Thursday, June 18, 2020

then . now . until death .

I) then

how we built our castles
on sighs, on moans, 
on galloping pulse
on warm breath, on sweat
on flying notes of laughter
skimming undulations
through hot moist passageways
  we built our castles 
  on a bubble of ether

II) now

lips pout less for kisses
more in disapproval
the tongue pierces less to seek
more to blame
eyes don't look into
don't look at, don't look for
in the fast fading light 
  the bubble of ether glints and
  a wink later, castle no more

III) until death

lets start again
you stay your way
i leave to find mine
or we 
bring together
love's scattered acres 
some mine some yours
  to share common ground 
  to build on.

© 2008 Padmavani Karkera
last edit 18.06.2020

loving just 'cause

Photo by Honey Fangs on Unsplash
love in a box
with a label on top.

no that's not what
it should be
as you say 
you have pride.

so be all over the place
and in their face.
like my family and I can be.
until they see
love is love, no matter.

i walk to town
arm in his arm.
we feed each other
bites from our plates.
just 'cause.

i place my hand on his thigh
under the table, while sipping on whatever.
and we kiss the other.
just 'cause.

we may breakup or we may cohabit.
we marry if that is what we want.
we may become parents
birth or adoptive.
just 'cause.

your love
is as foolish or as soulful as mine.
with all of it's overlapping, 
convoluted facets.
just 'cause

soon you should be able to say
i don't fit
in a box
with a label on top.
just 'cause.

© 2020 Padmavani Karkera

Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Photo by Gabby Orcutt on Unsplash
food cold at the table
vodka fuelled late evenings at the bar
on occasion, voices battling
to maim and subjugate.
a violent purging
of disillusionment.
the ritualistic denuding of the other's ego.

a loving touch restores faith.
hope is perdurable.
incarcerated by dependency.
characters in the play are set at - I do.
the credits roll,
endurance to the finish
is worthy of applause and envy.

© 2020 Padmavani Karkera

the once upon a time theatre

Photo by Badal Patel on Unsplash
if you chance to walk by
the once upon a time theatre
you will without doubt
just walk on by unless
you fancied some coffee and fritters

the theatre was locked up years ago
no one has gone in or come out
although as legend would have it
a little boy saw a mad looking man
at the window braiding his beard

a young girl passing by one afternoon
saw the curtain being pushed open
and then shut hurriedly
but not before she saw the craggy face
of a sad looking man with a braided beard

a woman sold coffee and snacks on her push cart
at the entrance of the theatre
one evening as the coffee was percolating
she saw the glass door of the window open slowly
and it did everyday as soon as she started the coffee

her customers would explain to friends
as they munched on fritters
how she placed her first coffee and fritters
at the window sill for her ancestor spirits
an then let a cat polish off the food.

and the students laughed 
there certainly was a fat cat somewhere 
with a caffeine high.

© 2020 Padmavani Karkera

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


she sits on a rickety cane chair
in the middle of the open portico
of her ancestral home.
her fingers work the patchwork shawl
resting on her rigid stomach,
carrying her child who is
a few days away from birth.

the needle pokes her finger.
she stops and looks up.
everything outside is green,
walls, rocks and the tall grass
sprouts magically every year.
she sighs, closes her eyes and leans back
and absently feels the texture of the shawl.

she dozes into her thoughts.
her neck gently releases its hold on her head,
until her chin rests on her chest.
her breath goes in and out,
soft from her parted lips
her left hand resting face up on her lap
the index finger with a tiny spot of blood.
the other hand holding the needle.

© 2020 Padmavani Karkera

Saturday, June 6, 2020

one of those days

Photo by Alexander Krivitsky on Unsplash
i am walking backwards
and i can see where i am going

i trip and i am drowning in the puddle
the dog's left in my kitchen

arms akimbo I am standing on a cloud
looking down at people on the beach

anxiously watching the sun set
there is the drive back home through the weekend peak hour

the twilight is rolling through the contours
and crevasses of my brain

another day another week ends
it's just one of those days

where you would feel a pea under the mattress
and your fingers could contour the breeze

© 2020 Padmavani Karkera

Monday, June 1, 2020


Photo by Tony Lam Hoang on Unsplash
the slum nestles between the
open sewage and the highway
there is a small road coming off the highway
through the slum that you have to take
if you are in a traffic jam.

you will pass by tiny single room dwellings
covered with flimsy corrogated sheets
or bright blue tarpaulins
there will be pots with flowering plants
and clothes hanging out to dry

Then you take a sharp turn and the road yawns into a junction with traffic signal posts and a policeman directing vehicles by
spacious villas with walls unscalably high.

the plump child in the back seat of a porche
in traffic enroute to his villa
is playing a game on his phone.
the car has slowed down
waiting for a goat to cross.
he looks up to check who's
knocking on the car window.
the waif  has one hand pressed against the glass
her eyes squinting for she cannot see in.
the boy calls out to the driver to get the window down
and hands out the extra burger and fries he was too full to eat
and the signal gives a green.

he looks back down to his phone
and looks up and out of the window
he has taken this route everyday
for the last seven years
and never looked out
he sees the quaint little homes
lined up like toys
and he sees the dirt
caked within the
lines on the girls palm
pressed against the glass.

