Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Milestone Park

Milestone Park             \1
Two lovers sit upon a wooden bench.
They cuddle, disengage – and snuggle more.
But then the man takes out his smart-phone and
they both appear, by what’s within, entranced.
And right by them, an older person sits
and reads his book – as with this toothless gums
he masticates the soft white bread he pulls
from deep within a bag that’s by his side.
And both of these – the lovers and the one
who quietly reads – enjoy the light and shade
that dapples now the urban “park”, where these
and others sit or stroll, in slanting sun…
But here’s a woman, far in years advanced,
who leans upon a “walker”, seeking what
I had at first supposed was just a seat,
until she rummaged in a garbage bin…
From China, she appears to be and she
confirms to what we’ve long been witnessing –
that discontent with sitting idly and
that urge to work – and earn – that drives her “race”.   \2
But here are others, speaking Russian, who
may hail from Europe or from Asia’s steppes –
and they are gathered by a game of chess,               \3
whose moves are much as ancient Indians played…
And here are Latins, Jews and Arabs and
so many others from the distant lands –
and here, in Brooklyn, as the sun declines,
they sit or walk in peace, and speak their tongues.

It’s time for me to leave.  The western sun
is warm upon my neck as I rise up.
I turn and gather up my notebook, bag –
and look around this wondrous urban “park”.

2014 July 30th, Wed., 6:30 pm
Milestone Park 
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

1.  Milestone Park is a paved public area, rather squalid,
     on one side of 18th Ave, between 83rd & 84th Streets
     in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn.  This
     “park” has a fenced children’s playground at one end.
     The rest of the area is unfenced, and has some trees,
     tables and benches. That is where I sat and wrote this.

2.  Bottles and soda cans marked for recycling fetch five
     cents each at recycling centers.  So twenty such yield
     a dollar of income for those folk, mostly older Chinese
     women, who walk the streets all day, gathering these
     items from garbage bins and bags.

3.   After I had written my description of the goings-on in
      the park in my notebook, I decided to walk around the
      city “park” and, among other things, see, for my increasingly
      short-sighted self, what that group of “Russian speakers”
      and other such groups were really doing. I found seven
      such groups, each gathered around a game, with a few
      core players in each case and others watching silently or
      acting as cheerleaders and advisers.
      Only one of these groups was, indeed, made up of Russian-
      -speakers.  These were the only ones playing chess.  Four
      of the groups had people speaking various dialects of
      Chinese.  There was one small group of Vietnamese and
      another of Albanians. 
       All of the participants were either middle-aged or elderly.
        Most of the Chinese women were busy at cards, with
        dollars being slapped down on the tables as incentive. 
        Two groups of Chinese men were focused on the slow,
        deliberate moves of what appeared to be the schematically
        simple but mentally complex game known in Japan as “Go”. 
        The Albanians were playing, on a checker-board, a game
        that had Scrabble-like racks and pieces, but with symbols
        instead of letters.  They told me the name of their game,
        but I have forgotten it.

Broverbs – A Long Sentence

Broverbs – A Long Sentence
When we’re exhausted, though the work remains,
when we’ve labored, yet had punishment,
when all that we had built ignites and burns
and only ashes, smoldering, are left –
then those with faith in gods might duly turn
to them for consolation – while the ones
without such faith might see a deeper truth,
and realize that gain and loss – reward and
punishment – are waves upon the sea,
but he or she, who dives beneath, can find
an understanding and a vision deep
that’s often lost to those who ride the waves.
There’s zen, in which we see it all at once,
as still expounded by the Japanese,
and gyan, which can’t be gathered instantly,
as Indians have known for centuries,
and then there’s chan, which scholars learn about
when they've read what's written in Chinese –
yet strangely these are all the very same,
and even in the West, there’s knowledge and
there’s wisdom – which are linked, yet different.
On being served a sentence that is long,
we might not comprehend it fully yet,
but when we’ve worked that sentence partly through,
we then might start to sense its import more,
and finally, when we’ve labored to its end,
we might perceive, in whole, what’s truly meant –
or figure out the sentence made no sense,
and so regret the wasted time we spent.
So when you’re standing in the dock, beware –
there’s more to it than words the judge might speak,
yet bear in mind your future’s being parsed,
but what that sentence was, you’ll only know –
when, if fortunate, you’ve been released.
Our stanzas shorten as we reach our ends,
and yet enlightenment remains "afar",
for “seeing” might mean one of many things,
and so “extinguish” can, as well.
When flights of fancy and achievements end,
we’re back to where we started – there to dwell.
Our nibbana is here, not there, dear friend.
2014 July 30, Wed.
Brooklyn, New York

