The act of standing

On shifting ground

Takes two legs planted
Slightly defiantly
Slightly humble
Arms relaxed
Stomach held in
Chest held out
Shoulders squared
Chin up
Eyes bright
Forehead clean
Breath even


Stand tall
In your wisdom

Stand up
For yourself
For others

For the young
For the mute
For the small
For the old
For the weak


~Shaku Selvakumar, July 2016


Spring Delights
Spring Delight. Picture courtesy



Most times the mysteries within are difficult to fathom till much later.
When you sit in your cozy armchair staring into the distance,
Nostalgia enveloping you in its foggy embrace,
You nod in some sort of revelation.
You were in the middle of transformation.
While you thought everything around was changing,
It was you who felt the tremors while the world continued to turn.
It was you who was learning a new language.
And your words that came tumbling out effortlessly once
Now stand stilted and hidden
As they too find their way
Through your own foreignness.
As you were shifting shapes.

–Shaku Selvakumar, August 2015

One of my favorite poets, Mark Nepo describes it so well in this passage.
“Often as we are being transformed we cannot tell what is happening. For while we are in the midst of staying afloat, it is next to impossible to see the ocean we are being carried into. While struggling with the pain of change, it is often impossible to see the new self we are becoming. While feeling our hand pried loose by experience, we seldom can imagine what will fill it once it is opened. As the days rinse our heart, we can feel something unseeable scour us through, though we can’t yet imagine how much fresher milk and sky and laughter will taste once we are returned to the feel of being new.”

Route66  Picture courtesy
Picture courtesy

The Redbud Tree

The redbud tree
Stands bare of her heart shaped
Her clothes lie
littering the ground

In the darkest night
The cold
creeps in
Her feet
Her naked limbs
Her balding crown

So it has begun again
This time of necessary
This time of
letting go
This time of
standing still
Of stressful weathering
Contracting and retreating
This place of vigil

She does not know what this winter
will bring
If her roots will hold ground
If her body will stand strong
As the wind pushes her around
As the water sends
shivers of ice
up her spine
While the light shies away
behind the grey

The redbud tree
stands bare of leaves
Facing another winter

More beautiful
in her sanguine
Than attired in her

— Shaku Selvakumar, November 2013

The Redbud Tree
The Redbud Tree

The Cactus

We grow in the night
When nobody’s looking
Away from the harsh glare
As the frantic work of the day
Starts seeping in
When daydreams coalesce with nightmares
And wheat is sifted from the chaff

Do you see, even a cactus
Thorny and defensive
Growing in wilderness
Water so scarce
Love so bare
Will still send her best offering
A yellow bloom
Without fail every Spring

As if to say
I will take what I find
And turn it to gold
I am Alchemy
In heat or cold
I will not fold.

—Shaku Selvakumar May 2013

Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus

The Middle

Each phase bears gifts of sweet and salt
Sometimes it rests in the reckless abandon
That the young have claimed
Where hours need not be counted
With a miserly mein

Or in the well worn armchair
Where the elders ruminate
Here minutes often filled
With parts of nostalgia, a tinge of regret
Of dares that could have easily been met

For those who waddle in the muddling middle
Donning the mantle of the responsible
Straddling two worlds, containing the day
Bound 360 by 365
To timelines, dotted lines, deadlines

Along comes realization
The sudden knowledge of standing at the frontier
The baton has been passed
To be carried with heavy reluctance
Or with great pride

We are them
The Caretakers
The Torchbearers
The Gatekeepers

—Shaku Selvakumar April 2013

Spiral of Time
Spiral of Time