Friday, October 31, 2014


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

Thursday, October 30, 2014


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Chant

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

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Winter Comes – II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dua, Insaan Ko–दुआ, इनसान को (A Prayer – to Mortals)

The Hindi-Urdu text below (in Devanagari script) is followed by a loose translation into English and then by a transcription into Roman.  As my Hindi and Urdu are both weak, any corrections or suggestions would be welcome.  -- Arjun

दुआ, इनसान को
इस्लामियत को ढूंढ़ते हुए,
इन्सानियत को खोना मत।
हिन्दुत्व को गढ़ते हुए,
मानव-धर्म को तोड़ना मत।
यहोवा या यीशु के नाम से,
खून-खराबी करना मत।
पैसे या नाम का धन्धा मे,
सचाई और दिल को भूलना मत।
शनिवार, २५ अक्टूबर २०१४ ईस्वी
ब्रुकलिन, न्यूयॉर्क

A Prayer – to Mortals
In search of an Islamic state,
Do not, a being’s rights, negate.
With Aryan yearnings in your mind,
You still have reason to be kind.
In the name of Yahweh or of Jesus,
With murderous evil, do not smite us.
To fame or fortune, while en route,
Remember still the heart – and truth.
2014  October 25th, Sat.
(translated November 1st, Sat.)
Brooklyn, New York

Dua, Insaan Ko
Islaamiyat ko d'huun'r'hte hue,
insaaniyat ko khona mat.

Hindutva ko gar'hte hue,

maanav-dharm ko tor'na mat.

Yehova ya yiixu ke naam se,
khuun-kharaabi karna mat.

Paise ya naam ka dhandha me,

sacaai aur dil ko bhuulna mat.
xanivaar, 25 akt'ubar 2014 iisvi.
bruklin, nyu yo`rk

The Mirror

The Mirror
The little girl who skipped in pigtails turned
to a maiden, blooming then in beauty, grace –
and then to a woman, married – soon with child –
and so to a mother – with a mother’s work
as well as that which earned the needed wage…
She worked her shifts, as women long have done…
Her face and body changed, as did her mind –
as worries grew – and satisfactions small
were countered by frustrations – small and large...
And gazing in the mirror now, she sees
that little girl, that maiden, then the wife –
the mother too – and wonders what comes next.
2014 October 25th, Sat.
2nd floor, McDonald’s restaurant
86th Street & 20th Avenue
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Thursday, October 23, 2014


If only I could follow this advice, during the working
day in my school-teaching job, here in New York City...

If I could say one word to all the folk
who’d care to hear, the word I’d say to them
is “Slow.”

Walk slower to your work and back.  And work
a little slower, taking more of care
and even fussing, with the work you do.

In speech, be slower. Be considerate.
Refrain from words that hurt or give offence.
And don’t say, “Hurry.” Modulate your speech
to give yourselves and those who hear the time
to truly speak and hear what’s said.  Recall
that speaking is an art, as hearing is –
and neither should be rushed or desperate.

Be slower in your thoughts and actions. Think
of what you do and what its purpose is.

Compulsive thought and speech and action lead
to more compulsion and to misery.

But you might say that in the mad stampede,
the one who slows or pauses might be killed.
And you are right in this, to some degree.

So slow a teeny bit.  Let others slow
around you.  Give them time to breathe.
Perhaps you’ll see, about you, grows a space
where beings are, as beings true –
where there is time – that precious time they need
for thought, reflection, noticing, for care –
for wonder, musing – even hope and love…

The greed and fear that drive the human world,
the engines of our mad economies –
have made us hurry, hurry through our lives –
with little time for pause and savoring.

Resist. Resist the hurry, fear and greed.
Resist the rush – be gentle in your ways…

So breathe the air and slowly let it out…
Be slow, in what you do and speak and think.

Let others hurry, hurry to their graves.
Go slowly, slowly to the death that waits,
so when you leave, you’ll know that you have lived
and left some space, so others too can live.

