Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"The decoy"         [rubai]

Drawn by the decoy   I took to the path of speaking
it seemed like reading   a book of candid seeking
entering the labyrinth   troubled & confused
a babbling brook said   hurry! but   no peeking!

"Winter's chill"         [bommerang]

Life passed me by   although I still am living
I live amid   the lull of winter's chill
a stinginess   she weaves into her giving
an emptiness   I find no way to fill

nocturnal streetlamps   shine forever brightly
forgotten ballads   talk about forgiving
so many efforts   none of them went rightly
life passed me by   although I still am living

[Composed yesterday while walking & waiting for the 16th Street bus toward midnight; memorized; then typed after arriving home; and revised today.]

This follows the Chinese form; -- note hints of grammatical parallelism in the two central couplets. In strict classical style in Chinese, both couplets show full parallelism.

In English (what with less rudimentary grammar & polysyllabic words), I merely approximate or hint at the principle: e.g. (as here) exhibiting it in initial portions of the lines -- thus:
a stinginess   she weaves
an emptiness   I find     [a perfect example];
or thus:

nocturnal streetlamps   shine
forgotten songs   yet talk     [an imperfect example, due to the word "yet". Ah, but I will change it to "ballads" (2 syllables) to make it a perfect example; so, that's the final revision.]

Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Hearing the sound"   Frog Song II     [frog lyric]

The pelt as it fell toward the ground
  it felt like the thrill of love
I melt on hearing the sound
                of rain

the chime & the pop & the pound
  of the drizzling drops from above
I sigh on hearing the sound

"More than blue"   Frog Song I     [frog lyric]

The moon was more than blue
  the sky was more than dark
my heart was very true
            the pool was still

I felt the residue
  of ancient song: its mark
reminded me of you
            it always will

the moon was more than blue
  the sky was more than deep
my heart was very true
            the pool was full

the song I sing for you
  is like a mountain steep
I scale it for the view
            of midnight's chill

Soul's Recollection       [lyric]

I said   you are la Luna!
  she said   you're loony!
I said   you're my Karbala!
  she said   you're Sunni?

I said   you're my antiquity!
  she said   what's new?
I said   you're my ubiquity!
  she said   P.U.!

I said   when will I see you?
  she said   whatever
I said   is the banshee you?
  she said   unclever

I said   likely I'll perish
  she didn't hear me
I thought   she whom I cherish
  will disappear me?

I drift   into the mist now
  forgetting her name
my lips   winter has kissed now
  it's never the same

[inspired by Smita Rajan's poem, "Give Up, Girls!"]

The Frog Literatus         [fable]


"Fundamentally, I am a frog," remarked the frog (who also typed those words).

"My fiction and poetry both reflect this fact," the frog added, by way of elaboration.

"As for non-fiction, I address some range of subjects, it's true," the frog allowed. "Still and all, froginess oftentimes comes to the fore. Even when ranging afar, a frog's-eye-view indubitably influences the subtext. Frogs, you know," the frog added, "have never developed a unique socio-economic philosophy. But in matters of esthetics (especially poetics and musical theatre), our contribution is well-known." The frog was perhaps thinking of his species' high fortune and celebrity in Indonesia and certain other out-of-the-way cultures. The relative neglect frogs suffered from humankind's characteristic general disregard, was an injustice (or at least a shortsightedness) the frog had long since come to accept (for frogs are famously happy-go-lucky fellows).


The frog, at any rate, having written so many words on his archaic manual typewriter (he was not fitted out with electricity in most seasons), felt satisfied for having usefully filled the better part of a lily-pad-page. He liked the sense of eloquence a filled-out lily-pad tangibly bespoke.

Up beside a certain fir tree (not so far from the riverbank), the frog had stacked a careful collection of his writings. This lily-pad, too, he added to the pile.


It was late on a Friday night. The frog felt the urge to croak.

The stream was flowing nicely. Probably it was raining, somewhere upstream? The image of rain never failed to move the frog. He sang first a dirge, then a ditty, then finally a lengthy saga, reflecting on the feelings frogs harbor for rainwater.

Yes the stream was flowing nicely. Certainly rain somewhere upstream! The waning crescent of a moon finally appeared over the eastern horizon. The frog knew several lunar tunes as well, and began to sing one.