To Someone

To Someone
Although it’s been so many, many years,
I still cannot forget your eyes, my friend –
The times I looked upon those eyes and sensed
A link to what has neither start nor end…
Two eyes that meet, two hands that briefly touch –
That current that then suddenly connects –
How can we explain it?  Leave it be –
Acknowledging it happened, till the next…
But oftentimes, it’s only one that feels
That current or that heart that skips a beat –
And then, it’s best to bow and quietly leave,
So heart and mind, disturbed, can take their rest…
But now so many years have passed, and yet
I wonder, were those merely idle dreams –
Or were they real?  So I write this verse,
While knowing little is, as what it seems…
2014 July 30th, Wed.
Brooklyn, New York

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Golden Light

The Golden Light
The western sun, with slanting rays, has struck
The treetops with its wash of golden light,
Set backlit leaves aglow against the blue –
And all the shades of green intensified…

We spend our lives enclosed within our rooms,
Whose walls and ceiling shield us from the sky.
That sun and shade can alter human moods,
Is evident on such a day as this...
A summer afternoon, in late July,
With August almost here, and so the sense
Of a season fleeting, like a little bird
That’s perched – but leans and tenses to take wing…
I sweep the leaves, and even more the bark
That splits and falls from summer’s growing tree.
A little while, it has, to grow and stretch –
To drink of sun, before the season ends…
How different, the views we hold of sun,
Of clouds, of rain, of cold and warmth,
Depending on our birth and domicile
At latitudes and altitudes on Earth...
But here, in a zone that’s termed as temperate,
I wait, all winter long, through snows and cold,
For spring – and then for summer’s dreamy time,
And even for the days of sweltering…
And yet, I’ve learned to flow as a season goes,
Adjusting to the lengths of day and night,
And finding, in the seasons, every one,
The things of beauty that can give delight…
And so, I sweep the leaves and bark – and pause
To wonder at the glory up above,
To breathe the season in – and breathe it out,
This summer afternoon in late July…
2014 July 28th, Mon
(2nd stanza added July 29th)
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York


Sunday, July 27, 2014


It’s strange – and sad – that some may spend their hours,
Their days and months and years – and even lives –
In labor – that of duty or of love,
And yet – have only scars to show for this.
For when in luck, they then were left alone,
When not, they earned their reprimands and worse.
And as they worked, they came to bear in mind
That punishment could follow labor hard.
Discouragement is practiced, as an art,
By some, who "supervise" the ones who work,
Who’re punished, not for callousness or lies,
But for adherence to the truth – and heart.
But others might survive and even thrive
By doing as they’re bid, not questioning.
They mind their business – or they claw and climb.
They know the price for deviance is high.
So some might find what I have written strange,
But others, who have labored, felt the lash,
May recognize the things of which I write,
And find some comfort then in company.
2014 July 27th, Sun.
Brooklyn, New York

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Humans + Last Kiss (a photograph) + Ho`tobhaga (Luckless)

It's not about Arab or Jew, my friend,
It's more about humans and whether we'll end.
It's not about Hindu or Muslim or Serb,
It's more about children and what they deserve.

2014 July 23rd, Wed.
Brooklyn, New York


The Last Kiss (photograph)

The Last Kiss -- photograph by Ali Jadallah

Oh, you luckless human race,
You've drowned your hope from sin.
When will you have peace and so
Escape this plight you're in?

Poor, Luckless, Unfortunate, Forsaken, Accursed

Oh luckless human race,
Sin's weight-from sunk-you hope.
Come-will when peace mind-in?
End-will when this hopelessness?


Hae, ho`tobhaga manux jati,    
paper bhare d'ubale axa.        
Axbe ko`khon xanti mone?      
Cukbe ko`be ei niraxa?


হায়, হতভাগা মানুষ জাতি,
পাপের ভারে ডুবালে আশা৷
আসবে কখন শান্তি মনে?
চুকবে কবে এই নিরাশা?


Hāẏa, hatabhāgā mānuṣa jāti,
pāpēra bhārē ḍubālē āśā.
Āsabē kakhana śānti manē?
Cukabē kabē ē'i nirāśā?

2014 July 25th, Fri.
Brooklyn, New York

Thursday, July 24, 2014


So many, simply seeking love
And longing for a cuddle,
Can find themselves, before they know,
In such an awful muddle,
That, broken-hearted, by themselves,
They sit – a and cry a puddle.
2014 July 24th, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York



I stopped by at the noodle-shop
And ate my steaming noodles.
And afterwards, I sipped my tea
And drew, on napkins, doodles.

