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Excerpt for Poetry for the Beast by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Poetry for the Beast Tehreem Ali

Poetry for the Beast

By Tehreem Ali

Copyright 2017 Tehreem Ali

Smashwords Edition


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Dedicated to Ahsan Yousaf


I always believed more in every Dracula has a Renfield than every Beauty has a Beast. But even as a child, an inherent part of me resonated it, that indeed there is a beauty for a beast out there. It resonated you, since as long as I can remember…even before my mind was mature enough to chew on Memory.

To my twin flame, to the humanest beast I have ever known.

Yet, you’re the poem I can never put into words. Here is a shot at it anyway.



































A BROKEN MAN’S HYMNAL


This image we hide behind, the covers and the spot lights.

Don’t change your beauty, their hearts need the wisp of new.

A matchstick man – your words defy the magnanimity of your pain.

Such a wasted grey soul, the colors of wisdom touch and turn black.

Hiding behind an insidious mask, this love you water every day.

When it falls, be ready to catch it

Thawing memories in your hands, I stand there and wonder

If your fingers hurt from grasping all that soulless weight.

With a blink of an eye and a tap on the shoulder,

We lose meaning quicker than a credit card.

So I shut these lights, these shattered visions you harbor;

Never knowing my why nor your how…

Your vague desires and a still dream, the chasm of a heart and its broken heartstrings –

They all dance beside your gothic shadow, the numbing of your conscious, so fearless.

Grace under pressure, I see oblivious bruises of your demeanor turned into stone;

A stone on which the tired lovers and lonely parachutes drop down to lean on.

Your time may be held hostage by a seminal fire, your will and philanthropy jaded.

Sunken in my marrow is the key to all the secrets you seek,

So daring this existence, a false alarm in my promiscuous emptiness.

Looking for purpose, how our shadows long for a wall to dance on.

None other than trust to reside in, otherwise this broken being;

Hearing you speak, they boil your words in the pit of misconception.

On and on shall you move, always to seek a land undefeated, unconquered.

Maybe you did not know the healing skin you dwell under,

But time is a fortune I am yet to steal.

With my words as light as a feather on a whale, hollow as a midsummer’s ghost,

I clasp to an ephemeral hope for the best bells to resound in your cathedrals.

How we long, longing for a valley oh so calm, where does it float?

Lift your arms and see the commotion outside your bell jar.

For it brings me back life and it sends you down consummation.

So begin the end, they tell us, spitting out bended promises,

But how can we transcend, I ask your tethered mementos lying on my veins.

Make no mistake, cut the chord, say it again – bury us alive;

Comprehend this night, not the day nor their smoldering suns of ignorance.

I don’t enjoy you kingdoms falling or our screams of youth being buried in the ground.

Break the bottle, expose the scars because we all look for something to numb it away.

The smoke may rise but the taste will linger, a broken man addicted to a fix.

Being dragged in a blind reality, make haste your frozen aspirations.

I will dig a brand new way of seeing and withholding,

And our roots will be wine to the withering tree of life.





THE BEAST I LOVE

It is only fair – we have lost interest in life and so, it has done the same with is. Life sure is lonely, with all its tinsels and morsels of stolen laughter, human noise and everything in between. But I have long since lost all interest in life.

Even in me? After all, I am alive too, you ask me with color in your voice.

And yet, not in you, I answer.

That’s because you are not life to me. Rather, you are the dark I inhale and feel alive again in. The scar I caress that gets my blood pumping rightly again. The silence I find ever-lastingly soothing. You’re a form of heaven for me…a dark one. I love you entirely, unfathomably for that. And so is the story of the beauty and the beast so befitting for the two of us.

However, I don’t necessarily feel close to being the beauty in our case. Sure, the main theme applies to me. But the beauty was…beauty. And all of beauty is fleeting, a short romance behind dark alley ways; a temporary illusion, a sort of falseness.

So what does that make you, you asked.

My love for you is anything but that. Yes, you’re a monster. The way your thoughts claw in the dark – it reeks of distress. Your fur is all your scars covering a skin that has absorbed all forms of pain known to mankind. Your doomed city hosts the bodies of a million feelings you have triumphantly slain over the years. The very air you breathe is heavy with unshed tears and the sin of self-loathing. Your heart is a mean thing that doesn’t even bother to beat. In all its nature, your existence is nothing but beastly.

I love you for all of that and beyond, in spite of that and regardless of that. I was never made for those ‘finer’ things in life anyway. They settled on my skin and slid down fast, like water on glass.

The beauty tries to humanize the beast within; tried to bring its human side out despite his efforts to remain otherwise. Even though you often say I make you feel human, know this that I shall do nothing but love you for your non-human and beastly side too.

In the ensuing silence of the universe brewing between us, you asked me why.

Because I haven’t created you. What I can do, though, is love you unconditionally as you have been created. Nothing more, nothing less.

And so the night remains, as does the Beast within you. I wouldn’t want it any other way.



























DARK VANILLA

Sometimes, the loneliness that drips off of you tastes like dark vanilla - a frost that I never knew when it settled and melted. At other times, I feel too tired to even think a morsel of thought. To be the bottom layer upon which that frost lands on...now that is heavy enough, but the effervescence must come out and for that to happen, the layer shall exist.

I might not be able to bring you completely out of that disconnect you have lost yourself into, my other half tells me. The words sound like ashes in my ears.

Another baby falls off its crib. Another lighting crash reminds me that Sexton’s words need to be written on the calendar by the wall in the kitchen. Another needle sticking out of my grandmother’s sweater shoots me off into oblivious nightmares…but in between everything and anything, this singing chorus of my here and now – you are the only constant. Still lingering by my shoulder with a loneliness that tastes like dark vanilla, I hold our fears in a fist and take a leap of faith.

