Monday, January 30, 2006

something lacking         [ghazal]

I thought I'd written a ghazal   but where were the blood?
if caught or bitten by ghazals   might there n't be blood?

the lad who'd ask about arson   they'd point to a noose
he'd bought one bit of a ghazal   that flared in his blood

the stream that's strung through the meadow   arrives at the tree
there's naught that's knit in a ghazal   but shares of its blood

my plane took off   with a pilot untutored in landing
who've caught the wit of a ghazal   compare it to blood

if poems I wrote   had been pulled from my ear not my liver
I sought to bid on a ghazal   whose tariff were blood

Husain admonished Ardeo   for lacking a soul
distraught   he hid in a ghazal that parroted blood

I asked Ardeo   what hope might remain in his heart?
I've got a little to guzzle   beware of the blood

a time arrived   when Ardeo could savor the void
he thought   amid such a ghazal   mere air could be blood

Responsive to this terse, sharp & meseems valuable critique.

Nam June Paik       [art news]

Nam June Paik passed away at his Miami home
at 8:00pm EST on Sunday, January 29th, 2006.
Funeral information to be announced.

Electronic Superhighway: Continental US (1995).
Forty seven channel and closed circuit video installation with 313 monitors, neon, and steel structure; color, sound, approx. 15x32x4 feet.

"Global Groove" (2004)

A profile (per Voice of America)

bit of a predicament         [visual joke]

I've been less than a joke entusiast as blogger, but some exceptions may be made. I guess this counts as my 2nd blog joke, and it's the first in a genre I now introduce: the visual joke. (Others might follow once in a blue moon.)

It's not all too difficult to imagine a story here . . .

care to spin out out? The Comments microphone is on!

[note & disclaimer: I rec'd photo in email & don't know orig. source]
Should I be offering awards? prizes? No let's be low-key about this, okay? I'll offer thanks for all contributions, and special thanks for especially good ones! Stories could (of course) be in 1st, 2nd or 3rd person . . . E.g. in "flash fiction" (brief) form, hmm?


Saturday, January 28, 2006

God's present predicament         [quasi-sonnet]

. . . But how could you put God in the lower case?
Did you wish to connote His present predicament?

                            -- Dhananjay Jog

god was in a pickle
the world became too fickle
his oceanic vast
reduced now to a trickle

his penchant for unseenness
interpreted as meanness

his moon became a sickle
his cough the merest tickle

esteemed once as monsoon
he seemed less than a drizzle
his laila lacked majnoon
his drink displayed no swizzle

  what pencil cared to jot him?
  philosphers forgot him

Index (with links) to sonnets on this blog is here.

Friday, January 27, 2006

"One image in pumice"       [ghazal]

To play   one session of tennis with you   is that enough?
to sail   one channel of Venice with you   is that enough?

we'd aimed   to fashion a mandir for you   or else a cave
to carve   one image in pumice of you   is that enough?

to you   each voice entertains with its own   distinctive plaint
to wail   in saxophone genius for you   is that enough?

your hushed sobriety's something we must   expand upon!
to drain   one bottle of Guinness with you   is that enough?

the world   sauteed in six days   on the next   you chilled big time
equate   the fear of hell's menace with you   is that enough?

you came from nowhere   or did you emerge   out of my dream?
to take   one vanishing promise of you   is that enough?

all songs extoll you   from vesper   to rock   to ambient
the strains   of old Thomas Tallis for you   were not enough?

if you're the ink of the king   I'm the page   O cloudy sky!
a reign   alike Caesar Gallus for you   is not enough

your Alexandria library was   reduced to ash
remake   a couple of poems for you?   that's not enough

the Kali Yuga   went spinning along   confusingly
with quakes   & chaos beginning to brew   were that enough?

the world   might come to an end you said   my words won't end
to break   a tissue of silence for you   is that enough?

the night   relinquished the aims of day   & dreamed a moon
to stake   one's hope on the chalice of you   is that enough?

distraught   Ardeo became from his first   embrace of you
to make   one weekend in Paris of you   is that enough?

mandir (Skt./Hindi) : temple
Guinness : a long-established, traditional beer brewery (in the UK).
Thomas Tallis (1505-1585 AD) : a British composer & musical innovator (a man of elevated sensibility).
Caesar Gallus (325-354 AD) : a Roman emperor, his reign lasted merely 3 years.
the world might come to an end : paraphrasing Matthew 24:35 / Mark 13:31 ("Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away")

This poem represents an experimental effort to establish & follow rigorously an unvarying rhythmic pattern. ALL lines in the poem are exactly 14 syllables. This is not a question of merely writing metrically. Each line must scan so as to follow the exact rhythmic pattern established by the first line (syllable by syllable).

At first, I couldn't seem to write this way in every line; so I settled for keeping the rhythm only in lines with a radif [repeating refrain]: i.e., lines 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. But in subsequent revision, all lines were conformed. [or: a majority of lines; see p.s. in Comments]

The colors effect [in display of the poem] is simply toemphasize the rhythmic dance of the line. It's for illustrative purposes (since with this poem, I believe new ground is being broken for ghazal technique in English).

To follow a precise rhythmic pattern (called beher in Urdu) is the formal focus of this poem (as an exercise for me). The content of the poem is a separate matter. In these notes I'm focusing on this matter of technique, due to the evident novelty, in English ghazal prosody, of (properly) using a beher, a cadence. I don't yet know enough about traditional behers in Urdu (and Farsi) poetry, to be sure about how this compares. What I do know is how this poem now works in English! But I'll be interested to learn more of the Urdu behers in future.

29 Jan. note:
Indeed, I found (contrary to initial expectation) I could revise all the shers' first lines so they fall in with the rhythmic pattern (behar) of the second line. For example, the first line of sher no.6 had formerly read like this:
all musics adore you   from Bach   to rock   to ambient
This does not follow the exact rhythmic pattern correctly. But by revising it (by being willing, too, to alter specifics of reference, for sake of the strict rule of rhythm), this can likeably read:
all songs extoll you   from vesper   to rock   to ambient
Or a second example: sher no.8 had read:
your library   in Alexandria   burnt to the ground
Merely by rewriting this in another form, it can be brought into conformity with the requisite rythmic pattern (that had been set in sher no.1), thus:
your Alexandria library was   reduced to ash
Here's one more example -- revision of the final sher's first line. It had been:
Ardeo became extreme   from the moment he glimpsed you
To bring it into line rhythmically, it was revised to this:
extreme   Ardeo became from his first   stray glimpse of you
-- well no, that was an intermediate form! whereas the final form is:
distraught   Ardeo became from his first   embrace of you
(In process of refining form and rhythm, one meets an opportunity also to refine or transform aspects of thought, meaning and resonance.)
All three forms of the line are 14 syllables; all are acceptable in terms of basic English metrical poetry. But only the second two play out the beat of the given beher (and I'd say the last one does so less haltingly, more smoothly, than does the intermediate form; for "embrace of you" is the 4-syllable end phrase; wherease "stray -- glimpse" is broken across the cesura, so is [essentially] tantamount to a case of enjambment). Oftentimes, the need to refine the music, also occasions a refining of meanings.

