Tuesday, April 29, 2014

And the Spirit

And the Spirit
There, where the wild is calling,
There, where the wolf-pack howls,
There, where the moon is floating,
There, where the stars are bright,
There, I will go, for the dreaming,
There, I will wait for the dawn.

Out in the open spaces,
Out in the wilderness,
Where the grasses wave in the breezes,
Where the branches dance in the winds,
Out in the open spaces,
Out in the wilderness,
Where the sunrise lights the dewdrops,
Where the sunset floods the lake…

There I will go, where my heart is,
There I will chant to the sky.
There I will stand as the sun sets,
As the stars appear in the sky…
There I will go, where my heart is,
And there, in the wild, I will die.

The jackal will gnaw at my shoulder,
The bear will make off with my thigh,
The crows, they will pick at my eyeballs,
And the spirit will see and will smile.

There, in the cold of the winters,
There, in the mists of the dawns,
There, in the heat of the summers,
There, I will be when I’m gone.

2014  April 29th, Tue.
Brooklyn, New York

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Lullaby of Love

The Lullaby of Love
I heard the music from the dawn of time,
The lullaby of tenderness and love.
How soothing was the singing, with the beat
The one we heard within our mothers’ wombs.  \1

And so were children put to sleep and calmed,
With gentle taps of rhythm and refrains
That mothers sang that they had learned in turn
From those that nursed them in their infancies.

How different was that music from the clang,
Unease, unrest that marks the violent songs
That now are belted as the singers prance
Or jerk like marionettes as spotlights dance.

The pounding of the mills is what we’re fed,
Which isn’t music to the human heart,
The thunder of our tanks and planes and guns,
The screech of cars, the rush to work and back.

The loudness violates.  It deafens, is
A venting of the built-up rage within.
It drowns the torment that our demons give,
The hell that rages that’s the price of sin.

Oh take away this music born of fear,
The music of the rage of impotence,
The scream, the tantrum, that which celebrates
The race that pits us each against the other.

And give us more of music of the heart,
That whispers soft – the babbles of the brook,
The sounds of wind that moves the trees, the grass,
The lilts of children playing in the fields.

Our children grow to adulthood and yet
Remain within as infants immature,
Who only see the self and not the rest,
And so are locked within their private hells.

They need no more of that – the sounds of war,
Of great machines and weapons, lunacy,
Nor more of rhythms making people jerk,
Who swarm in herds and lose their somber grace.

They need that music from the dawn of time,
That soothes the infant, so she sleeps and wakes,
At peace within.  She’s touched by tenderness
And so matures, in wisdom and in heart.

How much we suffered, in that dawn of time,
And yet remained a fully human race…
How much we suffer, in our present age,
Because we’ve fallen from our state of grace…

2014 April 27th, Sun. 2:59 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

1.  See, for instance, the Odaya piece at the link sent to me by friend Rana Bose. You can also access the piece directly on YouTube.

This (Odaya) is a song performed in a setting far from the place of origin, by three urbanized young women. And it forms only the background for a a talk by one of the members of a singing group.  But the essence of the original seems to come through, despite all of this.  Typically, there is no hurry or drama in this lullaby-like song.

No doubt, many other such songs, as well as other kinds of music, from tribal people in their native setting, can be found on the Internet. 

My father, Sunil Janah, referred briefly to the plaintive songs of the tribal peoples of India in a book he wrote, illustrated with his photographs, The Tribals of India (Oxford University Press, India, 1993 and 2003).  Please see also the books of Verrier Elwin, Shamrao Hivale and others, which contain translations of the lyrics of many tribal songs. 

My father wrote a short review of a biography on Elwin (by Ramachandra Guha).  And Hivale's son-in-law, Thomas Carter, wrote a short article on Hivale.  These are both at my father's website.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

If I Had Children

If I Had Children
If I had children, I would want, for them,
A world that’s different from ours, one
In which there are no masters and no slaves,
No bosses there – no workers ordered there,
No generals – or soldiers marching – and
No men or women who are cogs upon
The gears of our machines.