The world counts the stairs for us, tells us we will perish. Little do they know that lost souls, once collided, don’t perish but only conquer meaning and existence.






























MISUNDERSTOOD




The demons jump from my lungs to my hand lines. Lest they spread my poison on your hands, I keep my hands clasped together, refraining from shaking your hands. You walk away, thinking my hand bones are crippled.







































FAITHFUL

The background is so creamy,

Melting into his charcoal forefront.

A mess of lies spitting from

His ears – they are stiffening

And slithering out by the

Sound of my voice and affirmations.

With a slight touch

Of my green, resilient beliefs,

His doubts – heavy like the drug

That had put me to numbness

All my life,

They thin down the retina

Of his consciousness and

A new child of belief

Takes its place.




























OUR GUIDING LIGHT



The order is broken; another heartache paints a velvety wish on my pale skies. Then you shoot our hand lines and they settle there as constellations. The addicts and the misfits use them as blue-prints for their castles – a world free and alive.









































MY MAGIC TRICK

I woke up with a magic stick

Stuck in my heart’s chambers.

They move and glide next

To my heartbeat –

The magic stick flickers

Amidst frequencies my

Heart is emitting rapidly.

And the spell cast is new.

The amateur magicians ask

Me how I came up with

This new ava cadavra.

I tell them the frequency

Was an echo of your name.





























WHAT TO BECOME

I gave up the lightning touch

That would have showed me

Another face of a Zeus.

It made me see you

In a shadow brighter than

The screaming suns and moons.

I gave up a well-treaded path

That would have brought me closer to

Better explosions and happier beaches –

It brought me instead on a road

That hugged the shore-lines of you.

I gave my day bags and experiences

To the surgeon; won’t you see

How he pries them open and

Projects his numb needles in them?

It threw me in a cloud of

Fresher feelings – a cloud

Hovering over your head,

Closer to your beating thoughts.

Hence all I am

Or all the God up there aspires me

To become, it is just a grain

Of tears compared to the river

I hold within me – an endless

City of strength globules and

Charcoal mysteries for

Yours to be.

My blood lines scream it.





















WHEN A HEART GASPS

A bad breathe lingered always

On the corners of all

The lies I ate and smiles you spat out.

Were we ever found?

Not even close.

Smoke rolling on the next of kin,

I lit a cigarette of change and

Drank cheap wine of the labels

Wrung on society’s ledge.

We didn’t have a heartbeat,

Not one that can be measured in

A capsule of time.

The silence with others cut in my flesh

And left blue and purple stains.

In your pores, it seeped right inside

And sucked your blood globules.

So there I became a ghost lingering free

Of time.

And you became a walking mess of empty veins.

The sweet decay followed, our hand lines

Lost to an illuminated fate.

Fear comes easy when you have lot to lose.

Bones of a dead cat on my door mat,

I picked the bottle

And laid my demons to sleep that night.

You put your heart out on the night stand

And beckoned the harbinger of Death

To lull you to sleep.

Morning came and brought with it

The halo of the sun – not the same anymore.

When a heart gasps, it is silence.

Yours gasped on the nightstand you set in on.

The silence it made, my ears

It reached in the resonance

With which life thrums in the universe;

Louder than reality.

And in this silence,

Your heart beats a new.

I turn mine into a clock

And hang it on the wall

Of my mind’s ledge.

Another heart gasps today,

But its silence is foreign

To you and I,

For our own is gorgeously deafening.

Where the cars go –

It is a doomed city of wine.

The seats don’t house any

Innocent souls; their one

And only thunder is stolen.

So where were we when

Ours was stolen just the same?

You were a crimson teardrop,

An advocate of Misery May

While I was an interpreter

Of the devastation settling around

And within me,

When you descended to the level

Of angels and demons –


SOME BROKEN STATELINES

Today my geni painted ghastly

Shadows on the sky for me.

Raindrops falling from those

Shadows were your tears.

Now I bathe under those shadows

Every day – and how liberating it feels;

How liberating, you cannot decipher.

It bites me in the marrow of

My now-so-tethered bones.

I say words from those eyes.

They sealed my lips long ago,

With their hammers of explosions

And their pin-pricks of crimson lies.

These words drip from my eyes

Just to land on your domesticated

Scarred skin. No flowers

Grow their, though.

Yet, when the world is falling

Into a deep broken stupor –

Immortality sprouts in place of

Those almost blooming flowers.

I water it every day now;

What with these broken hands.

And in these charred bones,

This watering sets my marrow free.

It is so free up here, so free

You cannot decipher…


















OUR BLOOMING DARKNESS

How capsized my soul rests

In the palm of your eye.

It flutters by each day,

Swinging in a resilient

Creamy mixture of your love and emptiness.

And understanding – how very

Capsizing, you have no idea.

The words of the Book,

And soul of the Spirit –

I left them easily behind me;

This path is foreign still.

But the hideous darkness uniting

My path with his is the only religion

I now know of and advocate.

Maybe it is all for nothing –

This heavenly connection of two

Equally deranged souls.

But what more could living dead like us

Ask for, if nothing but to walk

On a land with own of their kind?

And so we walk together,

Though with sides limping.

Those flowers on the outside

Land of the living rot away by

Our deranged stench as we pass

By them – yet the flowers

Within us inklings of the dark bloom

In full splendor all the while.


















WAITING INSIDIOUSLY

To be one and all –

For that is my anchor.

Even these sinful skies

Succeed at being one.

Yet here I stand at the

Broken barricades of our future.

