Sunday, 15 December 2013

One for My Baby.

Everyone knew Christmas began early in London, so when he walked into Her cafes, he perked his ears for Sinatra. That Christmas would be the sweetest and bitterest - he'd make love, he'd inspire hate. He'd wake on the floor again as he did a year ago - the floorboard's distressed lines on his face.

*****

His view was lopsided when he woke, a bin and ash from his pipe in his view. Sinatra still in his ears - Sinatra was tradition.
Goodbye again, and if you find a love like mine,
Just now and then, drop a line, to say you're feeling fine.
Someone riveted the patterns of the carpet on his cheeks. There was pain in his bones - in such times, there was always pain. Pa, there is something on your face.
What?
Patterns, the boy giggled. They make your face look like waffles. His father had fell asleep on the bare mattress. He tried to straighten his father's face with a few rubs - rough with stubble, benevolent with smile. There was no such benevolence in the reflection in the mirror - only a pair of bloodshot eyes. Wine and Whiskey - if you repeated them often enough, they melded into one, and the liver did not know the difference.

He had gone a great length to erase this day from the minds of others - somewhere, across the world, a dear friend would remind him again, and somewhere in Britain, another would ask him to bang a girl to celebrate. Come on yaar - for me at least? But don't you understand? (I'll be around, when he's gone .) He checked for cognac - there wasn't enough, but there was Sainsbury's in Nine Elms for more.

*****

Christmas is fast approaching and the gin was over. It's exactly a month now, he says - couldn't you have picked a better date to be a whore? There is a green light at the end of the place that captures a set of lonely chairs. He looks at it, emotionless. A long black coat, a smoky pipe and the chill of November in his bones. She pleads with moist eyes, falls to her knees - the chill is in her bones too but it is not enough to move them from the terrace. It is her punishment, perhaps it is his too.
What should we do for Christmas? He asks - she is still at his legs.

There is still whiskey in his flask, and there is the wine meant for celebration, so when he's done with the wine, he takes the flask with him. At Kensington High Street, he sits by a homeless man - posh places always had homeless people, as if nature dictated that the poor must live by the rich. I'll give you a sip, if you give me a cigarette? And a sip and cigarette is exchanged. They formed a friendship that is immediately bound by the laws of what is visible and what is not.
What do you do?
Nothing, the ragged man says. (You'd never know it, but buddy I'm a kind of poet. And I've got a lot of things I'd like to say.)
What do you do?
Wine (for my baby) and Whiskey (for the road), he says.

*****

He pulls her up, inspects her, there are tears streaming down her cheeks. Wipe it, it disturbs me. You have no right. She could never understand his world - to her, emotions came to all, whether one was right or wrong, good or bad. We lose our right to emotion when we destroy another's. Stop bloody crying.
No!
Stop, now! His voice bellowed into the prim and proper homes of Kensington.

*****

He awakes, dusts his coat and begins to walk into the night road. The alcohol hits his brain - making the sight of moronic people that often circulated in the area tolerable. They too, were drunk. A 24 hour McDonalds was beside him and the homeless man, so he slipped a 10 pound note into his hands. He did not like giving alms, but sometimes, he did not like forgoing it. It was always about utility - utility, utility, utility - over pathetic pity. He knew the man's stomach needed food, but he secretly hoped that he'd use it for his brain - that he'd use it for more whiskey.
One for the road? The man calls out to him.
He has already walked a distance with the November air feathering London's leaves.
And one more, he says, for my baby!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Her Enchantment.

08/12/2013

Water of the eyes - such thimbles grew
to stop them - my lover did not know,
Ill guests of dove-skins, why did you beset me?
Trials-of-life, with what colour did you touch me?
That I'm exiled -  and her enchantment
does not have a shore - I hear of home -
I hear, my love's alone.

Shan

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Dilapidated Dogs.

There were times when he feigned that he did not see her after noticing her in a crowd - he knew her by her great burning hair, and beneath the gold dome of Saint Isaac's Cathedral - frozen forever - Moses saw God in a burning bush. In another world, Ram had asked Sita to prove her honour upon a pyre, in this world, he proved his love whenever his hand was lost in her great hair. It did not scathe him as it scathed the hearts of others.