And so I say, to all who care to hear,
“Go slow, go slow, and spread the word to all.

“And most will disregard you, some will laugh
and others vilify you.  Let them be.

“But others, you will find, will hear, and they
will also try to take the time to pause,
to notice and to care – to slow again
and be what you and they can truly be.”
2014  October 22nd, Wed., 6:04 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Urban Epiphany

Urban Epiphany

On exiting the school, he saw the sky
And then the row of tall, majestic trees
That lined the street, beside the football field.
He stood and quietly looked awhile at these.
He saw – the trunks that dwarfed the ones like him,
The mighty arms outspread – as tentacles
That reached towards the light for nourishment,
The branches, twigs – the leaves, by autumn crisped…
He stood and stared awhile, and went his way,
A little being, walking to his nest,
Humbled by the trees – that would remain,
When he and those he knew were memories…
He trudged along, a weary working man
Who trundled home his workload for the eve.
And in the concrete “park”, he stopped to sit
And pen these lines and slowly sip his tea.
And as he writes of what he saw and felt,
The sky has darkened much. The traffic lights
Are flashing yellow, red and green –
And silhouettes are heading home, like him...
On reaching home, he’ll sit and type these lines
And post them in the ether, there to stay
Awhile, be read, perhaps, then fade away –
As even trees are lost, like men and leaves…
2014 October 21st, Tue.
Brooklyn, New York

Saturday, October 18, 2014



There’s a loneliness, an emptiness, within the little flats,
For they’ve never had the children – no little angel-brats,
No pattering of little feet, no bawling in the night…
The occupants are getting old – and something’s not aright...
But now, alas, it’s far too late – they each are weighted down
By worries, cares and aging’s tolls – like others in their town.
And so it is around the world, as childless people age –
As singles or in twos and threes – and slowly, limits gauge.
“So who will care for her,” he thinks, “when I am dead and gone?
And what to do with what I’ve done – to whom to pass it on?
My cousins far away, who’re now unsteady on their feet –
They’re childless too…” He worries, while conceding the defeat.
But those who’ve had their offspring, labored hard and given years
To feed them, tend them, teach them, shedding blood and sweat and tears –
They wonder where their children are, who’re often far away…
And so December comes to all, who dallied once in May...

The birds and beasts are substitutes, and work that fills the day,
And in the night, on waking, thoughts that take them far away...
A wondrous world we live in, where we procreate or not,
And all we do returns to where it came and we're forgot...
2014 October 18th, Sat.

(last stanza added 19th, Sun.)
Brooklyn, New York

The Graceful Dead

The Graceful Dead
While walking up a road today, that still was lined with green,
I saw a tree, for which the fall had come, that stood serene.
It soared, aflame, it seemed, against the clouded autumn sky,
In glory, clad in leaves – that one by one would fall and die.
And now, I take in hand my pen, recalling, as I scribe,
How many were the colors, which I scarcely can describe –
The fading greens, the yellows, pinks, the many shades of red –
The colors of those aging leaves, which soon would all be dead…
And when I walked below that tree, I saw the fallen leaves
On sidewalk, street – and curbside, deep in multicolored sheaves.
How graceful were those fallen leaves – in aging and in death…
If only we could age as well – to be, by angels, met…
The world is full of cruelty.  If men would disappear,
It still would be a cruel world, beset by lust and fear.
And yet, this world has beauty, grace.  How wondrous was this tree
That stood alone, ablaze – and yet – in grace – and living free.
2014 October 18th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Broverbs for Teachers

Broverbs for Teachers

There’s many a way to say a truth, and many a way to lie,
And all our lives we dance with words, until it’s time to die.
Let kindness reign, not cruelty, in how we speak and act –
For if, within, we've empathy, we've also, in us, tact.

The dogmas and the diktats that are used to tame and rule,
We each should quietly challenge – or be treated like a tool.
If even angels can’t devise a method for all things,
Then should we trust the shysters who pretend that they have wings?