It's interesting to note the way the ghazal sounds and feels once it has been transformed into a rhythmically exacting state. It exhibits a somewhat differing music, displays a different level of discipline. The challenge to write with meaningful imagination remains; the sound-channel through which that imagination flows (the poem's line) is now more exacting and sharp, perhaps.

Regarding rhythm -- or really, the best English word would be cadence -- in traditional Urdu poetry, Ityaadi has helpfully pointed me to this essay (which I look forward to studying in detail).

30 Jan.: My subsequent ghazal -- something lacking -- relates to this one in two ways. In terms of form, it fully accomplishes what this one had inconsistently demonstrated (i.e., all lines follow an exact cadence). In terms of content -- the new one arose responsive to a terse, useful, and biting critique that had been addressed to the present poem vis-a-vis matters of "soul." [Also and incidentally on level of technique, that new poem exhibits multiple rhyming in all the lines that have radifs (refrains).]

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"Like three wishes"           [quasi-rictameter]

it seems

like three wishes

you're granted by a djinn

usually the first is wasted

the second likewise will come to no good

but you had best watch for the third

this is where everything

turns on its head!

(it seems)

written for an exercise
vide: Exercise - Poetry - Rictameter
(Caferati on Ryze)

[ps -- I messed up; a real rictameter is based on count of syllables, not count of words. should be in lines 2/4/6/8/10/8/4/6/2 syllables; I did that, but counting whole words. So this is a new something, but not properly a rictameter. I'll classify it as a quasi-rictameter.]

"The lavendar farm"     [ghazal]

If Urdu had usurped all the charm   a ghazal can possess
might English shadow-box with the arm   a ghazal can possess?

Granted Urdu snaffled from Farsi   attar as well as dard
in which of these should I seek the Marm   a ghazal can possess?

Is paradise so distant?   are myths mere myths?   what is language?
I crave the medicine & the harm   a ghazal can possess

I stumbled field to field   flummoxed by the sinewy labor
an aerial vantage of the farm   a ghazal can possess

Ardeo vaguely guessed his heart   must have a reason to beat
could it be it sought the plangent dharm   a ghazal can possess?

In wintertime   no flowery talk   all of the voices hushed
fresh hubbub!   this might be the alarm   a ghazal can possess

I gazed up at the balcony   only drapes amid the breeze!
& yet one felt   that flap hid the charm   a ghazal can possess

The gul of Saadi's long gone!   where's the rukh of the moon tonight?
if Hafez spoke English   say what yarn   a ghazal might possess?

He alone holds the secret!   we fools rush about   and angels?
it's the pin where they dance in a swarm   a ghazal can possess

When old Anglos were a'breeding their sheep   & a'brewing their beer
none visited the lavendar farm   a ghazal can possess?

My commerce proved absurd!   at least I survived   only poems
received every grain from my barn   that a ghazal can possess

Ardeo felt pensive   no Urdu belovèd consoled him
he hugged such wan English   (his karm)   as a ghazal can possess

| | | | |   | | | | |   | | | | |   | | | | |   | | | | |


The first line of the first couplet quotes (not quite verbatim) a remark made by noted Delhi poet and actor Danish Husain -- for which, thanks.

This poem (in one respect) amounts to an attempted reply to Dan's provocative utterance. Whether Dan's observation serves to paraphrase a well-known Urdu truism, I can't say; but no doubt, the underlying thought here is a familiar one: that (a few centuries into the past, in the Indian subcontinent -- & indeed in broad realms of Islamicized culture), Urdu arguably "usurped" the ghazal preeminence erstwhile enjoyed by Farsi. As for Urdu's noted, stealthy excellences -- the above ghazal tacitly presumes to attempt a counter-appropriation -- at least to the extent of some smidge purloined from those olden glories.

Whether (meanwhile) Urdu might eventually suffer from its karma of usurption, is a question beyond the scope of this footnote.


Dan's original sentence reads: "Urdu has usurped all that charm that a ghazal can possess." The poem's first sher [couplet] replies to this.

attar (Farsi/Urdu) : perfume
dard (Farsi/Urdu) : pain, suffering, grief

dharm (Hindi/Urdu) : from Sanskrit dharma, the necessary duty, sphere of appropriate work, and raison d'etre peculiar to each jivatman (embodied soul).

gul (Farsi/Urdu) : the rose
rukh (Farsi/Urdu) : the face

Hafez and Saadi are the most noted poets from the old Persian city of Shiraz. Hafez is generally esteemed as the most sublime of classical Persian ghazal poets. Saadi was also a writer of ghazals, but he is perhaps best known for his prose + poetry writings, such as the Gulistan (Rose Garden).

karm (Hindi/Urdu) : equivalenet to the Sanskrit karma = action, or (philosophically conceived), the cycle of action and its consequence; or (metaphysically construed), by extension, the results, in a given lifetime, of actions committed in prior lifetimes (or, the seeds, in a current lifetime, for conditions to be experienced in future lifetimes). Karma is in some respects similar to the universal idea of "fate"; but if so, it involves a very sophisticated view of that idea. The doctrine of karma is shared by Hinduism and Buddhism, and is undoubtedly central to the legacy of ideas that India has, since antiquity, contributed to the world.

p.s.: following from Dan Husain's advice (here), I've been, with this, perhaps more attentive than usual to the specific metrics of the lines (though the poem remains inconsistent on a micro-level). I'm not sure whether a perfectly identical metrical rhythm in every line, is a desideratum for an English ghazal; but it does present a tantalizing possibility -- one I'll likely play with more in future.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"Binding"             | 3     [gatha]

  The binding   is the way

the pages join  

  into a close-knit folio

O ages!  

  within the realm of thought

this seems a coin  

  of wonderment

the way you join the pages  

"Book"             | 2     [gatha]

  Until we know

that sleep is sleep indeed        

  how   shall we awaken

from the dream?        

  the book is open

but I cannot read        

  the binding   though

elicits   my esteem        

"Darkly"           | 1     [gatha]

Anguish     hasn't helped me

untie the knots    

perhaps     I should simply

relax a bit    

trusting     the unseen

to fill in the dots    

alone     in the sauna

I darkly sit    

"Stranger things"           [rubai]

{   on the other hand:   Revisiting Hamlet's Bon Mot — or:      

Horatio's Side of the Argument   } 

Is it so   stranger things   there be in

heaven & earth  

Horatio   than are dreamt of   in your

heaven & earth?  

if sometimes   a landscape gets

reduced to ink & paper  

lo!   in ink & paper   there blooms

heaven & earth  

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Sauntering to a somewhere"         [sonnet]

Certain it seems   that I were meant to think of you
for here am I   engulfed in pleasant thoughts of you
that destiny would have me   sip a drink of you
were less than sure   for tenuous hopes of draughts of you

prove nebulous   but what of that?   my happiness
in this abides   the pleasure   of your contemplation
what care were mine   if moderns deem this sappiness?
since when became modernity   my embarcation?

