Learning from Quasimodo

Basket

Stunted bent man, like Quasimodo
Begs for a few rupees

And there’s something about him
The workmanship, the richness in expression
And the frugality of pain

I wish I was him, so little to contend with
And still content as a child
Sipping a glass of milk.

I’m my own shadow, the anorexic
Man inside who makes long miles
Searching for the fruits of his dreams.

Maybe I will be content one day with
A basket full of dreams.
And a heart as empty as a church
On a weekday morning.

Dreams are compulsive strains
Of infection that preserve life in you.
A virus that infects every cell from head to toe.
With no immunity to feud with.

What to do with an empty toothpaste tube?

Perhaps I will learn to conjure a smile
And still look photogenic

With my discolored teeth.

80s

eighties

How can you forget
The cassette player or the video player?

Time flies like an albatross
Hurling itself to a lower altitude

I climb a ladder that seems
To burrow downwards

I look at a tape of ‘American Ninja’
And listen to ‘You Win Again’ by the Bee Gees

I’m a feather in retrograde locomotion
A relic of a time gone by

I’m trapped in a time tunnel
Spooled into little tapes. Self-preservation I call it.

And I listen to the treble voice
Of Barry Gibbs and I know

I can never go down an octave in time.
I’m replayed over and over

I’m my own playlist searching
For a bonus track from the 80s.

I look at my dad fiddling with a gramophone
And I know what entrapment is.

Living inside a shoe box, playing a music box
Lost like a picture of a teenager

In a milk carton. Time is my worst enemy.
In a reality I bemoan and loathe.

An analog watch keeps me company,
While I sip history like a cup of tea.

Fatigue

Africa Tanzania Street Vendor Shop People

The omnipresent saturation
Of a prolonged lifelessness.

The grunge without the drums
The lead guitar.

A straying infidel
Searching for a baptism
To be born again.

The fever of life, portrayed
As a blank page, a canvas
With no brush or paint.

The salesman who looks at his Down Syndrome son
And walks house to house, with a briefcase
Full of little gadgets.

The borderline threshold
Of muscle absent of contraction
Of eyes slipping in eye-lid

And two feet anchored by hell-bound roots
Looping out like Gorgon curls.

Perception

Depression 2

One woman’s trinket is another woman’s gold.
Objectivity is just as callous
As a stubborn conscience.
The greasy face of subjectivity
Reasons to your senses; the waterworks,
The taps inside your washer-less eyes
Outpour caught in salty streams.

Perception throws at you curveballs
The cancer of a family member
The aunt who fed the famished you
And all you feel is a snowball snowballing,
In the punch-packed magnification
Of a little sadness; tristesse in all her
Bony atoms, perverting a steadfast presence.

And all you have is your perception
The barometry of little acts, the harvests
Of the eye, ear, nose and tongue and still
A freaking monster-size feeling
Is what you duel with constantly. Sometimes you don’t
Get a windfall, sometimes the truth hurts,
Sometimes you don’t wish to perceive,
Like when you’re burning the wrong kind
Of substance, no cannabis, just a burn-wound
Flesh eaten by the flames of reality.

And freak-me, is just as fecund
As an ovulating woman. You know your Aunt’s cancer
Eats into you, like a famished cancer cell.
Sometimes, we cannot manufacture
A little happiness. All is lost. And still
In that incessant rainfall, you build an ark
To save your heart from the floods.
Love is a permanent porridge.
A subjective strain that can caress or even floor
You with a knock out. All you can do
Is to face the deeds that make love
Ambidextrous – the punch and the pull –
And she will be the octane
To your engine, the kerosene to your flames
An endless dimension that expands
In mirth and grief.

Perceptiveness is a gift. Perhaps the only
Gift worth fighting for. When you can only
Grease an engine, knowing what stands
Between you and a zombie
Is a little forced locomotion. Moved,
You’re sitting on the slum-dog’s throne,
As a millionaire in wealth.

