This country’s fathers’ paramount desire
was this – pursuit, unlimited, of wealth.
But Jefferson, whose land and slaves were surely
wealth enough, wrote “happiness” instead –
and not because he’d had his fill, but since
he thought the previous word might cause offence
to those who held to Christian norms in speech,
while doing all they could to be as rich
as one, whom Jesus once had pictured as
a camel, seeking passage through the eye
of a needle. But heaven never was their goal.
A paradise on earth was what they sought,
the reason why they sailed from England’s shores,
with dreams of land aplenty, land that could
be cleared of forests, sown with seed, from which
would spring the harvests, first of food but then
the ones of cash – for landlords, they would be...
And when this dream was challenged by the king,
the landlord over all, who sought his share,
the share he was accustomed to, that fed
the hierarchy of brigands that he headed,
the new lords in the colonies rebelled,
and sent the rabble forth against the king.
And if my tale be slanted to your eye,
Then to your questions I will give reply,
“The truth, of what had happened in the past,
is lost to us. The facts, we may surmise
at times, from what the ones, then living, wrote.
The motivations are unclear at best,
and much of truth has long been put to rest.
“So those, who won, may write of it one way,
while those, defeated, write another tale,
and few are they, dispassionate, who watch
and then have means to let us know their views.
“So you can read, of seventeen-seventy-six,
in local books, from writers of this land
or those from England or from France and see
that each, who saw what happened, be it here,
or from afar, had painted pictures quite
dissimilar – and prejudiced by minds
inclined to one or other creed – and that
the class, to which the writer had belonged,
had played a part in what that writer saw.”
But struggles did not cease with ’76.
Indeed, they then began in earnest and
we see this country racked, like others were,
by endless strife and slaughters with no end.
But I will overpass two centuries
and focus for a while on present times.
In doing this, the longer view is lost
and all the past obscured, that feeds the now.
So I must beg forgiveness for this sin
and then proceed, to pointing with my pin.
I am an immigrant, like those before
but only landed here upon these shores
a year before the bicentennial, that
of nineteen-seventy-six, when Johnny Cash
regaled the multitude upon the Mall.
‘Twixt Monument and Capitol we stood –
and when the fireworks at the end were done,
we sought the port-a-potties – and I climbed
upon the bus, the way I’d learned to do,
in Dilli, through the window; then, to home –
or what then served for it, a basement flat,
from which I’d walk a mile or so to school,
and back and forth again and back each day,
four trips in all. But we were younger then
and ignorant – and work was near to play.
And some of us were earnest, then as now,
while others then were learning of the game
and playing it, as presently, sans shame.
And what’s that game? Why, simply, it is this –
to focus on oneself, on loss and gain,
to play to win, to bow to those above
and work the ones below, to serve with lip
whatever is the norm that holds in speech,
as did our Jefferson, while holding fast
to that which counts – for self – and acting so
that wealth, which here is happiness, is more.
So is it not the same in every land?
It may be so. But rarely is this raised,
as here it has been, to a moral code.
But then, I may again be more than wrong…
For I would have to live in far Shanghai,
in London, Zurich and Mumbai,
to sit in offices in Tokyo,
in towers high in Hong Kong and Dubai…
And some, who read this, some of this have done,
so they can judge my verses on the run,
and if they criticize, comment, suggest,
I will be grateful for their interest,
while wishing still that others too could write,
who’ve lived their lives in Cairo, Budapest
or Timbuktu – or far from city lights,
in fields where sun rules day – and stars, the nights.
And to our Jefferson (and I say "our",
while humbly conscious of the arrogance
that this might seem to be reflecting), I
should offer my apologies. I judge
him from a distance great and so I pick
at faults he might or might not have possessed.
So those of stature may be picked upon
by midgets, who may nibble at their toes,
and turn their virtues into vice and say,
"Where most say 'Yes.', we relish saying 'Nay!' "
To all descendants of that man (of all
the races that we seek to superpose
on this our species), I will turn – and say,
"The great have faults – perhaps those made them great.
The lesser then must bear what greater did,
for better or for worse – or seek, in turn,
to change, however slightly, current's course.
And this, some do by action – some, discourse."
More About Sex / Playing Coy / Buns, Bosoms and Hair
When my mind was near-exhausted, and my body was fatigued,
I then paused to write some verses, which, of all my torpor, reeked.
