poems by nitasha kaul


You Have Reached Me But I Am Not Here. Please Leave A Message After The Tone:

I never thought I’d be saying this

Not to you. Not on a machine.

Not after all this time.

Time? Is it in time? Or space?

that it records what I say?

Never mind.

A window flung open — just now

Someone else’s, I’m by the wall

That wall where you drew me once.

This is the worst bit about intimacy.

When you’re happy, you’re so high

And when we’re like this —

Remember, once you’d tasted my tears

And said my eyes smelt of brandy

My regrets are purely mine

Not accusations for you.

We have preyed on each other enough

It’s so painful.

Well, not pain — but — is there a synonym for pain?

I hate grammar, it confuses me.

Anyway, these days everyone lives in a

confusion of grammar. Of grammars.

But how wonderful it would be

to wear purple. Lots of purple.

I want to cry. And can’t

Words fail me too.

Like Latin and Greek

For the Greek, Chinese.

For the Chinese, language of the birds

You’re so good with languages

But we just can’t be bilingual

in some intimacies.

You’re right. We shouldn’t meet

It would be meeting more in order to mean less

Isn’t it? Will you play the radio when alone?

Must we love people for who they are?

Why not for what they know?

I’m not making any sense

Knowledge only adds up the components

of sensation into 20 million spots

on the retina or the eardrum, 63

unwindings of a metal mechanism

on the 400 compact earth bricks

that are piled up on alphabet

latitudes and longitudes. I want to touch you.

There isn’t a knowledge of touch, is there?

Is there? The sight of smell…smell of skin…

skin of heart, heart of the unknown, unknown where

they meet…slippery feelings slide on glassy, glassy

somethings…Oh! These absurd people we are.

Remember that game of rhyme?

Lovers intent on erasure. Every lover I’ve known has

played with my name

Ulka Shaanti said one, Nita Shaka Ul said another

They couldn’t spell each other

And you are them all. You were, are

a wave. Hesitating between sea and

shore. Damn, I’m losing it.

How long have I got?

Ok, let me make a clean breast of it.

I just want to confess that — *




poems are

Poems Are.

Poems are places

Smokescripts of the soul —

Maps reflected in a wistful eye

A room upon a return after long

To find misplaced: Celan and four roses, dried.


Poems are people

Searching for symmetry —

Lovers playing with given names

A telephone call to a long lost friend

Who stands surprised at the top of a hill.


Poems are moments

When perception slides —

Senses undo the solid bind

Uncertain, not yet, who knows, and why

Gather, set afire to the mirror of I.


Poems are curses

Wrapped in sound

Thrown forth with force

At indifference around!

a cynic's smile

Cynic’s Smile.

A cynic smiles:

at unflowered boughs on a summery day

at shadows of a puppet’s limbs at play

at the foreseen ends of love and war

at the yearnsome objects in the bottom drawer

at the crumbling ruins of an emperor’s dream

at the earnest efforts of a sporting team

at the voters as they queue at poll

at those who claim to save your soul

at the child’s stumbling run for food

at the sanctimonious shopping brood

at reaching out, at letting go

at those who think they’re in the know

at kindness pegged with the rate of hope

at the platform below the hangman’s rope

at you, at me, when we least expect

unable to question, mock or suspect

our sweat and tears occasionally beat

the cynic’s smile to a hasty retreat


then thins away the fog of doubt

the cynic frowns, dreams cry out

magic threads stitch once more

the tattered edges of a ridiculous world.

Nitasha Kaul is a Kashmiri novelist, poet, academic, artist and economist who lives in London. Her debut novel Residue (Rupa/Rainlight, 2014) was earlier shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Aside from fiction and poetry, she comments in the media and has written in edited collections, journals and newspapers on the themes of identity, culture, economy, gender, social theory, technology, democracy, Bhutan and Kashmir. She has a joint doctorate in Economics and Philosophy, is the author of the book 'Imagining Economics Otherwise: encounters with identity/difference' (Routledge, 2007), and has previously taught Economics, Politics, and Creative Writing in the UK and in Bhutan. She has travelled to over 55 countries across 4 continents documenting the strangeness of the everyday and the otherness of the present. More at www.nitashakaul.com

Be first to comment