Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Eyes As Deep As The Sea, Where Are You?!

Back home. Another day is over. Time for the ritual: switching on the computer, and while the screen comes fully alive, pouring a drink and choosing the book I would read in bed. Somewhere between now and then, dinner has to be cooked. Maybe I will make some rice and dal. Or sambhar. But right now it is time to click on one of the Winamp playlists. Today I choose 'Hindi'. The first song on the list is Tujhse naaraaz nahin zindagi, Lata's version of the Masoom hit: perfect accompaniment for the first drink.

The mind is already stirring. When you listen to a song as sublime as this, who do you credit its beauty to? The lyricist? The composer? The singer? The arguments can be many: If the lyricist writes a bad song, it cannot be salvaged even by the best of composers and singers. Even if the lyrics and the singer's voice is good, a bad tune can put listeners off. And even if the lyrics and the music are good, a bad singer can make both ineffective.

So at the end of the day, I guess, it is teamwork. But usually, it is teamwork between the lyricist and the composer. At the end of the day, however, it is the singer who steals the show. The composer comes no.2, and finally, the lyricist -- nobody even cares to remember him. Like I can't recall now whether the lyricist of Khel Khel Mein was Gulshan Bawra or Anand Bakshi. I think it was Gulshan Bawra. And you know how the famous song, Ek main aur ek tu was made?

RD was sitting at his home with Bawra, agonising over what tune to make. It was getting late and Bawra had to leave. As he waited for the lift, Bawra told RD, something to this effect: "Ek main hoon aur ek tum ho, agar dono mil jaayen, to gana kyon nahi banega? (If you and I come together, there is no way we can't make the song)." RD got a brainwave and instantly spat out the opening line: "Ek main aur ek too, dono milen is tarah..." The rest, as they say, is history. The 1975 song today is a classic, and is easily available, but you will find it in the albums of Kishore-Asha duets. Yes, at the end of the day, it became a Kishore song. It became an RD song. It became a Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh song. But have you even heard of Gulshan Bawra?

Lyricists always get a raw deal. I don't know how much they get paid -- or used to get paid -- for a song. They are the ones who sow the seed, painstakingly, on their writing desk. And I am not sure if many had even a writing desk. Naqsh Lyallpuri wrote very few songs for Hindi movies but all his songs were good, especially Yeh wohi geet hai jisko mainey, dhadkan mein basaya hai, composed by Jaidev (yet another music director who did not get his due) for a film called Maan Jaiye. When he first accepted to write lyrics for a film, he was paid a token advance of Rs 101. His wife, who was strongly against his writing songs for films, was hardly amused when he came home with the money. Go, return it right now, she said. Naqsh saab gave in and got up to leave for the producer's house. Just then their infant child began to cry. But there was no money for his milk: they were broke. So he decided to keep just one rupee for the milk and return the remaining hundred rupees to the producer. That the producer declined to take the money and persuaded him to write the songs is another story.

The point is, the lay listener never cares about the lyricist. Have you heard of Neeraj, or Yogesh? But I can be pretty sure you all have heard the songs of Anand and Chhoti Si Baat. Jaaneman jaaneman tere do nayan, Kahin door jab din dhal jaye, Zindagi kaise hai paheli... these are landmark songs of the Hindi film industry, but where is Yogesh, the man who wrote them all? Who remembers Neeraj, a Hindi professor from Aligarh, who wrote Phoolon ke rang se and Kaarwaan guzar gaya -- immortal songs?

Whatever I have written so far is not the result of any research or Google search, but straight out of my memory. These people have been on radio at some point or the other, be it anchoring the once-popular Jaimala programme (for fauji bhais, or soldiers) on AIR or giving interviews on 102.6 FM, the channel I was addicted to when I lived in Delhi.

But there are lyricists who have always extracted their share of recognition. And that is because they are -- or they have been -- engaged in things bigger than songwriting. Gulzar was an apprentice of Bimal Roy and he went on to direct big-time movies. Javed Akhtar wrote, rather co-wrote, movies that became very big time. Their persona was no less than that of the hero starring in those movies. So when they wrote songs, they were noticed. Having said that, none of this takes away from the beauty of the poetry written by Gulzar and Javed Akhtar. After all, each of them is a poet first: Gulzar, the celebral; and Javed, the rebel.

