Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year’s Blessings?

 
New Year’s Blessings?
 
You ask for this, you ask for that.
I’ll intercede for you
With Her, who grants our wishes if
She thinks that they are due.
 
The New Year comes.  I wish you peace –
The peace and joy of heaven.
That doesn’t mean you first should die –
Let's hope you'll still be living.
 
I wish you that, which neither health
Nor all your friends can give.
That doesn’t mean you should be sick
Or friendless, though you live.
 
I wish you treasure, such as neither
Wealth nor wit can buy.
That doesn’t mean you should be poor
Or witless, ere you die.
 
And even more, I’d wish for you,
But She, who scans each line,
Has warned me, “Cease! Such blessings as
You give, the wise decline!”
  
So I should end my wishes here,
Except perhaps to note
That if you asked for happiness,
Then that would get my vote.
 
2014 December 31, Wed.
Brooklyn, New York
   

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

নতুন যুগের উপহার (notun juger upohar)

 
If the font appears too small, please use the View--> Zoom or equivalent feature available in most web browsers. 
 
For a "free translation" that is close to the original, see The Gifts of this New Age.
    
To get a crude literal translation of the Bengali text into English or another language, see the note, "Literal Translation" at the bottom. 
 
নতুন যুগের উপহার

অন্তরে নিষ্ঠুর, বাইরে ভদ্র এরা৷
নম্র, কোমল কথার নিচে, 

লোকানো আছে
বিষাক্ত, ধারাল ছুরি৷

বর্বরতা, সভ্যতা – দুই মিশে হয়েছে, দেখ,
এদের মত মানুষ, যারা আজ
সুট-টাই-জুতো পরে, অফিসে বসে,
কম্পিউটারে লেখে, যাতে
গোলামি বাড়ে৷

ন্যায়-অন্যায় ভুলেছে এরা৷
তবে, ভাল করে,
পয়সা গুনতে জানে৷
শিক্ষার ঠোঙ্গাতে বেচে
মূর্খতার ভেজাল মাল৷

পুরনো নবাব-দাসের বদলে,
পেয়েছি আমরা
নতুন যুগের এই উপহার৷
 
যীশু, বুদ্ধ – দেখ৷

বাত্লাও কবীর,
এই সমস্যা থেকে
কি ভাবে মুক্তি পাওয়া যায়৷
কানে কানে, যুক্তি দিয়ে,
গাও গান৷ 

  
মঙ্গলবার, ৩০এ ডিসেম্বর,, ২০১৪ খৃ
ব্রুক্লিন, নিউ য়র্ক

----------------------------------------------
 
For a "free translation" that is close to the original, see The Gifts of this New Age.
 
Literal Translation: 
First, select all of the Bengali text above and "copy" it.  Both the selection and the copying can be done, on a Windows machine, by right-clicking anywhere in the text and then selecting the relevant menu-item in the list that appears as a "context menu".

Next, preferably in a new tab or new window in your browser, go to http://translate.google.com .
 
At that site, you will see two blank, boxed areas. Click on the down-pointer tab above the left-hand (input) box, and select "Bengali" from the pull-down menu that appears.  Next, click on the corresponding tab in the right-hand (output) box and select "English" -- or whatever language you want this translated into.

Then paste the text you had copied into the left-side (input) box. 

If the translation does not appear in the right-side (output) box, then click the "Translate" tab above that box.  You might have to scroll down in the right-hand box (by clicking in it and using your mouse-wheel) to see the full translation.

Note that the translation will often be very crude and ungrammatical -- and might be misleading, as Google's translation engines are still not too good for most non-European languages. 
 
Note also that the blogsite itself (part of blogger.com, owned by Google) offers a translation facility via an icon positioned at the top left of the post's window.  However, this works only, at least for my posts, if the original post language is English.  So it will not work for this post, which is in Bengali.
 
For posts in English, you can use this "automatic" onsite translation. But do note that the same remarks, made earlier, about the poor quality of the translation, still apply, especially if you are translating from English into a non-European language. 

Also, if you use the "automatic" translation at the blogsite, the original formatting, in particular the line-breaks needed to read poetry as it was intended to be read, will be lost in the translated text.
 

Monday, December 29, 2014

বড়দিনের ছুটি এল (Bo`rodiner Chut'i Elo--A Gray Christmas--Bangla)

  
To get a very crude literal translation of this, see the note, "Translation", at the bottom of the post Notun Juger Upohar .  (The original English piece, A Gray Christmas, of which this is a free and rather divergent translation, is at the link below, underneath the title.) 
 
A transcription into Roman, using a scheme that represents the spoken sounds rather than the standard Bengali spellings, follows beneath the version in Bengali script.  A brief summary of this transcription scheme can be found in the preface to Bharot Xadhin (India, Free).
 
বড়দিনের ছুটি এল

(“A Gray Christmas-এর  ভাবানুবাদ )
 
বড়দিনের ছুটি এল,
কোথায় গেলে তুমি?
ফিলিস্তিনে ফিরলে, পাবে
রক্তমাখা ভুমি৷
  
প্রতি দেশে রক্ত বয়ে,
নিষ্ঠুর খুনাখুনি৷
তারি মাঝে তোমার গলা
অতীত থেকে শুনি৷
   
তোমার নামে কত খুন,
কত অত্যাচার...
জানলে পরে মরতে কি?
আসতে কি আবার?
     
কত আশা এনেছিলে,
রয়েছে এখন কি?
ছাইয়ের ঢিপির ভেতর থেকে
বলছে মরা, "ছি!"
  
পুর্ব দেশে বুদ্ধ এল,
ফিলিস্তিনে তুমি৷
ভালবাসা, শান্তি কোথায়?
পাইনি  খুঁজে আমি৷
 
রয়েছি আমি শীতের দেশে,
শীতের চটে কাঁপি৷
সাগর পারে, হেঁটে হেঁটে
তোমার কথা ভাবি৷

ছাইয়ের রঙের মেঘের নিচে,
ছাইয়ের রঙের ঢেউ...
শীতের দেশে, মরন কালে,
হাসছে কি আর, কেউ?

সন্ধ্যে যখন আসবে ক্রমে,
ফুটবে তখন বাতি৷
জমা হবে গির্জা-ঘরে,
দুঃখে, মানুষ-জাতি৷

গাইবে তখন সবাই মিলে
তোমার ভজন গীত৷
আস্তাবলে জন্মেছিলে,
বাইরে যখন শীত৷

সুর্য এবার ফিরছে শেষে,
দক্ষিন সীমা ছুয়ে৷
দিনের আলো বাড়বে এখন
আস্তে, একে দুয়ে৷

কষ্টে বছর কাটল, যাদের
দেশে যুদ্ধের বলি৷
বাচ্চাগুলো হাসবে আবার,
এই আশাতেই চলি৷

নরক দেখে, মরন কালে
তোমার খোঁজে যাই৷
অন্ধকারে, আলোর আশা
রয়েছে তবু তাই৷

বড়দিনের ছুটি এল,
গাইব তোমার গান৷
শ্মশান ঘাটের ছাইয়ের থেকে 
উঠবে জেগে প্রাণ৷

সোমবার, ২৯এ ডিসেম্বর, ২০১৪ খ্রি
ব্রুক্লিন, নিউ ইয়র্ক

==============================
Bor’odiner Chut’i Elo

(“A Gray Christmas”-er bhabanubad)
 
Bor’o-diner chut’i elo,
kothae e`khon tumi?
Philistine phirle, pabe
ro`kto-makha bhumi.
   
Proti dexe ro`kto bo`e,
nixt'hur khunakhuni.
Tari majhe tomar go`la
otit theke xuni.
 