I don’t have children, more’s the pity, yet
I still would wish for all the children that
The world I spoke of comes to be.  And this,
I also wish for puppies, colts and more.

Although we’ve bred the species for our ends
And even made ourselves our subjects too,
That wish I have may yet be realized,
If only children hear and make it so.

2014 April 26th, Sat. 9:55 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Play

The Play
We come and go like actors on a stage.
We’re born, we grow – and then we swiftly age.
But once we leave, we never do return,
No matter how the actors left may rage.

Is there a script or lines for us to learn?
We train and sport – and then we’re off to earn.
We labor while we can, and then it’s time
For each of us to feed the worms or burn.

We’re born but once – and only once we die,
For that’s the rule no actor dare defy.
And each of us has roles within the play,
But here’s a question – is it all a lie?

And here’s another – who directs the play?
And yet one more – for what and wherefore, pray?
We've asked these things through eons, yet the scenes
And acts proceed – with new ones, every day.

And who, we ask, is sitting in the hall
That’s darkened, as the spot and floodlights all
Are focused on the stage on which we act?
Who cheers or weeps, when actors rise or fall?

Or is there no one – no director and
No audience – for actors, singers, band?
And is the truth or falsity of it
Beyond our wits to sense or understand?

What choice have we, except to play our roles,
With some adrift – and others after goals?
Some state the play is all there is, but some
Proclaim there’s more for our “immortal souls”.

And most of us are truly quite content
To play the minor parts, while others vent
Their sound and fury center-stage – and yet,
For neither will there be a long lament.

And some may say, the answer true is this –
The actors are, because the action is.
So audience and actors are the same,
And it’s for us to duly clap or hiss.

There still remain the who and how and why –
For few there are, who truly can deny
There’s order in the midst of chaos, yet
It’s hard to be content with just a lie.

For only those, who fancy they’re the center,
Can exit with more hubris than they enter.
The stage, they think, is built for this, our race,
And even claim acquaintance with the builder.

But those, who're humbler, try to play their parts,
And work for truth and love, beyond the arts
With which we conjure yet more sophistries,
Until their curtains fall and each departs.

2014  April 21st,  Mon.
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

The Light of Spring – II

The Light of Spring – II 

The Long Winding Path -- by Irene Burdell
Whilst walking once upon a winding path,
Beneath the trees as spring was coming in,
I saw, ahead. a patch of lighted sky
And figures, small, where light was pouring in.

And as I walked within the forest shade,
With winter still residing in its depths,
It seemed I’d glimpsed the summer that was then
A memory – and hope still unexpressed.

And so I stood and breathed the air of spring
Within that shade – the scents of earth and leaves,
Of tree-bark, dew and other woodland things –
And watched those figures walk, in shimmering light.

And when they’d grown in size, I felt compelled
To walk their way, and so I left behind
That cool and fragrant shade – and winter’s ghost,
And ventured out to meet the sky of spring.

2014 April 21, Mon. 12:17 pm,
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York


Friday, April 18, 2014

The Maiden of the Forest

The Maiden of the Forest
I had seen a lissome maiden
In a forest, so it seemed…
She was dancing, like a fairy.
Was she real or was she dreamed?

A maiden of the forest,
Of an old, forgotten tribe –
She was dancing in abandon,
Yet with grace I can’t describe.

She was dancing in the forest,
In the shade beneath the trees.
She was dancing in the shadows
That were dappled by the breeze.

Had I seen her in my dreaming,
In the darkness, when asleep?
Had I seen her in the daylight?
That’s a secret I shall keep.

For the things that I remember
Are that maiden and her dance.
Does it matter, where that forest?
Was it China, India, France?

If I knew, I wouldn’t tell you
Or my closest, bosom friend.
For I fear, if it’s discovered,
That an innocence will end…

She was dancing in the forest,
As they rustled in the breeze –
The leaves, that cast their shadows
On the ground beneath the trees.