My favourite Gulzar song is Ek hi khwaab dekha hai kai baar maine (from Kinara), beautifully sung by Bhupinder and, in bits, by Hema Malini. 'Sung' is not quite the right word to use here, for it isn't a song: just a humming recitation of the lyrics. The credit, according to me, should go to the composer, Gulzar's dearest friend RD Burman, who left the poetry alone. And what poetry! I am not going to bother to reproduce the lyrics, but will sum up a bit of it in English: "Over the game of cards, when she fights, she seems playful. And when she is playful, she seems to be fighting." You have to listen to the song to understand what I am saying, or what I am trying to say. And then there is: Bechaara dil kya kare, and Ek baat kahoon par maano tum, and Tere bina jiya jaye na, and Aanewala pal jane wala hai and..., well, I can go on and on. Yes, I know I did not include Ijaazat, but according to me, its songs pale before the simplicity of Gol Maal or Khushboo.

And Javed saab, well. I met him recently in Chennai. As in, I happened to attend a function where he was the chief guest and where he read out some of his poems. He read out his poems in Hindi/Urdu, and they were translated simultaneously into English. The Chennai Page 3 crowd nodded in appreciation. The reading got over and Javed saab was free to mingle with the audience. I sat at a distance, nursing my drink, till my office photographer came to me and said: "Sir, why don't you get a picture taken with him? He is a VIP." VIP or not, I thought, but this is the man who wrote, rather co-wrote, Sholay. Yes, why not!

I found myself walking up to Javed saab and shaking his tender hand. "Javed saab, you should have recited Main aur meri aawaragi," I told him. "Thank you, thank you," he said, sqeezing my hand, and added, "Kya hai, yahaan par thodi language problem hai (you know what, there is a bit of a language problem here)." My day was made. The photographer took pictures, which I can't reproduce here because Javed saab looks so good and I look so horrible.

Main aur meri aawaragi -- that's my favourite Javed Akhtar song, first sung by Kishore Kumar and then by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. But I also like (who doesn't) Saagar jaise aankhon waali. Chennai has the saagar, and I am sure there are a number of saagar jaise aankhon waalis too. But no one has come my way yet.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Day I Cried

Just back from work. Switched on the laptop. Made a drink. Clicked on my 'Favourite' winamp playlist. And now listening to 24 Years Living Next Door to Alice. I must have heard the song more than a hundred times now, including in discos where they play the "Who The Fuck is Alice?!" version. But tonight I noticed something that I had never noticed before: a female chorus in the background! How did I miss that out?

Songs, I guess, are like books. Every re-listening, like every re-reading, brings out something new. Try reading a book that you read five years ago and you are bound to discover more of what it says and what it has left unsaid. So you don't really extract the full value till you have read it again and again. It is the same with songs, I believe, especially Hindi songs, whose real meaning sinks in only after you, over the years, have gone through the joys or pains the lyricist might have experienced while writing that song.

Take Sahir Ludhianvi, for example. I rate him as the most sensitive lyricist Hindi cinema has ever seen. Gulzar is at times celebral, at times cute. Majrooh was certainly a pillar of the industry, but his poetry never stood out on its own. Anand Bakshi was the John Grisham of Bollywood. But Sahir made you agonise. The writer Amrita Pritam was so much in love with him that whenever he would pay her a visit, she, after he had left, would smoke the smoked cigarettes from the ashtray: just to feel him in her lungs.

In the movie Kabhie Kabhie, where Amitabh Bachchan plays a young poet who gives in to pressures of life, Sahir wrote the lyrics. Two of the songs, both sung by Mukesh, were about a poet: Main pal do pal ka shayar hoon and Main har ek pal ka shayar hoon.

The gist of the first song: I am a poet only for a moment or two. That's what I am all about. My youth is only for a moment or two. My existence is only for a moment or two. Tomorrow another poet will come, and you won't waste your time on me.

The gist of the second song: I am an eternal poet. Every moment will bear my story. I will live on for ever. My youth will be for ever.

I first saw Kabhie Kabhie when I was 15 or so, and the first song had made me sad. Life is so cruel, I thought, why does someone have to retire and make way for the new. So when the second song came on at the end of the movie, I was joyous: "Yay! That's the spirit. Never say die!" To me it was one of the happy songs which is replayed in the end after the bad guys have been bashed up and handed over to the police and the hero and the heroine go on to live happily ever after.