I figured that, with “I” collapsing, Mistress Muse herself might flow
And in my lines, her form of beauty, quite bereft of clothing, show.
Alas, although I write this line as “I” is past collapsing,
I see no trace of her who should, to nudity, be lapsing.
So I should end this poem now, if you permit that name for it,
And since Ms. Muse is playing coy, I might perhaps take blame for it.
But ending, at the proper times,
My verses, with their pounding rhymes,
Has never been my strongest point.
In this, I tend to disappoint.
So dear Ms. Muse, who’s playing coy,
Your presence, we would all enjoy,
Especially if (Am I being rude?),
You’d sing your songs while in the nude.
Aha! She’s scolding! Could it be,
Ms. Muse, herself, yes even she,
In matters that she deems as rude,
Is much inclined to be a prude?
But now I hear a woman’s speech,
A mortal, who presumes to teach
Another mortal, me, the manners
Requisite, displayed in banners.
“Men are low!” the banners cry,
“We wonder why they do not die!
It’s time we stop from doing jobs
That we have done for those nabobs!”
And those assembled, women all,
With voices loud, for justice call.
Their slogans they repeat, and chorus,
“Men are vile – and worse, they bore us!”
And one by one, they raise complaints,
Reminding men of all their taints.
And singly, or in groups, they rise
And sing of men who aren’t wise.
“They do not see our faces, eyes,
And while they’re spouting out their lies,
They only look for boob and tushy,
Favoring regions round and cushy.
“A man-child sucks upon a nipple,
And some, when older, seek to tipple.
But all men crave, till end, to suckle,
Seeking bosoms till they buckle.
“They find no use for grace or mind.
They fasten on to bust, behind.
Some see our legs -- but then raise eyes
To see what else, between them, lies!
“To call them human is a stretch.
At best, they serve to fix and fetch.
And yet, it’s we who serve as donkeys
For these dimwit, hairy monkeys!
And some shout, “Down with men who’re rapists!”
I applaud, but “Those, who’re apish,
Should be slaughtered!” I demur at,
Fearing we may all incur that.
The orator, beneath the signs,
For silence, in her hauteur, signs.
“It’s women who should rule this world.
And men should be, in gutters, hurled!
“We women, we have slaved for long,
Before we ever wore a thong,
Before we even dreamed of knickers,
Baring bottoms, hearing snickers…
“Long before our brassieres
Competed with our derrieres,
We have slaved for men, although
We’re better – as we all should know.
“We’re the ones with babes to bear.
The stallion mounts upon the mare
And then departs. He satisfies
His lust -- and duties then denies.
“And men! They have this tendency,
In matters sexual, to be
So crass, that we, the better sexed,
Do wonder why we still are vexed.
“For men are simply beings low,
Whose bestial cravings clearly show.
It’s time we put them in their place,
Perhaps in a subhuman race.”
And then I heard a group of nuns,
In habits, with protruding buns,
Proclaim, while rocking their behinds,
“These thoughts have long been on our minds!”
They stomped their feet and wiggled buns,
This group of callipygian nuns.
And slapping then their hips, they cried,
“We nuns have things unchaste decried!
“It’s time that we establish rules
With which to deal with men, who’re fools
In matters that are delicate,
More so, for those who’re celibate.”
And all of the assembled crowd,
Said lustily, in voices loud,
“It’s time for us to end their jigs!
For men are either dogs or pigs!”
On hearing this, I was perplexed.
Are women so, by mankind, vexed?
No wonder then that Mistress Muse,
My pleas, has chosen to refuse!
And thinking then of hounds I’d known
And boars I’d glimpsed (alas, unknown),
I wondered if we men should smile,
For dogs and pigs are not so vile…
I’d started on my verse, collapsing,
Into doggerel, relapsing.
And all that mostly came to mind
Were glimpses, past, of round behinds…
And then, as twin reflections, those,
That on pubescent torsos rose,
So’s to balance rear attractions,
Creating thus, in mankind, factions…
But though a woman’s form was fair,
At center was her best affair,
That called to men through several senses,
When women used to air their menses…
But now, alas, a woman’s draped,
With fears, when nude, of being raped.
And some, who see them as possessions,
This covering up, they take as missions.
And so, perhaps they have it right,
These women. Men -- they aren’t bright.
The things they crave, they try to hide,
While seeking eyefuls on the side.