Tomar name ko`to khun,
ko`to ottacar...
Janle po`re morte ki?
Axte ki abar?
   
Ko`to axa enechile,
roeche e`khon ki?
Chaier d’hipir bhetor theke
bolche mo`ra, “Chi!”

Purbo dexe buddho elo,
Philistine tumi.
Bhalobaxa, xanti kothae?
Paini khuje ami.
 
Roechi ami xiter dexe,
Xiter cot’e ka~pi.
Xagor pare, he~t’e he~t’e
tomar ko`tha bhabi.

Chaier ro`nger megher nice,
chaier-ro`nger d’heu…
Xiter dexe, mo`ron kale,
haxche ki ar, keu?
 
Xo`ndhe jo`khon axbe kro`me,
phut’be to`khon bati.
Jo`ma ho`be girja-gho`re,
dukkhe, manux-jati.
 
Gaibe to`khon xo`bai mile
tomar bho`jon-git.
Astabo`le jonmechile,
baire jo`khon xit.

Xurjo ebar phirche xexe,
dokkhin xima chue.
Diner alo barbe e`khon
aste, e`ke due.
 
Koxt`e bo`chor kat’lo, jader
dexe juddher boli.
Baccagulo haxbe abar,
ei axatei coli.
  
No`rok dekhe, mo`ron kale
tomar khoje jai.
O`ndhokare, alor axa
roeche tobu tai.

Bor’o-diner chut’I elo,
gaibo tomar gan.
Xo`xan ghat’er chaier theke
ut’hbe jege pran.

Xombar, 29-e Disembar, 2014 khri
Bruklin, Niu Io`rk
  

  

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Revolution

  
Revolution
 

You call for revolution – and I support your call.
Let’s set the wheel in motion – but let it turn for all.
What use is revolution – if peasants still must starve,
If workers still must labor – for less than they deserve?
 
What use is revolution, if not for each and all?
What use is revolution, if despots still are tall
And all the rest are crawling – if bosses still give orders
And soldiers still have stations at every nation’s borders?
 
When hierarchies are flattened – and newer ones not built,
Then all can claim we’re better – and this, without the guilt.
For if the price was bloody, and yet the value’s low,
What use was revolution, for those who’re still below?
 
What use are revolutions that do not free the soul,
That do not heal the body and make the fabric whole?
Let’s set the wheel in motion, but let it turn for all.
Let virtue rise, with justice.  Let vice and evil fall.
 
We cannot make a heaven, upon this spinning Earth,
But still can make things better, for those of humble birth.
We need no more of leaders, but more, who are aware.
Of lies that are misleading, from those who lead, beware!
 
The sheep, domesticated, have herders, so their fleece
And flesh can yield the bounties – in England or in Greece.
So humans, too, were corralled, and those, resisting, slain.
So peasants, workers, toiling, gave "landlords", "owners" gain.
 
We're long domesticated – to beings tame and mild,
Who do as they are bidden, forgetting eons wild…
So those, who wait for leaders – they wait for them in vain.
For when they find their leaders – they’ll find they’re fooled again.
   
The slaughterhouse is waiting, for grazers on the meadow.
Be wary –  and be humble, so none may cast a shadow
In which another’s hidden, deprived of rights and voice
Or stays content to follow – and so surrenders choice.
 
If leading is your habit, then lead us with the truth.
Perceive your branch of falsehood – and trace it back to root.
If more inclined to follow, then be of courage strong.
It's difficult to follow what's right, when all is wrong.
 
But revolutions happen – and seem to hold out hope.
The martyrs' blood then darkens, and people feed on dope.
It's still the same old story, and often even worse.
The people still have leaders, who soon will hit "reverse".

The pressures mount from bankers, the threats from powers grow.
The country is in crisis, with prices rising more.
There's fear and there's repression – and soon enough, there's war.
We sacrificed for nothing, for back to naught we are.

For still we had divisions, which still could be exploited.
We turned against each other, and all we gained was voided.
So it's the same old story that's one more time retold.
For those who bought the fictions could once again be sold.
 
There’s the marching in processions, there’s the shouting in the streets.
There’s the storming of the barracks.  There’s the tasting of the sweets
That lasts for just a season.  There's then the season sour,
When once again there’s "order", with leaders still in power.
 
And what has changed, in essence?  The hierarchies remain –
Or even when they’re broken, are seen to rise again.
The only revolutions that humans can sustain
Are those that start within us, that seek to end the pain…
 
We cannot, by our thinking – or writings, prose or verse,
Replace the need for action – or currents strong, reverse.
We need the strength collective, we need the actions bold.
We need to break the choke-holds, reject the notions sold.

But this can only happen, when each of us has strength
That comes from inner practice that’s been of depth and length.
For each must dare to question.  Together, mind and heart
Can give to us the answers.  To reason, there’s an art…

But reason, in a vacuum – or feeding on what’s fed,
Produces false "solutions".  Beware of being led!
There’s fact and there’s opinion.  You’re only sure of that,
Which you yourself experience – by wrestling on the mat.

You might have gone to college and learned a lot.  And if
You’ve kept yourself updated, unlike the working stiff,
You might have your opinions.  But only they, who’ve labored,
Can truly speak of labor.  Beware the circles favored!
  
The inside’s often different, from what the outside looks.
Do not believe the media or even what’s in books.
It’s only when you’re present, to do and see and hear –
It’s only when you’ve lived it, that vision starts to clear.
  
So who can be a leader, except to lead himself?
For only you have knowledge of what’s around yourself.
No presidents are needed, no bosses up on high –
Or even one that’s nearer.  There’s truth – and there’s the lie.
 
The truth, indeed, is bitter – and yet, what else is there?
To taste of truth, unsweetened, who first will rise and dare?
And who of us will follow – and each with firm resolve,
So all the old deceptions, with newer ones, dissolve?
 
For that is revolution, when people clearly see –
And that’s what really matters, as all the rest will be
As warmth that follows daylight, as seed that senses rain…
From vision, there’ll be action to lift the yoke of pain…
 
Beware of those divisions – of race or speech or creed –
That leave the heart in darkness – and mills of evil feed.
Of ignorance, be fearful; in learning more, be bold.
Observe the new perspective – and yet respect the old.
 
Do not despise the wealthy – nor hold them in esteem.
Do not look down on paupers – or these, as snowflakes, deem.
For all of us are human, with virtue and with vice –
From all around, take counsel – but heed your own advice.
 
If free to follow conscience, if free to seek the truth,
You then can praise your freedom – and praising, speak the truth.
And that is revolution – when each one, speaking freely,
Can say that she has freedom – that's freedom, well and truly.
 
What freedom can the man have, who answers to a boss?
What freedom in a country, that’s ruled by gain and loss?
What freedom, when we're fearful of losing jobs or lives
For speaking truth to power?  What freedom then survives?
 
What freedom, when, at Apple, they can pinpoint where you are?
What freedom, in a country that's torn apart by war?
There’s freedom that is waiting – there’s freedom for the slave.
But freedom needs its fighters – it asks you if you're brave.
   
How many wheels, in violence, have lifted up the low –
But then have kept on turning – until they’re back below?
Let’s call for revolution that frees the mind, the voice –
That clears the vision clouded, so each can then rejoice.
 
2014 December 20th, Sat.
(Some stanzas added Dec. 28th.)
Brooklyn, New York
   

Friday, December 26, 2014

Kiwi and the Little Frog

  
Kiwi and the Little Frog

Kiwi and the little frog



 














In a country far away that yet is very near,
There lived a girl called Kiwi who had vision sharp and clear.
And once, when she was walking, she saw, upon a tree,
A little frog was sitting – and calling out in fear.