And her feet were lightly tripping
On that dappled forest floor,
As I stood there, mutely watching
And not wanting less or more.

So I stood there, and I watched her,
As she swayed and as she spun –
As she danced across the shadows
And the shafts of slanting sun…

The sun was on her skin and hair,
On her shoulders, breasts and thighs…
It caught the gestures of her hands
And it glinted from her eyes…

But the darkness, it was nestled
At the joins of arms and thighs,
And her eyes and hair were darkness –
They were dark, like starry skies…

I had stood and I had watched her,
For what seemed to be a while.
Then she vanished, and I wondered
If I’d seen her look and smile…

There are angels, from the heavens,
Some declare that they have seen.
I have never seen an angel,
But that vision, I have seen.

Of that vision, that I saw once,
In a dream – or in the day,
I have given a description.
Imagine it, you may…

But the place, in which I saw her,
Even though I knew it well,
For a treasure, or in torture,
Is a thing I wouldn’t tell.

2014 April 18th, Fri.
Brooklyn, New York

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Job

A  brief preface to this can be found at

Despair and Hope (Preface to "The Job")


The Job – Part I
The job I do, it pays my rent and more,
it gives my life a form – and when at work,
I see a village there, of which the kids,
the teachers, others and myself are part.

Although I know it’s just a fantasy,
this fills the emptiness and gives a why,
a reason to arise at dawn.  The work –
it’s filled my life for close to thirty years,
and it is endless, overwhelming, yet
it’s better than the walls and emptiness
with which I’m left on those rare times
when I have done what’s needed to be done
and so there’s space.

And yet, for all the sustenance it gives,
the job deprives me too of sanity.
For all those years, obsessed with doing right
what can’t be done, left little space for else.
And more and more, I see how mad it is,
this job I do – and my insanity.

And so, when there is space, there is regret,
and not for what I did, with all my heart,
but for all I never had a chance to do,
the duties that were lost to distances
and this, the job that I and others do.

2014  April 17th, Wed., 6:47 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York 

The Job – Part II

We work to pay the rent, to feed ourselves,
our kids.  But in our times, with workers flung
apart across the continents, our labor
may become, for some of us, the thread
we daily weave that strings what’s passed, the now,
what’s coming, into one.  So what to do,
when all our work is seen as meaningless?

And as the pressures mount on those who work,
we work yet faster, more. The workday spills
and washes over evenings, weekends, more...

And so it is, that some of us may find
that holidays are spent in catching up
with all the job-work that we couldn’t do,
while working, daily, at the job we do!

And so, we seek escapes, from all this work,
and some may find more healthy ones than some.
And others yet are good at what they do,
efficient, even, one may sometimes think,
as were the ones who burned the Gypsies, Jews…

But that’s unkind.  Let’s tip our hat and go.

2014, April 17th, Wed. 7:14 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York


The Job – Part III

We learn from our mistakes and those we see
that others make, who might not care to see.

Be slow to judge what others seem to do.

For each may walk upon a path, and each
may think that that’s the only path there is.
But paths are myriad, and the walkers too.

But never run, although they force you to.
For that’s when kindness ends and cruelty

“Oh yes,” you say, “that sounds all well and good.
But when the bulls stampede, who dares to pause?”

Well run then, for your life, but try to slow.
If speed is catching, isn’t slowness too?

The worker in the line must work at speed.
She’s caught, like soldiers are, who’re sent to kill.

But wars are madness. So are human mills.

The mills are not what we or those we teach
Are destined for.  It’s up to me and you,
and not the ones who order, pass decrees.

If not for all our students or for us,
then for the students and their teachers next,
let’s bring a little meaning back to school. 

2014, April 17th, Wed. 7:33 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

The JobPart IV

The savvy know, what counts is packaging.
For who has time to open up and check
the innards of what's marketed and sold?