  I   "More than blue"
  II   "Hearing the sound"
  III   "The gladness"
  IV   "What I know"

[Initially posted on Caferati here.]

note on illustrations: frog images borrowed, w/ thanks, from these respective sources (hereby acknowledged by means of hyperlink): frog #1, frog #2, and frog #3.

Friday, February 24, 2006

"Footprints worth a life"         [ghazal]

[note: this is a draft; composition of the poem is in progress.
Probably I will divide it into 2 separate ghazals. d.i.]

Does everything in life   always disappear?
must happiness & strife   always disappear?

must every lock of hair   that I've somehow grasped
by scissors or by knife   always disappear?

I seek your smile   I find your gaze   I yearn for
your kiss   my would-be wife   always disappears

in early spring   the kelly twigs   grow rampant
by autumn's end   each leaf   always disappears

first he removes the jewels   next his fingerprints
then of course   the perfect thief   always disappears

they erect new buildings   right in the heart of the city
it's a pity   your favorite dive   always disappears

sometimes the bass notes cease   sometimes the midrange
in deep night   the treble clef   always disappears

perhaps you've heard that tale   of a mythical mountain
so high   the peaks of Qāf   always disappear

through Brahma   all the worlds   emerge at morning
at night they all   through Śiv   always disappear

there's a heady joy in seeking for your traces!
must footprints worth a life   always disappear?

to see you is the happiness   of every eye
when you appear   tears' grief   always disappears

the wind was bringing news   that few discerned!
who says   her darling laugh   always disappears?

first you eat your arms & feet   still famished
at length   whatever's left   always disappears

for some   the thought of nakedness   is bootless
but clothes   for Lady Godiv   always disappear!

when the lad with the beesting destiny climbs trees
any care for the hidden hive   always disappears

Ardeo nurtured poetry   & singing
why must the drum & fife   always disappear?

Qāf (Arabic) : A fabulous mountain, supposed to surround the world and bound the horizon (it rests on the stone sarat[?], an entire emerald, the reflection from which, according to the poets, occasions the azure color of the sky). Per Platts dictionary.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bittersweetly     [rubai]

Does the saddest feeling require the sweetest rhyme?
ever bittersweetly swings the scythe of time
and if speech were far more gestural than semantic?
we would parse its face & intuit its mute pantomime

[I would dub this "a gnomic verse".]

Why rhyme?         [mini-techno-ars poetica]

The stateliness of unrhymed verse is adequate                                
so why does the wish for rhyming still persist?                                

perhaps it involves a kind of verbal etiquette                                
each line desires to journey toward its tryst                                

a place where in the end its lips are kissed                                
in ways that might prove wonderfully delicate                                

Under Construction             [ghazal]

The rain falls   as the building is still being built
not yet walls   as the building is still being built

a bird flies   off the concrete ledge   casual urb
cab wheel squalls   as the building is still being built

the clamor   in its timbre proves plangently plain
John Cage calls   as the building is still being built

what eye sees   concrete pipes & a crane in the sky
no drywall   as the building is still being built

no Urdu   & my Farsi is equally nill
hushed footfall   as the building is still being built

heartbroken   in confusion desiring light
love's roll call   as the building is still being built

her beauty   is the rumor of curtain-hid moons
"no equal"   as the building is still being built

Ardeo!   does the ghazalkar-wannabe gaze?
dark dayfall!   as the building is still being built

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"Hello again"         [gatha]

You who are the resolution   of every conflict
      you who are the easing   of every pain
you who reveal yourself   in every aspect
      of every moment   hello again!

you whom I lose   & seek   every day
      you whom   every life   I lose & find
you who know   every inch   of every way
      hello again!   please   do be kind

you who manifest   & remain   hidden
      you who are   motionless   you who move
you who are veiled   & appear   unbidden
      hello again!   it's you   I love

Seeking the naked truth         [limerick]

See the poem close-draped in her sound
through a blanket of words that astound!
when no blanket were there
and the poem lay bare
in pure quietude nothing were found!

An ars poetica             [limerick]

When you rhyme for the pleasures of rhyming
or you chime for the music of chiming
can the meaning be trivial
if the spirit's convivial?
were perfection the seduction of timing?

