Qutub Minar

We sit on a little patch of grass
in the shadow of Qutub Minar.
We open our little packs of rice.

The footfalls of the visitors 
are knocking at its locked doors. 
It was locked the day people
avalanched down its steps in a stampede.
That was decades ago. 

On this summer day of dry mouths
there are no birds on the naked trees,
there are no cats on the busy streets.

All around history whispers
at the funeral of its dead.

We eat our rice sitting in the shadow
of Qutub Minar where there is none
to watch us except its pointed head.

What does it mean to claim that this body is mine?

What does it mean to claim that this body is mine?
What made me in the beginning
the swimmer that I was, wriggling
my way down a moist tunnel
in a race with millions that tailed me?
It was not me.

And when I broke into the yellow cell
that was open as if only for me
in the red depth of a hollow way 
did it own itself?

No it didn’t.

In a trice, then, I couldn’t
myself from the cell.
We conjoined, ran roots into 
one another,
grew big into one.

When I saw the light
and began to grow my branches
they grew not from me
but from the earth. I was of the earth
made of soil, sun
and water.
I was not mine.

If I am not mine
what claim do I have over anything else?
If this body is not mine, how come this house
or this woman be mine? 
Or this language or this air or this god?
How can this country be mine?

Reading too much poetry can harm you

Reading too much poetry can harm you
dear poet. 
spectres of the poets will lay siege to
your fort

like marauding sultans. Their only aim 
will be
to break your walls, your idols and forms,
and supplant

them with their own dusty pillars and halls,
their gods.
Perhaps they would only want to smash you 
to smithereens

just to show you that writing poetry of 
your own
means to wage endless battles with
alien hordes.

Wet leaves

Certain memories stick like wet leaves
on a mirror.
They won’t fall off on their own.
They will cling to you, oozing pain from
their edges,
in your moments during a silent
summer night
when all you want will be a blank wall
to look at.

When I was a boy at school, during recess,
I saw a little girl lying on the floor of the urinal
frothing at her mouth.