Be wary of the ones who lie – who bully, cheat and worse,
But not of those, whose only sin is truth – in prose or verse.
Be wary of the powerful.  Look not for fame or wealth.
Go humbly, where the peaceful are.  Be mindful of your health.


The labor that’s of love may bring rewards of cash or kind.
And if it does, be grateful.  If it doesn’t, do not mind.
Subvert the mills of humankind.  They feed on flesh and soul.
Renew your ties to Nature.  She will help to keep you whole.

The autumns in these polar lands are times when schools begin.
The summers fade to memories – and soon, we’re sunk in sin.
Resist, resist, with all your might, and yet preserve your strength.
The battles, you may win or lose.  The war is long in length.

When humbled by the overseers, when robbed of strength and sense,
Remember then the humbled ones, and be not over-tense.
The work you do has meaning, though you’re told that it has not.
Go gently to your work at school, and shy away from rot.

Blessed is the one who teaches, teaches from the heart.
Blessed is the one who learns – learning, too, of heart.
For all the universe may spin around and disappear,
But knowledge is a precious thing – that should be without fear.

2014 October 13th, Monday
Brooklyn, New York 

Monday, October 13, 2014



A gentle breeze is blowing and the sun is shining bright.
The little birds are singing and the clouds are floating by.
A day, it seems, in paradise – and yet a day on earth,
A day for joy and happiness – and not for asking why.

And yet, the present time reflects, like water does the clouds,
The past with all its history – and whispers, what’s to come.
So joy is tinged with misery, and happiness with woe.
And I begin to understand, why father turned to rum.

I walk below the rustling leaves, I listen to their sound.
I see the dappled ground below, I watch the leaves that fall.
The sky is blue and white above.  In the distance, is the sea.
I wonder where my sister is – and I hear my mother call.

Oh happiness, that lights upon a shoulder like a leaf
And then is blown away by chance and fate’s persistent breeze –
Some chase you all their lives and find you still are far away,
While others, you may land upon, who stroll about at ease…

2014  October 13th, Mon.
Brooklyn, New York

Saturday, October 11, 2014



They once were here but now are gone,
And no one knows to where.
And when they left, we thought they slept,
Released  from toil and care.

The days went by, the weeks and months –
The seasons and the year –
And then it dawned – that they had died,
Who still to us were dear.

How final is a death.  It brings
To close, a life on earth.
And each of us will die, who once
Awoke to life and birth.

In sleep, it seems we’ve ceased to live,
And yet, we are alive.
In death, it seems we merely sleep,
Yet naught can dead revive.

I came upon a village once,
Where everyone had died.
But when I went to tell my friends,
They thought that I had lied.

They would not come with me to see,
And so I went again.
And in that village square, I knelt
In silence and in pain.

They once were born as infants and
Their lives of mortals led.
And then, one day, it seemed they slept –
But truly, they were dead.

And some might say, “They’re still alive
But in another realm.”
And who, with heart, will say they’re wrong?
For death can overwhelm.
They once were here but now are gone,
Where none can see or hark.
And who is brave enough to try
To dare those realms of dark?

2014 October 11, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York

Friday, October 10, 2014


In the canyons of the city, where the traffic winds its way,
I had wandered for a lifetime, so it seemed, that autumn day.
And the frenzy of the city, where the workers run and toil –
It had entered in my being, it had rooted in my soil.
I was born of man and woman, but had grown to something else.
For the god who reigned was Mammon, who is lord of human hells.
And all that is of Nature – of  water, earth and air,
Was routed, extirpated – what remained was my despair.
For so it is with workers, who must labor in the mills,
Where our demons are our masters, so our virtues there are ills.
Not the cycle of the seasons, not the surging of the tides,
But the pulsing of the street-lights is the rhythm that resides.
In the canyons of the city, in the factories of hell,
I had turned into a zombie, as I then could clearly tell.
As the winds of fall were blowing, as the rivers flowed to sea,
I was standing at the crosswalk, and I knew I’d ceased to be.
2014 October 10th, Fri.
Brooklyn, New York

