Idhar udhar ghuumkar, mae~ ghar waapas aaya.
Mae~ ne saare akal chor ke aaya, safar ki sarak me.
Gharwaale to kidhar gaye, mahluum nahi~ mujhe.
Khaali kamre me baet'he hue, abh soc raha hu~ sirf.
I wandered near, I wandered far, returning home at last.
My knowledge, wits and common sense, I'd left along the way.
The ones I'd left behind at home had gone, I know not where.
I sit within an empty room and think, in dark of day.
I Saw the Moon I saw the moon beside a cedar tree. I saw her moving as she walked with me. And if I'd ventured to the dancing sea, Her silver trail upon the waves, I'd see... The moon is aged and yet is ever new. She's watched the ancients and she watches you. How many past have stood and marked her rise, Or seen her shining in a lover's eyes? I saw that moon, at full, on night of birth. And in her rhythms, like the sea and earth, She's followed me, an ever-watchful eye, In all her guises, from the changing sky. I might presume this old, familiar friend Will watch this mortal as he meets his end. And I will now request that on that day, Beneath her gaze, I'm sent upon my way.
So if, as likely, I will lie within A room, enclosed, with memory and sin, I do beseech, whoever's at my side, To take me where I sense her lunar tide.
And if there's none to help me leave this earth, Remembering the moon I saw at birth, And how she slipped behind the cedar tree, From remnant coils, I'll lift my spirit free. 2013 July 19th, Fri., around 9:30 pm, walking home from Gravesend Bay along Shore Parkway, between 17th & 18th Avenues, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn (second stanza added later)
By the river's side, we met,
By the currents flowing.
We did not know, from where we came
Or where we would be going.
I still remember well the day
Our meetings there had started.
And I remember too the night
That we, in sorrow, parted...
How cool, the shade of leafy trees
On sun-kissed afternoons...
How wonderful, those nights we lay
Beneath the shining moon...
To every life, there comes a time
When darkness turns to light.
And so it was, that interlude
Of your and my delight...
We looked upon the waters then,
Reflecting moon and sun,
And on the dancing waves, we saw
The threads of being run...
We looked across the river and
We saw the other side.
We wondered if we'd ever cross
That river, flowing wide...
How many dreams we entertained,
How many thoughts we shared,
How many little things to show
That each, for other, cared...
How pleasantly those nights had passed,
Those days of dreaming then...
How sad it is, to think that we
May never meet again...
Oh how I long to see again
That river wide – and you,
To walk where river breezes blow
And kinship old renew...
The strands that intertwine and part,
In time are joined anew,
But memory is lost with death,
And so are I and you.
By the river's side, we'll meet,
By the waters flowing.
We will not know, from where we came
Or where we'll next be going...
2013 July 19th, Fri. By New York Bay, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn (added later: 4th stanza) Note: The following three stanzas were also added later, to follow before the last. But they were subsequently excised and moved below. They are kept there for those seeking some attempted explanation for that last stanza. The river is the same and yet Its waters, never old. So we will pass away and yet Our tale will be retold.
The river is the same and yet The waters, ever new. To others we will yield, who are The newer I and you.
For even waters seeming new Are from that mother risen, To which they all at end will flow – The deep and ancient ocean... Also, a disclaimer: This, like any other such from my pen or keyboard, is a romantic fantasy, no more...;-)
A thought finds voice – and I can hear its speech.
Emotion rises. I can feel its rise.
Thought, emotion then converse. I watch.
In time, they dwindle and depart. I stay.
Another thought inquires, “So where's this I?”
Love and Zen
When there is caring, there is also sight
That sees what's wrong as well as what is right.
And if there's power, there is action then,
And if there's not, the old familiar plight...
In each tradition, seers prophesied,
To draw attention to the problems tried...
A few succeeded and were honored men,
But most were laughed at, shunned or vilified.
There is compassion and there's cruelty.
And both of these, so many will not see.
And those who do, no matter how or when,
Are then accused of lacking sanity...
We're born and live and love and wonder why
Our fellow men embrace the easy lie.
The truth is there for those who care to ken.
Some care and try – but then it's time to die...
But this is not a paradise, this Earth,
In which, in pain, we each are given birth.
Yet there is love and there is also Zen.
Let's practice both – and then return to dirt.
We've some who only see in black and white.
They swing from love to hate, from ease to spite.
But others note the shades of gray and then
In brightness see the dark – in darkness, light.