I've tried a couple forms of this poem, and cannot entirely decide which I prefer. A slightly differing version can be seen here. Anecdotally, the initial form of it was that seen here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Trying on masks"         [ghazal]

i am just another face trying on different masks
to get through the day.
                                    -- Manizhe Ali

I'm just another face   trying on masks
if they don't switch smoothly   I'm prying on masks

Janus had but two   he was terribly moderate!
even after a dozen   I'm sighing on masks

where's the right one   for the existential occasion?
if you'll excuse the indelicacy   I'm buying en masse

sometimes competition involved standards of behavior
sometimes we grew baroque   frankly vying on masks

relieved when removed   to express this   I donned a smile one!
unstoppable!   is it ludicrous?   when I'm crying on masks?

life! so what is life?   the infant in swaddling begins
down an avenue of deception   finally dying on masks

some scrupulous to a fault   were others randomly permissive?
not all favored our concept   "oh me! oh my!"ing on msaks

what if "truth in packaging"   proved a deceptive motto?
wasn't packaging the desideratum   for all lying on masks?

call him Raphael   or Ardeo   under either nom-de-plume
if not anxiously ripping 'em off   he's busy tying on masks

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sanyas with Joyce     [satirical rubai]

He practiced tapasya   while reading Ulysses
remarked the Sanyasin   "It's no book for sissies!
Each page is a pain   like a nail in my bed --
a pain that's more pleasing   than cuddles & kissies!"

with apologies
(particularly to certain denizens of the Shakespeare & Company network of Ryze.com)

Separated at birth     [limerick / rubai]

version 2:
A Limerick at the corner market   trundled into a Rubai
a shocklet of recognition made the   Limerick just about cry
"What village did you take birth in?"     "Ah!
                  the Persian Abode of the Shah!"
the Limerick wandered off quite shaken   under a taciturn sky

note: version 2 (above) can be said to display a beher (cadence). [It's a beher of my own invention, and is reflected in every line of the poem.] I'm retaining version 1 (below) to illustrate the revision process. I'd wanted to make the verse conform more exactly to a cadence. In rewriting (to achieve the beher of version 2), the poem per se was, I feel, also improved.

version 1:
A Limerick at the corner market   ran into a Rubai
a shock of recognition made   the Limerick almost cry
"What village come from?" "Me?   I'm Persian poetry!"
the Limerick wandered off confused   beneath a silent sky

Saturday, February 18, 2006

"rosy marks"         [rubai]

ever wonder why   the petals fled?
ever wonder why   their hue was red?
ever wonder why   the thorn that wounded you
left rosy marks on linens   while you bled?

This rubai / is a responsive reply
to a poem by Rupa / a haiku -- aye

"strange to say"     [an ars poetica rubai]

  It's called poetry

          it makes tangible     whey & curds

  what's it work upon?

          strange to say   no matter of words!

  the essential change

          will transpire   in the poet's mind

  on the page remains

          what is tantamount     to its turds!

Maria's Laud       [Xeric Poetry]

.1) aznm   A zinnia named Maria

.2) byol   brings you opulent laud!

.3) cxpk   Could xeric poetry keep

.4) dwqj   dew's water-quotient jacent?

.5) evri   Every variant reaches into

.6) fush   fresh utterance so humid

.7) gttg   getting through this gospel

.8) hsuf   has some unexpected features

.9) irve   Inquiries recently verified every

10) jqwd   jasmine-quality water-drop

11) kpxc   keeps ponderous xeric constructs

12) loyb   lollygagging on your beachfront

13) mnza   many nouns zap amazements

14) nmaz   nouns might also zap

15) olby   orotund love because Yeshua's

16) pkcx   peek-a-boo kalpanas can xerically

17) qjdw   quantize jasmine drop-wise waterworks

18) riev   Rivers in every variegation

19) shfu   should have favorable utility

20) tggt   to grant gospel technique

21) ufhs   unto fashionable home shoppers

22) veir   Ventriloquistic errand-boys inquire regularly

23) wdjq   "What doth Jesus quip?"

24) xckp   Xeric concupiscence keeps praying

25) yblo   "You bring love over!"

26) zamn   Zinnias applaud Maria's nonce

(c) 2006 david raphael israel

xeric : [relating to] able to thrive on little water

jacent : recumbent, prone [a word cognate to adjacent (ad + jacent = "to lie near")]

Yeshua (Aramaic): Jesus

kalpana : creative imagination

Note: based on the phrase's appearance in this poem [line 3], I should like to propose Xeric Poetry as a neologism serving to characterize a poem of such sort as is "Maria's Laud." In other words, I would propose Xeric Poetry or "writing by prescription" or "composition per alphabetic lattice," as three interchangeable ways of describing this particular experimental / compositional development. d.i.