But charms, when hidden from the light,
May cease, in time, to give delight.
For Nature meant for parts with hair
Access to healing light and air…
But see, by writing vapid verses, being then by buns accosted,
We men can still remain awake, even when we’re quite exhausted.
And though Athena stays aloof, Aphrodite takes her place,
For she delights in showing us the teasing parts below her face.
And if, at this, some women sniff, while others frown or even glower,
And some advise that versifiers take, perhaps, a freezing shower,
I declare, that while collapsing, seeking bare Athena’s song,
I encountered, in my musings, Aphrodite, sans her thong.
2013 November 25th, Mon. (with some stanzas added Nov. 27th, Wed.) Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
Awake, oh citizens of the ancient city,
When you were sleeping, waiting for the dawn,
A horde had gathered and, before the sun,
Had entered this, your city, as the gates
Were opened by the gatemen, they who saw
The army stretching to the distant north…
Awake, oh citizens, awake and see
The Mongol horde is here, with all the rest.
And many are their tongues -- but they are one,
United in their lust for conquest, loot,
For women that they’ll rape or take as slaves…
Awake, for Genghis Khan is in your town!
And when you see the soldiers, look away,
But when you see their lordlings, then bow low.
We have survived invasions, plagues, before.
So to this tempest bend, and it will pass,
And then we’ll nurse our injured, bury those
Who gave their lives – and carry on.
But sing the praises now of conquerors.
In Mongol, sing – for I will show you how.
We all will sing, as we had done before,
We’ll sing the praises of our conquerors.
We'll imitate their ways and learn their tongues…
Sing now, “Genghis Khan has come to town…”
View from Blue Ridge Parkway from Cecil Gover's Facebook Post (Click on the image to see a larger version.) Such a Vision
When night was ending, in the house of dreams, A fire was burning in my brain. And so I cried, "In this infernal world, Where is my salvation?" I saw then such a vision in my dream, By the misty shores of dawn, That healed my body and consoled my soul. This left me whole again.
A language is a living thing.
It breathes and grows and pulses.
It melds with us when we are young.
It’s always at our service.
And yet we are as cells that serve
The mind that lives in language.
How varied are our human tongues,
In rhythms, sounds and structures.
And yet they are projections, each,
Of that, which can’t be spoken.
A language is a living thing
That shifts and sways and dances.
The songs we sing are sung through us.
The singer true is hidden.
But in our speech, we hear it talk.
It lives in us as language.
So every dialect’s the same,
However each may vary.
And that’s because the mind’s the same,
That’s there, in every sentence.
There is a tongue that has no tongue,
And so cannot be heard.
And yet we know that it is there,
By inner sense inferred.
And each of us can feel it speak
In silence, if we listen.
So premonition, like a cat
That walks on velvet feet,
Comes padding by. A faint “meow”.
We turn -- and it is gone.
A language is a living thing,
And yet, it’s like a shadow
That changes form with time of day,
With latitude and season.
And when the clouds are blowing wild
It vanishes. We seek it.
And as the sun breaks through the clouds,
It’s born again. We see it.
We know that it was always there.
So language is a shadow.
While languages, from others born,
May live their spans and fade,
In wanton acts, we murder them
As remnant speakers perish.
So as we kill the species, so
We kill our cultures too.
And what we’ve done is vaunted then
As progress. Such advances
Bring tears to those remembering
The riches and the nuances.
As we may love a being that
Has a face and limbs and body,
So also we may love a tongue
That’s living or has perished.
As none can substitute for one
Who’s gone, so naught -- for language.
How tender is that love we feel
For a tongue we learned as infants…
How grievous is our loss when we
Have none, with whom to speak it…
As lovers are devoted, so
The poets are to tongues,
For a dialect has its flavor that
No other one can match.
As women have their essences,
So languages have musks.
For even as two siblings might
Have characters apart,
So sister tongues have melodies
As different as birds'.
How humble is a patois,
How regal, classic verse.
Yet each has provenance the same,
Like those, of women birthed.
They rise in rustic habitats
And end as they began.
And urban speech, where finance rules,
Is rapid, clipped and terse,
But where horizons far are seen,
The speech there slows and broadens.
Some languages are musical
And others seem more rough,
But that, imbibed with mother's milk,
For each, is sweet enough.
The lullabies of of mother tongues
Give sustenance to us.
