Four Poems by Tikuli

Painting: Osnat Tzadok

By Tikuli


Swaying in the breeze a swing
A bicycle against a lamppost
Cigarette stubs in an ashtray
An old hat and worn boots

Coat stuffed in the closet
A poem folded in a pocket
Reading glasses on the table
Dust beneath the bed

A kitten asleep in a corner
A favourite coffee mug
A pipe no longer used
Chessmen set out waiting

The first rays of morning light
Sliding under the door
The cold stare watching me
From your portrait on the wall

Curled spiders in the bookshelf
The susurration of snowfall
Dull aches that seem to live
With emptiness in my bones

The Dervish shadows dancing
The cemetery at nightfall
A Red Maple keeping watch
Bitter tears shed on your grave
For words never spoken
For deeds left undone
Those long hours of waiting
Those hours I was alone



Getting used to your absence
I write as much as I can
to right the wrong between us
to write you out of me
but the story doesn’t change
poems fail to emerge
mornings become afternoons
darkness follows light
then quietness comes too
I stare into the dark void
hands empty… eyes full
my breathing is inaudible
I grieve for my lost feelings
forever entombed by you
while they were still alive
I sit here painfully indexing
an archive of our failure
there is so much of nothing
that’s left unsaid
and I cannot find the words
maybe it is good
in some religions
a single word can
destroy a whole life



Speak of unmentioned places
cemeteries & ancient ruins
prisons, psychiatric wards
& of those who inhabit them
Speak of society’s scars
battlefields, wars & mistrust
slum cities & rivers of blood
where magic lives like a virus
Speak of dragons & demons
speak of the void & the edge
speak of the living jungles
living yet filled with death
Speak of the dead & ghosts
the haunted ones left behind
know how small the difference
between living & dead they find
Speak of the once great houses
their grandeur left to decay
speak of the shadows of life
& memories now fled away
Speak of the torture chambers
where truth arises from pain
& of beds of betrayal & deceit
where passion by lust is slain


Night Thoughts

searching for a home
all I wanted
were two arms
to hold me in love
a welcoming lap for my head
caring fingers stroking my hair
& consolation for my heavy heart
All I found was four walls & a roof
a window looking onto the world
& a confining door
often I would stretch my arms
through the window to liberty
close my eyes & free myself
of all that imprisoned me
I would imagine I was flying
but I would fall to earth instead
like an injured songbird
my injuries seldom visible
once I found the door open & fled
knowing my life depended on it

I had no experience of freedom
love seemed to be everywhere
luring me – as a spider does a fly –
to use me… to take my innocence
to make the kill… I realised freedom
was a prison with a different name
with sinking heart I searched again
for those four walls, a roof, a door
that would keep me safely in
a window that stayed closed
unless I wished it otherwise
I wanted a darkness to hide me
a darkness away from prying eyes
but they found me… every time
I was forever lost & unsettled
between that which was
& that which might have been
only the physical walls & roof
enclosed me, constrained me
Becoming arms, laps, hands
pushing, groping & pressing
until I was a human palimpsest
there was blackness
even in the searing light of day
from that, hands would pull me in
ever deeper
as my breathing failed
as my heart & mind exploded
still I stretched my searching arms
trying to escape towards the light
to find freedom
from that dark
hands would pull me out
only to cruelly abandon me again
then I fall back into darkness
& sit staring towards a patch of sky
I feel the sides for hand and footholds
but my body, arms & legs are weak
& have forgotten how to climb
my forlorn fingers touch the cold
hoping they’ll grow into vines
vines climb upwards
follow the light
a sound echoes

Tikuli is an internationally published poet, author and blogger from Delhi whose work has appeared in print and online literary magazines including Le ZaporogueMiCROW 8The Smoking Book (Poets Wear Prada Press, US), Life And legendsLevure Littéraire 10The Enchanting Verses Literary ReviewOpen Road ReviewCafe DissensusMnemosyne Literary JournalDissident VoiceWomen’s WebTuck MagazineThe CriterionPeregrine MuseKnot MagazineAsian Signature MagazineThe Bombay ReviewThe Thumb Print – A Magazine From The EastThe Peacock Journal and The Peacock Journal AnthologyTEKSTO-The People’s MagazineGuntur National Poetry Festival Anthology, Melange – a Potpourri of thoughts, Le Zaporogue Print editions and the much acclaimed Chicken Soup For The Indian Romantic Soul (Westland). Her debut poetry book, Collection of Chaos, was published in 2014 by Leaky Boot Press. Her second book of poems Wayfaring was published in 2017 by Leaky Boot Press. Her third book of poems, Duets, written in collaboration with James Goddard, was released in November 2018. She blogs at


Like Cafe Dissensus on Facebook. Follow Cafe Dissensus on Twitter.

Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, born in New York City and currently based in India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.


Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Shaheen Bagh and the Anti-CAA Protests: The Struggle to Create New Concepts”, edited by Huzaifa Omair Siddiqi, JNU, New Delhi, India.

One thought

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s