Odes as Attempts to Break Out of Thought Spirals by Kartikay Agarwal


Art by Jozef Israëls

(i) I write to a Letter (an overdue appreciation.)

It is a relief to pen you down.

The way you make me

Sit back and relook, rethink

And reform my thoughts,

As I pour them onto you.

You are like a knowing grasp

On my shoulder, reminding me

Of the importance of taking a

Breath. Before a sentence gushes out

As it doesall too often, undeterred—

An irreversible crime of passion.

You then travel through space and time,

Covering miles, in my stead,

Meaning so much more, than just my words.

I miss the fingers that would hold you, but

At least a part of me that touched you,

Will touch the one I write to—

Skin. Bone. Heart. Soul.


(ii) My Insecurity writes to me (like a smothering guardian angel.)

You are too happy too quick,

I must hold on to you,

Your high-brow in my clasp,

Nudging you, a reminder – the world

Does not revolve around you.

And the moment everyone sees

You, they see right through you

And these made up images,

Piercing directly across—

Skin. Bone. Heart. Soul.


(iii) I write to my Instinct (accepting defeat.)

Oh how I wish you were wrong,

Never discrete in your discretion,

It seems you have lived my life before.

With someone else playing the lead?

Right when I am determined to err,

Looking at a gray piece of life, wondering “How much white went into it? And black?” You have a resounding answer, down

To the exact process and I can’t ignore, That sudden grip on my shoulder.

I wonder often, how you do it and

Trust me, I have tested you often.

But have always bore the brunt of ignorance. Even when my heart is strong set

On someone – selective in what it sees,

You peer right through—

Skin. Bone. Heart. Soul.



Kartikay is a 26 years old bilingual poet from Kanpur (UP) with his heart by the sea in Mumbai. Returning to poetry after a hiatus of half a decade in NaPoWriMo 2020, he has been writing with The Quarantine Train – traversing voices, themes and forms while writing and translating in English or Hindustani. His work has also been featured in Narrow Road Journal and the Usawa Literary Review. Follow his work on Instagram.