Big Nothing

Every body saying you gotta be
productive during this time.
You gotta create
poetry
music
the novel
a painting
I got nothing except the feel of
the sun on my bare feet, the smell
of lazy mornings in bed, lots of late
night laughter.
My words are locked somewhere
safe, like maybe they're scared, like
maybe they're wearing a mask so I can't
know them, like maybe they're just worn
out and worried.
I am still.
I listen to the birds, and talk on the
phone, and lie around for hours with
my love.
It is enough to stay alive and just be, 
right now. The rest will come.

This moment is so unsettling and bizarre, and my words have all but disappeared. Like most everyone else, I’m learning my way around this new normal. The Kid is remote schooling, I’m remote working, and we’re all kind of enjoying this weird time together. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, and by all means, washing those hands 🙂

xx – M

Carlos

Men think women like to hear I love you, that we need those words. 
Carlos knows this is garbage. Instead, he rubs my feet and kisses 
my toes when we lie under the sun on a blanket in the park. I like 
to watch him. It soothes to know someone so gentle moves through
 this world. And here and there, moves through it with me. When 
he laughs his eyes crinkle and he covers his mouth, because he 
thinks his teeth are fucked up. I think his teeth are beautiful. He 
tells me he doesn’t miss me, he isn’t thinking of me, and he 
definitely will not hold my hand. I tell him I won’t hold his either. 
Because that is corny, and we are nothing but cool. He knows my 
darkness, and holds it close, but never against me. I told him I 
cannot marry him, and he replied whatever made you think I 
would ask. I told him I cannot live with him, and he laughed 
and said okay. Carlos is an expert wall-crasher. I know this 
because I keep building and he keeps taking down. Then last 
night I asked him about the blank spaces in his story, the pauses, 
and he shared some of his secrets. So perhaps I am a wall-crasher, 
too? We laugh at silly things, like his ludicrous belief my dog 
likes him. And kombucha. When it’s cloudy, he tells me not to 
worry, he’s done a dance to wish away the rain. What he doesn’t 
know, and I will never tell, is that it matters little. 
Carlos is the sun.

It’s funny how life can be one thing in one moment, and quite something else in another. And yet, all the while, remain constant. Exhibit One: Carlos is the sun. xx, M

Origin Song

I am from mango trees
dusty Chennai racetracks and an old
cow shed full of snakes
From a small Georgia town, where everybody is somebody 
and we all know that snail
I am from tinkling anklets and jangling bangles 
and earrings too heavy
From Greenpeace
Hug a Pitbull and
Save the Whales
I am from god-fearing grandparents and
question-the-authority aunties
From my mommy’s thick black braid and
my daddy’s determined overbite
I am from asthma attacks and fatal peanut allergies, 
and trying to explain both to non-believers
From red clay
fire ants and
the Ku Klux Klan
I am from not-Indian-enough and 
too-brown-for-us
From your accent is funny and 
your house smells weird
I am from British occupation and
Midnight’s children
From horse ranches
wide-mouth creeks
and kudzu
I am from yes ma’am and no sir and fixin’ and y’all, 
with an Amachi and Achacha thrown in for good measure
I am from engineers
surgeons and
college presidents
From progressive thought and 
hearty debate
I am from love
and laughter
I am from anywhere and no where
and somewhere in between
a nomad soul, forever seeking
home

Being a child of the Indian diaspora, I often feel myself to be little more than a homeless soul. I am neither Indian, nor American, I am no more a daughter of the South, than I am a New York City woman. It’s confounding and lonely and at times downright disheartening, but it is also me, and my story, and here and there makes for some decent writing fodder. xx, M

#GivingTuesday: Liberation Prison Yoga

True story here.

I had been thinking about embarking on a yoga teacher training program for years, but each time an enrollment period came about, I had a million reasons not to do it. And they all came down to the fact I really wasn’t moved to teach yoga to the kinds of folks with whom I practiced. Nothing against my fellow yogis, but they strike me as the types of people who don’t need much, and certainly don’t need it from me.

I continued scoping out teacher training programs, I even signed up for one – ironically enough, my current TT with FlorYoga in Jersey City – but when it was time to get serious about payments and books, I again put off the training. Then in early spring of this year I read an article in Runner’s Magazine about a runner who started a program in a women’s prison in Alaska and the profound effect running had on the inmates, the joy running provided in a world full of trauma, the inner peace the women experienced when their feet hit the track, the overall increase in self-worth. And just like that, everything came to an abrupt standstill. Pieces that had been so scattered in my mind fit together in a perfect jigsaw. All the mess and uncertainty cleared. If I was going to teach, then it was going to be for the men, women, and children who fill our correctional facilities.

I closed the magazine and started searching the web for yoga programs in prisons and juvenile detention facilities. It was during those initial hours of research that I came across Liberation Prison Yoga, an organization in NYC whose mission is to “support incarcerated individuals with the tools to survive the stress of pre-trial, prison, and re-entry into society to emerge with real world readiness skills through yoga and mindfulness.” I finally found my motivator. I emailed the head of my current teacher training program, made sure she still wanted me in her class, and the rest is history.

I will complete my 200 hour teacher training this December, and in late January will complete a two-day prison yoga training with LPY. Which won’t promise me a position with them, but will certainly enable me to apply for one. And trust that completed application will be in their inbox bright and early February 1st.  

In the meanwhile, and to support LPY in their current fundraising campaign leading up to December 3rd’s Giving Tuesday, I am donating $20 every month to LPY to help change the system from within. What about you?

