Monday, September 14, 2015


When I get up in the morning,
And I totter from my bed,
I remember then my father,
Who’s been only three years dead.

And then looking in the mirror,
Since I’ve shaved away my beard,
I can see my father’s visage
And no longer think that’s weird.

The grunt I make on rising,
The downturn of my mouth,
Remind me that I’m aging,
For my parts are going south.

And I see and hear my father
And my uncles, grandpas, more—
That lineage, male, of elders
Who walked this way before.

So I go about my business,
But suddenly I laugh,
Remembering a gem-like grain
My father picked from chaff.
He had an eye and ear for it.
I hear, as I grow old,
His mild remarks that made one smile,
The stories that he told...

But when I see a stranger
And I see that stranger smile,
I know my mother’s in me
And will remain a while.

For that was how they greeted
My mother, who had eyes
That looked on them with kindness,
As each would then surmise.

And so it is with puppies
And even dogs when grown—
Except it’s me who’s smiling,
As if they were my own.

She had a way with animals,
As she also had with us.
Her instincts, of the kinder sort,
She acted on—sans fuss.

So though she was a mortal
And so had faults like all,
It seemed she was an angel,
Who’d chanced, by us, to fall.

And so my aunts and grandmas,
And that widow, with a will,
Who mothered so my sister,
Are each within me still.

I see my sister walking
Within a region hallowed.
She went her way before me.
I often wish I’d followed.

I call to her, “I’m coming.”
She doesn’t seem to hear.
I stand and watch my sister—
So distant, yet so near.

In everything she tried to do,
It seemed that she was gifted.
And yet, with so much left to do,
Her soul, from Earth, was lifted.

I read the pages of the book
She’d written with such grace.
And as I read, she lives again,
And I can read her face.

I also see the others—
From the villages and towns—
To whom I sat and listened—
The sages and the clowns…

My cousins, older, younger,
The friends I made at school,
And those who once were neighbors—
Are still within this fool.

For a fool is what I’ve turned to,
Upon my downward arc.
And so, to all that brightness,
I turn to, in the dark.

Our childhoods might be wretched,
But even those have light.
The hurts are healed and hidden,
The blessings stay in sight.

We circle, in our journeys
From birth to death, so when
We near our mortal endings,
We’re back where we began.

And where was my beginning,
Except where I was born?
So there I'll be returning
To mend the fabric torn.

I will see again the rivers
And the fields of gold and green,
So even in my misery
A breeze will blow, serene.

Village River, by Samiran Sarkar, 2011

I will hear the city’s bustle;
I will see the city’s skies.
I will squint up at the cloudscape;
I will watch the kite that flies.

I will hear the tongues my kinsfolk spoke.
I will hear the dialects’ speech.
I will savor, as I’m dying,
The flavor that’s in each.

The languages of childhood,
Of the land that gave me birth,
Their timbres and their cadences,
I’ll hear, when leaving Earth.


The aged are often treated
With disrespect and worse.
The scoldings are repeated,
With orders sharp and terse.

There are echoes from our childhoods
That we hear through all our lives.
And among these there are voices
That can help us bear the jibes.

There are voices past of wisdom,
There are voices that are sweet.
There are voices that are sterner
That can help us bear defeat.

Chaos and Perception

I’ve traveled, in my journeys,
Across the theaters grand.
I’ve met the proud and humble
And grasped the offered hand.

But when I’m near my ending
And racked by grief and pain,
The proud will be forgotten;
The humble might remain.

But surely those, that childhood
Had seen with a widened eye,
And those, to whom I bonded,
Will haunt me, as I die.

So when my hearing’s faded,
I will hear those echoes weak—
I will hear my parents talking,
I will hear my sister speak.

2015 September 12th, Sat., 10:20 pm
Skyway Restaurant, Bath Avenue
(some stanzas added Sept. 14th, Sun.)
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Murmuration

The Murmuration

I saw the starlings in the sky.
They wheeled and arced and seemed to weave
a giant form of sentience.

I stood transfixed and watched with awe
the flowing shapes that being took
that twisted, turned, dispersed, condensed…

And as I watched, I heard the sound,
the murmur of the beating wings—
a hundred thousand pairs of wings.