It’s a silent torture

In this very loud night;

To be away and individualistic

From you – the calm to my chaos,

The sword to my seas.

I may not have it all,

Nor answers to these meticulous whys.

Hence, in this disconnect,

This wretched heart turns to

Nothing but a hungry vacuum: a magnificent

Black hole that threatens to

Kiss my organs to a deep nothingness,

Until enlightened by your chaotic grace.

Till then, way down it goes –

Now, as my organs begin to

Slip away – how deafeningly quiet it grows

Here; no one has an idea…























MY MOUNTAIN TOP




In a whirlpool of Emptiness, I was just a black, light-weight and an inky seed, stuck on the linings of a womb of Despair. The next blink of any eye I took and your bruises of a sword tore apart the womb’s skin and henceforth, I was free again.

Circling in a storm of no beginnings and no ends, I was the crushing, burning heat. Do you know what happens on such a land, a land so crushing and burning? No one can inhabit it – too grueling to be inhabited by any skin that can be scorched.

Then came you, wearing a protective shell. You stood among my flames and taking the shell off, I realized you were just as ashes and bones as me underneath the outer covering. Then you released your catapult of Darkness and it resonated so resiliently with mine. There, you grew your mountains. A blink was all it took from me till the transformation was complete.

You grew your mountains on my crushing, burning heat of a land – too grueling for any living soul.

No river can charter the heights of your mountains.

When Misery May drags me down forcefully to its yawning depths, the kind wind from mountain tops – much more forceful – pulls me back up and sits me down on those mountains.

And from there, I see all of life and shadows and everything in between pass by…safely.



























ROOT TO ROOT


One of my roots will become a writer, one might become an explorer, another one could become a composer and yet another one could be a philosopher – yet will these ever grow taller than the ivory tower of thorns standing magnificently next to them, just on the side of my shadowy temple of Self-Hatred?

Just when I am about to cut the trunk of my life tree – to save all my roots from being poisoned by them beasts – you stop me. In one hand, you hold a watering kettle.

Cutting your roots is not the way to go, you tell me as innocently as a nun kneeling in prayer. Yet I notice how you are not walking upright; an invisible burden beneath your feet tying you to the floor. What could possibly be weighing you down so breathtakingly?

Then what is, I ask you.

You do not answer. Then the darkness of the night spreads forth on our feet. My roots – and yours, too – come to a clean focus in that darkness. And I cannot help but notice how breathtakingly they are holding you down.

There I saw some of your roots. Your root who was perhaps Happiness, your root that was Hope once, another root that could have been contentment once and other roots that could have been a better life where the sun had not yet turned its back on you…but they have found common ground now and grown in unison, hence they weigh you down breathtakingly.

Now, my root that is a writer writes sonnets about you. My root that is an explorer discovers all your unchartered lands and foreign grooves. My root that is a composer orchestrates whole orchestras for you in the blind air. My root that is a philosopher philosophizes about you – all in the hopes that your roots might grow back together.
























THE RELIGION I ADVOCATE


I used to question everything

And anything above the seas.

Not the color of stars,

But why they looked at

Them stars and felt colorful.

I used to listen to prayers,

Doubting the purity of their souls.

So now my faith has left me;

Yet I don’t mind, for I have

Made the truth buried in my veins

As my sole religion;

And your existence, my altar.

Does God laugh at me from

Up there? I cannot tell anymore.

For I am His foreign traveller

Who fell in step with another

Of the same kind.

Both of us journey on

His equally foreign path.

So I used to question wrongly,

Like how church kids

Feel bliss kissing their untethered lips.

Now I don’t question just as much,

For I have found my

Answers in the face of a

Chaotically beating heart and beautifully

Deranged mind – that is where

I shall plant my prayers.

















AMNESIA



They gave me needles

Of a diverse beauty;

To spill my blood as

Their elixir to see Truth.

When I could walk no more,

They chewed out my marrow

From these young bones

Just to settle their throne.

At the crack of dawn,

There was only the redness

Of my negligence and the

Acidity of their lies in my throat.

I saw myself wake up from

One grave of my life –

Just to fall into another;

A fallacy I mistook for

The bluest, safest haven.

But then I treaded one step

Oh so slightly, I brought

Myself to walk no more.

For the Memory weight held me down.

There I received a shot of amnesia;

Few drops of your love,

That made me forget about past tortures

And become a ladder

Imbued with walking again.


















APATHY IN THEIR BONES



He was a thirsty, dried-up blood cell whirling in a cesspool of lies.

Which lies? They asked.

The lies of this life, what else.

On the other hand, she was a flower in bloom… but her thorns protruded too deeply that grunge radiance of hers. when they came together, their shadows mingled and flew like apathy in their bones. The deranged painters and poets of the fall – ten thousand years after – look upon these dancing bones. Bones that crack beneath their bland canvases and beneath their empty words, saying goodbye to negligence. For you see, their apathy brought the real painters and poets out of their graves; for the two of them lived and loves as art and poetry – a lifestyle springing forth through their apathy.

So now the apathy had made its way into the bones of all the other sleeping painters and poets too.





























THE BEST OF ME



There will be days when, even though you would have pulled the velvety sky down over your head, it will be grey when you wake. There will be days when you spill your coffee down the drain and recoil from your own reflection in the silver of the sink. There will be moments when the hair on your skin will rise from the memories colliding with your conscience. There will be glimpses of a dead world thrashing upon each other behind your eyelids even as you gape at my paintings hung on our walls – ones I painted from the hews of my tears and smiles. There will be songs of disarray playing on your cerebral cortex at the same time I sing to you. There will be burnt out pages on your mind’s bookshelf next to my poetry about you. There will be spoons of complications in your throat when I need to hear the soothing echo of your voice the most. There will be days when your bones tremble while the marrow within them screams at the mere touch of my finger. There will be days when your blackness will suffocate you and send me in a coma of self-loathing. There will be molecules softer than nirvana breeching the walls of your fortress.

