Sunday, February 24, 2013

Whenever you see it

the sun is always eight minutes old.

The laughter track in the American sitcoms
was recorded in the '60s.

So whenever you hear it,
it is mostly the dead laughing.

The wrinkles on your skin
are things you could not say
but have kept for others to see.

The past is only a quarrel
and a missed phone-call
and a bagel-shop on 117th street.

Near the I.T.O, when he said - 'night charge extra,'
I already knew how the night always extracts its price,

how - in the 6×12 solitary cell,
as nights stretch,
flags of all countries are always red.

This world, Alfred, is only as big as your room
and grief is, finally,
only a rhyme scheme

converting separation
into a.b.b.a
 
and love
- the old masters, how well they understood -
is a tulip that flowers just for three days.


(thanks to Paromita Vohra, Shahid Ali and W.H. Auden)