the last sin
  pale ashen sky
a bleary eye
clouds of recurring screams...
i am a zoo
  an octopus leviathan
tentacles into an ocean
of unformed emotions...
syphilis and love  
  syphilitic pall
stifles the clear blue
i contort...
shell and pearl
  amidst highs and lows
in life's ocean flows
a shell peony-mouthed...
i am an unmarried mother
  fed on stings
of barbed milk morality
my child-plankton...
the lovers
  cell upon cell
bridge of their union
hung on the pillars...
  ogre of age
and time cavil
at a warm picture...
the young today
  innocence thaws
at the altar
of ambition...

a goodbye that never was

he had become frail
with little strength in his body
in the hospital for over forty days
his spirit was unwilling to break
but that’s too painful a story
to be recounted here
some things just can’t be expunged
from the soul
by sharing in hindsight
and must be endured
in the morning he was propped on the bed
outside there was feverish activity
i had no clue
he was sinking

you were weak and helpless
refusing to eat and i told you
in a detached manner
‘be strong’
strength is a great virtue
‘have some juice’ i said
it met with a faraway look
a sign of resignation
you had been brave
fighting a lonely battle for five years
your earlier recovery was inspiring
but that look on that fateful morning
when i had come to check on you
before going to work
work the restorer of balance
i couldn’t stand
fearful i couldn’t stay
in that room
there was so much to do
and i was in the ‘task’ mode
‘i have to manage it’ i told myself
i wish i had held you instead
been with you when you were
slipping away
been tender to you
erased the memories of the past
and not resurrected the ghosts
when all you deserved was
the caring of a son
i did care but was not strong enough
to show it
i had to maintain
my own equilibrium
and there was no scope for weakness
i was negotiating
with my inner compulsions
but how i wish
i had been there when you decided
to slip away
i wish i had massaged your feet
like Mitch did for his Coach
held your hands when you were going
through those agonising battles
with physiotherapy
hugged you
i heard you cry with pain
and closed my doors
your cries dimmed
but my soul was scarred
rattled from inside
i wanted to self preserve
and didn’t know how to escape
my demons
i still think of that day that look
can never forget it
and can’t forgive myself
all i wanted was an end
to your suffering
and peace for you

after you left
i went through
the motions
in a haze

i should have tried
i should have fought harder
father it will remain a regret forever
that i could not say the final goodbye

now another ghost has been added
to my tally

(10-11 April 2004)