And language can be used to lie,
To subjugate, confuse,
Or it can light the way to truth
And liberate, refute.
Like sea reflecting sky, a tongue
Can alter with our moods.
And so there's speech that's like a gun,
And that which soothes the heart.
But blame this not upon the tongue
Nor give it credit false.
For language is a living thing
That changes as we do.
When madness rules our lives, our tongues
Reflect that madness too.
As I was walking by St. Finbar's Church,
I heard the organ and the evening mass.
I heard the converts in the basement sing.
I heard their voices as they rose and fell.
It seemed, in this our world, that all was well.
But, recalling then the history
Of those who sang of faith and mystery,
Remembering then, how their ancestors died
And for a bit of peace and justice cried,
I knew this world of ours was far from well,
More distant, yes, from heaven than from hell.
I heard the Guatemalans in the basement sing,
I saw some coming down the street to join –
In Sunday best, a little family...
I saw them cross themselves before the church
And quietly enter, by the side, to sing.
And I remembered then, how they had fled
Their country, ravaged by the endless wars,
How cash and arms had streamed from here to south,
How many then were hunted, massacred...
How those surviving lived from hand to mouth,
How many homeless ones had grieved alone...
And so they traveled north, where money went,
And some had papers, others never did.
They took up humble trades and quietly hid,
For they were quiet people, most of them –
Except on Sundays, when they donned these clothes
And gathered in the basements, there to sing.
A simple story, told by a simpleton.
The truth, you can be sure, is more complex.
But you will have to sit and talk with them
In Spanish or in Quiché. Then you'll glimpse
The many threads that weave that history
Of silent ones – of faith – and mystery.
For these are “Indians” – not my Asian kind,
But folk of these, the western continents.
And those, who've traveled far, from Central Am,
Are quiet folk, of stature small and slight.
But when you talk with them, you'll see, at times,
Some traces left – of a soft and ancient light...
And all the weight of ages – Maya, Spain,
The persecutions and the silent pain,
This past, you'll feel – or hear in cadences,
The muted tones of those who've suffered much,
But haven't walled themselves; they're forest folk,
And used to sounds of death – and silences.
So when they sing of Jesus on the cross,
They know of what they sing, for they have seen.
And when they sing of resurrection, they
Have tears that flow – as those, who're grieving, pray.
Far from their homes, in a foreign land, they sing,
The ones they left at home – or gone – remembering...
I heard them singing in the basement and
I briefly thought that I could understand...
And for a moment, there, by Finbar's Church,
My heart was touched and filled, with grace divine,
As pastors poured the sacrificial wine.
Dreaming, in the time before the dawn,
I heard a woman crying, “All is gone!
My husband and my daughters and my sons,
My mother and his mother – and the house...
And I am here – and searching, crazily.
But where are they?”
I could not answer. All around were strewn
The wreckage and the litter of the storm.
The corpses still were rotting – and their stench
Befouled the air and sickened every breath.
Her eyes beseeched, with hints of lunacy,
But I stood mute.
And then I woke, as light was streaming in.
And when I breathed, the air was cool and fresh.
But I remembered well, what I had dreamed.
I saw that face – and felt that helplessness.
And so, at school, I gave my dollars ten.
But where were they? 2013 Nov. 16th, Sat. Brooklyn
I dreamed, Gotama met with Gauss,
And left serenely, when he heard, “Heraus!”
It was a scene that could have seen some drama,
But did not see it, thanks to clear Gotama.
I also dreamed that Nietsche, meeting Gandhi,
Had hurled, at him, whatever then was handy.
And in my mind, this painted quite a picture,
With Gandhi dodging what was hurled by Nietsche.
And Marx was met by none than Sri Chaitanya,
Who chanted, “Charles, I prayed to God to find ya!”
Was Karl then ruffled, or provoked to sparks?
He muttered, “God – and you – get failing marks."
Though Kipling wrote that East and West won't meet,
I saw them meeting, though it wasn't sweet.
But sour or not, the western mind forgot.
The east remembered, as has been its lot.
I wandered then to western Asia, where
The "twain" have met, who each find hard to bear
The other's ways -- and where the prophets cried --
And far too often, via torture, died...
Muhammad meets with Jesus and with Moses.
And each of them has hooked, “Semitic” noses.
And each insists that his is the religion
Of the god they share, who scorns the others legion.
I wonder, should I join in this discussion,
But exercise, instead, a safe discretion.
