Schools are dying with the sound of bullets 

[TW: violence, PTSD]
Gunshots replace school bells 

Bullets break windows, not tennis balls 

Children are crying, not laughing

For the first time, teachers are helpless

This wasn’t part of their curriculum 

Students are lying flat on the floor

Some scared, some succumbing to their wounds

Somewhere in that classroom

There was a potential lawyer, teacher

President-in-the-making, doctor, engineer

Athlete, writer, journalist, police officer,

Caretaker, social worker, activist, lobbyist,

Rebel, actor, director, musician, son, daughter,

Future wife, future husband, grandchild, niece,

Nephew, sister, brother, cousin, best friend, neighbor;

Everyone in that classroom 

Was human. Don’t blame just the ‘lunatic’ 

He couldn’t have killed 17 people without a gun

You, the system, handed it to him 

And you still won’t take it away

How many more people must die 

Before you get it in your head,


A person’s own life is. 

[May Parkland and all other victims of gun violence find peace and reforms.] 

©Isha Malaviya 


One of us has to sever the ties

Before we both lose our minds;

And although I find it an unwitting decision

It’s seems to be the only viable option,

Until I stop hurting 

Every time I catch myself thinking

About you. 

©Isha Malaviya. 


We said, their time is up

But our voices drowned in the silence

Of fear, and injustice,

Overshadowed by marks of blood and violence;


We tried to shout, to be heard

But were reminded of harrowing screams-

Cries of help from choked throats

And arms pinning down tired bodies, on dark streets;


We waited for centuries

For equality, for employment and franchise

Yet still find ourselves treated

Inferior to chauvinist and sexist pride


But we still stand together,

Across countries, continents, races and religions,

Against those who have wronged us,

Harassed, assaulted, taunted us; we are still hurting


But we will say it again, their time is up.

For even though, only few have dared to speak

When time outruns itself and the truth is out,

We will leave the sins of our oppressors unburied.
©Isha Malaviya.

Ode to School

I don’t know where to start;

It seems that ending this poem in tears 

Is easier than finding the right words


And yet there is so much to say,

Two years feel infinite now 

And time spent here

Is testimony to all the emotions endowed 


I can’t avoid clichés,

Because you prove that sometimes 

An almost-picture perfect scene 

Can be brought to life;


I can’t forget

The poor jokes, the timid and the bright personalities,

The class disruptions, conversations, the insults

The good, the sad and funny memories;


And the school spirit that is infectious 

That drives crowds of cheering students

Into choruses and synchronised clapping;

We thrive, especially during home tournaments;


The football field that doubles as a pitch

And an assembly ground, while the basketball court 

Hosts teams and echoes with the dreams 

Of graduating batches, walking for the last time, out of those doors;


The teachers cannot go unmentioned

 For bearing the fluctuating grades and the sound

Of 50 teenagers protesting at once 

Against tests, unfairness and textbooks forming mounds;


And although I have more to say,

The sentiment, and this road must fade-

Begging for a new one to be created

One, that ultimately decides our fates;


I’ve reached the end of this poem,

And I think I found the right words

But now it seems

That I have an excess of tears. 


©Isha Malaviya.    Picture: ©Kruthika Sanjay.


Nights Like These

It’s nights like these

Where the lights outside your window

Don’t seem bright enough;


It’s nights like these

When the painkillers you took an hour ago,

Don’t seem strong enough;


It’s nights like these

Where 8 hours of sleep

Don’t seem satisfying enough;


It’s nights like these

When the days

Didn’t go by fast enough;


It’s nights like these

Where the dark

Doesn’t seem dark enough;


It’s nights like these

When what you have

Doesn’t seem enough;


Count nights like these,

You survived them;

Even though time never seems enough.


©Isha Malaviya.

Ballroom Drama

When the flame was first alight,

Music interlaced with it

Like new found dance partners,

Swaying like a perfect fit


When the flame began to flicker

The music didn’t stop but 

There was a lapse in time 

And the waltz stopped abrupt 


When the flame rose for the second time

It was in regret, the music pulled away 

Trying hard to die out 

But it was caught in the unrequited sway 


When the flame grew dimmer  

The music became faint 

The dancers moved slowly

And their feet danced in pain 


When the flame finally died out,

The music knew-

The dancers would part ways 

Once their feet sought different tunes. 


©Isha Malaviya.


Her eyes aren’t windows to her soul,

They are doors to another world-

Where the light of the sun 

Flickers like the dying light of a bulb, 

But every time the spark dies 

The sky and the grey clouds break into a fight 

Pushing the other back, trying to steal the limelight

Hovering in between death and life;

And flowers bloom on trees and hedges

But they droop, with their petals drying at the edges

There are no people, only dreams,

Forgotten hope and old memories;

Her smile is radiant as if all seems well

Her portrait will live another day, for a story it must tell;

As thunder strikes and time flies,

I turn, pulling away from her eyes;

A silhouette beside me lost too, in the details of her face

Looks at me, reads my thoughts, and says-

“Like me, you must be hurting, slowly healing 

To imagine such pain in a simple painting.” 

©Isha Malaviya.

Ode to Silver Engravings

Black roses with dewdrops

Top dead bushes and wilted leaves.

Silhouettes shudder and weave

In and out of grey trees.


And in the fields, stand two towering gates

Beyond which tomb stones lie;

The atmosphere looks ghastly-

A thick veil extends for miles


I stand outside His mansion

And admire the crumbling walls,

The place draws me toward it, asking me

To walk through the doors, and explore the old halls


But before I am taken over, I remember home;

I crave its company, and I turn away;

My time will come

But not now, not today.


For before I come here again

I will keep Death waiting,

And on Earth, amongst forgotten legacies,

Mine will be carved in silver engravings.


©Isha Malaviya.


In between the rhythm of my steps
Amidst an evening breeze
My mind noticed
Winter’s hunched trees, old leaves
Clinging by a skeleton arm
To a sickly, aged branch.
Pale, worn blades of grass hovered
Struggling against the thick fog above
As it suffocated the uneven soil
And the smallest particles wreathed in turmoil.


But my eyes begged to see
Winter’s surviving trees
Bowing down gracefully, as if on one knee;
Elegant, matured leaves
Clinging, but not desperately
Embracing their departure
With a slow farewell to their mother
And pale but lively blades of grass hovered
Under the umbrella of the blue, calm weather
As it cooled the fertile soil
And relieved the life below, of turmoil.


But when the mind is dull
And feels tired, numb
Its gaze misses nature’s beauty
For it can see none.


©Isha Malaviya.

(Inspired by October- Edward Thomas).