A woman came to order and
I noticed, then, her poodles
That waited for her, by the door,
Until she leftwith oodles.

Now were those noodles for herself
Or were they for her poodles,
I wondered, idly, as I sipped
My tea and drew my doodles.

But this I knewshe'd ordered such
A quantity of noodles,
That even after she was full,
Her dogs could still have oodles.

2014 July 24th, Thu.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014



I'm Homo, known as Sapiens.  I'm tough.
I've weapons that can kill you.  And
– I've stuff.

I've learned to write.   I've read my fill of books.
I've got my ins with all the local crooks.

So who can touch me?  Yes, there's science, art
But see?  I'm where I am, because – I'm smart.

Wisdom?  Well, although my name is "Wise",
You're better off with smartness
– and with lies.

For truth is well and good, but lies can make
You rich.  That's where it's at.  The rest is fake.

2014 July 23rd, Wed.
Brooklyn, New York




Loneliness, oh loneliness, you spawn of isolation,
How many find you empty, bleak, a field of desolation…
And few can last for long without some company of sorts,
At very least, the sky above, with all its changing shows,
Or for the ones, who’re blind, the sound of water, wind and life,
The scents and textures of the world, the tastes upon the tongue…
Yet some must live within the walls, confined to just a room
That shelters from the elements but also is a prison.

In the city, bustling, full of busy-ness and strife,
Amidst the hustle and the rush, you’ll find the unemployed,
And only they can fully feel the madness of the city,
Where strangers pass without a word, and even in an office,
A working lifetime well may pass with just a “Hi, hello.”

“Goodbye!” we say, in such a way, it’s robbed of all its meaning. \1
Yet only God, for those of faith, is with them as they leave.

Loneliness, oh loneliness, your beauty may be hidden,
But those who look will see it, when that looking is unbidden.
We’re born and live and die alone, amidst the company,
And so to loneliness alone we’re wedded, till the end.

2014 July 23rd, Wed,
Brooklyn, New York
1. "God be with you.",  "Allah/bhagwaan tere saath rahe."
    "Khuda hafiz.", etc. were meant to convey a deep emotion.
    The urban "goodbye", is increasingly used, instead, as a 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Silent Sea

The Silent Sea
I walked, today, towards the waiting sea.
And soon enough, near sunset, I was there.
I saw it stretching outwards, dark and green,
towards the circle where the sky descends…

And standing there, by that Atlantic shore,
I saw the westward sun go slowly down
behind the Verrazano’s arches.  East                   \1
was Coney Island, arcing boldly south –
and in-between – the dark and silent sea…
How often, once, I'd walked along this shore…
How rarely I had come, in recent years,
to visit here, a leisured walk from home –
and yet another world – and still for free…

When hurricanes come storming up the coast,
the waves then pound upon the rocks that men
have laid, creating land, where only sea
had been before.  And just two years ago,
the sea swept in, as humans watched in awe…    \2
But here, this evening, as I write these lines,
the light is fading – and the breeze, though brisk,
does little to perturb the placid sea...
A time to breathe, to meditate and be…

The tide is low, with mossy rocks exposed.
A gull stands watch, as people walk the shore…
The sea is silent, but the people talk...
I hear their voices, and the tongues they speak    \3
are many, softened by the sky and sea…
Behind me – traffic, whooshing down the “Belt”. \4
I turn my head and see the headlights’ glare.
And turning back, there’s still that sea, that sky…
I wonder, marvel, asking – why, oh why?

A little pause – for peace – and then it ends…
So many marvels, men and women make –
and yet – our slaughters rarely ever end…
There was a time, when we had reverence
for Nature – and, perhaps, for life as well…
And when I'd lost my sister, then I came
to walk along this shore and ask the sea
the questions that I asked it yet again
when both my parents died – with me away…

I rise – and make my lonely way towards home,
in a pensive mood, at peace and yet aware
of all the problems that are mine – and those,
unsolvable, it seems, that plague our race…
The sea is silent, as the stars appear…

2014 July 22nd, Tue.
Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn


1.   The Verrazano suspension bridge, built in the 1960’s,
connects Brooklyn to Staten Island, crossing the Verrazano
Narrows, which separates Lower and Upper New York Bays.
In 1776, British forces crossed the straits, from Staten Island
into Brooklyn, routing Washington’s army at the Battle of 
Long Island.