© 2020 Padmavani Karkera
Salvaged from draft dated 2011.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

go-to room

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash
There are times 
to get away from rooms
that are lived in by humans
even if they are, or especially
if they are, as they say,
rooms with character.

A bare room with white walls and a window,
never lived in, is all.

Don't mind 
cellar spiders with spindly legs
watching delirious moths
knocking themselves on the tube light.
Lizards darting around
flicking their tongues at flying spots.

Don't like musty; open the windows.
Don't like dusty; sweep and mop.

It is a warm still night.
Switch off the lights.
Sit on the red oxide floor
facing the window, naked,
like a Botero painting.

Sip the wine straight from the bottle
Feel the weight of it on the wrist.
Swigging would be easy and quick.
but it's a leftover from our last evening.

But that's not why I sip.
I am ruminating.
The stars overwhelmed by
the ambient glow thrown up by humans.

I lick the mouth of the bottle.
Sniff deep at the remnant fumes.
Lie down on the floor.
Let the bottle roll off.

Feel the light breeze
beginning to stir the leaves outside
shifting the humid air inside.
I turn on my side and fall asleep
with my arm folded under my head.

I rest easy in empty rooms
not colonised by human minds.

© 2020 Padmavani Karkera

Written in response to Poetics: Make some room at

Saturday, April 11, 2020


Photo by Coby Shimabukuro on Unsplash
they are like
don't say much

words don't see
the awning abyss
that is you
thing of beauty
freak of nature
a heaving cloud
a wave burgeoning quietly
an orgy of complexity

words don't see
the abyss the abyss the depths unending
the unending uncapped loftiness
words that cant keep up with the mind
words that cant fathom the infinitesimal
words that can't grasp the ephemeral
words that cant hold together the profuse
words that are an apogee
on the towering heights of infinity
they are like
don't say much
© 2020 Padmavani Karkera

Selectively Touched

Photo by James Resly on Unsplash
she'd been a fly away leaf
all her life
dancing in the breeze
heady at the unfettered freedom
or floating on the balmy air.
drowsy and content
when she rested on the earth
she slept through without a care
until she was lifted once again
eyes filled with mirth
her voice shrill with glee
let it be
let it be so for her

© 2019 Padmavani Karkera

Chrysalis in Waiting

Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash
your skin
so smooth, unfurrowed
your eyes bovine beautiful
matt glazed with infantile expectation
your mouth slightly parted ready
for a congratulatory kiss for just being
your head always angled slightly up
as if your sustenance came from air
you live in a cocoon
weaved for you by
your guardian angel
a calf coddled
and fatted for sacrifice
at the alter of time.

© 2019 Padmavani Karkera


two boy's walking on green grass field
Photo by Kevin Gent on Unsplash
walking the blue ribbon
on pathways in the sky
bending to smell
memories in clouds

i know i sound high
high right up there
where stillness can be broken 
only by insistent summons of my name

like a child woken up 
from deep slumber i resist
but i shouldn't miss
the hope bus

and then it begins
the sound of humans 
crackling without pause
you talk and i hear 

i nod and mumble
i am still up there
walking the blue ribbon 
a childish thought; is this it ?

no. this is us today, now, this moment
you don't know this yet
you are me, i am you
there will be the other moments

still riding the hope bus
i am here back 
in this cacophony for us
will you catch up with me today?

we will be okay
when someday together we 
hum a leaf from love
we will listen like love itself

we wont need to walk the blue ribbons
or smell the clouds
we will walk the earth 
scented and iridescent like flowers 
our eyes in each others palms

Monday, June 24, 2019

making up

Photo by Daniel Páscoa on Unsplash
when you look into the mirror
contouring your lips
your eyes
your cheeks,
do you see a you
that is in control?
does it
hide the fact that
while you have a say
you can never do.
it is always yay to the yes's
and nay to the no's?

when you step out
wearing your gogo glasses
flowy pastel shades
strappy sandals
floating within a cloud of Premier Jour
within that cloud
do you get validation
from second glances?

when you have got it all off
at bedtime
and you turn away from the mirror
and walk to your side of the bed
float your good nights to each other
does your mutual  indifference
rest between your bodies like a
bolster built into the mattress?

