Broken (nights)

Some nights I feel like I’m smoking a stick of dynamite,

Knocking back mouthfuls of cyanide,

My thoughts walk a tightrope unsteady

My words are suicide bombers, their feet heavy

My memories are tiny needles in the pincushion of my mind

I hear the ghosts of dead desires shuffling behind

My heart throbs like an exploding minefield

Every breath is a labor of Hercules

I see an image of you, me, of us

A fading picture, beginning to rust

Consciousness; a bear-trap waiting to snap

Sanity; a dry autumn leaf that might crack

I look at tomorrow; a gaping, black hole

I close my eyes, watch fractured dreams unfold

I wonder if it’s okay to just freeze

Stop, desist, indefinitely cease

Then I open my eyes; see a tiny sliver of light creep in

Beyond the curtains, there’s a new everyday about to begin

Hope seeps in with the light; tenacious, ready for a fight

And I see it’s okay, though it’s not all right

It’s enough to take on a few more nights

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Return

Return

(Hello again, Bombay)

 I’m back, you sexy beast

Back among your unblinking lights and endless streets

Back to taste your sultriness on my face

To be pounded by your waves, and feel their salty caress

 

I’m back, to grab you by the scruff of your neck and ride

Or sometimes, on me have you astride,

To be swept off my feet by your tides

And then get up, and sweep your wanton waves aside

 

I’m back to stay awake to nights that never dim

Across winters that never arrive and summers that need a trim

I’m back to get wet in the unabashed showers of your monsoon,

To see a grapefruit sun dip below the sea’s greedy brim

 

I’m back to pick up the threads,

Of unfinished stories and plots left twisted

To find some answers that I left unheard

To say some words too long left unsaid

 

I’m back to put out some fires,

Bury some lingering desires,

To exorcise some ghosts of yesterday

To get some closure along the way

 

To see some faces so I can erase them from memory

To walk on some roads whose curves are still mapped within me

To re-acquaint and renew, where I can

If not, to move on and begin again

 

I’m back; there are new people to meet,

New memories to make and new feelings to greet

There are stories I have to tell anew

While some frayed knots I undo

 

I’m back, you sexy beast,

I know that you missed me

We were good together, you and I

And that’s how we’ll still be

Hindsight

Hindsight

I’ve seen stalwart hearts take a mighty fall

I’ve seen bold feelings get mauled

I’ve seen the slaughter of precious trust,

Of love gone wrong, I might have seen it all

 

I’ve felt the touch of dead intimacy’s ghost

Smelt the reek of passion gone sour

Watched desire depart, and familiarity become an uneasy host

I’ve swept the pieces of shattered promises off the floor

 

I’ve seen love grow backwards, and into hate unfold

I’ve felt the warm side of the bed turn bitterly cold

I’ve seen longing strike, and fell even a friendship old

I’ve seen the heart mutiny; not do what it’s told

 

I’ve battled for love, and then seen love itself become war

I’ve seen it take no prisoners, and destroy what it once held close

I’ve felt the holes you can’t see when you’re suddenly no longer whole

I’ve know winters that never seemed to end, and once-bright suns that froze

 

I’ve seen tender memories grow vicious fangs

I’ve seen indulgence boomerang,

I’ve seen lofty pride stoop to crawl,

Of love gone wrong, I’ve probably seen it all

 

But I’ve seen all of that and more,

Only because I’ve seen its glorious, heartening flip-side too,

And so I continue to continue,

Because, really, what else can one do?

 

 

Borrowed worlds, borrowed lives

I have sights to show you,

Through eyes that never grow old

I have a roaring campfire

Made of woods that never get cold

 

I have been to everywhere that exists

And also to places that never really did

Often, I’ve been someone new,

But that who was always lost in transit

 

I have memories of lives I’ve never lived

Like the light from a star now long dead

I’ve scars from battles I’ve never fought

Imagined wounds, bleeding real red

 

I have had great loves, and even greater losses

Whose names I never really knew

I’ve lived in many a different world

In many ways the same, in some ways new

 

I’ve died, and then lived, only to die again

I’ve squandered lifetimes, and some, I’ve reclaimed

I’ve been a shadow, a ghost, a drop of pouring rain

I’ve been everywhere, at once, yet static I’ve stayed

 

I have words to tell you,

With meanings both new and old

I’ve tales with which to regale you

With plots that will never grow cold

 

Because, I’m the storyteller,

And I shall always be a part of what I unfold

 

Take Me

Take Me

Take me with my broken wings,

My gaping holes and my bruised skin

Take me with my nervous heart,

Tell it it’s alright to let the healing begin

 

Take me with my splintered will,

My shattered belief and promises I rue

Take me with my squandered trust,

And teach my hope to swim anew

 

Take me with my sunless eyes,

With my ragged truth, nibbled by lies

Take me as I fall from grace,

Tell me it’s okay to take another leap of faith

 

Take me with my broken smile,

With my orphaned affection and my gnawing doubt

Take me with all my sleepless fears,

Help me shed those held-back tears

 

Take me as I become myself again,

As I shed yesterday that had me in chains

Take me, but you needn’t hold my hand

Just stay beside, and I’ll make my own stand

 

Take me, and show me the light,

As I walk away and exile the old

Then take me, and watch,

A hopeful, new story unfold

 

How the King was Felled

A fan’s analysis of Federer’s second-round Wimbledon ouster

In the end, the score simply read: 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) and what it translated into was that Roger Federer’s uncanny streak of 36 consecutive Slam Quarter-finals had just been brought to a screeching  halt and his – along with legions of his fans’ – hopes of an 8th victory at Wimbledon had been rudely defenestrated.  It was the third day at the hallowed championships – which many are now referring to as #BlackWednesday, owing to the number of seeds it felled, some quite literally- and the 116th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine had just hustled the 7-time Champion out of the court.

