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Why poetry in toxic times?

Why Poetry in Toxic Times?

Poetry can be discovered in most unlikely places.

For example, sitting in the atrium of a big mall, facing a gushing fountain on a hot humid May-end Mumbai evening, you say to your companion, surrounded by all the twinkling fairy lights and fir potted trees placed strategically on the white marble floor, “How poetic!” The crystalline water jet shooting up in a column against a darkening sky in the middle of a soulless glass-n-concrete and sanitized property can be a great diversion for a tired shopper left poorer by few thousands by that sexy and seductive commercial space: The vertical movement of pure drops of H2O can be a big visual relief in a place that registers the maximum footfalls these days in Mumbai or Madrid, Delhi or Peshawar. Malls are the new temples and churches for the post-modern Odysseus hunting for treasures and exotic fare and the urban tribes in Dubai or Kenya find time there to congregate. In such anonymous but identical architectural complexes— in homogenized and standardized settings, amid fake plants and plastic smiles of the overworked and grossly underpaid young poor staff; outside/inside the dazzling shops and their inviting wares, cruising along the well-preserved floors and regularly sanitized loos, gawking at the bald zero-figure mannequins under ark lamps and hunting for mineral water bottle that  costs a fortune for your recession-hit middle-class fake-leather wallet— you get a feeling of derivative power and branded kinship with others  in New York or Berlin. After gleefully splurging more than you have ever planned and secretly planning to go ascetic for a whole year in your personal expenditure, you, the tired Ulysses, decide to sit down on an empty bench and then—suddenly discover the solitary fountain singing merrily on the hot and humid evening. For the other adjacent happy chatterers on the Blueberry, it is a fixture, a prop; for you, it is sheer poetry in a pricey impersonal place, a symbol of purity and eternity. Poetry in slow motion. Water that priceless thing triggers a primeval response in a subterranean crevice of your overtaxed brain and connects you immediately with the first spontaneous priests of raw nature that wandered the earth, at the dawn of the civilization. You feel transported to a dim age when your distant ancestors conversed eagerly with early gods and twinkling stars and swaying trees and murmuring rivers, finding everything in the universe living and sacred. They talked with the gods and gods with them under starry nights and on fresh dawns, near crystalline rivers full of marine life. All this harmony was recorded in delightful and sublime verses, in epic poetry by the all-seeing ancient minds. There were few facilities then but poetry was a presiding deity of their immediate life; to-day, there are facilities galore but poetry, that musicality, that harmony, is sadly absent. Or, almost. The poetic spirit has started disappearing in prosaic times. Begun withdrawing from an age that is high on high-tech but low on basic human emotions. Bonds are brittle—you care more for your China vase or crockery or Swarovski glass than your dear siblings or pals.

Poetry is like the Golden Barrel Cacti— critically endangered, rare species in the Mexican wild, yet surviving the tough conditions. It is like Welwitschia mirabilis, another hardy plant of the Namibian Desert of the South West Africa. Poetry is a surviving link with our heroic past, with our mythological memory, with a unique moment when man and god were not yet cruelly split but were real for the other and having a continual dialogue. Like these two plants, it is endangered and becoming exotic. But it is a great survivor that adapts to most arid conditions and challenging habitats and grows in most inhospitable climes and times. It is vital to a polluting age like an oxygen mask. It can detoxify your body filled with an overdose of pills, caffeine and nicotine and other drugs, and raked with a toxic desire for More (Remember Henderson, the Rain King?).

Poetry is like the first rains over a smoggy town: It washes away all the grime and revives the dormant seedlings and revitalizes the corroded cores of your inner- life. It is a strong anti-dote to a frightening spiral of mad chasing of the deadly deadlines on daily basis, mechanically performing all the time in office and home and suffering indifferent colleagues, public venues and neighbourhoods that define social existence of competing individuals, and dreaming dollars and economic migrations inside/outside the country of your origin. Poetry is like the first rays of dawn that greet a terminal patient in a grim facility and spreads cheer in a solitary life on the threshold of cessation or a burnt-out top executive fighting for more money and promotion and his bad hangover.

Finally, poetry is coming face to face with your spiritual truths that refuse to be commodified and reified by a mass culture. It fulfills you and makes you whole, like the tiny church-bells chiming on a wintry desolate evening in the Chekhovian land.

Yes, we are the

 Warriors

Of poetry

Who

 Uphold the standards

In war zones

And never ever

Make them fall.