“Oh what is it you’re fearful of?” asked Kiwi of the frog.
“Is it Mew, the kit-cat?   Or is it Woof, the dog?"
“Oh thank you!  It is neither.  I climbed upon the tree
To see how I could get back to my home that’s in the bog.

“But where that bog is hiding, I’m afraid I cannot see.
I’ve looked to west and eastward and south towards the sea.
And in the north there’s mountains.  But nowhere is that bog.
And I’m afraid of falling from high upon this tree.”

“Oh don’t you worry, little frog, whose name I do not know.
I know just where that bog is – it’s where it was before.
It’s there, behind the trees there.  I’ll climb up on this tree
And bring you down.  And then, from here, your way to home, I’ll show.”

So Kiwi climbed upon the tree.  She showed no trace of fear.
She brought that little froggie down, she’d seen with vision clear.
And then she showed the way for it to hop towards its home.
“I’m Kiwi.  You?”   “Oh thank you!  I am Ngaak – and you’re a dear.” 

So Kiwi helped that little frog called Ngaak and went her way.
And on the path she’d shown him, Ngaak then hopped and hopped away,
Until at last he neared the bog and heard the frogs there croaking.
“Oh there you are!”  His sister said.  “I’ve looked for you all day!”
  
2014 December 26th, Fri.
Brooklyn, New York
 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Gray Christmas

 
A Gray Christmas
 
Gray is the ocean, as Christmas arrives,
Gray as the clouds up above.
Bleak is the season.  It's windy and cold.
The trees by the roadside are bare.
 
But as evening approaches, the lights will come on – 
The lights that were made in the east. *
And carolers then might gather in halls
To sing of the child that was born.
 
The season is winter in parts to the north.
The hour of the solstice has passed.
The nights have been long and the days have been short –
But now they will lengthen, at last.
 
The year that has passed has been brutal and sad.
The woes and the deaths are in minds.
The year that's to come will be brighter, we hope,
So that more of the children can smile...

Gray is the ocean, as Christmas arrives,
Gray as the clouds in the sky.
Bleak is the winter.  And yet, in the gloom,
The hope for the light will not die.
 
2014 December 25th, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York
---------------------------------

* The second line in the second stanza originally read:
"The lights that in China were made."
I changed it to what it now is now, on 2016-12-29.

-- Arjun
  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Yeti and Me


The Yeti and Me

the yeti and me



















I met with a yeti on a sunshiny day.
It could have been April, it could have been May.
“Good morning, dear Yeti!” I said to the hulk.
He gave me a grunt, for the sun made him sulk.
 
“Good morning!” I said, to the yeti, once more.
He grunted more loudly than he’d grunted before.
“Good sunshine to you, dear Yeti, my friend!”
And I saw that his patience was now at an end.
  
He grunted and snorted and came after me.
My smile, it was frozen. I started to flee.
With a leap and a bound, I jumped in a stream.
And I woke with a gasp from this weird little dream.
 
*****
   
Now humans like sun, when the weather is cold.
But the yetis like shade, as we should have been told.
So on days when it’s sunny, be very discrete
‘Round Yetis, who’re sulking because of the heat.
 
And whether in waking, or what’s only a dream,
Do stand by a tree or be close to a stream,
For if yetis approach, who are madder than hell,
That tree or that stream could serve you right well.
 
For everyone knows that the yetis can’t swim –
And of those who climb trees, the numbers are slim.
If the yeti is grown and is heavy, then why –
You’ll be safe in a tree, if you climb up on high.
 
2014 December 23rd, Fri.
Brooklyn, New York
  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

To Our Children

 
To Our Children
 
Do tell us, oh daughter, you'll try to be kind
To the ones who need kindness the most.
And tell us, oh son, that you'll dare to stand up
To the persons who bully and boast.
 
But no!  Do not tell us or try to console
Your parents, who ask for these things.
But listen to conscience and do as it says.
Like angels, you then will have wings.

But know, on this Earth, there is evil and so
The path of the virtues is steep.
But stay on that path and you’ll find that it leads
To a place that is high and yet deep.
 
We’ll tell you, oh daughter, there's joy that you'll find,
But your woes, you will weather as well.
We’ll tell you, oh son, there are strengths that you'll have,
But your weakness, you’ll treasure as well.
  
For know that your sorrows will give you your depth,
So your joys will be deeper in turn.
And know that your failings will give you your heart,
So to handle your strengths, you will learn.
 
Be humble, oh children, for hubris has caused
All manner of ills on this Earth.
Your parents are glad they were given the chance
To give, to such children, their birth.
 
“But where is our daughter and where is our son?
Alas, for we never had any!”
Oh hush, my dear spouse!  Of children, we’ve none.
And yet, you can see, we have many.
  


 








    

2014 December 22nd, Mon.
Brooklyn, New York
  

Monday, December 22, 2014

To Fight or Live the Lie

  
To Fight or Live the Lie
  
When among the ones of narrow vision,
It’s better not to tell them all you see.
When among the insincere, your own
Sincerity should also hidden be.
   
And when you find, around you, hardened hearts,
It might be wise to shield your kindness then.
For sadly, sight and diligence and heart
Are often scorned by women and by men.
 
Among the simpler folk, less cynical,
You still will find the treasured virtues old.
But in the places where it’s dog-eat-dog,
The shameless shysters rule, with bullies bold.
  
Beware such places – and avoid these types,
If you’re the remnant kind that still is nice – 
For if you cannot play their game, what then?
I wish that I could offer you advice.
 
The world in which we live is difficult,
With separation, maiming, poverty –
With famines, floods, with ailment, age and death.
But then there’s evil – and there’s property.
 
The wars we see around the world and here,
With weapons both of armaments and words –
They all derive from human illnesses
That turn what's precious, vital, into turds.
 
We mortals can endure what Nature wreaks,
For we are born for that.  We struggle, die –
Or live to mourn – and yet, in time, to smile.
But we’re not built to fight or live the lie.
 
For you could argue, state your facts and more.
What use is it, against the lies imposed?
The more you work, the more you try, you’ll find
Yourself entrapped, when eyes and hearts are closed.
 
For circumstance can alter even those
Of disposition kinder, who reflect –
But in their office, as so many do,
To those "above" them tend to genuflect.
  
Do they believe the things that they enforce –
The ones who’ve clearly chosen to obey?
Perhaps they do.  Forgive them, if you can,
And quietly go upon your chosen way.
 
The hierarchies they climb imprison all.
There’s time for talk – and time to simply be.
Avoid the places where the falsehoods reign
And shun the ones who simply will not see.
 
But if you find yourself in such a place, what then?
Observe the ones around you. Will they fight?
If so, then work to rally them. If not,
Prepare, my friend, for serfdom – or for flight.
   
2014 December 22nd, Mon.
Brooklyn, New York
 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Metaphysics

  
Metaphysics
 
Is the universe a solid, if we add to space the time?
Then all’s predestination.  Yes, my verses still have rhyme,
but more – because, in choosing, I really have no choice.
The word I use to rhyme with is chosen – and this voice
is saying what it’s saying, because the future’s known.
So none of us may claim to act with a will that is one’s own.
 
But if, beside the time, there is at least another thing
that varies, then each instant is a bird upon the wing.
The future of the universe can never be predicted,
for every tiny particle, even undetected,
can vary in the path it takes – and there’s no way to know.
The universe is fluid then, with myriad ways to flow.
 
And since, besides, each little flow can alter yet another,
and if, in probing how to flow, each flowing speaks to brother,
the universes that might rise affect then one another,
And so, of all complexities, we have, in this, the mother!
But since I play at poetry, and not in metaphysics,
it’s time to exit quietly and end these weird lyrics…
 
2014 December 21st, Sun. 11:08 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
   

Thursday, December 18, 2014

When the Winter Wind Is Blowing

 
When the Winter Wind Is Blowing
 
When the winter wind is blowing and the nights are freezing cold,
I will venture in the alley and I’ll look up at the sky.
And I’ll see, above the city, in the darkness, burning stars.
In the crystal air of winter, it will seem that they are near.