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dialog – A Teacher Retires

Dialog – A Teacher Retires
There are ways that we die, in our bodies and minds,
And one is the way of the worker,
Who may labor for pay but who frequently finds
She’s imprisoned, because she’s no shirker.
If you care for a child or an elder or one
Who is ailing – or teach in a school,
And you care for your wards or your subjects, you run
And you slave – and they think you’re a fool.
So you’re treated like dirt, by the ones who’re in charge
And even by those, whom you work with.
You’ll be robbed of your sleep and your peace, till discharge
From the job, as a worker unfit.
I’ve taught many years in the schools in a borough
That once was a city as well.
And I’ve learned how to teach so as not to be thorough
And so earn a good living from hell. 
To “go with the flow” is to say what is apt,
To pass off, as truth, what’s a lie –
For the one who’s not clever, who cannot adapt,
Is swatted and squashed like a fly.
“I’ve had it, my friend!” my co-worker said,
“I feel I’m a moron – a fool!
I can’t do my job, there’s a fire in my head,
And soon, I’ll be starting to drool.
“The sleep that I get isn’t restful or long –
I’m panicked and always behind.
I can’t do the things that they want. I belong
In a nuthouse – I’m losing my mind!
“I can see that my days in this job will be dire,
Even more than they’ve been till this day,
Unless I can change – which I can’t. To retire
And be poor, is what’s left as the way.
“There were times, in the past, when the work had its fun,
When I felt that my labor had paid,
So I slept well at nights. Though I still had to run,
I could do so.  My nerves weren’t frayed.

“I have taken as much as I can of this strife.
I will have to retire now, my friend.
So this year is my last.  Though this job’s been my life,
It is time now to end it – or end.”

I answered him lightly, with scant consolation.
Perhaps I’d been at it too long.
My manner had roughened, from years of frustration
In a place, where I did not belong.

“We’re here in a nuthouse, that’s also a jail.”
I said to my colleague and friend.
“The sincere – in this job, they are destined to fail –
For they’ve heart, and don’t follow the trend.

“You’ve been working too long – and you’re paying the cost,
For we’re marching and prancing in step,
But you’re tired and confused. You are frightened and lost,
And you feel you’re the stupidest schlep.

“Oh hi-dilly-dilly and hi-dilly-do!
You don’t see a way to get out of your rut.
So sing with me, hidi-hi, sing with me more!
For what does it matter, if they think you’re a nut?

“How can you think, when your brain is on fire –
If you’ve worked and you’ve worked and it still makes no sense?
So sing with me, hidi-hi!  Before you retire,
Sing with me loudly, and you won’t be so tense.

“Oh pity the young ones, and pity those caught
As they’re ground by the millstones of madness to flour.
And think, what you’ve suffered – and vow, there’ll be naught
That you won’t do to stop this, that’s still in your power.

“For how can you think, when your mind is aflame –
When all that you’ve worked for is whittled to naught?
So sing with me, hi-dilly, hidi!  For blame
Won’t free all the students and teachers who’re caught.

“So you first must escape – and put out that flame.
And then, with your thinking and speaking and acts,
Put an end to the running and lying and blame –
Dispense with the falsehoods and deal with the facts.”

“I’m tired and confused – for it’s all so surreal!
But the outside is better, you say?
There are times, when I think that this just isn’t real –
That I’ll function again, if I stay.

"Perhaps all the teachers will rise up and cry,
‘We had it!  Enough, with this dung!’
Perhaps then our union, on hearing that cry,
And fearing, will get back its tongue?”

I laughed – and I told him, what cynics would say.
And he winced, when he heard what I said.
Perhaps I was harsh in my words and my way,
For he listened – and hung down his head.

“They’ve got us, they’ve got us!  There’s Bloomberg and Arnie.
There’s Rhee and there’s Gates and there’s Cuomo and Klein.
And who is resisting? Is Mulgrew or Randy?
Ach nein, meine Herren und Damen!  Ach, nein!