I'm sauntering to a somewhere   past antiquity
what wonder   should I espy you in that land?
where hidden   it could hold in end   ubiquity
a thought   I far too vaguely   understand

precision   should it come to me   could look like this
your visage     in a gaze of dimpled happiness

Index (with links) to sonnets on this blog is here.

hat-tip to Vinod's Requium         [boomerang-twist]

The Pune poet Vinod R's blog twisted humor inc. features a notable new poem, A Requium for a Submersed Verse — its narrative describing an encounter with a poem that did not in end manage to get written. Somewhat Borgesian perhaps in effect & idea, the description in itself can seem to convey to the reader some aspects of or feelings for the declaredly uncaptured (& so, apparently unconveyed) poem.

The dream narrative (for the poem concerns a poem encountered in dream) is accompanied in Vinod's blog by an illustration, a detail from which is lifted & shown here.

My verse below is by way of tribute / hat-tip to excellences of the aforesaid poem. (Happily, I also note that my wonted 8-line "boomerang poem" form has, in this case, experienced a (literal) twist in its tail — perhaps not unsuitably here.)

vinod is the dude for poetry —
the poem of the poem that got away

such a poem is called "vinoedry"?
it withholds yet gives a lot away

its lament is detailed in telling you
the receipt is all that he's selling you

having read the receipt you conclude
— for poetry vinod is the dude

note: Vinod R's work made an earlier apperance on this blog here: Govinda speaks.

Monday, January 23, 2006

low-key epiphany     [epigram]

Life tolerates me   why?
I tolerate life?   aye

responsive to a poem by Rashmi Kayala, Epiphany.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

fabulistic song about a bird   [note pointing to a ballad]

Yesterday, I enjoyed composing -- and blogged at The Accidental Elephant -- a longish narrative poem (mildly archaic in style), a poem I feel happy about.

In terms of genre, no doubt this poem could be called a ballad, and the story it tells, a fable. Those are old and still accommodating drawers in the literary cupboard of this world.

I like this ballad so much, I rather hope more stories of similar ilk might emerge for me. Perhaps about the bird, perhaps about the princess, perhaps about her lowkey ipso facto advisor (apparently, some sort of court servant, educated but reticent almost to a fault -- though we find, not really a fault at all). Well, I'm glad they paid this one visit. If return engagements are in the works, that, too, would be welcome.

But! -- you've not seen the tale to which I allude?

Rather than repeating its text here, kindly allow me to direct you to this curiousity, pleasantry & novelty of a poem, by way of hyperlink:

        The Princess & Her Chapati Bird

As we do not have a Comments section at that Elephant blog, readers are cordially invited to register any such responses as they might care to note, in Comments here!


ps: I go into some amount of detail regarding this poem, in this discussion thread on the Caferati network.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

"The Dante's Inferno test"     [electronic astral review]

Assiduous, habitual, and perhaps even some other readers of this space may recall my recent, idle indulgence in what I dubbed an "electronic fortune cookie" — viz., idly amusing myself by glancing at an online facility that (amiably enough) purported to divine & offer a "past-life diagnosis." Likely proving my real area of error (sin) to involve excess www-dilly-dallying, just now I stumbled on (and again fell into the virtual pit of) a kindred (in a way) internet thingie. Except: rather than being tantamount to a fortune cookie (roll-of-die via an algorithm's hat-pick, based on the numerals of one's birthdate), this one, instead, asks a lot of private &/or insidious (& insinuating) questions. So: I submitted to the humiliating exercise. At least it didn't quite purport to damn me to hell. Hey presto! my results:

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very High
Level 2 (Lustful)Very Low
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Very Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Low
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

hmm -- I guess that's the top of the miserable heap? They don't list Paradise on the chart. That's another chart? Ah well. Your mileage may vary (but.... I wouldn't suggest betting my life on the postmortal predictive capabilities [or other special virtues] of this professedly Dante Alighieri-germane True/False quizlet).

[to left: Pergatorio per Salvador Dali]

ps: I notice the hell-testers tie in a bit of convenient literary commerce (offering some Dante translations via their linked elucidations).
As for translations from The Divine Comedy, in terms of the Purgatorio, here's recommending poet W.S. Merwin's fine recent version (though many folks are more interested in Book 1 of Dante's trilogy: the Inferno, which Merwin hasn't translated). I notice the Merwin link just given includes links to a couple section from that Purgatorio translation, and also one to Pinsky reading (so: audio) from the Dante of Merwin. Pinsky's own recent English version of the Inferno has also been well spoken of.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Current Moon Module     [blogo-accoutrement]

The Gentle Reader's attention is hereby directed to our latest little user-friendly addition to the local blogo-architecture (if not to say architectonics): a current moon module. To get clear on what that is, you need look no farther than there, to your right, and then scroll yonder down, way down toward bottom of what's-to-scroll-thru: to a moon image.

Said image will be one of the 8 basic divisions:

                1. New

2. Waxing Crescent

3. First Quarter

4. Waxing Gibbous

5. Full

6. Waning Gibbous

7. Last Quarter

8. Waning Crescent

[note: apologies for a tad of advertising stuff -- if you avoid hitting the moon itself (in Module), you avoid most of it; that assoc'd w/ the "Current Moon Info" link is rather negligible]

And about this business of a gibbous moon . . . .

Stained Glass Meher Baba  | 2     [photo dabble]

Thursday, January 19, 2006

6 Lalla Vakhs: "Knowledge of the Sahib"   [transcreations]

Practicing all that I read   I grasped what wasn't said
bringing down the jungle's lion   as if a mere jackal it were!
applying right in practice   all that I might profess
that's how I played   & scored the goal of haal   as it were

Siva abides in every every thing     every where
how could one   the Moslem from the Hindu   separate?
if you've got a jot of wisdom   of the Self you become aware
genuine knowledge of the Sahib   this would demonstrate

One by one   each action brings its consequence
it binds one   even when laboring for others' good
if free in mind   I offer all my works to God
the end is nothing but happiness   in every world

The statue is stone   the temple is stone
from pillar to post   nothing but stone!
thoughtful Pandit!   whom do you worship?
mind & breath     must join into one

It's Siva   or Keshava   or Jina
it's Brahma   the Lotus-born Lord
may he free me from the malady of the world! --
him   or him   or him   or him!

