In Delhi, milk is sold like gasoline.

Milk's morning addicts dock small self-owned

tanks to pale blue stations, where machines

fill them with foaming jets of double-toned.

Maids, slow pajama'd men, queue up for more,

as air-kissed amateurs loaf round the line,

appalled by their uncool and vernac chore,

their there-but-not-there air declares in mime

to passing anglophones, the maid's day off.

The next day, in a nursing home, an old,

anaemic dowager lies just transfused

with priceless blood that can't be bought or sold

but must be bartered, newish blood for used.

Son, nephew, son-in-law, bare willing skin

like donor cows, but she needs more than three:

the truant maid, redesignated kin,

is milked for mother's sake then given tea,

and while it's drunk she's almost family.

Look and Feel

Why do poems have short lines

And inches of white around them?

Shouldn't they track print across

A page's width like stories do,

Try not to seem spin-dried and shrunk

After their vellum is sized?

And those ragged edges...

Would you read a story with a fringe?

Poems look knowing. They sit there,

Each one moated on its page,

Collected, a bunch of runt skylines

Stood on their sides, hinting

In their arch meagreness, that

they have designs on you. Novels

Are maps you scramble through:

Poems are stalkers, their readers, prey.

If modern poems were formatted in rectangular shapes,

Long breathing lines justified into neutral blocks of print,

People might read them. Square poems can be taken unawares,

Happened upon; they won’t come-hither you, nor put you off

Like their shapely cousins do, by loitering with intent. The sly

Show-offery of verse shall be tempered by its four-square form;

You might even find the room to be unhurriedly seduced

By the rare verbs, inverted feet and just-minted metaphors

That are part, of the enamelled inlay of this (minor) art.

Keywords: poems

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