And he, stilly as the earth, melded into his surrounding. The freshest light of the sun fell on London when it was about to set. It found its way into its great streets, through the windows of its great buildings, and if the tree beside a townhouse at Cromwell Road was willing, into his abode too. Once, when that had happened, he looked at it silently from his bed, and the bed of his past lover. This lover had sat reading a book, but she had been noticing things; that he was lost, that all the light that fell through the window fell into his eyes and falling into his eyes, did not touch the things and people about him. Sometimes you are so... still, she said.
Still?
I cannot feel you even breathe.
He smiled.
I don't like that.  Her eyes, once full of love, now pregnant with disdain.

His eyes yearned for S's beauty, yet when it was before him, he refrained from seeing it. He revered so much what he wanted that he could not want freely what he wished for. She sat at the low barrier that lined the grassy patch before The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. For long, she had been watching a bad violinist.  He walked to the busker, still evading her, and dropped all that chinked in his pocket into the violin case. He closed his eyes, turned, and opened them at her sight.

Great burning hair. He had not a word for it yet. He had not lost his hand in it yet.

Her eyes carried jasmines or daisies. Her eyes carried jasmines or daisies. Some days they were white like the patchy floor beds that covered St. James' Park in Spring. Some days - you could smell the sweetness of jasmine bushes through them. Or there would be darkness that he thought he saw - like that day - hidden from the eyes of others as though a dilapidated dog, hungry and searching, had for a moment, seen another hungry and dilapidated dog across the road and recognised in each other, a dying pulse of life only hungry and dilapidated dogs knew.

Perhaps, he said later, that was what I evaded the most.

Friday, 18 October 2013

He Hides.

After V's betrayal was exposed, I walked in the dead of night across the Hungerford Bridge which always whistled in winters. There were days when her face was bearable, that night, it was disgusting. I had to leave. I took the tube from Earl's Court Station, and riding on the District Line, I ended at the mouth of the bridge in twenty minutes. In winters I always carried my pipe - when the whiskey in my flask was done I always found comfort from the smoke in my lungs. It was the coldest winter I can remember in London - a day or two thereafter it would start snowing and it would not let up for a few days. My fingertips froze; I did not have the dexterity to fill my pipe. As my lighter died, my defiance to the cold died too - I sat. I wondered - because I had been wondering about love all along my tube journey - whether love was poisonous, and if it were, had it poisoned my lighter too?

'God's in the water,' he said. I looked at the river; it was calm but cold. When something was cold, even when it was not frozen or frosted, it looked cold. He seemed like he was drunk, although I could not say. Very often the homeless seemed so, but they were not.
'How do you know?'
'Because it's pretty,' he said. He must have sat down on the bench by me when I was busy with my smoke. He looked cold too, but he endured it better with lesser clothing.

He's in everything pretty then? He did not answer. Autumn? Spring? He did not answer. My own views of God was limited - I did visit places of worship but it was because they gave me a certain measure of peace. I did not pray nor speak to God directly, as people do.
'Is God in the cold?' I said, trying to make conversation. All your inhibitions sank when you were faced with a common foe. The cold seemed to be ours and I was also tipsy.
'God's in pretty things. Leaves. The water… pretty things.'

I would have thought he was a crazy man; there were many such people that roamed the City. It attracted them, like it attracted me - when our clothes were stripped away, I felt, we were no different than them; only, less lively. Somewhere, a musician was playing. There were always buskers playing in unexpected corners of London, and when they did not play for money, they played for themselves. We listened to the music and watched the Thames. That night ended when the morning arrived and a beautiful sunrise came upon Westminster Bridge - the barges and boats began to move and people began working in their jobs but that killed the music. A piece of the cold clung to my heart.

Years later, when I returned to S one night, I saw her great hair cover her breasts. Women often slept with their clothes unless their men were present. She was naked; she had been waiting for me. I cannot remember why I returned late - I wish I had not. When I slipped in I felt the warmth and it was as though the cold I had held in my heart began to melt. Her skin did that to me. Every time an organ froze from the years of pain, her skin thawed it in bed. I never thanked her for that. Even in her sleep, she looked a little sad. Where did all that energy come from in the day? I drew the duvet away and saw her skin. For a man that has had a long day, the first touch of his beloved is like an answered prayer. I combed her coarse hair with my fingers and thought about the waves of the sea - when in love, even men start thinking in imagery. Touffu, I thought again.