Yet, you will always have the best of me; for the darkness of the night sky does not know what else to be lest it lights up and the stars – already alight in a fire of their own – fall to their deaths with shame.























BIGGER, BRITHER, WIDER THAN SNOW



Coming to life again,

These blood lines wring themselves

Over the name of the one true cure –

Which is ever green.

The rain drops collide on my soul's tears

Washing away the pain of the past.

These holes in my hand-lines fill with

A crystal clear fluid.

It contains a reflection

Of love's face on its top surface.

We all carry the hurt once

But rare do we live twice;

So have I.

These words are a lullaby

To my sentinel who showed me

How to be bigger, brighter, wider than snow

And louder than love, life itself.























HORSES DANCING ON THE MOON


You were laughing all alone. My side was decapitated, all torn and cut haphazardly from the puzzle pieces of lies you left me with. Stranded on this wrong side, the world feels uptight. The misery May lands and rushes our jelly souls into a bed-shaped altar, in a faraway land of the lost. The clouds above sing death choruses and bad dream hymnals of the friends you lost and the battles I marched into with limbs broken.

I am a man born to hate, you write on my charcoal walls, atop my tower of self-denial.

The moon bears testament to his efforts, the ones that drained his soul dry. And yet there I stood, catching as many drops of his soul from down my hiding spot as I could; for there is always someone to catch drops of our soul we discard so carelessly. The ashes are not always snuffed away, phoenix or no phoenix later on.

Disconnected wings of old angels make up the foam in my sea – a sea I try to drown in just to purify the dark spots and hasty scars covering my insides. The waves are always too shallow, the shores littered with pirates of doubt and self-loathing. Where one ship sinks, another rises up. I look in between the water lines for a meaning, a way to grasp. But the shadow of the moon dissolved in between those water lines makes me cringe and look away. And then there on the sand, more shadows dance on the sand grains…giant shadows of giant horses dancing atop that moon. When I run after them in the hopes of catching at least one horse, the tide shifts, the moon hides behind a dust of clouds and the sea sinks all the pirates in it. Maybe the whole world shifted out there. A new dawn might or might not come tomorrow, blinding at its best. The departed loss haunts in its multitude of forms – figures beheaded and limping – and the soldiers of religion, science and hope try to piece them back together. Like my futile attempts to chase dancing horses on the moon, their efforts sink in their own version of a sea of loss; among their own sand grains they dissolve.

Pity smirks their masked faces and the wind of change wipes it away like cream from the last funeral he attended. But he does not mourn for them; he is one of the horses dancing atop the moon, disguised as a safe haven, whom I could not catch.



















MIDNIGHT RIVER IN DAYLIGHT


The drops of the cold, ephemeral midnight river glided on the edge of your hands as I sat beside you, listening to you tell tales from your past – that first heartbreak; the sip of ice tea you took in fever when the kids rode their bikes outside; the first letter you inscribed on the tree in your mother’s back porch and how it made her smile; accounts of details flashing before your blood-shot eyes.

As passing seconds were sticking to your sweaty skin like honey, I watched in a hazy longing desire as those details fell from your eyes and I wished to catch them, wrap them around with lessons I had learnt. And yet all that falls looks free, forever the less wholesome when it finally hits the ground, much like snow.

‘I was a bird in another lifetime. And a slight feather perched on your shoulder before that. Did you never notice me, or feel what and who I was?’ The pause too long, you had a weight in your question I could never lift. Perhaps I did not think I could, I could never be sure. Surety comes with faith…a coin I lost in the valley of my eternal emptiness.

‘A bird or a dead heartbeat, it doesn’t matter. You will fade away into the summer too, like the desert winds and sand grains I got lost in.’

‘Maybe I can be that desert breeze for you to dissolve into…’ the more in your tone, a more of everything, keeps me satiated with a hunger to plead for forgiveness – forgiveness from my lack of judgment in times you suffered. I always took you for a misery dressed up for show.

‘Breezes are too soft a tool to rip apart these transient wounds off of both our souls, yours and mine. These walking people stare at us when we disclose a little of ourselves. They view them pretty lights in our eyes as the ones lighting up the carnivals up in our minds. Little do they know those lights are all the candles we left burning in the funeral of life, after that life died within us.’

You drape yourself in the armor of the night’s deafening silence and say, ‘Whether you know it or not, all of us sing through those breezes. All you have to do is make an orchestra to listen to your voice. Every once in a while, you compose a heart-rendering melody in which you open up about your ghosts of past, the thorns of your present and intrigues of what is yet to be written down in your life’s book. And you sing it all away with your vocal chords giving off frequencies of pain you endures with their every single vibration. You pick up the pieces, choose to open up more and let them destroy you inside out.’

‘But what if the orchestra is too deaf to hear all that, or worse…what if it is too naïve to pick up on those frequencies?’ I ask you with a mixture of blue skies and shredded clouds in my throat.

Holding the goblet of honesty in your hands, you reply, ‘Oh, the orchestra is always there. Sitting behind clouds of misconception erected by the clashes between society and logic. It sits there like dead sentinels and your job is to wake them all up from that slumber. Then there is no way they will not listen. After all, the firefly still looks for a guiding path home once it brightens up.’

