Monday, March 31, 2014

I Walked Through the Woods

I Walked Through the Woods
I walked by myself on a path through the woods,
When the trees were green with spring.
I walked through the woods, in the dappled shade,
With the tender leaves aflame.

I walked by myself and I breathed the scent
Of the rain on the ground and the trees.
And the bark was wet, it was dark and wet,
But the leaves were touched with light.

I walked by myself and I heard the sounds,
The sounds of the leaves in the breeze.
And the ground was soft beneath my feet
And the leaves were dancing flames.

I walked by myself on a winding path,
When the woods were  a tender green.
And my heart was lit by the grace of spring
As the leaves were glowing green.

2014 March 31st, Mon. 3:37 pm
Teachers’ Cafeteria, Basement
New Utrecht High School
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn 


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring

Bird and Blooms of Spring – from Rosangela Bile’s Facebook post

I saw, today, a little bird,
And then I saw another.
I saw a tree was taut with twigs
And buds – and then another.

And though the little buds were closed,
With not a leaf in sight,
I felt the air was balmier.
The sky was filled with light.

And as I watched a little bird,
It chirped and took to wing.
And when another did the same,
I knew – we'd soon have spring.

2014 March 30th, Sun.
Brooklyn, New York

Related:  We Call for Spring

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Beware the Salesmen / We are the Worm

The author, a founding member of the Worm Party here in Brooklyn, New York, stopped using toothpaste almost a decade ago.  He gave up on soap several years later, and on his weekly one-drop-of-shampoo about a year ago.  He feels much better from escaping these horrors.  He still brushes his teeth regularly and showers on occasion.

His washing-obsessed wife (whom he has wisely not attempted to persuade in this regard) and his equally obsessive dentist, whom he visits once a year for no good reason except his wife’s insistence, do regularly give him above-passing marks in the hygiene, odor and dental integrity departments. 

He never did get into cars and gadgets, as he couldn’t afford those.  He is the accidental and reluctant owner (and timorous operator) of a computer.  He also has a regular telephone as well as a primitive cell phone. He acquired the latter so he could get assignments in time when he was subbing at the schools.  He considered buying a VCR for about a decade, mainly for teaching purposes, but then found that these had been replaced by DVD players, which were too high-tech for him. 

He possesses one pair of gravely worn-at-the-heels but otherwise functional shoes.  He bought his last clothes over a dozen years ago, but his wife buys trousers for him, once every few years, as they get worn out or shrink from washing and drying in the neighborhood laundromat. He totes his clothes to this place once every two weeks or so, while wondering how he could avoid this laborious task, which takes up several hours of his highly priced, executive-level time.

He has been working, with varying degrees of success, including failure, on getting away from other commercial products and services, while still looking, for reasons he will not divulge, to recruit members for the Worm Party.  If you or anyone you know is interested, please direct them to him.
When he last checked, the membership tally for that party had reached a stable plateau at unity.  He holds all the high (and low) positions in that party, but is willing to share a few with qualified and recommended candidates.
Beware the Salesmen / We are the Worm

Beware the salesmen, selling yet more stuff,
As if we haven’t bought, of these, enough.
But pity them, for they are pistons too
Of that machine that runs on me and you.

And one is selling soap – another, grease,
A third, more desperate, a nubile niece.
At marketing, the Brits and Yanks were best.
To beat them, others vie, as we’ll attest.

And so it is that things are sold and bought.
They’re mostly useless.  Some cause endless harm.
But what to do?  We’ve been conditioned, caught.
We buy yet more, as salesmen vie to charm.

They’ll sell you potions, vitamins and drugs.
They’ll sell you on their ventures sly with thugs.
But when their thug gets feisty, then you’ll see
They’ll sell you war.  A patriot, you’ll be!

We’ve magazines and TV sets and more.
And all of these are used to push the sell.
We’re fattened and then told to lose that fat.
We’re led to sin and frightened then with hell.

