Thursday, December 29, 2016

With All Your Heart

With All Your Heart

We walk the roads of duty and desire.
We’re driven from our homes by fears and needs.
We’re scattered to the winds like autumn’s leaves.
Like windblown seeds, we seek to sprout and thrive.

We build our fortunes out of sand and snow
And then we see them flow and disappear.
What hurts us most is when our loves depart,
And all we then can do is wait our turn.

Oh actor—see, how you arrive and leave.
So play your part with zest and graciousness.
Though all your actions will be blown away,
You still can live and love, with all your heart.
2016 December 29th, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York  

Monday, December 5, 2016

Our Wisp of Verse

Our Wisp of Verse

The present moment—that is all we have.
And yet we have it not—it comes and goes,
As water, streaming, rises, ebbs and flows.
Can men possess the wind, contain the tide
Or claim, where those, whose lives have ended, hide?
From vastness, we are gathered for a while,
And back into the vast we each will go.
Oh friend of mine, that I have come to know,
How brief our tryst, before the winds disperse
Both you and I and this—our wisp of verse!

If there's a reason for existence, then
It can't be figured by our mortal wits.
We each are formed—and scattered back to bits
That merge with water, earth and endless sky,
Not ever knowing whence or whither, why.

I saw, upon the trackless ocean, this—
A leaf of autumn, bobbing on the seas
That troughed and crested, driven by the breeze.
Who knew, from where that withered leaf had blown—
Or where, its siblings that it once had known?

We build our villages and towns and roads
And so find comfort in our time on Earth.
But what's the road that sent us to our birth
And where's the village that awaits us when
We each are sent upon our way again?

Annihilation marks the end of life.
The spirit leaves the body, so it seems.
No magic words and no fantastic schemes
Can bring it back, for even just a while
To shed that tear or look and gently smile.

If only we could speak with those we loved
And hold them in our arms and cry and smile—
If only we were given just a while
To make amends, in speech and attitude,
And then let go, in peace and gratitude...

What vanity—those ends that we pursue
Beyond what's needed so we each survive.
And yet, what seeming comfort we derive
In hoping that our work was not in vain,
Although we lived and worked and died in pain.

So come, my friend, and walk with me a while.
Before we part, we each should laugh and cry
At this absurdity, so when we die
We might remember, as our souls disperse,
Our time together and our rhyming verse.

2016 December 4th, Mon. 1:11 am
Northwest Berkeley, California 

Monday, November 28, 2016

As Mammon Smiles

As Mammon Smiles

I have walked on city sidewalks
to my jobs and back to “home”.
I have watched the others walking.
I have seen the cars go by.

I have watched the people rushing
from place to place to place.
I have seen the cars that speeded
and I've often wondered why.
I think I know the reason—
at least for some of this:
we've learned that time is money—
on jobs—and errands too.
And who am I to question
the ones who race to work—
and back again for children
or things they have to do?

And yet I've walked and wondered—
for I have also raced
and been in stress and tension
from demons in the mind.
We each have been conditioned
to run when we could walk.
To things that we should notice,
our times have made us blind.
The aged are often lonely—
and scared, as savings ebb.
The moms and dads who're working—
they work and work and work.
So what becomes of children—
who troop, for years, to schools?
They take their turns as hirelings—
and labors, dare not shirk.
The workers spend their earnings
on things that drive the wheels,
the gears, the thrusting pistons—
and now, the pulsing bits.
I've glimpsed, at times, the village
where people too would work
and yet would sense the seasons—
with bodies, hearts and wits.
There are dances that are graceful;
there are rises, ebbs and flows.
There is work that has its rhythm;
there are things that take their time.
There is hurry, worry, scurry;
there are slipshod ways of work—
with our facts and logic faulty,
with our lines that do not rhyme.

There are many who are driven
by the few with inner drives
that need the work of others
so shares and profits rise.
And who am I to question
the workings of our world?
And yet, I've walked and wondered
if racing so is wise.
But speed is now a virtue—
and slowness is a vice.
So artisans are banished,
and the masses slave in mills.
It's “more and more and faster”
that drives the GDP.
The stocks and rents are climbing,
as Mammon smiles and wills.

