I can’t speak

You swallowed the last of my refusal

You tasted it in your mouth

Did it taste like the sweet cherries you said it would?

Did you feel my throat choke on the string of words you used to “woo” me?

All I could taste was your charred tongue

Burnt and scarred by your betrayal of my trust

I can’t speak

But my hands spoke

No they screamed and fought

The only way hands know how

They said “move away, leave me be!

You were just a hero to me

A deity, worshipped in the altar of my teenage heart

My love of you was too innocent to be carved out of me like this”

I can’t speak

By now you’ve swallowed all my NOs

They’ve echoed in your gut

And convinced you I just need more convincing!

Your hands move up and down my spine

Slowly carving out my skin

And I’m just wondering how would I wash away the scars no one can see.

Months from now I will muster up the courage

Corner you in rage and scream and stomp my feet

And you will convince me

That while I tried to scream with my body

You NEVER heard a peep

And there, in the tiny screens of an obscure messenger

You will be brought down from your pedestal

By your superpower that put you there.

Your words. Your words wrapped around my neck.

I can’t speak

For no one can hear me

They will point their finger at me

“Did you say no? Did he hear you say it?

If you were fine with his hug

Then why weren’t you fine with a kiss?

Why did you agree to meet him?

Did you drink anything stronger than tea?

What were you wearing? A skirt, that’s….interesting”

I can’t speak

These days I just write alone

Friends can’t be trusted anymore

For if heroes turn out like you

What would my friends turn into

You surgically removed the one strength I had

My ability to love without doubt!

But some things are even stronger than love

My words! My awesome motherfucking words!

I can’t speak

For I will scream this to you and the world

It doesn’t matter what I wore

Or whether I loved you or not

Or if I was smitten by your words

Or what it means when at 15, I loved the works of an older man

Or if my messages to you were heartfelt

Or that you “expected” a kiss

For you may have eaten my refusal

And I may not have said no








A letter to my 11 year old self (when I wrote my first poem – Butterfly)

Dear girl,

You aren’t so little anymore

Those rhymes you’ve just written down have aged your soul

You are now wise beyond your years

Your tears that dissolve your words into large blue dots

Will one day become rivers flowing through your veins

Filling your heart with an innocence you thought you forgot

You write of fluttering butterflies right now

You will soon turn to werewolves and vampires

And then

You won’t rhyme at all

You will just paint pictures of your soul on pieces of paper supposed to contain class notes

The doodled angels on the corner of your pages will smile

At your childish notions of sorrow

Soon your poems will be cries for help

All that angst of teen age will turn into a knife inching into your veins

Each poem will enter your heart like a shooting star

Burn through its chambers and turn into star dust

Every night you will crumple your pages into hugs

Till the words drill a hole though your chest

In the mornings you will wake up with a smile

Those pages will turn magically into blankets

You will write of unrequited love

Of that boy who thinks you will never be pretty enough

Of that boy who loves you relentlessly till you break his heart

You will walk over a thousand such hearts

And place your words like flowers on the graves of your failed relationships

You will then wait till you are alone

And then embrace your solitude like You are all you need!

And just like that, one winter morning

The green of the forests, the growls of the wolves and the grim of the fairy tales

Will be back to claim their space on your empty pages

You will shoo them away brandishing your pen like a sword

Soon your scribbles will becomes quivers of arrows

With which you hunt down the voices in your head

Until all you will hear are the waves of words washing poems on the shores of your pages

Little girl, my friend,

That pen you hold like a laser beam

Will one day vaporise your insecurities

It will fill your heartbreaks with hot chocolate

It will teach you that remembrance is the only cure to death

It will keep your innocence neatly wrapped up and safe

In the pages of your notebooks

And plant tiny pieces of your soul in every poem

Until there is a garden blooming new words each spring

That pen you hold like a mountain top in your hands

It will find your love, bury your anger and save your soul

My dear girl,

Don’t ever let that pen go.

How to Write a Love Poem

Step 1: Find your rhymes

They’re usually hidden

In the curves of a woman on the dance floor

Only she’s not on a dance floor

She’s head banging at a show to your favourite rock band

But let’s face it

In your head she’s dancing in slow motion to Ed Sheeran

Her hair is making music in the air ripe with the sweat of a thousand metal heads

And all you can hear is the symphony

Echoing across the hall every time her head rises and falls

Step 2: Stare at her

Not in a creepy I’d-like-to-see-you-naked kind of way

But like your life depended on it

Like you are desperate to catch the words coming out of her mouth

Even if those words are shouts of “zombie! Zombie!”

Like you want to hold those words in your hands

And whisper back into your clenched fists

Like you’d whisper sweet nothings into her ear

Look carefully for contours on her face

They are lines that are slowly turning into a poem

And then look away

And find out how ugly the world looks without her in the frame

Step 3: Wait for the words to come to you

Don’t walk over just yet

She isn’t ready to hear the words that make her essence

She still thinks it’s the concert rocking the world

Instead write a poem in your head

About the light beaming out of her into space

The launch pad of your inter-galactic adventure!

And smile as you imagine her slowly turning into the very words you’ve written

Sailing away into the mosh pit

Step 4: Don’t be afraid

Don’t fear rejection

Because by now she is already your poem

She is an unrelenting muse

The Galatea to your Pygmalion

The Helen of your Troy

In your mind She has already won you the Trojan War

She is the Wonder Woman, your Amazonian Goddess

And you the damsel in distress

Step 5: Walk over

No, Drift.