Lalla   she sought & searched for him!
beyond her limit of strength   she strove
closed were the door!   she longed all the more
fixing her gaze on his door   with love

[vakh #47]:
Parun polum apuruy po'rum
Kesara vana volum rattith shaal,
Paras prounum ta paanas polum,
Ada gom moluum ta zinim haal.

[vakh #57]:
Shiv chuy thali thali rozaan
Mav zaan Hyound ta Mussalmaan
Trukhay chukh ta pananuy paan parzaan
Ada chay Saahibas zanni zaan

[vakh #49]:
yi yi karu'm kara pyatrum paanas
Arzun barzun beyyis kyut.
Antih laagi-roust pusharun swaatmas,
Ada yuuri gatsha ta tuury chum hyout.

[vakh #66]:
diiva vattaa divur vattaa
Peythha bvona chuy ikavaathh:
Puuz kas karakh huutt bhattaa,
Kar manas ta pavanas sangaatth.

[vakh #73]:
Shiv vaa Keshava vaa Zin vaa
Kamalajanaath naamadhaarin yuh,
Mey abali kaastan bhavaraoz,
Su vaa su vaa su vaa suh.

[vakh #74]:
Lal bo luutshu's tshaanddaan ta gaaraan
Hal mey kormas rasanishiti;
Vuchun hyotmas taari diientthmas baran
Meyti kal ganeyam zi zogmas tati.

scored the goal of haal: haal (Farsi) is the overall Sufi term for a state of spiritual exaltation.

It's Siva or Keshava or Jina: Keshava ("he with beautiful locks of hair") is among the names of Krishna. While Jina (the "Ascetic") is a term found in Jainism, this title is used by Lalla (and others of Hindu background in medieval India) as a respectful appellation for the Buddha.

knowledge of the Sahib: is there playfulness here, that Lalla, a devotee of Siva, refers to him as "the Sahib"? (the Master: an honorific originating in Arabic). It reminds of how Kabir (uniquely) referred to God as Raam Rahim (the Merciful Raam -- where Rahim is an Arabic/Islamic name/attribute of Allah, and Raam [Ramachandra] is as Hindu as anyone can possibly get). Too (thinking of language in comparative mysticism), one recalls the address of God by Spanish (Catholic) poets as "Señor" -- which feels reminiscent of Lalla's "Sahib." When the British came to India in later centuries, the word Sahib was re-purposed as a form of address fairly specific to this new ruling class of gentlemen. In modern Hindi, an expression like bhai-saheb (lit., "brother-Mister") now seems ubiquitous. But then, we have the Khan-Sahibs [maybe "Lordly Mister"] -- always Moslem -- of Hindustani music . . . Who (other than, as here, God) would normally be addressed as "Sahib" in Lalla's era, remains (for me) a slight question, in short. I'm (very vaguely) guessing it to have perhaps been a sort of feudal title(??) Might it be applicable to landed gentry? Such extended threads of question pull out of the 2 syllables . . . and then get thinned into mist.

This is the fifth installment of new versions I've been rendering from the Kashmiri poet Lalleshwari. (See earlier recent posts for a bit more background.)

Perhaps this would be a good point to summarize the vakhs (verses) from Lalla blogged so far:
1.  "Even the shadows" = 3 vakhs
2.   "A fool carpenter" = 7 vakhs
3.   "& how!" = 2 vakhs
4.   "Dead already" = 10 vakhs
5   "Knowledge of the Sahib" = 6 vakhs [the present installment],
for a total of 28 verses transcreated & blogged. (There thus remain 110 verses extant & attributed to Lalla, not yet perused here, according to this scholarship (which, as already noted, comprises the source I've been working from -- looking 95% at the English, and 5% at the transliteration! [approximately; i.e., I'm illiterate in Kashmiri (& Hindustani), but know a few stray words here & there]. I'm only attempting verses that I seem able to get a handle on. To try to tackle the whole body of her poetry, I would need either to study the language, or at least to collaborate with a literate Kashmiri reader/scholar. Such steps are presently beyond scope of this blog -- but if anyone knowledgeable of Kashmiri should care to collaborate, I'd be much obliged.)

Words for Blogtopia       [boomerang]

"Oh sure, I have words of my own, but..." Queen NeeTee paused, put on her glasses and looked right into their eyes, "I would like very much if you would share a few of yours with me." The premise of this site is to weave the words that you send me throughout the short stories that I write and post. If indeed your words are used, they will appear hightlighted and linked to your Blog Page. Please don't send ideas, just words. I enjoy weaving my own stories.
            -- Blogtopia 2006

She asks for words   but what are words   I ask?
what form & force of wordage   would she find?
to send a slue of words   were no great task --
but needs a keyboard   & perchance a mind
such words as "grue"   & "kelly as a rind!"
such words as "skip"   & "silvern in its mask!"
seem candid words   yet what may lie behind?
she asks for words   but what are words   I ask?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The new chic             [sonnet]

This is the first announcement of a new literary magazine: PHOENIX. I am now accepting submissions in any genre...
§ PHOENIX will appear at least once a year and perhaps quarterly.... The initial run will be at least two hundred copies. § I will be renting a P.O. Box, but until I do, submissions can and should be sent to.... They can also be given to me in person at The Phoenix Reading Series @ Socrates Restaurant....
§ The final format of the magazine is still to be determined. However, it will be clean, well-designed, very readable and feel good to hold. It will not, however, be slick, and if that quality is important to you PHOENIX is not for you.

     [in an email received this morning; emphasis added]

What is this sickness of slickness?
or the chicness   of its obviation?
if slickness were less than a sickness
would unslickness unleash less elation?
it seems that the issue of slickness
has risen high up the agendum
of publishing smallfrydom   nip this
in the bud   I would not!   one addendum
I'll note though   I wot not what "slickness"
precisely connotes to these whippersnaps
I'm sure though thru thinness or thickness
they'll leave it afar from their bubble-wraps
    unslickness slides home!   the new chic
    though it's been around more than a week

[modest rib-poking notwithstanding, we extend collegial good wishes to the ashes-born fledgling -- may it fare well & fly far]
Index (with links) to sonnets on this blog is here.

Stained Glass Meher Baba       [photo dabble]

source: December 1950

"From forgotten music"           [sonnet]

There are myriad yous   & there is but one you
ten thousand days   make one generation's span
if here the heart's gone orange   there it's done blue
while often-as-not one wanders   without plan
if to your eyes   some sign calls wisty notice
if in your gaze   there's aught awakens thought
were this a note   antiquity once wrote us?
or an echo   from forgotten music   caught?
eyes haven't descried   your walk across the stage
nor ears yet known   the tone your voice assumes
when   speaking   (from the memory of a page)
your tints & timbres   glimmer   through the room
    is this oddment   of a whimsy   in a letter
    a ribbon drifting vaguely   without fetter?