And yet, when it's our child that sits at school
or it's our mother, in the hospital,
who is it then, that then becomes the fool,
and why the wailing at the state of sin?

2014, April 17th, Wed. 1:43 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York


Please see also the brief preface to this, at

Despair and Hope (Preface to "The Job")


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Exile – II

Exile – II

There never was that golden age, of which we like to boast.
In ancient times, men suffered – and in childhood so do most.
But when we’re far from our native land – the place where we were born,
We then forget those miseries and pine for what we’ve lost.

And as we age in exile, pleasant memories return,
And we are children once again, beneath our native sun.

And those we left behind and those, who long have left this Earth,
Appear again, as we had known them in our land of birth.

But then, we wake from daydreams and we know the past is gone,
And so must deal with being far from where we once were born.

There never was that Eden past, for mankind or for us.
But when we age in exile, that's what then appears to us.

2014 April 15th, Tue. 4:35 pm.
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Easter Break

Easter Break
I went up to Manhattan today,
as once a year I do,
around this time, on Easter break,
or “spring break” as they call it here,
to see the doctor, for the test that tells me
how much longer I might live.    \1

So also, countless others do...                     

And when returning, heading south again
on a gray First Avenue, I saw, ahead,
the tall buildings far away, whose tops
had disappeared within the clouds
that swept across Manhattan isle in veils.

That’s something one can see at times
in what the Brooklyners of old still call
“New York”.

And though the traffic was as usual then,
while walking down the sidewalk there I felt
a distance from the madness all around –
a quiet peace, a place of solitude
where time itself was lost, so I could be,
in loneliness, alone with those who’d gone.

And something, other than my hunger, drew
me then to seek and find the cafeteria
in the main building of the hospital.  And there
I sat, remembering the times I’d been before
in hospitals, with parents, cousin, aunt –
and others too, my relatives and friends,
who ailed – and how I then would go,
when they were sleeping, for a bite to eat
in such a place. 

And almost all were gone…

And I remembered, too, my sojourns in
the hospitals, and how I chafed in them,
a patient in a bed, from childhood on,
and how, each time, I’d willed myself to walk
and so to exit out.

I’d found a window seat,
and there I sat and ate, while looking out
at people walking in the street below.

Manhattan, where my sister once had worked
and lived...

It was a rainy day, and overcast,
as I sat quietly and read
a chapter of a book – and savored then
this passing Easter break.

2014 April 15th, Tue. 3:58 pm
New York, New York

1.  I found out later that the test this time
      had turned out okay, which was a relief.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Oh don’t be frightened, little child!
Let squirrels do what squirrels do.
He likes the nuts – and though he's wild,
That squirrel won’t be biting you.

Oh yes, I’m old, as you can see.
And these are chips – for young and old,
But not for you and not for me.
And there’s a story to be told.

You want me to tell you the story, dear?
The story then it‘ll have to be.
So sit over there, where you can hear
And listen quietly to me.

No, no!  The chips are not for us!
Do listen. Then you’ll find out why.
I don’t like kids who make a fuss.
So sit.  And chase away that fly.

I met a statue in the park.
I asked him how he came to be.
And as the sky was growing dark,
This is what he said to me.

“I once could walk about like you.
But there were  times when I was glum.
I wondered, what I then should do,
Until I met an old-time chum."

What's 'glum'? It's when you're feeling sad.
And 'chum'? A chum's a pal, a friend.
And some are good and some are bad.
Some friendships last – and others end. 

But listen – listen till the end!
Listen, as he heard his friend.

“He whispered in my ear, ‘My friend,
Chips are better when they’re fried.
And now, your sadness, it will end.
I know – because this cure, I’ve tried.

“ ‘So hasten to the park. You’ll see
A cloud on high, and that’s a sign,
And then, a tall and spreading tree.
A squirrel, next.  And you’ll be fine.’ "

What's 'hasten'?  That's to hurry, run,
Like when you've got to catch the bus.
Now listen quietly, little one!
I don't like kids who make a fuss.