Drift towards her like you are the wave

And the crowd – an ocean

A relentless force pulling you to her shores

Listen to the music raining on you like a cloud burst

And flow, just flow till the beats take you to her

And when the music stops for a second

And all you hear is the pounding of your heart

Turn to her as you turn the page in your mind

And start a new poem with


Video performed at a recent poetry slam

The Ballad of the Labourer’s Daughter

Have you seen the nests they are building with everything we left behind?

Can they see our broken homes from their heights?

Do they not feel the resentment plastered on their walls?

Can they not smell your sweat flowing in their drains?

Or feel my mother’s tears wetting their streets?

Those happy faces I see through the glass windows

Seem like ghosts stuck in the peepal tree rooted in your stories

The crane came in the night

It always comes in the night

Raising its head like a snake ready to bite

This wall that lies ruined was the face of our fort

You built it yourself brick by brick

“That way our house will be just as strong as the tower next door”, you said.

It was a tiny palace behind the castle, but it was ours.

On days when you’d be too tired to tell bedtime stories

We made up stories out of the crevices in your hands

Those scars you won in a battle

Those scratches were from crawling through the trenches

Your bony fingers were hiding your superhuman strength

My father was a war hero everyday

In the mornings you’d be gone before our dreams ended

I never once wondered if you’d dreamt anything at all!

Our school was beyond the railway tracks

You would help us cross them every day

A shepherd flocking his herd

“They’re making another building, next to school” I’d say

You’d just smile and say

“That’s for you to stay in when you grow up”

I’d look up and wonder

All that hard work just to be locked up in a tower?

In the nights when our palace was silent

I’d hear your whispers through the walls

I’d touch them so your words would flow through me

Your stories of everyday valour

Some nights I even heard your laughter

It was rare but when it came

It beamed like lightening through the walls and touched my heart

The night the crane came in

You picked me up in your arms

You couldn’t see but I was staring at my books in the corner

My only friends at the time

I tried very hard to hide my tears on your chest

You thought it was the heat of the night making you sweat

I didn’t know then but my dreams that night were my best

The hum of the machine pierced through the night

As if singing a chorus to the lament of our crumbling walls

You held me tighter with each thud

You were turning yourself into my fort

Suddenly I heard nothing, not my mother’s sobs or the crumbling walls

I looked up and you were smiling down at me

“Time to build a new nest”, you said.

Sketch by Daniel David Talegaonkar

Broken Girls

They say

“broken girls blossom into warriors”

Do I strive to break or be broken?

Read unspoken words

Scamper to the top of mountains

Look down at my bruised feet and my swollen chest

I feel no pain just my pride

For I’ve blossomed


Each chink in my armour

Makes me stronger

If you claw on my skin

It’s your fingers that bleed

If Someone breaks my bones

They slowly turn to gold

So I break, keep breaking until this earth

Is full of tiny pieces of me

Until there is nothing left to break

I’ve blossomed

“Broken girls” they say

Around here they break one everyday

They wipe off her smiles

That dazzled their eyes

Like rainbows coming up for air

They deem her beauty too bright

So they cloud it with their darkness

And wait for the rains to bathe away

The fairies in her tales

Until only the ashes of a phoenix remain

She’s blossomed.

They break us in droves

A factory plucking out each dream

Storing us in jars

Until the anger is just ripe

They choke us till we can’t breathe

They don’t see, we no longer need to

We simply wait

on the edge of life

Blossoming everyday

So here we stand battle ready

Swords unsheathed

Shields up

Ready to consume all their hate

Their anger is scripted on our skin

Scars that have branded stories

On a mind that wishes to forget

We are an army of warriors

Who never wanted a war…

Dear 2017
You weren’t easy
You saw too much
You saw the coronation of a creep in the free world
You saw him grab them by the p—— and jab fingers at innocence
You saw women march for freedom from prejudice
You saw that freedom thrown away by bosses, leaders, kings and jokers
You saw the world tear up at the borders
You still had hope
You found it in men lining up to give blood to gun shots
In the courage of millions of women who wrote #metoo
In the celebrations of love over hate
In the music that unites us
Now in the darkness of midnight
You ask me in your fading voice
“Will you miss me?”
The dark of the sky is a black hole set to swallow you
You are vary of my answer
You know you weren’t easy
I found my moments of bliss in you
When I came home to a city that changes colours every time I leave
You saw me smile without an agenda
You saw me cry at poetry that touched my soul
I know it touched yours too!
It was here in this city I had found myself years ago
I got lost in between
But in you, I found myself again
You sigh and say, “the next one will be better”
You were a friend, a lover, a sworn enemy
All rolled into one
Yes, The next one will be beautiful
But the next one isn’t you
You will be safe in my memory box
Where I will keep you like a lucky charm
I will lock you in
Saving my hurt, my joy and my love
Saving the world, all of its light and none of the darkness
And as the sun begins to let you go
I await the start of a new love, a new you
With the few lessons you left behind
Always march together so no one’s left behind
Cry when you feel like it without judgement
Find your crowd and you will never be alone
Never try to stop your fall for it teaches you how to rise
Treat your friends like wine – preserve them, love them,
Age them, consume them.