This poem was first published on the Caferati network here -- where can be found some detailed explanation of the procedure plus other experiments with it by me and by Sruthi Krishnan.

Friday, February 17, 2006

"Kissing the air"       [rubai]

These birds who sing   in truth
                  they're kissing the air

beckoning spring   forsooth
                  they're kissing the air

alive again   in spring!
                  it's likely to happen

why lament the sting   of a youth
                  spent kissing the air?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

"A little match"         [rubai]

This is among the days of

my yearning for you

this is pulled by the waves of

my churning for you

can't a little match ignite

a mighty forest?

this may hint at the blaze of

my burning for you

Sunday, February 12, 2006

"Winter marvels"         [rubai]

Winter marvels   yet appear

                              in the world

gelid wonders   ever dear

                              in the world

utter whiteness   spread atop

                          each dark twig

every eye must   shed a tear

                              in the world

[first serious snow of the season, finally]

Saturday, February 11, 2006

"Many rings"         [ghazal]

[This is a second ghazal with radif "like this"; this one continues (among other things) to embelish a few further, didactic suggestions regarding how such a poem is constructed, or what some of its attributes can be. The aforesaid earlier poem is seen here: bling-blings. Incidentally, Maulana Jelaluddin Rumi also composed a well-known ghazal (in Farsi) with a refrain "like this." Naturally, these playful, trivial specimens of mine cannot hold a candle to a candle held to the poetry of that great one. (His model poem yet merits mention in passing -- before we proceed to this idle fun.)]

Each day some message brings   like this!
each night   some crooner sings   like this!

do wanderings seem too far & wide?
the tree gains many rings   like this!

when winter's kitchen-fire burns dim
we clutch her apron-strings   like this

a myriad seeds   asleep in earth
what blossoms dream of springs   like this!

do birds not yearn to reach the branch?
you reach it on a wing   like this!

the circus barkers promise the moon!
"see all & everything   like this!"

what heart does not desire delight?
don't yahts get christenings   like this?

"like this" suggests the swift fell swoop
of knife or pen that swings   like this!

the turban's cloth is first stretched out!
then rolled up   for the Singhs   like this!

the Marco Polos of my rhymes
arrive at bright Beijings   like this!

when Nixon with the Chairman played
his pong replied to pings   like this!

the sher's twin lines   (alike twain breasts)
the radif   so tightly clings   like this!

what speechless monarch   taciturn
in Kathmandu   says things   like this?

"off with his head!"   (often she spake?)
who needs discomfittings   like this?

the rhyme became a temple bell!
the priest made dongs & dings   like this!

Ardeo cordially invoked
largesse from gods & kings   like this

"the poem wrote itself" he claimed
he mouths peculiar things   like this!

Ardeo!   like Maulana   drink
from silence's wellsprings   like this!

[note: in an immediate sense, this poem was inspired by, and responsive to what the poet took as an encouraging note (the latter apparently posted in regard to the aforesaid antecedent poem), a note written by a woman unknown to the poet, said to reside in Kathmandu, Nepal, and who (on the Ryze.com networks) appears under the screen-handle "Queen of Hearts" -- hence a few allusions toward end of this poem (including one to Lewis Carroll's said Queen).

ps: I've added 2 further shers to the ghazal, the last one mentioning Maulana (lit., "our Master" -- an epithet for Rumi), since I had mentioned his poem in the preface above. It was Rumi's custom, very often, to include the word "silence" in the final couplet of his ghazals. Hence the hat-tip.]

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Mariam Gazala: "It's delicatesse"     [translation]

It's delicatesse
            falling apart   an easy thing   is not!
to a lock of hair
            such thunderstorms   a ruffling   bring not!

various mirrors
            each one displays   munerous visages
but even one face
            familiar   these glimmerings   show not!

a pebble of stone!
            this were the form   you would assume   for years
from out of your heart
            a restless storm's   deep rumbling   came not

the distinction is
            it's so subdued   if you observe the stone
you'll come to discern
            while low & hushed   a lifeless thing   it's not!

