Freedom, I Cry & Other Poems

everyone thinks they used to be happier

thump thump Vasudha Pande
you wake up
to the sound of your heart pounding against your ribs
anxious to go back

back to the day
you wore that yellow summer dress
and twirled and twirled
in the gauzy sunshine
damp grass clinging to your skin
your laughter mingling with
the sound of gently-falling rain

you tremble
arms wrapped around your withered body
and think
this is how people fade away

you teeter to the window
it’s still dark outside
you draw yourself closer
wondering if you were happier then

in the dark of the night
the only answer
is the sound of your heart pounding against your ribs


drip painting

i’ve seen him many times before.
i like watching the skinny boy
who likes watching trains go by,
following them with his gleaming eyes.

he comes at the same time each night.
there he is,
sipping his boxed juice, waiting.

i wait, too. i watch from a distance
the outline of his skinny body,
the small juice box in one hand, and
the sharp stone in another that he will
fling into the dark night any moment now.

there goes the projectile.
one less object of interest for me to look at
in the yellow light.
he bends down to pick another,
as if reading my mind.

i look at his face,
straight hair scattered over his forehead,
his loose shirt hanging around him
disinterestedly, waiting for something.
we wait, his shirt and i.
finally, a train! he picks up
his gaze from the stones at his feet
and looks
at the heavy beast of metal hurtling towards us.

i sit on the opposite side of the tracks,
skinny boy blotted out of my universe
by the sound and sight of moving steel.
i wait.

suddenly he’s back. i look at his head
turned towards the train rushing away from us.
and taste the bite of the old urge again
to smash his face against the cold tracks.
and then again. and again.
and once again.

to watch his head crack and shatter
into scraps of skin and ribbons of muscle
and jagged splinters of bone,
all bathed in a bloody mist of red in the yellow light.

to watch his gleaming eyes dance in their sockets,
to freeze his mouth like that forever,
for all to see and admire
that special way he gapes at trains passing by.
so brilliant under the yellow light.

to take the reds and the whites inside his head,
to watch them drip and ooze
onto the cold canvas of metal and stone.
like a tastefully done Pollock,
making this dull place beautiful.

he turns around and walks away. as do i.
we’ll be here again tomorrow at the same time
and in my head
i will make a drip painting again.
what’s the harm in that?


freedom, i cry.

the word plops out of my mouth,
and this night i stop dying.
this night there are finally stars.

by the deafening crashing roar of relief,
i make two slits in my face for eyes,
claw at the skin of my back,
and sprout wings.

suddenly the familiar itch comes back,
of wearing my best song
and being alive again.

freedom, i cry,
reeling in the comfort
of this new development,
and ask what the word smells like
inside your head.

of lonely hotel rooms, you say,
and proceed to chain me
to your leg that has grown roots.

come, you say.
this is better, you say,
look, this night there are stars!
the view is much better if you stay in one spot.
this is definitely the better alternative.

About author

Vasudha Pande
Vasudha Pande 3 posts

Vasudha Pande read physics in college, and she enjoys writing in her spare time. She lives in New Delhi.

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