I tell you the orchestra I hold in my grasp is too far gone. And I remember the corners of my reality and everything I had believed in growing up stiffening as you tell me that in that case, we have to build an orchestra inside ourselves. That we have to learn to open up to ourselves first and foremost…otherwise an infinite melody will die a captured art within us, without any spectators marching up to it. That was the day you set an image for me – one I inhale on every passing moment. An image you showed me of how the river stains the sun and makes the daylight creatures listen to its passing waves. There are untold, hushed stories sailing up and down on all those waves, you tell me. And the sun and the daylight creatures are their orchestra…young and blinded.

















































NON-LABELABLE


They think they know the color and shade of your mind. They would have to drink a bit of your gloom and insecurities, wear your self-hatred like a warm skin above their own. Maybe then, their own skin pores will germinate seeds of love for you, like mine did.

I know I do not own you, nor control you. But your mere existence is solace enough to me, on my dark days and on my delirious joys. We are not one person, you and I. I have always known the essence of your soul, even if it seems like charcoal smithereens in your mind’s eye. We have always been two halves, drifting through our soulless existence. But then a new sun set in, and our ways collided like atoms yet initiated to take the same wave. We henceforth became one person – two halves joined together, where before gaping holes stuck our sorely from our side.

You see that emptiness – those gaping holes – was enough room for others to lay thorns in. That is why getting close to another soul was never in the cards for us.


































THE HANGING MAN AND THE SINKING SHIP


You see how this night is waning? So do I. They are bringing on the heartbreak and he just sits there, in this bar, with his black combat shoes and whiskey smelling jacket hung behind his chair, sipping the wine of that pain. I tell him the bar is closing, that we need to leave. But his body just sits there as his soul reminisces in a jaded state, stiff as the last memory of a wrong lover I try in vain to forget. Our nerves – both his and mine – are dangling in the high of the wine, the wine of heartache and emptiness. Yet we choose to sit there idly in the bar; hoping to find a new place to begin, to begin again. Who shall say where my life ends and his starts? Can you tell us? Will there be road signs on our way back to guide us? And do guide us, oh you sad and solemn morning light beating down on my window pane and burning the vampires of my grave to ashes and dust…

He sips from his wine glass of heartache. I take a sip from my glass of emptiness and down we both drain the innocence, each gulp a thud against our hearts growing numb to the outside world. A world goes by us, yes. But who are we, as unconscious dreamers, to hear it passing by?

Looking at his hands, he tells me how he thinks he is not good enough…was never good enough.

‘How do you know that if you have never even given her the chance to let you prove your worth?’ I ask him as I take a quick gulp of my wine of emptiness.

‘You cannot prove any worth whatsoever to the blind, now can you?’ he asks me in answer to my question.

So I see her face in his almost teary eyes. A face that hides the look of longing – a longing to be told how much she meant to him. His silence, her ego, their distance.

‘There is nothing crueler this universe does than allowing two people to be an almost, nothing more or less,’ I smoke my words out as the nicotine drops final settle in the pits of my lungs. His lungs are too big a tree to shelter any fix, so he has resorted to drinking the wine of heartache.

‘I want to feel, I want to try, to lose myself in the process…’ he stops, his neck muscles growing more stiff, as if internally clenching against a grating pain.

‘But what?’ I ask him.

‘But I am afraid. Afraid that if I do manage to fall that deep in love, what if she will not be there? I am ready to fall, but is she ready to catch me, all in the depraved name of love?’ I feel the ache in his voice like pinpricks against my bruised skin. We are both scared, just different in how black and blue our scars are. He is the hanging man. I am the sunken ship – the end is far, the battle intense.

‘She is in my head and she is killing me. And there is only so much I can do to stop it. Being human is a curse.’ The weight of his words hangs in the air, shimmering below the faded light bulb of the bar, which is now sick and tired of our lingering presence there. The night wares on outside.

‘So you think you should be a monster instead?’ I ask him, holding to a sense of respect none the same.

He brings his glass – his wine of heartache – up to his lips, and biting down what must be the heaviest impact of unrequited love, he slightly says, ‘I already am a monster, can’t you see? A monster disguised as a human. And what are humans if not monsters after all.’

The snow comes falling down on my heart; the sun thaws a frozen hope in my bickering mind and in that euphoria, I picture it all, all at once – the sound of his voice as it echoes in my ears, calling me back towards the surface of the water; the baby’s cries as my own veins cried in pain at the touch of the blade so shiny; the smell of burnt ashes as I set the painting on fire right after he went against the four letter word; the heat of his ignorance as it came smoldering down on my black and blue skin; the promises she made to him in childhood then left to rot in a prison of forgetfulness; my mother’s words as she told me how far I have gone that no one can find me; bells tolling in the back as I stood before the grave wishing I could switch places; the heres and theres of his tears that fall before me with the ticking of time; the lingering touch of a sinner when he had stopped me dead in my tracks when I was eleven and did not know what pain meant; the broken lights flashing before my eyes the night I tried to leave; all the goodbyes he said to me felt at the same time; friends and past lovers gone wrong standing in the corner of the room and staring at us bleary eyed; the food that seemed to talk back when every bit tasted like poison; words from Plath’s book dancing and shooting arrows in my eyes the longer I lingered on the pages; the rain and the smoke and the blood and the cuts and the hazy smiles and the naked flowers – nothing stops, and the pictures flash before my eyes faster than my heartbeat or my wasted breathe.

I wait for you now. He waits for numbness. This is our last goodbye – how do you hear it? He hears it like his friends calling in the back as he runs to grab the taxi, to follow her down her wedding hall. I hear it like bubbles spurting from my mouth when I gave up on my life. She enters the hall and the door closes: he is left outside. I take fifteen sharp gulps inside me, only to be pulled back again. The major lift came when we were too indecisive on whether to love or live.