© 2019 Padmavani Karkera

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Heart break

Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash
"My heart breaks"
she often said.
i wondered what that would feel like
would I feel like a walnut shell cracked open, heart exposed?
or would I feel like a betel nut halved and quartered?

I learned over time
that it feels like
listening to nails being hammered
one by one
sealing in the world
you have boxed yourself in.
no pushing back
no clawing the wall
no crying out for help.
you feel yourself shrink
as if to accommodate
the inevitable
just quietly contemplating
when did I get in here?
how did I let this happen?
what do I do?

you better
believe in chrysalis, 
in life after death,
and that no seal, no box, no world
is strong enough
to keep you down when you
decide to rise

one day you catch yourself
humming or thinking of dessert
and you realise that
heart break is a on-demand song
to play
whenever you want to 
have a good cry
to get rid of the cobwebs
at bedtime

eventually heartbreak is a bumpy scar
you feel absently
as you breathe in the lovely morning breeze
and watch the bulbuls build their nest
next to the dewy hibiscus welcoming the sun

© 2019 Padmavani Karkera

Sunday, May 5, 2019

She hears you

a year ago
you so much as sighed
she could kiss away the cloud over your head
and fill your mind with
rainbow coloured bubbles
rising against the blue of the sky
and you thought it was the result of  your workout
the 20 laps in the pool.

just now
you dropped a coconut on your foot
and shouted fuck
Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash
and when you looked up
she was holding the sunglasses up to the light
wrinkling her nose, her brow frowning in deep contemplation
yes...she thought aviators were so her.

your lips snapped soundlessly
she looks at you as she tosses the sunglasses into the shopping trolley
you know she heard that`
you see she couldn't care less
and she wants you to know that.

when you wanted to have an argument
that evening last month
as you very elegantly put it
'let's lance the boil'
'let's not' she had said chomping on something
and your mind fumed 'f***ing bitch'
she'd heard that.

at the checkout you watch as she unloads the
aviators, coconut, sanitary pads, tweezers, paint brushes
and an all herbal deep heat pain relief spray
you find yourself staring at the pain relief spray
like it were a revelation
the cashier waves it at the bar code scanner
you feel your toes throb
and you look at the back of her head
there's the halo and the angels strumming on harps
you lean forward and whisper
 'i love you, my most glorious pain in my rear.'
it seems like she hasn't heard you
you know she most definitely did
'perverse woman!'

© 2019 Padmavani Karkera

Friday, March 29, 2019


Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash edited
in the darkness of the night
just your voice communing with my ear
erudite monologues
filling my late evening hours.
nightly rendezvous over the phone
a respite from quiet tears and
thoughts of no consequence.
i was being indulgent of myself
in my aloneness and kind to you in yours

the loneliness of the day is different
from that of the night.
the alert hours of the day need
compassion, smiles, kind words,
meeting of eyes, the meeting of minds,
and the dreaded - responsibility.

daylight and soberness
made you shy, afraid, remote and rude.
fighting your need for this person who didn't fit the mould,
you could acknowledge only after downing a few.
and then you said you love me.

i don't doubt you did
it is a love (lonliness) that hits you
when there is an imminent danger of losing
what you have been receiving.
not a love that needs to give.
i was your compassionate compadre.
i couldn't let you confuse the two.

That and I wouldn't make the same mistake twice.

© 2019 Padmavani Karkera

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Strappy Heels

Photo by Camille / Kmile on Unsplash
I remember
looking at your feet
and noticing how small they were
how the years had flattened your toes and heels
and yet they arched gracefully into your toes

You mentioned you started wearing flats
after you married him, so you wouldn't look taller. Not that he would objected.

A few years after he passed away
I remember you eyeing heeled red
slippers at stores contemplatively
and you bought a pair that was priced
just right for your conscience.
You painted your nails the same red.
How pretty they looked, your feet.

I was shopping with another woman
How taken aback she was when I picked up
those strappy suede red heels
from that pricey branded store for you.

How you demurred about the price when I gave them to you
We were never for displays of affection
But I knew you loved them.

