At the edge of the cliff
Fear is mandatory
To keep yourself
From acting stupid.
At the edge of the cliff
The world shrinks into two
Your good self and the depths below.
A body assessing its strength against the topography
A wish screaming within –‘It was better before the climb.’
That’s the binary
The heart remembers
Till the end of the world.
Dirge for the Precise Man
Your love for precise language
Is a threat to society’s peace.
When you say logic should have a place
In every outburst, including a nagging wife’s
Empty beer cans get thrown at you
In the family get together.
You crawl under the barbed wires
Of solitude and desire
To reach at the illusive font of precision
Of ideas, that crackle with life.
Both items accepted
In a dwindling club of similars.
Before everyone packs their bags
For the long summer break
You vow not to talk too much
Lest your words kill everyone’s joy.
Your friends say it’s a danger be too precise
That ambiguity allows the flowering of sameness
That new versions of uninteresting worlds
Appear only when you decide to give up on precision.
The City Without A Beginning.
Come to think of it
This place has always been a mystery
With regards to its beginning.
Though that doesn’t matter much
Now that we are reaching the end
Per newspaper reports.
Or are we still in the middle
Contrary to what the reports say?
Pleased only with the appearances
Worried knowing too much might bruise us.
Rummaging deep in to the soul of a city
Isn’t a job for the soft hearted
So we deduce by what’s there for the eye.
It swallows its lovers after a whim
Chomps innocent looking folks with glee.
It grows huge, thick skinned too
As do you with time flying by
Like a quail’s feather in pre monsoon storm
Slow, erratic, moving in uncertain ways.
You need a ferrule to save the place from splitting at its ends
A metal sleeve big enough
To house a partly gnawed galaxy.
The city, when it began, was a sacred chant
A word everyone memorized as if a totem
Bringing wonderful luck.
Before it becomes debris
The city is still a dream for many.
Memory scars a dancer
And a swimmer in equal ways.
Since both the ballroom and the river
Breed deep longing.
The miracles of gods in apocryphal folklores
Flatter the innocents in the streets.
Hierarchies are ponzi schemes
Meant to fool the ones at the bottom.
The little boy decoding
A Rubik cube’s algorithm
Is a naïve dreamer
Waiting to be singed by a chorus of applause.
You read a frayed book
Inside a roofless shop
City ravaged by bombs
Your right leg is bandaged.
Illusions are body doubles
Doing for us what we cannot do.
You tell yourself feel-good stories of peace
Like a drunk ventriloquist to an audience of one.
That the self is best fooled by the self
Is something everyone knows very late.
Someone has scribbled a love song on the last page
It makes you light another cigarette.
You read it thrice
Like a child greedy for a newly tasted sweet
Desire hangs on to the last crumbs of life this way.
It’s the last of the summers
Without a bird song
A voice on the radio says
You nod and laugh
Hope is a carafe with life inside of it.
Anil Petwal is a writer and a state civil servant living in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. His writing has appeared in The Punch Magazine, The Provenance Journal, The Ayaskala, Lavender Lime Literary and other places. He is presently working on his first novel.