Blesok no. 53, March-April, 2007

Write a Poem like Pouring Tea

Usha Akkela

Piano Keys

She insists on 'mummy,' or 'mommy,' or 'mom.'
I wince and claim 'amma' - this word - chord
of lineage - this word - river running into sea.

We spar daily in this hierarchy of sounds, language
our capers on the floor of two continents.
Rich with the sounds of her anklets, the air
shimmers with wind chimes to her every move.

'Go away,' 'I don't like you,' sounds sharp as a mouse-trap
closing on prey. I become a mountain, looming censor
of sounds to be said, not said, at three.

Also comes the daily bevy of I love yous - a sound around
which bloom entire fields of tulips in which I dance.
I anchor my entire existence for the sound of her laughter,
she grasps a joke, it skips clumsily through a white topsy-turvy.

From this her mouth - small dark cave, mysterious orifice,
the provenance elsewhere - sounds slip through, inchoate clues
to the moist clay of her self, these are the days I believe truth
may have a color the cluster of dark purple grapes, the hours
are like piano keys, and poems don't ache with loneliness.

How to write a poem

It doesn't matter even if you
are standing on your head,

Sit perfectly still within till
you become the

shiver in the breeze
the orange in the sun
till the world and you are one.

Uncover the wrappings over your soul
till you hear the voice,

Let it gurgle, drool, babble, speak,
drift up easy dissolving gravity.

Open your mouth,
Let it out as a stream,

gasping as it takes its first conscious breath,
Emboldened by its own life-surge
it will come to life.

Let go off the string, let it drift
and move on like a kite,

It will come back to you
after a while
with a new meaning.

Shatter the poem till the words
are unleashed into the void
and gathered by the hand of God.

Make and remake yourself many times,
the poem is you.

Quite simply

the house is her.
Till she came we inhabited
geometric squares and rectangles
softened at the moment of her birth,
the walls began to unfurl as petals,
we gave off a new fragrance,
the doors opened as envelopes filled with money,
the stairs were stairways,
all definitions expanded,
the house became a globe revolving around her,
the sun in our midst, never mind she was born
in the dead of winter, she was fire, she was the hearth,
she the prophet whose teachings I learnt through
my expanding heart; there is no dark side to this,
no irony, no appeasing the cynicism of this century,

mine is the way of seeing blessings on earth.

To leave this house is to leave her history,
as time delivers us first from heaven,
then from the body of our mothers,
then from the body of our country,
then from the body of earth,


Tea for two

Write as I do,
a poem like
pouring tea.

Quietly simmer,
let our knowing
remain encased.

Flavor lightly
with the warm blush
of our meeting,
let it not turn bitter.

Pour me the poem,
I will hold it in my palms,
Warmed by it
I will see the world
through its vapor.

I will not let the tea go cold
even if I drink slightly
afraid the poem
might scald my lips,

Drinking as the page drinks
the poem, the tea
leaving its stain.

Reading a flower

There has to be
an iron skeleton of faith
behind such readiness
for softness,
delicate calm,
willingness to be ravaged,
exhalation of color
to the immensity of air,
to bloom, be plucked.


All the times you remembered you had forgotten something,
(a pencil, a book, door keys, license, train tables, your watch;
the inexhaustible things of activity)
was a trick, a tug to remember the big things -

my heart, my name, your soul, our destiny, our story;
a patchwork of remembering and forgetting,
a black void of agony sequined with stars.
What is remembered glitters,
hemmed with my calling, stitched with Love,
Even the moon smiles from time to time in recollection of us.

Our story doesn't forget you,
You love all your romances under this canopy.

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