Joy turns bittersweet in this strange year

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Mala placed her finally-asleep daughter on the bed. The baby wriggled as soon as she was out of her mother’s arms. Mala sighed, started patting her with a slightly cupped hand. The gentle pressure and soft sound of the pat immediately quietened the baby’s movements. For a few minutes, Mala continued patting, in rhythm to the beat of her heart, until she felt the baby’s breath deepen to sleep. She reduced the tempo and pressure of her pats slowly, until it was almost a feather touch. She left her hand, resting on her daughter for a few moments more. The baby didn’t stir. Mala smiled relief and stretched her arms and legs, relieving the stiffness. A yawn escaped her. …

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Deglee Degi in Unsplash

Fictional Free Verse

i wake up every day
ready to tick off items
from a to-do list
that never seems to end

i tell myself —
i’m making progress,
results take time

but the truth
breaks its restraints
far more often
than i care to accept

and on those days,
the sheer futility
of my to-do list
comes barreling
like an avalanche

i hear the thunder
of revelations
and they sound

once more,
my carefully constructed
egg-shell cocoon
will shatter

i will see myself
for what i am —
another nobody
in a string of nobodies

shuffling along
oblivious to time,
shoulders bowed,
mere wire and string
in perpetual motion


© Indira Reddy 2020

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Lidia Adriana in Unsplash

In other shops like mine, most would come driven by curiosity alone, but not here. My customers, they’re always nervous. Some hide it behind a cynical arch of the eyebrows, their unnaturally stiff back semaphoring fear rather than the strength they assume it to be. Some with hunted eyes and desperation clawing runnels in their voice, walk in with mincing steps, torn between hope of release and certain knowledge of disillusionment. All meander through the rows of cupboards filled with strange glass jars containing even stranger bits of plants and animals. …

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a cornucopia blooms
on a forgotten table —
jewelled colours,
sublime textures,
myriad flavours
while a processed mess
gains a looping line
of tongues clamouring
for more
instant gratification

A response to Harper Thorpe’s brilliant new prompt — More

© Indira Reddy 2020

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The man doubled over in agony as a sudden pain shot down from his groin to his legs, stiffening it into a plank and hitting the seat before him. He murmured an apology and tried to massage his leg. But the pain wouldn’t decrease. It was quickly followed by an intense urge to urinate. He made his way to the restroom and unzipped his pants. Not a drop came. He wondered if he was having kidney stones as he zipped himself up.

Another jolt of pain raced down his leg. He sat on the toilet with a thud. The pain rose up, sending a fierce heat flooding through his abdomen. He started perspiring and swearing as the pain kicked up a notch. Waves of nausea shook him as the pain continued its upward trajectory. He started hyperventilating. …

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Brett_Hondow in Pixabay

for thirty years
your presence
was defined
by your absence;
you inveigle yourself
into my daily life,
expecting connection;
and I can only sense

an intrusion

This is a response to Bindu Lamba’s prompt — Presence

© Indira Reddy 2020


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Tatiana Moreeva in Unsplash

The son’s once impotent rage had given way to a self-deluding knowledge of the world he lived in, where he accepted everyone /his father/ for who they were, yet found himself needing to explain his acceptance /of his father’s narcissism/ over and over again; he protested his apathy enough to perchance allow detachment’s cool roots to plant itself in him, but his veins pulsed as he explained all over again that the past was the past /the casual physical-verbal-abuse of his childhood/ and he was soooo over it all . . .

yet he remembered
every instance he’d been made
to feel…

all your life you’ve seen this grim face,
always ready to burst in rage at the smallest of your mistakes,
perpetually sunk in thoughts you could never decipher,
his hands forever reaching for a brown bottle;

first you stay away, happy just to not be in trouble;
then the years make you yearn to reach out, only to be met with disdain;
and so you decide smiles-joy-connection were anathema, kryptonite;
that some people just are…shrug
you relegate him to your cupboard of skeletons,
something you can grab in an alcoholic daze,
to blame when a relationship goes wrong

years later, as you clean out the trappings of a lifetime,
you find an album with the impossible —
that familiar face stretched into a full mouthed grin;
your first impulse is to wonder if there was an uncle you never met,
then you realise, grim and grin were moulded by the same…

Free Verse

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in that
benighted time
and sleeping,
we are woken
by the wind
between branches,
howling a dirge

we clutch
our blankets tight,
feel around
for someone
who’s not there,
the loneliness
the bleakness
of it all
we are Atlas

the depths
of a heart
that has

an animalistic
urge to rip free
courses through
sluggish veins,
every cell,
coaxing us
to finally
give up
the weight
we carry

the weight of
a thousand fears
that stopped
our next step,
a million wishes
left unfulfilled,
a billion things
we wish we’d

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Jan Antonin Kolar in Unsplash

They tell me it’s a phobia and I’ve gotta get rid of it. All Google can tell me is that it’s called Kampanaphobia and apparently it’s becoming pretty common especially among the younger crowd who expect you to text them from your front door instead of knocking. Bah! These kids would do anything to increase the amount of time spent on their phone; when they should be working towards a nice home and a retirement instead. Idiots, all of them and scared little chickens to boot. …


Indira Reddy

Endlessly fascinated by how 26 simple symbols can say so much…

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