@Sunil Sharma

(From: Preface: Mundane, My Muse)

Daily Routine

Daily Routine

Louis Kasatkin

The first thing I noticed about him was that he always favoured the bench nearest the ornate water fountain, the one at the furthest point of the park’s circumference.

And there he sat, every day as far as I could tell, on the bench nearest that ornate water fountain just at the same time as I was taking my customary perambulation around the park.

I was subsequently to ascertain that every evening at around 5 o’clock he left his office at a pawn-broking establishment, in the city’s old quarter, and would take the tram directly into town and go for what was his accustomed stroll down here in the park by the canal.

Gradually over the days whenever I took my rest on a bench nearby, I would observe this fellow and speculate as to what thoughts might be occupying his mind during his sedentary repose.

Perhaps he dreams, of a lost childhood, as indeed do I on the odd occasion apropos of nothing in particular. Perhaps he recalls long summers ago that he spent with his parents on holiday by the sea, days filled with singing, laughing and maybe crying.

Summers in the park such as those, from which I now I recall the series of incidents, are nature’s magnet for children. freed temporarily to frolic vicariously amid the splendid and plentiful lush topiary of the park’s environs, out of sight and out of earshot of parents and nannies.

And on that one particular evening, tired from my exertions and sat in my usual spot observing almost as a matter of course the likewise repose of my quotidian twin, I found myself idly speculating as to what he might be observing with his doleful gaze behind those thick lenses perched awkwardly on his visage.

I often thought that he may unbeknownst to me perhaps be slyly observing me rather than I him. But on reflection I guessed his thoughts were as far away as ever, dreaming of his long ago lost summers. It seems that we were simultaneously stirred from our mutual daydreaming by sudden sounds of crying. A child crying.

Crying now, the little girl who stood by the ornate water fountain, looking for all the world as one who has lost her way. There she stood with her golden hair and eyes of grey, reflected in his thick lenses;

And as he watched her he dreamt, of long summers ago, and a childhood by the sea filled with laughing and crying.

And as I look back to then in the park, I see him there as he lies beneath a summer sky and I am no longer sat on my bench but am there on the grass ,side by side with the golden girl and she lies very still.

Sticks and Stones

They’d taken me to A&E around 4 a.m. Not a good time to get sent to the hospital, Saturday before dawn, the morning after the night before. Drunks, junkies, vagrants, the knifed, the shot, the battered, the bruised and confused.

They were waiting for me, waiting for me to die, but not on their shift. I could tell immediately. I’m intuitive that way. I could tell that they don’t fancy doing the paperwork that my dying on their shift would entail.

Their words hurt me alright, worse than any sticks or stones if you come right down to it. “ Chest pains!” some intern or other announced as he waved a clipboard at me in the cubicle, the cubicle with its curtain left agape for the morbidly curious.

What chest pains? My badly timed interjection to the dominant medical narrative caused a furious raising of the hospital staff’s eyebrows and an increase in their patronising tones.

Well excuse them but they have tests to run, degrees to measure,percentages to ascertain ; so my p.o.v. didn’t really count. Not in this cubicle, not in this medical facility’s A&E and sure as hell not at 4 in the forsaken morning with blood, vomit and worse decorating the environs of this most sacred of places.

First I had to be disempowered, brought under their stewardship,my critical reasoning was to be set aside ,so that I can be assigned ,consigned ,designed to fit in with their industrial logic.They were waiting for me, to consent to my own incarceration ,so that they could transform me into one of their votive offerings on one of their altars dedicated to their idols of weakness and incapacity.

If I could only feel strongly enough the urge to discharge myself ,and I went ahead and did just that. Then maybe their words would hurt me less than sticks and stones..But they’ll still be waiting for me,waiting for me…..

My Sweetheart ( A Valentine’s Day Noir )

“My sweetheart!”..that random thought arced across the empty horizon of his mind illuminating its darkest corners like the flashbulb of a papparazzi camera.


He saw you there, there in the magazine, there on stage. there on the screen.Pristine,immaculate ; in black in white and in full glossy color.

You filled his eyes,sparkled and dazzled them in black ,in white and in full glossy..


The  hire car had taxed his already somewhat meagre budget that he’d calculated would be sufficient to draw this adventure to a successful conclusion.But it was a necessary investment ,after all anything even moderately inferior in style and quality than this latest model Porsche sports would raise furtive eyebrows here on the Boulevard Saint Michel.

