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Shame and glory side by side / Three Poems by Virender Singh

Virender Singh

The never-bending silence

I called him twice/too many times,

Silence. Birds singing from trees,

Responding to each other. But

From him, only nothing.

His taste on my mouth, dried

Like scum on the surface of a blessed

Pond, the one teeming with life inside

And out where the storks soar - silence.

I find him in my dreams

And then we have sweet arguments,

Words thrashing against words

Not fists, no punches but such music.

Sweet luxury of being in battle

With someone who can match you

Line by line, you both write the story,

The one fiery enough to burn fields.

From the ashes, grow new weeds of discontent,

More problems to reap and nowhere to go

But our own slaving bodies, slathered

With our sweat and heaving under the sun.

Touch, the feeling of arms embracing arms,

Faces meeting in holy symphony,

What absurd ritual is this of mashing lips

And grinding a poultice of euphoria?

We are slimy beings of solitary joys,

Pleasure seeking and wandering

Nervous and bumbling like tumbleweed

Scattered to the winds, pinwheeling.

I wrote letters to you, spiralling,

Out of control and messed up

But you reserved your words,

You were saving them for someone else.


My days are only for myself.

Preserved, corralled and fished out

From freezing water and then immersed

Into the frying pan of the universe.

Holding back

I stuffed my head with lies

Roaming free in the ruins

Hunter’s sinuous thighs

The prey’s drawn breath

Endless game of clicking tongues

Shame and glory side by side

Mothers of our conscience

Blessed by the changing winds

Jade eggs in a wicker basket

Hours stolen from our choices

Laid in stray and bits of cotton

A lion’s repose before a long night

Crusts forming and oceans filling up

Apologies brimming to the top

But lips veiled firmly shut

Pride lurking in the corridors.

Things may never go back to normal

And sometimes it hurts to smile

Feet carry where the heart crosses

The rush of the evening tide.


About the Poet: Virender Singh documents fragments of the socio-cultural reality within marginalized communities from the South Asian diaspora. They have produced visual poetry, served copy for youth-forward magazines, collaborated with queer-led creative studios, and played the role of casting director for genre-defying awareness campaigns in India.

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