I believe

I believe in steep drop-offs, the thunderstorm across the lake
in 1949, cold winds, empty swimming pools,
the overgrown path to the creek, raw garlic,
used tires, taverns, saloons, bars, gallons of red wine,
abandoned farmhouses, stunted lilac groves,
gravel roads that end, brush piles, thickets, girls
who haven’t quite gone totally wild, river eddies,
leaky wooden boats, the smell of used engine oil,
turbulent rivers, lakes without cottages lost in the woods,
the primrose growing out of a cow skull, the thousands
of birds I’ve talked to all of my life, the dogs
that talked back, the Chihuahuan ravens that follow
me on long walks. The rattler escaping the cold hose,
the fluttering unknown gods that I nearly see
from the left corner of my blind eye, struggling
to stay alive in a world that grinds them underfoot.

~Jim Harrison



He asked me, if I’d miss him;
it was as if, he meant to ask
of those flowers that stopped
blooming on my window,
despite the warmth of
the sun and the chill of the
water I nurtured together.

It was as if, he knew,
I remembered the nights
parched in the lack of
warbles, the only thread
of acquaintance with the
alien October bird.

It was as if, he knew,
November this year,
settled for more cold and
and scabbed fingers.

He asked me, if I’d miss him,
as if he knew I would, and still
wouldn’t know.


I hold my breath against yours
and stoke this barter of living

counting the hours of a bus ride
suspended in the rugged steeps

counting the hours of a sleep
just before a dream strikes

If every measure is a moment of understanding,

then all the distances
from this candle
to the dark walls,
shrink into a wick,
blazing the air,
membrane by membrane

The spark is as subtle
as the opening of an
old, almost forgotten book-
spilling dust and drudgery,
as if the only way for
the light to transpire
is from within


coming close
is the same as
going away

Is it the turbulence
of a camphor or
the air, that
builds a fire?

Some stars explode
and become dust,
others linger
for us to gaze upon
and render meanings

Brooches, frames,
are an indictment


From the banks of nostalgia,
recedes a ripple of shadows
on the translucent, moss-green waters,

disfiguring the present from the time.

Forgetting is a skin-deep wound,
it takes a while to grasp what
has been crooning over the senses,

is not merely the whiff of sandalwood.

You begin to let your questions
astray on the beaten towpath,
that once charted you out.

Garhwal Chronicles

Trudging nostalgia


Driving past the pines
for the lust of deodars,

morning towers in dull topaz-grey
from the dungeons of these mountains,

holding years of dust migrating
from plains and elsewhere.

Summer is the only bright lantern
in the corner of a dark room,
attracting hordes of moths
like these restless tourists


Time goes grazing in the forests
that thrum in nights,
altitude is an escape, or a refuge.

Clouds and fog shield the white peaks,
and sometimes these quaint towns and villages
from the news of wars and rapes that
the rest of this country sins.

Young city-clad folks at the local chai dhaba,
grumble of phone network issues.

Oblivion, not peace, is the end of the Himalayan retreat.


Some mountain edges smell of
fresh asphalt and coal tar,
few other gods yet to be
invaded in the Devbhoomi.

Resurrection is a seasonal borrowing,
of hammered glaciers
and multistorey evolution.


Salvation, apart from the Ganga-dips,
is an everyday quest for firewood
for these women in iridescent scarfs
and enormous nose-rings.

At Devprayag, I immolate my disbeliefs
for the sight of conflict-less confluence
of two different races of river,
becoming both Alaknanda and Bhagirathi

to this flowing, unified Ganga.

Lessons from a friend

You are a bird,
looking down into
the world from
a branch below

Your branch makes
the sky look too
far, and the earth
too crumbled

The loftiness of
this tree remains
like your imaginations

Before taking another
precarious flight,
climb up a branch

where too much mind
ceases to be;
now try travelling
to other trees


(inspired from an e-mail conversation with Neha)