Wilful Defaulter

Lapsus calami

A half-baked, half-burnt cake

lies in the bin

where no one can see it

but only smell

its barely alive flavours.


I look at the clock.

It’s half past ten, time for

another cup of tea infused

with just the right amount of ginger

and some more me time.


I sink into my favourite end of the couch,

the one with crumbs

from last night’s dinner.


I order a cake, and the world

is suddenly an easier, nicer place.


My tea is now just the right temperature.

I wash down mom’s guilt,

one sip at a time.


In the motherhood universe,

I’ve yet again turned

a wilful defaulter.


Deep in the abyss

as I closed my eyes

eager to give up

unwilling to try

a flicker of light

invaded my wallow den

uninvited, unwelcome.

Looking back, I wonder. . .

was it a stellar force looking out for me

or just my good ol’ spirit

refusing to say die?



In the evening of our lives

under the warm, auburn sky

when birds are returning home

autumn is knocking at the door

when I will have stopped being

a rebel with no cause

when the nest is empty

and my limbs shaky

when death is just a few songs away

but the song in my heart

refuses to die…

I will be your hospice.

Will you be mine?



A calm, positive space
all to myself
a cup of tea
some pickle and leftover roti
was all I thought
I needed
to make me happy.

Until I realised…
it’s myself
I need to get away from,
from time to time.

Sat Janam [Seven Lives]


My first Punjabi poem.
Struggled to translate, and this one emerged:

Seven Lives

Let it not be our prayer

to be together

for eternity.


No, let us not tether

each other’s soul

to infinity and beyond

when you and I, we don’t know

what it wants.
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Snub away the frivolous thought

your demeanour, it reeks of retort

You’re human

not a speck of dirt

Wayward one moment

the other, inert.

I swear I do try

to conform and comply

But in the deep of the night

when the voices go quiet

My resolve is undone

by a call from the wild

And ever so often

I go adrift.

image: peneloperene