Critical Reception

In pursuit of perfection
Our grimy sight stains
Our very own reflection
Leaving little room
To brood upon
Anything but

And even if that weren’t to be
A tiny glimpse of perfection
Would inevitably
Burn down all ambition
Only for the ash to, anew,
Tarnish the erstwhile
Flawless contours
And thusly stoke
The dying embers to life –
A critic reborn
A critic revived

– Akanksha Gupta

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Conjunct

And so, and yet,
Life toasts to and with
Glasses half filled,
Half spilled, half empty,
And so, and yet,
Delicious
In their entirety,
Where taste is a mindful perception
And mind a powerful beast
The heart is an overpowering illusion
And so, and yet,
Is breaking free

– Akanksha Gupta

Transience

I watch
A miasma of brush strokes
Trailing over
The canvas of life –
Dull, bright, warm, sharp
Their watermarks
Evade the sight
But those that loiter
I notice
The crinkly lines
That embellish their every stroke –
Bold, rugged, shy, sleek
Impressions that time erodes
But those that linger
I remember
The dots and crosses
That stagger each line
Big, small, subtle, sublime,
An expression that holds
The redolence of time –
A taste of vintage memories
That swarm
With an ageless, decadent grace
Yet ultimately
When everything fades
Period and pause
Everything fades
They say
Life is funny that way

– Akanksha Gupta

Teacher’s Day

To all my teachers: Happy Teacher’s Day!

It’s been years since graduation
I measure that time and distance
In values
That paved our way
In beliefs
That kept us walking
In attitude
That set the rhythm to our gait
And in fortitude
That carried us across

Because
The knowledge we then
Naively gauged us in
When faded away,
The wisdom
Wisely remained –
In the wordplay
During interactions
And the unintended wit
In the reactions –
Their impressions
Gained
In girth and momentum

So while it’s been years since graduation
I measure that space in memories
Too priceless to put a tag to –
Even words are not enough
To express my gratitude

Love,
Akanksha

The Illusion of Freedom

My fingers don’t shake
Yet my pen hesitates
And the paper is black and blue.
I tighten my hold –
Had I been so lax
As to let the pen grow bold?
It is but a paper anyway;
And papers come and papers go –
The convenient martyrs
Of our self-effacing ways,
Covering our rot within theirs,
Letting our thoughts stay
Strangled within our throats –
Little birds
That now whisper
In our ears
Words
That make words cower,
And ideas, that yearn
To run free,
Find themselves
Short of words
Suddenly,
Apparently,
Justifiably.

– Akanksha Gupta

Lurking In Them Blue Pills

A house stood
In the far east end
Not quite marble white
Mud brown or charcoal black —
The colour faded before its quiet strength
Like the yellow of the yellow pages
And the red of the red moons —
Turning, waxing, waning —
Like a gnomon
Meditating
In its own shadow
Not so much abandoned or reclusive
As part forgotten, part oblivious,
And part elusive —
Just enough to have
A perceived objective clarity
As a bridge
Between dream and reality —
A house
Sometimes rented,
Sometimes owned,
Seldom sold,
Seeing all under its sun
Through windows
Cataracted to its 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