And though I cannot touch them, they will reach into my past –
A past I cannot speak of, a history unwritten,
That still is in awareness – that is distant, like the stars,
But is waiting for remembrance, like the shadow by my side.

For the self has not forgotten all the beings it has been.
And the mind has not forgotten all the visions it has seen.
Through the ages and the eons, they’ve been layered deep beneath…
So I’ll shiver in that alley, as I gaze up at the stars…
 
When this body-soul is vanished, and the traces of it lost,
Will another, from an abyss, in a cloudless season, see
The fires that burn in darkness, like the beacons that they are?
Will that being stare and shiver, in its wonder and its fear?

Through the eons and the ages, as the sun went up and down,
As it traveled north and southwards and as Luna waxed and waned,
The stars have crossed the heavens of this place we call the Earth.
How many eyes have seen them, from this planet of their birth?

How many more, on planets that are whirling 'round the stars,
Have gazed at them in wonder – from the distant, distant past
To the present – and in future will be gawking at them still?
How many eyes united, by their visions of the all?

When the winter wind is blowing and the water’s turned to ice,
I will see the star-fires burning, in the darkness of the night.
And in my recollection, there’ll be stirrings of the past,
And the part of me that’s speechless will be spellbound at the sight…
     
2014 December 18th, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York
 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Softer Voice

 
The Softer Voice
 

Be it chicken, pig or human, or a fish that swims the seas,
There’s an eye in every being, that’s recording what it sees.
And the record of the ages is a tale of endless woe,
And the promise of the future is of sorrows, even more.
 
And we glorify our species, and we name it “man the wise”,
But our history is bloody, though it’s hidden by our lies –
Horror heaped on horror, through the eons since the flood,
On us humans by us humans, in a world awash in blood…
 
Are we angels, are we devils, are we somewhere in between?
We are surely born of demons, for our actions are obscene.
But in babies as in puppies, and in grasses growing green,
For the eye that knows to see it, there’s the essence soft, serene.
 
There’s the pup that softly whimpers, there’s the little kitten’s mewl.
There’s the girl in class who’s ailing, but who follows still the rule.
There’s the leaf that’s sadly drooping and that soon will die of thirst.
There’s the gentle voice that’s calling, in a world with deafness cursed.
 
Should we go about our business, should we hurry even more?
Should we speed upon the highways, should we shun the byways slow?
There’s that softer voice that’s calling, there’s the silence of the stars.
We can choose to see and listen; we can choose to end the wars.
 
In the stillness of the sunset, in the quiet of the dawn,
In the trusting eyes of children, who were here but now are gone,
We can sense that there’s a heaven, in the midst of all the hells.
For there’s such a thing as healing – and there’s still the love that wells.
  
Forgive the ones who slaughter, forgive the ones who slay.
They know not what they’re doing, as their demons, they obey.
But don’t forget the slaughtered; have them ever in your mind.
As you go about your business, remember to be kind.
 
2014 December 17th, Wed.
Brooklyn, New York
   

Monday, December 15, 2014

আবার তোমারে পাওয়া – abar tomare paoa

  
আবার তোমারে পাওয়া 


আঁধারে আলোয় দেখেছি তোমারে,
নিমেষে হয়েছ হাওয়া।
ডেকেছি, খুঁজেছি, কত যে চেয়েছি
আবার তোমারে পাওয়া।

  
কোথায় রয়েছ, জানি না, জানি না...
আকাশে উঠিয়ে হাত,
কেঁদেছি দিবসে, এসেছে জবাবে
লক্ষ তারার রাত...
 
স্বপ্নে ভেবেছি, দেখেছি তোমারে,
বুঝেছি, ভোরে উঠে, ভুল...
বাইরে বেরিয়ে, শীতল সকালে,
দেখেছি ফুটেছে ফুল...
 
নদির তীরে হেঁটেছি বিকেলে,
জলেতে দেখেছি তোমায়।
ডেকেছি, কেঁদেছি – মিলন তুমি
দেবে কি এবারে আমায়?

পাত্তা দেওনি কখনো, যদিও
হয়েছি ডেকে ডেকে হয়রান...
তাই ত ভেতরে,ধাপে ধাপে,
মরেছে আশা, নিবেছে প্রান।

আঁধারে আলোয় দেখেছি তোমারে,
নিমেষে হয়েছ হাওয়া।
ডেকেছি, খুঁজেছি, কত যে চেয়েছি
আবার তোমারে পাওয়া।
  
সোমবার, ১৫-ই ডিসেম্বর, ২০১৪ খৃ
ব্রুক্লিন, নিউ য়র্ক
   

-------------------------------------------------
Abar Tomare Paoa

A~dhare aloe dekhechi tomare,
nimexe hoecho haoa.
D’ekechi, khu~jechi, ko`to je ce-echi
abar tomare paoa.

Kothae roecho, jani na, jani na…
Akaxe ut’hie hat,
k~edichi dibo`xe, exeche jo`babe
lokkho-tararo rat…

Xo`pne bhebechi, dehkechi tomare.
bhujhechi, bhore ut’he, bhul…
Baire berie, xito`lo xo`kale,
dekhechi phut’eche phul…

Nodir tire he~t’echi bikele,
jo`lete dekhechi tomae.
D’ekechi, ke~dechi, “Milo`n tumi
debe ki ebare amae?”

Patta de`o ni, ko`khono, jodio
hoechi d’eke d’eke ho`eran…
Tai to bhetore, dhape dhape,
moreche axa, nibeche pran…

A~dhare aloe dekhechi tomare,
nimexe hoecho haoa.
D’ekechi, khu~jechi, ko`to je ce-echi
abar tomare paoa.

Xombar, 15-oi D’isembo`r, 2014 khri.
Bruklin, Niu Io`rk
  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

High Upon the Mountains

     
High Upon the Mountains

 
Sun, Sky, Mountains and Lake
  

   
   
   


High upon the mountains
and on the alpine plain,
I wandered -- and in dreaming
I walk those ways again.
 
******
   
For here, in Mammon's city,
I travel to and fro,
but only to my workplace --
and rarely walking slow.
    
But if I live to see them,
I'll climb up mountain trails
and meet, on high, the eagle
that soars on feathered sails.
 
I'll watch, as dawn is painting
the eastern sky in light,
and though it's cold and windy,
I'll shiver in delight.
 
And walking on the plateau,
beside the lake of gold,
I'll find, perhaps, the spirit
that once I knew as mine.

Where lichen clings to boulders
And the wind that's freezing blows,
I'll walk, in liberation,
and vanish in the snows...
     
******
 
High upon the mountains
and on the alpine plain,
I wandered -- and in dreaming
I walk those ways again.
  
