death is not a song/ 91

Death is not a song.
There is no orchestra,
no crescendo,
no post production magic
to fix your wrinkles,
or cover up the blood,
there is no harmony.
Death is not a dance.
There is no grace
in finding your
father face down,
no flowing movements
when you load a body
into an ambulance;
hands lie on the side
like they’re made of cloth,
they droop and do not flutter.
There is no coordination.
Death is not an art.
You cannot cover up
the stench of a dead body,
cannot mask the severed head,
the bullet wounds;
You cannot move on
to another exhibition, to
another performance,
because no matter where you go,
the starring role will
always be played by your grief,
and the number of supporting
characters will rise every time you
go to the hospital- until you
have an auditorium full of
memories you did not get to
live, because everyone was
dead before you knew it.
Death is not an art,
it’s just science.
Just an end with an explanation
for your mind but
not one for your heart;
whether it’s your muscles seizing,
or your lungs failing,
at the end of the day,
death is still not beautiful,
even if you tried your hardest
to convince yourself it was.



I want to thank my imperfections.
I used to see you as flaws, but
I’ve learnt that every blemish,
every scar, every astray hair
makes me who I am. Thank you
for making me look at myself
and see a distinct person, not
a copy. Thank you for showing me
that beauty, beauty is not about
being perfect. It’s about being me.

reminder/ 83

Before it begins, hear me out:

I am not the sun, or the stars.

I am not the girl who stands out

in a room full of strangers, I am

not the girl who you’ll gravitate

towards- my magnetic field

doesn’t attract much- I am not

the girl that people orbit. But,

but I have never wanted to be,

I have always known I can’t

conquer the world, so i instead

tried to illuminate the small corner

I call home. I have always known

I’m not good at much, so I tried

to find something I could call

my own, and I found it, nestled

between two books in a shelf in

my grandmother’s room, I found it

waiting for someone to grab

and cherish it, and now that I found

it, now that I found myself,

I don’t need your validation.

I don’t need your badge, your

placebo recognition- nothing you

give me will change my life.

I chart my own route, and I’ll

survive without you. I always have.

I always will.

new girl/ 82

I’m not the same girl I used to be. 

I’m no longer the butter, melting

on command, no longer the 

sweet lullaby, the rain, the moon,

the stars, the cliche- I’m no longer

the girl I used to be.

I used to shrink, used to wrap my

thoughts in cling film, used to 

deep frost my bravery, used to

cut away the parts of me

that I thought were too harsh. 

too loud. Too unabashedly myself.

I used to use you as an excuse,

used to look for love in every 

crevice I could- other people 

were rooms for me to ransack,

I stripped them bare looking 

for things I could only find

in myself, and I asked them to

define me- the quiet girl, the reader,

the slut, the drinker, the debater,

the smart one, the dumb one,

the lost one.

Labels were slapped on me

with the casual callousness 

youth displays, and I let them be-

I used to be malleable. 

I was the clay, waiting to be

moulded, the water, flowing freely

in a stream, the sun, cutting 

an arc across the sky- I used 

to be nothing. 

I used to be everything. 

And now, now I am the blade,

a scythe in the night, the fierce 

roar of a wild animal, I am the

ruler of my own planet. The sun 

of my own skies, not yours. 

Not theirs. 

I am brutal and brash- a battle cry 

echoing in the sky, I am 

loud, the cacophony of a city 

melding into a sweet harmony, I am

what I want to be, when I want to

be- and yes, I am no longer 

the girl I used to be,

because now,

now I know how to live for myself.

another love poem/ 81

This is another love poem. 

Another ode to your hands, your

hips, your smile, this is

another poem about how I fell 

for you, how I thought this would

never happen, how despite that,

I can’t imagine life without it, 

this is a poem about love feeling

like a lump in my throat every time 

you speak to me, about my 

feet turning to stone when I see

you- I can’t help but stop and stare.

This is a poem about how love feels

like having cold water thrown at

your face, by which I mean to say, 

it wakes you up, by which I mean, 

It makes you feel alive, by which

I mean, life feels worth living now 

days. The sun seems hotter, the 

birds seem louder, the sky seems

brighter- the entire world seems 

happier because of this love.

So I wrote this, another love poem,

another ode to feeling on top 

of the world, another satisfied sigh

aknowledging how lucky I am. 

A/ 80

For you, the truth does not float above the lies like oil does above water, instead it dissolves like sugar in a cup of tea, and you can’t tell where the truth ends and the lies start, can’t tell where the sugar stopped being sugar, and instead became just another ingredient swirling in your tea cup; your own personal storm, your own unique blend of falsehoods and sincerity- it’s been so long since you were yourself you’ve forgotten what it felt like. 

Scars form intricate latticework on your arms, embroidery on your shoulders; they’re like battle scars, like keys to unlock the truth of your trauma, and I wonder whether you run your hands over them absentmindedly, feel how the muscle beneath the hurt has strengthened to stone, feel how the scars have faded to mere pastel memories, and I wonder whether you feel proud of what you’ve managed to overcome – you have been acting like Atlas for as long as you can remember, and the scars are now just a reminder that you are no longer kneeling. 

