Monday, December 28, 2015

Beer and Wine

Beer and Wine

It is said that there are blessings
With an origin divine.
I’m not sure of where it came from,
But I’ve quaffed of Nature’s wine.

I have drunk of Nature’s beauty,
I have sipped her honeydew.
My spirit, parched and weary,
Those potions did renew.
Mere alcohol may serve awhile
To take away the pain,
But there’s an antidote that lasts
That’s served with sun and rain.
On the land and on the water,
There’s the softness that delights.
There’s the scent of early mornings,
There’s the fragrance of the nights.

There are visions, tastes and textures,
There’s the cold that shades to heat.
There are sounds of speech and music,
There’s the tune and there’s the beat.

And even in the silence,
In the darkness, all alone,
When I’m touched by wind or water
Or by earth, I’m not alone.

We have issued from the Mother.
To her flowing, we’ll return:—
When we’re buried in her tillage;
On her pyre, when we burn.

For as mother speaks to daughter
And as father speaks to son,
So do earth and air and water,
So do cloud and moon and sun.

So the starry night has spoken,
And the dawn has softly sung.
So I’ve hearkened to the noontime
And I’ve listened to the dusk.

There’s a grace that comes from heaven
And alights upon a few,
So I’ve read—but I have sensed this
When the heavens were in view.

I have savored Nature’s brewage,
I am tipsy from her beer.
But unlike when I was sober,
My mind and sight are clear.

2015 December 28th, Mon.
Brooklyn, New York
See also:  Nature's Wine )

Saturday, December 26, 2015

In the Gray

In the Gray
In the gray that marks the winters
Of the coastal polar climes,
I’ve wandered on deserted streets
And mouthed my dismal rhymes.

In the silences of holidays,
I’ve passed by windows lit,
Conversing with my lonesome self,
With remnants left of wit.

And so it is with exiles
And so it is with those
Who’re born to die in prisons
Or live in those they chose.

We humans are a social lot—
And wounded loners need
Some company to soothe their souls,
So healing can proceed.
How many days and weeks and months
And even scores of years
We humans bear, removed from those
For whom we shed our tears?

In the gray that marks the winters
Of the lands towards the poles,
The migrants gain their living, while
They slowly lose their souls.

There is light and there is darkness.
There is evil, there is good.
And then—there is the grayness
That blurs what’s understood.
So we wander in our limbos
In the foggy shades of gray
And we wonder how it happened
That we lost, alas, our way.

“...and deliver us from evil.” 
In the school that I attended,
We would say this in the morning
And again when classes ended.

But we never said a prayer
That said, “Save us from the gray.”
In my dotage, still in exile,
I should say this every day.

2015 December 26th, Sat. 12:51 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The City’s Trees

The City’s Trees
The city’s trees are beautiful.
They comfort, through the year,
The harried folk who’re passing by
And chance to stop and see.


In spring, their tender leaves appear
And some are lit by blooms.
In summer, dressed in richest greens,
They shimmer in the sun.

In autumn, as they shed their leaves,
They blaze in many hues.
In wintertime, they’re stripped and bare
And yet are clothed in grace.

We see their twisting symmetry—
The balance in the dance.
We marvel at their nudity
Beneath the winter sky.

That winter sky can be as gray
Or clear as mind and soul.
All winter long, the trees will stand
As clouds go floating by.
The clouds are changelings and we too
Are changing, day by day.
The trees are slower beings, yet
They dance, as humans age.

We wait for spring and so do they—
For spring will surely come.
And summer then will follow soon—
And autumn in its time.

The seasons come, the seasons go—
And in the city’s streets
The workers rush about—and some
Find comfort in the trees.

2015 December 19th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Sunbird

The Sunbird  

The Sunbird
Arjun Janah, 2015 Dec 15th 
It was sometime before sunset,
As the afternoon wore on,
That the sunbird had been spotted
As it flew above the clouds.

And we watched as it descended—
Those brave enough to stay,
While the others fled, some screaming
That we all should run away.

It spiraled, slowly sinking
As it spread its giant wings—
And its shadow crossed the ocean,
As the song primeval sings.

How many generations
Had it been since it had come,
I wondered, as I watched it,
And my heart began to drum.

Around me, men were running,
As the bravest feared and fled,
For the sky was changing color—
And it seemed to turn to red.