2016 November 28th, Mon.
Berkeley, California

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Maya’s Mist

Maya’s Mist

It’s claimed that humans have advanced and those
who dare to question this are filled with gloom
for reasons other than reality—
that they have conjured, out of progress, doom.

Are there directions, foreordained by gods,
or chosen as the “forward” ones by those
among us who are wisest? Or are we
conditioned by what those, who gain, propose?
For we’ve been told and told and told
so many lies, and lies on top of lies,
that we confuse the true and false, and so
we rarely bother still with asking whys.
The empires rose and fell and yet the lives
of plants and beasts and humans still went on.
It’s only now that works of men devour
this planet’s life and threaten humankind.

We live in cities, filled with strangers, yet
we see the remnant tribes as backward, lost.
For much that’s primal and is gentle, sweet
we’ve now discarded—and we pay the cost.
Which emperor could gain the peace that is?
Which painter could replace the changing sky?
We sense that we have lost the art of bliss.
But who can tell us when and how and why?

Will we awake from this, our troubled dream,
and rub away the sleep, so we can see
that we’ve been racing on the way to hell,
while heaven waits for us to pause and be?

In truth, there is no bliss that lasts for long,
and neither do our heavens, hells exist,
except that we create them, through our thoughts
and words and deeds—while lost in maya’s mist.

2016 November 9th, Wed. 6:36 pm
Brooklyn, New York 

There Still are Joys

There Still are Joys

The despots and the ogres spread their woe.
They wreck our lives and rob us of our peace.
Yet one by one, like each of us, they die,
and some are gloried still—or vilified.

I walked, the other day, upon the green
and felt the grass and earth beneath my feet.
I caught the scents of burning autumn leaves
and looking up I saw the changing sky.
Which tyrant, hurried by his need to win,
could quietly savor water, earth and air
as those, untroubled by such urges, could?
And yet, how many still might worship him.
So those, who seek their worth from inner fiends,
and those, who crave the world’s attention, vie,
while those, who suffer at their hands, perceive
there still are joys, as long as life persists.

2016 November 9th, Wed.
Brooklyn, New York, 4:27 pm

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Gods

The Gods

The gods exist, as humans do.
They love and hate, like me and you.
So why then worship gods, when they,
the things that bind us, still obey?

Perfection, if your name is God,
with all of virtue, truth distilled,
I still would look at you askance,
as vice and falsehood unfulfilled.

Where yang is rising, yin descends,
but only till they circle 'round.
So light and dark, and virtue, vice,
are each, within the other, found.

The deities of the water, wind,
like you and I, have also sinned.
And yet, in awe or grief, we cry
to these, who're born like us to die.

2016 November 7th, Mon.
Brooklyn, New York

Sunday, November 6, 2016

When Hera Spurted Out her Milk

When Hera Spurted Out her Milk

When Hera spurted out her milk,
did others realize
that going shopping too, one day,
could make a mortal wise?

While walking to the supermarket,
I found I'd lost my way.
But then I realized I'd strayed
beyond the Milky Way.

And so, I found nirvana in
a borough of New York,
beside an arrow sign that said,
"The Home of Kosher Pork".

Ah wonders, that, in wandering,
we sometimes stumble on!
But when I went next day, that sign
and store were vanished—gone!

And then, recalling how I'd been
suspended, out in space,
beyond our starry whorl, I knew
I'd landed on my face.

Oh Zeus, and your green-eyed wife,
with spurting mammaries!
How strange, that we and all were born
from household rivalries!


But wait! A fellow told me, who
has doctorates and more,
that truth is stranger, far, than all
we dolts were told before.

So you and all your kin are myths,
Jehovah-Allah too!
The devas and asuras are
an ill-imagined crew.

And verily, the truth is such
as Arjuna could not
conceive, though he beheld, in awe,
what humans have forgot.

So in that mouth immense, wherein
this universe was swallowed,
there were such things that mortals such
as we could not have followed.