About 15 years later, at the age of 30, I heard both the songs again. I understood the lyrics better now. The first one was good, no doubt. After all, nobody is at the peak of greatness for ever: eventually you have to make way for others. But the second song, which had cheered me 15 years ago, now brought tears to my eyes. By the time Mukesh finished Main har ek pal ka shayar hoon, my cheeks were wet. The song actually talked about the inevitable -- and irreversible -- progression of life. It hammered home the truth about your mortality. And how beautifully!

In the movie, Amitabh Bachchan and Rakhee were in love, but they could not marry. Rakhee is married off to Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh marries a widow Waheeda Rahman, who already has a daughter. The daughter grows up to be Neetu Singh, who falls in love with Rishi Kapoor, the son of Shashi and Rakhee. In that context, Sahir's lyrics in the second song, which I was not old or experienced enough to understand then, hit you like a hammer:

Rishton ka roop badalta hai, buniyaaden khatam nahin hoteen
khwaabon aur umango kee miyanden khatam nahi hoteen;
Ek phool mein tera roop basaa, ek phool mein meri jawaani hai
ek chehra teri nishani hai, ek chehra meri nishani hai

And then:

Tujhko mujhko jeevan amrit ab in haaton se peena hain,
inki dhadkan mein basna hai, inkey saanson main jeena hai;
Too apni adaayen baksh inhey, main apni wafaayen deta hoon
jo apne liye sochi thhi kabhi, woh saari duaaen deta hoon.

I can try and translate the lines for people who do not understand Hindi or Urdu. But in cases like these, one does more justice to the poet/lyricist by giving the gist of what he has said instead of attempting a translation. And in this song, Sahir says: The face of a relationship might change but its foundation remains intact. Today two younger flowers might have replaced us, but one of them possesses your beauty and the other has the strength of my youth. We have to now drink the nectar of life from their hands; our heartbeats and breaths are now theirs. Give her your style, and I will give him my sense of fidelity. And together, let us wish them what we could not wish for ourselves.

In other words, we pass on everything to the next generation before we die. Sahir is long dead, and Amrita Pritam died recently. Tomorrow, we are going to get old and die too. But is our love strong enough to live through generations? I don't know. I don't know because I am yet to meet the other half who would constitute the "our". At the moment, when the number of drinks has multiplied ever since I started writing this, I just want somebody to hold my hand. Anyone out there?

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Last evening, bought yet another of the Paris Review anthologies, People With Problems. The problems of the protagonists in the stories are not problems that make you say, "Look, I think I have a problem." They are every day problems which keep occuring in my life, your life. We are all people with problems. The introduction to the anthology begins like this -- "The big problem, the one that keeps popping up in every story, is: missing women, or missing missing women, and in Charlie Smith's 'Crystal River,' even missing missing missing women." Moral of the story: women are at the centre of all problems. Come on, I am just kidding. But what if I am not?

All Things South And Beautiful

While surfing blogs last afternoon, I ran into a blogger who said the Tamil film Kandukondein Kandukondein was the best movie ever made or something to that effect. I would say it was one of the best movies made in recent years and even though I barely understand Tamil, I would always nurture a soft corner for it.

In 2000, when I was living in Delhi, I happened to see the movie in a theatre there, with English sub-titles. Till then, I had never been beyond Nagpur: I had no first-hand idea what was going on in the South, how the South looked like. I don't know what overcame me after the film ended (with a emotional scene when a tearful Ajit walks away from Tabu's home but pauses to ask, "Will you marry me?" and Tabu nods a yes), but I had made up my mind to come to the South at the first opportunity which, suprisingly, came within months.

When I landed in Chennai, songs of Minnale were a rage. They were just about everywhere. What music! Once here, I got hold of the Tamil versions of Rahman songs that had become hit in the North. Then I discovered Illayaraja (incidentally, he lives on the same street as mine). Then the Malalayam songs of Salil Choudhury, Chemmeen onwards: a gold mine! Still, the songs of Kandukondein Kandukondein retain a special place in my heart, especially Kannamoochi (sorry if I've spelt it wrong).

In a few weeks I will complete five years in Chennai. I am tempted to reproduce this piece I wrote for my paper around this time last year:

All Things South & Beautiful

You are never just an Indian in India: you are either a North Indian or a South Indian. Unless you happen to be from one of the Northeastern states, in which case you are not even considered an Indian — they call you either ‘‘Nepalese’’ or ‘‘Chinese.’’ Or unless you happen to be from Maharashtra, in which case you yourself aren’t sure whether you are a North Indian or a South Indian, or a bit of both.