Can humble folk like I, with these, dispute?
Where blood has flowed, it's prudent to be mute.
I bow then to these prophets three and pray,
"I wish you gentlemen a wondrous day.
I hope that humans all will take the best
Of what you offer -- and forgo the rest."
I traveled then to colder, northern climes,
Where things were moving fast, with modern times,
And revolutions and their deaths were seen
In spans so short as seemed, to some, obscene.
And in my dream, I saw that Lenin, he,
With Thatcher and with Reagan, chanced to be.
But Deng had come, with sundry things to sell,
And I awoke, for Mao was roaring, “Hell!”
But then I slept again – and Nehru smiled,
For he, with charm, had Jackie O beguiled.
Onassis then was dallying with Callas.
Michelle and Dubya danced away in Dallas.
So revolutions come and go, but this,
What humans do, to pass their days, persists.
And some say, "This is all." and others, "No!"
But most remain unsure, which way to go.
I tossed and turned in moral indignation,
And snored again in abject resignation.
Confucius and Lao Tse appeared and left,
And I again awoke – of all of them bereft.
I prayed then to the spirit of Tagore,
But saw, beside him, stood rotund Al Gore.
And as the white-beard sang of Nature's smile,
The round one lectured, “Her, we now defile.”
The sight of Nature, smiling, being raped,
Disturbed me much. Her heaving breasts, I draped,
Within my mind, and slapped our bestial kin
On his behind, for such audacious sin.
But those of finance then arose in fury,
And I was killed, not seeing judge or jury,
By a missile fired from a drone that flew away,
In a sky of blue, on a Himalayan day...
But I survived – or else was resurrected,
Or else my waking was, of dreams, constructed.
And so, unlike the others, killed from high,
I sit and type these verses, asking, “Why?”
Gotama answers clearly, “It's because.”
And Gauss says, “I don't rhyme with words like “gauze”.
And Nietsche chases Gandhi all around,
While Marx cannot, by those who seek, be found.
And now – a spirit, sere -- it is Osama,
Of recent, killed, by order of Obama.
He has the eye, of one who knows that money
Can buy such things, as only he finds funny...
And Saddam too is risen from the grave.
He's spitting curses fit to cow the brave.
And Dubya's dodging shoes like he's a pro.
Yay, Dubya! That's the way to go!
But Modi glowers fiercely. He is bearded.
He gives a speech. The millions, who have heard it,
Are cheering wildly. I awake, in fear,
And see, it's dusk – and night is drawing near.
And so I huddle back within the covers,
And soon enough, a sprite, returning, hovers.
It's Omar, who has pity on our souls
As we pursue our e'er receding goals...
There are such things, as were, before we came
And will remain, when we have played the game
And left. And pebbles, such, we find,
Upon the shore, that please our mortal mind.
And when we find companions, for awhile,
Who've seen what we have seen and smile,
The thrill of recognition of the truth
Is briefly shared, by those, whom such things suit.
If Bhaskara and Euler were to meet,
And Ramanujam too was there, to greet
Al Beruni, Gauss – would Khayyam's wine
Then overflow his cup, in sphere divine?
So Euclid and Pythagoras are seated
With Al Khwarizmi. Talk is heated.
But I can see, they're smiling through it all.
That Eden past, such gentle smiles recall.
So Tolstoy sits with Gandhi and Tagore,
And of such trios, I see more and more.
And Ho Chi Minh has come to Chhattisgarh.
He wishes, there, with others, to confer...
Returning then, to Gauss and to Gotama,
And to that scene that could have seen of drama,
I wondered how these towering thinkers two,
Could be, like us, as errant humans too.
For though Gotama had disposed of ego,
He still was saddened at being ordered out.
And wondering, where a seer could go,
He saw a beer-hall, entered, ordered stout...
And there he sits, while sipping of the brew
Which others, who are bhikkus, must eschew.
Does he remember, still, that meal that led
To illness -- that, which left him cold and dead?
Perhaps. But as he ponders, Gauss calculates,
And each new finding, quietly celebrates.
So east is east and west remains as west,
And each does that, which surely it does best.
But as it's time to wake, I do espy
That Lear and Carroll, walking, pass me by,
And Ray the father, laughing, walks with them.
But I must leave, and stifle my "Ahem!".