Beware the men in suits who market God,
Yet pity these as well, and smile and nod
In passing by.  Our souls are desperate.
If there’s no God, there’s still a need for it.

Avoid the salesmen who are slick or sly.
You’ll lose the battle if you ask them why.
It’s better, yes, to flee than try to fight,
For they’ll convince you that what’s wrong is right.

For who can question gravity or dollars,
Or those who daily don their whited collars?
And who can argue with a knotted tie,
As polished shoes reflect the practiced lie?

You’re deficient.  This, they’ll let you know.
And then, what’s needed, with a flourish, show.
And when you’re hooked and struggling on the line,
They’ll chalk one up, for Company Divine.

There’s caffeine and nicotine and gum,
And stronger stuff, like heroin and rum.
We die from sweets and from the blackened lung
And still buy gadgets, guns and devil’s dung.

They’ll sell you candy and they’ll sell you ‘phones.
They’ll say, “Buy this, and see how loud she moans.”
And they can sell you learning, faith and books,
Or even how to join their gang of crooks.

But there’s a way that you and I can join
To render worthless that commercial coin,
On which all business runs.  For we can shy
Away from shysters, whistling, “We don’t buy.

“We do not buy the things you sell, oh no!
With all of these you came – and now can go.
Perhaps you’ll sell your stuff to Indians.  They
Were murdered here, but live there – that a-way!

“And now, they are a billion strong, we heard.
In China too, you’ll find a human herd.
Go sell them soaps, computers, betterment.
And leave us be, to smile in merriment!

“And if you’re smart, you’ll make your products there.
Detroit is broken.  More will surely break,
As factories are blooming, east and south.
In time, there will be nothing, here, to make.

“For labor there is cheaper, still, than here.
And so, you’ll make your profits, large and clear.
And if they organize, in worst of cases,
You’ll move again, or call in help from bases.

“But still, we’ll buy, as we’re conditioned to.
We’ll sell our mothers for that IMad II.
We’ll buy on credit and we’ll lose our homes.
On why this is, you’ll find no dearth of tomes.

“And when the labor here becomes as cheap
Or cheaper, you can then return in glory.
The profits here and there, you’ll slyly reap,
And all dissensions mute, with methods gory.

“For though we’re good at selling useless stuff,
We’re even better, yes, at buying it.
In truth, it seems we’ll never have enough
However much we groan, decrying it.

“And tops among the stuff we buy are these –
The guns and bombs and planes and missiles that
Ensure that we can slaughter at our will
And even bomb the Himalayas flat.

“To those, who ask for reasons for our wars,
Say simply this.  ‘Behold, this street with cars.
It’s better that we fight our wars abroad,
Than here, where Christians drive to worship God.

‘And since it seems that war or just the threat
Of it suffices to maintain and spike
Production of the arms and so ensures
Employment, profits, you – can take a hike!’

“But growing, here, within the beating heart
Of Capital, there is a nibbling worm
And that is us.  We do not buy at all,
And work to make, of this, the future norm.

“We are the worm. The worm is us.
We do not buy.  We have no use for soaps.
So Capital will die.  There’ll be a fuss.
But what to do, when Cash is on the ropes?

“Oh, there’ll be violence and much, much worse.
There always is.  Behold Egyptians’ plight.
So Capital will struggle, murder, curse –
And then depart.  We’ll bid it then good night.”

2014 March 28th, Fri. evening & 29th morning.
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York



 In yogic meditation the blind beggar waits
 For the last coin to clink in his rusty old can.

He can't see the streetwalker hovering in hope
For the chance passer-by who just might make her night;

Nor the cop, drunk to stupor and sprawled in a halo
Of spew by the kerb, right below the street lamp;

Nor the dog and the bitch in the lamp-post's precarious
Shadow, conjoined in a quiet coital act.

The temple pujari tots up his day's takings
And locks the cage door on his gilt-edged ward,

Picks a stone off the footpath, hurls it at the dogs,
Crosses over to the woman and takes her by the hand.

