How to write a poem


Gather all that you think you know
Let it flash before your eyes
everything you often feel
everything you often deny
and then blink by blink, let go.
Some of it will dry your eyes
some of it will trickle down
into muffled sobs and cries
some will lead to smiles and frowns. 
In any or all of these cases, 
inhale, 
exhale, 
acknowledge.

Pick up your least favourite 
piece of stationery
and try
to translate. 
I know, I know 
there is a cultural gap-
your vocabularies in the languages of 
your feels and your colonial masters
and the vernacular 
that you curse the most in
and the classical origin 
that you revere 
but cannot fight in,
and your mother tongue
that you are illiterate in, 
your vocabularies in these
are vast but not overlapping enough
so your thoughts may not be coherent
to you. Write it anyway, until the mess
is a mess that you recognise. 
And when you are on your
I-might-as-well-give-up the draft
leave 

the doodled-scrawled-scratched out to the point of tearing-sheets
alone. 
Then inhale,
exhale, 
acknowledge.

SHIVANGI SHANKAR

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