“I hurried to the park in haste.
I wondered if I’d see the cloud.
I wondered too, how chips would taste
If they were fried.  I wondered loud.

“The elders in my way, they stared
And gave me then a wider berth.
But younger folk were there, who dared
To point and then express their mirth."

What's 'berth'? It's this. And 'mirth'? It's when
You smile and laugh. The kids, ahem,
Were smiling, pointing, laughing then.
And why?  They joked and laughed at him.

But let us continue. He said, 

“But little did I care. I neared
The park, and saw a patch of sky.
And sure enough, within that blue,
A little cloud was sailing high!

“I cracked a smile when I saw the cloud.
I smiled yet wider at the tree.
The squirrel made me laugh out loud.
With which of these could I disagree?

“And when a bird did doo-doo on
My head, I rolled around in fits.
And who then murmured, “He is gone.”?
The ones, who thought I’d lost my wits."

What's 'fits'? That's when you do like so.
What's 'wits'?  That's sense. We all need more
Yes. It's funny. You can giggle.
But listen. Sit – and stop that wriggle!

“I did a handstand, waved my legs,
Did a cartwheel ‘round the park.,
Saw a pigeon, brooding eggs,
Heard a puppy try to bark.

“The more I saw, the more I heard,
The more I laughed, until I cried.
And this I did, when I got word
That chips are better, when they’re fried.

“ 'They taste much better, fried, than raw!
The smell is better too, you’ll see!'
These things, I shouted.  Then, the law
Appeared.  And they were after me.

“But I was clever, I was fast!
I zoomed around the park, I zoomed!
But woe!  My freedom did not last.
They called in jaybirds.  I was doomed.

“But one of those was known to me.
He perched upon my shoulder and
He whispered. “Like a statue, be.”
And so I did, and so l stand.”

On hearing this, I shed a tear,
And wiping it, I blew my nose.
And in that statue’s hand, my dear,
I left a red and thorny rose.

So you have listened, understood.
See the cloud? And see the tree?
And there’s your squirrel. You’ve been good.
And there’s the statue. Can you see?

Now come with me and we will find
That statue there, with rose in hand.
These chips?  I hope you do not mind.
But they’re for him.  You understand?

He likes the chips, that statue there.
I’ve heard he likes the children too.
No, not for eating!  No, his fare
Is chips.  He’ll munch on those, not you.

What’s wrong – and why do you run away?
The kids today are really weird!
They’re frightened, in the light of day,
By those like me, without a beard!

2014 April 12th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York


Aenh (English version of Tuccho)

This is a free translation of the Bangla (Bengali) nonsense-poem, "Tuccho".


Arising in the dark, I went to the machine
And with its aid I looked for news of friends.
But finding only naught and nonsense there,
I then began to write these verses mad.

Some sit and calculate, as others sing.
Some rise at dawn to bathe and swim in ponds.
Some snore at noon, while others play at chess.
Some call out, “Momma!”  Others shout for “Dad!”

“Where’s the honey?  Say!” demands the bee.
I answer her, “It’s in the flower, sweet.”
The insects and the spiders rule.  We serve –
And look to them for all our sustenance.

There’s God, for whom the faithful sing.
But who is murdered, by the road, at noon?
Krishna hums, “The Christ has gone. Who’s left?”
The Buddha claims he’s Mahavir’s disciple.

In my knee – a sudden, piercing pain!
I cry out, “Daddy-oh!” and try a pickle.
Coitus, I’ve been told, is better yet.
But Shiva, when I ask him, answers, “Aenh!”

2014 April 1, Tue., 3:30 am
translated April 12th, 12:16 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Note:  The title, “Aenh”,  is my attempt at spelling a certain local nasal interjection. It is mainly used to dismiss a question or concern raised by another.  I have heard this sound at times, issuing, usually, from an older male, during my years at the schools in Brooklyn.  It matches in some ways (though not quite) the downward-flap hand gesture, signifying low regard or uselessness, that is prevalent among some of us desis (subcontinentals). 