This rendering of mine is based on Max Babi's literal translation of Mohtarima Mariam Gazala Sahiba's ghazal. She is a contemporary writing in Hindi/Urdu. It's unusual to have a ghazal of but four couplets (normally, five is a minimum); and it's somewhat unusual to have one in which the poet's name isn't mentioned in the final verse. But poetry has room for variation. By confining herself to this smaller canvas, the artist's minimal brushstrokes expand in resonance. Thanks to H.K.L. Sachdeva for clarifying aspects of the poem's language -- and for helping find the sense of the word salikaa, which I've here seen fit to render as delicatesse -- a Farsi/Urdu word for which Sachdeva suggests the English word "niceties." I had also tried the word "equipoise" for salikaa here. Between delicatesse and equipoise, it seems that something is shared, and someting is not. I also concluded that a rarer word [hence delicatesse] has advantages, when seeking to translate a word with subtle & complex qualities & meanings. Salikaa can also (in a different grammatical context) signify "decorum" -- which I understand to mean: the proper, well-meausured mode of manners, behavior, sensibility, courtesy & response.

Amid the literature of Sufism, I recall having seen a classic utterance (translated from the Arabic, perhaps dating back perhaps 1200 years -- [I don't recall if it was from Bayazid Bistami, Junayd, or some other, memory is unsure here]), rendered in English this way: "Sufism is nothing but manners." I have a hunch the word "manners" here might likely have been in fact salikaa. Is it so, I wonder? I should like to know.

"bling-blings"         [ghazal]

Behold!   the ghazal sings   like this!
an olden swingset swings   like this!

do paupers turn to kings   like this?
do mouths find nourishings   like this?

the "sings" & "swings" are inset rhymes
such rhymes the ghazal brings   like this!

the first line dangles off in space
the second dives and clings   like this!

the first goes buzzing   way down the lane
the second (bee-like) stings   like this!

"like this" is called radif (refrain)
refrain not from its zings   like this!

each sher (an independent lad)
his hat throws in the ring   like this!

we'll talk of matters deep or slight
of cabbages and kings   like this!

allusion or historical quip?
hysterical!   Crosby Bings   like this!

in China   Mongols seize the throne!
the Qing entombs the Mings   like this

does Frankie croon   "I did it my way"?
poetry boasts its flings   like this

ah   sometimes thought grows sober too
the ghazal knows mood-swings   like this

the voice becomes a whisper   (shhhh!
whence rise such whisperings   like this?)

the line   when metrical   permits
a formalized feeling   like this

mere boring rhymes   are common dimes
one seeks a differing thing   like this

what do I seek?   where should I turn?
why   equivocating   like this?

answers   are but empty boxes!
bring me questionings   like this!

Ardeo signs his name   and splits
damn showoff with bling-blings   like this!

[composed for Manoj Anmol, intended as illustration and means of instruction in basics of ghazal form]

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"deep information"         [ghazal]

There are two terms   in the equation   of me & you
who is guilty   here of evasion?   it's me? or you?

I was prepared   eager to meet you   at balmy dawn
late arriving   at evening's station   where's me? or you?

every lover   seeks a belovêd   each nightingale
feels the thorn-prick   of his elation   like me & you

go ask the sax   whether the drum-kit   loses the beat?
question the wick   about cessation   of me & you

don't the days grow   more & more pensive   toward winter's end?
might the nights bring   deep information   of me & you?

each science lost   hold of the secret   everyone sensed!
show me what poet   crunched the equation   of me & you!

granting it's not   quite rocket science   our love has hit
what could we learn   from Simple Simon   of me & you?

what if my soul   embraced your tresses   in its dark dream?
has Rapunzel   freed the fantasia   of me & you?

that you're afar   is this our standard   anxiety?
this I desire   rare evocation   of me & you

night follows day!   call this banal or   strangely profound
b follows a!   see education   in me & you!

hope took a hike   while she were absent   you came around
shutting my eyes   pupil-dilation   brought me to you?

speed as an aim?   perish the notion   pilgrims need time
what do we seek?   perigrination   of me to you!

tickets are steep   travel is costly!   riding the rails
hobos have seen   sweet embarkation   like me & you

when Ardeo   read all the teachings   mentioning you
did he espy   gentle persuasion   from me or you?

