Letters To A Stranger

Come in

Tell me of your trip

of memories gained

pictures taken

food eaten

Tell me of curries and roads I can’t pronounce

gates swinging

of your father’s stare

when he realized how much you look like him now

Tell me about mountains and city-scapes

hungry faces

yellow eyes and green irises

About your dream girl just there

Come in quick

Did his eyes swell with pride

or a glint of selfishness

wishing he was young again, undoing certain choices

Tell me about the train you missed

the mists over fields

the mansions and shacks

how the words jumbled around in your mouth before

now familiar

just easing out

Tell me of oceans

and time zones


Speak to me until we are no longer strangers

but kin

establishing a reconnection

Do the men where you come from sway when they talk

Do the women where you come from shuffle their feet as they walk

and even though the stars are the same

if you tell me

that you laid there

under their luminous glow, wishing

I will know they must’ve been brighter than any stars

I have ever known

Poem From The Desert Road

Talaivan says—

Fearlessly, my heart has departed
to embrace my beloved.
If its arms are too slack to hold her
what use is it?
The distances between us stretch long.
Must I think of the many forests
where deadly tigers rise up roaring
like the waves of the dark ocean
standing between us? I don’t dare.

Allur Nanmulla
Kuruntokai, verse 237

—Translated by A. Anupama

Distances Of Longing

When you go away and I can’t

follow you up with a letter,

it is because the distance

between you and me

is shorter than the sound of Oh,

because the words are smaller

than the distance

of my longing.


— By Fawziyya Abu Khalid, Saudi Arabia

Translated by May Jayyusi



My baby don’t love me no more

maybe he never did

i melted

into the floorboards waiting

for him to come home

comb through the knots

in our relationship

married to my hair

i cut it

out, cancerous strands grew

there from where he’d grab

dig his fingers deep into the roots

then pull



all they do is take

your breasts your likeness your body is gone in an instant

without so much as a hand hold

cuckholded lacily held yesterdays

where’s yesterday

he wont even look at me anymore

crawling past the door

towards another chest

but i need to love to want him

don’t know if it made a difference

now its just

wanting leaving the wanted with longing

Pray for me I’ve seen too much

of these buh bye boys to men

to children.