I heard it rise from a whisper, surge
and fade and rise and ebb again—
like waves within an aerial sea.

And all at once the cloud grew dark
and swiftly plunged across the trees,
as one by one they settled down...

A giant bird is created out of a starling murmuration in Scotland.
I wondered whether starlings had
their schools, in which they taught their young,
and whether tuition there was free.

And did the students there have tests
and were the teachers graded too?
Did Danielson hit starlings too?

I shook my head.  I’d seen and heard
the murmuration on a screen,
as schools were just about to start.

I thank you, Diane Ravitch and
the one who sent this, Susan Schwartz,
and Dylan Winter for the clip.

But most of all, I thank the birds,
who fly across the heavens, free,
as  humans were—and still could be.

2015 September 6th, Sun, 12:26 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York  

Thursday, September 3, 2015



Lead us not into temptation
And deliver us from evil.

We blame a class, a race or other group—
There are professions that are often blamed.
But it’s the nature of the human beast
That’s still the culprit for the mischief done.

For every virtue, every angel-trait,
We’ll find a vice, a sort of devil’s taint,
That mars the soul within a human or
Perhaps within all beings sentient.
If we had only virtues, then perhaps
We might be far too boring.  Light and shade
And vice and virtue, good and evil are,
Like yin and yang, in constant interplay.

So some might say that vice gives virtue place,
As hunger gives to plainest food its taste.
Without the sins that sinners multiply,
Could even saints be duly recognized?
And what, to me, is virtue could be seen
As vice to one whose values are reversed.
And yet, there still are basics that appear
To be the common ground on which we stand.

So save for prophetesses such as Ayn,
You’ll rarely find that people disagree
That selfish actions lead to evil ends,
While love and caring make for brighter lives.

For this, we might invoke a spirit that
Is root and essence of what’s seen as good,
And all that’s evil might be then ascribed
To visions clouded—or to a spirit dread.

But others might look back at what we were
When we were closer in our lives to apes
But rose and flourished from that sharing which
We still perceive as good—which touches hearts.

So "good", to them, is that which served us well
In eons past, when mind and body formed
To suit the circumstances then—for though
The times have changed, we still remain the same.

I will not enter into these debates.
I’ll only say that instincts old and deep
Respond to kindness—and that meanness brings
Yet other, meaner instincts into play.

To strive to be as supermen is fraught
With danger. We are always what we are.
We should be cognizant of what’s within
And seek a balance that sustains us all.

For when that balance is disturbed, we see
The sorrow that is not of earth or air
Or water, but is made by acts of men
And leads to yet more sorrows, turn on turn.

The earthquakes and the storms and floods may leave,
But fires rage and droughts and famines come.
Yet all of these, by men and all, are borne
With lesser pain than monstrous deeds of Man.

A fire may burn a forest down and yet
It leaves a part of it—and then with time
That forest lives again. What Man has touched
With devil's hands, no heaven can restore.

Be watchful then. Remove yourself from that
Which leads to conflicts with your inner god,
Who then is either silenced, leaving sin
To flourish, or cries out in pain within.

The ones, who cannot silence conscience, live
With ceaseless war within themselves, unless
They speak and act to change what often is
Impossible when others shrug and sin.
It wasn’t Adam or his partner, Eve,
Or a serpent leading both of them astray.
It’s we, who look to God to salve our sins,
Forgetting god and devil are within.

We lose our way and cannot find the path.
We lose our reason and we close our hearts.
It later seems that we were not awake
And so committed acts we shouldn't have.

The heart expands with kindness and with love,
Which spread like blessings when they’re acted on.
The heart contracts with meanness and with hate
And all our words and deeds of violence.

It’s difficult, within the fire, to be
As cool of temper as we’d like to be.
It’s hard, when we are stressed and desperate,
To be as kind and patient as we should.

So what are we to do?  Perhaps it’s best
To move away from all that meanness breeds—
To distance selves from where it’s fear and greed
That drive the engines of economies.

Although that’s easier said than done, to see
The source of evil, of disturbance, is
To step away from it, towards that calm
That gives us time and space to see and love.

We come like water and like wind we go.
So said Khayyam, Fitzgerald’s paraphrase
Purports.  If we should pray, perhaps we need
To ask for courage and for innocence.