never a drop   crawls down a window   lost to your view
often the cloud   in its vacation   brings me to you

could it be I'm   losing the spool of   our tête-à-tête?
grant Ardeo   long conversations   like me & you

[in this ghazal, I continue the experiment with "cadence" [b'her] -- still a learning process . . . ]

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"If a book were you"     [villanelle]

        If a book were you
        would you be hand-bound
        with staple & glue?

were your covers blue?
were your ink stone-ground
if a book were you?

                would you fiction do?
                could your verbs be nouned
                through staple & glue?

were your coeur in cru?
would your core astound
if a book were you?

                would your thoughts ring true?
                could your cap be gowned
                using staple & glue?

        could one quaff the brew
        in the goblet found
        of a book like you?
        with staple & glue?

Monday, February 06, 2006

"The story I'm hearing"         [ghazal]

If every sound

is a part of the story I'm hearing

who gets around

to the heart of the story I'm hearing?

if every thought

is an element in the equation

what horse could haul

such a cart as the story I'm hearing?

you're hoping   to

find the end of the thread of your dreaming?

what ghazal tells

me   the start of the story I'm hearing?

the radio?

it's beamed out from an unseen location

the universe

is less smart than the story I'm hearing?

remembrance of

the inventor who fashions love's fabric

is woven in

every part of the story I'm hearing


is no mere human crooning   Ardeo

when bricks & stones

sing the art of the story I'm hearing

10 verses avant Basant     [quasi-haiku]

spring seems this morning
more tenuous than rumor
vague   a mere inkling

  gray skies in daylight
  coldness throughout night's coma
  vernal faith runs thin

    somebody noticed
    small green shoots of day-lilies!
    basant you rascal

ten million years!
you've come here often enough
I sit dubious

  why not one letter?
  a few received your flowers
  basant forgets me

    you stumble around
    knowing how much we love you
    sleeping far too late

your winter absence
seemed a thing to tolerate
impatience blooms here

  if I speak to you
  in this cold february
  -- okay! forget it!

    basant (now too shy
    to just rumble into town)
    sends a few feelers

how the twigs listen!
all the trees grow attentive
-- everything looks still

avant Basant : in advance of springtime

Sunday, February 05, 2006

to Basant [springtime]       [5-7-5 not-haiku]

some say you're coming
should I credit such reports?
news travels slow here

I remember you
you were the one who promised
kisses every day

your energy was
embarassingly profuse
someone kicked you out

now I hear you want
to stage a return drama
you & your flowers

Saturday, February 04, 2006

"winter's chill"         [rubai]

  spring has still   to return
                        to my heart
  winter's chill   I discern
                        in my heart
  do my eyes   perceive no
                        rosey flame?
  bulbuls will   again burn
                        in my heart

This pleasantry is partially modeled on, and could be deemed (rhetorically) a "reply to" Rupa's first try at composing a rubai

Friday, February 03, 2006

"what roundelay"           [ghazal]

While the past is drained away   the now subsists
as the piper gains his pay   the now subsists

in the dawn   extinct redemption sealed our fate
in the dusk of fortune's day   we now subsist

I forgot what brought me here   I've lost the roadmap!
at the parting of each way   the now subsists

I should love to join their argument   & brawl
can my tongue but dully say   the now subsists?

in my youth   I looked to poetry seeking green
has the scene all gone to gray?   what now subsists?

when Ardeo strove to sing   romantic lays
his musicians slipped away   who now subsists?

flowers bloom on far horizons   friends assured me
can you glimpse them through the fray   that now subsists?

barely breathing!   it's a sign of gracious love
mercy's shy to show her play   that now subsists

lonely dogs delight in barking   in the eve!
morning's donkeys love to bray   while now subsists

this could seem that lovelorn note   my soul inscribed
this might be the way it prayed   that now subsists

if you seek him where he lives   Ardeo's niche
nestles westward from dismay   he now subsists

in the silence of the deep   Ardeo gleamed
could you heed what roundelay   there now subsists?

from Gary Snyder           [a poem]

High Quality Information
A life spent seeking it
Like a worm in the earth,
Like a hawk. Catching threads
Sketching bones
Guessing where the road goes.
Lao-tzu says
To forget what you knew is best.
That's what I want:
To get these sights down,
Clear, right to the place
Where they fade
Back into the mind of my times.
The same old circuitry
But some paths color-coded
And we're free to go.