2014, December 9th, Tue.
(2nd-to-last stanza Dec. 13th, Sat.)
Brooklyn, New York
   


ভোরের শিশির-bhorer xixir

  
ভোরের শিশির
 
ভোরের শিশির, রোদের তাপে, হল দেখো হাওয়া৷
এমনি ভাবে, প্রিয়তমের জীবন-যানের যাওয়া৷
তাও ত দেখো, ঘাসের দোলন, ফুল ফুটেছে লাল৷
শিশির, ওরা পান করেছে করবে আবার কাল৷

******

এই বাড়িতে জন্ম তোমার, এই বাড়িতেই মরন৷
কোথার থেকে এসেছিলে, জানে না কো কেও৷
যেখান থেকে এসেছিলে, যাবে আবার কি?
জলের স্রোতে বইছে দেখো, ঢেউএর ওপর ঢেউ৷
 
দিনের শেষে, পশ্চিমে, ওই আকাশ আগুন, দেখ৷
পাখিগুল ফিরছে শোনো, নিজের-নিজের বাসায়৷
রাতের শেষে, পুর্বে যখন ভোরের আলো, ফিকে,
জাগবে তখন, মানুষ-পাখি, নতুন দিনের আশায়৷

এই জগতে জন্ম তোমার, আঁখি মেলে দেখো,
কেও যে, শোনো, ব্যাথায় কাঁদে, কেও যে দোলে গানে৷
কান্না-হাসি, সুখ-দু:খ গ্রহন কর আজ৷
চলবে কালে, অন্য কোথায়, জগত-স্রোতের টানে৷

কত এখন কাজ রয়েছে, কাজের জীবন তোমার৷
কাজের নাচে ব্যস্ত ছিলে, রইলে শেষে আজ৷
শ্রমিক যারা, ধন্য তারা, পায় না পাত্তা তাও৷
কাজের ফল ত অন্য কারোর, তাও ত কর কাজ৷

দিনের আলো, সন্ধ্যা বেলায়, ভাটার টানে গেল৷
গভির রাতে, ঢেউএর আওয়াজ আসছে জোয়ার জোর৷
কাপর পরে, চলছি ঘাটে, প্রথম আলোর ডাকে৷
পায়ের নিচে, রাতের শিশির৷  কুয়াশা-ভরা ভোর৷
 
******

রোদের ডাকে, উঠছে এখন, নীল গগনে মেঘ৷
সূর্য় এল৷ ঊর্ধ্বে দেখো পাখির দলের বেগ৷
খিদের চটে খুঁজতে হবে আজকে আবর খাওয়া৷
কালকে আমায় খুঁজবে যখন, হয়েছি তখন হাওয়া৷
 
শনিবার, ১৩ই ডিসেম্বর, ২০১৪ খৃ৷
ব্রুক্লিন, নিউ ইয়র্ক

-----------------------------------------------------------
(For a Romanized transcription, please see below.)
-----------------------------------------------------------

Bhorer Xixir
 
Bhorer xixir, roder tape, holo de`kho haoa.
Emni bhabe, prioto`mer jibon-janer jaoa.
Tao to de`kho – ghaxer dolon, phul phut’eche, lal.
Xixir, ora pan koreche – korbe abar kal.

******

Ei bar’ite jo`nom tomar, ei bar’itei mo`ron.
Kothar theke exechile, jane na ko keo…
Jekhan theke exechile, jabe abar ki?
Jo`ler srote boiche de`kho, d’heuer opor d’heu…

Diner xexe, poxcime, oi akax agun, de`kho.
Pakhigulo phirche, xono, nijer-nijer baxae.
Rater xexe, purbe jo`khon bhorer alo, phike,
Jagbe to`khon, manux-pakhi, notun diner axae.

Ei jogo`te jo`nom tomar, a~khi mele de`kho,
Keo je, xono, be`thae ka~de, keo je dole gane.
Kanna-haxi, xukh-dukkho gro`hon ko`ro aj.
Colbe kale, onno kothao, jo`got-sroter t’ane.
  
Ko`to e`khon kaj roeche, kajer jibon tomar.
Kajer nace be`sto chile, roile xexe aj.
Sromik jara, dhonno tara, pae na patta tao.
Kajer pho`l to onno karor, tao to ko`ro kaj.

Diner alo, xondhe be`lae, bhat’ar t’ane ge`lo.
Gobhir rate, d’heuer aoaj – axche joar jor…
Kapor por’e, colchi ghat’e, prothom alor d’ake.
Paer nice, rater xixir.  Koaxa-bho`ra bhor…
 
******

Roder d’ake, ut’che e`khon, nil go`gone megh.
Xurjo elo.  Urdhe de`kho – pakhir do`ler beg.
Khider cot’e khu~jte ho`be ajke abar khaoa.
Kalke amae khu~jbe jo`khon, hoechi to`khon haoa.

Xonibar, 13-oi D’isembo`r, 2014 khri.
Bruklin, Niu Io`rk

  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Frustrated Swindler

  
The Frustrated Swindler
 
When I was young, I thought I'd make,
by devious means, a fortune.
And for advice, in doing this,
I did, a set'h, importune.                        \1

And this is what he told me then,
while twirling, slow, a whisker.
"The money to be made is there,
where businesses are brisker.

"As bees must go to flowers if
they wish to find their honey,
So travel west, where firangis,              \2
with Frankish zeal, make money.

"There's comfort when you earn a pound,
a euro or a dollar.
But when it's rupaiyahs you earn,         \3
for mercy, you might holler.

"For while the other three go up
or hold, at least, at steady,
A rupaiyah's value tends to fall.
For this, you're rarely ready.

"So go on down to London or
to Zurich, with a swindle.
And once you've stashed your pounds or francs,
rupaiyahs, use, to kindle."

And so, I flew upon a plane
and landed in the West.
And there, to carry out my plan,
I tried my very best.

But then, alas, I found my luck
was not as I had wanted.
The dollar and the euro dropped,
that once were highly  vaunted.

And so, dejected, I returned
with only debts grown bigger.
And in my native land, I found
I'd turned into a beggar.

On meeting once that selfsame set'h,
I told him, "Your advice
was either wrong by error or
on purpose, Mr. Nice."

He laughed and twirled a whisker and
he went upon his way.
The moral?  This:  No set'hs, believe.
And in your birthplace, stay.

2014 December 10, Wed.
Brooklyn, New York
 

Hindustani (Urdu-Hindi) words
   
1. set'h:  very rich person
2. firangi:  westerner, European (possibly from "Frank")
3. rupaiyah:  rupee, rupiah (from the word for silver),
    unit of currency in Pakistan, India, Malaysia  
--------------------------------------------------------------------  
Thanks to my friend Vivek for inspiring this, by sending me, as a joke, the following "news article".  Click on the image to see an enlarged view.  Hit the escape key or click on the white X at the top right of the black screen to return to this post.
 
If the image is still too small to read the text, in Internet Explorer and Firefox you can use the F11 key to toggle between full-screen and normal views.
 

 


Saturday, December 6, 2014

ভোরের আশার গান (Sing to Me-Bangla)

  
Sing to Me  কবিতার অনুবাদ
 
The Song of the Hope of Dawn
 
ভোরের আশার গান
  
সরলতার গান কর আজ,
যাতে ধুয়ে যায় সব ময়লা, সব পাপ৷
রাতের কুয়াশা জাগে, ভোরের ডাকে –
গাও আজ সেই প্রভাতের সুন্দর সুরে৷
  
গাও আজ সেই প্রথম ভোরের গান,
যাতে মনে পড়ে ছোটোবেলার কথা৷
শুনে, আসে সুখ, জেগে ওঠে প্রান –
তাই তো দিলাম আশীর্বাদ৷

সেই পুরোনো দিনের গান, গাও গো আমায়,
যাতে সেই পুরোনো পথে চলি –
দেখি আবার তাদের, যারা গিয়েছে আগে –
তাদের সঙ্গে হাসি কাঁদি৷
  
বইছে, শোনো, হাওয়া – মৃদু, জলের কল্কল৷
গাও গো আমায় সেই কোমল গীতি৷
রাতের স্বপ্ন মেশে ভোরের সাথে –
গাও গো আমায় সেই সুখের আশার গান৷

শনিবার, ২৯এ নভেম্বর, ২০১৪ খৃঃ
(অনুবাদ শনিবার, ৬ ডিসেম্বর)
ব্রুক্লিন, নিউ য়র্ক
  

   
Sing to Me  (English original)
http://thedailypoet.blogspot.com/2014/11/sing-to-me.html 
  
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Sing to Me kobitar onubad

The Song of the Hope of Dawn
  
Bhorer Axar Gan
   
Xo`rolotar gan ko`ro aj,
jate dhue jae xo`b mo`ela, xo`b pap.
Rater kuosha jage bhorer dake –
gao aj xei probhater xundor xure.
 