Though Bal Thackeray would rubbish the North-South theory; he would say India is made up of Maharashtrians and non-Maharashtrians. Whatever one might say, the fact is that Maharashtra divides the two Indias and the two types of Indians. It is the border where the desh ends and the desam begins and vice-versa — depending where you are journeying from.

I made the journey exactly four years ago, after having lived on the northern side all my life. I was thirty, single and bored of a life that was fast and fake. The least I could do was cross that border and explore my own country — the places that had existed for me, so far, only as red or black dots on the map. So that’s what I did that night.

Delhi was wrapped in a blanket of fog when I said goodbye to it, peering out from the moisture-coated window of the Tamil Nadu Express. By the next afternoon, which was pleasant and sunny, I had left Delhi and North India far behind. I stood by the open door, watching the train roll on furiously from the land of parathas and puris to the land of idlis and dosas, from the land of Kavitas and Savitas to the land of Kavithas and Savithas, from the land of Hindi to the land where someone like me could speak only English. There was, however, a last chance to speak Hindi.

As I stood there, watching the green fields pass by, a young Sardarji emerged from the lavatory and stood next to me. I had noticed him the night before: he had a smile permanently fixed on his face. I asked him, ‘‘Do you live in Chennai?’’ He recoiled, as if he had touched a naked electric wire or a hot pan, and then, slapping his palms together, burst out laughing. ‘‘Chennai mein rehkar marna hai kya? (Do you think I am crazy enough to live in Chennai?),’’ he asked, his body still shaking with laughter.

When I asked him why, he replied, ‘‘Do you think anybody sane would ever live there? It’s a boring place. I am going there to fetch my wife. I reach there tomorrow morning and we leave the same evening.’’ And then the young man came close to me and, as if hatching a conspiracy, whispered, ‘‘Ek baat bataoon, South ke log hotey bade darpok hain (you know something, South Indians are a timid lot).’’ And then he burst our laughing again.

Timid: I had heard that before. It is because of their so-called timidity that South Indians are still preferred as tenants in the North. They pay the rent on time, make hardly any noise to disturb the landlord or fellow tenants, and vacate when asked to. Clearly, it was the case of civility being mistaken for timidity — something I had suspected then, and something I was to confirm in the following years.

Once in the South, you are forced to wonder whether the civility comes from the civilisation, or whether the civilisation is born out of the civility. Whatever the case, you encounter an entirely new civilisation once you cross the Vindhyas. And it hits you when you take your first autorickshaw ride (discount the ride from the railway station: autorickshaw drivers there are a tribe born to be loathed). The guy will politely say ‘Thank You’ after you pay him. And if you are in Kerala, the only way to offend a driver is to ask him to keep the change.

I distinctly remember my first autorickshaw ride in Chennai. On the way to the Marina beach, our vehicle found itself in front of a bus at a roundabout. To my utter surprise, the bus driver slowed down and motioned my driver to pass. Up North, the bus driver would’ve spat out a mouthful of expletives at the rickshaw driver for daring to cross his path. Out there, might is right — a policy that applies in everyday life and in every walk of life. The decent sort always get bullied. A family of four travelling second class can easily be pushed to the corner of their seats by a bunch of college students or office-goers. You can protest but only at the risk of being manhandled. Even the TTE measures you by how you look or how you are dressed — it clearly reflects in the manner he asks you to produce the ticket. That’s the North.

In the South, to begin with, travelling second class is as good as travelling first class or in air-conditioned coaches, though minus the comfort of the pillow and the blanket. And it does not matter who you are and how you look, as long as you have a valid ticket. College students and office-goers do get into the compartment, but they are too shy to intrude And the TTE calls you ‘Sir’.

Talking of journeys, in the North, they often extract your bio-data even before the train could pull out of the station. “So who was that guy then, who came to see you off?” — they ask intrusive questions like that. Below the Vindhyas, co-passengers leave you alone. If anything, they give you shy but warm smiles.

South Indians are a shy lot, generally speaking. But behind the shy demeanour hides a zealous advocate of culture and language. As a result, Carnatic music thrives along with rock music. And every December, while the North observes, year after year, the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque, Chennai gears up for the Music Festival and Thiruvananthapuram prepares for some film festival or the other.

Religion seems to be another passion of the people here. They usually wear it on their foreheads. And this time of the year, it is common to see — be it a hi-tech office in Hyderabad or a bank in Chennai — an employee or two clad in black dhoti and walking around barefoot. They are preparing for the Sabarimala pilgrimage. Yet — and that’s the best part — the South rarely sees communal violence. Perhaps the bond of language is so strong that there’s no room for religious intolerance.