It did not take me long to remember what the homeless man said. If God hid in everything beautiful - in the dead leaves of autumn and the renewed ones of spring, in the foams of the ocean and its creatures within, in the melody of a musician and in all the things that we should not kill - then, I thought, as I saw the pallid light touch the curve of her pelvis, He must hide in her too.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Song of Love.

02/10/2013

My pen's ink in your marrow, your beauty in mine,
The nib formed our names, hitherto in shadow,
Which alphabet spoke your allegiance, which mine?

My lip's blood red, redder by you and wine,
The muezzin called, the honeyed night still present in I,
Why did we thieve time, who levied such a fine?

Little, a little, my lost hand,
weaved a past, in your great hair's dark
Who'll write this unabridged, you or I?

Shan

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Ernest and Scott.

He looked at me, the dim light spoke of the grey that came out of his face and head. He had a beard as I. I love Hemingway, I said. He said, he loved Fitzgerald.
'Do you know what Hemingway said of Fitzgerald?'
'No?' And I showed him.
His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless.
Then, he said, you are Fitzgerald, and I am Hemingway. I write with effort, you write effortlessly - when you are drunk and when you are not. I looked at my other friends - they too were drunk. In the late hours of Soho, everyone was intoxicated, and you knew, that many of this city on a monday morning, required the calm that came with wine or whiskey.

'Yeh dukh saha na jaaye, hai ram - yaad piya ki aaye,' I sang.
'What does that mean?' And I showed him a picture.
'Your muse,' he said.
'To touch her…' I said.
'But you wouldn't,' he replied and smiled his charming smile that charmed innumerable women.
'Give me a paper,' - and I wrote.

When you began feeling a woman as you felt music, you fantasised that she was an instrument that you could play - or you, an instrument she'd play. If it did not happen, you felt desolate and distraught. Her hair, when I stood behind her, waved to my stomach. I cannot remember its scent or texture,  nor her beautiful face that day - it was as though someone had sung me a note that I could not hold with my voice.

'Pour me another.'
'You'll damage your wings,' he said.
'It's already marred.'

So he filled another glass.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Tender Enquiries.

She had tender enquiries - do you think, she said, the moonlight collected on us like dust if we were still long enough? He parted her hair and exposed her breast to it. The falling of the blue hue reminded him of autumn leaves. If you were patient enough, between the dimming of summer and the growth of autumn, you would find in Richmond Park, the first fall of a yellow leaf. Every leaf after that, fell unceremoniously.

'If it collected like dust,' he said, 'then it would cover your breasts.'

His words made her think that light was like a cloudy liquid and cloudy liquids made her touch a memory of soap bars which she would drown in large buckets of water when she was a child so that they would dissolve and spread like a billowing cloud on a clear day. When the cloudiness had stopped reaching out - when she could no longer see the white tendrils stretching farther - she tipped the bucket. It splashed; foaming at her feet, lapping up her shins and licking the hem of her dress. She would laugh, as only a child could at childish joys. But the light didn't collect now. All it did was illuminate her further. I'll collect you, he said, and took her breast into his mouth.

The sitar was playing. You could play anything when you made love these days. The moonlight fell on his back and onto her covered breast, on her coarse hair that he adored, and onto the apex of her navel that birthed a small shadow between its folds; fathered by the moon - a beautiful penumbra. It fell on her hands, and on his hands, and their hands that were tangled vines. These are weeds - they are like parasites, his mother would say. They creep up trees and suck their nutrition. We don't want that. She had been ill and was unable to tend to her plants. In the interim, things grew.
Parasites like those worms in our stomach, Ma?
Yes. Like that.

Looking around the greenhouse and looking at his mother mercilessly rip them apart, he thought gardeners must have such power that they could decide what lived and what did not. But Ma, if they were parasites - and here he paused - why do they look so beautiful? His mother didn't have an answer so she stopped ripping the vines that kissed the trees.