Arm around her waist, he leads her to his shack,
Walking past the beggar, flings a fistful of change;

Some jangles on the sidewalk, some clinks in the can;
The mendicant is shaken from his pensive trance.

He scurries round the pavement, gets each last coin in;
Then, spreading out his gunny sack, turns in for the night.

By the kerb, the cop stirs, turns over and snores;
And the deity behind the bars stares, stony-eyed. 

Vivek Khadpekar
Ahmedabad, 1988

By the same author:  Rites of Passage / Vespertinal  

Friday, March 28, 2014

And There's the Peace

And There’s the Peace
It’s said that all that lives is truly one.
Yet life devours what lives with scant remorse.
And though we’re linked together in a web,
Like stars, we burn in dismal loneliness.

And some forget this as they live their lives.
They find connections and their sense of place.
But comes a time, when ties are severed and
With what they are, they then come face to face.

They spend their years, their labor and their lives
And when they realize they’ve little left,
How many then must bear futility
As one more weight to carry till the end?

We let the world define our roles and selves,
And when the act or play has ended, then
We look for yet another role to play
Or else despair and curse our nothingness.

But there’s a thread, unbroken, in our lives,
That can’t be sensed until we turn away
From all the sound and fury of the race
And find, within, our gentle, silent place.

How many are the horrors that we face --
How fierce, the wars that ravage lands for years...
But even where the wars are distant, there
We toil and suffer in our little hells.

How many live, while wishing they could die,
From death prevented by their duties or
Their fears?  Tormented are their weary days,
Demented are their nights, as reason ebbs.

But some there are, who find philosophy,
That ancient balm that served the ones before.
It still can let the ravaged pauper find,
In losses, more of comfort than in gains.

The less one has, the freer is the soul.
There’s less of worry.  Where’s the fear of loss
When nothing’s left?  And yet, where one sees naught,
Another sees the treasure true that’s left.

The eye that still can see, the ear that hears,
The nose and tongue that smells and tastes – and yes,
The skin and heart that senses pleasure, pain –
Who asks for more, when such things still remain?

And when, like all that blooms and wilts and drops,
These leave in turn, there’s freedom in their place.
We turn from sound and light to silence, dark.
And there’s the peace that all the world has lost.

Observe the grandma with her grandchild. See
The love that flows from her to offspring’s child.
But grandmas wise remember it's a role
And so prepare for when that act will end.

When those we loved have long departed, gone,
We've still the strangers whom we serve in turn
With humble acts of kindness, while we can,
And gratitude for those who do the same.

The stars above will burn and fade away,
And who will mourn, for each of them, the loss?
We do not know the reason why we came,
But let us leave in love and gentleness.

2014 March 27th, Thu. night & 28th morning
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Stain

The Stain

There was blood on the sidewalk, where a man had been killed.
It was dark but was faded, from dust and from sun.
And that stain was not noticed, except by the few,
Who had been at the killing, and had seen the man run.

But he’d tripped and he’d fallen. They’d caught him right there,
The ones who had chased him. He’d cried out in fear.
And he’d cried out again, like a cat that’s in pain,
But the cries had grown weaker, as his ending drew near.

How long he had lain there, and whether alive,
A few perhaps wondered.  But they left him to lie.
And they hid him from children, whom they ushered away.
For it’s bad for the young ones to see a man die.

And his slippers had left him, as he ran for his life.
One lay in the gutter, and the other beside.
And when he was lifted, and carried away,
They lay as a witness, like the kelp to the tide.

And when I’d returned, to the spot of the slaying,
The years had been many.  The slippers had fled.
But the stain was still present, though faded by time.
I could still hear him screaming, where his blood had run red.