‘Why do we hurt as much when there is nothing that can be done, when we know we cannot stop the record of life – no matter how broken – from playing its final notes’…he comes back and directs this question to me as if I hold a crystal ball in my hand.

‘Because we all fall in love sometimes,’ I mumble, voice heavy and slowed down by regret.

‘Well,’ he sobers up to me and says, ‘it is a hallelujah which is starting to sound more deathly to me than a banshee’s scream.’

‘Close your heart and do not listen,’ I suggest mindlessly.

‘It is too late for me. I just came back from the ocean.’

I ask him, ‘But I thought you went to see her one last time before her wedding, didn’t you?’

He gives me a smile weighing a thousand rains and says peacefully, ‘I did. And after that, I went straight to the ocean. I have buried my heart in that iron sea. Nothing to hear and hence feel anymore with.’

He grabs his coat from the chair and waits for me to get up too. And as I do, placing a friendly yet black and blue hand nonetheless on his tired shoulders, I wish in a heart that seldom prays now but just for him, to let that ocean’s waves carry his love to her. So that one day, when she finds herself lost at sea or stuck on the island of love, his heart can guide her back.

Broken down and hungry for life, he is a hanging man trying to lift himself up. And I am a sunken ship trying to rise to the surface. And as long as that sun shines, we are trying.










PEACE TO MY CANCEROUS LUNGS


The halo of a shadow of a smile spread across my bones, as the setting sun found another footing in the world around. The halo spread in my bones soaked in the porous cytoplasm of my sharp red blood cells, echoed within the sound of a heavy past lingering on my eardrums and glided. The halo glided across maps of a billion mistakes I've been tracing for years on end now. It glided across words of sympathy that brush my skin every day, yet leave no marks...never deep enough to camouflage the previous scars anyway.

The halo looms over my eyes and turns into a sinful sadness.

'Why did your Happiness evaporate so fast?' He asks me out of a reality's dream: so tarnished, yet so mine.

It just had to be lost - lost in that valley where all lost things and people vanish into.

'Give me the keys to whatever it is that you lost. Give me the bones of what you feel, no matter how bleak. I shall go forth and find that halo of happiness for you.'

But it's the valley of the lost...what if you lose yourself there in the search of that halo?' I ask him, the warrior of a Vikings dying to revive itself within me.

'Losing is my art,' he exclaims. 'I do it exceptionally well. I do it so that no one else has to.'

Don't we all. Another will dies within me.

Where shall you leave your soul then? I ask him.

'To go and venture in the valley of the lost?' He begins. 'And to leave my soul behind? Where's the fun in that?'

It's an endless cycle, isn't it. A dynamic loophole. I say dreamily.

‘What is?’ he questions me with an enthusiasm colored so alive.

Happiness and Sorrow, I mean. Their mere existence. Who can say where one ends and the other begins? What comes first? Is there any point at which they intermingle amongst themselves? My curiosity holds a blank identity on his fingertips. He clenches his hands in a fist so the weight of those identities does not fall to the ground. The identities he has been notorious for.

‘Where one ends, the other begins,’ he answers so simply. It makes him feel the same way, I presume. The coming and going of what human perception labels Happiness and Sorrow. The scream of one, the whisper of the other. The black of one, the white of the other. The demise of one, the survival of the other.

‘In the valley of this world,’ he beings with that limitless calm that I wish to devour, ‘Happiness and Sorrow do not and will not exist simultaneously. They will never walk hand in hand…’

But…

‘But in the valley that is you and me, Happiness and Sorrow are just two heads of the same coin. Severe one and the other is paralyzed. My mind drenches itself in a cesspool of both these heads…simultaneously.

Makes the two of us, I guess. The pronunciation of his feelings looms in myriad colors, high up in the mountains of my solitude, so quiet but so mine. I cannot beyond the halo – a new halo. A halo that lies somewhere in between Happiness and Sorrow. The halo of Peace.

‘What a chaotic mind and soul – my mind and soul – is perched on your shoulder; how it weeps. And yet it provides peace to you?’

For even the burning sun provides warmth and hence a pulse of life to the cold bodies out there. For even a ruined and desolated house provides shelter in a storm. I say patiently. I ask him then, how to breathe in the conflicting, thick air of one element; comprised of two molecules named Happiness and Sorrow.

With the confidence of Caesar dressed as a common man, he explains to me: ‘Inhale that conflicting air, no matter what. Exhale a unique halo. When my halo of Happiness dies, you can revive it from the life of your sadness. Similarly, when the halo of your sadness dies, I will revive it from the life of my Happiness. To create such an elixir is what will make the world revolve around us. The greater the difference from the monotone, the grandeur the Death in the end. Our Death.

I realize the weight of his proposition and say, Death will only be a diversion in the course of our existence, not its end…if we create such an elixir, that is.

He smiles loudly, with the thrum of a thousand burning shadows, not suns. And that in between halo – the halo of Peace – puts my cancerous lungs to rest once again.





































SPACE TO BE


The sunken bones – they lie in my ground

This ground you so defiantly march on.

Isn’t your love a blank canvas

She tried to rip apart? Your answer

Comes to me in the form of permission.

Permission to paint anew on your canvas.


So I dip the chalk in my eyes.

Will they close now? Should I close them

Lest the blacks and whites interlace?

Your canvas gives me that answer too;

Shifting to dark streets, lighted roads.

There is no stop sign in either spots.


Wait for someone – this death

Is a blinding cold engulfing

The euphoric musical notes of my life.