Verrazano Bridge, from Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn, looking west


2. Hurricane Sandy, coinciding with a full moon and high tide,
caused much devastation in the region in the Fall of 2012.

Sandy approaches New York, October-end, 2012,  (c) Carlos Ayala


3.   Among the languages I have frequently encountered in this
area are: Spanish; Quechua and other Native American languages
of Central America; Portuguese; English in its many varieties;
Haitian Creole and French; Arabic; Italian and its dialects (this
having been, until recently, an area dominated by immigrants
from southern Italy and Sicily); Sub-Saharan languages; Albanian;
Yiddish; Romany (Gypsy) dialects (related to the Indic tongues);
Russian and other Slavic languages; Greek; Turkish; Georgian;
Armenian; Hebrew; Farsi (Persian); Uzbek and other languages of
Central Asia; Gujarati, Punjabi, Urdu-Hindi, Nepali (Gurkhali),
Bengali, Tamil and other languages of the subcontinent; Tibetan;
the Chinese dialects (several distinct spoken languages, unified by
a common, ancient ideographic script); Burmese languages;
Vietnamese; Korean; and many others.

4.  The Belt Parkway expressway that girdles southern Brooklyn
and Queens runs mostly along lower New York Bay.  In this part of
Brooklyn, this busy highway is often just a few yards away from
the walkway along the shore, separated from it by a narrow strip
of grass and small trees.

Monday, July 21, 2014

All for a Cellphone

All for a Cellphone
There was a young man of Calcutta,
Who dropped his new phone in the gutter.
He searched in the muck for the thing that he'd lost
And found it
but broken!  Recalling its cost,
He raged then at Fortune
and curses did utter...

And one, who was passing, who knew him, surmised
He needed some help
and forbearance advised.
But the one, who had "lost it", was crazed.  He attacked
The one, who'd attempted to help, and shellacked
Him with muck
that was partly, of feces, comprised...

The moral?  Why, even in places where men
Are sociable,
ad'd'a and destiny ken,                  \1
The winds of our times could be blowing
and so
You never can tell when a gasket might blow.
No use, in appealing to sense or to zen...
2014 July 21st, Mon.

Brooklyn, New York
1. ad'd'a = a casual gathering to chat and discuss everything under the sun, beloved of Bengalis, especially the men

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Two Na**d Women

Two Na**d Women


I saw a lady, walking nude –
A dame of Nordic stock.
And people stared as she went by.
They giggled, gaped in shock.

But she was shod – in fu**-me shoes,
With leather straps 'round calves.
And as she passed, I saw tattoos
Between her buttock-halves.

But though I squinted then to see
What the markings meant,
She strode away – and out of sight –
Unclothed – but fed, content...
I later saw a woman, who
Had not a shred of clothing.
She sat, despairing, in the street,
Subjected, there, to loathing.

She'd neither shoes nor sandals and
Her face and frame were gaunt.
Her eyes were filled with anguish – eyes
That will, my nightmares, haunt.

And as I walked, embarrassed, by,
And offered her no hand,
I saw, upon her wrist, some marks
I could not understand...
The first I saw was pink of skin,
The second, she was brown.
The first was smiling to herself,
The second made me frown.

I wondered what the tracings meant
That graced the first's behind.
It mattered not – that cryptic sign
On her I'd left behind.

And in another dream, I saw
The two, reversing roles.
I wondered what that signified
And whether parts were wholes...


2014 July 20th, Sun.
Brooklyn, New York

I Rarely Drink

I Rarely Drink

I rarely drink, but when I learn
What men, to men, are doing,
I quietly sit and grimly muse,
My teetotaling rueing.

If only we could meditate
And change the course of things –
Or if our words could open hearts
And give the children wings…

If things were there, that we could do,
That weren’t just diversions,
Then parts of this, our world, we'd change
For slightly better versions…

Alas, I only sit and sulk,
Defeated, as I see
How all of life is set afloat
Upon a burning sea…

I rarely curse, but with Omar
I cry out now, “Divine –
Who’s far from that, I’d profit much
From cursing – and from wine.”

Burning Sea

2014 July 20th, Sun.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bleakness and Bliss

Bleakness and Bliss
“Me and my loneliness…” a sister once wrote,
Phrasing her thoughts in the words that I quote.
They struck me, on reading. They stay with me still.
I try, with my verses, that vacuum, to fill…

Gotama the Buddha did methods devise
To merge with the silence, in ways that are wise.
And yet, we are lonely – and emptiness dread.
We try to be busy – until we are dead.

