The Way

Before midnight,
The world has to dissolve
Into the fumes of spirits.

The last drunk man –
Stuck at stanza three, line fifth
Of his copper-drenched poetry,
Shuts his bloodshot eyes.

The long-dead housewife
Puts her only child to sleep.

Yellow ticket, black stockings
Disappear along an alley.

They paper-fold dreams :
Neatly stacked into fat blue files.

The boy goes with,
Or without,
The black bread.

You may be,
Or may not be,
Drunk tonight ;
But we are damned to breathe
The fumes of spirits
Until the streets are red again.

Aa’eedah | © Cereus Florus 2020


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I Carry an Ephemeral Winter in my Heart


… And, that’s how nights begin to seep deep into my bones, filling each cavity in me with a deadly night shade – the shades of kohl, mist and madness.

I don’t belong here,
Here to the flavour of cruel Summers.
The clear blue skies, tangerine hot air,
The bright-yellow broken hearts dripping with bloodied smiles :
They blind me.

I carry an ephemeral winter in my heart,
You cannot take it away.
You can cut me open
And run me dry to my last breath.
If it heals me, if love heals me –
I will sit back in the maddening chaos
And will dream of burning winters –
The ice cold air
Layered with sweet honeyed paper-cuts
On dry lips,
Deadly poisoned kisses
And you, lying next to me.

You cannot take it away.
I don’t belong to the flavour of cruel Summers.
You are red and I am deep blue –
The colours of maddening Ecstasy.

You breathe in circles behind my ears, making your way to the mountain ranges of my collar bones. Ivory sheets slip out of my grasp ; a crack draws on your back. Splashes of warm memories, cold vanilla nights, and us.

I look into your eyes and you tell me all about it.
How the place where shadows greet
Does not hold peace.
You feel it,
You feel the lack of peace in your heart.
The path of thorn-filled mind,
Your bright-yellow broken heart :
They remind you of me.
You can say that you feel like me.
If we heal each other, if love heals you –
We will sit back amidst mid-Summer
And will dream of burning winters –
The dull gray skies
Above kohl-rimmed eyes,
Time swallowed by the mist,
Pink melancholy,
And us.

They cannot take it away.
We don’t belong to the flavour of cruel Summers.
You are red and I am deep blue –
The colours of maddening ecstasy.

We slice the air above, and between us ; the thunder of your touch sits quietly on my thighs. Our paper moans crumble and fall like a hundred wishes. The walls of sins are paper – thin, they rest in the valley of my chest.

I carry an ephemeral winter in my heart
And only you can save me.
Liquid heartbeats pour out of my ink vein
When I feel your eyes on me.
Every moment, wise and otherwise,
I have felt it to my core
So much so
My ink bled for you and ran dry last July.
Absorbed in my bones
Are the screams of salted wounds,
Chewing my mind from the inside.
I carry an ephemeral winter in my heart
And only you can save me.

I don’t belong here,
Here to the flavour of cruel Summers.
You are red and I am deep blue
And, only you can save me.

I stand on a twisted rock. The night begins to slip out of my palms. The perilous Summer would be over soon. Soon, the horizon shift will bring loud pouring rains and silence will greet my shadow. No more clear blue skies. No more tangerine taste of the air.

But your silence will echo in me forever. You cannot escape my memories ; you cannot take them away. And, when they will ask me about you, I will give you my name –
the shade deep blue.

We burn the sheets slowly. A river of paper-thin red sins flows against the deep blue moonlit night. Night begins to seep deep into my bones, filling each cavity in me with a deadly night shade – the shades
Of kohl,
Of mist
And, of madness.

Aa’eedah |© Cereus Florus 2020


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Stranded Ashore – A Villanelle

I ran into myself, I am no more.
I numbed my pain, bled my heart till the end ;
I crossed the sea, now I’m stranded ashore.

Silence echoes, blue moonlit kisses pour ;
Sea tears the floor open, angels ascend.
I ran into myself, I am no more.

Ask me to tread lightly which I abhor ;
Don’t come near to save me, don’t you descend!
I crossed the sea, now I’m stranded ashore.

Symphony of salt, torn ribs seas adore ;
Blue waves sailing the dead nights I befriend.
I ran into myself, I am no more.