2013 July 17th, Wed. Brooklyn Notes:
1. The word “men” is used as shorthand here for “men and women”, to keep the rhyme and meter.
2. The Japanese word zen (Chinese chan) derives from the Sanskrt dhyana, which may be translated in English, depending on the context, either as attention or as meditation (deep, relaxed attention, especially the quiet observation of one's own body-mind in the present moment, beginning, for example, with the breath).
Remembering / Infidelities
The pigeons, having courted, hatched their eggs,
Are busy feeding their insistent young,
And so are little birds that dart from trees,
Whose limbs are now with verdant vestments hung.
But beasts are blessed and cursed with memory –
And they can see the future too at times.
And so, while still in summer's hot embrace,
I lie with other seasons in my rhymes...
While walking underneath a brilliant sun,
As summer spreads its spell of warmth and light,
I still remember well the spring, the fall,
The winter's cold – the dark of longest night...
For summer's end, by orbit is ordained,
As every day the sun goes slowly south.
And this is known to birds as well as men –
With winter's breath on twig in sparrow's mouth...
The seasons dance in circles 'round and 'round,
And each has qualities that are its own.
In winter, I will walk this street again,
Remembering the summers I have known...
It's said that men are polygamous, while
The women are a monogamous lot.
I doubt that this is true, but then I smile,
Remembering I've stirred proverbial pot...
For though I have been faithful to my spouse,
As much, perhaps, by circumstance as will,
I still have lain in every season's bed,
And striven, there, to comic roles fulfill.
And since I then retained those memories,
I once recited verses in my sleep.
And those, who heard, then looked at me in doubt,
As all my secrets they could share – or keep.
2013 July 14th, 5:30 pm–6:30 pm (walking on Bath & Benson Avenues between 18th & 19th Avenues – and seated at the Guatemalan diner at the corner of Benson & 18th) Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
A Prayer for Cleansing How many zealotries have plagued this world, Replacing nature's wealth with poverty...
How much of avarice and jealousy Have turned the efforts born of reason and Of heart to naught, dismissed as fantasies The hopes and visions giving sustenance...
How often has the narrowness of sight Let ignorance prevail, as hardened hearts Made virtues of the sins of callousness...
How much of horror has ambition wrought, When coupled with the lies of all the rest...
And all of this is born of that unrest That is the curse of human sentience.
Within the vortex of insanity, There still resides the quiet eye of peace.
As violence rages like a fever's fire, The healing dwells in silent sanity, Enduring all that breaks the heart and mind, With wisdom gleaned through long humility, Compassionate and loving, quietly kind, The antidote to all that poisons us...
We each can race along that driven path That leads us all to hell – or turn and see What still provides what meaning there is left...
Do come with me awhile upon this way, That's old and worn, and yet remains as new...
Observe, in heartfelt quietude, and then Let madness be – and walk in sanity...
Let I's defenses, raised in fear and greed – Let I's defenses fall, so eyes can see...
Let's dive and bathe in Nature's streams and cleanse Our minds and hearts of our obscuring sins...
Let go, let go of all your prejudice, From all that gives you special station, flee...
The whirling dervish whirls and so is one With all that's flowing in this universe...
Remember you are naught but transience And use, with heart, your gift of sentience... 2013 July 14th, Sun, 5:31 am (with some revisions later) Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
Her Secret Vice
“What's your hobby?” asked her friend.
“You heard me. Speak, and don't pretend.
I told you mine was postage stamps,
A pastime I acquired from gramps.
But you have never told me. Speak.
I've asked you several times this week.”
She could not speak, for quite a while.
But then, she tried to force a smile.
“Your game is up.” She told herself.
“It can't be kept to just yourself,
This thing you do, your secret shame.
Perhaps she'll understand, not blame.”
And thinking of her secret pleasure,
She found her courage, in some measure.
She'd bowed her head – and looking low,
Had studied well, companion's toe.
But now she tried to meet her eye.
“It's mathematics, on the sly.”
She'd murmured, what she could not shout.
At last! Her secret now was out.
But searching in the hearer's face,
She saw the worst – a maid's disgrace.
And flustered, she looked down again,
While feeling, in her heart, that pain...
She'd hoped her friend could take, what men
Could not divine – or ever ken.
And so, she'd spilled her secret vice.
But see, her friend had turned to ice.
She saw her look of shock and horror,
And so was filled with sudden terror.
She wondered if she might be blamed
For feeling frightened and ashamed.
She wondered how to fix, what she
Had done – or how and where to flee.
She even wondered, if her life
She now should end, with pill or knife...
“But no,” she thought, “that's foolishness!
Let others think their nastiness.
For if my hobby gives me joy,
Why should I not, this gift, enjoy?