Gao aj xei prothom bhorer gan,
jate mone po`re chot’obe`lar ko`tha.
Xune, axe xukh, jege ot’he pran –
tai to dilam axirbad.
  
Xei purono diner gan, gao go amae,
jate xei purono po`the coli –
dekhi abar tader, jara gieche age –
tader xo`nge haxi ka~di.
  
Boiche xono haoa – xono jo`ler ko`lko`l.
Gao go amae xei komol giti.
Rater xo`pno mexe bhorer xathe –
Gao go amae xei xukher axar gan.
  
xonibar, 29-e no`vembo`r, 2014 khri.
(onubad, xonibar, 6 disembo`r)
bruklin, niu io`rk
  

Sing to Me  (English original)
http://thedailypoet.blogspot.com/2014/11/sing-to-me.html
   

  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sing to Me

 
Sing to Me 

  
Early winter sky along Newfound Gap Road. © Kristina Plaas.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
   


 
Sing to me the song of innocence,
so all the grime and sin are washed away.
And sing to me of what was beautiful –
of mists of morn that rose to greet the day.
  
Sing to me the song of morning-time,
so I remember days of youth again.
And let me bless you for the morning song
that gives me joy and makes me live again.
  
Oh sing to me the song of times now past,
so I may walk again upon those paths
and see again the ones who went before –
to smile and laugh and cry with them once more.
   
Sing to me the song of gentleness,
the song of rustling wind and tinkling water.
Sing to me the hopeful song of dawn,
when dreaming merges with the edge of morn.
       
2014 November 29th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York
  

Robbie Robertson - Cherokee Morning Song
  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=smNaTGabsQI
  
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
For a translation of Sing to Me into Bengali, please see:
  
http://thedailypoet.blogspot.com/2014/12/sing-to-me-bangla.html
 

Maya – Illusion and Attachment

 
Maya – Illusion and Attachment
 
When praise comes by, then know that scorn is next.
When scorn arrives, do not, by that, be vexed.
As winds may blow from east and then from west,
So also, chasing worst, there comes the best.
 
But you could quibble, “No, it isn’t so.
Of woe and sorrow, I have more and more.”
You might be right.  The winds that blow, of chance,
Bring clouds and sun, within the cosmic dance.
 
And those, who’re lucky, they may bask in sun
For quite awhile, with share and more of fun,
While others may be drenched, through years and years,
And shiver as they shed, forlorn, their tears.
 
The Stoics, Buddhists, Jains, they all agree –
From woe undue, by this, we could be free –
On circumstance, put no or little weight –
Let praises go – and scorn, as so much freight.

It’s easier said than done, as all may know.
How many mortals, such forbearance show,
Both outwardly and also deep within,
When beaten down with woe and human sin?
 
How many more have puffed themselves with pride
And on achievements or on praises ride...
And when their small balloons, perchance, are burst,
How much, for what they’ve lost, they strive and thirst…
 
“Observe,” it’s said, “the world – without, within.
Observe the pleasure and the pain you’re in.
See fear arise – and anger, greed and lust,
And see these then subside, as all things must.
 
“Observe the breath, and let it gently flow.
As you exhale, so let your worries go –
Your fears and cravings are like ripples.  They
Will dance across the pond and fade away.”
 
And all of this is well and good.  And yet,
When caught in tempests strong – or in the net,
We struggle, struggle, even when we’re free,
For on this freedom we might not agree.
  
We cling to pleasure and we cling to pain.
And from this clinging, these arise again.
We crave the pleasure but we fear its loss.
We fear the pain – and in our angst, we toss.
 
The ones we love – and all we might have built,
We’ll leave them all – with peace of mind or guilt.
And some may leave before or after.  Naught
Remains – and yet we're still, in dreamings, caught.
 
There’s woe of circumstance and then there’s woe
That we create or worsen.  “Let that go.”
Is what the seers, in their wisdom, said.
Enough!  Let’s practice, now, the things we've read.
 
For one could write and write, and one could read –
But mount again upon the usual steed.
To practice what I teach, I now should knuckle
Down to do, and at my preaching chuckle.
 
Upon our mortal paths, we each must go,
But none of us is here alone in woe.
Compassion is a thing that all might feel –
But truly learn, when caught beneath the wheel.
 
2014  November 29th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York
   

Friday, November 28, 2014

Homo Sapiens

   
Homo Sapiens 
 
I had traveled over continents and crossed the oceans wide
To then settle on this island, by the swift Atlantic tide.
And here, I’ve made a living and have duly paid the rent –
But on looking back I wonder where my time and labor went.
 
For the joy I had in learning and in teaching what I’d learned
May be extant still, but muted, from the lashings that I’ve earned.
And the ebb and flow of seasons and the passing of the years
Have left me worn and weary, as my time of ending nears.
  
For though I’d flown across the globe, my travels since that time
Have mostly been to work and back – the worker’s tiresome rhyme.
And though this had a rhythm, like the whip on rebels brave
Or on men or beasts of burden, it has made of me a slave.
 
Should the men, of Earth begotten, and the women, side by side,
Have the Sky they claim as father watch his offspring still provide
The flour for the ovens that their humankind may make
And the fire, in which humans, yet other humans, bake?
 
Though all my life, for workers’ rights, I’ve carried high the torch,
I wonder what my thoughts will be, while gazing from a porch,
Retired from work at factories, if lucky – or, if not,
While blindly slumped upon a chair and by the world forgot’.
 
I walk to work and back each day, and though the work I do
Might give me bread to eat and more, I quietly say to you,
“Let not your son or daughter grow to work within a mill,
For that might rob your child of joy and even break the will.”
 
And what you would not have your offspring do, I’d ask that you
Should not expect that others do.  To conscience, then, be true,
And ask, what humankind can do, to free itself of fetters –
So no one issues orders, nor aspires to join their “betters”.
 
Let’s rid the world of pestilence.  Let’s start on it afresh.
Let no one call another “boss”.  Your mind and soul, refresh
In waters pure of dignity, so all can rightly claim
There lived a race of beings wise – in truth, not just in name.
  
2014 November 28th, Fri.
Brooklyn, New York
  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Karma – Part II

   
Karma – Part II
   
If only we were free to live the life
that’s there to live, without the stress and strife
unneeded, wrought by humans wanting more,
we’d live in grace – and still in grace, we’d go.
  
From thought arises word, from thought comes deed.
Be mindful then, of stuff on which you feed.
There’s no accountant up there, keeping score,
but every action leads to actions more.

And actions, words, in turn, engender thoughts –
and so the spirals, built of endless naughts,
proceed.  So blessing and damnation flow,
as eons, lives and seasons come and go.
    
Our thoughts and words and actions make a nest
or make a snare, in which we’re caught or rest.
And when, around us, ignorance accrued
has built a prison, then we’re truly screwed…
   
There lived a trader once in Brooklyn, who
of much that’s done, around the planet, knew
to raise the shares – and work the fields of woe,
and yet, he daily took the train, to hoe.
   
But when, one day, he saw the plume that rose
from Mammon’s isle, to which the tribute flows,
he murmured, thinking back to profits’ boost,
“Alas, the birds are coming home to roost.”
   
“Alas – and yet, at last.” he stood and said,
As karma did its work of darkness dread.
He then resolved to leave his woeful toil
and sow instead the light, in blighted soil.
   