He squeezed her hand harder and she managed a whisper; like vines - our hands. He stopped his hip, there was sweat on his forehead and an oily sheen on her neck.
'How did you know?'
'You touched the vine that day,' she said, 'like I touch memories. I could never kill them either.'

He saw, when he began to move again, that the moon filled the sweat on her neck -  like milk fills into tea, like soap fills into water - and shined back at him. He whispered, 'the moon can be collected, after all.' Like dried jam collected dust. The sitar was playing.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Poison.

The discipline to write only came to him when he was inspired. He often thought himself a terrible writer because of that. Wine made him write. Making love made him write, or a fuck. The smell of a rose, or the memory of jasmine bushes. Or whatever that, at the time, awoke something in him that grew like an angel or monster that it must be given birth to or spitted out. When the sun started to set on Soho, men gathered around the pubs and clubs. He would look at them and wonder if they could be made into characters. It was often the case - and most did not understand this - that the habit silenced him among his company. He found others more interesting, and his own company - unless they were extraordinary - a poor fit for his literature.

'So he writes too, you said?'
'Yes.'
'Any good?' She paused awhile;
'He can be good.'

They walked on and he laughed under his breath. She must have noticed this and resented him. He looked up from the road and saw that there were men who dressed up like women, and women who dressed up as things he could not recognise. By now, they were halfway towards Leicester Square.

'Have you painted anything?' He asked.
'I haven't had the time. But I've been writing a little.'
'I always told you to write.'
'I could never write when I was with you,' she said.
'Why?'
'I'd always be under your shadow.'
'That's ridiculous - but you can when you're with him?'
'His shadow isn't as big.'

He read once that loneliness killed us even in our sleep - through our dreams. It must the reason she chose to bed one man after another. It was easier to love a hundred than it is to love one. When he took other lovers, they were sweet, they were bitter, they were easy and they were difficult. But they were all ordinary. His greatest worry was to accord the place he reserved for her to another; he feared diluting her memory. A writer needed a poison so strong that it left him with life enough only to write about it. She was venom and he had written about it - now it was time to spit it out. When two who do not belong together are broken, they are saved, from each other's poison.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Inability to Witness.

Through deplorable means I got to find where she was about to be that day. I justified myself because I thought this was only fair after all the pain she had brought into my life. There was no nobility in love - not even mine. I sat there hating my soul; that I was reduced to this thing of obsession. The place was St. Martin's Lane Hotel and I hid in a coffeehouse before it. Somewhere along the way, I thought, if I saw her with another man, it might make it easier. But how can that be? How can it ever be easier to see the woman you love with another man? But at the time this reasoning seemed sound. What extraordinarily foolish things we humans think in times of despair.

I picked a coffee table that overlooked the entrance of the hotel. The line of sight was clear, and there, I tried to read a book; Greene's The End of an Affair. There was a japanese man at my table with whom I had to share it with. This was the best table for this sort of occasion; the occasion of spying. Sharing tables with strangers made me uncomfortable and in any other circumstance I would have avoided it. But then this discomfort paled against my natural jealousy and obsession about the truth and what it might be. Did I hate myself that much?

The human creature's attraction to the tiniest things is a perplexing state, I thought, while waiting there. I found that the thought of not being able to see her in that new coat that she got before our separation, or perhaps those new leggings that would have looked lovely on her, almost heartbreaking. When the mind is fresh with the shape of a lover's body, when we can still imagine the things that would adorn her beautifully, the heart fractures at the inability of witnessing it.

Two hours later, she exited the hotel with another woman. They had gone there for dinner.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Poetry 28/07/2013

Daylong, nightlong, apply the balm,
where the injury is deepest, therein,
mayhap might come, with greater fury -
Water, to wash the pain to calm.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Lunette.

When the sun takes longer to set in London, it shines brighter on its women. Behind them, there was young woman in a blue bikini.

She's certainly hot, says one of the men. There is a suggestive glint in his eyes. He's the louder one of the two; the more cheerful; the one better endowed with the spirit of life. The other man remains quiet, but makes an observation: I like the shine on her thigh, he says.

