
He passed through me.
I remained a solitary tree.
He a solitary man.

- Nichita Stãnescu

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Little Red Kaleidoscope

lucyfruit by antpix

She looks inside her little red kaleidoscope
Like she has done a thousand times

This moving circus of colors
She has seen a thousand times

But only now, like a lightening, she realizes
What makes a kaleidoscope beautiful

Its inner self brought together by mirrors
But mirrors are not beautiful by themselves

Its the dance of their reflections
and tiny glass pebbles of all size and shapes

She thinks of people as her little red kaleidoscope
Waiting for the right mirror to make them shine

She wants to go and tell them all
They are the mirrors and the glass pebbles

-Neha

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Truth

There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other. Without art science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery. The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.

-Raymond Thornton Chandler, writer (1888-1959)

Picture of Gratitude

"Ode" by Neha

Folded hands, handpicked flowers and a bow
Wish upon a shooting star
Sometimes a smile
Sometimes a thank you
Picture of gratitude

-Neha

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Beauty Remains

"Lifted" by Neha

Some days her heart would fill up
like the water in the crevice of an
old rock on a stormy day

She would hear the news,
see a stranger's face,
feel the uneven edges,
taste the loss not her own,
breathe the air waves.

War. Occupation. Corruption
Allegation. Retaliation.
Economic depression.
Human regression.

What is happening ? Why doesn't someone stop it?
Her heart fills up till it can fill no more
It is a mad mad world and one would have to
be mad to not go mad, she thinks.

She holds a tiny drop from her
eyes on the tip of her index finger
The colors of rainbow shine on the drop
which emerged from the bottom of her heart
And she knows that beauty remains.

-Neha

Monday, November 07, 2011

Copper Giraffe

"G" by Neha

Tall, spotty and handsome
Head in the clouds
Feet on the ground
He does work, he has fun
He can talk, he can laugh
Meet the copper giraffe

-Neha

Who am I?

"Spring" by Neha

What is to be done ? for I do not recognize myself,
I am neither Christian nor Jew, nor Gabr nor Muslim,
I am not of the east, nor of the west, nor of the land, nor of the sea.
I am not of nature’s mint, nor of the circling heavens.
I am not of earth, nor of water, nor of air, nor of fire;
I am not of the empyrean, nor of the dust, nor of existence, nor of entity,
I am not of India, nor of China, nor of Bulgaria, nor of Saqsin;
I am not of the kingdom of Iraqain, nor of the country of Khorasan,
I am not of this world, nor of the next, nor of Paradise, nor of Hell.
I am not of Adam, nor of Eve, nor of Eden and Rizwan.
My place is the placeless, my trace is the traceless,
’Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved,
I have put quality away, I have seen that the two worlds are one;
One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call,
He is the first, he is the last, he is the outward, he is the inward;
I know none other except ‘Ya Hu’ and ‘Ya man Hu’.

If there be any lover in the world, —’tis I.
If there be any believer, infidel, or hermit,— ’tis I.
The wine-dregs, the cup-bearer, the minstrel, the harp, and the music,
The beloved, the candle, the drink and the joy of the drunken,—’tis I.
The two-and-seventy creeds and sects in the world
Do not really exist: I swear by God that every creed and sect—’tis I.
Earth and air and water and fire, knowest thou what they are?
Earth and air and water and fire, nay, body and soul too—’tis I.
Truth and Falsehood, good and evil, ease and difficulty from first to last,
Knowledge and learning and asceticism and piety and faith—’tis I.
The fire of Hell, be assured, with its flaming limbs,
Yes, and Paradise and Eden and the Houris—’tis I.
This earth and heaven with all that they hold,
Angels, Peris, Genies and Mankind—’tis I.

-Rumi

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Time Change

Unfolds by origamidon

Did we loose time
Or did we just gain time
His head is spinning

He checks wall clock,wrist watch,
guest room clock, kitchen watch,
World clock in phone watch
Not sure about time, but he is lost

-Neha

Friday, November 04, 2011

Lonely Sock

Sock is lonely
It should have been sockS
but his soulmate got separated in the washer
Now the sock is lonely. It really socks.
Can someone please invent a sock pair up machine
to match them up within the washer?

