manu_thmbManohar Shetty



Hissed out by a salivating tongue,
I’m the nagging, unfinished whole.
A hint, a slack jaw, eyes rankling,
I’m the whisper growing harsher

With each passing ear; twisted
Around to suit my sly plotters,
I’m the invisible flame setting
Fire to dome, minaret, spire.

I’m fuel stored for the retreating
Mob, my bait greed, hatred and rage.
Only a few see through me
As rootless seed, poisonous weed.

But scotch me and another
Is born, a handmaiden made
Hungrier, more bitter, eyes
Streaked with smoke and fire.


Anniversary Poem

A few click into place
From this ring of rusted keys
Like a child’s stick-drawing
Of the human race.

This one, brittle as nicotine-scarred
Teeth, unlocked photographs
Silverfished, sepia with age—
A schoolboy’s album of hills,

Lakes, embroidered gold
Colours on maroon blazers;
And that stray picture of a scrawny,
Long-haired creature

In a narcotic haze, dreaming
Of escape first into a neon
Forest, then into colliding
Waves, spindrift in the face.

But that flat iron key, its bit
A city skyline, opened doors
To a chain of empty rooms,
Cobwebbed calendars, uncleared bins,

Unread books, unwritten poems,
A young man’s wavering silhouette
At a darkened window, toxic eyes
On a key lost in a gunmetal sea.

The master-key that came, warm steel,
Fully rounded, sprung ajar a grey
Shutter to sunlit waves, arms, hands,
Gentle as clouds, shutting down

Room after empty room.


With the Children gone

The missed call is a song
or an alarm, and trunk calls
and greeting cards are
things of the past.
Unread books jostle
in the shelf with play
stations and played-out iPods.

With the children gone

our computer screen
goes on the blink
from viral links
to faceless friendships,
pirated music.
MySpace and Facebook
do not twitter
all day long,
and  banish us,
faces to the wall.

With the children gone

the latchkey does not
creak before dawn.
We prowl in your room,
plumping the pillows (your
heroes still adorn the walls).
We gather and dust,
gather and dust
worn  shorts and tops
bearing  legends too
tall for us.

With the children gone

rows of shoes grow
too big for our boots,
too scuffed to save.
We leaf through frayed
textbooks (the stress, the distress!)
We are the small print,
the forgotten subtext
longing to be read,

longing to hear all

that’s left unsaid.


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