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A House in the Mountains with You

A wooden cottage, even a tiny one would do,
As long as it’s a house in the mountains with you.

We could sit by the river, and find our favourite rocks,
And I could be wearing my favourite mismatched polka dot socks.

And you know I wouldn’t disturb you just as you sat to read,
Sometimes the comfort of your silence is all I need.

We don’t need to take turns to the market; it could always be us two,
But you know I’ll be partial to the dinners cooked by you.

We could build a fireplace for the cold, snowy nights,
And the purposeful mountains would take care of the trivial fights.

A wooden cottage, even a tiny one would do,
As long as it’s a house in the mountains with you.

And maybe, we would finally find a home.

Jerry Pinto: Some Ways Not to Write a Poem

the duckbill blog

Jerry Pinto is a poet, novelist and writer of splendid non-fiction.

1. Please don’t try and rhyme. If you do it all the time, you will end up wasting time.

You see what happened there? I started by saying don’t rhyme and then I thought up a nice rhyme and I thought it would be a crime not to rhyme this time and suddenly I wasn’t saying what I wanted to say but I was saying what the rhyme wanted me to say. The last word was suddenly ruling the rest of the sentence. So you don’t have to rhyme. But the words must sound nice and musical. See if you can set them to a beat, a thumpetty-thumpetty-thump.

2. Don’t be sloppy and soppy.

Please don’t tell me you love your Mummy, she is so sweet, she makes nice things for me to eat.

Oh Goosefeathers, I’m doing it…

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When All The Women Gather on the Street

The woman who runs the village with dreams of her own,

And the one trying to make the alien city her home.

When all the women gather on the street, we have no secrets to keep.

 

The labourer who leaves her children at day care as she works 9 to 9,

And the one who started the day care to help women who couldn’t spare a dime,

When all the women gather on the street, we have no secrets to keep.

 

The old woman on the armchair with the inhaler by her side,

Helped by the one who began running when she was barely five.

When all the women gather on the street, we have no secrets to keep.

 

The woman who couldn’t care less about body hair,

And the one who runs the city’s best boutique.

When all the women gather on the street, we have no secrets to keep.

 

The trans woman with the will of steel,

And the one trying to question her own beliefs.

When all the women gather on the street, we have no secrets to keep.

 

The woman with the alcoholic husband,

And the one who needs a whisky for a good night’s sleep.

When all the women gather on the street, we have no secrets to keep.

An ode to Andrea Gibson

I’ve always believed that sharing poetry is one of the most beautiful things there is. It’s like letting somebody in to the world of all that you believe in, and all that you want the world to be like.

On the occasion of World Poetry Day, here’s a curation of some of my favourite words weaved together by Andrea Gibson, one of my most favourite poets. I think their (preferred pronoun) poetry is a constant reminder that words carry within them the power to heal, and to touch the lives of people you’ll never be able to meet.

 

  1. On discovering that her mother thought LOL stood for Lots of Love:

“What do we owe to the truth?

Certainly not our mother’s smiles.

I couldn’t think of a worse thing to take from her

than the comfort she had offered others.

 

So I stayed quiet, and prayed that if she became

the laughing stock of town, the laughers would 

Laugh Out Loud and she would hear it the way she always had.

Just Lots Of Love.  Just Lots And Lots And Lots Of Love.”

(Excerpt from LALALOL: http://andrewgibby.tumblr.com/post/105708558109/lalalol)

 

  1. On reminding us that we’re all part scared to say we’re scared, an part say it anyway:

“You panic button collector.
You clock of beautiful ticks.
You run out the door if you need to.
You flock to the front row of your own class.
You feather everything until you know you can always, always shake like a leaf on my family tree and know you belong here.

You belong here and everything you feel is okay.

Everything you feel is okay.”

(Excerpt from Panic Button Collector: http://ohandreagibson.tumblr.com/panicbuttoncollector)

 

  1. On knowing that hope can get you through most things:

“Ya’ll, I know this world is far from perfect.
I am not the type to mistake a streetlight for the moon.
I know our wounds are deep as the Atlantic.
But every ocean has a shoreline
and every shoreline has a tide
that is constantly returning
to wake the songbirds in our hands,

To wake the music in our bones.”

(Excerpt from Birthday, For Jenn: https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/Andrea-Gibson/Birthday-for-Jenn)

 

  1. On realizing that Privilege is being the featured performer at a University’s Women of Colour Symposium, instead of a Woman of Colour:

“Honey, do you have any idea

How much privilege is takes,

To think it’s cool to dress poor?

You wear that dirty shirt and you’re a radical

Saving the world. I wear that dirty shirt

And I am a broke junkie thief

Getting followed around every store.”