Index (with links) to sonnets on this blog is here.

"The old mantram"       | 2   [55 words]

"We need high-quality patience, this is an elite wing," the orderly remarked, turning on a foot, with a step possibly borrowed from ballet.

"Mealy-mouthed, passive-aggressive: unacceptable," he added. As if I required this juvenile elaboration?

I knew what was coming next. "Infinite patience balanced with infinite longing, is the ticket." The old mantram.


[2nd in series]

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"Just for a little bit"             [rubai]

I should like to think of you   quite profoundly

even if just for a little bit

I desire to picture you   utterly roundly

even if just for a little bit

could one see you as you should be seen?

or know you as you really ought to be known?

if so disposed   you could perhaps astound me

even if just for a little bit?

"A patience unit"         [55 words]

The world was an imposition on his thoughts.

On the other hand, it held the dim promise of an interesting story.

He was thus reeled in. Not that there was a choice.

One goes willingly or unwillingly, when tugged.

At certain moments, it seemed a doubtful proposition.

Was he a patience unit in the factory?


"The eyes" (guestbook impromptu)     [poem]

the eyes know
though the nose be hid
mine is the realm
of pupil & lid
neither a fish
nor a frog am I
quoth the mysterious
luminous eye
mine is the realm
of jungli whelm
& forest cry
quoth the eye
mine is the world
of seeing furled
'fore the smallfry
allowed the eye
eyes appeared
with fishes first?
when fish are revered
the world's reversed
            in liquid thought
            you loose no sigh
            so much is caught
            by the luminous eye
            the eye knows why
            the brain may try
            do fishes fly?
            inquired the eye

for Priyanka Joseph.

"The January morning"         [haiku]

Like each night's resolve
the January morning
coldly shatters me

for Kaveeta Keswaani, on whose haiku this one is based.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Lalla Vakhs: "Dead already"     [transcreations]

The guru gave   but one instruction
  "gaze on the Atman   inwardly"
Lalla   heeding this one instruction
  started to wander   nakedly

A kingdon is gained   by weilding a sword
  attainment of heaven's by penance & giving
samadhi's attained   by heeding the guru
  you're pained or rewarded   by your own living

A thousand times   I nagged my guru
  how to define   the great Nameless?
asking-asking!     ...uselessly...
  the Nameless must be the source of this!

I came from the straight   & return to the straight
  how can the crooked lead me astray?
fear have I none   for aught in this world
  he knows me since always   & loves me today

By pampering the hungers   nowhere you get
  for penance & fasting   pride is your gain
be moderate in food   & modest in life
  certainly heavenly joy   you'll attain

Patience to live through   lightening & thunder
  patience to face   strange darkness at noon
patience to pass through   the mill of the grinder
  trust through it all   & he'll come to you soon

Let them mock   or call me names
why should I be distressed or pained?
  if I'm Shankara's   devotee
can ashes make the mirror stained?

Though you're wise   a fool become
  though you're sighted   be one blind
though you hear   be deaf & dumb
  endure it all   & truth you'll find

Weal or woe     let it come
  ears can't hear   & eyes lack sight
the voice you need sounds deep within
  even in wind   the lamp burns bright

You'll know no peace   if you're made a monarch
  give it all away   & you'll not feel steady
only the man without desire is deathless
  the gnostic   while alive   is dead already

[vakh #21]:
gwaran vo'nam kunuy vatsum
Neybra doupanam anndaray atsun;
Suy gav Lali mey vaakh ta vatsun,
Tavay mey hyotum nagay natsun.

[vakh #22]:
raajas baa'j ye'my kartal paa'j
Swargas baa'j chiy taph tay daan;
Sahazas baa'j yami gwarakath paaji
Paapa-pwanni baa'j chuy pananuy paan.

[vakh #24]:
gwaras pritshom saasi latte
Yas na ke'nh vanaan tas kyaah naav:
Pritshaan pritshaan thachis ta luusas,
Ke'nh nasa nishi kyaahtaam draav.

[vakh #26]:
Ayas ti syo'duy gatsha ti syo'duy
Se'dis hol me karem kyaah
Bo'h tas aahsas Agarai veyzay
Veydis ta veyndis kareym kyaah.

[vakh #27]:
khyana khyan karaan kun no vaatak
Na khyan gatshakh ahannkari:
Saomuy khey maali saomuy Asakh
Sami khyana mutsaranay barnyan taari.

[vakh #28]:
tsaalun chu vzmala ta trattay
Tsaalun chu mandinyan gattakaar
Tsaalun chu paan-panun kaddun grattay
Heyti maali santuush vaati paanay.*
* alt: ??

[vakh #39]:
A'saa bol pa'ddiy-nyam saasaa
Mey mani waasaa khiid na heaye;
Boh youd sahaza Shankar-bakts aasaa,
Makris saasaa mal kyaah peyye

[vakh #40]:
muudh zaa'niith pa'shith ta ko'r
koul shrutuvun zadd-ruupi aas,
Yus yih dapiy tas tiy boz
Yuhoy tattvavidis chuy abhyaas.

[vakh #42]:
rut ta krut soruy pazyam
Karnan na bozun, achin na baava,
Oruk dapun yeli vavaondi vuzeym
Ratandip prazaleym varzani vaava.

[vakh #48]:
hyath ka'rith raaj pheri-naa
Dith karith trapti na man;
Luub veyna ziiv marina,
Ziivanatay mari tay suy chuy jnaan.

This is the fourth little installment of verses from Lalla. Again, these English renderings of her pithy poems are my own new versifications, based on perusal of material found here.

note: can ashes make the mirror stained? -- metalic mirrors are polished with ashes. Ashes, of course, are also associated with Siva = Shankara.

"Fleeting photo"           [sonnet]

Gone again is someone's fleeting photo?
perhaps it shall return in red or blue
the voce of this poem could be sotto
it turns its modest stage-whisper to you
& has   in truth   so little to declare
it ought to slip thru customs with no check
perhaps it is a there with nothing there
an envelope of emptiness!     one sec
the poem mentions (almost parenthetically)
it wonders what's become of she who fleets?
I hope she hasn't vanished dietetically
it's true I'm not aware of what she eats
    the poem pauses   pondering its end--
    it says   You know...   (too late! he's hitting send)

Index (with links) to sonnets on this blog is here.