-Neha

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Plastic Flowers

"Shadows" by Neha

To some you are not real
Without a fragrance
Without the frailties

They fail to see a meaning in you ...

But you are real to her
If only just different
With your plastic soul

You make her days bright
Winter frost doesn't freeze you
Warm reflections of your pinkness glow

Nothing is permanent
But then, you are more permanent
You don't fall in fall

You are a bright spot on a cloudy night
So what if you are a plastic flower
[Don't tell them...but here's our secret]
She loves you for your plasticity

-Neha

Monday, October 24, 2011

Last words of a rubber ball thrown on the sea


I never thought I'd feel so free.
Surrounded by green ocean water.
Far away from any sign of round people who made me,
Or little round people who played with me.
For who thought that I, a rubber ball, would have feelings?
Even I, a rubber ball, never thought that I'd have feelings!
Yet, here I am - a rubber ball thrown on the sea, with feelings.

Drifted.

I feel drifted. Like someone took the solid ground from right under my feet.
I look up to the open blue sky, soft mist on my face and I think of my mother.
She was not a rubber ball like me. She was a stainless steel machine.
Yes, I was born in a factory with 20,000 other bouncy rubber balls - my brothers and sisters-
You see, we never played together - each one of us gone to the house of little round people.
Oh!I love little round people. Especially the little round one they called chubby cheeks.
I was his most favorite possession on earth. Even more favorite than the talking cat.
He drew a smily on my face.

And here I am, a rubber ball thrown on the sea.
What will I become - a coral reef? a fossil of human civilization?
A stranger in the land of brine at bottom of the ocean?
Surrounded by electric fish, sharks, whales
The little fellow, the predator, the creator
And in the middle of them all:
I, a rubber ball thrown on the sea. Still smiling.

-Neha

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lunchbox of my dreams

"Flight" by Neha

Lunchbox of my dreams,
Dreams of my childhood,
Childhood of bread and butter,
Butter cream biscuits and noodles,
Noodles with oodles of playful fork,
Fork with five stainless hands,
Five hands joining to play ringa ringa roses,
Roses of very first love,
Love of a mother rushing to work,
Work of everyday dreams,
Dreams of my childhood,
Childhood of lunchbox,
Lunchbox of my dreams.

-Neha

Wasted War

You fought ignorance with hatred
Your hatred got hatred
Hatred loved ignorance
You spread ignorance with hatred
And now you sit wondering what went wrong
While god of ignorance smiles.

-Neha

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hero

[I thought a hero was not supposed to show his pain. Ever.
I was wrong. All this time]

You don't become a hero by hiding your pain,
You become a hero by showing your bruises.

-Neha

Friday, October 14, 2011

If change were a piece of art

"In my element" by Neha

If change were a piece of art, I will make a start..
Knowing that you can get there part by part
Knowing that it gets messy before it gets pretty
Knowing that the lines may not be perfect

Maybe it will be a blank canvas made by someone's rough hands..
Waiting for me to splash my colors
Waiting for me to give it a form
Waiting for me to change its destiny and my own, hand in hand

Maybe it will be a discarded piece of art found under the rubble at a goodwill store..
Waiting for me to pick it up despite the scratches
Waiting for me to not give up on it
Waiting for me to tell it I see beauty, not junk

Maybe it will change "the" world or "someone's"world
I will paint the elephant in the room pink
I will give wings to the frog of the well
I will make the sun shine in the darkest corners

If change were a piece of art, I will take my brush and make a start..
Knowing that inch by inch a painting is completed
Knowing that as a child, I had the courage to sketch mighty castles
Knowing that tiny humming bird migrates miles starting with a flap
So start even if you don't see the end of the road
For you can imagine the end of the road
For what you can imagine, you can create
For you have to start somewhere someday
So start, let's make change an art..
What better day than today?
What better place than here and now?
What better person that the one you see in the mirror?

-Neha

This is for Linda who knows the beauty of change

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pehla Kavi

Viyogi hoga pehla kavi,
Aah se upja hoga gaan,
Nikal kar nayanon se chupchap,
Bahi hogi kavita anjaan.

- Sumitra Nandan Pant

Dono or prem palta hai,
Priye, patang to jalta hi hai
Dipak bhee jalta hai.