2014 March 24th, Mon.
Brooklyn, New York

Monday, March 24, 2014

As the City Streets Burn

The month of March, as I remember it, is usually warm and sunny in Kolkata.  For the rains, that are mostly absent from September onwards, one must wait for the south-east monsoon winds that bring, to the Bengal delta, around mid-June, the dark clouds from the Bay.  Then there are the torrential downpours that last through July and part of August.  

But I have been away from Bengal for over a half-century now, so some of my memories are faded and blurred.
-- Orjun / Babui


As the City Streets Burn

Photograph by my aunt Chandrabali Ray, as posted by her on Facebook.

From the morning mist and the dew of night,
We wake and we bloom, in the burning light.
And the little one flies, as our colors and scents
Are the signals she seeks, with her insect-sense.

She alights for a moment, and she sips of our sweet,
And we gift her with pollen, in our manner discreet.
And off then she flies, with our gift on her side,
And we’re glad that it’s getting that aerial ride.

And she ‘lights in a while, again, on our twin,
And then there is sex, which is hardly a sin.
And then there is life – that will wait for its turn,
As we bloom on the terrace, as the city-streets burn.

2014 March 24th, Mon.
Brooklyn, New York

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ghont’a Ghorir Sraddho (The Cremation of the Clocks)

Dear readers of my floods,
The Bangla (Bengali) verses below were written in a rush (which may cause much amusement, given their content).  The translation (that interleaves the stanzas) was done in even more of a rush.

The reason I was (and still am) in a rush is that I should have been working solely on job-related matters, as grades are due early Monday morning, and that usually keeps me busy all weekend.

No matter. I'll send this off now, and, with that off my resentful chest, attack the other thing tomorrow, starting early in the morning instead of staying up late, which is rarely is a good thing.

The Bangla word "sraddho" (Sanskrt: "shraaddha") should not really be translated as "cremation".  I may have done that (subconsciously) mainly for alliteration with "clock".

Hindus try to cremate (burn) their dead, with rituals if they can afford that. They then try to have, later, the further rites and collective feast that are together known as the "sraddho".  So "memorial service" might be a better translation than "cremation" or "funeral".

With apologies,
Babui / Arjun
Please see also:  If Clocks Were Abolished – 2014 March 20th, Thu.
For an explanation of the transliteration scheme, see:  Bharot Xadhin (India, Free) – 2014 Feb. 8th, Sat.

Ghont’a Ghorir Sraddho   (The Cremation of the Clocks)   

Ei jo`gote keu ba khat’e, keu ba orae ghuri.            
E`ker hate ador khali, onner hate churi.                  
Karor ko`pal xukher jibon, alxemite khuro.              
Karor do`xa, dukkhe bhoga, xexeo tara-huro.           

In this world, some work, others fly kites.
In one’s hand, there’s love; in another’s, a knife.
Some are lucky to live happily and lazily grow old.
The lot of others is to suffer, rushing even at the end.

Malik bhabe, munafa-t’a barate ho`be, bhai.
Mojdur-der khat’ate ho`be, capte ho`be tai. 
Calaki die, xukaj theke bo`dmaxi ho`e bexi.
Xaheb malik ja kichu bojhae, joldi xekhe dixi.

The boss thinks, we have to increase profits.
We’ve got to squeeze the workers, so they work more.         
From cleverness, there comes more evil than good.
Whatever the white boss teaches, the brown one learns.
“Ei je ghori, kajer jinix, bilet theke ana.                    
Et’ar ka~t’ae mojduri ae, ruiye neoa mana.             
Ghont’a-minit’ rakhle hixeb, barbe ahar tomar.         
Tumio khabe, amio khabo. Bexir bhagt’a amar.”
“Here is a clock, a useful thing, imported from Europe.
They’ll be paid by the clock; they’ll have no time to rest.
If you keep track of hours and minutes, the feast will grow.
You’ll dine well and so will I. The larger share will be mine.”