You don’t have to give the same amount, but if you believe in donating to good causes, I ask that you make LPY one of them. Any amount helps, and every donation is tax deductible. THIS. IS. THE. GOOD. WORK. This is the tough work, the punch-you-in-the-gut work, the kind of work that makes a difference. No matter how you feel about crime and punishment, right and wrong, the fact of the matter is a life incarcerated is a life filled with stress and trauma, the kinds of which we on the outside cannot imagine. Organizations like LPY aim to ease some of that for the men, women, and children imprisoned across our country. So please, donate today, and help LPY help someone in serious need of some time on the mat.

xx, Madhuri

Everyday Lovely

The kitchen table bears the quiet 
cacophony of the morning: raw sugar,
coffee, Mason jars of water, half-eaten
toast, and below, the stool for our feet,
when you pull your chair close and
our knees touch.
I fell asleep that night heavy on your
chest, you counted my eyelashes,
the cool grass between our toes
slipped into sand and ocean and I
swear when I lean close, you are
the beach.
We walked two blocks that felt like a
slip backwards in time, you stared at
me in shocked silence, I sorted sheets
and socks, never was doing laundry
such a thrill.
 

Lately I’ve been playing around with the verbs in my pieces – lots of past tense, with a random present tense verse scattered throughout. Here, you are the beach is my favorite part of the poem, for many and varied reasons… all of which will remain private. xx, M

Poetry Reading at Inkfish Books

I’m going to be in Warren, RI at Inkfish Books this Saturday to celebrate my debut collection of poetry with a reading and book signing in the hometown of my writing family, the Rhode Island Writers Colony.

Warren is the smallest town in the smallest state, and just a stone’s throw from Providence. So if you’re in the area, and love some poetry – hell, even if you don’t love poetry! – come through. The fun starts at 5pm.

Hope to see you there – xx, M

Praying for Rain

 It rains every Wednesday,
this is what my love says as
he gathers seeds to plant me
a watermelon patch and
salts nuts for our late night
repast. He smiles and seems
lost in memory, but I know
better. He is lost in me.
Night falls and we are saké
and sermon. The politics
of love our dissertation. He
sighs, and it sounds like heaven.
I smile and swallow his every
hesitation. We sleep in peace.
Each morning I rise with a
mouthful of flowers and
anemone fingertips, the sea
of our bed a tangle of legs
and arms, beautiful brown
bodies. He prays at the altar
of my thighs, I thank the
gods for his sweet breath.
Together, we are gospel.

I can’t say it enough: read more poetry. And while you’re at it, snag a copy of my current collection of poems, I, MACHETE. And if you’ve already gotten one, then be a doll and leave me a review. (I hate to ask, but it’s the way the game is played, so I’ve gotta.)

XX, Madhuri

Passion Incarnate

The reviews are beginning to trickle in for my first collection of poetry. This morning I woke up to another happy reader. And the best kind – the one who always said “I don’t do poetry”, then got their hands on my little book, and reconsidered.

Take a look:

Madhuri Pavamani is passion incarnate. Her poems are raw and full of rapture.

I don’t generally like most poetry. A poem is supposed to speak to a part of you that yearns for expression and none ever really captured me. But then I read some of her poetry online and it really grabbed at my core. It brought me somewhere that I didn’t realize I was hiding from myself.

Madhuri speaks in a way where you can see her pain. There is trauma here, but there is such a healing as well. The passion I spoke of is blazing here. She really invites you into her soul and you can see burning beauty that is her soul.

I bought this as a gift for my wife because she loves poetry and I wanted to share my favorite with her. This is something for the ages, at least, it is for me. I cannot wait to see what other powerful images she brings to our world.

Ummm… wow. Happy Monday to me and my words. If you haven’t already, get your own copy of I, MACHETE by clicking –> HERE

xx, M

Do It

A little note for any creatives out there who need to hear it, someone scrolling through Instagram and thinking “no way I can do this”, anyone holding yourself and your art back because you’re afraid of failure or rejection:

DO IT

Whatever your thing is, give it a shot. Let that beast out of the box, sniff the air, claw the dirt. Leave your mark. Don’t let fear stop you. Don’t look around at your friends and their success – my friends are wildly successful!! It’s intimidating AF – focus on yourself and your work. Celebrate all of their achievements, love every second of their victories, and then keep striving to attain your own.

DO IT

Since May of this year, I’ve submitted poetry to various publications at least once a week. And so far, every piece has been rejected. Every. Single. Piece. A big fat “no thanks.” I opened another rejection this morning. Apparently, no one wants my words. At least not so far. I submitted to four more publications today… AFTER I read that rejection letter. And after my disaster of a book deal with The Keeper Series. And after every other rejection I’ve received over the last twenty plus years, then filed away and kept at it. Because if I don’t believe in myself, and my writing, who will?

DO IT

Social media makes everything look like unicorns and starfish. If you believed my feed, you’d also believe my life is one long, glorious event of hanging with my beautiful funny brilliant friends, writing poetry, lying on the beach in my string bikini, chilling with The Kid, traveling to my heart’s content, blah blah blah.

DO IT

Now you know the truth of it – in between all the goddamned fabulous shit I’m blessed to do and experience (and post on my IG) is a sky-high pile of doubt, hard work, and seemingly endless rejection. And yet I persist. Because at the end of it all, I love to write. It’s what matters. The words. And getting them out of my head, where they bang into each other and keep me up at the oddest hours of the night, and onto the page.

DO IT

I think it’s important to share these kinds of stories, the not-so-glamorous ones, the less-than-perfect truths. It’s all part of the journey. The ups and downs. The highs and lows. And sometimes it just helps to hear someone else admit shit ain’t always a party. Today, I’m that someone. I might never pay my rent with the money I make off my books, but damn if I’m not going to keep trying.

DO IT