And raised furtive eyebrows might become inquisitive,inquisitive as to what some tawdry, budget conscious vehicle was even doing parked in this pristine,immaculate area.

Pristine,immaculate – his thoughts strayed – just like your form,your shape.Sweet..heart! a form,a shape so casually,lazily represented as if painted by Michaelangelo in an Age of beauty and mystery.

The mystery he would soon reveal as no mystery at all.The bouquets ,the chocolates,the cards,the jewellery, all delivered by high end corporate business couriers and now on this very special,this unique occasion, Valentine’s Day,no more intermediaries would be necessary..


He sees you now. Pristine. Immaculate. Leaving your fancy apartment here on the Boulevard Saint Michel,

You are alone,You are pristine,You are immaculate;

He reaches for the syringe.And steps out to meet you..”Sweetheart!”

Be kinder than you need to be everyone is fighting a battle

I see a guy homeless in Leeds, I stop smile ask him if he would like a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. He smiles and nods attentively. I say,”fancy a beef burger with cheese n onions?” His smile broadens “yes please”he replied. I ask “Hp or ketchup?” “Ketchup please” “thank you very much “ he added. I pass over his cheese burger and hot steaming drink and notice tears gently falling down his cheek. “Oh what’s up?”, I ask..”nothing you’re just so kind.” “Hey you’re loved “, I say. “Sure you’d feed me if it was the other way around “. We exchanged names. Stuart is his name. I ask how long he’s been homeless, as I sit on the pavement besides him. “3years.”” How did you end up homeless,” I ask. Stuart went on to pour his heart out to me. He said he held a job down for twenty years, one evening, he kissed his wife and headed of out to do a night shift ( little did he know his life was never going to be the same again) whilst he was at work his wife fell down the stairs and ended up in a coma. When Stuart got home the next morning, he struggled to open the front door as her body was behind it. Stuart found his wife dead. He then slipped into depression as life as he knew it was no more. He ended up losing his job, getting behind with the rent consequently ended up with Stuart homeless. As he told me I could see the heartbreak in his eyes and etched in his face. I held back tears as my eyes studied his hands, swollen, dirty, cut, blistered from the elements. Then they glimpsed at his feet, what looks like green puss stuck to his black socks. The smell that came from him was unpleasant to say the least. Stuart shared that he ended up losing custody to social services, his three children. I asked how old are his children now, 18,16,14… as he reminisced about them his eyes glistened and a smile broke out. We chatted for about another ten minutes, Stuart said,”look at the people just walking by, sometimes they look down on me. But they shouldn’t judge. Don’t judge anyone,” he said. He said how he doesn’t smoke, drink or take drugs, just has a 💔 Brocken heart.  Then Stuart shared  how his favourite bit in the Bible is  where it says whoever hasn’t sinned throw the first stone. I said yep we have all sinned. Stuart commented that in life there’s tests and we can easily fail them if we don’t open our eyes and look out for them. I left Stuart a hat, two scarves and a sleeping bag. He was so grateful. Tears streaming we said our goodbyes. We hugged exchanged smiles and I went on my way.
I’m so grateful to have a home, family and friends. I’m blessed beyond measure, my cup runs over. If you pass someone who looks homeless or in need, smile they are just human like you n i. They have feelings. They were probably once like you n I, but life happened and they had a bad break. Let’s be kinder than we need to be as everyone is fighting their own battle.

Footnote:

This is an excerpt from a book I’m currently writing called, ‘By The Grace of God’
It’s about different life situations and people I have felt myself around. I’m hoping it helps people, encourages and changes some people’s life direction, brings hope and points people to Jesus.