Tai to de`kho, karkhanate, khat’che sromik-do`l.        
Ka~t’ae ka~t’ae colche de`kho, notun juger ko`l.        
Jontro-ko`le jo`ntro bo`ro, t’akar pho`de dho`ra.     
Ei to do`xa sromik-xo`ber – bedo`m khet’e mo`ra.
And so you see the workers toiling in the factories.
The machines of the new age run precisely by the clock.
Caught in the money-trap, workers race upon the wheel.
This is their lot – to work without rest till they die.

“Tai to boli, ghont’a-ghori koreche jo`khon golam,
Curmar kore bhangle po`re, milbe to`khon aram!”       
Ei ko`that’a bolechilo je, nam chilo tar Hori.              
Karkhanete, kaj thamie, bhanglo rege ghori.             

“That is why I say, since the clocks have made us slaves,     
It’s only when we break them into pieces that we’ll have rest.”
The one who said these words, his name was Rock.
He stopped his work at the mill and broke the clock.

Tai dekhe to uthlam jege, sromik xo`bai jo`khon,      
Bajlo sit’i, gund’a pulix korlo jo`bai to`khon.              
Horir sriti morbe na go, roibe agun buke.                  
Thambe jedin ghori, xedin jolbe abar mukhe.            

And when we workers saw this and rose up,
The whistle blew and the goon-police came to kill us.
We’ll remember Rock. The fire will burn within us.
When the clocks stop, it will flame up again.

Khuxir cote gaibo to`khon, “No`mai tomae, Hori!        
Tomar name biplo`bete cuklo xexe ghori!                   
Jindabad, jindabad, moder xohid Horir!                    
Murdabad, murdabad, xoetaner po ghorir!”

In our joy, we will sing, “We salute you, Rock!
The rising up, in your name, has ended the clock!               
Long live, long live, the memory of the martyr!
Death to the devil’s spawn, death to the clock!”
 Ho`cche jo`khon, xukher bhore, gho`nt’a-ghorir sraddho,  
Monuxxota ghumer theke jagte to`khon baddho.         
To`khon, “Co`l-co`l, hat’-hat’!” cole jabe jekhane,       
Porci-hixeb chire-phele chure debo xekhane.

When, in that dawn of joy, the clocks are cremated,
Then our humanity will wake again from its slumber.
Wherever the “Go, go! Run, run!” goes to then,
There we shall throw all the torn-up accounts.

Xukrubar, 21e Marc, 2014 kri.                                    
Bruklin, No`bo Io`rk   

2014  March 21, Fri.
Brooklyn, New York   

Please see also:  If Clocks Were Abolished – 2014 March 20th, Thu.
For an explanation of the transliteration scheme, see:  Bharot Xadhin (India, Free) – 2014 Feb. 8th, Sat.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

If Clocks Were Abolished

If Clocks Were Abolished
If clocks were abolished, then perhaps we’d see
A slow return to our humanity.
The “Go-go-go!” that lashes like a whip
Would then be gone.  Our time-cards, we could rip.

Of course, the world has nights and days and seasons.
For rushing, each may have, at times, his reasons.
But every clever thing has its abuse.
And clocks have long been tools that tyrants use.

2014 March 20th, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Xiter Xexer Gan (Winter’s End)

Xiter Xexer Gan

Xondhe be`lae, ilxe-guri-brixt’i elo bhexe,
Khuxi mone tai to coli, jodio bheje matha.
Bhabchi khali – bo`xonto-kal axbe ebar dexe,
Xiter rajar dapot’ theke, khalax pabo xexe.

Ilxe-guri, ilxe-guri – chot’o be`lar gan –
Por’che mone.  Bhijchi ami, khulchi na tao chata.
Lagche e`khon, xorir-mone, nijer dexer t’an.
Tai to gho`re likhbo boxe, xiter xexer gan.