When people's skin were heated by the sun, something warm awoke in their hearts. This warmth had nothing to do with the sun, it was intrinsic, like the core of the world that was as hot as the surface of our star. The shine was a catalyst, not the source. This shine on her thigh, he assumed, must have caused her to warmth. They speak of writing, drink to writing, and smoke for writing. The boisterous writer translates Piaf, the quieter one listens intently. There is fervour in his voice. It was one that, the quiet one thought, uplifted his fellow man. As they exchanged their work, the happy writer went silent. When he read poetry, he had a peculiar way of closing his ears so that only the cadence of the words before him reached his brain and not the rhymes of nature that sung in such parks. When he read the quiet writer's prose, he paused, and repeated it to himself - I knew her breasts. I knew her - there will be many women, he said, who would misunderstand you. Would you consider changing it?

No.
You may not be read by many.
I'm not writing to be read.
You write for yourself ---

His eyes rose from the grass because a memory formed a smile. That's what she said too, the silent writer says.
You love women... says the happy writer.
I do.
Why?
Because the glint on her thigh looked beautiful. Nature was a woman's accessory that she didn't know of.
And you try to understand them?
Not in the way they seek to understand themselves ---

They light another cigarette each - Edith is singing - there is a cheery air about the place and people are laughing.

If I am to be born again - if one is to subscribe to such a belief - I'd want to be born a man. There is a convex, the pensive man says, a gentle curve - here his hand rises and draws a lunette - that a woman's breasts make when they are naked and standing. I like running my fingers below it. In tracing the crescent, I feel its gentle weight on the tips of my fingers. This weight differs from woman to woman; if I close my eyes, I can remember them for all the women I've experienced. Have you noticed - he returns from his mind, and looks into his friend's eyes - that their skin are the smoothest here? They should have a name for it.

He finishes the wine in his glass. The woman in the bikini has now left. Neither, had noticed her leaving.

And do you remember hers?
I've never experienced hers.
You're such a sensual person - what you just said… it makes me want to fuck a woman.
The pensive man laughs a crisp laugh.
It was through loving that I found the lunette.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Different.

It takes a particular kind of strength within a person to see that we are all different. It is an obvious enough fact but one that does not permeate us until something has happened to our being; something so violent, so unimaginable, that our minds must resign to this truth. We are forced to find that the vile outnumber the good, and the mediocre outnumber the vile. And for all these contingents, it is the good who finds it the hardest to accept the differences in us, to accept that others may choose momentary joy over integrity or one's own joy over another's pain. It is the hardest to him because he is tasked to look at these differences and respect them even to his own detriment, and then, without prejudice, without the notion of indifference or revenge, to try and plant goodness in tainted soils without the promise of its growth into a tree.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Azaan.


What beauty lied between the pillow and her lips, in that space where her breath lived warm before going cold; in the scent of her black tresses over her bosom as though the seas had foamed over mountains; in the curve of her pelvis that moonlight slept upon when she slept upon her side?
My eyes, too poor a device,
to see, all the deluge in the sea
God liked hiding beauty in women that they themselves could not see. And to us wretched men, He gave half a sight, half a nose, half of hearing, that we may discern its existence but never grasp it. When I traced the silhouette of her body against the rising sunlight - Allahu Akbar - I felt a calm in my bones. When I raked her unruly locks with my fingers -  Allahu Akbar - I felt the need for a supplication. His plot, ash-had an-la ilāha illallah, was revealed. I wondered if the muezzin knew what I knew as he was calling them to prayer. That her every curve, hayya 'alas-salah, every lock, hayya 'alal-falah, her every mystery that was veiled and unveiled, was His azaan to me.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

What Have You Done?

The street runs from Carlton House, through Piccadilly, and into Oxford Circus, where at the top, the Church is its crown. Although every building in that street was old, the church was the oldest; a spire that rose into the grey London air like an anomaly. To this day he uses that church as his compass as he exits Oxford Circus Station. Direction is his weakness.

You were supposed wait by Margaret Street, she says, by that spirally building - did you get lost?
All Souls Church, you mean.
It's a church? They walk.
Yes. Nash's only surviving design in this street.
Who is Nash? The hazel of her eyes looks in question.
Adorable, he laughs. It is a crisp laugh that belonged to old men, men who returned to laughing like children when all their troubles troubled them no more. Weren't you supposed to be born and bred here?
Well Mr-I-know-it-all, I was actually born in Lahore.