Autism

I have feelings even if I don’t show them properly, or the same as you do.
I can kick off but it’s because I’m totally comfortable with you.
I can see you looking at me strangely or back stabbing me as I’m not stupid, even though I don’t act like you.
I want to be accepted just like you.
If you ask me a question I’ll answer you honestly as that’s what I think you want me to do. Then I’ll be surprised if you then don’t talk to me as all I’ve done is answer a question?? Like you asked me to..
I wish you had never asked me.. don’t ask me if you don’t want my opinion.. Then I’m frustrated, I might kick off..I don’t understand you, you say one thing but then do something different I really don’t get you.
I’ll go out of my way to try and help you like.
I can’t read your body language,
I don’t get social ques.
I take what people tell me as truth.
I desperately want to be liked accepted, I want you to get me.
I don’t mean to get on your nerves , I only want to be your mate. I want to be like you.
I get excited, giddy, loud, can totally show myself up. My highs are through the roof, then my lows mean my world crumbles.
Loud doesn’t mean confidence, i just wanna be accepted.
I’ll do anything for anyone, I’m generous, vulnerable, I’m me I like fun. I’m desperate for a friend, even only one.
Someone to accept me.
With a group of people, I feel invisible, I sit alone, no one notices, says a word, I’m dying to get chance to speak. I may not look the same as you but I have feelings, no one likes to be ignored, no one likes to be on there own. Why don’t I fit in? I have feelings, I could stand here and scream what’s wrong with me?? JUST TALK TO ME! I only want to fit in, be accepted for just being me.
I’m me not a label, I’m wonderfully made. Life would be boring if we were all made the same. Please embrace me, take time to speak with me, I’m a good friend, I’m loyal, truthful, funny, clever and I do what I say I’ll do. I’d always be there for you. I’ll accept you for you. I’ll always be there for you to lean on me, rely on me. If only you get to know the me, see past the autism, as trust me I’d be the best friend anyone could be…. 

Footnote:

This is an excerpt from a book I’m currently writing called, ‘By The Grace of God’
It’s about different life situations and people I have felt myself around. I’m hoping it helps people, encourages and changes some people’s life direction, brings hope and points people to Jesus.

Suicide

The reality of life after suicide…
The reliving the last time I saw you, over and over again.
Did I miss a sign?
Could I of said something different?
What could I of done differently? Would you still be here?..
Rereading your txts, our messages…your posts..
Remembering the life we shared.
I know I told you I loved you, but I wish you really knew how much I loved you.
How missed you are.
The hole you have left in my heart, in my life,
The people that you have left behind.
When you go you don’t just disappear..
There’s an aftermath.
A devastation
A gaping hole
A dead body
An end of a blood line.
Dreams die
Relationships over
Children and grandchildren not born or not seen.
All your posession still here.
Triggers that remind people of you.
The mind is a battle ground, the fight is in your mind.
Believe me if you knew what you left behind you wouldn’t of gone.
You are precious,  perfectly made.

You are loved
You are worth the fight
The world would be a better place with you in it.
If you are thinking of ending your life, don’t! Please think again. You can do this, you have a future, you are ment to live, you will get through this. This is a stage in your life that in the future you will look back on and realise it did get better. Greater things are yet to come. It’s not week to ask for help. We all struggle, no one is perfect, no life is perfect. Keep going, tell someone how you feel if only a stranger. Ring or text a help line. Tell a friend, keep going, you are worth the fight. The victory is yours. The bullies will one day not be in your life. They will move on. You will meet someone else, who will love you for you. You are loved, please just keep going… don’t leave people broken  hearted… don’t leave someone to deal with your suicide..it’s a waste of precious life, your precious life, it stops a generation, it’s from the enemy. Believe me no one can take your place or fill your shoes, keep breathing, keep going, one step in front of another. You are worth the fight to live, you are worth life. 

Footnote:

This is an excerpt from a book I’m currently writing called, ‘By The Grace of God’
It’s about different life situations and people I have felt myself around. I’m hoping it helps people, encourages and changes some people’s life direction, brings hope and points people to Jesus.

Drugs

You think you won’t become addicted. You think what harm will a little dabble do? You can taken em or leave em. Harmless fun, only a laugh.
Start smoking cigs, then a bit of weed, then may be try some pills or a bit of coke on a weekend. But your not addicted you can pack in whenever you want. It’s easy it’s only a laugh. You chase the high, but you can pack in, when ever you want, as soon as your ready, just one more high.
Addiction creeps up and suddenly takes holds of you. It snares you and catches you unaware. Gripping you so tight not letting  you go. You really never wanted it to be like this, surely you can kick it, I’ll just give in one more line..The highs not as high so you try the next latest thing. Paranoid, depression, anger, frustration gripping tight. Change in your personality, noticed by loved ones. But it’s not a problem you can change, give up, just one more hit, I can easily go back. Weed,speed,coke, heroin or spice all grab hold of you and steel taking away life. Sickness, shaking, sweating just one more hit then I’ll have this sorted. I’ve got this, it won’t beat me. Just one more hit, I can escape as I am not an addict.. not me I have this sorted.. Chasing  this dragon gets dearer and dearer £50,£60,100,£200 a day, the cost escalates it’s running out of control.
Mental illness grips and has won. Your body is changing dying from the chemicals that fill you.  Spice – the new high, can’t possibly be bad as was a legal high. It grabs you n is 5 times more addictive than heroin, smoke it once and it can claim your mind, killing brain cells, that can never be revived. It eats away your flesh and burns inside your body to out. Acid in your stomach slidifies. Body frozen, like a mannequin. Mind numb. Oh how you wish you hadn’t started that first smoke, first hit, first high. Morals you once had have gone by the wayside. Stealing of loved ones, loving and needing drugs more than your family and children. You’re a long way off from where you started. How did you end up here? It’s ok you got this. Surely you can change, just one more high..
Well the real answer is NO. No one wants to be or plans to be an addict, it suddenly overwhelms you, sneaks up and takes hold of you chains you down, suffocates and leads you to death. Death of the person you once were, death of the dreams you had. Addiction changes you, consumes you. It will steel your life, money, future and your children’s future. It robs generations.