Hardly catching his breath, a beast

Breaks the tree I was leaning on and

Morphs it into a violin for me to make new notes on.


Amicable, red sheen of sweat on his knuckles;

The drapes over my chest break – a solemn

Encounter with the beast lulled me

Into this telltale heart story which

These words point towards hence making me

Freer than the crying angels that guarded the child I was.


















IF I FORGET…




If I forget the taste of snow in my mind’s winter, give me the burning touch of a warrior that resides in you. If I forget the weak spots of my dome’s iron walls, surround me with your bare hand lines and nothing else. If I forget the smell of fresh faith, lie me down in a cradle of your self-perpetuation reality. If I forget the color of life, pull down the drapes of death over my eyes and lie down beside me. If I forget how to hold my anchor on, cut my soul’s deprecation chords. If I forget the feel of you, drown me in your haves and have nots. If I forget the look of a sun reborn in our world, push me under a train of clouds that your tears condensed into. If I forget the map of my conviction, draw me the grim reaper eating unborn babies and lilies. If I forget the soul inside me, lock me in a room of Memory and throw the key. If I forget my reasons, give me a paintbrush and your veins as canvas. If I forget to sing you to sleep, take away my grunge. If I forget how to wrap these aching arms around your beastly heart, tie me up in your ribcage. If I forget to win back our battles, infiltrate my bone marrow with your poetry. If I forget your rhythm, sing me a chorus of your pain. If I forget where I stand, push me in fields of blood and nostalgia. If I forget to stop my mind from jumping off its ledge of sanity, place your spine in reach of mine. And if I forget how to latch on to myself, break your demons free after mine for a catch and run.

For no one else can.


























ESTIVATING ATOP A BEAST’S MIND


The picture frames are all twisted

In his gallery of crime.

A torch in hand, poetry soothing

My dry lips, I speak a sip of it

On to his mind’s barren walls

And the color spreads on them;

Like a traveller come home after long.


A deep eye, knives hanging above my aorta,

How insipid his music record has become.

Yet the magnetic pull of my heart

Draws a new tune out of it every day.

A song to revolutionize; your jaded thoughts

Sink in to my eye lids, closing and opening

Each time I shut my lids and lift them up.


They have been clasped in a mayhem.

Won’t you free them? You explain to me

Many came and tried; only to end up lost.

So I run my murder investigation behind your

Scathed subconscious, dipping my hands

In bloods spots and blade marks that are

Scars on the ashes of your soul.


A yellow tape is tied now;

I sit on his bed of thorns, locked in

An attic of his weary mind; the walls scream it.

They tell me to come out now, that

Not much sense is to be made of this investigation.

But how shall I prove to them his innocent as well as mine

When I happen to be the same criminal as him?


Years shall pass – we will be written about perhaps

Between the silence of pages comprising love notes.

Drinking the wine of love, dipping our hands

In the scars and pulling out flowers from them –

Our days are passing a foreign blue.

Even if a new shade of mishap arrives, my heart

Is forever yours; I spend my time estivating on yours.






HIS SIMILES


We met at a crossroads in our lives. She told me about all she had come across so far and vice versa. A tinge of excitement on her fingertips, she asked me about which day I had most vibrant memories etched on my hand lines, and what caused it.

So I told her about the day the Beast decided to uproot my heart.

What does his love look like? she asked me.

Like time stopping to hug my shores just the right way. It had always left my shores barren before.

What does his heart beat like?

Sometimes like the clap of thunder outside my window, sometimes like a soft whimper of a stillborn baby. Whatever the case, its heartstrings never stop reaching out for mine.

What does his mind look like?

Like ashes and dust stuck on glue…true.

What does his spine feel like?

Like an anchor of a ship; the discs in between them giving me safe footing to land on each time I rise up from my sea of depression.

What does his breathe taste like?

Like lavender in early spring, laced with decaying scents of lemon and methodological care.

What is his anger like?

Like a burning, acidic syrup which is hard for me to swallow, but I gulp it down nonetheless; it burns my throat on its way down and rejuvenates my dead insides.

What do his knuckles look like?

Like the back of a cracked up dawn I like to dip my hands in when sleep is far.

What does his soul feel like?

Like the purest sheets to lie on, the sweat trickles down together in our minds but we don’t mind. It tingles our dead skin…life at its highest peak.

What do his shivers feel like?

Like a baby lion that stands fearless and athletic once I stand beside it…



My arms ached, and her eyes seemed like a painting, waiting for me to finish. But my arms ache.















BONES THAT PROTECT



He couldn’t help but spit out

The subtle hatred from his mouth

Full of beastly fangs;

Once my promises made his teeth chatter.

Scrambling up from his ashes,

A sheen of hesitation covered his shoulder blades –

The shape and feel of the back of a bird lost in flight.

Couldn’t hold the sins together; so we lay

On the steps of our initial hand lines –

Just trying to understand each other.

Mittens and blasphemous laughs in the night

Try to cut his skin open for a space

To insert their needles in.

So I leave with nothing but his safety

On my hollow back. A night

Of lost footpaths yet found kisses

I shall place on his shoulder blades –

The shape and feel of the back of a bird lost in flight.

Later when he evaporates in the mist of a beast,

His shoulder blades turning into wings

Open up to shield me from the decay around.























NEMO NISI NON MORS




“Death created time to kill people”, he always said. “It kills our memories in order to completely erase who we are.”

After a pause, he says, “But even in death, I will remember you.”

The tide of a million salty skies shifts inside me. “Death is stronger,” I say.

“Perhaps. But my love for you is definitely stronger.”

“So no nemo nisi mors?” I asked him.

“Not in my case.”

The dawn broke above our heads, but we weren’t afraid anymore.


































