Gap-toothed Smile

The Syrian Painter by Dareen Director

In the recesses of the gap-toothed smile
my tears are black.
Pallid stars in the inky blue
of a dying sky.

A fly on the windshield of bliss
wriggling in vacuum,
Hanging still through swerves and sweeps
of a listless drive.

Burn it on a pile of logs
when my face freezes in a grin,
lest like festering ambitions
the grief runs rife.

Knead the joy with mud
and cinders from the ash,
but watch those fingers, my friend,
my tears are black.



  1. Almost Rumiesque…USP. I cannot comment for my words will take away the beauty of yours…so let there be silence as I allow yours to engulf my senses…

    1. Bhavana, I am but a flickering candle to the light of the sun that you talk of. Yet, I feel proud to have earned that compliment. May God bless you!

  2. Do you really have a gap toothed smile? JK…:) Learnt the word ‘pallid’. Loved the ‘festering ambitions’.

  3. no one can write like you Uma. i don’t call you the best writer in the blogsphere for nothing. a standing applause.

      1. oh yes, of course, otherwise how will i complete the post which i am writing to torture you all 😀

  4. The latest model Bliss,
    and sunshielded
    in twin layers.

    He wriggles
    sometimes with purpose
    and sometimes
    in anger,
    but legs sensibly anchored
    in the vacuum of thoughts
    the Screeches
    and Brakings.

    Quick button squirts of water,
    streaking by on the glass,
    and he dips a toe
    to gauge the flow
    and lets himself go,
    and grinning away,
    joy squirting out
    through the
    Gap in the Smile.

    No pallid stars,
    no dying skies,
    a collapsing pile of
    unburnt life logs
    convicted of misleading the mud.

    He flutters out
    in mind and body,
    the eyes full with giltedged tears…

    Black ?
    That was
    the latest
    lachrymal brand sunglasses
    worn in the last harsh summer…

    1. A startling sunshine melody that blows the darkness, grief and every thing black to smithreens! I feel blessed to have written a prequel to this exqusite poem.

      1. It bothers the hell out of me when someone I have met writes a piece with heavy macabre overtones replete with dark nights, logs,cinders ,ashes, and black tears. I read your fantastic poem several times to understand and each time the same feeling was transmitted. My poem is a piece of advice from an old lady who has possibly seen it all …..and yes,….. am delighted about the smithereens !!

        1. Suranga, I am awed at the speed you weave your poetic replies..were you an English teacher/lecturer by any chance? 🙂

          1. Latha, thank you for the kind words. And no, I have never been a teacher of English , ever, in my life. Just a boring IT person. But I have written English and Marathi poetry as a child, and now enjoy blogging, have my own prose, poetry , and medical (!) blogs. Sometimes , one can say things in poetry, better than in prose. USP’s posts are so awesome, that it takes a while for it all to sink in. And even the prose posts are like poetry, hence my replies, again, in poetry !

      1. You deserve it! I am generally pretty khadoos with my compliments :). On your shoulders perhaps as a burden of my expectations from your writing that becomes loftier with each passing day.

  5. Sir, I am not sure whether I understood the essence of the poem in totality but it is always such a pleasure and a privilege to read your poems. They are in a completely different league. How I wish I could write like you.

  6. Oh my .. wish i was a poet too .. but then at lest coming here I learnt a few new words that I dont think I have even read or heard ..
    you learn something new every day 🙂

    tears are black.. right

    1. Contradictions, and at times, fusions that hold their sway at life. Thank you, Deepak, for understanding the pain of the living.

  7. my first time here…and this is a ravishingly beautiful piece…conveys emotions with stunning accuracy, Uma Shankar..! Immaculate…

  8. Not so much into poetry……but the way you conveyed the emotions, left me blank for a while. I was lost in my own world, thinking and rethinking those words, until I got the essence 🙂

  9. Very profound. I’m sure these lines are also just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ (that was a good Hemingway quote that you tweeted out. :))

  10. “The grief runs rife”…took me a lot of time to understand the essence of this poem Sir. Indeed a masterpiece.

  11. Hi USP

    Wonderful use of words – some of the phrases are exquisite; but I have not been able to discern the images you wished to convey through those lines. Am not good at interpreting poetry. But I love the medium and you use it well.

    1. JM, through the contradicting emotions of life, I’d rather choose the one that has been overwhelmingly mine. And lest some of the pain rub off on the reader, he should be on guard.

      Many thanks for appreciating my words.

  12. Amazingly dark imagery you have managed to create. Don’t exactly understand exactly what the poem is about. But Poetry is more about emotion than understanding. I got the overall dark mood and guess that is all that matters.

  13. Sorry to be here so late, but this one is too beautiful for words, pun intended. Black tears? I am there with Suranga when she says that it pierces the heart when someone close to you talks of them. And her poem indeed added that spark to make the black glisten with joy. 🙂

    1. Blessed are those who have a shoulder to lean on. Yet, often people are alone in agony, certainly so in death. Many thanks for appreciation and your concern.

    1. Thank you, SC. Today itself I read about ‘Joseph Stalin’s deadly railway to nowhere’ by Lucy ash at BBC News. Do read it. And that was not the only grim thing to have happened. There are many dark tones in the world indeed, darker beyond imagination at times.

  14. Simply brilliant. I have to find new adjectives for your writing genius. Such richness of both vocabulary and thought! Every post of yours is a privilege to read.

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