Volume 4 Issue 2, June 2020
Special Issue for Indian Poetry

Maniti Shah

Swingset

 

And in the swingset of you and me,

We are often taking trips together on a tightened rope off the edge of the terrace,

Our lips seem to have decided their path,

They are but, the childhood days of when we covered our hands with glue,

you could only pull them apart after you have waited enough.

 

But we always walked backward,

So, we don't wait,

we make sure they are drenched enough,

we pretend there was no glue,

that 'apart' is unchartered territory for us,

and that your words do not feel like baseballs in my throat.

 

You say, they echo of comfortable silence,

...' comfortable'

But, we're on a swing set off the edge,

and I have never been adventurous.

 

My toes are bleeding,

I walked on too many broken glass pieces,

they're lined all across the alley,

I'm down here,

You,

On the edge.

 

The pieces look like wine bottles to me,

Didn't we just share one?

 

 

 

 

 

Questions to My Bipolar

 

Bi (dash) Polar, the word itself breaks itself down into two parts how do I convince my head to not?

 

My stomach hurts from all the laughter we shared two hours back, why did everything feel like sunshine? Did you take it away? Can you keep some for me every time you leave? It seems to like you more.

 

I wish I could get away with calling them mood swings too. I wish It did not swing from me being a spitfire full of broken glasses that can cause death to a rat under the railroads that just knows its way around danger to an embodiment of the ‘pitiful’ women, women that were never loved enough.

 

Full-stops feel foreign to me, I am always uncertain, even when it is about the most certain things in my life, like where I belong...Where do I belong? Please, tell me.

 

I need an epiphany, a ‘sit-by-the-window’ moment where I find myself. The window railings have gone warm in winter from the nights I spend there, I seem to have lost myself in cup-noodles and packets of chips.

 

I wish I didn’t have to beg for anyone else to tell me that I am doing okay. Why do we always sound like a pity party? How do you talk about a disorder without getting labeled for your label? And how the fuck do you meditate enough to forget 20 years?

 

How do you get someone to listen without arousing feelings of empathy and sympathy, how do you tell them you just wanna be heard and just wanna say that it is hard?

 

How do I not make my disorder into poetry when the all way to know that I am being heard to are the distant snaps and half-smiles of the crowd and when validation is the only thing I have ever learned?

 

And god how do you I get myself to write because it’s 3:10 am and the only prompt I have is Bi-polar.

 

 

 

 

 

Not Macabre

I miss you.

You’ve been away,

It’s a poem about missing.

It’s a poem about missing someone who is there, is this a love poem?

A love poem is not macabre,

Why does it feel like death over and over again?

 

Day 1:

My coffee doesn’t take good enough because yours’ isn’t here to compare it with. You have always been too lazy to wait for things to be the way they’re supposed to, how do I be grateful for that?

 

Day 2:

It’s Day 2, It’s just Day 2. “You’re not the only one in love, why does missing feel like a loss, stop living a fairytale, you’re a feminist, you’re not wearing shorts with polka dots just because he likes them, choose the vanilla shampoo today”

Day 3:

I am constantly around people who have never been around. Unlike you.

 

Day 7:

 I just realized if I sit exactly in front of the screen with you in a rectangle box on the upper right corner, the distance between my hand and you can be measured using the formula for the diagonal of a cube root. The distance is almost less than 10. But 10 what?

 

Day 10:

Your hand used to fit my entire face, is this how often mom keep the lights on?

 I am having trouble sleeping without suffocation in the left corner of our favorite sofa.

Do you remember that we started dating because we both loved space?

 

Day 18:

Sometimes when you don’t comb your hair before calling me, a misplaced puzzle piece seems to find its place, My heart folds up its legs in a cross and sits down with another cup of ginger tea and I start to heal. I don’t remember why I was bleeding.

 

Day 20:

My mom shifted the ‘extra’ chair from the dining table to the bedroom, “we need more space” she says. Should I stack up two chairs? I don’t need space. Or do I shift?

is that where you will live now? How do I make you stay?

 

Day 27:

Why does this still feel like death over and over again?

 

 

 

 

 

Unedited: To, you. 

 

My poetry has been facing top-of-my-tongue syndrome, ever since I met you.

I mean I exactly know how much I love you but I don't think my notes can fathom the reality of it. Just like my head.