And how they love their language. Writers in Hindi are today a dying breed, and Bengalis are writing more in English than in their mother-tongue; but down South, a new face emerges every other day on the Malayalam or Tamil literary scene. Try rubbishing Gabriel Garcia Marquez in a place like Kozhikode and chances are you will be lynched. One wonders if nature has anything to do with the literary bent of mind, because that’s one thing the South has in abundance — natural beauty. Savouring it is like reading a classic — you read it again and again and each time you do so, you discover something that wasn’t apparent before.

So here I am, looking at the long list of places in the South, crossing the names where I’ve already been to and plotting when and how to make it to the rest. In spite of the travel, life does get boring at times, but it is no longer fake.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Dampened Mind

Rains are refusing to stop in Chennai. Are the rain gods, having been propitiated far too often, making up for the past years? Or are the gods shedding tears for something the human eye cannot see? Whatever it maybe, my mind isn't working. It is powered by sunlight, and the sun has been away for far too long now.

All those poets who wrote cute songs about the rain should have spent the past week in Chennai.

Don't Sing the Carols, Please!

They have already started playing the carols at Landmark, the bookshop which is like my second home (the third home is my office). Till ten years ago, listening to carols gave me more pleasure than anything else. They still do. There is an air of joy and innocence about them, and how effortlessly they transport you to a land that is foggy, if not covered with snow, where cheerful people move about, and from somewhere very far, you hear the strains of Jingle Bells.

But of late, whenever I hear the carols, a sense of concern elbows out whatever joy they bring me. The carols remind me that Christmas is near, which means the year is about to end, which means another year in my life is about to end. What have I done so far? Am I a success, or am I a failure?

While I was listening to the carols this evening, I felt the last grains of sand slipping out of my fist. How time flies! My breath still smells of the whisky I drank in the last New Year Party.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Mourning the Love Letter

Cleaning my cupboard last Sunday, I found myself removing not only the real cobwebs but also the cobwebs spun by time. In the last shelf, behind dust-coated magazines and a bunch of old papers, I found the red bag.

The bag had been my companion for 11 years, but presently it lay there, hidden and forgotten for God knows how long. It contained something very precious — the documented evidence of my romantic youth. Even I had forgotten how I was then — or who I was then — but the yellowing love letters brought the memories back.

It was 1994 and I had just migrated from Kanpur to Delhi. I had no friends in the big city and survived on letters written to and received from people (girls, that is) living elsewhere. In due course, I made more friends, including those who lived in Delhi. To them also I wrote long letters, because I didn’t have a phone then and their phones were monitored by their dads and to meet me they had to cook up excuses, which wasn’t easy all the time. So the easiest way was to jot down matters of the heart, fold the piece of paper and hand it over to them at the next meeting.

So every evening after I got home from work, I would light up the red Chinese lamp by my bed, fill ink in my fountain pen and start writing, imagining the face of the proposed recipient. It’s a different thing altogether that after four paragraphs it didn’t matter who I was writing to, because by then I was writing to myself.

But the most exciting part was the reply. You could, obviously, tell the identity of the sender from the handwriting on the envelope; and your eagerness to tear it open was inversely proportional to the number of days/months/years you’d known the girl. For example, if it was from someone you’d got to know only last month, you’d not only read and re-read the lines but also try and read between the lines. You could see her face on the piece of paper and the ink smelt of her. And that made you yearn for silly things: watching a movie with her while holding her hand. And the impossibility of that happening — for whatever reason — made you yearn even more, making you go through the letter again and again.

Today I have quite an impressive collection of fountain pens but I no longer write. I e-mail my love letters. In fact I don’t even e-mail — since it can be done at the click of the mouse, I procrastinate. And why e-mail, when I can SMS her?

That reminds me, the other day I got a message on my cellphone. It was from a girl who had been ditched by her boyfriend. She was pouring her heart out to another friend but the message reached me — a misfire, as they say. Anyway, I sought to comfort her and we got talking. The conversation stretched to four hours at the end of which she said: ‘‘Will you give me a hug? That’s what I need now.’’

Suddenly, it was all so simple. Well, technology might have shown me the short cut, but somewhere along the path, I’ve lost myself — the person who came out of hiding every time he sat with a pen and paper and began with the words, ‘‘My dear...’’