2013 November 15th, Fri. & 16th, Sat. Bensonhurst, Brooklyn Note added: The phrase "Ray the father" in the last stanza is ambiguous. It was meant to refer to Sukumar Ray (Xukumar Ro`e), the father of the film director Satyajit Ray (Xottojit Ro`e) -- and the grandfather of Sandip Ray (Xondip Ro`e), also a filmmaker. Sukumar Ray died at an early age, but produced several literary works, including Abol Tabol, a classic volume of playful Bengali nonsense verses. These are unique, and yet reminiscent of the poems of two Englishmen -- Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll (the mathematician Charles Dodgson). The Wikipedia article on Sukumar Ray has some insertions that need copy-editing. A documentary film on him, directed by his son, Satyajit, with Sandip also mentioned in the subtitles, is available as video on YouTube. It is well worth watching. Sukumar Ray also wrote a children's novel, Ho`jo`bo`ro`lo` (Hajabarala), inspired by Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. It is alleged that Steven Spielberg's film, E.T., was based on a screenplay by Satyajit Ray, meant for a Hollywood movie that never was. Satyajit Ray used to illustrate his screenplays with sketches, and it is likely that the appearance of the extraterrestrial in Spielberg's film derives from one of these. The spelling of the the Rays' names, including the last name, may be misleading to non-Bengalis, as regards pronunciation. The conventional spellings (in both Roman transcription and in the Bengali script) are closer to representing how the names would be pronounced in, say, Hindi or (for the first names) in Sanskrt. These conventional spellings do not properly represent how they are currently pronounced in standard Bengali. With x representing the sh cluster of English spelling, and t being a dental, as in the Latin languages, the pronunciations of the names may be better represented as Roy, Xukumar, Xottojitand Xondip. I had transcribed the last name, earlier, more systematically, as Ro`e, but Roy will suffice here -- as there is an English name (as in Roy Rogers) that is pronounced as the Rays' last name should be pronounced.
Flirtations, romances and flowers and hearts,
The nuances, flavors, of amorous arts –
If all of these bore you, then let me remind you,
They really are all about sex.
Now I've got your attention, be you woman or man,
As anything sexual, said flippantly, can,
For where Venus is present, in the past or the present
Or future, she beckons – it's sex.
And the sexes may differ, but in this, they're the same –
They spring to attention at the touch of that flame,
Be they young or much older, be they timid or bolder –
At the touch of the flame that is sex.
But the arts of arousal, for the sexes, diverge,
As they each have their senses that urge.
For the men, it is vision, despite the derision
Of women – who're also for sex.
But they much prefer hearing, through feminine ears,
The words that arouse them and chase away fears.
And some may be fooled, but the others have ruled
That a man has to pay for his sex.
And it isn't a dollar, or ruble or yen,
Which may be a lot for the stingiest men.
It's a life that is asked for, and that's how it's paid for.
And now, you've learned all – about sex.
But the women, on hearing this nonsense, may yell,
“There's more to that thing than you've ventured to tell!
Or could it be this – ” and the women now hiss –
“that you don't know a thing about sex?
“For the men may spring up – it's just one of their acts.
And parts of us do – but we mostly relax.
And there's sight and there's hearing, but there's also that nearing,
There's touch and there's scent – and there's sex!
“For the men may be thinking that the males are the studs,
But in matters that matter, the truth is – they're duds!
For though they have feared us and though they've repressed us,
It is we who know more about sex.
“For what we relinquished, as patriarchs ruled,
And women, as sexless, were drilled and were schooled,
Is our rightful domain, and will always remain
That of women – the realm that is sex!”
And the men, who were silent, at the thought of the dollar,
Now in finding their voices, may join in, to holler,
“We're tired of this crap, from this prancing old chap,
For what does he know – about sex?
“For it's sex that we've wanted, since reaching our teens.
And though, oh too often, we hadn't the means,
Since our teens, we've been surging, and so we are urging,
That you stop all this talk about sex!”
So the men and the women, in this, are united,
That I tamp down the flame I ignited.
But though it is rude to be publicly lewd,
I wish I could dwell more on sex.
For I'm told by my spies that they have detected
A tower or missile that Mars has erected,
And they tell me there's moisture where Venus has pasture,
Yet it's time to put end to this sex.
But I'd opened a window – and if I now close it,
To whom will you bring the deposit?
But I can't be a banker to every dear wanker,
Though I've led you along with the sex.