“So sing with me, hidi-ho, hi-dilly-dee!
You’ll still go out singing, although you’ll sing low.
And when you’ve retired, remember then me!
And do then your damndest, so this is no more!”

“What?  Escape from the jailhouse and stay at its fences?
You surely are joking, my friend in the jail?
Say what?  They’ll still get me, the Bloombergs and Gateses?
My pension?  Oh come on!  This city can’t fail…”

“My friend and colleague, who’s retiring, who’s worked
His sentence of years and yet more – yes I know
That you gave of your best – and you rarely have shirked,
But your work is beginning – and your labor will grow.

“But sing and rejoice!  For now you’ll be free!
No more of the dread and the drudgery, no!
You’ll work now for love – and for those who’re like me.
For us and our students, you’ll settle the score.”

He had listened and quieted. I waited a while.
It seemed, at a juncture, my friend had arrived –
For he looked at me strangely, with a sad sort of smile,
As he spoke to me softly, in a whisper that knifed.

“You’re dreaming, my friend, who is caught in the school.
I’ll think of you often – and perhaps you are right.
I’ll still have to fight on – but only a fool
Would flee from the darkness – to run back to night!”

My turn, to be quiet!  Our roles had reversed.
It was I, who now felt like a fool.
And perhaps this was right. For a man should be cursed,
Who has treated his friend like a mule.

He left rather early.  He was late the next day.
I saw he was smiling.  I guessed at the why,
But asked for a reason.  He answered me, gay,
“I’m off to the city, to tell them ‘goodbye’.”
2014 September 28th, Sun.
(edited & added to, October 8th, Wed.)
Brooklyn, New York

Sunday, October 5, 2014


I crossed today the river and I stood on Mammon’s isle,
On this October afternoon, as leaves were coming down...
And as it was a Saturday, I dallied there a while,
Remembering the times when I had time to walk and smile...
From the canyons of Manhattan, I saw the spires afar
That swam in western sunlight, with winter drawing near.
The autumn’s winds were blowing, as I ambled to the park.
I shivered as the leaves do.  It would soon be growing dark.
In the alleys of the boroughs, where the litter drifts like leaves,
I had wandered, as a worker, for a lifetime, so it seemed…
And the parks had been a refuge, for the ones who were like me,
Who were weary of the hustle and were neither brave nor free.

The park in which I settled was a sorry city thing,
But with trees along its margins and a tattered plastic green.
In that park, I watched the soccer, as the ball went to and fro,
And I thought of all my autumns – and the plays I’d seen before…
They were drawn from all the nations – all those players in the park.
And they trapped and kicked the leather, as they practiced for the game.
Then a referee (southern English) separated reds and whites.
And the players, friends and strangers, did their simple pre-game rites.
So hands were quickly shaken, with names and smiles exchanged.
They didn’t know each other – but they surely knew the game.
And this was quickly obvious, as the goals were deftly scored.
They’d sized up one another, and all else was now ignored.
I wrote my muse's verses, as I sat and watched the game.
And I blessed the ones who’d put in wooden benches, long ago.
The reds were doing better, till the whites reversed defeat.
The light grew soft and golden, as the battle gathered heat.
The beauty of a pastime – of a sport, as soccer is,
Is it doesn’t really matter, where you’re from or how you speak.
What matters is the playing – the enjoyment of the game.
And a win may be a glory.  But a loss is not a shame.
And so it is with soccer, by “white” colonials spread –
Across the widest oceans – to “yellows”, blacks and browns.
And so it with cricket and other games we play,
As season follows season – and schoolmates’ heads turn gray…
But the players here were young ones.  And mostly, they were men.
But women too were playing.  There were natives and the rest –
From Asia and from Europe, from the “new world” and the “old” –
From warmest parts of Africa – but here in New York’s cold.

