“Of all sweet passions Shame is the loveliest.”

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the title for this poem comes from a poem by Lord Alfred Douglas of the same name.

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In the shadow of a large looming tree
an old waitress serves you coffee.
With a side of ripe plums.
Her lips move with an odd ring.
Prunes is the term for plums,
her favorite fruit
in her language, tastes tart too.
Her voice sounds like an epiphany,
The plums she served today
were too ripe for the cake.
That sits in the oven
for her favorite customer:
 
an old man in his 40s
who speaks little French.
She weaves us in her dream.
We follow, We watch
her serve plums to the old man
talking softy, with patience.
We are in her head, or heart
listening
learning
to love
and to bake
plum cakes
from perfect plums
 
artwork from “Gainsboro” Series, Transferware Collectors Club.

history.

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artwork by Harry Campbell
I write to you
on a black sheet of paper.
I write hard
so it shreds the paper to bits,
 
and feels like running a knife
through the underside
of my belly
i can feel the cuts:
 
from all those years ago
when I am running on fields
of the same flower
mother left when she left home,
 
all those years ago
they fall but make no sound
i tremble again in the wind
with them
 
i can hear mother speak,
she whispers in the air,
‘What’s wrong, where have you been
who have you loved?”

for oliver.

to the only oliver i ever knew,

On a Sunday early morning when I know I have nothing to do, I run through my wardrobe to put things exactly how i want them. Sheet by sheet, books by books, and a pile of clothes folded one at a time. It isn’t much but it keeps me occupied. Almost dismisses a perennial nostalgia for the year before this one and the one before that and all the ones before that.

In the background, somewhere around this time the church gets very crowded for the weekly mass, and if you listen carefully you can hear every word. but paying attention is not anywhere on my CV. So it is easy for me to ignore the checklist i found last week. It read in no particular order, a bookhouse, some films, an empty park, shopping.

In truth, it’s a small bucket-list from 2 years ago that i didn’t know i still had with me. i clutch to it, assuring it’s still mine, before leaving it where it was. Like a toy to a child, it tells me i can come back to this feeling when I want. I am allowed.

10 years from today, I will no longer know why the letter has a tinge of orange scented perfume but today i remember, and shayad(perhaps) it is still your favorite.

It is still only the beginning of the day. noon and sunset aren’t capable of this emotion. it asks me if it can stay, so i tuck it slowly under my pillow.
“here you’re safe.
here you can live.
with me again. in parts.”

I do not know what else to say, so I instantly dial home, tell mother what i ate for breakfast. and how the Bangalore weather makes it impossible for people to take cold showers. Your entire body would freeze.

Like the emotions. Lust at their core.

ap.

what i forget.

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In some part of my dream
he tells me,
I forget the most important things,
he writes:

A paper insignia.
To change every day.

Books in Hindi.
To always remember what ‘jan’ means,
both the life and the lover.

A tablecloth.
To lay when he comes
and cling on to, in moments of desperate intimacy.

Pictures of him.
For warmth.

artwork by Alfonso Casas