So if you are offered a smoke of a spliff, a small pill, a try of this a bit that Please say No!! pass it by, give it a miss, it’s not worth the risk. Keep clean, it’s an evil that’s waiting to pounce and tie you down, drag your life from you. Alter your looks, age you and steel all that you from you. A real friend would never make or force you to try a drug, new high or a known drug.
Ask yourself what’s in it for them? if I take or try this? Will they benefit financially? Don’t enter the devils play ground. Just say no, it’s not for me, I don’t need that, it’s ok I think I’ll pass…

 I hope reading this stops someone from ruining their life.

Footnote:

This is an excerpt from a book I’m currently writing called, ‘By The Grace of God’
It’s about different life situations and people I have felt myself around. I’m hoping it helps people, encourages and changes some people’s life direction, brings hope and points people to Jesus.

Flashpoint

FLASHPOINT

It’s Aiko’s birthday today. Just as the new chrysanthemum dawn begins to beckon, she awakens and her naïve sleep-filled gaze is captivated by the spreading dawn that’s only an hour or so into its ineluctable theatre of nature. Its flamingo-hued fingers are drawing back the veil of night; a clarion call if any were needed to announce that today is little Aiko’s birthday.

An auspicious day with celestial harmony and tranquility prevailing. Later, once this nascent day has matured into full morning, Aiko will show her draughtsman accurate hieroglyphs to the school-teacher and he will smile, applauding her endeavour.

Having breakfasted with special treats her Mother made and fastidiously donned her uniform, Aiko accompanies her grandfather holding his hand on their stroll to school. Looking up, far up in the early morning sky, the observant Aiko says that she can see a silver kite drifting slowly, slowly across the azure canopy. Her grandfather squints and knows it cannot be a kite. Though from that”kite” a tiny silver sliver appears to begin to somersault endlessly earthwards.

Momentarily transfixed, Aiko pulls impatiently at her grandfather’s sleeve, and in that moment he understands that all the rumours were true and that this moment would forever be separated from all the other moments and all the other times and all the other places would be separated from this time and this place by this silver kite.

Without knowing that to-day is Aiko’s birthday and she would show her classroom teacher her draughtsman perfect hieroglyphs, that silver kite brings with it an inauspicious augury. Aiko will not be celebrating her birthday today, the day when time itself will come to an end, and it will foreclose on all birthdays. On this sixth day of August. 1945.

Warriors

Running. Days spent running. Long days running away. Far, far away from that Hill. Senlac.Where Harold Godwinson fell. All that remained of his Housecarls, all that evaded the keen eye and whetted blades of those Normans was here in this rout.

They are seized by fear as they broach the deep autumn green of the forest with the day darkening about them. They trample into the swirling grey and brown. Heaving past trees so gaunt, so erect everywhere flecked with its shadows.

They feel feral eyes lurking, they smell that stench only warhorses make; the tang of their salivary breath as their stalking footsteps are tramping heavily on foliaged ground.

Warriors, masterless curs with their master dead, are breaking, staggering into a run. The run of hearts and minds now fleeing and pounding all at once as if seized by a madness. Their fevers fired by diagonal shafts of sunlight and arrows. Threading and piercing. Whispering their death, clattering and cutting.

Bone bared, sweat-browed fighters are now falling amid the dense. And of all the summers that are to come, those summers no longer are theirs but the forest’s.