He hadn't noticed how flawless her skin looked against the grey of London. As a child he had an affair with roses and there was a rosy hue always hanging about her cheeks. He stops. She stops. What? He brings his hand up toward her, and like a tailor who sees a rare piece of silk, carefully runs his finger along the length of her face, from cheek to chin. White silk turns red.

Now look what you've done... she murmurs, looking down.
Is the floor more interesting than me?
You'd look into my eyes. It's what you do.


*****


She stands before the mirror and brushes her long brown hair, her blouse still undone. He is in bed, he would pick up his camera but he prefers to use his eyes. It's 5.30 and Thirleby Road has turned dark - the light before the mirror shows him her beauty. He notices that she is buttoning herself up, this makes him uneasy. He does not like clothing in the confines of four walls. And now standing behind her, for every button she did, he undid one. Stop it! He does not stop. They are all waiting for me back home! He turns her around. You have to stop! His hand disappears behind her. Stop…she's reduced to a whisper. There is skill in his fingers. Her breasts are free. You've unhooked many before, haven't you? He does not answer. He's that tailor again, his eyes flashing, running his fingers unto his fabric. White silk turns red. She sighs - now look what you've done…


*****


John Nash, he says, looking at the fire with dim eyes, was the man who designed much of London during the Regency - even the Queen's palace - and consequently, our Regent Street.
How do you know all this? She lifts her head from his chest, looking up to him.
He does not answer that question. But you know which is my favourite?
Regent's Park.
Yes, Regent's Park.

Her milky, rosy hue is a stark contrast to his rusty brown. She notices this and smiles. His dark eyes replies. Two countries of the same land, he says. She feels romantic, he feels cheerful. I'm bridging the gap between our countries, he continues, one Pakistani woman at a time. She smacks his naked chest hard. The sting makes him laugh his crisp laugh. The duvet hides her breasts but not her shoulders - he likes it this way, he fancies that she is wearing a strapless dress; something she would never do outside these four walls. He lays his weight upon his elbow and watches her. His eyes tell her what his mouth will not. He is captivated.

You're looking again, she says, nearly turning away.
I've seen all of you my dear - why turn?
The idea that a man is looking so intensely, as you do, makes me blush. You speak with your eyes, smile with them. When we talk seriously, they grow dim. When we are intimate, they flash. It's all your eyes, and they can say so much, yet say nothing at all.

With a single stroke, he pinches the fire from the candle. His eyes flash. Now look what you've done…

The room darkens.



Monday, 17 June 2013

Poetry 13/06/2013

Bird, what bade you to the land the carrion lives?
where the fire erupts and licks thy wings?
Take your seedlings away for greener pasture
Here, they've felled Good and God's banner

Shan

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A Condition.

How did we go from the naked child, to the naked man? I heard my father once muse. One happy and oblivious, the other aware and miserable. Beside me, a woman was naked, and I was not happy. I thought if I could take a portrait of E, she would be naked, if I could paint her, she would be naked too - it is how I saw her. There is no perversion here for I am not instantly excited at the sight of her nudity but rather, like a man of analysis, drawn by the prolonged view of it. A view that does not age - it remains like good art suspended on a grand wall, not to be forgotten, but instead, to be gazed upon, and to be discovered within: beauty - again and again - as a scientist would in the vastness of the night sky the existence of new stars. It was a numerous and arduous task, and that did not require the nuisance of clothing.

Within her flesh I sought her heart, within her heart, I sought her love, within her love, I sought - like an innocent child in need of tending - me. In her every molecule, I found the atom that was I - two separate entities bonded to make a whole. But she would not know this until long had passed and the memory of her had begun to fade in me. A man of love seeks what a man of science hunts. They are kindred souls in their quest; like voyagers, setting out to seek new lands in an old world. That is what I sought in her. Do you know the word for it?