Ich Bein Ein Midnight Blogger     [a responsive ditty]

what an argument you hone
& a worthy axe you grind
daresay you're in the zone
as you ventilate your mind
I stumbled on yer blog
googling "Indran Amirthanayagam"
might say you cleaned Lehman's clock...
a Midnight Blogger? I am one

Responsive to Roger Pao's articulate rant (or, estimable cavil), David Lehman Takes a Swipe at Bloggers

With incidental hat-tips both to Lehman (whom I've met, and like), and to the poet Amirthanayagam -- whom I'd long since lost track of (we were acquinted in DC a decade ago, and I should be pleased to locate the good chap again).

full disclosure: the actual search string, "Indran Amirthanayagam blog," is truncated in the verse (poetic license)

2 tricky Lalla Vakhs: "& how!"     [transcreations]

Ah me   well there's the five   & there's the ten
but the eleventh   their lord   (O very mind of mine)
just scraped the pot   & wandered elsewhere then
had all pulled the rope   why should he have lost the kine?

Ever we come   & forever we've got to go
ever we go   toward there whence came this now
in a round-&-round endeavor   we've got to go
from nothing to nothing to nothingness   & how!

[vakh #6]:
Kyaah kara paantsan dahan ta kaahan,
Vakhshun yath leyji yim karith gay;
Saoriy samahan yeythi razi lamahan,
Ada kyaazi raavhe kaahan gaav
[vakh #7]:
atshyan aay* ta gatushun gatshe
pakun gatshe then kyho raath
yor aya turiy gatshun gatshe
khenata khenata kheneta kyha
* alt: atshan ay

This is a third installment (all from the past day or so) of verses from Lalla. I had initially skipped over these two verses, as they seemed a bit more problematical than the others. If I had on hand other translations from Lalla, that could help (and I think I'll need to track some down, to try to verify to what degree my hunches about these two verses may be on target). But I feel I may have managed basically to suss this out (inshallah).

Regarding vakh #6, the Five are the great elements of nature. The Ten are the five senses along with the five objects of sense. The Eleventh is the mind. The Pot seems enigmatic in interpretation to me, and merits pondering. "To scrape the pot" is clearly a mystic utterance of Lalla's -- suggesting something about the ordinary (unilluminated) approach to living. The Cow (the original translator reasonably notes) can suggest the Soul. As used in this poem, this Cow recalls the Ox of Zen lore (thinking, here, of the Ten Oxherding Pictures), although Lalla -- to whom Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi lore was perhaps variously familiar -- may well have had in mind Pauranic association of God (Vishnu) as Cow; I don't mean to suggest a direct historical link to the oxherding pictures per se. And for all I know, the Zen guys could have been following from Lalla. ;-)

I will likely post these renderings (sans the above interpretive doodle) to the Aap ka Nazrana network at some point, seeking feedback (though I'm not sure to what degree the Kashmiri dialect might make Lalla's vakhs opaque to literate Hindustani readers). Anyway: feedback here (including by any Kashmiri readers) is most welcome!

ps: googling, I just now turned up this site, which gives a useful netography & bibliography for some English-language resources on Lalla.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

More from Lalla "A fool carpenter"     [transcreations]

My boat I tow   with a rope whose threads look dubious
O can't the Lord heed my prayer   & impel me o'er?
like water in cups of unfired clay   I'm tenuous
I but hope to God I can make it yon   to the shore

A fine bow   with a rush-sprig for its arrow!
a fool carpenter won the bid   to build a chateau!
an unlocked shop smack in the midst   of a busy mall
unbaptised body   Jeez!   how'd I get to be so?

I've no idea from where I came   nor how
I cannot say   toward where I go at death
if I were to grasp the end   & gain the truth --
else everything   is nothing but empty breath

I've seen an erudite scholar   famished & perishing
seen a withered leaf drop down   in the wintry breeze
I've seen an incapable fool   lambast his competent cook
still Lalla waits   for the lure of the world to cease

Now I beheld   the stream where water flows
now I beheld   nor bridge nor bank in view
now I beheld in bloom   the noble rose
now I beheld   nor flower nor thorn   just you

Now I beheld   the little kiln ablaze
now I beheld   nor smoke nor any flame
now I saw the very mother   of the Pandavas
& now she were but   the potter's aunt again!

A Mercedes-Benz   some Gucci shades   a night on the town
a little mansion   with its bed of comfy down
which of these   exactly   will you carry away?
& which will manage to tone the dread of dying down?

[vakh #1]:
Ami pana so'dras nAvi ches lamAn
Kati bozi Day myon meyti diyi tAr
Ameyn tAkeyn poniy zan shemAn
Zuv chum bramAn gara gatshaha.
[vakh #4]:
hacivi haa'rinji pyatsuv kaan gom
abahak chaan pyom yath raazdhaana
alanjz bhag bazaras kuluph rous vaan gom
tirith rous paan goam kus maali zaana
[vakh #8]:
aayas kami dishi ta kami vate
Gatsha kami deyshi kava zaana vath;
antidaay lagimay tate,
Chanis phookas kanh ti no sath.
[vakh #9]:
gaattulah akh vuchum bwachi suu'ty maraan
Pan zan haraan Pohani vaava laah
Neyshibodh akh vuchum vaazas maaraan
Tana Lalla bha praaraan tseyneym-na praah.
[vakh 10]:
da'mi dithu'm nad vahavu'ni
da'mi dyuthum suum na'th tar
da'mi dithu'm thr fuwalwani
da'mi dyuthum gul na'th khaar
[vakh 11]:
da'mii dhitthu'm ga'j dazu'vu'nii
da'mii dyuthum dh'ha na'th naar
da'mii dhitthu'm Pandavan hu'unz ma'ji
da'mii dhitthu'm kraji mass
[vakh #12]:
tsAmar cha'tu'r rath siihAsan
aahlad nAtiya-ras tuula-paryankh,
KyAh mAnith yeti sthir Aswani?
Kawa zana kAsiy maranann shaenkh

This is a second installment of verses "transcreated" from Lalla's pithy vakhs. The first was here: "Even the shadows" (which, kindly see for some bit of background info).

"Substantiation"                 [boomerang]

ah the pathos of art's articulation
how much has the mind imagined!
endless may be this imagination
but what scraps has the pen made legend?
the world demands substantiation
the heart retreats into its cave
it could be cacoon or a grave
or it might be a quiet vacation

for Pranay Srinivasan, responsive to "A lot of articles"

Verses from Riche Ded "Art is..."     [transcreations]

Art equals beauty     art is the carving
art is music   in tone   rhythm   & the key
art is a ditty     & art is group-chorusing
art is poetry   in couplet   verse   & melody

art is ecstatic     for art is the bliss of our being
art is charming     allurement   love   & longing
Kala chhay lalit, kala chhe shilp,
Kala chha sangeet -- sur, taal, raag,
Kala chha vastun, Kala chhe vanavun,
Kala chha kavita -- pad, chhand, suha,
Kala chhe harsh, kala chhe anand,
Kala chhe mohini, yatch, lol, anuraag.