The reds at end were rounded.  They gathered, by a bench.
The whites – they went on playing – and the blacks were now their foes.
The colors were of jerseys – and not of human skin.
And the play was not for commerce, and was mostly free of sin.
The whites in turn retreated.  Now blacks and reds would joust.
So tribes had once competed – and yet remained on terms.
But floodlights now were glaring.  They sky was drained of light.
‘Twas time to head on homewards, to dine at home at night.
And so I’ll end my stanzas and pack my notebook soon.
I’ll walk then to the station and take the D-train home.
I’ll leave the play to players, to play in blinding light.
The autumn day has ended.  Why take away from night?

I’ll walk towards the station, trying not to step on leaves –
And I’ll hear the words of nations from across the heaving seas.
I’ll find a place to pee in, as the ride to home is long.
Let’s hope the stalls are open, as that’s where our pees belong…
And as I travel homewards, I’ll think of what I’ve seen –
Of those enthused with soccer, who chase and kick the ball –
And those like me who wonder – at them and at the spires
That rise above Manhattan – as humankind aspires.
2014 October 4th, Sat.  6:40 pm
by Grand St. & Christie St., Chinatown, Manhattan
(some additions made October 5th, Sun. morning, 
 at home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn)
And as I neared the station, with its urine-stench in mind,
I glanced towards the playground – and upwards at the sky.
A quarter-moon was floating, above the white-limbed trees,
Whose remnant leaves were waving, in the chill October breeze.
The sky was of a color that I cannot quite describe.
It was blue at very deepest – it was dark and yet aglow.
It was beauty, like a gemstone, like the trees and like the moon.
In the midst of urban squalor, it was beauty, none too soon…
I paused for just a second, amidst the human stream,
But now my mind was smiling, as I descended down –
Down into the subway, to the cavern underground,
Where the D-train came with rumbling and much attendant sound.

And then, across the river, on the old Manhattan bridge,
With views of sky and river, and the towers of the city –
Then down again, to Brooklyn, to the tunnel deep below –
And there I sit and scribble, as I homewards, homewards go.

I’d gone to see the doctor, for the wife and for myself –
A sacred yearly ritual.  So I’d schlepped across the bridge
And I’d trod on Mammon’s island, and I’d looked upon its spires
And I’d seen the pilgrims playing, in the manner that inspires.
2014 October 4th, Sat., 7:34 pm
below western Brooklyn, approaching the 36th St. station

(some additions made October 5th, Sun. morning
at home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn)

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Madness

The Madness
What still is left of sanity within the human race
Is threatened now by sickness that we’re told is glowing health.
So “Money, money, money!”  is the chanting of our times,
As Mammon is exalted in the mad pursuit of wealth.
But more and more, there rises too the murmur, “God is great!”
And all the ancient zealotries arise and walk again,
As brother says to brother, “You’re the infidel to slay!”
So avarice and zeal compete in doling out the pain.
The diktats of the secular, the dogmas of the zealous –
They both result in misery. The suffering is great,
But those who see are powerless to halt the cycles vicious.
And even in the U.S.A., the workers say it’s fate.
“That’s how it is!” we each declare, and do as bosses order.
We turn on one another as the “owners” rake in cash.
We blame the ones who’re poorer or the ones who cross the border.
In ignorance, we're duped to pay for dark adventures rash.
So those who are sincere are robbed of sleep and peace of mind.
They see the way we’re headed and they sense the mad stampede.
But if they try to slow, they find they’re shoved aside or crushed –
For punishment is sure, for every heartfelt word or deed.
Even in the midst of wars, there still was once the peace – 
In clamor and insanity, the quiet and the sane…
But now, within our families, and in our halls of study,
There’s falsehood and ferocity – and all the traits insane.
And yet we see the wheelers, who appear to be at peace,
With hearts immured to suffering, expedient, coldly wise.
And these are now our rulers, in their trademark penguin suits,
Our dealers in insanity, who market pain and lies...

Will sanity be ours again? Will madness ever ebb?
The fever rises still, the patient shivers in her bed.
And what is it that ails her? Is it this or is it that?
A doctor says it's zealotry – and greed, to which it's wed.
2014 October 3rd, Fri., 6:01 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York