“Does rust affect plastic dreams?”
I ask my teacher in my sleep.
She takes out an axe and starts cutting down
the first mouth filled with wrong answers.
Two rows away
she wipes her brows and folds her sleeves,
she takes another deep breath
before she checks the attendance sheet
and finds the next dream to kill.
She tells me I should think more and ask more
and ask the questions that help me live.
She looks at the metal that grows out of my pores
and gives me another chance.
She says only if I would try to be better
than the people I am clinging to, I could grow up to be her.
I look away from the blood that flowing down her neck,
the parts of her that she intends to kill by holding other’s breath.
“What about my mother’s arms, weak weak exhausted arms?
Are those my telling signs?
Does that mean I don’t have to worry,
that I am just someone next in line?
What about you? Do you rust like me?
Would the color of my rust, would my weakened heart
make me worth protecting,
make me deserving of kinder words?
She told me “It will not get you respect or equality,
if that’s what you are looking for.
It can sure get you love, of some kind, for some time
but it is just a matter of time
before you see the end that only you can write.
And you would end up writing it
cause that painful end would be more truer and more yours
than any love that you find by compromise.”
As she walks past me, smiling lovingly,
as she spares my life, that now she owns.
As she dissolves my only way back,
I realize too late, that my chaos and my doubts
were more hopeful than an answer like this
that promises pain to everyone else but me.
There was that pile of paper
I could never keep safe.
The crossed out, always crossed out words,
words always out of order,
words turned beautiful
only because they dissolved
in my frustration.
Only because now I cannot read them
I must make something out of them
something that couldn’t possibly be mine.
The blue ink dripping,
forming planets on unexpected letters,
forming planets on my hands.
I would take them to class
and look at them as if now I meant something more,
now that I was suffering for something I want.
I raised my hands to answer a question
I have already answered hundred times.
I sat down and swallowed my teacher’s frown.
He didn’t have to teach me
that right answers matter
only when they come from right mouths.
(I once got an A only because I forgot to put my name.)
I knew there was nothing I could learn
by swallowing frowns everyday,
but still I dragged myself, my broken planets,
my half burnt poems in my half burnt hands
to the one who doesn’t think twice
before asking me
to hate myself better.
i can’t…i just can’t bring myself to remove all the ellipsis…that i leave behind in my sentences. i know they look shabby… as if i don’t know how to create proper sentences…as if i have never heard of a comma. i am told it is something similar to ending and pausing sentences with “you know”.
“so juvenile”…my friend had commented. i remember saying the same words to my friends as well (but i don’t think my tone was the same, but i could be mistaken…or self righteous)…so it seems i am not allowed to take it to heart. i am supposed to erase the ellipsis…till they smile again and lie that “i will do better”…or that “it’s time i grow up”…or “gotta become a real poet”.
it seems it is okay to store my ellipses in my mind
to place it on an empty sky,
on the face of my teacher sprinkled with a hatred that i can’t understand,
on the hands that never reach out to me in daylight,
on the future i can’t seem to dream about,
on every minute that i walk alone on the streets
where i thought i would never have to be alone,
on the days when i know the answer but won’t speak up
for the fear of being right.
i don’t know how to live a life
where what i think has importance or the acceptance of others.
need to find a better home for my pauses
than pages that are mine
but only with conditions.
I row my heart
to the moon you drew,
the one you colored in green
ignoring every reality,
for which you got an D,
for which I lost a part of me.
I no longer hold onto the poems filled with dread-
dread of rejection, of future, of finding myself eventually broken.
I see something that you have left behind in me.
Something that still burns, still lives for a reason.
Something that is much more than an art class with disappointed teacher.
Something that helped me hug back the blue parts of me.
I row my heart
to the moon you drew,
to the world I traced
with my own brave hands.
The soap slips through my fingers
and falls onto the floor
(a floor that in my mind is never clean enough).
I wash the soap vigorously,
till it becomes half of what it was.
My teachers would be proud
to know that I take germs somewhat seriously even now.
Even now, when I am sure of only of my loneliness*,
such ghosts of primary school science don’t leave me alone.
*My hands are too small, I have been told many a times. Maybe that’s why this happens so often. But still I guess it happens to all. I can never know for sure though. No one I have ever met talks of the soaps that slip. Maybe that shows the state of my friendships, how I end up feeling weird, feeling alone about the things, in experiences that are supposed to be normal and common.
When all things that are not divine
found a home in me,
I realized they would probably
be the only friends I ever make.
I read up many books
and considered taking up some mildly destructive
and slightly disturbing hobbies,
so that I could know them better.
So I could become someone they could accept.
I looked for a teacher who could teach me
how to love back darkness,
how to become a wound itself
instead of nursing one forever.
I want to say I found happiness
in that one friend
with sad eyes and bitter lips.
But there still lived in me
that one girl made of light
who wanted to ruin me
by guiding me back to life.
that’s what i remember.
when the stones fell
onto the already breaking roofs of our class,
the girl who sat three rows ahead
everyone who was busy day dreaming,
who had shut their ears to every useless fact that we come to learn,
knew how to listen to this,
to this violence that could hurt but won’t.
i sat there listening,
wondering if my skin would also be able bear
what this tin sheet roof can,
if my classmates would look at me
understand their violence that could break me but hasn’t yet.
maybe it was our silence,
maybe it was the teachers glare
that made it stop,
made the loud shrieking rain to end.
and when she left
the stones had already turned into dripping water.
the kids wanting to forget
the trauma of being silenced,
of having their dreams interrupted,
of being reminded of their helplessness
recited incidents that didn’t happen,
tried to laugh a little louder than usual,
made another joke at the expense of someone like me
and so my only memory of hailstone
was also reduced to the din of students (who never liked me).
i closed my books and pretended to be asleep
while everyone ate and talked to their friends.
i waited for everyone to leave
so I could eat alone
without being ashamed for being left alone.
i said the word aloud in that empty classroom.
i had one more words now
to describe these kids who scared me by their meanness,
who made me like the prospect of loneliness.
The moment I pass any door
a part of my brain whispers-
too many people,
watch you step and watch your tongue,
lest you want to be branded as one of those women
that you are are and aren’t at the same time.
For if you are not careful enough
you will soon believe everything that people say about you
as you are doing right now.
Right now only half of you exist in this body.
I know this because that is what I was calculating
in the class of areas and volumes,
as teacher taught how we determine
the volume the water left at in a cylinder of flesh
once it starts leaking from all the words that have pierced it.
Or that’s what I heard at least.
I got had good score for that class
and I got called many more names.
A little more of me seeped out
and now I am less than half of what I was.
I know this because I have lost my friends
(maybe they see I am no longer me).
I know this because my heart no longer protests
when I hear people calling me by wrong names.