So let us then release the things, to which
We hold, that rob us of our clarity.
That freedom might be difficult to reach,
Until we see we’re sullied by our vice.

There’s anger, greed and hate and jealousy.
And each of these, and even pride, has place
Within the workings of the mind that lives,
But each of these can lead us into sin.

For sin is not the thought that comes and goes
Or even stays awhile.  For thoughts may rise
And feelings too.  It’s when they’re nurtured and
They’re acted on that sin is birthed and born.

So let us heed what Buddhas past have said
To free ourselves of what some others call
The burden that we carry of our sins.
Let’s set it down and go upon our way.

We recognize a thought, a feeling and
We see, perhaps, its provenance as well.
We watch its rise and then we watch its ebb.
We do not ask that it should go or dwell.

We do not fear the feeling that we have,
And even fear, we know, has time and place.
We come like water, and we go like wind.
Forgive us, for we know that we have sinned.

And knowing this, we then might lose, perhaps,
Our hubris and might also find the strength
To heal from wounds that others might inflict,
Forgiving them, in our humility.

Lead us not into temptation
And deliver us from evil.

2015 September 3rd, Thu., 2:30 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Morning’s Song

Morning’s Song  (Draft)

Note: To view the pictures as in a gallery, in a somewhat bigger and clearer format, please single-click on any image.  This should lead to a gallery-view screen, in which you can click on the thumbnails at the bottom to move through the images.  To return to this post, click on the white X in the black background to the gallery.  Thanks. -- Arjun

Dawn touches Bratley View, in the New Forest, England
by Martin Dixon, 2012  

The days and nights are contrasts, like a zebra's coat of stripes,
Yet dawn and dusk have softness; they dance in pastel shades.
Their songs are more like whispers that rise and fade away,
For these are our transitions, the pauses in the plays.

The hues of dawn grow lighter, the ones of dusk grow deep.
The mists of dawn are nestled, the clouds of sunset flame.
The psalms of sunrise waken, the hymns of dusk sedate.
The morn is children’s laughter, the evening is our sighs.


I have woken and have listened to the singing of the dawn.
I have heard the song of morning; I have heard the chants that rose.
I have heard the waking whispers, I have listened to the tones.
I have heard the bells of morning as they pealed the start of day.

I’ve had mornings that were peaceful, that were tranquil, lit by grace,
I’ve had mornings that were hopeful, when it seemed that all was well.
I have walked then in the open, when the stars were still in sight.
I have seen the eastern dawning, as the night was fleeing west.

Morning Glory
Smoky Mountains, Haywood County, North Carolina

I have felt the mists of morning; I have seen them touched by sun.
I have watched those mists arising as the dawn became the day.
I have heard the birds of morning as they tweeted, chirped and sang.
I have seen the fields and flowers as they woke to greet the sun.

I’ve been blessed by early morning, when I rose before the dawn.
I have breathed the scents of morning; I have shivered from its chill.
I have touched the wet on leaflets; I have tasted of the dew.
I have seen the waving treetops, as the morning came in view.

Daffodils, Skagit Valley, Washington  

But we’ve been robbed of morning and we’ve been robbed of dusk.
At dawn, you’ll see us rushing to get to work in time.
At evening, we’re returning, with worries still in mind.
We’ve rarely time for smiling—or even for a sigh.

And some must work the night-shifts and never see the sun.
The stars are now forgotten, the moonlight does not fall
On little children sleeping.  The nightingale and lark
Are only met in readings.  What still is left of soul?


How many years, how many years, have passed without the dawn?
How many years of misery, without that bit of grace?
How many hopes and dreams arose, as did that rising sun;
How few are those that still are left, as daylight cedes to dark…

I’ll rise again, before I leave, to see that precious morn—
That morning time that brings us hope and gives us strength again.
I’ll wake again, before the dawn, and venture out of doors,
To be once more, before I go, at one with morning’s song.

Kangchendzongha, from Kolakham
by Anirban Ganguly
looking northeast through Sikkim, from near the Bhutan border
Neora Valley National Park, West Bengal, India

2015 September 1st, Tue., 4:55 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
Recent related poems: 
and two from eleven years ago: