Claws

It’s a gem! cried he, ecstatic.
Oh, look at it, is it not wonderful?
He held it aloft to family, friends,
Eager to share his joy, his pride.
I found this gem, he proclaimed.
It was all me, don’t you see?
This is my life. Can you see it?
My life, gleaming and glinting,
Sparkling stardust. Inanimate, you call it?
Fools! What know ye of life?
Where are your gems, may I ask?
Does any possess the sheer majesty,
The clarity, the quality of mine?
I thought not.

Yes, they said, yes, it is a wonderful gem indeed.
But, remember when, in your younger days,
When your mind was naive and vain,
When you understood far less than you claimed,
When you set about taking a hammer
To your own treasure trove – – yes, I see
You do remember – – Well, there was that
Stupid thing you did, you see.
There is that, they all said. That is undeniable.
And so, said they, and so why should you
Hold this gem? Are you not the squanderer?
Are you not the man of pilf, the creator
Of refuse, of waste, of negative energy?
Are you, then, deserving of this gem?
Do you not do it a disservice, coveting it,
Caressing it with your bungling hands?
Give it up, gems are not for you, dearest.
We know what is in store for you,
It may sound rough, but it is true.

Confound you! he cried. Beasts and parasites all.
A man hath done wrong, has he no claim
To righting himself again? Are you so pure,
Then, that you bear no blemish on your
Evil, conniving countenances? Is not your
Covetousness a crime more severe, done,
As it is, out of malice, not ignorance?
Come ye one or all, come ye to seize it
From me, and I shall show thee the wrath
Of Achilles. Hector, at least, had honour.
What honour in your actions? Beasts, I say,
And parasites all. Do I not see amongst
Your pretty words, the forked tongue
Of Milton’s serpent? Blind do you think me?

Round they crept, vermin of the masses.
Clawing, creeping, ever closer, groping.
Clutched he to his chest his gem, weeping.
Who could he turn to? Lord, he cried,
Save me, not for me, for I have forsaken thee,
But for thy gem, thy most wondrous creation.
Save it, and in saving it, save me.
Fool, they cried, there is no penitence
For the wrongdoers. Penitence comes
At a dear price, a price you are not prepared
To pay, turn you then to the Lord? Bah!
That brooding moisture you feel about you,
That is the the disgorged spit of contempt.
The Lord hath forsaken thee, now forsake
Thee this gem, that we may rightfully honour
It by virtue of souls more worthy.

The first of the masses, the friends he held dear
Clasped at his ankles, flaying skin
And severing tendons, causing anguish,
But no anguish compared to the prospect,
Nay, the now tangible fear of losing the gem
To the greed of the world. The question,
Never uttered, never proclaimed, burned
Through the windows to their wretched souls
And showed him, in all worldly lucidity
Their inmost thoughts.

If we can’t have it, why should he?
Are we not worthy, gem, of thee?

Flailing, he was brought to the ground
By the remorseless advance of the host.
Still he clasped, in hope, still they lunged
At it, probing, wrenching.

At last, naught was left of him but sinews
And dried blood. And search as they might,
They found no gem, only clay and death.

Imperpetuity

You gave me life, you did not ask me if I wanted to live.
Having indoctrinated me with propaganda about
Why we exist, what we are supposed to accomplish,
How we are supposed to go about it, and a few other
Vague and half-baked theories, you set me loose into
The open world, far too unprepared, far too naïve.

You don’t send a child (for that is what I was, no matter
My age) you don’t send a child into the arms of a world
Chock full of predators, just lying in wait to exploit any
Sign of weakness, any form of ignorance. Moreover,
You certainly don’t do it by telling him wondrous and
Misguided lies, aimed at protecting his feeble mind,
But doing nothing whatsoever to prepare him for what
Awaits everyone unfortunate enough to live to adulthood.

What you did, is entrap my mind for 17 years, leave it weak,
Under-exposed, unaware. Is it any wonder, then, that having
Experienced reality and come to terms with it, the mind
Then turns back upon your teachings and gazes upon it
With the wrath of one betrayed? Does it shock you to know
That a child does not enjoy being lied to? You, who are to be
My moral center, my core structure around which I must base
My entire infrastructure of values, if I were to find YOU corrupt,
Do you really have the right to marvel at my immorality?

I did not yield, that is an argument that could be made for you.
Whatever you did wrong, you at least instilled in me an ego,
A pride, a self-assurance. Something that allowed me,
In the face of a mob, in the face of the entire world, even
In the face of truth itself, to stick out my chest and say,
“It is me that is right. If you disagree, you deserve contempt.”
That ego sustained me through the years of my real education,
The years I was bludgeoned by realities, striking down every
Belief and world-view that I held with the smugness of a half-wit.
That education still continues. But the ego allowed me to put forth
An un-cracked exterior, showing no signs of distress or incohesion,
Whilst inwardly, under the hood, I rectified what I could,
And justified the rest.

And so, despite being given no inkling of the battlefield, the war zone
That awaited me, despite being shown a picture of Eden, without
Ever being told that I was never to live in that Eden, that mythical Eden,
That minds as wondrously impious as yours must have thought up,
(Heaven and hell, I am sure, were dreamt up by a parent) I survived.
I found my own weapons, I saw others find theirs, and I realized
That everyone had their own war to fight, and no two weapons need be
The same. That taught me diversity, the fact that no person is good or bad,
No people are evil or benevolent, no government is competent
Or even trying to put up an appearance of being so.

Lie after lie was reduced to dust by my ongoing quest for knowledge.
If you must know what was the harbinger of the death knoll, let it be known,
It was books. The cream of 4 millennia of the best minds our species ever
Possessed combined to leave us what can only be described as manna,
A survival kit, an actual lens through which our view is not distorted,
But enhanced. That lens gave me perspective, it gave me knowledge,
It gave me power. Ego now had some real ground to stand upon,
And stand it did. It has never been as secure within me as it is now,
With years of reading behind it, allowing me to throw in the face
Of challengers impressive quotes and plagiarized weltanschauungs.

And so, I find myself surrounded by an arsenal of weapons, ones that
I may now consider myself highly proficient in handling, that allow
Me the comfort of instilling fear in people around me, a quality which,
No matter what anyone tells you, is something invaluable and to be coveted.
And so, looking back, I could bring myself to forgive you, perhaps, for the lies,
Seeing as they were what propelled me to become what I have become.
I could, and perhaps I already have. But the war had not yet been won.
Like the archers at Uhud, I celebrated too early, and I paid the price.

There was my fortress, impenetrable, unassailable, a perfect defense.
And then there was her. She came bearing no arms, no tactics,
No subterfuge. She came to me with a language that I did not understand.
She came with pure, unapologetic honesty. Like a breeze, or more so a gale,
Blowing in through the cracks, flailing about me, all grace and glory,
A storm of delight, and I reacted in the only way I could, in the only way
I had learnt, been forced to learn. I fought with my weapons and my Ego.

Have you ever taken a sword to the breeze? Have you ever experienced
That moment, that zenith of futility? Does it not make you feel a right fool?
What distinction can you make between Quixote and me? His enemy, if not
Animate, was at least corporeal. Mine was a wraith, a shade, a ghost.
I tried to injure it, I thought I had won, too. But it did not leave me.
It dared yet to cool my skin, to force me to feel the pleasure of contentment
That was not self-procured, that came from without, not within.

Do you see what I am getting at? Do you see why, having set out to write
An ode to a loved one, I nevertheless end up with a tirade against you?
It is because I am now faced with a choice, a choice so terrible, I would
Wish it upon no one. I am faced with a choice between that breeze
And my weapons. My arsenal, so dear to me, my sustenance, my pride,
Everything I have accomplished on my own for 25 years, I am to set
It aflame by my own hand. I cannot entrap the breeze within my walls,
No, even I am not that cruel. I must destroy the walls themselves.

And so, this is what I accuse you of. This failure to warn me, to prepare me.
This hesitancy or inability that led you to point me in the wrong direction.
That did not teach me that love and Ego cannot coexist, that did not tell me
That all the knowledge in the world would not help me understand how to
Make her smile, to stop her from crying. To tell me that my modus operandi,
Dominance through fear, which was my weapon of choice, would be the very
First weapon I had to surrender. You once made me raise a goat, befriend it,
And then forced me to take a knife to it. It would have been a better lesson
If you had told me what that goat signified. It would have prepared me
For today. It would have hardened me. Today, I am exposed, and oh, so weak.

But, weapon or no weapon, I will not yield. And I will not perpetuate the lies.
When it is my turn, I will try it the hard way, the way of truth. Let us see
If the minds of kids are as feeble as we make them out to be, and if they
Warrant the level of protection that you seem to think they do. I will test
Mine, I will not cushion them with lies, but slice into them with the scythe
Of reality. I do not know if mine is the right way. Somehow, my Ego does
Not reassure me here. But I know, as I watch the charred remains
Of my fortress, that my childrens’ fortresses will look very different from mine.

Displacement

There exists within my wretched soul
An absence, an emptiness, a hole,
A void, a lapse of existence, a blot,
Where Space exists, but Time does not;
Whence came this vacuum, what does it do?
It reminds me forevermore of you.

In the foreground, a blinding, searing pain,
The background, less vivid, but the same refrain;
The body, soon numbed, begins to cope,
The mind, unlearning, rears a new hope;
Hope withers, and with it, the soul does too,
And withering, thinks still only of you.

On the horizon I spot a flower in bloom,
No hope now, it is an omen of my doom;
I set off, head aloft, chest out, arms akimbo,
Despair in my heart, soul trapped in limbo;
No symbol of love ever holds true,
Unless, my love, it signifies you.

The flower sighs, bows to greet the breeze,
With characteristic, lilting ease;
Its fragrance intoxicates the air,
Its grace, like yours, beyond compare;
On its petal, a teasing droplet of dew,
And in that droplet, a glimpse of you.

Hope, long lost, now breathes again,
The stalk rejuvenated by the rain;
A bud peeks out, quivering, afraid
Of Fate’s willingness to use its spade
To kill any bud that dares to peek through
The soil, that it may live its life with you.

Refuge

With nary a warning signalling what you have in store
A sprinkled caress of a kiss, and then down you pour
I am with you now, and shall be forevermore
To laugh and cry amidst your storms, fair Bangalore!

Guide me to my strengths and hide my fatal flaws,
Be my perpetual shelter, deliver me from Misery’s claws,
Be my Muse eternal, Mother, humbly, this I implore,
Grief is a stranger to me when I am in Bangalore.

Chaos reigns around us, madness has seized mankind,
Amassed in a mighty mob to render the wisest of us blind,
Let me find my solace, Mother, turn me not from your door,
I will not find sanity elsewhere, let me live in Bangalore.

Fate lies a-waiting, Destiny has laid down her traps,
One mis-step and all I have built for myself will collapse,
Let me dock my weather-worn ship at your heavenly shore,
My thirst for life is sated, let me die in Bangalore.

Deus Ex Machina

Hercules had his twelve great tasks,
Odysseus fought his way back home,
Victory sweetened their mead flasks
And, overflowing, stained the loam.

Rejoice! For all the greatest of men
Now set off for Olympian bliss,
For reprieve from the wrath of the siren,
For the vestal virgin’s kiss.

I am the contraption they deign to use,
The Deus ex Machina, if I may;
If such exaltation I ever was to refuse,
May Hades take me that day.

Onwards advanced the heroic guild
Intermingled with demi-gods;
Majesty so manifest in their very build
That all who beheld them were awed,

Hercules, Odysseus, Oedipus, Achilles,
All assembled on my platform;
Dionysius followed, Harbinger of causalities,
Wreaking chaos with his horns.

My strength held fast, my stance stood firm
As Divinity graced, at last, my vestibule;
But hark! What crawls? There crawls a germ!
Alas! That Fate must be so cruel.

My strength, now failing, succumbed at last,
Like a dinghy in a storm-swept wharf;
My will, that for the Gods, persevered steadfast
Crumbled before a lowly dwarf.

Ever lower I fall, descending forever
Into the realms of Kerberos
Until a soul manages to sever
The bonds that tie me to this dwarf.

Ode to a Night-in-gale

Blustery, billowy, howled the cruel winds;
A shower advances, then reconsiders, rescinds;
Depth perception suddenly gone all awry,
We are trapped! The mimic, a Night and I.
We need nourishing, victuals, food,
To combat the abyss and its darkened brood;
“Fear not!” spake Demi-God, “I’ll cook some chicken fry,
Then we can eat our fill, the Mimic, a Night and I.”

And so off he went on his uber-heroic task,
Donning always his ultra-violet protective mask,
“I dare both Fate and Common Sense to defy,
Just so we can eat, the Mimic, a Night and I.”
But Fate allows not rebellion to its tyranny.
It stole through the night and drained all the honey.
“Hades curse thee, thief, may your blood curdle dry!
What now shall we eat, the Mimic, a Night and I?”

Silence reigned supreme, not a whimper came forth
From the winds, the rains, the thunder or the Earth;
“May the Gods have mercy, oblivion draws nigh;
This must be the end of the Mimic, a Night and I.”
Just then a wraith descended from the chaos of clouds,
Wailing laments as heart rending as they were loud.
“Revel, now, Demi-God, revel in this bestial gore
Hear me, and hear me well. Thou shalt starve, nevermore!

But smile not yet, beautiful friend, one more rule must thou descry.
Only you may eat these prawns. The Mimic and a Night must die.”

An Offering

“Write happy,” came the command,
A petal laden reprimand
From the maiden in the hills.

“When you have so much to do,
So much to cherish, so little to rue,
Why concentrate on bygone ills?Stick your face into the breeze,
Be whimsical, smile with ease,
Sing with mirth and jubilation.

Walk in a garden, smell a rose,
Dream of poetry, live in prose,
Revel in all of creation.”

“Nay,” said I, “that I cannot be
The administerer of minstrelsy
Is plain even at the summit of joy.

For I have seen only too often,
When one permits oneself to soften,
Destiny hatches a malicious ploy
.
The flower picked, reveals its thorn,
The lover’s sympathies turn to scorn,
The garden, once blooming, wilts away.

Creation reveals its myriad flaws,
Art is prostituted to base applause,
The world I am left to view is grey.

So, maiden, if that be all you ask,
I regretfully am not up to the task
Of writing mirthful poetry.

I am, however, immensely glad,
That every conversation we have ever had
Has inspired some poetry in me.

Take this as my meagre offer,
To a princess from a pauper,
And in taking it, honor me.

I may not write poems of laughter,
But for this life and ever after,
I vow to always honor thee.”

Denial

My brain has denied me tranquillity,
Because,
When life finally seeks to put me at ease,
The brain regurgitates,
And vividly recreates,
Memories that send me back to my knees

My community has denied me fraternity,
Because,
When I gaze upon my so called brothers,
I see only sheep, thronging,
And now I gaze with longing
Upon the eras lived in by all the others.

My country has denied me poetry,
Because,
In denying me forever autumn and spring,
Inspiration by weather
Is now on half tether,
And any mention of it bears a false ring.

My species has denied me catharsis,
Because,
Acts which would set any sane mind reeling
Tortures, murders, genocides,
Trafficking, mass suicides,
Leave me completely bereft of feeling.

Nature has denied me Divinity,
Because,
In debunking myths with ruthless incivility,
It has shown life to be pathetic,
Merely a phenomena aesthetic
And run me pell-mell into nihility.

VALIS

If Mind is all, is Libido dead?
What happens when grey conquers red?
What is common between what Buddha,
Christ, Mani, Zoroaster and Dionysius said?

Is the world irrational? And what then, if so?
How, then, do we know what we always know?
Is there a second deity aloof from all our worship?
And if there is, which reigns above and which below?

Are we a microcosm of God, or are we really there at all?
Are we truly existent, or flawed mimics of Parsifal?
Do we worship God, and does he repay us by possession?
Who exists above reality to verify what we befall?

Are there amongst us Friends of God? Kyklopes?
The third eye, does it dictate when Time stops?
Has the Empire ended, or was it merely asleep?
If the seed was planted then, who harvests the crops?

If the world is irrational, then the Deity is too.
Reality is a joke, empiricism is untrue.
There is no sanity, insanity, knowledge or purpose.
There is only a fabric, shredded right through.

Are we ever to emerge from our Chrysalis?
Is there an escape from our primordial chalice?
We shall never know, we malfunctioning subcircuits.
We are mere neural flashes, all slaves to VALIS.

In Contempt of Love

You are no offspring of the heart,
But a product of a weakened brain;
‘Tis just as easy for me to part,
From you, as to fall prey to you again,
Fully knowing, from the very start,
To expect momentary joy, eternal pain.

What is the heart but a bloody mass,
Drone like, keeping time for Death,
Sticking only to its rhythmic task,
Sucking life from endless breath,
Draining Life from its nutritious flask
Without insight, without regret.

The brain, it thinks, it sees, it learns,
It contemplates the will to be;
It rules, it reasons, it discerns
Elevation from mediocrity,
It strives, it labours and it burns
To attain knowledge and surety.

Tell me, then, you of the churlish kind,
Would it not flatter you all the more
To be associated with the mind
Rather than the heart, vessel of gore,
Or art thou mindlessness defined
And does reason earn a higher score?