And if some would be arcing and seeking release,
I wish there were ways, by which I could please,
But others, more "moral", are giving me oral
Instructions to cease with the sex.
So alas, it is time, because they all urge it,
To zip up the verse. If I'm leaving you turgid
On reading this ditty, then it's really a pity,
But I'll leave you alone with your sex.
And I also should say, as I bid you goodbye,
That I'm sorry that I cannot lie.
If you think I've been rude, because I've been crude,
Remember, it's all about sex.
I was wandering in the country, when I met an aged man.
And it seemed that he was starving, so I offered him some rice.
He sat down then to eat it, and he ate it very slowly.
Each grain of rice, he savored, as he put it in his mouth.
I watched him as he sat there, but I felt that I would cry,
So I moved away and circled – and when I had returned,
I saw that he had eaten only part of what I'd given,
Which itself was but a smidgen, as I hadn't much myself.
And I saw that he was wrapping, in a leaf, what he had left.
So I asked him, was he saving it for eating later or
Was there someone, who was waiting, whom he'd saved a portion for.
But he only smiled and nodded, for his language wasn't mine,
And I watched him as he hobbled down a dusty country path.
I was hungry, so I settled down and ate my rice myself,
With a bit of precious lentils that I'd salted – and a pickle.
And I felt that I was guilty as I'd only given rice
To that aged man who seemed not to have eaten for a while.
And as I sat there eating, I remembered still his smile.
I sipped then on the water, that I'd carried in a bottle,
And I rose and walked to westwards, towards a village that I knew.
And I saw the sun was sinking – and my heart was sinking too.
For the stores I had were dwindling – and my stores by then were few.
But that aged man was walking, as I walked, within my mind.
And I saw that he was smiling, for that little bit of rice.
A different, and perhaps more refreshing, perspective may be found in the last three stanzas of Tutors Two.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Teachers and Others in the Schools The Teacher-- burnout: idealism and dedication against the harsh realities of the schools, 2013
To Our Gary-- A teacher retires gracefully after thirty years, while working, to the end, till 6pm every day at his school. 2013.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Teaching / Personal / Philosophy Teachers' Lounge -- Past, present and future meet at the Brooklyn Studio School. 2006.
Tutors Two -- In the last three stanzas of this poem reflecting on my years teaching, I wonder where our best students are headed -- and offer them the advice, from the heart, that I cannot give them in my classes. 2012. Teachers' Cafeteria -- Part I -- at New Utrecht High School's new basement cafeteria, 2013
City and Village
A city offers much that a village can't.
And yet, it is our villages that give,
To each of us, a soul and sustenance.
We try, within a city's multitude,
To make our little clans, our villages.
And some succeed in this – and others don't.
Some work to live – and others live to work.
And work may fill a life, or lives consume.
But work will have an end, as all things do,
And those, whose lives were work, are then marooned.
There's air and warmth – and water, food that we
Require to live. But there are other things,
Without which lives are bleak and sad indeed.
For some, it's music, art. Yet others feed
On varied stuff, not just of atoms made.
But each, except the hermit-saint, has need
At times, of other mortals' company.
The villagers depend on others there,
And so do townsfolk, though they this deny.
Their shelter, water, food and more derive
From others' labor, oft invisible
To those who live in cities modernized.
And they forget how they, of two, were born,
How many then had aided them to live
When they were babies – or were still at school
And learning what they'd later use to earn
Their livings or enjoy their present lives.
If we've had one or more who lived with us,
How hard it is for us, when they are gone
And never will return. A dinner then
Is loneliness – relieved, perhaps, by a screen
That flickers as it shows how others live.
So some have cats and dogs that occupy
The spaces that a human might have filled.
And as we age, and strength and work contract,
So do our spheres, until we're left as one.
And so, we wish that we were villagers
Where climes are warm, and air and children pass
Through open doors, with crying, laughter heard
By elders as they sit outside or walk –
Or lie on floors at night, in starlit rooms,
In touch with earth, beneath the sky – and part
Of human lives.
Yet villagers – they envy city folk.
The young depart to find employment in
The cities, fabled for their wealth and sin.
And some return – or send their monthly dues
To those they left behind, remembering...
But others never do, in newfound lives
Engrossed or trapped, in struggles there enmeshed,
Forgetting who they were, and giving birth
To children who might never know the woes
And simple joys that their ancestors knew.