This last gesture should not be confused with the twist and upward palm, "What's this?" or the sideways-flap dismissal that one also often sees, along with many other characteristic gestures of hand and eye, in parts of the subcontinent.  But the "aenh" of the Brooklynites and perhaps other Usans beats all of this as a perhaps irrevocable utterance of utmost disregard, tinged with disgust. It seems also to give vent to a world-weary cynicism that is both the antithesis and the inevitable companion of all the "drive and jive" that mark the United States. ;-)
Here are some illustrations of the use of this device.

"What did you think of the valedictorian's speech?"

"Do you think the newly arrived immigrant students, the ones who don't speak a word of English, will understand these instructions?"

"How can we read and grade all these state exam papers in such a short time?"

"Will the teachers have enough time to teach this curriculum if we lose one day each week?  And see, they're also going to drastically shorten the periods on Wednesdays to make time for the 'professional development' that the administration feels the more experienced teachers need.  How will the chemistry and other science labs work with the time reduced to 35 minutes, including set-up and take-down time?  What about safety violations? You know how some of the kids are.  How can we take time to prevent those when the students barely have time to rush through the lab?  Will they even have time to read the instructions? You know how some of them need help with this."
A more literal translation of the Bangla word, tuccho (Sanskrt tuccha), might perhaps be "unimportant", "insignificant", "inconsequential", "trifling", "held in low regard" or, in certain contexts, "contemptible".

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


The sun has passed its zenith, and
The birds have ceased their song.
And soon it will be sinking, with
The shadows stretching long.

And some may yearn to end the day
And others to extend it.
But where's the way to change the pace
At which we make a transit?


We wonder at the marvels of
The planet we are on.
We just arrived at dawn and yet,
By dusk, we shall be gone.

We still retain the memories
Of the hours that went before.
Will those suffice to deal with what
There’s still, for us, in store?


We’ve played upon the flute of life,
We’ve beaten on the drum.
We’ve won and lost our battles, but
Who totals up the sum?

We do not know, from where we came,
Nor where we next will go.
And as for how and why we are,
That too, we do not know.


But now the day is winding down,
As shows and watches do.
And so it is for galaxies
And so for me and you.

The sun had risen in the east.
The birds were chirping loud.
The sun is sinking in the west.
But what’s it all about?

2014 April 7th, Monday, 5:03 pm
Teachers’ Cafeteria, Basement
New Utrecht High School.

Two stanzas added April 9th, evening,
and another (the second) on the 10th night,
at home, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Monday, April 7, 2014

Of All the Pleasures

Of All the Pleasures
How pleasant is the bliss of sleep
To those deprived of rest –
Of all the pleasures of this Earth,
Perhaps the very best.

Like rain upon a land that’s parched,
Like grace to those tormented,
So is that blessing sweet that comes
When sleeplessness is ended.

2014 April 7th, Monday, 4:45 pm
Teachers’ Cafeteria, Basement,
New Utrecht High School
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dhoka (Played)

Dhoka                                                 Played     
Rater majhe exechilo pori,          An angel came in the dark of night
Bhore to cole ge`lo xe.                  And left before the dawn.
Roilo to`khon xo`ron xudhu     Within the shadows of the mind,
Moner a~dhare, he.                        The memory remained.
Xei harano xo`roner kho~je,      In search then of that memory,
Xo`pno-praxade ghuri.                 I wandered in my dreams,
Jakei dekhi, takei jigai,                  Asking those I met if they
Dekhejo e`moni huri?                    Had ever seen such grace.
Jo`toi khu~ji, pai na go, tai          But finding nothing, I then sought
Dupure, xagor tire,                          The ocean shore at noon,
Roder jholoke, dekhi je`no hot’at   And in the brilliance on the waves
Porir golari hire.                               I glimpsed her necklace bright.
Ce~cie ut’he, jha~p debo prae,    I rushed towards the sea, but then
Ke e`k dhore bo`le, “Boka!           A voice restrained me. “Fool!
Xo`pne exechilo bholate tomae,   She came at night to play with you,
Ebaro dieche dhoka.”                      As now she does again.”
rat 1:45, 6oi Epril, 2014 kri.             2014 April 6th, Sat., 1:45 am
Bensanharst’, Bruklin, No`bo Io`rk.    Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Floating Free