As Krishna sat beside him,
being a devil-god indeed,
Arjuna then was bent, in awe,
to do the dreadful deed.

So drawing out his arrow from
its quiver then he drew
his bow, as horses galloped towards
the kinsmen that he slew.


So then, resolving to return
to this, the world that's plain,
I turned towards my home again,
with something to explain.

"So where's that kosher ham?" she said.
"There's a sandwich I must make."
But all I then could do was stand
and in my innards shake.

2016 November 6th, Sun.
Brooklyn, New York
For the reference to Hera and her milk, please see
and look under "Greek and Roman". This describes a Greek myth about the origin of our galaxy.

For the reference to Arjuna and his vision of the true nature of his charioteer, the god Krishna, please see:
This is
 a horrifying passage in the Bhagawad Gita, part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Ke`lkat'a Ai-ক্যালকাটা আই-Calcutta Eye

Below the image, there is a the link to a story in the Telegraph (India). This is  followed by a free translation of the verse into English. Then there is the Bengali original, in three forms:

  • a phonetic Romanization that follows standard Bengali pronunciation;
  • the Bengali script;
  • a Roman transcription that follows standard Bengali spelling.

London Eye

Calcutta Eye

When the rains come again, oh then I will ride
Upon the great wheel, with my girl at my side.
We will soar up on high, ho ho!  We will see
the city below us.  In the clouds, we will be.
Then—lightning!  Below, they will see the great flash,
and when we return, they will find that we’re ash.

2016 November 1st, Tue.
Brooklyn, New York

Ke`lkat’a Ai

Bo`rxa kale corbo ami, birat' cakar sit'e.
Boxbe paxe xokhi amar, bolbe ko`tha mit'he.
Ut'hbo dujon urdhe, hoho, dekhbo xo`hor xara.
Megher majhe mixbo xexe, meghei ho`bo hara.
Nice jara, dekhbe ho`t'at, cokh-dhadhano baj.
Axbo phire xokhir xathe, jholxe jaoa lax.

Mongolbar, 1 la No`bhembo`r, 2016 Khri
Bruklin, Niu Io`rk

ক্যালকাটা আই

বর্ষাকালে চড়ব আমি বিরাট চাকার সিটে৷
বসবে পাসে সখী আমার, বলবে কথা মিঠে৷
উঠব দুজন ঊর্ধ্বে, হোহো, দেখব শহর সারা৷
মেঘের মাঝে মিশব শেষে, মেঘেই হব হারা৷
নিচে যারা, দেখবে হটাৎ, চোখ ধাধানো বাজ৷
আসব ফিরে সখীর সাথে, ঝলসে যাওয়া লাশ৷

মঙ্গলবার, ১লা নভেম্বর, ২০১৬ খ্রি
ব্রুক্লিন, নিউয়র্ক 

Kyālakāṭā Ā'i

Barṣākālē caṛaba āmi birāṭa cākāra siṭē.
Basabē pāsē sakhī āmāra, balabē kathā miṭhē.
Uṭhaba dujana ūrdhbē, hōhō, dēkhaba śahara sārā.
Mēghēra mājhē miśaba śēṣē, mēghē'i haba hārā.
Nicē yārā, dēkhabē haṭāṯ, cōkha dhādhānō bāja.
Āsaba phirē sakhīra sāthē, jhalasē yā'ōẏā lāśa.

Maṅgalabāra, 1 la Nabhēmbara, 2016 Khri
Brukalina, Ni'u'iẏarka

Te~tuler Acar—তেঁতুলের আচার—Tamarind Chutney

Tamarind Chutney

The pods of the tamarind fruit are hanging from the tree.
Do you remember the taste of the tamarind chutney?
Grandmother made it.  It tasted sour and sweet.
She’s long gone.  No more of that for us.

2016 November 1st, Mon.
Brooklyn, New York
Tetu~ler Achar

Gacher theke jhulche de`kho, tetul pho`ler d'a~t'a.
Mone po`re, chot'o be`lar tetuler acar ca~t'a.
To`k-mixt'i xad chilo tar, banano t'hakurmar.
O`nek bo`chor, ge`chen uni. Nai ko acar ar.

