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The Diary in the Attic

Within a pile of pages
Lies hidden, forgotten,
The story of my life
My best and worst years
Truths, hopes, fears
The ones who knew it are gone
But they only saw parts of it
Never the full picture
I forget why I wrote
Perhaps, in confession
Maybe I went unheard for long
Or was scared to share myself
Yes, I was hard to understand
But I found it harder to talk
I was, probably
Too deep to bother digging
Too twisted to unravel
I gave up trying to connect
And they gave up on me
Too soon, and that hurt
I withered away in misery
Anyway, I wrote
At length, for someday
Someone else might
Sneak up to an attic to hide
And find in me a friend
My words a solace
My experiences a lesson
For I have things to say
About what I never did
But should have, could have
To survive and thrive
I could be a confidante
I think I will be, soon
Footsteps like thunder
A teenager in agony
Barges into dusty emptiness
Restless, furious, hurt
And thankfully, alone
I was her, once, but
She must not become me
A master hand waves
And my book falls open
It’s time to start.

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The Old Man’s Advice

I feel your eyes on me
My wrinkled skin
My walking stick
My bent back
My silver hair
Let them not fool you
Into thinking I’m just an old man
Lonely and lost, waiting to die
Wondering how life went by
Blabbering away to himself
About the ravages of time
Uncertain of the future, unsure of the past
You may be guessing how long I’ll last
Even I do that, to amuse myself at times
When I’m not teaching my grandkids their rhymes
But trust me when I tell you
Kid, I’ve had the best times
A missus whom I loved
God, she loved me back!
Smart children I raised
For that I always felt blessed!
Grew up with siblings in a happy home
And now they won’t leave me alone!
I breathed the fresh air of those days
Got by very well without the rat race
Never ever did a thing to lose face
Oh yes, I’m in a happy place
So don’t be fooled by the shrivelled exterior
I for sure won’t be dying poor
Kid, take a leaf from my old book
It is at yourself you ought to look
Run along, and fare thee well
Go write a story you’ll be proud to tell

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Park Bench

Come and sit with me
On our park bench
We can laugh together
Watch the hills with each other
Nobody for miles
Only the sun, the breeze, and us
Silence in such a place
Will still feel good
Carve, with fingertips
Our names into the wood
Let us claim it together
So comforting
This old park bench
Let the world pass us by
There is no rush
We have nowhere to be
This spot has set us free
It has seen things
Heard the thoughts of many
Young, old, they all come
And whisper their secrets
Into this park bench
And so shall we
Listen to the woods
Birds, and dogs in the distance
Fellow bench warmer,
Let us be star gazers
Rule breakers
Happy lovers
Or simply
Best friends
On this glorious day
In this beautiful garden
Come and sit with me
On our park bench

Park Bench

Let Them Come

They will come for you
Brace yourself
No running, no hiding
You are better than that
Deserve to defend
The fire in your eyes
The heart in your body
The thoughts in your head
The faith in your soul
For you have done no wrong
Never a con
Never sly intent
Only innocent, naive
So you owe yourself love

Let them come for you
Embrace yourself
No whining, no crying
You are more than that
Deserve to avenge
The love you put out there
The pride you set aside
The trust you offered freely
The dream you cast adrift
You owe yourself cleansing
And then, a hero’s welcome
Loud, clear, rousing

Let them come for you
Raise yourself
No stopping, no sighing
You are stronger than that
Do not pretend
It didn’t hurt
It didn’t sting
It didn’t stun
For it threw you off balance
Snatched a moment from life
It had to happen, though
For you to see yourself
To rise and shine
Believe in the design
Of fate’s skilled hand
And meet its demand

If you were wounded
‘Twas so you could learn to heal
If you were betrayed
‘Twas so you could open your eyes
It was meant to be a hard lesson
So that, when they come for you
Again, as they plan to,
You will know better
Than to let yourself down
Let them come for you
Let them come

Lion

Daddy Dearest

A father is not superman. He is mostly ordinary, with an average way of life, family, and the occasional bad habit or weakness. He is mortal, and so I will not wax eloquent about the qualities of the super-dad. No, he is most likely incapable of bashing up the baddies or saving lives when the scary villain turns up. Who is he, then?

Assuming you are among the blessed ones, ‘dad’ is the man who fell in love with your mother, and committed his heart to her for life. Dad is the one who dreamed of ‘starting a family’ with your beaming mother; he is the one who was perhaps required to think of how they would manage expenses with a kid or more around the corner. He must have bitten off his nails as your mother went into labour, with the entire household fussing over her. Well, to tell you the truth, folks probably fussed over her all nine months, assuming that the would-be dad was doing fine, no tension and no sweat for him.

Your dad was the one who held you as you slept, as your mother slept. He perhaps worried that you looked too fragile to be true! Handing you over to your mother, he must have gazed anxiously and attentively while the doctor went on and on about caring for you.

Your dad must have looked into places he never bothered about before, like schools and day-care centres, to help your mother decide where the kids will have it best. He is the man who may have kicked one or two bad habits, or promised to stop swearing around the house on his rough days because the kids should not be exposed to the bad world at their tender age. While your mother reigned over the household, acknowledged by all as the parent supreme, dad fumbled around to see how he could make life more comfortable for all of you. He was often the villain disciplinarian when your mother was the loving angel, or the parent who enjoyed fooling around a bit while your mother tried her best to officially instill good principles and mannerisms.