“Me and my loneliness…” a sister had written,
Expressing her mood in a manner unbidden.
She wrote this as prose – but the best of my verse
Is bested, by far, by those syllables terse.
If “Who is this sister?” is a question you ask,
Her privacy, then, with a riddle, I’ll mask.
Rhythm – her name.  In the heart of the atom,
She probes.  (“It’s for knowledge…” said Ava to Adam.)

All of our science and all of our art,
My verses of nuance, resembling a fart,
All in their total are bupkis to this –                               \1
“Me and my loneliness…” – bleakness and bliss...

Today, to the reader, I’m writing again.
But why I am writing, I cannot explain.
You with your loneliness, I with what’s mine…
In the eyes of a puppy, the essence divine…
2014 July 16th, Wed.
(last stanza added July 19th)
Brooklyn, New York

1 bupkis:  nothing, worthless – a word, probably of
Yiddish origin, used by New Yorkers and others; also
spelled bupkus, bupkes, bubkes.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Hear and Remember

Hear and Remember
(includes verses excised from "When Will the Killing Have End?")
Seven of the following fifteen stanzas were excised, for the sake 
of brevity, from the poem: When Will the Killing Have End . The 
other eight stanzas were added later.  Images have also been

Pablo Picasso painted Guernica in 1937, after the bombing, by
fascist forces, of a village with that name in Spain during its civil 
war. The image could only be fitted at a small size in the blog 
column. It is better to view it at a larger size, by clicking on the 
image. You will then see also the other images, in a click-able 

They each are blaming the other,
As the people are caught in between.
The earth and the sky and the ocean –
Do they watch, as we suffer, unseen?
To those who had started the cycle,
To those who have kept it alive,
We ask, "If your conscience is missing,
Do you know, that you will not survive?
"Your hands have been strangling the living.
Your mouths have been spouting the lie.
And yet, there is truth and there's justice.
And these will be there, though we die...

The Shootings of May Third 1808
Francisco (José) de Goya (y Lucientes)
oil on canvas, 1814; Museo del Prado, Madrid
image source:
"Hear, from the ones you've forgotten,
Hear, from the ones you deny.
Hear, from the ones who are dying.
Hear – and remember – our cry."

How many, today, will be dying?
How many, beloved, who're dead?
How many, to fight, will be vying?
The streets, with their blood, will be red...
How many, from death, will be fleeing?
How many, the children who'll die?
How many, the burned and the blinded?
How many, who'll wish they could die?
Our hearts, they are thirsting for vengeance,
And yet, they are breaking with grief.
Where is the road of repentance,
The light of the hopeful belief?

Who are the ones that will profit?
They know that we suffer and die.
Where, in our age, is the prophet
Who tells us the truth, not the lie?

Cambodian Refugees, Thailand
Steve McCurry
(c) Steve McCurry
image source:

What could have set this in motion?
How can we bring it to rest?
Who has the will and the power
And chooses to do what is best?

What do we know of the working
Of all that has brought us to this?
When people are crushed and forgotten,
Who will be speaking of this?

Yet more of these lies and this killing?
Yet more of this darkness of grief?
When will our breathing be easy?
When will we have some relief?
To those who had started the cycle,
To those who have kept it alive,
We ask, "If your conscience is missing,
Do you know, that you will not survive?
"Your hands have been strangling the living.
Your mouths have been spouting the lie.
And yet, there is truth and there's justice.
And these will be there, though we die...

Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 1937
Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain
image source:

"Hear, from the ones you've forgotten,
Hear, from the ones you deny.
Hear, from the ones who are dying.
Hear – and remember – our cry."

The earth and the sky will remember –
The sea that has tasted our blood...
And those, who have wrought the disasters,
They will pay, for the things that they wrought...
 2014 June 8th Tue (stanzas 5-11) 
& June 11th Fri (stanzas 1-4 and 12-15)
Brooklyn, New York  
Note:  The poem, When Will the Killing Have End,
can be read by clicking here .

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When Will the Killing Have End?

When Will the Killing Have End?
We heard of your death, my brother.
The grief that we felt was deep.
What could we do but listen?
What could we do but weep?

Some will sing of the glory.
Some will speak of the shame.
What will they know of you, truly,
Who never knew your name?

Who will know of our sorrow?
Who will know of our loss?
Your mother and sister are grieving
For the son and the brother they lost.

You were my hero, my brother –
My teacher, protector and friend.
But now you are gone, oh my brother,
And the killing is still not at end.

We pray for an end to the killing,
We pray for the person that dies.
And yet, how many are willing
To kill or to die for the lies...
  < Please see below the image for the last five stanzas.>
Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica
image source:


Who is our enemy, truly?
Where is the source of the dread?
Why should the parents be grieving?
Why should their children be dead?
You are gone, from this Earth, my brother,
And never will return...
And why should you?  We suffer –
As flesh and houses burn...
I walked with you just yesterday,
And yet it seems a while...
It seems that we are walking still.
I see you turn and smile... 

The love I feel for you is deep.
It will forever be,
Although you'll never walk again
And turn and smile at me...
The anger in my heart is great,
But greater is the grief.
And so I will not turn to hate,
For love is my relief.

2014 June 7th, Mon. 11:59 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Note:  Seven stanzas that originally followed the first five,
preceding the image,  have been excised  for the sake of 
brevity.  Those excised stanzas  have been incorporated 
into a separate poem,"Hear and Remember".)

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Excuse

My Excuse
I once was broken-hearted. My remnant mind was crazed,
I wrote for you then verses. In abysses, I gazed...
In gauging then the meter, I sensed a silent calm,
And so it was that rhyming became a soothing balm.

And though you're long departed, I'm writing verses still,
For though they're my addiction, they do, a vacuum, fill.
And when my heart is weary and mind has paid the cost,
They give me back my essence – the quiet I have lost.

I write in a tongue that's foreign and wonder what's the use.
But when the muse comes calling, I rarely can refuse.
I wish that you could hear me and know that I am well.
The things that I've been thinking, I wish that I could tell...

How many write such verses, how many hold them in?
How few are given chances, in this, our world of sin?
There's grief and there's forgiveness, there's love and there is pain...
I wish that I could hear you and be with you again.

My heart, it still is broken.  My mind, it still is crazed.
That I am living, working – at this, I'm quite amajed.
But still, I'm writing verses – and wondering what's the use.
And this, that I am writing, is merely my excuse. 
2014 July 7th, Mon, 8:57 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Little Bit of Fun

A Little Bit of Fun
It's summertime, in  lands of winter snows.
The sun has strengthened and the sapling grows.
And where the weary rest, forgetting wrongs,
There's something right – as inner essence knows...

There comes a time, when a working one retires,
To play perhaps on flutes and strum on wires,
And in the afternoons, to sing the songs
Of time, of distance and of lost desires.


But short of that, for those with summers off,
The next best thing is this – however brief –
These days, when clock-alarms are set to “off”,
And from the race, we're offered some relief.

These lazy days of summer, though they're late,
Give time for us to bask awhile in sun,
To slowly sip our coffees, contemplate,
And even have a little bit of fun.


With autumn, public schools were opened. We
Went forth to work in them, to workers be
With voices stopped.  We yet were bid to teach.
And what we wrought, was plain for hearts to see...

All winter-long, we slaved and shivered as
We waited for the spring to grace the land.
But when at last it came, we still were bound
To wait till now to breathe – and understand.

2014 July 5th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York


Our Fourth of July, 2014

Our Fourth of July, 2014

July the fourth – a holiday – for some...
My brother-in-law is working hard today
to fix a backyard shed whose roof collapsed
from all the snow the winter dropped on it.
And I am there to speed, as much as I can,
this three-day project, threatening to go on...

A hurricane was sweeping up the coast,
but we up north escaped its central gyre.
The humid heat oppressed us, for a while,
and then came thunderstorms and pouring rain...
Today was cool, with showers passing through –
a pleasant day, that should be ending soon...

The sky is still alight, as evening comes.
The setting sun has painted walls in gold
and set the edges of the clouds on fire.
But as we watch, the sky is drained of light.
It turns to deepest blues and violets,
and in that deep, a quarter-moon shines bright...

And as we now approach the magic hour,
the sound of rebel fireworks can be heard.
And from a backyard, just two houses down,
there rises, of a sudden, jets of light
that arc to spreading flowers in the sky.
The reds and whites and purples shower down...

The final screw goes in as night arrives.
I take my leave and walk towards my home.
I see the west is still aglow with light,
and as I walk, I hear and see the sounds
and sparkling bursts of light that those, who dare,
set off – although these things have long been banned.

On reaching home, I climb up darkened stairs
and see the light beneath the hallway door.
I fumble with the key and enter in
and see the wife is there.  The TV set
that quietly sits all year is brightly lit,
with fireworks, songs and music pouring out.

2014 July 5th, Sat., 5:15 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Friday, July 4, 2014


Do please suspend swift reaction and judgement, if you can, and read, with patience, to the very end, as this is not a simple issue, although it is a vital one.  Nationalism, in its nastier forms, is by no means the only problem we face in our times, but it is a thing that divides and affects us all.

And nationalism has many guises.

Tribalism, communal conflict, ethnic cleansing, civil wars without end – all of these, along with the horrors of empires of various kinds, are realities from which we cannot easily escape.

But if we begin to probe into the roots of these pathologies, to understand their nature, and so are able to recognize how they work and take action before they overwhelm us, then perhaps there is some hope.

Our tribal instincts can perhaps be addressed and appeased, without being given primacy.


Speak not to me of proud Bengal – or of glorious India.
Of “nations” and the harm they've done, I need no more reminder.
Of British and of Gallic pride, of German virtues – nay!
You'll only leave me, with your talk, in even more dismay.

Of Israel and Palestine, I think I've heard enough.
Call me when you're sickened by the nationalistic stuff.
Go wave the flag of Pakistan, of Bangladesh or India.
When riots start or wars begin, I know where I will find ya.

On football fields, the children play. It's innocent enough.
But in Brazil, the teams compete. And now the play turns rough.  \1
An outlet?  Yes. But see the crowds, with men and women crazed.
It's better, yes, than boxing.  Yet I still remain amajed.

Let's leave aside the commerce that corrupts us, one and all.
Observe the metaphors we use for games of bat and ball,
With headlines screaming, “beat” and “whip” – and verbs more murderous.
How easily we let the instincts coarser conquer us...

Returning then to patriots, who surely have their place –
Remember how you felt when you were struck upon your face,
Although you did no harm to him or her who did the deed.
Unless you're sainted, then arose – your ego, yes, indeed...

And it's the same with nations – when they're wounded, then they rise.
And so, in turn, they're wounders.  This should cause us no surprise.
Identities, we have – and they are multiple, until
We're singled out for one of them – and drink, of bitters, fill.

So that's a reason, why we then attempt to reinforce
Identity that causes grief – or is erased by force.
But there are other reasons too, why egos rise from sleep.
Defense is only one of them – and none of them are deep.

Let's run away from empires and let's turn away from tribes.
Let's relish our identities, which are, as one describes,
Multiple.  A woman is a mother, sister, child,
A cook and a photographer – with none of these defiled.

So can she be Bengali, and a Muslim, by her birth,
With Hindus in her lineage, and walk upon this Earth
With a passport that was Indian, until that was exchanged
For yet another document – and still not be deranged?

And can you be a Christian and an Arab and a Jew,
From all of these descended – yet be Latin in your view,
From being born, where Spanish now is spoken, and with genes
From those who first had planted, there, tobacco, maize and beans?

You're Croat?  Ah, but here I see, your grandmother was Serb.
You're Jewish?  Oh. You're hair is light.  What's Nordic, you preserve.
You're “White”? and she is “Black”?  But look – you have the same ancestor.
If that's a question still, then look –  Obama is your answer.

In Europe, lands were cleansed, in turn, of pagans, Muslims, Jews,
Of Christian sects that waged their wars for centuries, with views
That still remain to plague the lands where cleansing still proceeds,
As nations rose that soaked the earth with blood from brutal deeds.

Now Shias battle Sunnis in a war that is exploding.
But only yesterday, they sat and chatted, sans foreboding.
So is Kashmir in India or in Pakistan – or in nothing?
If that's our reason for a war, our reason, we've forgotten.

And I could point my finger at the ones who wheel and deal,
Who profit from our madness – and our dooms, with borders, seal.
But when I see how you and I are eager for the bait,
At pointing so my finger, I will take my time and wait.

So go and wave your flag and shout your slogans till you're sore.
But do this, please, at soccer games – in battlefields, no more...
And if you're for the wars we wage – go slaughter with the braves.
But let us have our hours of peace – before we fill our graves...

Go ask the shaikhs in emirates, go ask Manhattan's bankers,
What use they have for nations – and then listen to their answers.
And if you still are drunken from the potions you've imbibed,
Consorting with these cynics is the medicine prescribed.

When foreign troops are ravaging the land where you were born,
Then you might take up arms.  But when you've helped excise that thorn,
How many more you still might find that draw the people's blood...
The foreigners have left – and yet, of tears, there's still a flood...

The China that was set upon by Western wolves is risen.
But what remains of wisdom in that land of ancient vision?
How many peoples in a land, how rich the tapestry...
Yet when reduced to just a flag, what's left is travesty...

How many dead from empires, how many from our “nations”?
How many more before we reach the end of human patience?
The white sahibs were bad enough, we fought to speed their exit.
The brown sahibs are in their place.  In place of Jones, a Dixit... \2

“You do not understand,” some say, “it's all about survival!”
“Survival, yes. For whom?” I ask. The answer, if you're tribal,
Is “Us.”  “But who is us?  Explain. Were you including me?”
The borders that divide us are where we have made them be...

There always is a history – though much of it is myth.
And histories have horrors – yes, no matter who you're with.
But if we learn, from history, that blood's on all our hands,
The ones who died might smile, perhaps, that someone understands...

We humans, we have troubles from our classes and our creeds.
Why add to these a “nation” – or the empire that it breeds?
Our cities and our provinces – these entities have use.
But they're for all who're born or settle there – without abuse.

The cities and the provinces, they rarely need to battle,
Until it's said, to Russians, “Out!” or to Ukrainians, “Scuttle!”
To be a citizen's a right of birth or domicile,
And horrors rise, when laws or arms, this basic right, defile.

Economics lies at root of much of what we humans do.
Resources, scarce, are battled for – and bare survival too.
Let's strip away the garbs in which this struggle is attired –
And then, perhaps, we'll have a chance, with nation-states retired...

2014 July 3rd, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York


1. In case these verses are extant a year or more from now, the World Cup games for soccer were ongoing in Brazil as these were being written.
2. In standard English orthography, that surname should  perhaps be spelled, more phonetically, as “Dikshit” – with both the “d” and the “t”being, however, dental consonants – made with the tip of the tongue touching the backs of the upper front teeth, as in most Latin languages, rather than alveolar consonants – made with the tongue-tip touching the upper gum ridge, as in English.

Some might question my use of the term “phonetic” in conjunction with English spelling.  Although there are at least two well-established systems for spelling English, differing only in minor ways, it may be a
reach to call either of these a “system”, since they both fail to systematically represent even the basic phonemes of standard spoken English – on both sides of the Atlantic.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


The human mind is clever – and the human hand as well.
There's much that they've discovered, as our books and stories tell.
But yet it is enslavement that our cleverness has brought
To most of us – who live and work, in nets and snare-traps caught.
a captive
image source:



The things that once had promise, at the time  they were invented,
To free us – these have each been turned to chains, by those demented,
Who profit from enslavement and the labors of the masses
And treat us, shedding conscience, much as some treat burdened asses.

We humans, we have tamed the beasts who're used to pull and carry,
And also, we have tamed the ones, with names like Ping and Harry.
And just as oxen, donkeys, mules may labor till they die,
So also Ying and Larry might, believing in the lie.

illustration for the poem Khuror Ko`l (The Elder's Contraption)
from the collection of Bengali nonsense verse, Abol Tabol, by Sukumar Roy.
image source:

And those of us who question this – and so are termed rebellious,
We each in turn are silenced – yes, by gentler means or vicious.
And so we see that humans work, yet more and more and more,
As some grow richer from that work – and stronger even more.

And though advances past had eased the lot of workers, now
We see these each negated – as we all, to magnates, bow.
We even worship them, as once we did our “godlike” kings,
While governments are bought and sold, by those on golden wings.

Those predators, they circle now, like eagles flying high.
They swoop upon their prey and then they climb up in the sky.
With all the world within their reach, with money as their claws,
They feed on men and women – and they write, for us, our laws.

They buy the public's voices and they use these for their ends.
They mangle even children – much as eagle, rabbit rends.
So where there once was innocence, we see a child demented,
As everything is used on him, by humankind invented.

To Corrupt the Innocence, painting by Paulo Zerbato
image source:

Losing thus our children, corrupted in their souls,
What can humans live for, who once were cogent wholes?
We now are so fragmented, in selves and in a village,
That each is easy pickings, for those who raid and pillage.

Oh rise and be again what you can be, oh humankind!
To all compulsions be averse, to mindfulness be kind.
Oh wake and see what vice has wrought, let virtue be your king.
Of all that's evil, be aware.  Of  heart and kindness, sing!

Desist from racing on the wheel. It's time for us to slow.
The wheel's a race to nowhere, save where no one sane should go.
Let's join to break our fetters and to work for better causes.
From racing and its cruelties, desist!  Extend the pauses...

For only in the quiet times, can we begin to see
The qualities of mercy and our lost humanity.
And only through that leisure can we slow – and so regain
The sanity that we have lost, pursuing fruitless gain.

2014 July 2nd, Wed.
Brooklyn, New York