 (Excerpt from Privilege Is Never Having to Think About It: https://feministfindings.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/andrea-gibsons-poem-privilege-is-not-having-to-think-about-it/)

 

  1. On the things that really matter, and questions we must always ask:

See, I wanna know the first time you felt the weight of hate

And if that day still trembles beneath your bones

Do you prefer to play in puddles of rain

or bounce in the bellies of snow?

And if you were to build a snowman, would you rip two branches from a tree

to build your snowman arms?

Or would you leave the snowman armless for the sake of being harmless to the tree?

And if you would, would you notice how that tree weeps for you

because your snowman has no arms to hug you every time you kiss him on the cheek?

(Excerpt from Asking Too Much: http://ohandreagibson.tumblr.com/askingtoomuch)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I Were Nine Again

I’d let my mother tie my pigtails, instead of insisting I try,
There’s a whole lifetime of pushing yourself that you can’t skip by.

I’d make sure my dad dropped me to school everyday.
So I would have an audience for all that I had to say.

I’d read more books about fairies and gnomes and imps
Maybe then I’d know how that boy is so happy despite his limp.

I’d go cycling with the shy neighbourhood kid everyone found strange.
It’s nice to have someone who listens, for a change.

I’d stand up to the class bully who’d always step on my shoe lace,
I could’ve learned to give it back to bosses with a little more grace.

I’d get lost in the woods as I climbed the trees,
And I’d run along home if someone comes looking for me.

I’d play make believe every hour of every day,
So I have a world of my own to escape to when the skies are too grey.

 

 

Strike One

(Originally written on the occasion of 100 days of strike at the FTII. Reposted in light of the recent violence at Ramjas University, and in support of the group that considers considers culture, protest and dissent as significant elements within a democracy)

Comrade Amu,

I’m trying to collect an arsenal of stories to tell you so you think I’m the coolest aunt when you grow older.

On 16th September, the Film and Television Institute of India (which will hopefully be headed by someone who’s a little more qualified than having played the lead in a mythological saga by the time you read this) held a protest at Azad Maidan because the NDA government has made some controversial appointments at the highest posts to one of the most credible institutions in the country, has completely disregarded merit and has been unapologetically apathetic to the students who have been striking for almost 100 days now.

Here’s what I learnt at my first ever protest:

  1. Don’t assume sole responsibility of initiating slogan chanting – you can never be too sure if it’s the right moment. This is especially important, lest you want to give a warrior’s cry of “Inquilab zindabad” only to be met with dead silence, a few sympathetic looks, and several glaring ones.
  2. You will never be the muse of the hundred people frantically running around with their DSLRs, no matter how sincere you (pretend to) look, the focus in the protest is always on the masses. Sigh.
  3. It’s OKAY to have images of Bhagat Singh or Subhash Chandra Bose or Gandhi, or all three, in black and white, poised heroically in their struggle for freedom, flash through your mind – repeatedly; provided, of course, that progress in science has still rendered it impossible to read your mind.
  4. Fortunately for your parents, and unfortunately for the raging rebel in you who has seen way too many documentaries and read way too many biographies, not every protest ends with having to spend a night at the police station. More often than not, it ends with more questions than answers, but it also intensifies your ardor for what you believe in.
  5. Always, always muster the courage to go up to the mike or makeshift stage and say aloud what in your head sounded like a revolutionary line. I promise you, it is a revolutionary line.
  6. And lastly, tip your hat to George Orwell, because truer words have never been spoken – In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

 

(The writer stands in complete solidarity with the students and faculty at FTII as they reach 100 days of strike in their plea to have their concerns addressed by the I&B ministry. It is shameful that the world’s largest democracy should turn a deaf ear to its voices of dissent.)

My Anxiety

My anxiety is like a guest that lives inside of me

And never remembers to pay its rent.

Yet over time, I’ve learned to become the perfect host

I take it along with me, everywhere I go.

 

My anxiety always knew that the popular kids only wanted my notes,

Even though some of them ate lunch with me sometimes.

My anxiety helps me to pick every outfit

So it isn’t too short. Too tight. Too teasing. Too Revealing.

 

It asks me to recheck the answer to seven times eight.

And I frantically press the calculator buttons. 7. x. 8.

It pushes me to study an extra hour or two,

Till I find myself asleep on an open book.

 

It advises me to scroll endlessly on excel sheets

To find an error buried deep inside cross checked figures.

But to give credit where it’s due,

my anxiety has never let me miss attaching a file when I say “PFA”.

 

My anxiety calls and checks on my parents

Even on days I forget to take a shower.

Mostly, it leaves me a little too prepared

For a life that doesn’t let you prepare at all.

 

My anxiety doesn’t want to be glorified

and find home in your art.

It’s immune to your advice to, “Not Overthink”

and wishes you’ve tied your laces well, so you don’t fall.