This memorable poem of Gary Snyder's, found in his book Left Out In the Rain: New Poems 1947-1985 (North Point Press, 1986), was called to mind when reading Archana Dorge's "Threaded" on her blog Perpetual Melody.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Lady Playing the Tanpura     [art-historical painting]

ca. 1735     India (Rajasthan, Kishangarh)

Ink, opaque and transparent watercolor, and gold on paper;
18 1/2 x 13 1/4 in. (47 x 33.7 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1996 (1996.100.1)

But one of numerous artworks drawn from links branching off from the aforementioned Timeline of Art History [see just-prior blogged item].

timeline of art history       [museum info]

Occasionally it can happen that a big arts organization does something remarkably likeable, internet-wise. Such is the case with the above-titled timeline, brought to us courtesy of New York City's redoubtable Metropolitan Museum of Art, no less.

To enjoy, point your browser thither.

"distance"           [boomerang]

  A thousand miles   is hard to comprehend
  a foot or two   is in my scope of reckoning

  I wonder   when you speak of distance   friend
  if this is but   a shadow darkly beckoning?

  a century   exceeds my certain grasp
  I think I hear   what lines the hours send

  at times   the voice of time is but a gasp
  a thousand miles   is hard to comprehend!

"night and day"           [gatha]

  winter and summer     night and day
  morn and evening     spring and fall
  breezes make     the branches sway
  nice to hear     the crickets call

6:30 a.m. 2nd february           [gatha]

    perspicuous poems       or poetry opaque?

    perspectival viewing       with angles oblique?

    snow falls so seldom here!       who recalls a flake?

    morn arrives too swift now       like snow on my cheek

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"with delicatesse"         [rubai]


Glorious rubies   might be persuaded   out of a stone
shimmering smiles   could grow elated   out of a groan
those who persuade   with delicatesse   find happiness
many a freshet's joy has cascaded   from the unknown


by the sweat of one's brow   one can work for good or ill
by one's skill at the prow   one can sail to all or nill
it takes labor to live!   & even more work to expire!
by the strength of one's vow   one either can cure or kill

Sitting near Dupont Circle on Amartithi morning   [ghazal]

I am the poet of this place   so it seems
sounding the music of this space   so it seems

here at the circle I listen   & I watch
am I a poet who's misplaced?   so it seems

yellow the arrow is flashing   hurry up!
red now expresses its distaste?   so it seems

someone is hammering   building   God knows what
Brahma & Vishnu in business   so it seems

while the pedestrians wander   on their way
no one shows signals of disgrace   so it seems

this is the world that emerges   from sleep's flame
white like the ash from a furnace   so it seems

sea-like   afloat on espresso   this white foam
coffee   has journeyed from distance   so it seems

mushrooms   are mixed in the omelette   I eat here
food is   our animal solice   so it seems

voices   are speaking in English   like always
native   existence was displaced   so it seems

mornings   are normal Ardeo   in DC
nothing   looks different in this case?   so it seems

"Amartithi" ["endless life"] refers to the anniversary of Meher Baba's passing away (Jan.31 1969) -- a date marked for annual celebration.

In this further attempt at an "English ghazal" I've continued to play with the new (to me) principle of writing with a set cadence [beher] in every line. Possibly, this ghazal may be a tad more unified than is classically deemed suitable (at least since the 11th century in Farsi, though with some notable exceptions); but to my mind, there's also more of a far eastern / american / californian sensibility at work in some of this poem.

Dupont Circle : In Washington, DC, the grid of the streets is designed with a series of "circles" (of which Dupont Circle is one), based (I vaguely recall) on a perhaps similar use of circles in Paris. Dupont Circle, as neighborhood, has always been one of the more bohemian / artistic / intellectual / yuppieish (an odd combination, that) neighborhoods in this city.

I'm just now recalling that in fact, I paid a precocious visit to the bookstore (half a block north of the circle) where, in course of this poem's imagery (and in course of writing it), I breakfasted (said bookstore including within it a bar / restaurant / cafe -- combo for mind & body). The bookstore visit to which I allude was when, at age 11, I travelled with my family on a cross-country train ride from California. We landed in Washington, DC -- and I wandered in (I feel fairly sure) to this particular [long-established, as I understand it] bookstore and bought for myself a volume of Khalil Gibran's poems.