And so, he turned to teaching children then
and found in this, awhile, a bit of zen,
until he saw that there was nowhere left
that wasn’t, of what’s sacred, quite bereft.
   
He could not raise his hands to a god and cry,
“Not even here!  Oh tell me – why, oh why?”
He thought of all that he had come to know –
and then decided it was time to go.
   
He walked that evening to the river wide
and stood in darkness by the current’s side.
He almost dove, but then he heard a voice.
“There's kindness still.  Remember – and rejoice.”
   
2014 November 22nd, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York
  

Karma--Part I
  
For a prose preface to Karma--Part II, please see Thanksgiving Thoughts -- On Turkeys, Teachers, Soldiers and Conscience.
   

Karma – Part I

   
Karma – Part I 
 
 


A bullet, fired in haste towards the sky,
might well descend and hit one in the eye –
but rarely will it land upon the one
who shot it upwards, glorying in his gun.
 
So also, acts we do in carelessness
might well create, around us, much distress,
yet leave us free, as if our lives were charmed.
We seldom feel the pain of those we’ve harmed.
 
For rarely do we get to realize
our actions weren’t only most unwise,
but even though we never gave them mind,
to others, what we did was most unkind.
 
What’s done, has consequence that may
be naught to us, until it’s worked its way
around our world and then returns to us.
Till then, we shrug and wonder at the fuss.
 
For karma isn’t what it’s said to be.
It often leaves the perpetrators free –
and even their descendants prosper, while
the line of victims stretches, mile on mile…
 
The world’s divided into those who rule
and those who’re ruled, and though we sometimes fool
ourselves and think that justice will be served,
the villains rarely get what they deserved.
 
So some imagine there’s a future hell
or heaven – and this dream of justice sell.
But though this breaks a true believer’s heart,
They nowhere go, who’re born and then depart.
 
So follow dharma now.  Let conscience speak.
And if you can, defend the ones who’re meek.
Be cognizant of thought, of speech and deed.
For once you’re gone, you will be dead indeed.
 
But you can leave behind a wake of pain
or one that blesses, time and time again.
Go gently on your path upon this world,
in which we each, by randomness, are hurled.
 
There’s woe enough upon this planet blue,
on which we journey, all of us.  And you
and I can choose to add to this yet more –
or leave some space, where there was naught before.
 
So leave aside ambition.  Wealth and power
and all that’s done to gain these, hour by hour,
deprive of joy – and even rob of breath –
the ones who’re used – the ones the lords forget.
 
Pursue your dreams, but not the one for fame.
Let only those you loved recall your name
when you’ve departed.  Quietly live and go,
content that you could be, not wanting more…
 
2014 November 22nd, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York

Karma--Part II
 
     
For a prose preface to Karma--Part II, please see Thanksgiving Thoughts -- On Turkeys, Teachers, Soldiers and Conscience.
     

Thursday, November 13, 2014

There’s Much That Needs Repair

  
There’s Much That Needs Repair
 
The minds of men are fickle, and women too are swayed
By wind and tide and fashion, as others watch dismayed.
They seek for reason steady, they look for conscience clear.
They hope for true compassion, but rarely find it near.

We go to wars in frenzies, we’re led to battles dire,
And though we’re red and gory, of this, do humans tire?
The horsemen whip the stallions, and see – they gallop more.
And who will pause from racing – or even try to slow?

For faster, ever faster, is Mammon’s main demand.
But who can still resist this – or even understand?
The Bloombergs make their billions, they squeeze the workers tight,
And who will dare to question – or say it isn’t right?

The more the factory’s profit, the more we are oppressed.
Can learning true, or teaching, be more and more compressed?
We’re told to cut the corners, but never told this loud.
We bow to all the falsehoods that pose as purpose proud.

There’ll come a time when loving, in euros, yen is sold.
For all, that’s deemed as precious, is eyed for ventures bold.
Enough of buying, selling – of body, mind and soul!
It’s time for a repairing – to make what’s shattered whole.

How sweet the sound of wisdom, how clear is reason’s call!
But who of us has courage, to stand for one and all?
Behold the spoils of carnage, and hearken to despair.
The time has come to stop it.  There’s much that needs repair.

The child is quietly playing, as children once did do.
The mother and the father are none but me and you.
The calf is quietly grazing – but no – it’s what we dreamed.
When conscience has awakened, it’s not as what it seemed.

Do not depend on prophets to tell you what is right.
And do not run to bosses to aid your petty fight,
But listen to your conscience and be of charity.
Expel the must of madness and breathe of clarity.

The revolutions happen – and then they dissipate
And make things even harder, for those who work and wait.
It's quiet that is needed, so rush and madness cease.
The sound is then of gladness, the work is that of peace.

2014 November 13th, 3:29 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Madness in the Schools

    
The Madness in the Schools
 
I could write of global madness till the dread one came for me,
And those who read my ramblings still might never understand.
So let me write of local things – of what I saw and heard
And what I did or couldn’t do – and not of matters grand.
 
I ‘d read when I was young:  a madman thinks that all around
Are mad – and only he alone is sane among the crazed.
And if that truly is the case, I’m surely going mad,
For when I see what’s thought as sane, I really am amazed.

I see the school I work in, and I see the teachers smile
Or grimace at the jobs they do.  I hear the students chatter
Or murmur or be quiet and I wonder at it all –
For few or none are asking, “What we’re doing – does it matter?”

I see the bathrooms locked, except for portions of the day.
I find three thousand students sharing bathrooms four at most,
And two of them are tiny, while the other two, I note,
Are mostly locked.  And yet, about this school, we often boast.

The senior teachers told me, when I started on a subject,
“There isn’t time to teach this.  We must hurry, hurry, speed!”
I taught it for a good two years, and hurried, like they said.
But then – a period chopped, a week – and all was hell, indeed!
 
“A period less a week translates to two months less a year!
So how are we to cover what we earlier barely could?”
They shrugged and said, “That’s how it is.” It seemed they didn’t hear.
But I’ve been lost and struggling since.  Complaining did no good.

I’d found the students from abroad had less of attitudes
That irked. They tried to do their work – and treated me as human.
And so I’d asked for them again – but then I found a flood
Of those with English zero – and a task that was inhuman.

“A science is a language that is specialized and yet
Relies, for understanding, on a language that is shared.
So how am I to teach it, and how are they to learn?”
I asked the ones around me – and wondered if they cared.   
   
I hurried still but also slowed.  I annotated texts,
I simplified the language and I used an online tool
To make translations – poor, but still enough to wake the dazed.
I worked and worked – but more and more, I felt I was a fool.
  
“What matters is what ‘they’ will see, on entering your room –
The ones who matter in our world, the ones who oversee us.
They’ll judge you on their ‘rubrics’.  And there still remains the test.
So do, what all are doing.  Quit with all your useless fuss.”
 
This is what the teachers say – and even might believe in.
I’ve painted with a brush that’s wide, but painted the consensus.
And when we’re all reduced to this – or are, by nature, gifted
To teach and learn at lightning speed, then who can slow or trip us?
 
And much, much more I could describe – and only what I’ve seen
And heard and done while at the school, and only what’s of late…
The mind attempts to do the task it’s given.  It succeeds
Or not.  And some accept what comes – as destiny or fate…
 
But surely there are things that we as humans understand –
What can’t be done or can?  And surely, in a school with kids,
We try to do what’s best for them?  Expediency may rule
In other things.  Should teachers set their students on the skids?
 