Was I not made by the Creator
To be, like Her, a calculator?”
And saying this, to soothe her pain,
She thought of pleasures past again.
The calculus was exquisite
For those, with skills prerequisite.
But even novices find joys
In playing with their basic toys...
And for the ones, who're more advanced
And have, in rings, with tensors danced,
Or played with algebras of Lie,
They know, what glory this can be.
What joys compare, upon this Earth,
With proofs – or giving theorems birth?
And so, with bashful, downcast eye,
She took her pleasures on the sly,
Remembering her sessions past,
In fields, with groups, that seemed to last
Beyond what humans could endure
And yet emerge, in essence, pure...
But glancing at her shell-shocked friend,
She knew her respite had to end.
But how, alas, she could explain
What she had done, escaping pain,
She did not know. But should she try,
Or wait till other asked her, “Why?”
For all that lives on our planet's northern half,
This is the season of the warming sun,
With pack ice melting into open seas
And mountain glaciers feeding muddy flows,
With all the temperate zone arrayed in greens
And tropics bathed in solar radiance
Or flooded by the thunderstorm's deluge...
So some are fleeing now from fire or flood,
While others bask in languor in the sun...
And date-palms stand in desert oases,
While tal and coconut are bowed by gales
That bring with them the horizontal rain –
As in the stillness of the ocean's warmth,
The great cyclones are born that lash the seas...
And many now complain about the heat,
The humid air, the sweat that clings to skin...
And even lusts, ignited by the spring,
Are now put out by summer's stickiness...
But those of us, who shift with seasons' swings,
Adjust ourselves, accepting what it brings,
This passing season of the broiling sun...
It is the season now of fiery heat,
It is the season now of brown and green,
As throats and fields are parched by drought and sun
Or watered by the clouds that bring relief...
It is the time of fire and withered leaves,
And yet, the time for lushly growing grass...
It is the season now of rain and sun...
I have dusted shelves and tables,
I have swept and mopped the floors.
I have cleared away the cobwebs
On the ceiling, by the doors.
I have cleaned the greasy kitchen.
And the bathroom, how it shines...
I've cooked and set the table,
Lit the candles, opened wines...
But the guest that I've awaited
Hasn't rung the doorbell yet.
I've been feeling rather anxious...
It is late... Did she forget?
But the place is looking better
Than it's been, for quite a while...
And I've company for dinner –
A little roach, at whom I smile...
2013 July 4th, Thurs. Brooklyn --------------------------------------------------------------------- Note: This may have been sparked by a recollection of a poem by Robi Thakur (Rabindranath Tagore), in which the poet writes of waiting for his guest, in a room that has been swept clean in expectation. This was probably meant to be an allegory, with the sweeping of the room representing the clearing out of clutter and distractions from the body-mind-soul, and the guest being none other than the Divine. Of course, all that the poet can do is wait for that guest, who may or may not come... Attempting, perhaps, to recast this dimly remembered piece (perhaps from Tagore's Gitanjali) in a modern, urban context, I was led, by the vagaries and dictates of rhyme and meter, to candles and wines, neither of which have ever been part of my dinner preparations... And into that inner realm there came also that little being that, for all I know, is as connected to the divine as any other... and so may be as good a stand-in as any other for that uncertain guest...
The day was quietly leaving – and the night was at the door.
It was raining, softly, softly, as the light was ebbing slow.
From the water in the gutters, the lights, reflected, shone,
As all across the city, those lights were turning on...
I was treading, slowly, softly, on my aging, sneakered feet,
And I'd hoisted my umbrella as I walked the city street –
For the rain was softly falling while the light was ebbing slow,
As the day was quietly leaving and the night was at the door...
I heard a neighbor talking as I passed her darkened house.
I could hear her quietly talking as I walked beside her house.
I could hear what she was saying, for my tread was soft and slow,
As the trees grew dark and looming as the night came in the door...
So the tide, it ebbs and rises – and the moon, it waxes, wanes.
And the city slows at evening as it's touched by gentle rains...
The night, it enters softly as the day has quietly left.
As the tide of light is turning, we remember those who've left...
The day, it had departed as I entered in my house.
And I waited, in the gloaming, for the coming of my spouse...
I would wait till it was midnight, then I'd call her on the 'phone,
As she left her ailing parent and she traveled home alone...
I wished that I could do as she had done so many years,
Remembering the ones I left behind while shedding tears...
But I waited there in silence and my cheeks and eyes were dry.
It was only for the living that I've ever had to cry...
2013 July 2nd, Tue. (last two stanzas added July 3rd Wed.) Brooklyn