Beauty is so much like the red shirt or top seeking your attention from the rack of a showroom. Under the lights, the shade of red is so subtle that you end up buying it. But step out of the shop and hold the shirt to sunlight, the same red becomes too loud. That's how most things are. Such as rain. When you are in the comfort of your home, in agreeable company and when your mind is at peace, rain is romantic. But when you are lonely, craving for company that very moment, and when you can't decide whether you should cook or order food, rain becomes wretched. And it is raining a lot in Chennai these days.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Last evening I bought what could be the book with longest title ever: The Paris Review Book of Heartbreak, Madness, Sex, Love, Betrayal, Outsiders, Intoxication, War, Whimsy, Horrors, God, Death, Dinner, Baseball, Travels, The Art of Writing, and Everything Else in the World Since 1953. Where was the book hiding all this while? Or, where was I hiding all this while? I was busy drinking. Drinking a cocktail whose ingredients were ambition and laziness, passion and loneliness. End result? It was like drinking water. No kick, nothing. And then this book. After a long time I found good reason to pour myself a large drink. I began with Sex. My favourite bits:

S. X. Rosenstock's Rimininny! (1996):

If you can't fuck me while I read, fuck off.
You're not the best of what's been thought or said,
Not yet. But youth, with genius, is enough.

Menage a trois is greatness, not rebuff,
If you gain art from what art's represented.
If you can't fuck me while I read, fuck off.

I want you, and I want a paragraph
Of lengthy James; he does go on. My love
Can you? I shouldn't praise his length? Enough

Of him? The body of work's living proof
We're all rare forms, and living ... in the dead.
If you can't A Little Tour in France me while I read,
fuck off.

I signal lusts by title, not handkerchief,
Since I'm the sex of all that I have read;
Sometimes I write this sex. Kiss me enough,

And well enough, that I may hear the snub
That reading's not a sexual preference.
If you can't fuck me while I read, fuck off,
Or rave how I'm a work of art enough.

From John Updike's Two Cunts in Paris (1997):

Called La Gimblette,
this piece of the eternal feminine,
a doll of femaleness whose vulval facts
are set in place with a watchmaker's care,
provides a measure of how art falls
of a Creator's providence, which gives
His Creatures, all, the homely means to spawn.

Margaret Atwood on the Art of Fiction (1990):

INTERVIEWER - Is sex easy to write about?
ATWOOD - If by "sex" you mean just the sex act -- "the earth moved" stuff -- well, I don't think I can write those scenes much. They can so quickly become comic or pretentious or overly metaphoric. "Her breasts were like apples," that sort of thing. But "sex" is not just which part of whose body was where. It's the relationship between the participants, the furniture in the room or the leaves on the tree, what gets said before and what after, the emotions -- act of love, act of lust, act of hate. Act of indifference, act of violence, act of despair, act of manipulation, act of hope? Those things have to be part of it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Heavy rain in Pune
the city under flood

Come, we will make a tent
of the black saree and honeymoon

Feasting on each other's flesh
drawing each other's blood

The kiss

The skin
so lovely and smooth
I lost my way
I found a phone booth
and asked for landmark
Red turned her skin
"Don't you remember," she whispered,
"the dimple on my chin?"

The Eyes

Her silhouette robed
the face veiled
save the eyes --
ageless eyes
timeless eyes.

"Welcome to the Temple,
I shall be your guide,"
said the eyes --
ageless eyes
timeless eyes.

"There lived Neruda, here lived Camus,
And there! There goes Coelho,"
showed the eyes --
ageless eyes
timeless eyes.

"If you want to read them
read my eyes,"
smiled the eyes --
ageless eyes
timeless eyes.

"The eyes are so pretty
how about the breasts?"
I asked the eyes --
ageless eyes
timeless eyes.

"Go away, you scoundrel!
You have defiled the temple."
screamed the eyes --
ageless eyes
timeless eyes.

"Tell me, O lady, did Neruda
live and die here looking
only at these eyes?" --
ageless eyes
timeless eyes.


Depression in the white pillow
on it a strand of hair
I listen for running water
and tinkling of bangles in the air

I cuddle the pillow, turn over
and a thought escapes:
dreams are such a tease
they even come in shapes


when it came,
came easily.
I only had to


I hoped for the healing hug
but you stripped me
cut me open
exposed my entrails
all in the name of love.

Someone, call the surgeon!
who will stitch me up
clothe me
run a healing hand and say:
all in the game of love!