While the stroke of the whip   cuts welts into the flesh
the lash of the tongue   crushes the very bones
sharp words are disharmonious   breeding enmity
as bit by bit   they eclipse love's luminous tones
Kamcha prath chhu maazas laha kharaan,
Mokha prath chhu karaan adijen soor,
Kudur vanun chhu be-sur, grinah gaaraan,
Shani-shani gaalaan ye pholevun noor.

Life is time itself   it's a time filled with chance
life is tasting the good   & then doing its task
is life a crossroads   a primrose path   or a boardwalk?
these are hard to accept or reject   to inspect or ask!
Zindagi chha akh samai, akh avsar te akh kaal,
Zindagi chhu heachun te heachit vartaavun, ama kathin sawaal,
Zindagi chhe tsu-vot, du-tsyot te suma-soth,
Yohuy parzanaavun, parkhaavun, ratun, traavun mahaal.

On the same Kashmiri poets website where I had discovered the trove of vakhs by Lal Ded, I also looked at some vakhs by a 20th century woman-poet, Riche Ded. Enjoying her terse verses -- which also help give definition of some basic vocabulary! -- I attempted these new renderings of three of them.

3 Verses from Lalla "Even the shadows"   [transcreations]

    I weep & weep for you

O mind of mine!

    a prey to the world's enchantment

be careful!

    steel anchors can't hold

even the shadows of things

    that depart   while of your own beauty

you're forgetful

    With a yawning pit below

you're dancing above!

    please tell me Mister!

how do you manage the feat?

    that bank account you built?

it ain't transferrable

    at death   good Sir!

I'm amazed how you smile & eat!

    I came by that road

it's not a road to walk back on

    I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere

feeling flinty

    so the day is done

the sun's already gone down

    how hail a cab?

my pockets are totally empty

Early this morning, I was pleased to stumble on a website that gives all the 138 verses [vachs] extant & attributed to the rather singular (& perhaps influential) poet-mystic known variously as Lalla, Lal Ded, or Lalla Yogeshwari (aka Lalleshwari). She lived in Kashmir in the 14th century. Her pithy verses can seem (to me, reading both in English) reminiscent of those that would be written in the next generation by Kabir (thinking of Kabir's pithy , but too, in a way, of Kabir's utterance in longer poems too -- such as some popularized in English via Tagore's translation). As this website gives terse (& many of which look to be generally literal) translations of Lalla's vachs, I felt drawn to try some English re-renderings. These can be deemed "transcreations" -- since (among else) in some cases I may draw on contemporary imagery (as, for instance, hailing a taxicab rather than catching a ferry to cross a river -- though the latter is a deep image I'll concede).

Here, so far, are merely 3 of Lalla's many verses. But perhaps I'll attempt more in future.

Renarkably, there are works of some 42 Kashmiri poet-saints & sages given on this website (the overall site of which the part on Lal Ded forms one section). (I've barely given the overall site a glance so far. But I may focus attention, for the present, more on Lal Ded than on the others.)

[vakh #2]
La'lith-la'lith vaday boh vAy
Tseyta muhac peyiy mAy
Roziy no pata looh-laengarac tshAy
Niz-swarup kyAh mothuy hAy
      * alt: bo dAy

[vakh #3]:
tala chuy zyus ta pyattha chukh natsaan
vanta mali man khit pachan chuy
soruy sombrit yati chuy machan
vanta mali anna khit rotchan chuy

[vakh #5]:
aayas vate gayas naa vate
suman satha lusum dho
vuchum chandas har no atha
ath nav taras dim kyha bha

question / note: for the final line of the 1st verse above, initially -- following the available translation -- I rendered this as:
"& still   of your own being   you're forgetful".
Then noting that the word is swarup -- and considering that rup means form / beauty -- I ventured the present rendering ("while of your own beauty"). The reader's critique of this point is welcome. Normally, I suppose, "saarup" is taken to mean "one's intrinsic nature...." -- perhaps a neutral term. Yet is not beauty there in the word itself? Or is this really a misreading?

Also to note: at first I rendered line 3 as
steel bolts can't hold down even the shadows of things
but then came to understand that the image of the anchor was of some importance in the poem's play of imagination, so altered this to
steel anchors can't hold even the shadows of things.
The word bolt can have euphonious play in the line; but the word anchor is so estimable in its implications, and the sound, too, holds some weight.
;-) When in doubt, it's nice to defer to a poet's original, full meaning sometimes! Taxicabs notwithstanding.

[20th January: experimented more w/ visual array of words in the poem -- using a right-justified half-line approach, which solves some poss. problems resulting from variability of text display on differing monitors / browsers / etc.]

Saturday, January 14, 2006

from Mirza Ghalib: "Why ask?"       [ghazal translation]

This world is but a park where children play   before my sight!
this spectacle unfolding night & day             before my sight!

The throne of mighty Solomon
      is an amusement   in my eyes
the Messiah's miracle's often
      on display   before my sight!

Vastitudes of desert seem
        but scraps of dirt to me
while in this dust   what rivers
      namastè   before my sight!

Why ask about the state that
        after seeing you   befalls me?
the thing to ask is   will your
      visage stay   before my sight?

If true religion holds me
        yet idolotry attracts me
the Kaaba is behind!   as
      idols play   before my sight

note: the first couplet (as I render it, above) was in fact a version I did of this verse long ago (based on the literal translation by Prof. Aijaz Ahmad in his Ghazals of Ghalib) -- indeed, I drudge up that verse from recollection of my rendering of more than 25 years ago. The other four couplets I've newly rendered today, based on what seem to be nice (fairly literal) translations by a certain scholar named Gulzar, as quoted in a Ghalib thread on a poetry forum.

I recently happened to muse on this long interest in Ghalib in a prose poem: Who are we?

Apparently these five couplets are not Ghalib's complete ghazal (for one thing, the final couplet is obviously missing). (I look forward to locating the full poem and then, perhaps, adding more to this.) As these are mostly new renderings, I might yet tweak the language a bit. But overall I feel happy with this today.

Bazichay-e atfal hai dunia mere aage
Hota hai shab-o-roz tamasha mere aage

Ik khel hai Aurang-e Suleman mere nazdik
Ik baat hai aijaez-e masiha mere aaage

Hota hai nihan gard me sehra mere aage
Ghista hai jabeen kahak pe darya mere aage

Mat pooch ke kya haal hai mera tere peeche
Tu dekh ke kya rang hai tera mere aage

Imaan mujhe roke hai, to khainche hai mujhe kufr
Kaaba mere peeche hai, Kalisa mere aage

Sameer Puri: Delhi Boom      [film to watch for]

The astute blogoisseur [here thinking: connoisseur du blogs], perusing the present blogger's weblog, will not have failed to notice the bracketed categories [as they would seem to be] that nestle, or sit, or (with whatever such vague or particular nuance of reposeful disposition construed) dispose themselves (this "dispose themselves" being intended, I daresay, in the spatial rather than trashal [a neologism, that] sense) -- so: you [Dear Reader, astute one that you are] will perchance have noticed those brackeed tags that abide, then, in short, up yonder toward the rightward end of these blogo-items' [respective] titular lines. (Yes, one could write "titles." But does not tutular titillate betimes?)