Under My Umbrella

umbrella

You really have difficulty
Giving a place to an umbrella.
She is your protection from the sun
And your roof for the tireless rain
And is, forever battle-ready for a scuffle,
For the woman in the bus
Warding off a slimy pervert

And an umbrella looks beautiful falling off the sky
Just ask Mary Poppins and she will say so.
And still she can be ominous
Like the sneaky Penguin in the Batman comics
And yet there’s nothing sweeter
Than a baby polka-dot umbrella hoisted
By a little girl walking in the rain

And the umbrella as my wife tells me
Is a little hotel room for beach blow jobs
And a little sunburn protection for the Galle tourist
And the same accesory was a forgotten ally to man
Until a catchy Rihanna song, that made
Her jump up the charts
To the palmed-grip of a Barbadian girl.

And I tell you, my story of the umbrella
It is the closest I’ve gotten to walking with
A woman in my 20s. I remember when a sporty
Girl got underneath my umbrella
To walk a few paces down to buy an ice cream
In the pouring rain. She was a symbol
Of proximity I had always missed, a gesture
I hid in my bag, a little token
For the damsel in distress and a forgotten cupid
In metals rods and synthetic fabric.

And “under my umbrella” is not just a song.
It is where vows are exchanged, longings are undressed
As summer cotton hugs the rain-fed garments
It is where you find man and woman, rain-fed, wind-blown
Love-caressed and heart-loaned and a little horizon
Where the waves tumble to, making the body
Tangled like a braised knot, cuffed
In to a different world….

Two flesh wildered by the monsoon
Blowing inside to out. Anatomical landslides
Slipping underneath a little umbrella
Into one amorphous slurry
Of crumbly brown slush.

The Last Act of a Jester

Jester

Can death be the last act of a jester
On a theatre called the hospital bed?
You wonder and you gather evidence
That it is perhaps so – a somber episode
When shutouts and blackouts outnumber
Flames on threads and a solitary figure
On a bed, makes a lasting pantomime
With his pallid face, looks the doctor
With a death look and a ghost wish
And pokes his tongue out by reflex
To show a whiter shade of pink.

And a ventriloquist god
Will whisper in his ear that it is all over
And all he can do is to live out
A miserly span of a few seconds to minutes
Until the zombie apocalypse
Eclipses his vital signs
When blood turns cold to a silent snowstorm
As organ systems – one by one –
Snowball lifelessness and passivity
And all he can do is to bite his ghostly lips
And hope to god that the tongue
Will not stick out fully akin to a sleeping street dog.
If not, the post-mortem
Will simply read – death by slapstick.

And kith and kin around the bed,
Who will now gaze at his pale face,
Will turn a little ghostly in expression and slightly
Wet around the lashes and will
Remember the times gone-by
In fondness and loss. And that theatrical episode
Of a tongue-poke death, will linger on to
A landslide of emotions.

And surrounding a man with a half-strung tongue
Will be an outpouring of coulrophilia
– The mass adoration of a clown –
In a requiem of his final act.

Life Lessons From A Coca Cola Bottle

Ocean Coca Cola Summer Bottle Vintage Beach Retro

She stands august and tall in front of me, as pure
And refined as her dark effervescent body

She tells me, be like a kola nut, large in heart’s body
But not as dumb and sleepy as an arboreal Koala

Sloth is a sin, the worst of sins. Caffeine is the spirit
In you that makes long miles short and hope

Longer than even a kite thread. And she tells me
The soul is a narcotic, the holy ghost, leafy palms

That recite prayers to the invisible and lingers in the ecstasy
Of soul accomplice, in a deliverance only love

And her bonanza can spoon. She tells me every mortal
Is a bottle corked in reality, yet dreams are bubbly and frothy

And carbonated to reveries of podia, the heights
Of love and one Aphrodite will serenade your heart

With the viola strings on her lips. Every bottle
Is a replica of clay and water, flesh and blood, yet dreams

Of the immortal, the divinity of reciprocation of a goddess’s body.
The hull that completes the tide, the oar that makes

Carnivore waves, the Venus that unhinges the deck nails.
And she says, all bottles are meant to be uncapped

And emptied of soul at one pre-destined estuary
When shelf life doesn’t matter, only who tasted the good in you.

Destiny is whose lips plunged you into another world
And hers will be the fault lines that swallow you.

And love is a dark fairy tale that froths your eyes
And palpitates you heart. When a dark extract of kola nuts

Becomes as nutty as pure folly, and one woman, accomplice
To a foolish heart, sips a whisk of coca leaves

Till beyond an eternity. And she tells me, the biggest life lesson
She can give me is, love will always be good till the last drop.