How do you write love poems?

I mean it's cliché to say that you've come to me like a savior right? That'll be giving you too much power.

But hey, Can I tell you that my therapist said that I am getting better? And my friends think that I glow differently? And that every time I feel like there is a knot in my throat that can drown me and kill me at the same time, the thought of you unwinds it?

 

You and I, we're two simple lovers, talking like we're in a dystopian novel, trying to make it to the end.

Am I making sense to you P? I can almost hear you say, "Of course M, why do you think I don't get you?" How do you get me when I don't get myself?

 

Let's not call you a saviour...that's giving you too much power.

 

I think I want to give you too much power.

 

When I think about us as an analogy, it's almost wild.

It's scary, I know you'll still find it beautiful.

 

I'm scratching my nails at the back of my hand,

They are blood-soaked, my lips are swollen from the anger I have been biting around it, and my eyes shot-blue from the thunder it has been holding in.

You're spring.

My thunder can grow flowers you say.

My blood-soaked hands have saved lives, you whisper.

 

I'm untamed,

I'm always on the first seat of the rollercoasters without any safety,

I've only ever known impulse - losing control.

You ..you're the safety handle.

I can't let go of you, it's inevitable.

You pack my impulse into a box and neatly tuck it into a backpack that I carry.

 

So what I am saying is, Don't leave...

You let me be me, but yet, I don't know how to be me without you around.

 

 

Unidentified Triggers - A Conversation with My Therapist

 

 

She asks me how I know it’s starting to get bad again,

And I, replying with shivering hands that it starts with shivering hands.

She asks me what helps and I almost tell her that physical contact does,

That I need someone to hold me

But, how do I tell her that

I,

Am not,

A rose that has gone wrinkled.

I am the stem,

I am the thorns,

And every time you hold me it’s a little too tight; I can’t breathe.

You are unconsciously drawing cuts on me, I am bleeding, Your nails are a little too sharp.

But, she wouldn’t understand any of this so, I just whisper “nothing”.

 

Most times when I can’t make sense of things,

I tell my mom that I wanna go grocery shopping and try to remember the list by peg words and mnemonics.

Where one is a bun filled with carrot and two is a shoe filled with milk and three is paper towels wrapped around a tree,

The tree is also me, the tree doesn’t have oxygen, the bandages are just suffocating him, it’s not healing, they aren’t bandages, they are paper towels.

 

Oh, I am sorry,

So, I was saying,

I try to remember the list with peg words and mnemonics in which things are filled with other things in order to fill the void to which my mom tells me “honey, why don’t you just write it all down?”

I look at her confused, because isn’t she getting the point of it all?

 

When asked about my coping mechanisms,

I let out a small laugh and tell her about the cigarette I just smoked,

And how,

It felt like it was lending me breath(s)  I thought I was running out of.

And how the fact that I could brush the ash off my pants was the only thing that made me feel in control,

Do you see it? I couldn’t do that with the ash stuck in the back of my throat, it keeps choking me.

And how, every time I have to extinguish it, I look for a cold hard surface like the roots of my home,

But cold walls don’t exist, it is always hot here, nor does a home.

I live in a house.

So, I just crush it between my fingers.

 

I don’t tell her about the lines that the other part of me forces me to draw on myself because it knows I am a stem. It’s using my own thorns against me and I don’t have anyone to blame on.

 

 

So, I get a cup of coffee and tell her that coffee helps.

Bur, I skip that part where I on taking a sip,

I realize that I have forgotten the sugar.

Not admitting to myself that I started liking bitter after I met you.

 

You, my mental illness

Were like a stranger who makes you feel at home.

So, when you walked into my messy room, I let you clean it.

Giving you my favorite spot by the window, even though it blocked my air.

You played it smart, didn’t you? You knew I was homesick.

 

“So, are you telling me, you feel suffocated?” she asked.

“No, I am saying that I wanna burn of my house down”

 

About the poet

Maniti Shah often juggles between becoming a #BossBitch and being an emotional wreck. She often goes by the name ‘the girl who can’t take a joke’. She is a firm believer in the fact when she talks for endless hours, people like to listen to her. She is on the list of Commendable Mentions in a poetry anthology by WingWord Poetry that was released on 13th May.

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Published by The Alternative.