Xombar, 1 la Nobhembo`r, 2016 Khri
Bruklin, Niu Io`rk
তেঁতুলের আচার

গাছের থেকে ঝুলছে দেখো, তেঁতুল ফলের ডাঁটা৷
মনে পড়ে, ছোটোবেলার তেঁতুলের আচার চাঁটা৷
টক মিষ্টি স্বাদ ছিল তার, বানানো ঠাকুরমার৷
অনেক বছর, গেছেন উনি৷ নাই কো আচার আর৷

সোমবার, ১লা নভেম্বর, ২০১৬ খ্রি
ব্রুক্লিন, নিউয়র্ক
Tētulēra Ācāra

Gāchēra thēkē jhulachē dēkhō, tēm̐tula phalēra ḍām̐ṭā.
Manē paṛē, chōṭōbēlāra tēm̐tulēra ācāra cām̐ṭā.
Ṭaka miṣṭi sbāda chila tāra, bānānō ṭhākuramāra.
Anēka bachara, gēchēna uni.  Nā'i kō ācāra āra.

Sōmabāra, 1 la Nabhēmbara, 2016 Khri
Brukalina, Ni'u'iẏarka 

Sunday, October 30, 2016



I can try and bear your weaknesses—
your frailties of birth,
the ones that come from circumstance
or the choices that you made.

But I might not bear your meannesses—
your judgments that are harsh,
your prejudice, impatience and
the coldness in your heart.

I will not bear the consequence
of your actions that are rash.
You’ll take your risks and bear the costs,
without my time or cash.

There are limits to my empathy
that you should recognize.
An accomplice, I will never be,
in all your acts unwise.

I'll give of love and not expect
return—except in this:
you will not snare me more with lies
or ignorance that's bliss.

2016 October 30th, Sun.
Brooklyn, New York

Time Again to Run

Time Again to Run

There are nuances in nature.
There are shades within ourselves.
But it's "winner" and it's "loser"
For the Donald and his elves.

You are for me or against me.
We are born to run, compete.
So it's victory for the winner.
For the others, it's defeat.

There's a better way to do things—
And there always is the best.
To be quick and more efficient
Is the teaching of the West.

And how the East has taken
That message to its heart!
They will take that style of running
And make, of it, an art.

In the cities by the seaside,
You can see the women run.
They have little time for leisure,
They have little time for fun.

And the leisure they're permitted—
It is not what it should be.
By the shore, the waves are breaking.
But who is there to see?

It's the leisure for consumption.
It's the tour of packaged fun.
It's the holiday that's over,
So it's time again to run.

They run in Hiroshima.
They're racing in Shenzhen.
And in Ho Chi Minh City,
It is time to run again.

2016 October 30, Sun.
Brooklyn, New York

Mood Blue

Mood Blue

There are causes for our problems.
There are problems that we cause.
So the cycles, that we're caught in,
Keep us running, till we pause.

But to pause is to have trouble.
If we question, then we sink.
We are workers and consumers.
We pay taxes. Do we think?

There are channels for our thinking.
To these channels, we're confined.
We are penned and we're addicted.
We have little peace of mind.


We are flowing like the water.
We are blowing like the wind.
Yet we like to think we're solids.
That's the reason we have sinned.

Can we write upon the water?
Can we shape and hold the wind?
Did they ask themselves these questions—
Those in Egypt and in Sindh?

In old Mohenjo-daro,
Could they savor breaks from work?
Could the workers too, in Giza,
From the pharaoh's labors shirk?

We can see the woman running,
As she races to her train.
We can see the woman aging
From the stress and from the strain.


And who is it who profits
From this racing, from this work?
If we knew, then we might stop it—
Give the finger to the jerk.

Is it God, up in his penthouse?
Is it Bloomberg, in the skies?
The widow holds the ashes.
The orphan sits and cries.

We have drugs and schools and markets.
We have courts and we have lawyers.
We have banks and corporations
And they need the skillful liars.

