The Flight of Swans
sinking ebbs mimic
the flight of swans
and the pier unravels.
Clay castles fight for space with cut vegetables on the kitchen slab,
a toddler’s sitting there on that cold marble, on her own.
Her tiny voice is no match against the grinders and pressure cookers
operating in the room. Her feeding bottle is empty, so she continues
chewing rubber, hoping for something to come through.
She’s not just hungry but sleepy too. The distance between slab
and floor is two meters, just so you know. Out the window, she sees
mommy rinsing and strangling clothes as fresh washing powder
oozes from a plastic bucket. How could that not remind her of milk?
She looks up; the exhaust fan is chopping air. It catches her
attention for a fleeting moment but hunger catches up again.
Her father is eating groundnut, watching TV in the living room.
He’s gawking at underdressed women dancing in the rain.
The little girl cries with all her might, he finally hears a feeble voice.
He shouts to his wife, ‘Oye, come here and give her some milk’.
He then adds: ‘Get me some coffee too’.
Hunger Private Limited
the wide gorge
was as empty
as his kitchen.
The Mermaid Lyric
Dark seas dip heaves
fluid brush strokes of tersely
whimsical free fountains
lathering white shampoo
to cleanse red-haired mermaids
who smile like babies.
Glass Jar, Silver Brook
Picture a glass jar with a metal latch and a brass spigot.
You’d be surprised to know that we found it in a place
as dingy as an empty poultry shack. Well, there it was,
thick with grime, cobwebbed all over. Empty inside.
It was big but not as big as a pumpkin. We furled it up
in a jute bag & cushioned it with broken thermocol bits.
We took it along to bring back our catch from the brook.
Usually, we baited for baby rainbow trout but ended up
only with common carp. Yeah, carp. Not just some crap.
Still a decent effort, don’t you think? Besides, we were up
against the pinch of the early morning chill brought down
by the surrounding Western Ghats. Just to rub it in further,
it was an exposed brook, due to which the onset of dawn
directly played aim and shoot with the descending water,
firing it up in the process and there it bled, melting silver.
With time, we realized that fly fishing is a waste of time;
those White-breasted Kingfishers were always around
and more sure-winged in plucking stuff out of thin air.
But we went about it with just translucent white towels,
the same ones we’d used to wipe our sweat as we trekked
up some gullies along the bend. Anyway, later that night,
we built a bed lamp for the carp in our jar with a zero watt
bulb borrowed from the estate’s watchman. I’m sure
the fish felt safe with us, they waggled their gills, I swear.
are reborn into diamonds,
catering to crews
of necklines and egos.
The Case of My Pregnant Socks
On a cold summer night,
I wandered to the basement to find my socks.
Found ‘em knocked up and breathing.
The muckraker in me paced around at a certain nautical number to find clues.
Instead, questions clothed in worry cotton arrived in volleys.
Will I survive when winter’s fingers fiddle with my ankle bones?
May be I should wish for taller blankets or shorter legs.
What happens when those sweat ducts decide to unload a bundle?
May be I should burn more calories to counter balance their rhythms.
The paunch seemed to be moving.
A pen torch dangled between index and thumb to shed focus.
Ah rats, two of them brats. They were nibbling with the thread work.
May be it looked like lingerie to them.
‘Shoo, they are married to my shoe!’ I wanted to yell but chose not to.
They jogged out through the hole paved by god knows what,
Burping in sync with the soundtracks of the night.
(Finalist in the Goodreads Newsletter Contest-July 2013 &
Previously published in the Houseboat & Days of Stone).
Name : Ajay Anand Nagaraju
Age : 29
Location : Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
Favorite Food: Toad-in-the-hole and Apple Crumble Pie
Inspirations : Ted Kooser, A.R.Rahman, Kamal Haasan T.S.Eliot, Matt Mullenweg, Werner Herzog, Christian Bale
Favorite Things to Read: Tintin comics, old-age poetry, sports magazines and murder mysteries.
All poems belong to Ajay Nagaraju
Photos by A. M. Yeager Photography