I am

I am what I am 
Exactly the way I am
Varnished, unvarnished, 
Tarnished by tide
I gleam in the morrow
Swim in the today
The night is nigh
Tomorrow is another day
And unlike yourself
You might find me staid
But I am happy to keep up
With me at my own pace

The race never dies
Fatigue sets in sometimes
And I kip in the boulevard 
Of my mind
There right across the corner
Between sun-kissed trees
Where the hammock stretches 
Oh so invitingly
I lie in thought
In waking dream
And knock upon my reveries

You knock upon my reveries
I curl, and sigh
And squeeze shut my eyes
But the reel escapes 
My memory
I groan and rise
You needn’t knock twice
Tomorrow has come
I know
Life beckons only once 
I am what I am  Exactly the way I am Varnished, unvarnished,  Tarnished by tide I gleam in the morrow Swim in the today The night is nigh Tomorrow is another day And unlike yourself You might find me staid But I am happy to keep up With me at my own pace The race never dies Fatigue sets in sometimes And I kip in the boulevard Of my mind There right across the corner Between sun-kissed trees Where the hammock stretches Oh so invitingly I lie in thought In waking dream And knock upon my reveries You knock upon my reveries I curl, and sigh And squeeze shut my eyes But the reel escapes My memory I groan and rise You needn’t knock twice Tomorrow has come I know Life beckons only once

– Akanksha Gupta

Do Not Go Gently

I haven’t rested in a while
Frozen in the expression of lassitude
Daunted by thoughts of endless toil
That occupy my solitude

A joyless haze of laissez-faire
Has settled so deep within my sinews
That a fledgling thought of raison d’être  
Sends me hurtling down the icy blues

I now muse in silent interludes
The what-ifs have all but passed me by
And yet, for idle thoughts are idle not, 
A weary passenger can still try

– Akanksha Gupta (poem)

Lock and Key

Lurking in the depths of my soul
The hunger unfettered, growls and roars

I grab it tight with both my arms
With fingers unclenched from clammy palms

Yet fear threatens to swallow all sound
The muted ringing of silence surrounds

I dare not open my eyes, and stare
Into the very eyes of despair

On a face that could so easily mirror my own
Had it not been wildly unkempt and so very old

Dazed, startled, I uncurl again, and again glimpse
The future that spins anew with every blink

~ Akanksha Gupta (poem)

Betwixt the Shallows of my Depths

Does One 'Compromise' Fit All?

These are tears of yesteryear
Trailing the frowns etched ‘cross a lifetime
This is a mess of bitter words
That ego-clenched hearts left behind

Tracing the passage of the years
I cast every sulfurous word aside –
An attempt to conciliate maturity
That leaves my sanity mortified

Inside, a storm brews strong and fierce
Unrelenting in its intensity
Whilst my lips purse in a smile
And uncrease my brows with acridity

– Akanksha Gupta (poem)

The Stills of Life

A teaspoon of philosophy melds with a tablespoon of reality in my mind’s eye,
That the tendrils of time, sitting upon my tongue, daub insistently on my smile

Ink stains blue my finger tips
Calloused by their genteel labors
Upon the grays of black-and-whites
As the minutes turn into hours

Them faceless thus dance, endlessly
Their silent music greeting all ears
While the sightless, deafeningly,
Dip the brush in a sea of tears

Garbled hues then mottle my world
That stands still to the vagaries of time
Moments, both terrible and terrific,
Burn brightly and gently die.

– Akanksha Gupta

Constance: Of Inner Revolution & Outer Evolution

Those were the days
That flew upon the breeze
Scented with platters
Of words-worthy feasts

Them wintry special editions
Of home cooked meals
Warmed up like Enid Blytons
Seasoned with John Keats

The lazy summer afternoons too
Sprawled with Agatha Christies;
My bread and butter
Your wine and cheese

The popular cliques’
Nancy Drews were just
So sickeningly sweet,
They squatted prettily
Like jars of jam
Languishing in ignominy

That was when Sherlock Holmes
Was the gentleman’s gentlemen
And John Grisham a treatise,
And David Baldacci was as legal
As you could get
In a thrill baker’s paradise

But Shakespeare was
The Indians’ Chinese soup
All slurped down in delight,
Until pig’s blood like misogyny
Left ’em squirming in surprise

That was when Austen and Bronte
Were the Julia Childs of English Lit,
Deliciously piquant in delivery despite
Their obsession with etiquette

In contrast, the desi summer retreats
Became a much needed respite,
Cutting through the western sensibilities
With spicy mythological strife

Their sensationally spiritual plots
And samosa-eared pages of lore
Could wage a Game of Thrones
With more honour and less gore

Where Satya Jit Ray sprightly sleuthed
From fortresses to chawls,
Arunadhati Roy bluntly sluiced
Variety with liberal over hauls

Then came Chetan Bhagat
To conquer cinema with realism,
But with grammar like pirated pizza’s
He posed Adiga little competition