I remember how you wore them
a flair so natural and sweet

© 2019 Padmavani Karkera

Friday, December 14, 2018

go back

Do you want to
caress the flower
back into a bud
the feathers into the wing
the leaves onto the stem
the seed into the fruit
the tear into the eye
the breath into the lung
the kiss into the turn of the head
the done into desire
Do you want to
caress the flower back into a bud?
© 2018 Padmavani Karkera

Thursday, December 13, 2018

pieces on the floor

pieces on the floor
reflecting off light in splendorous hues
cant remember what shape they were
before they became shards

looking down at them
I feel my hearts ponderous beat
picking each one up
their beauty so excruciating

each one is a kick in the throat

© 2018 Padmavani Karkera

Friday, November 30, 2018

man on a chair

you lean forward
arms crossed
eyes squinting
brow furrowed
puzzled troubled

you blame this one and that one
for changing and moving
you have been sitting on the chair for years now
going further and further away from
those that stay right beside you
you do not see or hear the hope
in them in spite of the persistent
taste of your misanthropy
informing everything they do.
there they are right around you
eyes busy elsewhere doing life
so as not to impose their presence on your conscience

man on a chair
your utopia is not the same as theirs
you are their sun temporarily shrouded by clouds
they are the dark abyss yawning dangerously close
to your back

© 2018 Padmavani Karkera

Monday, October 1, 2018

you and her

stopped seeing

colour in her gaze
and how it can quickly dissolve into the sheen of her eyes

colour in the words she speaks
dissipating into distant muted sounds

colour in her enthusiasm
splintering against walls around you

for you it is the
black and white movies
the staccato speech of the stars
the stiff miming of emotions

your eyes on the 13 inch screen
i see her look at the of your back of your head
her hand on her chest
it seems the emptiness away
as she mumbles Good night love

you do not see
colour in her hope

hope is a ghost
that refuses to accept its death

© 2018 Padmavani Karkera

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

To be that person- Alive

Pic Courtesy: Flickr Commons
I prefer
to close my eyes
to be that person
in a yellow cotton frock
ribbons in the hair
gently crushing an eclair
feeling the gooey chocolate flow
into her mouth.

I prefer
to be that person
revelling in the feel
of the soft cotton maxi
caressing her legs
as she walks leisurely
that breezy Saturday afternoon
on the grass dotted with yellow dandelions.

I prefer
to be that person
at college debating
about freedom and equality for women
as a teacher convince children
that they are cleverer, braver and stronger than
they think they are.

I prefer
to be that person
in pyjamas
whose fingertips caressed
the soft cheeks of her babies
and gently coaxed the knots
out of their hair

I prefer
to be that person
unadorned, undressed
loved and pleasured
drowsy and safe
with her lover

I prefer
to be that person
that daughter
that sister
that teacher
that lover
that mother
that woman

this person on a rubber sheet
being sponge 'bathed'
being rolled over
and turned back
the nurse's hands prodding arm pits and groin
all over a discussion about
the tasteless fish curry
her sister-in-law had made
for lunch today

that is why
I prefer
to close my eyes and imagine
I am that person
whose body is PRIVATE
whose words are SOUGHT
whose presence is RESPECTED
whose mind is ACKNOWLEDGED
I am that person
who is alive
as alive
as the little girl
with ribbons in her hair

© 2016 Padmavani Karkera

Friday, December 11, 2015

It is time

Photo: DarkWorkX on Pixabay
before her on the coffee table
lay three objects
a pen, a pocket book and a paper knife

the pen was black
with nine inlaid mother of pearl daisies
strewn randomly
from top to down
it was a gift from thirty six years ago
along with the pocket book '
covered with a brown leather jacket
'To the most special person in my life,
follow your dreams'. Note on page one.

the paper knife was silver
a flat blade
dull and worn
the handle an elephant head
it was a gift 'to the most special person; my all'
hand delivered by his lawyer to their 'special place'
her studio apartment.
the estate and investments went to his wife.

she picked up her pen
and opened the book

'I am old' she wrote
and then
'I am alone'
and underlined it twice
her bracelets clinking joyfully.

© 2015 Padmavani Karkera

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Poet

George Tooker- Self Portrait
A poet
must not listen to the whispers
travelling the insides of a conch
nor feel the softness of his cotton sheets
no cool water should flow over his feet
he shall not have the pleasure of deseeding a grape in his mouth
or gaze into the green of the paddy fields
not for him the scent of the coral flowers
or exult in the sight and sound of children laughing
for the moment is merely a pause,
a poet now, a soldier next.
A soldier now,
his conch lows the call for war
© 2015 Padmavani Karkera

In response to the Magpie Tales prompt at . Thank you Tess Kincaid.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Image: Orlandogators
you are
peering into the shattered mirror
applying concealer
fingers moving firmly
over the contours of your face
over  the bruise on your chin
over another on your jaw
moving with the consummate ease
of a mask maker

© 2011 Padmavani Karkera