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...

southern spice

on a dry day-- in indian parlance
it means no liquor-- in chennai
ornate yet classic serving plates
with silver polish and a sweet dish
for starters served in an oil lamp like bowl
papadams in duo tones of rich cream and light green
to be savoured with a quartet of chutneys
onion ginger coconut and mint the spice sisters
ask me the colour of the environment
and i would say brown with obvious undertones
chettinad chicken multi-layered malabar parantha
and genteel lyricism of bharatnatyam
mellifluous strains of carnatic music
notes intermingling with the aroma
of spices creating a heady ambience
i mustn’t forget hyderabadi chicken biryani
and curd laden with vegetables
then saffron rasamalai as dessert with a distinct flavour
followed by a feast of cardamom and betel nuts
thick tamil accents and friendly smiles
and we were done with dinner

more than a gourmet’s delight
that would be predictable
a slice of southern life
an unusual experience the taste
of which still resides in my mouth.

( 2 June 2002 )