Was I locked out, or leaned away on axis? Or just pigeoned-in from poisons of planet sleep? Saved from our splintered world’s spewing, spouting, chewing, choking, as it turned— its pivot and purpose, now lost?
Or, was I sidelined and locked in, made hermit in a cave without locks? Yogic, in a doorless room, on one leg — not yet my last, I learned to walk limping inwards with a pen
A year on, I look back at what I wrote on quiet slate, my tale, with chalk on auto-pilot from my start. I woke my parents from their sleep, as they’d woken me
Others too: great and grand, and great-grand from books they’d left, with pages blank I had long planned to read but only others’ tales appealed to me
I told my story slim from the start, I wrote many a tale backwards, or from the midriff now enlarged pasted—with tales of food and love and friends
I didn’t miss the world, or roads That lead nowhere indeed
Streams of ancestors who’d painted more red to my own coloured blood Tales of one travelling far— for beyond the seven seas, to write a book three hundred forty pages long
And one who was the Sessions Judge the first that British India had Another, who left home angered because his father had refused a ‘lower caste’ to lower his pot into his highbrow well
Unmasked, as I wrote, I watched the people lost and lonely, in their own breathless ball, descend the ballroom stairs to their streets no trumpets to sound their masked entrées, no eyes for dancers searching mates
With kisses pasted dry on their own lips loners leaned on hedges as they walked Gardens were graveyards, as graveyards un-visited turned dry bouquets to flowers again Strange eyes stared from the skies, and threw more dice
I walked ungagged at masked balls with volleys of arrows from pale, sugar eyes hearts that beat at half the drum Uphill, I heaved my chest of oxygen open to the sky not capped and rationed and I shared it out
The suicidal killed themselves with fears The heavens laughed as hell at their newfound terror game Snakes without ladders, kidneys without bladders! The time to laugh was time to cry again
I learned to smell my neighbours from their walk, Laugh when they noticed the colour of my eyes They used to stop only at my nose— descended in a straight forehead line, but now they look the ripples in the face, not the stone
The skies throw dice again and laugh ‘Ah! The kingpin’s dead—and now his dame’ Then stretchers carry off the unsuspecting and vain Spinning minds now stand their bodies on a still For those above, it’s only just a game
Marching down the months, the festive tailend arrives December’s burnt tail embers on Many humans glow like stars and skies Ecologists celebrate planet globe and its plight On a game of graphs, doctors flatten curves
Economists in gyms, force graph lines to rise As Malthus watches bar charts from the skies!
From March to March, endemic as the plague I weigh out this timespan in justice’s scales Covid losers seem long lost again Still on roads less-travelled by, but winners too now walk less-trodden paths—as luxury
Will humans ever see the pain in other’s eyes? Will darkglasses ever smash their bourgeois price? Shall we bury binoculars and kiss our toes? Shall we ever learn who pays the price? Will this pandemic make a museum of hollow casts?
Do we ever learn from fossils? Or, do we drink on till the drought is nigh?
Regaled, the Martians enter spaceships, return Their masked ball over, they soar. Apocalypse now, Apocalypse again Our dumb charades now plays on and on and on.