 -Maithli Sharan Gupt

Kewal badal nahin aankh ko,
Thodi si dopahar bhi lena
Jeetey jeete marte hain sab,
Tum marte marte jee lena

Jab thakan sindhu ho jai,
Aur chetna lagey doobne
Baith hridaya ke madiralai mein,
Tab -Tab dard sura pi lena.

-RamSanehi Lal Sharma 'Yayawar'

 Courtesy: Manish Chauhan

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Song for Maggie

"Joy of Life" by Pablo Picasso (1946)

I never met you.
I only heard about you the day you died.
He said he got a call late at night-
Maggie is no more.

He switched his phone off
It was now silent
Just like you.

Two days later, he drove everyone
to your final resting place
He said it was the same van in which
you all went on a picnic not so long ago
The same van in which you laughed.

Now he is driving me to the airport
I look at the road ahead
As his mind flashes backward

They took you to the hospital
five days before I came
They said it will be simple.

But it wasn't
You packed your bags thrice
Third time you went
straight to the door to heaven, if there is one.

It must be heaven there
Where your four month baby waits for you
He said maybe he too will see you there one day
That's what they told him

He wasn't sure though
He said he wanted to shout loud and ask:
Why hasn't anyone who has visited that
sought after side ever come back to tell?

The truck ahead blows dark smoke in our faces.
As if to tell a message in a language we don't understand
It has been four days since you have gone
Dim lights flickr on the endless roadside

He takes a deep breath and says
This is life. This roadside
Bright electric light with total darkness at end

Everyone is sad
But he wants to celebrate your life
His voice breaks
He wants to drink and dance and smile.

I never met you Maggie.
But I celebrate your life
and the life you carried inside

And I imagine you sitting behind the welcome desk
A wildflower in your hair
Stars shining in your big black eyes
Eyes full of life like the blue nile

And I imagine that's what you have become
A wildflower, a star, the sparkling
water of nile on a moonlit night
Smiling from the cloud number nine

I never met you Maggie. But I miss you still.
And I celebrate your life
With your song born on
a moonlit night on a long drive
Like the beginning of a fairy tale
once upon a time

-Neha

This song is for Maggie, who I never met and Saison, who I will not forget.

Take your leave

"Renew" by Neha

And again, the heart lives through the eyes
looking through the soul of a glass door

Green leaves are leaving. Again
Reddish yellow is peeping. Again.
They slowly dance in the cooling sun. Again.
Brown earth is calling. Again.
To be born. Again and Again.

-Neha

Monday, September 26, 2011

Humko dushman ki nigahon

Humko dushman kee nigahon se na dekha keeje
Pyaar hi pyaar hain hum humpe bharosa keeje

Chand yaadon ke siwa haath na kuch aayega
Is tarah umr-e-gureza ka na peecha keeje

Roshni auron ke aangan mein gawara na sahee
Kam se kam apne ghar mein to ujaala keeje

Kya khabr kab wo chale aayenge milne ke liye
Roz palkon pe nayee shamme jalaya keeje

- Sung by Chitra Singh

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Turquoise


A little blue, a little green
Like the end of daylight
Like the ocean meeting the sky
She reflects on turquoise

-Neha

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Thermodynamic Affair

burned water by /pitzyper!

Fire meets water
Fire cools down
Water heats up

Fire cools down
But it has known only burning
Where is the flame?

Water heats up
But it has always been a liquid
How does one become a vapor?

-Neha

Friday, September 23, 2011

To Black Butterflies


They think you are not colorful
like all the other butterflies,
For you are just a black butterfly.

Don't they know that black
absorbs all colors in its heart?
You accept all of them equally

And that makes you more colorful
than any other butterfly
The black butterfly.

-Neha

This is dedicated to the memory of Ingrid Jonker

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The lucky ones

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here."

– Richard Dawkins

Summer Farewell

"A glimpse"by Neha

You take so long to come
Yet so fast to go
You've been good
But now you've gone.Again.

- Neha

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wants

Black wants to be brown
Brown wants to be white
White wants to be a little tan
What she doesn't have is exactly what she wants
Why is this the women song?

-Neha