War.

The kings are now gone,
And the bugle blowers unemployed.
Decades of rust has gathered on bloodied swords,
They are now rendered useless.
Canon balls in a corner like ostrich egg fossil,
Immobile. Ineffective.
The bloodshed is now remembered in catalogues.

You are relieved, because the wars have happened in the past.
Branded horses no longer tread city roads,
Drinking water at their enemy’s courtyard.
The corpses have long decomposed.
The world is at peace and
The land stands divided.

You are relieved. It has all happened in the past.
But you fail to see reality.

Blood spurts out- cynical ink flowing with unfazed fury.
Peace and pacts and feats and facts.
The wars still happen everyday-
And the bloodshed is easily soaked up with blotting paper,
So you don’t see.

Branded horses no longer tread the city roads,
Because they have been replaced by aerial supervision.
The skies are full of twinkling satellites,
And seeds of destruction breed beneath the land.
Eternal conspiracy circles inside glass doors and rises up the chimney.

And you,
You feel safe believing the world is at peace.

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Tinted Glass

She lingered around the windows,

In the empty house full of maids and cooks and a butler.

The husband went on business trips, he laughed at her habit-

“If only you knew what there is beyond your silly window-world.”

But he went on alone, she would be too tired from travelling so much.

She lingered near the windows, draped in rich sarees, the ends pulled down her head

That covered an arm’s length effectively.

Moved from one glass case to the other with dainty grace taught by generations of good housewives.

But her decisive fingers pulled down the wooden blinds every time a rebellious sound broke the midday silence.

Eager eyes scanned side to side, peering through layers

Of cloth, of wood, of glass.

At figures interrupted by blinds and a printed veil,

A few inches of thick glass.

Music floated in the air, drifted away,

And the void was filled with more.

Eager eyes peered relentlessly through layers at every sound, at constant music emanating from a distant gramophone.

But her husband decorated her windows- his sweet gesture of love,

Thick white glasses were replaced with carved tinted ones, dark red and emerald.

He laughed with contentment, “You shall see a more colourful world from now.”

She still stood by her windows in her empty house,

Pulled down the blinds sharp at every sound,

And peered through prints, wood and coloured glass,

At shapes and sizes interrupted by layers one too many

She tried hard to make sense of her colourful world.

Prompt by Daily Post: Constant

Here and Now

The smoke is always floating precariously in the air,
Threatening to fall face down on the earth, bringing down a few storeys with it.
The glass doors are more wary of the ugly soot.
They are cleaned twice everyday,
By men, cloth in hand, moving their arms in a robotic up-down-up.
But they are not robots, yet.
The glass doors are a big fraternity, and one leads to another.
They sell attractive work-life-soul packages at discounted rates.
The smoke looms large above each, slowly moving from one place to another.
Glass mannequins wonder how fast they can escape with their long, sword-like heels.
Anxiously adjusting sparkling big stones around their necks, whispering to each other, “Will the smoke dull this shine?”
Plastic forests with their lush enthusiasm fail to assure of environmental regeneration.
They bow their plastic heads in shame, their great grandmothers could draw up water from the earth.
Men run around excitedly, they’re not afraid of anything.
Maybe they need a gun, or a tight lasso, and they’ll take down that arrogant black cloud in no time.
Maybe they need a pair of robot hands- easy.
The great cloud smirks as thinner layers curl up from long pipelines every day.

Via Daily Post: Forest

Less bright red flowers

I feel a damp against my wiry body,

Spiralling against my non- spine, my fire-red flowers untouched,

Dirty green moss the colour of her saree on the wall.

I look again at her wiry body, a peek of ribs and white skin from the side.

I look down today at the less bright flowers from yesterday.

A bend from the waist, bony hands pick flowers

From the ground for oily hair snaking down a thin back.

Her passionate love for my flowers, though dead and smell-less

Lying on the ground. She cannot reach the ones sticking loosely to the wiry green body against moss covered bricks.

I long for her bony hands to pluck the bright wonders off my skin, drop them into fair palms cupped together.

She moves into the kitchen for the day, my flowers adorn a long oily trail, held together with a knot. I can only hear bangles clinking, a mechanical melody accompanying a mechanised grinding of coconut.

They will soon smell of coconut and turmeric, smell-less flowers from yesterday.

She throws them before her husband returns, our dried little secret. Fresh sandalwood paste on a broad forehead.

She always returns the following day. A moment alone, a treasure island of less-bright flowers strewn around.

A damp from the moss green wall against mine. I feel a damp against both our bodies. And I do not long for her glass bangles.

Captive Speech

I paid a few thousands for my new pair today,
A fine new pair of scales,
A polished silver beam delicately embellished with an artist’s mind.
No, I’m no vendor, the pen is what I employ.
The scales are for me to carefully measure out my words,
Because the blotting paper can only soak up the periphery.
But a pair of polished silver scales? Oh they can do much more!
Keep me from accidentally spilling out words that you abhor.
I cannot deny that I am full of cowardice,
Unable to exist in the underground. I crawl back up with my puny spirit,
A perfidious poet, forcefully shutting my ears to the cries of revolution.
A half hearted agreement to my half hearted mind, “I need to stay safe”.
Within your ornamented walls of facade, I’ve agreed to perform.
Now I’m supposed to speak through your thick veil of rules,
My voice muffled…you’d hardly hear it over the censors.
So I don’t mind paying a a large price for my new silver scales.
If I am banned from speaking my mind,
I’d rather do it aesthetically.

Via Daily Prompts: Price and
Cowardice

Sound

I sit before a heap of paper, my fingers smell of cheap ink,
Filing entries overtime. The damp walls stare at me, blankly.
This is what I do every day. In return for a few extra notes, carefully counted again and again,
Before they hand them over to me.
My only companion every night, an old metal fan clanking round and round.
White lights unnecessarily
Hang from the ceiling, shrill brightness echo in empty corridors.
I sit every day amidst the yellowed smell of papers,
And a tireless noise of three metal blades, until the pen slips several times
From drowsy fingers.
Then dragging my weary shoes through silent streets, I take the last local home and walk down a soundless platform.
Silently unlock the door, my eyes don’t need to adjust to the darkness anymore.
Five steps to the right and a small left turn towards the kitchen,
My food is always placed on the kitchen table, covered, pickle on the side.
I think of the old clanking fan, his sound the only sound in my soundless nights.
Keep me company for a short while, unfailingly every day.
I feel happy with arrangement, but not because there are no options to choose from.
I am grateful to those metal blades.

There still aren’t any options,
I sit alone every day, amid the same smell of paper and damp walls.
Only,
In the absence of the clank.
They’ve replaced the fans with stylish new air-coolers.
The office will look modern, they said.
It’s a relief to now walk down noiseless platforms and streets,
Eat my dinner silently,
End another day in my noiseless life.
It’s a relief to get out of the noiseless cold storage.

Via Daily Post: Noise

New Medicine in Stores

The new medicine was finally in the stores.

After years of trial and error.

A limited amount for each wrapped in tiny white paper,

My neighbors knocked on my door.

A 36 boldface Arial in the morning newspaper.

They were all going to the med store.

“Come with us”, they said.

“Purchase a miracle you haven’t ever.”

All of us moved in a snakey queue,

If only I could afford some more, I thought.

And packed for a family of four.

Several broadcasts of the creators’ interview.

They sold love in bits of paper,

A few thousand rupees per unit,

The cure for everything.

After years of trial and error.

Via Daily Post: Neighbors