Floating Free

I saw the crescent moon and Jupiter
Above the city’s lights, behind a tree.
And though the night was freezing cold, I stood
And watched my silent spirit floating free.
And I was left, bereft and small below,
Until at last the spirit had returned.
And only so could I then move again
And slowly walk towards my home, restored.

How often, when the tides of air had cleared
Away the city’s hazy murk, have I
Looked up and seen, within the crystal dark,
The orbs on high ablaze like beacon-fires.

And every time I’ve seen those fires above,
In every season, I have stood transfixed,
As memories, perhaps of eons past,
Arose, as awe becalmed my beating heart.
I saw tonight the moon, with planet, stars,
In winter glory, bright behind a tree.
And while I shivered as I gazed on high,
I saw a specter rise – my spirit, free.

2014 April 5th, Sat. 11:25 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Peeking Shy

Peeking Shy
The city now is bathed, at last, in light,
With skies of blue and drifting clouds of white.
On rain-washed sidewalks, laughing children run,
As lime and brick reflect the strengthened sun.

The branches of the trees are rich with twigs,
With myriad buds that yearn for warmth to sprout.
And even somber conifers appear
Attired today in somewhat brighter greens.

And though the air is bracing, we can feel
The turning tide, with summer trailing spring,
That youngster, peeking ‘round the corner, shy,
As winter tries to chase the brat away.

And so we’ll have another week of swings,
But then, with April grown to puberty,
We’ll see the city clad in springtime hues,
With trees in bloom and tulips rising gay.

And so the shy, emboldened, take their place,
As those who blustered slowly fade away.
As with the seasons, so with all of us:
The equinox and then the solstice comes.


But through the cold and dark, we've longed for this,
For April sweet, when lovers meet and kiss.
And if they shiver, then it's from delight,
As children run on sidewalks bathed in light.

2014 April 6th, Sat. 3:20 pm,
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Touch of the Rain

The Touch of the Rain

I walked in a gossamer springtime rain,
As much of a mist as a drizzle.
The sky was gray and the sun had set
But my heart, it was lit like the day.

The bark of the tree, it was glistening dark,
And its branches were flung to the sky as it prayed.
The rain of the spring, it was gentling the tree,
That was waiting for warmth for its buds to spring free.

I'd stepped from the schoolhouse and into the street,
And the air, it was chill as I bundled myself.
But the touch of the rain, it was gentle and sweet,
Like the lips of a lover, in tenderness met.

There's grief for the ones that we loved, who are gone,
There's sorrow we carry for things left undone,
There are tensions and worries we all have to bear,
But then there's the kiss of the rain in the spring.

I walked in the fine, thin springtime rain,
And all of the worry and sorrow I'd borne
Was lifted away by the touch of the rain,
And just for a moment, the grief.

I'd worked through the day in the school till the eve,
And my being was worn to a frazzle.
But that touch of the rain, like the grace to a soul
Of a sinner, was granted today.

2014 April 4th, Fri, 8:45 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York 
Recent posts related to spring:  Signs of Spring (March 30), We Call for Spring (March 9)

For earlier posts:  Scroll up until you can see the small search box in the upper right corner of the blue top-menu bar.  Type in the word "spring" (or whatever word you wish).  Then press the "Enter" key on your keyboard.  This should show most of the posts that have that word in their title or text.  Scroll down to see them displayed below one another.  The posts may not be in order by date.  