The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death


There are some nights I dream of a man, his hands in his pockets, peering into the night sky before the shores of a calm ocean. And there, with a tired smile upon his face, like one who is set with a laborious but welcomed task, seeks new stars as they litter the horizon. He must be a man of science, the narrator of my dream tends to suggest, but I half believe that the man is I, and the sky, her. A man full of love seeks in his beloved what a man full of science hunts in the stars.

Life.

Friday, 7 June 2013

In the Garden of Gethsemane.

I play the eleventh tape and the music instantly fills my study like the smoke from a fire that fills a burning building. I recognise the song and it is already halfway through. I know this part, I held my wife's hand tighter to this in a dance - I cannot remember where.
Entraînés par la foule qui s'élance
Et qui danse
Une folle farandole
Nos deux mains restent soudées
He is speaking to someone again, but who is this? He speaks as she sings. We hear the both of them as though they are talking about the same thing in different tongues. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he says, there was a man who was kissed. Do you know him? Giotto painted this scene with clubs and fire. I was not clubbed, but set on fire. When I woke up that morning after a troubled sleep, I found her crouched at the end of the room like a wounded animal. She was in distress and confusion. I wanted to console her, but she kissed me like Judas and my flesh burnt where her lips had lingered. The spirit is willing enough that good man said, but the flesh is weak. Hers was the weakest.
Emportés par la foule qui nous traîne
Nous entraîne
Nous éloigne l'un de l'autre
Je lutte et je me débats
Mais le son de ma voix
S'étouffe dans les rires des autres
Et je crie de douleur, de fureur et de rage
Et je pleure...
There was a part of me that was saddened by the sight of her pain, and another, satisfied by it. Betrayal is a state of paradox. It does not turn love into hate; it does not in a hot flash or in a slow gradient, turn from white to black. Hate is spawned from love, and like an illegitimate child ashamed of its own birth, battles with its parent. It splits the being into two, carrying both black and white, joy and grief, both warring upon each other until one is victorious and the other is dead. 
Et je crispe mes poings, maudissant la foule qui me vole
L'homme qu'elle m'avait donné
Et que je n'ai jamais retrouvé...
But for those few unfortunate souls whose hate runs as deep as their love, there is neither defeat nor victory, neither the calm and shame of surrender or the din and celebration of triumph but like the winds of a tornado formed of two opposing forces, only destruction.

He stops speaking. I hear the faint static of the recording and I hear him breathing. The tape ends.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Lepidoptera.

Carl Linnaeus in 1758 called them collectively as Lepidoptera in his Systema Naturae.

A flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, distinguished from moths by their diurnal activity and generally brighter colouring

When I was a child and did not know better, I tried many times to catch one with my bare hands. Once, I succeeded and never wanted to do so again. I remember it now, it was a Graphium agamemnon which came under the Equites Achivi, the group Linnaeus named after the Greek army in the Trojan War. I felt the gentle flaps of his wings within the cusp of my hands; at first rapid and frantic, then slow and fatigued, like a heart on the verge of giving away. The butterfly faded; it was too gentle a creature between the grasp of too ignorant of a beast. Too large a beauty in too small a cage. When I opened my hands I was horror stricken. The dust that God had lain tenderly upon his wings to form the wonderment that is a butterfly was now smudged recklessly on my palms. What made it beautiful killed it, and in trying to catch beauty, I only caught death.

It is the same with love.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Histories.

She lived in a time where the past was a weight to be forgotten and the future an idea too small to be considered. He lived in a world where the past, in all its intricacies, did not remain merely behind him but around, like a mist that he would pluck from and build into new shapes that he hoped sailed onward. The Kings of the East gave gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. She only saw the frankincense, he only saw the myrrh - neither, the gold. A golden age was not written for them.

When people harvest myrrh, they wound the trees repeatedly to bleed them of the gum.

That which is prized comes from the blood of thorns. We made love once under a coat of myrrh floating about us and she said I did not understand her. Which anecdote from her past did I fail to notice that I misjudged her so erroneously? We are all histories written in a separate tongue against the ones written of us.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Poetry 10/03/2013

Like a winged thing robbed of its function -
Lay me at a bower,
Where the weary oft sleep -
You need not worry,
It'll be like rest, someone once said -
from a listless hour.

Shan

Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Wick.