HIS ANGRY SCARS


Coming again slightly – his heart strings

Wrapped around my ashy ribcage –

Out of the dungeon of his dreams;

These numb walls shift with my sigh.


As his scars heat up with careful deliberation;

The sheets and the skies burn from their touch.

Lived in a world of hate and doubt,

Not a man of the code.


I’ll shield his lids from the black rain

My diaphragm stretches open as an umbrella;

But only if he would close those eyes,

Eyes that heave away like a beast’s.


You cannot see the imprints

Left on souls – tethered now –

From the mere touch of his scars.

So he sits there afraid.


A blinding light crushing my bones,

My scars seem dead before his – two lost

Shadows licking the same life source,

When will them scars succumb to my touch.


Sunlight knows it to thaw the ice caskets.

Hence the sunlight soaking my bones

Spews out and reaches his scars.

How freely they finally melt and surround me.


Their anger of so many decades – withered in my skin pores.

Their heat – overflowed into the calm of my blood.

Their vicious grins – smirked off by my kisses.

Their beastly touch – thawed by the grace of love.


What an enlivening thing it is to be

Embraced by a pain that doesn’t hurt.








LULLABIES TO A SCHIZOPHRENIC


He carries me above the head of the sphinx that always sat outside my door, waiting to devour my bones. I had forgotten what comfort tasted like. I was living like it was a dare, but he made it a choice for me. No one but my raven could sing me to sleep. Yet the sound of his almost numb heart initiated a new musical note in mine – one that made my heart strings thrum along with it no matter how slow. The heartbeat emanating from my fingertips is not mine, but his. Food hits my stomach muscles like a rock falling out of the mouth of a thunder. Sleep and rest are nothing more than callous hands choking me each time I lay down. Time is a hallowed altar I lay my remaining days to be slaughtered upon. The arms of death are the only cradle my other half wants to swing into.

When the people in the whites examined the bones and shadows making me, they gave it a name.

But none of it matters, because his existence is a lullaby that puts my insanity to sleep each night.



Where are you looking at? the lady in the whites asked me.

Everywhere. My cure is everywhere…wherever his aura penetrates the cracks of this universe.

I push her bottles of pills away and go home.






























THE AFFIRMATION


The sentinel of gold thrashed

At my night doorstep – far from the

Opera of my own hell;

With a promise to replace the coals

In that hell with the pure of his gold.

But I said no.


Silence spoke to me in thunderous claps

Against my soul’s window where it rains.

The lady having red hair and coal eyes

Exclaimed to cleanse my aura

Of all that rain and thunder.

But I said no.


Just a slight mention of blood – the monster

Chewing my nerve endings by night,

Diving headfirst into globules of my happiness

Saw a shadow of a sword – light.

Light at the start of his eyes and could have lost.

But I said no.


Scourging through the hounds of heaven,

Fresher skin from the angels

Was about to fall on this scarred one,

Like a layer of cinnamon licked

By fingers – such a rotten odor.

But I said no.


The gold will make me blind to your darkness.

The lady will drown my thunder which matches with yours.

The death of the monster will leave you nothing to caress at night.

The favors from the angels will protrude from

This caged side of mine into yours – numb.

So I said no. Our souls to live in affirmation…











PAINTINGS



I stared at their faces silently. I could almost taste it; the misery and confusion dripping from their eyes and settling at the corners of their lips. A shadow passed me by and for a flicker of a moment, I wished it was yours. At least it would feel familiar in this room crowded with unknowns. But it was just a slap of time, reminding me how alone I was.

Their words were not words to me at that instant, but merely echoes. Their gestures were not gestures to me, but faded movements in a backdrop of apathy. Their breaths were not breaths to me, but whimpers of dead souls faking life. In the midst of all this ghastly pallor, your impinging scars were the only thing that felt real; alive.



The lights turned on, and the painting of you I was staring at cluttered to the ground. The outside world is a blank canvas outside.




























TREE LIMBS



A broken whiff of a man sat across from me. The round block of wood between us was a sea I dared not cross. The swinging men didn’t make noise in that small room that day. So we made our hearts make all the noise – a wet drumbeat on a hallowed sun called love. No one dared know of our whereabouts. Even the skies decided to protect us that day; by sending a hoard of clouds above our heads.

The room turned into a white ghost when he stepped in. We could hear the human noise around us – all of it. Yet for the first time in our lives, it didn’t bother us. That’s how I knew: he was my salvation and I was his. Does that even cover it, ‘salvation?’

How his eyes spoke happy sad poetry even Neruda couldn’t pen down; how his hands awoke all my dead hand lines when they made contact; how his calm thawed the icicles of bitterness deep within me; how my ears swallowed the sound of his uptight laughter; how his upturned arm communicated its pain – it was infinity shaped in a human form sitting before me.

‘When you’re here, I can really by myself you know,’ he told me at a certain point. ‘This world and all its noise, which made my skin cringe, is almost non-existent to me right now. It’s like we have our own little world.’

That is the only world I have ever known. The rest is a black noise.

He looked weak and beautiful at the same time; sitting there like a fragile porcelain cup waiting for the rain to fill it up. And yet his heart has never been emptier and full at the same time.

‘A moment with you is not eternity. It’s all of the sense in this universe come knowing at my door, after all we’ve been through.’

The wind chased us down. Now the air molecules around me cry to be around him. Even the demons in my head want a taste of insanity, for only pain can cure pain.






















TIBETAN STRANGERS


They aren’t allowed in our hallways –

These masked hearts with caked faces;

They had broken our armor.

Hearts all drowning in a flame of ignorance,

They could never understand why our skins


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