I look around and see the younger teachers and the old
Alike survive – in ways I can’t.  Perhaps my brain’s been fried.
Or I perhaps am going mad, while others still are sane.
For what I’d read, when I was young, was surely true and tried…

We’re told to teach in ways that seem impossible – and yet,
Behold – the "master-teachers" teach, and gods are satisfied!
Go visit in their classrooms and you’ll see, upon their walls,
The marvels that their kids have done.  They should be deified…
 
2014 November 8th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York
  

Friday, October 31, 2014

Incubus

  
Incubus
 
I have spoken, I have written – of the madness that afflicts us.
And I’m one among the millions, who have noted that we’re mad.
But still there’s no abatement. The fever hasn’t peaked.
And what is the prognosis? The answer is, “It’s bad.”
 
For an illness not resisted, of the body or the mind,
Can be one that turns to lethal. Should we let the patient die?
Should he suffer in his torment, unnoticed till he’s dead?
Should we cover up his torture – and his corpus, with a lie?
 
For the patient is no other than our species – and the world.
And the seed may be from Nature, but it’s found a soil in us.
And its growth is ugly, monstrous – and it’s choking all the rest.
It’s an illness that’s devouring – and its vectors – they are us.
 
There is madness, in our culture, that has entered in our blood.
Insanity’s the driver that has brought the world to this –
That the sane among us sicken, as they see what has been wrought
By the god whose name is “Mammon” and is “Madness” – with a hiss.
 
The hissing of a serpent is a warning to the one
That might tread upon its body.  But the sibilant that ends
The name of “Mammon-Madness” is the hissing sound of death,
For it tells of dread affliction – and of horrors, it portends…
 
Will we fight off the infection – will the fever peak and pass?
We cannot know the answer, we can only pray and hope.
Is there treatment for the illness – are there those, who know the cure?
We do not know the answers – we can only try to cope.
   
But the toll it takes is heavy – on us humans and the rest.
So I write again of madness, of the all-devouring kind,
That has coupled fierce with money and has made the evil spawn
That is eating up the planet and is feeding on the Mind.
 
I have seen him in a vision, as he went about his task.
For this monster has a mission, as its devotees may know.
And the purpose of this being?  That’s a question we may ask,
As the answer may be screeching in the demon-winds that blow.
   
2014  October 31st, Fri.
Brooklyn, New York 
 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Decompression

  
Decompression
 
When you’re hassled and you’re harried,
And you’ve hurried through the day,
And you’re seeking salve or solace
That will soothe your stress away –
  
Then it’s time to get a cuppa –
As the British like to say –
Or a coffee or a tipple
That will end your working day.
  
But be timid with the tipple
That might lead to two or three,
And be cautious with the coffee,
If of “nerves” you would be free.
  
It is better, after resting,
With your feet up, with a tea,
To go walking, as if leisure
Were a right for you and me.
    
And if you’re in a city,
And to stand and stare is safe,
There are people, who are passing,
And the stores, at which to gape.
    
And there’s even in the alleys
The ever-changing sky –
And if, perchance, you’re lucky,
There are branches, spreading high…
   
2014 October 30th, Thu.
Dunkin Donuts, 79th Street & 17th Ave.
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
 

Cosmos

    
Cosmos
 

There was silence, there was singing, there was darkness, there was light.
There was waking, there was dreaming, there was danger and delight.
There was presence, there was absence, there was hoping and despair.
There was wounding, there was healing, there was damage and repair.

There was birth and there was dying, there was living in between.
There was pain and there was pleasure, there were things that were unseen.
There was tasting, there was scenting, there was feeling, there was heart,
There was mind and there was matter, there was science, there was art.

******
   
And all of this was there then, that is vanished now and gone,
In that world that we were born in, on that planet we were on.
What is left is still the spirit, that is waiting for rebirth
On a planet that is spinning, on its orbit, like the Earth.

On that planet, in the cosmos that is timeless, that is vast,
Will the beings there remember, what had happened in the past?
Will the harsher sides of Nature, will the horrors, will the wars
Be remembered or repeated – as on Venus, as on Mars?
 
******
   
Is there silence on the mountain, is there quiet in the dale?
In the forests that are lifeless, is there one to tell the tale
Of what happened on our planet, that is swinging ‘round its sun?
But hark – the wind is singing.  And listen – waters run.

In their time, the fields will blossom, and the valleys will be green.
And the lovers then will wander, in the seasons soft, serene.
They will gaze up at the planets, at the brightly shining moon.
It will happen, it will happen.  But it will not happen soon.

******
 
And who will be the beings that will couple in the dark?
Will the skies of day have fliers that will soar on high and arc?
Will the grazers then be tripeds that were never there before?
Will the oceans then have beings that have music, that have lore?
 
How wondrous is the cosmos that is spirit, that is dirt,
Where the stars are distant beacons and yet lovers gently flirt,
Where there’s naught that isn’t passing and where love and flowers bloom,
Where the beings rise and vanish, so that others may have room…
   
2014 October 30th, Thu., 3:01 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
  

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Chant

 
The Chant
 
I heard the singing in the dawn, when the mist had not yet risen,
And dreaming in my bed, there came to me a wondrous vision –
I saw a line of women, on a sylvan mountain way –
And even from afar, I saw that line appeared to sway.
  
For the women, they were singing and were dancing as they went –
I could hear them sweetly singing, and the song was heaven-sent –
I could see the women dancing as they walked upon their way –
As the mist was slowly rising and the twilight turned to day.
 
I heard the singing in my dream, and woke to find the light
Was spreading in the eastern sky, as day was chasing night…
And was I only dreaming – or had truly heard the chant
Of the women on the mountain?  I could answer – but I shan’t.
 
2014 October 27th, Mon.
Brooklyn, New York
 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Winter Comes – II

 
The Winter Comes – II
 
We age, we falter, lose our strength and die.
And some of us may idly wonder why.
But each of us, in this, have little choice –
These truths persist – that many would deny.
 
And some escape, awhile, the costs of age,
And when they see they can’t, they’re filled with rage –
And others may accept them, noting death
And all that comes before, with mindsets sage…

The leaf will yellow, wither then and fall –
And death, in time, will issue each its call,
For everyone that’s born, in turn, will die –
So aging, sickness, death, await us all…

While walking slowly once beside the sea,
I entered in a sort of reverie –
And thought I heard a voice, speaking low…
And this is what that spirit said to me –

“Oh live the life you’re given and rejoice,
Be grateful for your blessings, giving voice
To gratitude – in speech and in your deeds,
For in these things we still have each a choice.”

I listened then – and ever since, I’ve tried,
Despite the blow, despite the chance denied
That came so many times, to me and those
I knew and loved, to still be gratified…

For death has never held for me, the dread
That others might perceive in it, and yet
So many things are still unkempt and will,
I know, remain undone when I am dead.

And those, for whom the winds of chance have laid,
On me, a duty, though I’m disarrayed –
I would not leave them prey to woes that I,
By minding duty, could perhaps have stayed…

We age, we sicken, lose our health, descend,
As others then neglect or condescend...
And some, perhaps, might lend a helping hand –
Or not.  We struggle, lonely, till the end.

But walking on the street, in autumn, I
Can see the leaves, that one by one, will die,
Upon the trees – and strewn along the street.
Who grieves for them?  And who dares wonder why?

The conifers are green throughout the year.
With antifreeze evolved, they need not fear
The seasons cold.  But even they will pass  –
And who, for a fallen pine, will shed a tear?

Ah – life and death, like yang and yin entwined…
Who knows, whence life arises, whence the mind –
And where they go, when autumn’s winds have blown?
The winter comes. Take solace – and be kind…

For when we’re gone, the freezing winds will blow
And cover then the remnant leaves with snow.
But in its time, there’ll also be the spring –
And little birds will sing, as grasses grow…
 
2014 October 26th, Sun., 2:12 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York