Fans were aghast, fans were outraged and some fans were plain disbelieving – hoping even in the closing stages of the tie-break in the 4th set that Federer might still be able to pull a rabbit out of his fabled hat and turn things around. But that wasn’t to be, and once the anguish had cleared a lot of those fans (myself included) were left wondering, ‘’what the hell just happened, and how?’’

Was it that the earlier, no less surprising ouster of Rafa Nadal at the hands of the equally little-known Darcis had left all the qualifiers more confident of their ability and the top seeds uncertain of their invincibility in these preliminary rounds, left them a tad mentally deficit or unsure coming into the matches? I don’t think so, most definitely not in Roger’s case. As a long-time die-hard fan of the man, I personally believe that the only people that may have made a pernicious, unwanted home in Roger’s psyche are Nadal himself and more recently, perhaps Djokovic. Nobody else has ever made the man question his abilities, especially before he even made it to court. And on grass, possibly not even those two. So no, it definitely wasn’t that.

Was it then the other problem that has plagued both Federer’s game and his countless true fans over the last few years – the ‘walkabout’ that his game suddenly seems to go to in the middle of some games? When shots that were hitting the mark suddenly go all over the place, he can’t seem to buy a first-serve and unforced errors creep in out of nowhere, leaving us wondering if vital parts of his game have suddenly decided to go AWOL? Let’s face it, fellow Federer fans, this has happened – and frustrated the crap out of us – quite often in the recent past. But, again, I don’t think that was the case in this match. He started in his usual sublime fashion and though towards the end, those unforced errors did start appearing, I believe they were induced; brought about by desperation, the desperation to try and play shots way out of his comfort zone and somehow squeeze them past the monster reach of Stakhovsky at the net. And yes, they were some shots of frustration too – an emotion we rarely equate with Roger on court – and they were largely because he realized he was swiftly running out of options, even with the full range of his game at his disposal.

What was it then?

Certainly Stakhovsky’s well-nigh unplayable serves played a big part of it, not just how good they were but also how consistently they were delivered- keeping his first-serve percentage hovering between 70 and 60 almost throughout the match, bailing him out with little fuss each time he needed bailing. That serve was nothing short of a stunning revelation, to Federer, the fans and the commentators alike.

But, Federer has in the past found a way to deal with the Karlovics, Isners, Roddicks and the like; all with more than formidable service games of their own. And perhaps he could have done the same this time around too. But he wasn’t allowed to. Because Stakhovsky came onto court with a dinosaur up his sleeve, a relic of the eighties. In the end, and in my opinion, what totally derailed Federer’s game was the no longer in favour Serve and Volley tactics of old that Stakhovsky employed, time and again, from start to end.

Federer’s game has always been about finding those improbable angles, making impossible corners and kissing the lines with seemingly effortless ease, keeping his opponents stranded at the back of the court and then dispatching an unplayable forehand or a well-disguised delicate drop-shot; his has always been a game of finesse and superlative placement. But that was not to be today.

When Stakhovsky came to the net shot after shot after shot, he forced Federer to do so too, and in effect, turned it into a brutal boxing match. They were literally trading punches at the net, trying to find ways to drill holes into the opponents reach and squeeze the ball through them, or rely on an uncontrolled lob. He hurried and hustled the finesse out of Federer’s game, and that to me was where the game was lost. Federer found he didn’t have an effective answer to this up-close and personal battering match that Stakhovsky had turned this game into, and the latter, proved far too effective and unrelenting at it. In the end, Federer took one punch too many.

I’m sure there are other more technically sound viewers of the game who will analyze it far better than I did and have more compelling theories, but as a non-playing, non-technically sound long-time fan of both the game and Federer, that’s how the game was won and lost in my eyes. My very damp eyes, by the end of it.

Now I only hope that having done the unthinkable and broken so many hearts in the process, Stakhovsky at least goes on to punch holes into the games of some other favorites as well. That might make me feel a little better, not much, but just a little.

 

Crescendos

Crescendos

The sound of a plucked flower’s cry

Is drowned by

The sound of the fluttering wings of a butterfly

 

The sound a single leaf falling to ground in autumn

Is drowned by

The sound of aloneness sinking in a pint of rum

 

The sound of daylight brushing shoulders with dusk as they pass

Is drowned by

The sound of a drop of drew landing on a blade of grass

 

The sound of Heaven weeping as it sees what we’ve become

Is drowned by

The sound of Hell gloating at the sight of such treats to come

 

The sound of ghosts whispering in the lonely dark

Is drowned by

The sound of a child exploring worlds inside a park

 

The sound of long-ago memories in the falling rain

Is drowned by

The sound of hope as it floats, sinks and then rises to float again

 

The sound of innocence as it’s ripped away

Is drowned by

The sound of a predator roaring at its prey

 

The sound of thunder as it rends the sky

Is drowned by

The sound of monsoons quenching the thirst of July

 

The sound of my world as it falls apart

Is drowned by

The sound of the earth’s breaking heart

 

The sound of the loudest sound I’ve heard ever

Is drowned by

The sound of your footsteps, as they walk away forever