Stress

We start off pining

on a cushion of thoughts

aims and targets

that materialise and sink

 

until there’s nothing left but fear

amplifying, echoing, ringing, singing

Singing the requiems of hell

that herald

nothing but the poisonous fruit that you sowed.

An Introvert’s City: A Cafe

Two tall glasses of latte

sit and converse in silence

over the table

Their foams are at different levels, measuring

self-esteem.

 

Behind the panel, cakes

are meant for no one

the canned cherries gleam atop

in acrylic red

perfectly round,

 

Chocolate cakes look pretty, objects,

cream, glossy fruit and cocoa dust

do not tantalise tastebuds

 

while the coffee beans do not grind.

They jitter in the stillness,

caffeine-injected devils.

Stress

Two strands of hair hang from her modern bob

and dip

dip into the macaroni soup

as she tilts her head

brings the phone to her other ear

 

the cracks on the screen

smudge in the humidity in her

perspiration and leak

like age around her eyes

 

The rest of us sit silently

filling up the imaginary meeting room

but only one voice, the phone’s

reaches the high ceiling

and white bare lights.

 

The hairs twitch

a momentary breeze

and one falls without grace

into the soup, dimpling the surface

to prod a chilli padi

burning pimple.

 

She doesn’t notice.

Interlude for a friend

Modeled upon Amy Lowell’s ‘Interlude’

When I have dog-eared my notes,

and streaked them with neon;

When I have punctured their bruised margins,

and stacked blue file against blue file;

When I have packed  them into musky cupboards

like the day’s memories –

What then?

To-morrow it will be the same:

Notes and highlighting

Memory upon memory

If the sun is beautiful filtered through clouds of stress

How much more beautiful is tomorrow’s sun,

Slanting through the dusty cream-coloured blinds

The sun,

Glimpsing a young friend’s back;

The sun,

Still,

Upon his face.

You shine, Blessed,

You and the sun.

The clock ticks away.

I think, when the traffic lights have blinked,

Only directions will change on clichéd

Crossroads.

Walking

I sit in the heavy chair,

arms languid as free flow beer, toes like road signs for stray cats

to make my attention convincing;

 

and you remember that the road was flat, but what you hear is your story

about the peeling sole of my shoe, a shoe

that was always bigger than yours;

 

about my shadow that was darker than the dark road

my shadow that, no matter how much

it turned toward the sun, did not tan like us, did not sigh

and finally still.

 

I wonder if the restaurant owner,

with the soup stain on his shirt that his wife

will fret over with baking soda when there’s no one left to watch,

if he stopped walking like we did;

and maybe it’s the wife, with eyes that no longer supervise

the hands in this routine,

that long ago stopped walking the hem of conversations

like the one we’re having.

Adults

After all we’re just kids behind the keyboard; azns who never really grow out of high school 
we’re toddlers with non-existent tolerances that expire faster 
than fruit in the tarmac sun. 

So we run around shooting guns loaded with spite 
but call ourselves adults because we’ve learnt not to care 
and forget that each of the hands behind your frigid pixelated palace 
has a heart and that each one of them doesn’t want to be bad.

Fumigation 2

Walking through void decks

is lonely until you discover the cockroaches

that wave a feeble leg or feeler in greeting

I can’t tell which, from all the way up here.

 

The realisation went ahead of me

And I lost myself in the scrutiny of every blemish

on the concrete bed

but it was paranoid study and not morbid curiosity

that made our heads bow

as if we were mourning –

the person beside

felt his sole cringe at a cockroach’s soul

beneath his feet.

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