Three Poems

By Paresh Tiwari

The Salt of Things 

You come back an ocean. Vast. Unpredictable. Blue. Four boats unmoored on your chest. You come back holding silence in your ears, the way sky holds grey. A primordial roar cradled within the conch shell.

Your feet now end in beaches. White. Boundless. Meeting the horizon of your stoic journey. Each finger is now a coral. Growing an inch every decade. 

In those in-between years, I spoke about you as if you were still here. Like I still need to worry about the cut of bread in your lunch box. Now that you are back, I seek the cleft of your chin. Bleached for eons under the unrelenting sun. Your skin is salt and wetness and sand. Crab holes breathing constellations. Your hair is shoal colonised by angelfish. They dart out when the moon is half. When the night has only just begun.

This moon was once an accomplice. The easy melody of a lullaby. 

You come back and your eyes are islands. Floating over the sweep of clear blue. Untouched. Wild. Distant. And I wonder which boat will ferry me back to your shores.

dragonflies —
the way we skitter
around topics

ellipses . . .
measuring the stillness
of every pause

Translating Rain

the window is a wound pried open. 
and when the rain comes down,
it’s a traveller of new roads.
the rain song hovers over the neon
neckline of Bombay. hangs from leaves 
and streetlamps. unsure. lost. orphaned 
in this city of vertical cardiograms. 

sitting across each another. there are no words to place on our tongues. to say that we can only make love in approximations. in the irrationality of never quite there. you reach out and take my hand. guiding it along, one breadcrumb at a time. to your breasts. rising and falling.

rain remembers falling. 
warbling in the throat of a chaatak. 
sloshing under the feet of a young girl.
rain remembers the time it wasn’t
when the womb of its cloud was empty.
and when the rain comes down, 
it’s a tapestry of mist and desire.

your name is half-moon on my lips. whispered in nastaʿlīq. the arch of your back, the gentle curve of a Ming bowl. blue. bluer still the softness of your moan stretching over seven syllables. each with a life of its own. sometimes the distance between two breaths could be a way to measure eternity. 

rain knows eternity.
it’s a child leaping over culverts
a deluge of laughter and 
wings and a rallying cry of dissent.
and when the rain comes down, 
it soaks into the lime-washed walls 
now a map of smudged borders.
The Anatomy of Violence

I unlatch the door and step inside to the heavy wag of a black tail. I stroke the now rough hair of the old dog, take an ear in my hand, fold it over, and run my fingers across his muzzle. He closes his eyes and leans into my hand. I can feel the weight of his head as I hold it up so I can blow over his damp nose. All part of the dance we taught each other long ago. 

There’s a pistol in the pocket of my coat. I pull it out and raise it to the dog’s long brow now peppered with the grey of time and place it between his sad eyes. The dog is impervious to the terror of cold steel. 

He continues to wag the tail. Thump. Thump. Thump.

the taste of blood
in my mouth


Paresh Tiwari is a poet, artist and editor. He has been widely published, especially in the sub-genre of Japanese poetry. A Pushcart Prize nominee, his work has appeared in several publications, including the anthology by Sahitya Akademi, ‘Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians’ released to celebrate 200 years of Indian English Poetry. ‘Raindrops chasing Raindrops’, his second haibun collection was awarded the Touchstone Distinguished Books Award in the year 2017. Paresh has co-edited the landmark International Haibun Anthology, Red River Book of Haibun, Vol 1 which was published by Red River Publications in 2019. He is also the serving haibun editor of the online literary magazine Narrow Road.



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