The sun was strangely yellow—
By the sunbird’s shadow dwarfed.
In fear, I started running,
As a madman cried and laughed.

It seemed it was the ending
That the prophets had foretold.
But I lived, and I’m recounting
What I saw—who now am old.
But I was then a young man,
And I did not know of fear—
Until I saw that sunbird,
With its talons, swooping near.

If you ever see the sunbird,
You should swiftly run and hide.
If you're prudent, then in hiding,
Till it passes, do abide!
For that madman and some others
Who had stayed, when we had run—
They were taken by that sunbird,
As it rose above the sun.
We could hear them faintly calling
As it carried them away.
I remember still their voices
As I near my ending day.
That’s the story of the sunbird
That I saw, with these my eyes.
But some others, who are younger—
They will say I’m full of lies.
Believe them, to your peril,
Or hark to what I say:
If you ever spot the sunbird,
You should wisely hide away.
Crimson Sunbird
2015 December 15th, Tue.
Brooklyn, New York

Sunday, December 13, 2015



“So tell me then, my father,
The reason you depart.
How long will you be staying
From all of us apart?”

“I am going now, my daughter,
To that land that’s over there—
To trade the things I’m taking
For the other things we need.

“I will climb upon those mountains
To that windswept pass on high,
And I’ll walk beside the glacier,
As the cloud goes streaming by.

“And I’ll follow then the streamlet
To the river’s gorge and hear
The roaring, rushing waters,
As they tumble cold and clear.

“Descending past the boulders,
Towards the valley—shaded, green,
I will view the river, coursing
Through the plains below, serene.

“To that land beyond the mountains,
I am going, through that pass—
But when I am returning,
I do not know, alas!

“But when I come from there, love,
I’ll come with things for you
And mom and all the others—
So be a good girl, do!”

“Go then, my dearest father.
Be careful on your way.
We’ll wait for you, our father,
And for your safety pray.”

Arjun Janah
2015 Dec 13th, Sun.
Brooklyn, New York

Please see also:  Departure

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Kothar Theke Sneho?—কোথার থেকে স্নেহ?—Whence Came Love?

For Roman transcriptions and a "free translation" into English, in tabular format, set side-by-side with the original in Bengali script, please see:

That site also has a literal translation that preserves the syntax of Bengali, and a link to an audio-recording.  That recording should be useful to those who do not know Bengali but are interested in at least knowing how it sounds, as well as to those who are learning the language. -- Arjun


কোথার থেকে স্নেহ?  

আকাশ থেকে জীবন এল,
মাটির থেকে—দেহ৷
জলের থেকে, হাওয়ার থেকে,
কোথার থেকে—স্নেহ?

যে সন্তান বেড়েছে মায়ের ভালবাসায়,
যে সন্তান রয়েছে এখনো তার আশায়—
দুজনেই বড় হয়ে পারবে কি দিতে,
শিশুরা না বলেও চাইবে যা নিতে?


কোথার থেকে আসে সেই ভালবাসা, বল্—
কোথার থেকে আসে—দয়া, মায়া, স্নেহ?
কোন দেবীর বুকের থেকে, মায়ের চোখে জল?
কোন ইশ্বর-আল্লা নেয় মর্ত মায়ের দেহ?

বল্ আমায়, কোথার থেকে এলি তুই কাল?
বল্ আমায়, কি কারণে পেলাম উপহার?
ছেড়ে যেতে চাই না তোকে—এখনো তুই ছোটো৷
এত দিন লড়ে, তাও মানব কি হার?

যে বাবা বৃদ্ধ হয়ে পরলোকে যায়,
যে বাবা শিশু ছেড়ে মৃত হ্য়, হায়—
দুজনের-ই নজরে আজ ধরে আছি ফিতে৷
ছিড়ে গেলে হারাব যা জন্মেছিলাম জিতে৷

আকাশ থেকে জীবন এল,
মাটির থেকে—দেহ৷
জলের থেকে, হাওয়ার থেকে,
কোথার থেকে—স্নেহ?
অর্জুন (বাবুই) জানা
বৃহস্পতিবার, ১০ই ডিসেম্বর, ২০১৫ খ্রি
ব্রুক্লিন, নিউয়র্ক


Please see/hear also: