Degwar, Jhullas, KrishnaGhati

Tarninote, Kotli, Tattapani

Names flicker on my timeline
places I have been to
and places I imagine I have been to

Tonight, there’s no difference
between two –
known and imagined.

Grief unites us,
having lost loved ones
on either sides
to aggressors
imagined and known.

In the TV debates
figures flicker as count
and every death is a
befitting reply
for incursions
known and imagined

And so the collective conscious
is satisfied from
flagellation of distant identities
divided across nations –
some known and some imagined.

Protected: How I wish

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doubleOn the bus
to my house
somewhere in California
I dream of Kashmir
and the blue skies
that now seem faint
slopping over the mountains,
so unlike Kashmir.

On my phone
besides photographs
I have forwarded songs
that speak of meadows
and sheeps and mothers.
I tinge,
home returns as a song
faint and nondescript
mobile and farthest.

Geographies of longing
bound memories.
I fly between them
a song at a time,
a sky at a time,
somewhere in California.

I would carry this song across the barricaded city

Lal Ded would tear, a city naked
as her. She isn’t us anymore.
No one can over-hear her songs
or see her verses. Long pauses
have pickets encircling them.
Guns arrest all her words,
in squares, where lovers would meet.
Checkpoints break her verses abruptly.
Her hands, smelled of dried ink and paper,
textured with drowning mist of tear gas shells.

In times like these
treading through poems is fatal.

But, poets would tell you, this city too
is a poem
naked more than ever.

The monsoon clouds never cross into Kashmir




In the plains,
we board a flight
that rises above them.

It’s departure is home coming.
It’s arrival – a strange city.

But in a curfewed city
how would you find yourself

and your home,
the one you left behind
when it was still summer

and the birds hadn’t flocked
away from the half-inched Himalayas.

Now, mist covers what’s theirs;
We descent, breaking the city noise
silence follow us, like a scream,
into the valley.

We look for names
that were once ours.
No one carries a placard, anymore –
the city has run out of its alphabets.

We overhear
Aakashvani announcement –
“The curfew shall be extended”

“Hamiasto, Hamiasto, Hamiast!”
was that you, Shahjahan?


When it’s autumn’s turn
to borrow a bloody summer’s color,
don’t go out looking for me

in meadows mined with memories
blooming with wild flowers
that never went away

like the million stars
under which we met
the first spring years ago.


When the sky seeks an abode,
spare the attic for it.
Don’t go out looking for me

leaving the house to grieve
the loss of sky
that couldn’t bear the agony

of autumn’s demise.
Seasons like colors
faint in memories now.

Let the ultramarine water
be our witness –
Kashyap, the tormentor

seeks you in our death
to undo the knots
of your belligerence.