Thusly, the experiments with
Fictional truths grew by and by,
As I kept up with nuggets of
Phantasmagoria on the sly

It was the best of times, indeed,
It was the worst of times,
To have swum through the Trojan wars
Yet have doddered into Twilight

It was the age of wisdom, truly,
It was the age of foolishness,
Where the literature of examinations battled
To gain foothold in my reading lists

This fascist state of poiesis
Kept me winded and on my toes;
With History and Future in a flux
I spent hours thinking fast and slow

And through this epoch of identity politics,
Cultural wars and Digital putsch,
That the fad of Harry Potter thrived
Became a universally acknowledged truth

– Akanksha Gupta

A Hole-In-The-Wall

I’ve always been someone
Rather inconspicuous
Rather ordinary,
Terribly awkward about everything
And awfully clumsy

Yet I’ve found myself in severe arguments
Willing and unwilling repartees,
Thrillingly innocent adventures
Brimming with anomalies

There is an unrest within
A proclivity for annoyance,
A desire to be anonymous
While indulging in flamboyance

They call it individuality
A vanilla curiously original,
Without elegance or intricacies
Yet standing out in the peripheral

I am standing in my shoes
But uncomfortably wear my skin,
Perhaps it’s all the eyes on me
That I wish I wouldn’t imagine

My irrepressible inner conspiracy theorist
Shudders in irreverent timidity,
Wanting to minify my presence
While standing with enforced equanimity

There is a tug of war
And I am balanced precariously,
The rope is taut, pulled on either ends
By paradoxical ideologies

I am very present in every thought
And absent from reality,
Thusly standing in the shoes of the self-involved
Quietly convinced of a self-aware personality

– Akanksha Gupta

What Makes the World Tick

I like to think
I am like a pendulum;
I am wont to seesaw
Between
A very high opinion
Of myself
And a critically flawed
One

Yet unlike the pendulum
This wont is an artist’s science –
Abstract rhythm
Immeasurable rhyme
It ebbs and flows
Like a musician’s score,
Its intensity oft rendering
Thinking a chore,
And in this state my Subconscious
Still battles with indecision;
A furious yet subliminal exercise
Both, a virtue and a vice
That’s crept up in my sinews
Contracting, expanding,
In sweet delirium
(Quite unlike alcohol)
Therefore,
And Apparently,
This makes it good for the soul,
Like,
Chicken soup!
Drinking in incredible stories –
An oblivious escape
A deliberate distraction
A tragic twist
An inspiring action –

Each oscillation thusly stokes
The storyteller’s
Imagination
And, don’t we have them all?
Stories to tell
Stories to live
Even as we’re grasping
At the straws
We push through
And pull rabbits
Out of our ordinary tales –
Veritable magicians we are
With bewilderingly bewitching brains
That delude themselves
To swing
Between
Self love
And loathing

– Akanksha Gupta

The Fault in the Alteration

The day
Like embroidery
Is fine

It scrapes across the fingertips
And digs ‘neath the roughshod nails
Before it eases into night
And the hardships gently wane
And ebb and flow with tendresse
Of each, now habitual, caress
That kneads the creases and furrows away

The day
Like embroidery
Is fine

It scrapes across the fingertips
It digs ‘neath the roughshod nails
Benign, as a child’s gaze,
It draws blood –
It plucks each drop
And hurls into the design
Of Drowning suns
And Ruby skies

The drops pool
The wounds cool
The day rests into night
The rains glaze over the reds
That macabrely coalesce
Along the hardened lines

But if the fault
Were upturned
The rains would gently graze the reds
And ebb and flow with tendresse
Of each, now habitual, caress
That kneads the creases and furrows away

Then the day
Unbeguiled
Like embroidery
Would also smile

– Akanksha Gupta

Because the ‘P’ in ‘Prude’ is Surreptitiously Silent

Dichotomizing the masses
Into Haves and Have-Nots
Misclassifies
Those who think out of the box

Bestowing polarized labels
That qualify all difference
Serves to consciously diminish
Both diversity and tolerance

Proscribing and prescribing
With sanctimony the sacrilege
Rattles no glass ceilings
But blinders the window ledge

Sermonizing and imposing
These truths on unknown polities
Translates into unintelligent
And offensive foreign policies

Pitiably unaware
In the headiness of pan-superiority
Immune to introspection
The mind languishes
Oblivious
To its own insecurities

– Akanksha Gupta

Preception

Unbidden
The thoughts of yesterday
Threaten to drown me
And I’m reminded
There’s a fine line
Between careless and carefree

Those who
Throw caution to the winds
Yet come out smelling like roses
Know we’re accustomed
And inured
To our own play of ignorance

Those who
Mince words, measure thoughts
Yet are censured for every gesture,
Unknowingly let them out
In their voice, in their eyes
And in their posture

Justice is blind
But Judgment is deaf
And while Reason is neither
It sputters when
Truth is mute
And Instinct has taken over

– Akanksha Gupta

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

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