19e Marc, 2014
Bruklin, Niu Io`rk

For an explanation of the transliteration scheme, see:
   Bharot Xadhin (India, Free) – 2014 Feb. 8th, Sat.
The two translations that follow below are not always literal.
Winter’s End

With the evening, comes the rain, as fine as hilsa-roe.
And so I walk in happiness, despite my dampened head.
I think, perhaps this gentle rain is heralding the spring,
And so we'll soon be freed, at last, of all of winter’s dread.

“Hilsa roe, oh hilsa roe, that softly drifts to earth…”
I remember childhood songs while walking through this rain.
The motherland is tugging on my body and my soul,
And that is why I mouth this verse, at bitter winter’s end.

2014 March 19th, Wed.
Brooklyn, New York

Note:  The hilsa (ilish, in Bengali) is a fish that swims back in from  the Bay of Bengal to spawn in the rivers of the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta.  The fish and its roe are considered great delicacies in Bengal and adjoining areas. Bengalis who have ended up on the Atlantic coast of the U.S. sometimes use a local fish, the shad, as a substitute. But it is not the same.

A very soft drizzle, with tiny drifting droplets, is sometimes called ilshe-guri ("hilsa grains") -- a reference to the fine texture of the hilsa roe, with its very small egg-grains.

The translation below, into Afrikaans, was done using
Winter's End 
Met die aand, kom die reën, so fyn soos hilsa-gemsbok.
En so het ek loop in geluk, ten spyte van my gedemp kop.
Ek dink, miskien is dit sag reën aankondig die lente,
En ons sal binnekort vrygelaat word, op die laaste, van al die winter se vrees.

"Hilsa gemsbok, o hilsa gemsbok, wat saggies dryf na die aarde ..."
Ek onthou kinderjare songs terwyl loop deur middel van hierdie reën.
Die moederland is pluk op my liggaam en my siel,
En dit is hoekom ek gerugte hierdie vers, by bitter winter se einde. *

Woensdag 19 Maart 2014
Brooklyn, Nuwe York

* En dit is die rede waarom ek praat hierdie vers, by bitter winter se einde.

Let wel: Die hilsa (ilish, in Bengali) is 'n vis wat swem terug in die Baai van Bengale te kuit in die klowe van die Ganga-Brahmaputra delta. Die vis en sy gemsbok word beskou as groot lekkernye in Bengal en aangrensende gebiede. Bengalen wat geëindig het op die Atlantiese kus van die VSA soms gebruik om 'n plaaslike vis, die elf, as 'n plaasvervanger. Maar dit is nie dieselfde nie.

'N baie sagte motreën, met 'n klein dryf druppels, soms genoem ilshe-guri ("hilsa
korrels") - 'n verwysing na die fyn tekstuur van die hilsa gemsbok, met sy baie klein eier-korrels.

The Dancers

The Dancers

I was walking home this evening, with the sky of dusk aglow,
And the shadows growing darker as I walked the streets below.
And walking in those shadows, a brightness caught my eye –
The glass upon the windows, reflecting lighted sky.

They shone like shields of soldiers, in the days when bronze was best,
And they stood in radiant order, reflecting to the west.
But looking at them burning, I saw there, in between
The lighted sky and darkness, a row of trees, serene.

They’d lost all trace of foliage, and stood there, naked, bare,
But clearly clad in beauty, like dancers nude and fair.
In silhouette I saw them, against the pastel glow,
With branches spreading skyward, as each was dancing slow.

And as I neared a dancer, I saw, against the sky,
As if in gay abandon, her tresses shaken high –
A tracery, a filigree, a net of twigs so fine,
That waited for the springtime, in silent arcs divine.

I paused and looked in wonder, and saw, on every twig,
The buds that were so tiny – and yet, with promise, big.
How patient were these dancers that moved with seasons slow…
How graceful were those arches, against the twilight glow…

I looked – and then I started to trundle, once again,
My burden  that was heavy – but somehow lightened then.
And when I reached my burrow, I let the papers lie,
And wrote instead these verses – I know not surely why.

