A Wound In Time

In the darkness of the night
There are secrets that we hide

In the brightness of the day
Faces give naught away

There is blood and there is grief
There is pain no words can ease

They are shadows fires cast
Burning the future past

Gone
Is it my wake?
I hear the dirge
Am I awake?

In the dying of the light
We don’t go without a fight

In the crook of in-between
Dreams are true, truth’s a dream

There is death and there is life
There’re no truths, there’re no lies

They are shadows that time casts
Blurring all th’ futures past

Gone
Yet I’m awake
Or is it all
In my head?

(I composed these lyrics to accompany the haunting melody of Javier Navarette’s Lullaby from Pan’s Labyrinth)

– Akanksha Gupta

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Dysfunction

The apparent imperfections of life
Appear as lesions marring its skin,
Imperfectly veiling the deep wounds
Rupturing the will within.

What paraffin can then suffice
As fire for ice when ice afire,
What liquid strength can hold and embolden
When those icy cracks are clogged sepulchres dire.

And yet through them –
Through the little cracks in our souls –
We want warmth to seep in; to seep into
Each cut ‘n every fold

The warmth of recognition
Of acknowledgment of our existence
Of sustenance of our rights;

The warmth of appreciation
Of admissions of our successes
Yet omissions of our strife.

But those moments and that age
When we used to yearn for them
Have long passed our doorstep,
Leaving in their wake
Fractures –
Untended and unchecked

At the root of which lies
A quiet and visceral need,
For a tincture of the warmth of celebration
Of each moment of the life we lead,
Henceforth, to seep in; leaving
Each cleft-end to the other cleaved.

– Akanksha Gupta

THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

Don’t lose yourself in pretty words
Their artful eloquence
Beware the silences between
Hiss with malevolence

Too long don’t stare into the woods
Keep count of every branch
Wayward traveller, wary be
Of stumbling in a trance

In vain pursuit of netted sun
On blue-green waters, hark!
Lest in you wade too deep, yet miss
Upon each wave a shark

And when embark upon next verse
Do turn each page with caution
Sharpened edges draw first blood
From beguiled opponents

So judge not by it’s cover a book
Read between the lines
Double entendres hide amidst
The seemingly benign

This world, from ‘far, is abstract art
Up close a labyrinth
The devil lies in its details
Trembling with innocence

– Akanksha Gupta

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Out of the night that curls around
Glittering from pole to pole
A sleigh of dreams shimmies about
The contours of our souls

And in the gentle caress of sleep
It brings a world to life
That lifts the stubborn blanket of snow
Lodged in our year-struck eyes

To show beyond the place of self
Lies a joy beyond measure —
An exchange without cause or clause
That begets unbridled pleasure

Then it matters not how weary the road
How blistery the soles of day become
We shall always find the shade of friends
Even when on our lonesome

Because —

Out of the night that curls around
Glittering from pole to pole
A sleigh of dreams shimmies about
The contours of our souls

And in the gentle caress of sleep
It weaves old tales with new
A realm of possibilities
We knew not could be true

To show beyond the place of self
Lies a vision of tomorrow —
A free fall into novelty
Past year-stale joys and sorrows

Then it matters not dawn streaks
The inward eye with reddish gold
The dreams herald a future
That is ours to have and to hold

— Akanksha Gupta

Tread Softly

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When you look at me and those I paint
I hope that you see a rainbow coloured haze
For though I speak sharp with words so sure
They reflect a mere fraction of what I think I know

When you think of me and those I paint
I hope it’s not a puzzle but a mosaic
Because what I know are parts of a whole
Coloured by mine and growing evermore

When you speak of me and those I paint
I hope an equal lack of judgment is displayed
Those words that seem sharp, sure, and succinct
Are opinions, fickle; the truth has always been extinct

– Akanksha Gupta

Once Upon a Deadly Song

The night air
Sits primly upon my breath,
It’s crispness biting my tongue,
Which stills, stung
Into silence –
The cool of each
Thusly laboured death
Brings with it
A refreshing lack of thoughts –
I know that winter has come.

The faceless moon blackens every day,
A shiver of stars lie
Unblinking across a cloudless sky;
Their spartan starkness
Sending tremors of disquiet
Down my spine,
Roiling the river of scarves
Ribboned and coiled with poise
Around my neck –
Equal and opposite –
They press against a cloying warmth;
I can feel my throat tighten,
Prickling
At the bitter-sweet thoughtlessness
Trickling
Down
Like poison.

Thence the blood flows
Painfully, slow,
And nearly glacial —
A reluctant heart pumps ice
To temper and placate
The wrathful winds
Scorching my eyes.
And as I blink,
Fire and ice
Wound and lick
My flaming, mottled face
That I veil with
Endless swathes
Of downy cloths,
But the mattress remains cold
Underneath a chilled soul.

– Akanksha Gupta

MATCH 22

All the world’s a matchbox
And all its people a bundle of sticks
Unequally proportioned their figures
With peculiarly apportioned heads
Each with unique entrances
And equally unique exits

To begin with they are thusly formed
When each newborn, slithers
Out of the same old mould –
The wilderness; the savage stones
(By the book of cut-and-fold)
Crumbled, sutured and apparently, evolved

Assembly line production
(I hear tell it’s called)
Intelligently programmed to introduce
Per product Transgressions
Where every Difference in the delicate mix
Starts subtle, but grows, startlingly

To sow
The basis of conflicts
Villains and heroes – the tragic misfits
Stories and legends – the tragedies
Bards, audiences –
Subtextual nobodies

Co-existing under the same roof
Put asunder by the same goal –
To burn brighter than the bright
Sooner and longer than the rest,
To leave scorch marks in the wake
That remain undead after death

This struggle for a phosphorescent fame
Inflames the longer left unlit,
Fuelled by the silhouette of innominate death
Born of an unfortunate circumstance;
Such as dereliction due to dis(or mis)use
Or an incurable, congenital defect

And so every head butts against every other
To scratch and tip the scales in its favour
But – even & by sporting a red dye – every form
Remains conspicuously uniform
Making no difference to the fortune or fate
Of those unchosen abiding time and faith

Who rejoice at the measliest spark
That might just kickstart them into burning bright,
But after being brightly lit for timeless ticks
These enlightened (or accidentally ignited) minds
Flicker like flailing fish toward their end, then surge,
And cease, with a soundless dirge

Lamenting that while they lived, they lived
The way they were supposed to live
With the only changes being when-from,
How-bright, and importantly, for-how-long
Never stopping by, to wonder why –
Much like the cogs in a wheel – what-for

Thus it is why that history
Tends to seamlessly repeat itself
For every life is wrought with instinctive greed
In a box overcome with collective unease
Stemming from the common fear
That one day they’d quietly disappear –

A microcosm of civil friction,
Embrittled by a puppeteer’s dance,
A macrocosm of fractious civilisations,
Even as bundled together in a united stance –
Insidious match; afraid to combust –
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

– Akanksha Gupta