The rote

A clueless shepherd & sheep at the signal,
Halted third time, I wait there, helplessly.
Missing my time with my loved ones again,
I keep thinking about the rote.

“It was my husband’s birthday today!”
Said my recently wed colleague, sadly.
Wondering why her leave was denied,
She started with the rote.

“Are we even building anything interesting?”
Asked my talented colleague, sarcastically.
Accepting mediocrity of his work,
He continued with the rote.

“You’ll take over another project tomorrow”
Briefed my manipulative boss, smilingly.
Knowing futility of any reasoning,
I succumbed to the rote.

None of us doing what we would’ve loved,
Consumed by insignificance, repeatedly.
Spending long days at work nevertheless,
We continue to follow the rote.

I wonder what do these long days yield?
Satisfaction, or joy of creation, occasionally?
Or just some money in my bank account?
Why must I chase the rote?

“Why am I really doing all this?”
Ruffled by these questions, frequently.
Turning away from the hustling herd,
I challenge the mandate of the rote.

© Manish Hatwalne
(Circa December 2018 – April 2019)


Featured images – ‘the rote’ by stuart_roger_miles from Pixabay and ‘Do not conform’ from Pinterest are used here with gratitude.

The Thyroid Dance

I surprisingly notice the rage rising inside,
The unknown, scary aggression shows its face.
Some old resentments, fiery & dormant anger,
Don’t know what all would come to the surface.

The gruff tone of my own voice is unfamiliar,
My intended, friendly words now sound strange.
The shorter breath, unusually faster heartbeats,
The dizzy energy, and how often all these change.

The sweating brows and trembling hands,
Some days I cannot take the heat & light.
The muscle aches, and those hunger pangs,
The agony haunts on a sleepless night.

Then there are days when I can’t tolerate cold,
Sapped of all my energy, I lie quietly on the bed.
The usual zeal diminishes, and a gloom creeps in,
As the malaise takes over, I can’t see the road ahead.

The low energy, apathy are completely unknown,
I give up easily, so much to my own horror.
Puffy face, dry skin and thinning hair,
With dismay, I watch stranger in the mirror.

The body & mind that I haven’t experienced before,
It feels like adding a decade or two to my age.
I wonder which way this would eventually go,
Is it here to stay, or is it a just a transient stage?

Swinging between hyper & hypo extremes helplessly,
I fully understand, I empathize with each of these.
Took them for granted, but now I long for these,
The bliss of middle path and being at ease.

My voice, my skin, hair and my temperament,
Much of what others see, seem to have changed.
I wonder all that I tend to associate with myself,
How much of it, would still remain unchanged?

With time, everything invariably changes,
This too shall pass, if I observe distantly.
In this inevitable process of becoming,
What remains, is my essence eventually.

Watching these unpredictable manifestations daily,
I often keep wondering, am I just this body?
And something deeper inside keeps questioning,
Is there a being that is independent of this body?

I thank this small gland,
For offering me a rare chance.
With all the bemusement,
I watch this thyroid dance.

© Manish Hatwalne (21/10/2018)
A poetic memoir of experiences by a patient of Subacute Thyroiditis.

Subacute Thyroidits Image: By Nephron [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

My Bluebird and Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski
Charles Bukowski

I had not read any of Charles Bukowski’s  work until yesterday. Someone posted his quote yesterday on Facebook and I got quite curious about this guy. Asked Google to help me and found a new treasure…some really beautiful poems and some amazing art-work inspired by his writings.

His ‘Bluebird’ poem struck a chord deep down somewhere. I don’t get ruffled easily these days while reading, so it seemed quite weird; but I really had goosebumps when I read it. And there is an interesting story here….. we had this pair of kingfishers living happily in the nearby water-body close to my home. We’d often sight them and they’d occasionally sit on our terrace railing and we loved their graceful presence; especially since it is not so common to see these birds near urban houses here. I quite loved the beautiful blue sky that they carried on their back. Sometime last year, I wrote few lines for these bluebirds… and like most of my other recent attempts at writing, this one also died a premature death. Recently some construction work started in the neighbourhood and I haven’t seen those birds since last few months. And naturally, I forgot all about those birds and that half-done, crude attempts at poetry as well.

Bukowski’s poem brought it all back…the wound opens and blood rushes through! I couldn’t locate the notebook where I wrote those few lines, but they were something like this –

पाठीवर सारे निळे आभाळ घेऊन,
माझ्या खिडकीत बसलेला निळा पक्षी
गाणे स्वच्छंदी आकाशाचे गातो

खुर्चीतुनच पाहणारा मी,
एक मोठा उसासा टाकून
माझा कोड लिहीत बसतो

माझ्या आतले निळे आभाळ,
आणि चिवचिवणारा निळा पक्षी
आतल्या आतच हिरमुसतो

For me that blue bird was freedom, singing his own songs happily….Well, absolutely nothing happened after that! It was too insignificant to remember! But our mind is a scary, infinite abyss…it can throw things back at you when you think that you’ve long forgotten them. Bukowski’s Bluebird did that….it was that strange déjà vu experience. I could resonate with that poem so much….I know exactly what it is to smother that bluebird, I know precisely what it means to hide the bluebird from the grocers & likes! (Yes, I have been a closet poet myself). I know in my heart what it is to let out the bluebird only at night and I know the struggle not to let it die. And then dying bit-by-bit yourself when you know you can’t nourish the bluebird as well as you’d have loved. And I know why ‘End of innocence‘ can bring tears…but like Bukowski, I don’t weep either!

I knew in my heart that I had not read any of his Bukowski’s poems before I conceived my poem and attempted few lines and I know I am definitely not a patch on him. It is indeed a frightening resonance. It’s strange – you could feel that intense, mysterious & exclusive connection between your soul and poet’s spirit somewhere there. And then, it is not Bukowski’s poem anymore – it’s my bluebird!

Charles Bukowski – Bluebird
Charles Bukowski – Bluebird

Few lines from Bukowski’s bluebird –

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

You can read complete ‘Bluebird’ poem here and here is the detailed analysis of the poem as well.  You can read more Bukowski poems here –

And here’s a beautiful YouTube animation –

(1) Not sure if I’d ever finish the poem I had started, but if I do – it would be a huge struggle to keep it away from what I am after experiencing Bukowski’s bluebird.
(2) Why this whole stuff is in English though my piece-of-poem is in Marathi? Well, I can think & type faster in English! 🙂