2014 March 18th, Tue.
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Ocean

The Ocean

Ocean at Night -- by Tim Johnson

In the silence, I could hear
Softest sighings, drawing near,
Sighs that turned to sobs and then
Returned to sighing once again.

“Who is it that sobs and sighs?”
I asked, and heard then soft replies
That came like gentle waves ashore,
With lappings louder than before.

“I’m the one who grieves at night,
Who shuns the day, with all its light.
I’m the one that you can hear,
The sadness that the thoughtless fear.”

“What’s the reason that you sigh?
Tell me now the reason why.”
This I asked, and waited, yet
The answer, soft, I could not catch.

“Oh speak again, and loud and clear!
Your answer, I could barely hear.
Your words, like water poured on sand,
Are gone.  I could not understand.”

But all I heard again were cries
That turned to sobs and then to sighs.
The waves that lapped upon the shore
Were softer than the ones before.

I listened, as the silence grew.
And in the quiet then I knew
I’d heard the sound of faded grief,
From which there never is relief.
And if you listen, you might hear,
Sighing softly, drawing near,
The one who shuns the light of day
And takes your grief, with her, away.

And since so many others grieve,
And more and more, so I believe,
From hoary past, the ocean grows –
And sighing, softly laps our shores.
That ocean, yes, of sadness, is
As is its ocean, twin, of bliss.
And like the waves, of dark and sun,
Those oceans two are truly one.

Waves on the ocean, with the sun breaking through clouds -- by qulady

2014 March 10, Mon. 3:30 pm
teachers' cafeteria, basement
New Utrecht High School
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
(last stanza added March 16 Sun.)

Friday, March 14, 2014

In the Morning, by the Sea


In the Morning, by the Sea


I have woken in the springtime, in the summer, in the fall,
I have woken and I’ve shivered in the early morning chill.
I have walked upon the pathways that were wetted with the dew,
I have walked towards the shoreline, when the stars were burning still.

I have woken, when the sky was dark, but lighter in the east.
I have seen the colors brighten, watched them slowly change to warm.
I have seen the glowing sun rise up, above the rippled sea,
I have looked upon the waters red and breathed the morning calm.

I have watched the seagulls flying, and the colors as they cooled.
I have walked the shore at sunrise, where the breakers never cease.
I have felt the breath of morning and I’ve squinted at the east,
I have heard the seagulls crying, as they rode upon the breeze.

I have shivered by the shoreline, when the winter wasn’t done,
I have seen the wave-tops whited, and I’ve pulled my jacket close.
I have walked along the seaside and I’ve felt the warming sun,
I have known the bliss of morning that the early riser knows.

I have wandered, slowly breathing, in the morning, by the sea,
And the rosy light of dawning, it has entered in my soul.
I have wandered by the seaside, as the morning came to be,
And from all my shattered fragments, I have gathered up a whole.

2014 March 14th, Fri.
Brooklyn, New York

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Relativity – II (Jo`e Bangla)

Relativity – II (Jo`e Bangla)
When lapsing into pity for myself,
Which seems to happen frequently of late,
I remember those I saw, when young –
The pavement-dwellers on my city’s streets.

Remembering this, and father’s photographs
Of famines, riots, men and women shot
When Britain ruled and Indian troops used guns
Against their own, I shake my silly head.

And then, I can’t feel sorry any more
For one like me, who’s working at a job
And so gets paid and so can pay the rent,
And even finds the time to type out verse.

And I remember how I once was stuck
In exile from this land and from my own.
And so, I'm glad that I’ve a place to live,
Without the fear of knocking at the door.

And I remember too – the ones who'd fled,
The stricken eyes of those who’d walked for days,
Whose feet had sores with pus I could not treat...
“Joy Bangla!” was the cry they uttered then.                \1

And then, although I’ve had my share of knocks,
I stir myself to do the job at hand.
And though there’s much that I perforce neglect,
I still can wring my satisfactions small.

