Portrait of the poet as young woman
Freshly harvested dreadlocks
Unedited gospel of love
Off limits to combs.
Tresses like streams
Of eternal fire
From the arsenal of her body.
Poems conceived in a celestial tongue
When stars align with caesarean precision.
It is our own language.
Are neither left nor right aligned.
Time zones hinge at every line break
Like sunflowers UN-aligned to the scorching heat.
Every evening on her terrace
She lets her hair down and flies kite.
Her verses tell vivid stories
Stitched together in myriad colors.
Her verses gurgle like rivers let loose.
She never braids them
With her bare hands
Before a poetry reading.
When her poems are read
No boyfriend or pimp is allowed
Inside the reading hall.
Her kite, untethered to her surname,
Soars high till it gets entangled with the stars.
Attempting to translate her poems
Is like making love to a capricious mistress.
Untamed by the clanging of her anklets,
Her curly kinky stream of verses
Sways to the rhythm of her gait.
Her book of poems –
a treatise on ‘dishevelled hair’
and tresses on fire.
Caste in a Local Train
Caste in a local train can be deceptive
like the soul of a Pakistani fast bowler
camouflaged in a three piece suit
and an Anglicized accent.
I feel him start his charge
If my surname is too long,
I could be caught behind.
Will I be trapped leg-before-wicket
if I attempt a bloodline crossover?
I try to hide behind
stripes of concocted ancestry
pushed along by fresh water currents.
Can I switch over to
my mother’s surname
using the active/passive voice
in the midst of a harangue?
I sit back,
hope I do not lose my nerve
at the bouncers of abrasive queries.
I try to find myself a place
in his skull beyond his caste mark,
between his eyebrows:
trying to find my way around
an ever changing map!
He tries assessing me with an inswinger:
“What is your full name?”
Then he tries an outswinger that seams a lot:
“And what is your father’s name?”
By this time, he loses his patience
And tries a direct Yorker –
“What is your caste?”