To the point: I hereby introduce a new category of kirwani blog item: the "[film to watch for]". I'll aim , at some point, to catelogue these entries. But will start merely by tossing one out now & then. Twice or so in a blue moon.

[wistful aside]: Perhaps this amounts to my modest, early January, Saturday morning bid toward tangential connection w/ world-at-large.

Particulars: What you, Gentle Reader, are mildly encouraged to keep eyes peeled for, in the instance, is a certain film —

Delhi Boom, written & directed by one Sameer Puri. I have neither seen the film, nor any film by Puri (who is anyway said to be a first-time director). Some sequence of websurfing brought me to the film's website, I liked the impression received, and hey presto! it has established itself as the thing-to-be in the inchoate [film to watch for] category of item, here on this ledge of possible existence.
TAGLINE: "All that remains after everything has burnt away is ashes."
(From which one might infer...? — well, one could make a range of guesses.)

What to add to this mini-teaser? Note, the film's release date is given as July 2006. Time is always with us in this world. Sometimes past, sometimes future. In this case, six months down the road.

An outfit called Celtic Sorcery Productions evidently has some kind of co-producing role. I'm not aware of the UK outfit GAP 2000 who appear to be primary producers (perchance an ad hoc company created for the project, is my out-of-left-field guess). Anyway, it's the gestalt of story and director and actors from Delhi Boom's website that nudge this into a sense of being something to watch for. (We'll leave the production shoptalk to others.) To our left is seen actress Maya Markotia, whose character "Jennifer" is conceived as human catylist in the tale's explosive mesh (so, paraphrasing, the blurb tells us). But we'll wait & see.

Well, the production stills (or maybe they're plain movie stills) -- a bit heavy on the dramatic guy-with-a-gun image -- do point to a thriller. But I'm hoping for hints of Kieslowskian how-humans-are profoundly-intertwined cinematic insight. Time will tell.

[For altering Maya's b&w headshot photo, I dabbled w/ the simple Microsoft Photo Editor. But note, Sameer's self-portrait is evidently his own creation (or anyway not mine). It's not an image assoc. w/ the official film stuff, but found elsewhere on the world wide whatchamacalit.]

Friday, January 13, 2006

"Circularity"                 [ghazal]

Clearing the slate
      where was I going?

    the morn appeared
              was I going?

few had a
      about destiny
                least of all me!

            they'd called
                        for a christening?
                                        where was I going?

the story proved turgid!   (my habit were babbling musically)
    if it sprang from the hope you were listening   where was I going?

how clear   seemed all on their purpose!   even the gypsies!
    yet who had the card to anticipate   where I was going?

there could be a wind in my words   but warmth?   or coolness?
    if I'd wandered the world incessantly   where was I going?

no power but his   is the saying   this holds many meanings
    suppose one were ambling puissantly   where were one going?

yes day became night   & night became day   circularity
    so I cycled around   but missing you   where was I going?

If yearning should grow exponentially   heaven help science!
    if burning had any efficiency   where was I going?

if Ardeo confided his secret to none but the night
    why did dawn blush? no one were kissing you?   where was I going?

ARS POETICA :   A Cycle of 14 Sonnets

1 |   "Her yielding touch"
2 |   "Doom & glory"
3 |   "Our conversation"
4 |   "Dozens of echoes"

5 |   "Her religion"
6 |   "Strolling in twilight"
7 |   "A human belovèd"
8 |   "The courtly poets"

9 |   "The real trouble"
10 |   "By the kelly hillside"
11 |   "On the other end of the phone"
12 |   "A laude of fresh delight"

13 |   "Across the river"
14 |   "His name"

This is the second cycle of 14 sonnets I've recently written and blogged. The first one was:

        FLAME & ASH: A Novella in 14 Sonnets

That page additionally notes all other sonnets I've blogged to date.

note: for this cycle of 14 blogged items, the Comment feature has been disabled for individual poems; instead, that feature is enabled here on this page. Readers are invited freely to comment on the poems (whether individually or collectively, as they please) here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

"His name"         | 14

However long we look for him   he hides!
if ever we fail to seek him   he appears!
sometimes   he seems a center without any sides
sometimes   he's naught but our sea of hopes & fears

O everywhere   O in everything   even now
we dwell within his being   breath by breath
there's no water but his   across the vessel's bow
there's no life   but what he lends   & he gifts us death

whatever his hands deliver   is rich with blessing
whatever his voice describes   is sweet with news
there's no poetry in any world   that's not expressing
how perfectly green are his greens   & blue his blues

if I speak any word   it's because his thought first framed it
if I name any name   his name is the name that named it

"Across the river"         | 13

On the other shore of time   across the river
abides what is or was   or yet might be
whatever the number of arrows you've got in your quiver
if you shoot for years & days   eventually

at length   you'll hold in your hand   the last-most arrow
you'll raise it   just like the others   tight to the string
if you feel   a certain presentiment   deep in your marrow
about moving targets   or the fate   of a king

all the olden tales are anyway   little devices
little analog clocks   that our digital world has forgotten
there are still a few books   that mention the old paradises
& the hells of course   & who by whom were begotten

but when the last arrow   has passed across to the land
the tale of time will reach   its timeless end

"A laude of fresh delight"         | 12

Permit me to mesh   a laude of fresh delight
my heart would address   the wakefulness of wonder
we long withstood   the tenebrous brood of night
now the clouds resound   with morning's mood of thunder

for a little while   our play in this world abides
for a day or twain   at this maudlin motel we stop
however much the tour guide   quips & chides
there's something daft in Denmark   look it up

I'm quitting the shore   as I care no more for sense!
I return to joy   to discern how it answers pain!
if the landlocked goals   exhibited brute pretense
yet the boat now rolls   across the wine-dark main

where the drift exceeds clear grasp   you can feel its direction
as you peer a'gape at the strangeness   & perfection

"On the other end of the phone"         | 11

God will free us all     eventually     so they say
in the meanwhile     we hazard the gamble of living
indeed   our freedom depends   in a curious way
on the roll of the die   & the parse of the line     we're giving

every moment a fresh report   to the soul who hearkens
on the other end of the phone   that our voice addresses
the motionless soul has a mobile phone!     day darkens
every night   we return to the formless     nothing expresses

all the paradoxes of our quandary   better than poetry
or music perhaps   or theatre at times     we prance
through a maze of profound pursuit   in the guise of chemistry
we seek for the singular loophole   hidden perchance

in the contract reality struck   in the infinite slumber
before time & space awoke   & dialed our number