Today I went to Kleifarvatn again
I’m not sure what I wanted to see.
The mountains around it bulged with
Strange colours, ochre and rust, bent
As only hardened lava can be. Even
The sandy shore reared away from
The whipped waters, blinding the black
Shores brown. I let the hair blow into my eyes.
“Look”, I said. “How astonishing, the ropey
Ground. How it rippled as it flowed.”
The mists hid almost everything, but I saw
The water’s edge, white-frothed and clear.
“I’m so glad you could see this,” I said to my friend.
“I always bring everyone here.”


What need of poets

What need of poets when pyres are lit
On sidewalks – shall I say ‘let us go then,
You and I, when the evening is spread out
Against the sky’ and patients no longer
Etherized are strewn in our way? What need
Of imagery for a people starved
Of oxygen? Will metaphor bridge the
Chasm between the living and those
Unable to breathe? Should I not, instead,
Stake out my ground, and as a signpost might,
Point and direct the onlooker to parks
Abloom with pyre-beds, and flames that feed
Oxygen-giving trees with their dead? When
The iron hearts of crematoriums surrender
The poet needs must accept defeat. No mere
Broken heart melting with pity that still
Beats in my wordless body can compete

Fanfare for all the helping hands

The lilies, like a brass band, march across
The living room, trumpeting their deliciousness
In brazen tones. This year the arch of
Seduction spans seas and souls, bringing
Love in pressurised litres, texts, and zoom – no
Lyrical love songs, no dulcet tones. I hear
The amaltas like a choir over a billion strong
Thundering in my heart, and in my ear
Blasts this unprecedented song, this
Unbridled declaration of the sweetness
That lies at the core. Louder than hate
And evil and maliciousness, prouder
Than the sentries guarding death’s door,


– not a number you associate with 

The age of the dead. Four hundred – not a 

Measure of kilometres you think of as lying 

Ahead. Hundreds of thousands – an amount

That exceeds the space in my mind, so many

Hearts beating that when one of them burst, even

Its silence seems impossible to find. How do we

Claim to think of ourselves as one, a number

So invisible that we may never know its kind.

How will we account for fares unrefunded,

Trains unboarded, homes unreached, the lives

Discounted, the peace unbreathed, the pity

Unspoken. One, a number divisible only by itself

On every step of every long march home 

Lies broken.

A Song for Venus

She rises and sets with the sun, her brightness

Second only to the moon. The one 

Woman among the nine – or eight if you 

Consider size –  born to bear life, like Earth.

The wings of Icarus fell like the borrowed 

Feathers they were; the body of Venus tells 

The story of every woman who ventures

Too near the light, every blasted rock testament

To the fierce and fiery fight. Like every

Woman’s skin scorched and blighted, Venus’s

Face frights the timid-sighted. For pity

Of man’s eyes, a mantle drapes her livid scars

And so she blazes briefly in the skies, defying

Sun and moon, in a sisterhood of stars.

For Ashley, Aswathy, and all those sending food to the unhoused on the long road home

You can tell you’re home because they feed you.

Bowls and platters filled in love fried and sautéed and

Curried by hand each spice and grain and leaf 

Chosen with care because you’re home and they need you

To know how good it is to have you in the circle

Of their arms, out of harms way. You could say

That this recent splurge of breads and cakes

Exotic recipes, tender meats, and aromatic

Bakes is a circling of arms about ourselves, 

A reaching up into neglected cupboards to

Shake a little love from tins on our shelves.  Such

A strange thing, food. Hastily wrapped

Meals, made by strangers for nameless strangers

Trapped between the leaving and the returning

So many unhoused each one unknown. Such a

Strange thing, food, delivered in packets,  

Hundreds at a time, carrying the promise of home.

A Hundred and One Nights of the Falcon

Where I come from, no gift comes in round numbers. No ten

Rupees is ever given, it is always eleven, a token

Of not finishing, not ending, the extra one a harbinger

An invitation, a wish, a granting of plenty, of more

To come. Auspicious, we call it. A bringing to the fore

Of a promise for the years before the young. Where

I come from there is a tale of a clever woman who staved

Off death with a thousand tales, each one saved

For another night won, a full thousand and one. Where

I come from, legend has it that women sat vigil not 

One night or two, not a couple, a handful, a dozen, a 

Few. Stories are told in hushed tones of a full hundred 

And one, every thrower of stones has heard it, every 

Wielder of guns. Songs are sung of the women of the night

Who spread their wings, became falcons, and took flight.

Courage #8: An Easter Poem

Like a false dawn, the late winter snow
Beckons and seduces, shaping itself into
Leaves, coyly clinging to dry branches too
Embarrassed to admit to their saplessness.
See how the melting snow, like a lost love,
Shines the timid light, the brittle lace of
It chasing the gaps into glimmers of
Haplessness. Just for a moment, as you
Pass it by, it holds its dying in mid-air,
A newly shaped bud, unleafed and bare.
Courage is not the coming of Spring;
It is the promise of grace late winter
Will bring.

‘Not by eastern windows only’

I read it first when I was twelve,
A poem my father remembered from
His early days in school. I’m not sure
What he was thinking but we spoke of it
Often over the years. Battles waged and lost
Wars that ended in tears, hope was always
The prize. Because the quality of light
Perhaps, is also twice blest, touching
Those who are beaten and those who wield
The batons of power with the same
Vision of unrest. Every woman sitting
Through the night, every student braving
Authority’s might, every migrant
Shouting against the roar, every
Citizen courting arrest – they know
Why they fight, they know what this
Is for, they know why they persist. Hope
Is the only reward of all those who resist.

The Impossible Stubborness of Walls

Holding out as time and space and grief
Ravage the holding in. The brazen
Promiscuity of objects that move
To new homes, and glow with the accumulation
Of new-gathered riches. The unthwarted rigour
With which the shape of things cling
To the walls which held them up, the naked nails
Rejoicing in their unreplaced importance.

The returnee is eyed askance: cupboards retaining
The unwanted residue of indecision
Refuse to acknowledge the suitcase
And carry-on items that accompany moving.
Necessity is not the driving force of need.
Items left, undiscardable, regard the rest
As mere luggage. Unstable, movable.
Lightweight air freight.

No, home is never where the heart is. Ask the walls.
The brick and mortar that stand as you walk
Ride and fly where the heart takes you. Cement
Understands immutability. The resistance of immovability.
Make new homes, go. But if you really want to leave
Use your bare hands to tear those walls down