Your dad got you a bike, or took you walking if he couldn’t get you one. You probably held on to his little finger so tight because you did not want him to leave you, ever. Dad introduced you to the world in his own way. Perhaps taught you a few things unknowingly. Maybe you started scanning the newspaper just to see why he loved to read it right in the morning, and he patted your back when you read the headlines aloud with the emphasis only a child can offer to reading material. Perhaps he caused you to win the school race just by constantly telling you that you were capable of it alright. It could be that he did not know how to prepare you for a fancy dress contest, but he was right there, cheering you when you went on stage. The poor thing must have cringed to himself when he told you he could not make it to your big event sometimes because, of course, his boss HAD to get the report that very day. How bad it must have felt for him to break the news to the eager kid demanding his attention in the sweetest way possible!

Your dad is the one who may admonish you at home all the time, but will praise you to other parents. He may have seemed distant, choosing to peek into the little aspects of your daily life only when he saw an impending problem that needed action, or was informed of a ‘situation’ requiring intervention. He might not be the epitome of patience, but he sure did repeat things to you when you tugged at his sleeve wanting the explanation all over again. He carried you on his shoulders in the parade so you would have the best view, even when he had to wade through sweaty crowds. Dad is the one who told you off if your manner was whiny, or instructed you to be brave when you were at the doctor’s for getting those nasty stitches. He probably ran pillar to post to get things done for you. Who knows, he might have planned to go catch a game live with friends, but ended up babysitting you in his time off from work, and you took the chance to throw every possible tantrum.

Dad can be part-Hitler part-Santa part-Goofy, and you cannot figure him out half the time! You often wondered if you were important to him at all, judging him wrongly on his grunting or nodding or hmm-ing in conversations, when all the while, he considered you an integral part of his soul. Sometimes you might have been embarrassed about him making jokes that only he found funny, or giving your friends the lecture about their lives when they showed up at your door. Dad just feels good when he knows he is needed, and you most certainly did not assure him of that as you grew older. You probably dismissed him in that polite yet aloof manner when he wanted to talk to you. Do you remember how he sat and admired your toddler-level drawings for a whole hour as you narrated how the accomplishment came about?

Dad honestly does not expect he deserves your 100% commitment even if he demands it aloud; he probably hopes for 10. Could you give him 5 to see the smile on his face, or hear the familiar grunt of approval? Look beneath the bushy eyebrows and the aging jawline. You will find the proud eyes of a man who is but a little child within. All he needs is you to reassure him that he did not fail as a father, that those little shortcomings did not make him less of a dad. For while mothers are the angels heaven sent down, dads are also the fierce guardians of their flock. “My daddy may not be the strongest, but he is still my daddy dearest.”

FathersDay

What is Love?

Love in my world
Never a bait
Never a titbit
Handed out to a child
In return for compliance
Never a deed
Never a contract
Handed out to a client
With terms and conditions
Never a prize
Never the applause
Awarded to a performer
For dancing to one’s tunes

What is love?
Unbridled affection
Unmatched inspiration
Ceaseless devotion
Or so I define it
In my precious world
My little dictionary
But the world has changed
It is all commotion
Self-commoditization
Materialism’s promotion
My values archaic
My heart throwaway
My love written off
It’s a trading game

Of far more value
As I discovered, are
Compromise, acceptance
Exchanges and agreements
It is a sea of tentatives
Superficial promises
Impatient scenarios
Dizzying edits, and
Ego-massage demands
Everyone looking for
Returns on investment
I have the option to stay
Or walk out if I may
No binding threads
No bonded soul
Holding me close
It shocks me, it does
That love is no magic
In today’s times
And to this manic,
Unbelievable world
I doubt I belong!

Finding Me

I stand at the threshold
Of a chaotic universe
I’m committed to see it
While escorting a babble
Of doubts and some blues
Like unwelcome guests
If only they were absent
But then, it’s a chance
I’m told is ‘heaven-sent’
So biting my fears down
I step into a labyrinth
Seeking some resolution
The answers to a future
I’m told I ‘certainly own’.

And what did I expect?
It is dark and muddy!
But no point hovering, so
I make my way forward
A tad gingerly around
My shattered illusions
Scraping mud and grime
Off my poor self-esteem
Often picking up hopes
Half-eaten by distrust
My clothes they tear on
Tiffs and bad thoughts
Ouch! I swallow and sigh
Stumbling on egotism,
Of this one hindrance
I was so duly warned.

Obstacles at every step
Garbage round the bend
It is far from an easy job,
This ‘incredible internship’
And then I recall, that
The brochure also said
I would learn some things
If I just applied myself
The whole of my soul
And so I… I continue
Without a guidebook
Only a heavy backpack
Of curious possibilities…

I fumble for my notes
Made the night before
In astonishing clarity
Alarmingly rare, that.
Wiggling vanity? Trample it!
Squeaky cynicism? Squash it!
Wary “what-if”? Crush it!
Aching ambition? Nurse it!
Precious memory? Save it!
Lasting love? Pick it!
Feeble faith? Cradle it!
It helps that I prepared
To give this all I had
For the mist soon clears
And I see what I need to
Though it’s not quite
What I expected it to be.

I stand still and solemn
At a mirror labelled “You”
And I find myself in it
Clean and properly shiny
Not a trace of past filth
Nearby, a bin to dump trash
And a bag to carry back
My keepsakes, treasures
Things I was meant to have,
And best of all, I then find
A growing, glowing smile
I trade it for my frown
Excited at what I’ve found.

So this is what it is,
The lesson I must heed
As the clock ticks by, must
Have the time of my life
And so I turn my back
On existence I don’t need
Marching home instead
With a life I’ll proudly lead.

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