Sea enchants me with a song you deplore,
Drowns your melodies ; alone I transcend.
I crossed the sea, now I’m stranded ashore.

Kiss me dead, farther I go to explore ;
I might never return, Heaven forfend!
I ran into myself, I am no more.
I crossed the sea, now I’m stranded ashore.

°° Aa’eedah

© Cereus Florus. 2020.


The Death of Blue Gems

Fingers run through the pages of dried ink
As age-old gray words spread around my lungs ;
My heart is struck dead, eyes slowly hoodwinked,
Blue gems of poetry melt on my tongue.

Moments of artistic delirium
Bled the typewriter as sharply as knives :
Doleful human expressions, soaked in them
Are naked truths, bittersweet pain of lives.

Half a century gone, so the poets.
Art is dead, corpses of classics Kindle-d.
Senses are numb to the red fumes : watch moist
Back of libraries burning unhindered.

The times are notorious, uninspired :
Lament, romance, rant ; steal from the greatest –
Copying Plath’s writing style, Heming-way :
The new formula for blue gem success.

°° Aa’eedah

© Cereus Florus. 2020.


Storm Has Come

No poet/writer describes pain in such effective vivid imageries as Muntazir does! The beautiful choice of words paired with raw, intense emotions – only true poets can do that!

MUNTAZIR

Storm has come,
Winds flow in from all directions.
O the roots of my existence
Will you be able to hold me
Or would you, would you not ?
Or Or hold me here not,
Yes hold me here not.
Let’s get uprooted from this gray desert
To there where these winds will take us.

I am tired.
I am tired.
Yes I want to fly,
To be dissolved in the paints
Which colour the sky.
O my barren land is sans smiles,
I want to cry,
I want I want to sleep.

A womb of pain,
I am solid yet unseen.
O storm uproot my bones,
Scatter my ribs and flesh
To all those directions,
You come from where.
The coming spring perhaps
Will sprout me there.

© Muntazir
Picture Credit

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Seven Phases of You

A tapestry woven of regrettable darkness
Engulfs whatever remains are left.

Voices sink into the bottomless pit
In a zigzag pattern, into the chest.

Memories embark on a bloody voyage
Usurping the voices, leaving a bloody trail.

Loneliness rips the skin off its bones
Gorges upon the scars and stinks of a rotten past.

Pain settles, germinates a bud of hope
A whisper of “you’re not alone”.

Needles pierce into; seems a lobotomy of emotions
But you catch a breath and, that’s enough.

Pick it up. Pick it up. Pick it up. Pick it up.
And, Run. Run. Run. Run.

°° Aa’eedah

© Cereus Florus. 2019.


The Incurable

I watch a feminine figure in the mirror
Serve mashed potatoes and gravy
At the dinner table –
It’s a typical Tuesday of this year.
Her face,
Adorned by a winter expression,
Slices the hot air above her chin
Into thin fragments of benign existence.
A neurologic disease almost ate her up
Last Autumn,
Leaving behind its scars and fingerprints :
Seen in the way she breathes,
Fears for her children,
Loves the Summer breeze ;
Seen in the way she cleans
the Ancient Gods and Goddesses
Every other day.

I watch her
Washing the Ancient Gods and Goddesses
With the holy water ;
Cleaning the cold white marble floor
Beneath her feet in the temple
With a sweet-smelling pink liquid,
Oozing out of the nozzle
As an old woman’s mouth foaming,
Gasping for air to utter an “aye”
Before bedtime.
Her face is silent
Like a deserted cemetery –
Left behind, fading into the past.

Sugar must have crystallized by now.
She crumbles and cooks
In a rhythmic pattern
On alternative days.
The rhythmic cycle is deepening the scars
Like it did last Autumn.
She chops onions, cilantro and parsley
As brittle bones knock her epidermis –
Mountain ranges amidst rivers
Of blue and green thick veins.
The rich pulp is gone.
Her smile, too.

I can feel my body being drilled
Against the wall of gray emptiness.
Soon, I’ll be there where
The Ghosts of yesterdays exist.
I’ll be ripped off my skin,
My smile, my sanity
And, made to boil in the dreaded pot
Of tomorrows, could-have-beens.