The world is full of madness.  Who escapes?
The lots of some are endless misery.
But yet we live, and do what we can do,
So when it’s time, we’ll leave with less regret.

The victories we eke are transient,
And one by one, come more and more defeats.
But still, there's true and false, and right and wrong.
And still there's love – and duty's quiet call.

And so, at end, the hardest thing to bear
Is when there's conflict in our consciences.
But even this, the war within, we learn
To live with, as the outer wars proceed.

2014 March 13, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York

1. "Victory to Bengal!"
See also:  Relativity 

Yet More Broverbs

Yet More Broverbs 

Rat looking through knothole


When all the light has faded from the sky,
And all the sparkle from the children’s eyes,
Then in the darkness, one may mutter, “Why?”
And know the answers will be more of lies.

How many ways there are to make us slaves,
How few the paths that lead to liberty!
How quickly roads can slope towards defeat,
How long, how steep, the climb to victory!

The truth is seen, by those who care to see.
And having seen, we try to see again.
But in the fog of lies, we still may doubt,
And though we seek, our search is oft in vain.

We look for light, the hopeful light of dawn,
But all we see are meteors that streak.
And when the moon arises, then we bay,
And think this is the sun for which we seek.

Towards mirages, seen as heart’s desires,
We make our journeys, leaving that behind,
Whose waters slake the thirsts and quench the fires
That plague the body and inflame the mind.

Whenever man or deed or enterprise
Is magnified, a dwarfing, then expect.
Wherever you may hear the title, “great”,
There, you’ll find the loss of true respect.

Beware the "uplift" that can ruin our lives,
That forces us to do as others bid.
Let each be free to walk his chosen path,
And be, forever, of these lashings rid.

The stated aims are “noble”, yet you see
The worst of all that’s “vulgar” in the rush.
And so it’s been with all nobility.
The ones who climb, do this on those they crush.

Our schools are built as factories, in which
We train our children to be slaves – or sly.
So some will rise to be our masters, while
The rest will serve – and rarely question why.

We rob our children of their innocence.
We make them gallop, curb their dawdling ways.
We stupefy them with our clever games
And make a hell of all their dwindling days.

The schools reward the liars and the cheats.
They punish diligence and questioning.
And so we ready children for the road
That lies ahead, with gilt that's glittering.

The parents toil to buy the newest toys
For kids who work to shop for gizmos more.
And so it is – that many girls and boys
Are dumber now than those who went before.

It's cheaper, yes, to hire an immigrant
Who lacks his papers, or a child at school.
And so, "There's jobs." we say, "Go out and work!"
We call the jobless one "a lazy fool".

The horse that pulls may still be ridden on.
And so it is with all our working ones.
Their proper role was once to just produce,
But now, they buy – and so, the engine runs.

How elegant the setting on the table,
How heavenly, the servings on the plates!
But who dare look for all the sweat and gore
Of men who mined and beasts that met their fates?

How easily our virtues past are turned
To vices by our lords for power’s sake.
We do what we are told is right, but then
We realize it’s wrong – and our mistake.

But only rarely does this happen when
We still could act to free ourselves from chains.
It's only later, though it still is rare,
That wisdom comes – while servitude remains.

How easily our vices old are tapped,
As vices new are fashioned in their turn.
And so we are, by vice and virtue, trapped.
Our Neros fiddle, while our children burn.

How glorious, the castles built above!
For wealth and power, lords on high compete.
They dine on labor, even drink of love.
But all the workers taste is harsh defeat.

A man may see a boulder or a tree.
Another sees, in each of them, much more.
There’s sight – and that which reaches deep within
To see what is and what was there before.

We live in just the present instant, yet
We know our trails, as snails may know their slime.
And once or twice a lifetime, each may glimpse
What comes, by peering through the fence of time.

We chatter and we chatter till we die,
And yet, there is a silent one within.
It sees the truth as we pursue the lie,
And tries to warn us of the price of sin.

2014 March 12, Wed.
Brooklyn, New York