She was always hesitant of blowing off the candle; the smoke that came thereafter had a smell that she did not like. But she liked candles so it was inevitable. When he was still in her life, he was relegated to this duty.

There was something comforting in the scent of the smoke; in the dying of the flame; in the brief hot glow of the burnt wick. As she went to bed that night turning off their bedside lamp, he caught the red glow in his sight. He saw the red wick, now without the weight of the flame, slowly go out. In the dark the redness was brilliant and he wondered: how many of us are wicks to other people's flames.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Verona.

I woke up in the morning, tired from a long night - went down and gave her a bath. She didn't resist, she seldom resisted me. She once had the power to break a man's arm like a twig. Now I could feel every bone in her body as the lather built up.

I gave her some good food - until her last second she still had a voracious appetite. But I had to leash her, because I had to do something almost bad. I dug her grave while she was alive. I didn't want anyone else doing it, or laying her to rest anywhere else. This is her home, here is where I brought her when she was no more than the length of my forearm, and here is where she ought to sleep.

I think, I poured my frustration into the ground, as I took out the earth from which she is now a part of. It didn't feel right, but it was getting dark - and letting her go cold as I prepared her grave would be worse. I chose this instead.

The man came, and with him a large vial. Two jabs of phenobarbitone was administered directly into her heart. She still stood obediently, because I was there. But within seconds she collapsed, and convulsed briefly. I held her. My mother asked me to return to the house - she thinks of me as a little child still - but I stayed on, and watched her slowly give away. It wasn't long - a mere minute at most. But I know it was the most excruciating minute of her life. She took her last, deep, dying breaths. Four, I think. And I closed her eyes.

I couldn't cry, nor even shed a tear - but merely watched on while caressing her into her last sleep. A man named Joseph von Mering found this substance, and he found that, it worked best when putting dogs to sleep. He named the drug Veronal, after, what he believed was the most peaceful city he knew: Verona of Italy.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

A Portrait of a Coffee House.

A woman of music to my side, I don’t know what she is working on. I see musical notes on the book she is reading. I wonder, can she play the piano beautifully? I’ve always wanted to be sat by a musician and be mesmerised. It is difficult to impress me, and I have never felt it. There is a beautiful woman on my other side - she works on a chemistry book. She looks too beautiful and elegant to linger on such an elementary book - but what do I know of such things? Her eyes are round and full, with thick lining on their perimeter - she’s thin and slender and walks with a certain awkward authority. She’s in black.

A gentleman in a suit is scribbling on a piece of paper - he seems to be carrying a school bag. I’ve seen many suit-wearers do so - perhaps it is cost effective? But their suits always seem so expensive. His coffee is left untouched at the edge of his table. My coffee is left untouched at the edge of mine.

A family sits at the far end of the place on what seems like a leather sofa. I am confused of what their relationship is with this coffee house. A daughter, or at least I believe she is, is walking about helping with the dishes on the table. The waiters doesn't seem to mind - is she a waiter too, but in plain clothing? I don’t know.

I can’t give you anything but love, says Billie Holiday into my ears. What do you do when someone does not care? Like that man, staring into his laptop, looking at a blank page. Perhaps he is a writer? A writer as I? My eyes do not know the difference. I can’t give you anything but love, Billie Holiday sings.

Do you think that elderly lady, sipping her mocha alone, is wondering the same thing? She wipes her mouth, taking her last sip. It’s so easy to clean the dirtiness outside our body. If we were inverted, like ripped cushions, inside out, with our innards spilling forth - like burst cotton pods - most of us would seem disgusting. So would I. My cotton would be dirty - black, so would most people’s here. Their cotton would be dirty - black. But they all look so clean now - I didn’t bother to shower this morning. She always showered - she remained dirty.

Did you ever see a dream romancing? Well I do. Gene Austin. But my dream does not, I am here alone. There are two men, beside the now, gone, family - they seemed to be deep in their work. Two women in their fifties are leaving. One kept eyeing me - whatever for? Perhaps she was curious, as I am curious of many things. The gentleman in the suit is leaving, with his grey schoolbag. Does he know he looks a little silly? Does he even care? It is easy when you don’t care, like she never does.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Poetry 07/03/2013

This poem has been taken down, for a short while.