Note:  The titles displayed on the left in the blog archive will be those for the year and month of the first displayed post.  So most of these titles will not be those of posts related to the searched-for word.  You can display or hide the list of titles by clicking on the year and month pointers on the left (blog archive) panel.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Two Beings

Preface (Walking to Work and Back, 2014)
Two Beings
When all the madness of my “working day”
Has ended and I step outside the school,
I breathe the air that blows in from the sea
And see the trees against the evening sky.
And so my jangled nerves are set at ease,
As all my scattered parts are gathered slow.
And drinking in the evening’s beauty, I
Am whole again – and homewards, tranquil, go.

In every season, as the heavens change,
I watch the skies and see the clouds and stars,
The light that slants upon the autumn leaves
Or sets afire the tender ones of spring.
I see the dogs, the cats, the ones like me
And little birds that fly to roost in trees.
And as I walk, I’m filled with wonderment,
As tense fatigue gives way to sanity.


And though I trundle home a heavy load,
It often happens that it lies till dawn.
And when I wake and sally forth to work,
My head is filled with buzzing puzzlement.
But then my “workday” at the school begins,
And close to forty years of work kick in.
I see the children, one by one, come in,
And I teach my classes five, as others do.

In all my work before I started this,
I worked my miracles, however small,
And after joining as a teacher, I
Saw yet more wonders as I taught at school.
But many arduous years have passed of this,
And more and more, I find myself a fool,
As all my instincts, all my heart and soul
Rebel – at what no mortal mere can do.

2014 April 1, Tue.
Brooklyn, New York

Preface (Walking to Work and Back, 2014)

Related:  Signs of Spring (March 30th), We Call for Spring (March 9th).
For earlier poems, please type in the word "spring" in the small search box in the upper right corner of the blue top-menu bar (visible if you scroll up). Then press the "Enter" key on your keyboard.


This is a nonsense-poem in Bangla (Bengali). For a free translation into English, please see Aenh .
Gobhir rate ut’hiya ami ko`mpiut’are jahi.
Tahar dara, bondhugo`ner xo`ndhan lohite cahi.
Jo`toi khu~ji, pahi na kichu.  Xudhu abol-tabol.
Tai to likhi, rater majhe, poddo-khani pagol.

Keho ko`xe o`nko, keho ko`re gan,
Ut’hiya keho, bhorer age, pukure ko`re snan.
Keho ghumae dupur be`lae, keho khe`le daba,
Keho d’ake, “Ma go, ma go!”, keho hake, “Baba!”

Moumachi-deb xudhae jo`khon, “Kothae modhu, ko`ho!”
Jo`bai to`khon, “Phuler majhe. Kho`ma ko`ro he, mo`ho!”
Poka-makorer jo`got iha, amra kebol dax.
Pokar do`eae ahar moder, tader kripae xax.

Alla ache, tai to xo`be gahiche tahar gun.
Din-dupure, ixt’exo`ne, hoilo kahar khun?
Kext’o ko`he, “Jahilo Krixt’o, rohilo baki ke?”
Buddho bo`le, Mo`habirer srext’ho cela xe.

Lagilo ho`tat, o`canoke, birat’ be`tha, ghut’nite.
“Bapre!” bolia, tripti khu~ji, d’alimer mixt’o cat’nite.
Xuniachilam, ihar theke moithun hoilo ucco.
Jigai jo`khon, Mo`hadeb ko`he, “Prosno tomar tuccho!”

Bhor xare-tin, po`ela Epril, 2014 kri.
Benso`nharst’, Bruklin, No`bo Io`rk

Note:  I noticed, when attempting to translate this, that I had used  ghut’ni, a variant or mis-remembrance of the Hindi ghut’n’a, for “knee”, instead of the Bengali ha~t’u.  I’m not sure why I had done this.  The manufactured word  ghut’ni does rhyme a bit better with cat’ni which follows in the line below it.  This word is used generically in Bangla for "sweet pickle", but its cognates are used in somewhat different ways in other Indic languages.