My back is plastered on the bed
And, neck is twisted to the right.
Fingers ache as broken twigs :
Half – buried in the back of time,
Half walked upon by the scarred feet
Of the Ghosts of yesterdays,
Every night.
My body is against a force, fighting
Like it did last Autumn.
It seems to be adamant
On burying me deep into my bed –
The gateway of gray emptiness.
Wish I could get up and push it off.
Slap it, punch it, push it off!
Eyelashes poke into my eyes,
Forcing me to stay awake
And to swirl in my own mind
Like a dead fish in the deep ocean –
Left behind, fading into the past.

I slipped notes in-between the pages
Of my textbooks,
studied till my eyes popped out,
Wrote till my thumb and index finger
Were dripping with the colors of pain :
Like a dead fish in the deep ocean –
Left behind, fading into the past.
Yet here am I –
Slipping out of my own mind,
Every night.

Left behind,
We are fading into the past.

°° Aa’eedah

© Cereus Florus. 2020.


The Land of Poets – A Haibun

Lilac skies above are soaked in liquid madness. Sombre purple shades of horizon cast a magic spell on the clouds. They descend upon the land of poets. Twice, at dawn and at dusk ; drink from the ponds of sonnet-dripping, moon-struck sadness in a doggerel style. Land below unfolds as the opening of a tragic epic-ballad : three wars, abandoned lover, scarlet-red destiny of the Motherland. The haiku of long-lost Summers, blues of Springs germinates. A night-blooming jasmine on the poets’ palms. Wind glides underneath the silky-smooth skin of the land’s river, forming ripples – so rhythmic, so lyrical – a thousand villanelle poems are born in the poets’ eyes. A boat comes every fortnight, singing jingles of hope, love, promises, with silver cups of ephemeral bliss. “Poetry is madness, Come with us!” The boat returns every fortnight to the land of saints, snowed with jewels of the foreign land – Fishes, Stars, Inked-flowers – but boards no poet insane.

Sombre nights amidst
Moon-struck Winters, soaked in ink –
Land poets dwell in.

°° Aa’eedah

© Cereus Florus. 2020.


Insides

Unread and unloved,
Drained like an empty ink – bottle
To the very last drop of crimson red,
Licked by my calloused fingers
To keep the oil – stained sheets fat,
I pick up my Parker pen
Because it won’t stop.

I am running out of time.
My heart digs its heels deeper
Into my breasts when I revolt ;
So, I have to keep it fed
With my blood flowing out of my pen
Till it, too, one day runs empty – dry.

It won’t stop.
The pain begins and ends
But, it won’t stop.
I feel the assaulting hands
Of the monster inside me
Punching my stomach wall,
Scratching the surface
With its long carrot-shaped nails.
It slowly crawls up to eat my heart –
A complete blackout.
Nevertheless,
I get up and keep my spine straight
Till I crumble again like the verse of a doggerel –
Mentally butchered –
And fall back onto my twin-size bed.
The hands move across my chest,
Chasing my heart from the centre
To the either sides, right and left.

It goes up to as far as side right, beating
Then slips back to its original cage,
Then comes back climbing my neck,
All the way to my left ear
Where it drums the insides of my sanity.
Monster!

The rush paralyzes me.
I don’t see imageries or inspirations
But words and phrases cooked
Rather half-heartedly.

To perform the exorcism,
Pain and I become one –
Exquisitely blue –
As I pick up my Parker pen.

°° Aa’eedah

© Cereus Florus. 2020.


The Twisted Fate of a Woman

A knock on the main door wakes me up.
It’s third of January, eight years from now.
The chilliest of winters ever.

The milkman is always on time.
So is our newspaper delivery
And, so is our baby’s cry.

It’s a regular day.
I finish my chores –
The cooking, the feeding,
Sweeping the floors,
The laundry –
Washing sheets stained
With baby’s drooling,
Breastmilk, semen, blood.

My husband leaves for office on time,
Like every day.
I leave when the old lady
From our neighborhood
Comes to babysit
Like every day, except for weekends.
For woman with a husband,
Two little kids,
Weekends climax with passion
Only when she’s alone
And deaf.