Or atleast, that’s what you tell yourself, and you believe it wholeheartedly, there is no difference between deception and candour, no difference between wheat and chaff- so you tell yourself you are no longer kneeling, while ignoring the people around you you’ve subjugated. Everywhere you went, you bent people into monsters and hardened their hearts until the only thing they felt was raw. You flayed them alive but told yourself it wasn’t your fault. And yes, you did rise, you had your own dawn, had the sky herald your growth as a new awakening, but what about the people you left behind? The hearts you trampled? The lies you wove? You may not be kneeling anymore, but you should be. You should be. 

But I don’t expect you to. Don’t expect you to live your life in accordance with the shame I think you should feel, the shame I hope you feel; I am not that naive. Instead, all I hope for is when one day, you decide to start unravelling all the stories you spun, you’re able to face the person beneath those lies. Beneath those scars. Beneath that bluster, that laughter, those jokes- I hope when the truth emerges like the sun does from behind the clouds, it does not blind you. Or burn you. I hope you bask in it. I hope you survive it. I hope, when it comes down to the gates of heaven, you remember who you were and not who you became. Not the person you moulded yourself into. Not the person you were made to become. I hope, when you finally see what I saw, that you do not hide, but instead you become a better person because of it. The same way I have. The same way you soon will.


You hover in the background

of my life, like a ghost that 

refuses to let go, and your

mind is cluttered with questions,

each one it’s own brand of 

egotistical, but you’re too afraid

to ask me anything, too afraid

to even say hello, instead, your 

eyes dart away from me faster

then I can register- I guess we’re

both trying to pretend the other 

doesn’t exist, but it’s hard to ignore

a presence that lingers so close 

you can feel it’s breath on your 

back, I guess, you don’t want to

look at the cause of your guilt. 

Don’t want to acknowledge the 

lines you’ve crossed, see the scars

you’ve left, guess you don’t want 

to deal with the fallout, so instead,

you ask other people- our hearts 

are tin can telephones and they are

the string that connects us, the

rope that will hang us; they are the

middlemen in a transaction that’s

taking place under the table, but 

I would like to change the rules of 

this game, because I hold all the 

cards, you just hold her- I hold 

all the cards, you just hold lies, 

you’re just about getting by, so 

next time you want information, 

get it yourself, stop using your 

friends as proxy walls to answer 

for your bad behaviour- 

do it yourself, and then, when

you’re standing all alone, let’s

see how well you fare.

For Vietnam, Anguilla, Barbuda, the Bahamas, etc. /78

You built your house hoping to 

build a life that could nestle 

inside it, safe from the storms

that the sea keeps throwing your

way, and you built your houses,

hoping to turn them into homes,

into places you could raise your

family, places you could grow

old, places you could exist safely, 

and now that very home has been

torn apart- the winds circled your

coasts like wolves surround their

prey, they reduced entire buildings

and livelihoods to rubble, took 

the electricity taken for granted

and reduced it to futile sparks-

but you’ll rebuild, this is not

the first time your country has

been lashed by stubborn storms,

and this will not be the last, but

each time, you will rebuild, your

will to survive will never turn to

ash, so as long as you’re alive,

you will fight. When there are no

houses to turn to, you will create

a home in yourself, in your 

community, in your strength that

remains- your buildings might 

shake, might fall, might be reduced

to mere debris, but you shall

remain standing, like you always 

have. Like you always will.

heart on loan/ 76

Last December, I gave you my 

heart while we were sitting on 

swings in a resort in the middle 

of nowhere. Everyone else was 

celebrating life, the air was

vibrating with joy all around us,

but we just sat there. I was

thinking about how, no matter

how hard I try, I can’t always be 

the good person, and you- well

I don’t know what you were thinking

about, but I would like to imagine 

it was me- and so while we sat

there I gave you my heart on loan,

told you I would need it back 

eventually, told myself I would 

take it back sooner than later,

but it’s been 9 months and 

I guess I got around to this pretty

late, but I would like my heart 

back now. In the same condition

I gave it to you- it was a bit bruised,

but it was still alive. Still

thumping loudly, I could hear it

in your pocket as you walked away,

it was alive. Yes, I’ll admit, it 

could have been in better shape 

then, but I’ve never trusted anything

perfect- I like to pick the less

visually appealing item no matter

what I’m buying, and my heart 

was no different- it resembled

a collection of crushed strawberries

in a small glass jar, and I liked it 

that way. So give it back to me.

Give it back to me in the shape I

gave it to you, I don’t want the 

imprint of this year on it just yet,

don’t want to see it wither, don’t

want to see it go from strawberry 

to blackberry, so give me my 

goddamn heart back. I should have 

never let you have it in the 

first place, should’ve known you 

would be the kind of guy who

would lose it in his cupboard, lose

it under the pile of lies lying

on his bedroom floor, but

don’t worry, I’ve realised now. 

So last December, I gave you 

my heart, and this September,

I would like it back. 

coward/ 75

you said it was because of them/ didn’t know you were someone/ without a spine/ didn’t realise for you/ the lies only prick when it suits you/ 

isn’t morality comfortable/ when you can alter it to the size and shape/ of your excuse/isn’t an ending welcome/ when it’s on your terms/ isn’t it nice cutting someone out/ when you’re the one/ holding the scissor/ doesn’t it feel good/ to be free of the baggage that comes with/ misdeeds-

you said it because of them/ but maybe it’s also because of you/ maybe it’s also about you/ your inability to deal with the fallout/ 

you said it’s because of them/ but maybe/just maybe/ you were lying.