Monday, April 17, 2017

An evening of Rummy

In a hand that looked like a winner when you picked it up
There are cards that already line up—‘pure sets’—
And cards that might and cards that surely won’t, 
Unless others decide likewise 
And you’re clever enough to take leavings.
Foraging what you can get
From what others don’t value, 
And, just sometimes, getting what you want
By wanting it harder,
Is the game. 

That is all fine as far as it goes,
But what happens when you’re 
Irrationally drawn to spades
—so sharp and dark—
And scathing of diamonds,
Or when you drop a card someone wants,
See them pounce on it, and grit your teeth
In moral quandary? 
(All the while trying to seduce 
The one across the table with
your skills and winning?)

Holding your cards in a tight fan
—too tight, not how the pros do it—
Trying to look as convincing as those who take it seriously
While knowing you don’t, you can’t, you can’t afford to.

The food dwindles and the clock pirouettes and 
You’re learning about the others—she’s surprisingly clever—
and everyone has a strategy, and they all seem unfamiliar;
It’s with relief that when someone proposes Snap,
We descend from our card-ramparts,

Squealing at the advent of—what a stroke of brilliance!—chips.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

inflammable

'Could you turn it down?' he says,
Looking up from his book-
'I love you, but not that much.'
And grins, lopsidedly, that grin I adore—
Secretly, far too much.

What can I do? 
The knobs are dysfunctional, the 
Gradation markings erased over time;
Once turned on, you just have to
Keep checking I won’t burn you.

Perhaps that’s why I keep warming to those 

Whose hearts are marked Non-flammable.

competition

I ought to be typing. 
The others, in the silence of the quiet study section,
Are vociferously typing. 
Power, F says, is everywhere, its roots creeping
Unseen into our psyches, freezing us so immobile
That our shoots only wave in the gales;
And little clicks in the silence
Are the sounds of sap creaking, sighing.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

'Are you hunting for whatsapps upon the floor,
Or pings upon the stairs?
Worried that the beeps and cheeps and rings
Were muffled by the carpet hairs?
Is your inbox overflowing (yet empty)?
Your face in a glassy stare?
Are you searching for signs of love forgot
And finding ones that didn't care?'

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Oyster Card

I remember the London buses
Like cheap postcards, fridge magnets and plastic models
—Pillarbox red and memorabilious.
I remember, on our free day off
From our carefully-chosen tour package
—Most places–least cost–'local' food—
we took a Red Bus tour.

I remember my father fumbling
with coins from that all-important belly-bag.
I remember the people behind us in queue
With blank faces. I remember
the shame—I could do this faster. I
don't remember the guilt that it was
His savings he was counting out, reduced to coins
And each one strange and precious.

I remember sitting upstairs in the drizzle,
Droplets obscuring the panes of the half-roof;
We still keep photographs of a glassy, dim London and
The freezing thrill of leaving
Our tourist dog-collars behind
at Trafalgar Square bus stop.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

cravings

A soft ringing: the phone, somewhere under the blanket. Forget it. 
Ten minutes later, it rings again. She squirms, finds it grazing her thigh, shyly vibrating. 
It’s him, both him. It falls silent as she looks at it, thankfully. 
He hasn’t called in days; she has sallied forth every day 
Dressed to meet him by accident. She sees in him
Past lovers, her pattern. She feels she knows him,
Two brief conversations to the contrary failing to withstand. 
This will be all of them gone right. 
Or… at least she knows what she's getting into.
Or who.

But this afternoon, with the warm sunlight trapped in her doubly reinforced windows;
The wind of a carefree rebuff in her sails, making the leaves and shadows jump; 
The warmth of her intense body sliding against soft sheets
And the drowsiness after; the phone knows it doesn’t need answering.
There’s no call to arms more potent; 
Sweat shining, her depths in paroxysms
Of laughter.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The sink got clogged today. I airily said I would take care of it,
waved a nonchalant hand at my mother and spared her retches.
'No of course I won't lose my appetite.'

After breakfast, I returned with the plunger
But it only made little sucking noises and water slop-spurted out
from the little slit under the tap
Like the sink vomiting on me. At me.
Little things were floating around in the water,
not disgusting but ghosts of things disgusting.
I prodded deeper in the pipe with a straightened-out clotheshanger,
And roused greenish-black memories that drifted eerily in the clean water,
Returning to haunt those who had no concern for the plumber.