Till then,
I water our plants.

I recall my childhood days
When poetries were exaggerations
Of suppressed emotions
Buried deep in my heart ;
How I hid them from my parents,
From their worldly wrath
And put them under my pillow at nights.
Wherever I went, I carried them along
Till the heaviness killed me,
My naïve poetries.
Now, I am one of them.

Here comes the old lady!
Her hat has white flowers,
They match her blue dress.

I water my petunias, lilies, roses,
The dying daisies, I water them too.
I hand over the house keys, the list
And my motherhood
For eight hours straight
Like every day, except for weekends.
The widow is heavily intoxicated on weekends.

The ceiling is dripping with liquid heartbeats.
The work doesn’t interest me.
This cubicle is a maze to lose myself :
My passions, my vision.
It numbs me
So much so
Noises begin to drown into my emptiness.

I cannot look out for myself.
I cannot introspect.
I cannot begin again.

The vicious maze doesn’t have an exit,
It’s a troubled – woman’s mind.
It doesn’t have an exit.
Once an emotion is trapped,
It remains in her veins, bones
Smile, tears,
Babies, milk,
Poetries, romance
FOREVER.

I cannot begin again.
I have to leave in an hour
To be a mother, to be a wife
In a house that has memories
Of many of my beginnings,
Of my femininity.

As I leave
Amidst the sea of vacant eyes and hollow voices,
I hear my colleagues discuss the latest news
Of how the President fucked his sexy secretary.
“Oh, damn you, women!
And, damn their curves
That spin the world
On its twisted axis!”

I caress her cheeks,
Wrap her in a warm yellow quilt.
I slice a moment from my daily routine to breathe
As I put my little one to sleep.
The beautiful crib has her initials carved –
N. S.

Motherhood is a blessing
But recurring dreams of
Losing my blood, my flesh tearing,
The painful labor
That left me with stitches
And three scars across my skin down below
Disgust me.

I love her.
For her, I will let go all of my darkness
That leaves my lips parched
And makes my pain unbearable.

We serve dinner at 8 o’clock.
Delicious, warm meals with family.
The round dinner table,
The silver soup-spoons,
My first-born’s laugh,
My husband’s sparkling ring –
Everything a woman could ever ask for.

I put my son to sleep
And kiss him goodbye.
I finish the chores –
Doing the dishes, the cleaning,
Locking the front and back doors,
Folding the towels and stacking them neatly into three rows.

I place my palm against the window pane :
The coldest January ever.
Sadness of the night
Glistens under the street lights.
He’s asleep.

We have been married for six years now.
The day we met,
A bleak evening
In the month of March,
He saved me from myself –
It was long before
I knew the names – Plath and Sexton.

He loves me
And, I love him too
But I am afraid
The heaviness will kill me.
He has saved me in ways
I can’t even fathom myself
But I am afraid
Now this, too, shall end.

Third of January.
The hope of a happy year ahead –
With a loving husband,
Two little kids,
A beautiful garden.
Ah, the blinding ephemeral bliss
Rewarded to a troubled – woman’s femininity!

Oh, how the saline skin of women
Tastes of sweet honey
To their tongues ;
How if feeble voice of hers
Grows into a thunder tone,
They’ve to choke her!
Oh, how women disgust them!

I switch on the bathroom lights,
Lock the door from inside
And watch,
Running water fill the bath-tub for a hot bath.

I have lost myself.
The routine has killed me.
The numbness –
It’s taking me along a path
I don’t wish to walk anymore.
I don’t feel a thing.
I cannot feel a thing!
The numbness –
It has built walls around me.
Neither my babies’ yelps
Nor his love
Can pull them down.

My heart remains suspended in air,
Hanging as a corpse in mid-air –
I cannot reach for it.
My femininity has killed me.
I am drifting away from myself.
I am detached from my own skin,
My bones, my hair, my nails,
My children, my love,
My passions, my poetries.
Oh, damn you, woman!

I empty down my throat
A bottle full of white grenades
And slit my wrists
In an old-fashioned way, for the fateful end ;
As my lilac-coloured dress
soaks itself in different shades
Of liquid heartbeats,
I begin again.

°° Aa’eedah

© Cereus Florus. 2020.