There's the blue that lights the heavens.
There's the blue that's in the soul.
There's a time for pause and sadness
That is needed to be whole.

2016 October 30, Sun.
Brooklyn, New York

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Before We Go

Before We Go

When the mind is agitated
and the heart is weighted down.
we only think of matters then
that make us fear or frown.

And then, when moments do arise
when fright and stress recede,
we might be filled with old regrets
and weep for those deceased.
We don’t recall those others then—
the ones we have neglected.
We leave no space or time for those
that our actions have affected.

It’s time to clear the clutter then;
it’s time to walk a while—
to breathe a bit of open air,
to look around and smile.

It’s time to say, “We’re passing through.
We’ll soon enough be gone.
Let’s tend to things before we leave
this planet that we’re on.”

And so the storm within may cease
awhile—and give us time
and space for things that matter more—
for heart—and reason, rhyme.

And then perhaps we’ll see a face
or hear a voice, and so
we might resolve to visit, call
or write, before we go.
And also then some things may come
to light, that the fog had hidden,
and we might see a path, a hope
that our panic had forbidden.

2016 October 29th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York

Entropy and Empathy

Entropy and Empathy

The alchemists had tried, by various means,
to turn the cheaper metals into gold.
They failed. But doing so, they surely saw
that shining iron turns in time to rust.

We do not see the old grow sleek and lithe;
instead, the glow of youth is dulled by age.
So order turns to chaos by itself,
as there is ever more of entropy.
So all our plans and years of effort fail
to keep our loves and selves and treasures safe.

So reason too is dimmed and virtue fades,
as passion, teamed with vice, prevails.
So sanity and peace are massacred,
as madness wreaks the mayhem that is war.

When all our good intentions and our work
have led us deeper into tragedies,
and we are faced with darkness and despair,
what light remains—what hope, to give us strength?

What comforts us, when conscience tells the soul,
“You sunder things, but cannot make them whole.” ?

How easily is innocence destroyed
and trust betrayed!  So all that’s precious then
dissolves.  Suspicion, rancor, hatred rise
to take the place of empathy and love.

If we could take the shattered glass and join
its pieces seamlessly or mend the heart
that’s broken, then we could, with truth, proclaim,
“We’re graced in being skilled at such an art.”

But who is there among us to repeal
the laws of Nature and the ways of Man?
In every sainted one, those flaws exist,
that others, not so sainted, proudly flaunt.
We’re told that there are beings that are wise,
that know the future as we know our past.
But we are mortals, so we err and we
are limited in what we can achieve
or even comprehend.  So why then lash
ourselves—and add yet more to misery?

We do what we are able. Things may turn
out wrong despite our efforts, yet we should
remember what we did, what others too
have tried to do, be grateful—and forgive.


We might have smiles and presents for a friend,
but who can give these to an enemy—
to one who's wounded us and brought us woe?
Is there such love, in full sincerity?

In peacetime and in war, we rape and burn.
The orphan cries. The widow holds the urn.

When we can see that he who harms us is
within us each, we then can truly see.
And seeing this, we each can then be healed
and find again that peace that dwells within.

We each in time will face dishonor, death,
and each of us will eat of ashes, yet
we still can cleanse our selves of all our sin
and all that others did in heartlessness.
2016 October 29th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Napit Ojha—নাপিত ওঝা—The Barber Shaman

The English translation, directly below, is followed by a link to an amusing video clip (in English) and then by the Bengali original.  This is given first in a phonetic Roman transcription, then in the traditional Bengali script, and finally in Google's Roman transcription, which faithfully follows the Bengali spelling.

The Barber Shaman

I had been possessed by fiends—
by demons, witches—yes!
I went to the barber-shaman then,
for I was in a mess.

He gave me such a pounding, oh—
as barber-shamans do,
that one by one the demons left—
and took the witches too.

Tuesday, 25th October, 2016
Brooklyn, New York 

Video clip:

You should be able to see this without having to sign into Facebook. However, a reminder might then appear, which might block out the lower half of the video if you are using a wide screen.
This should not be a problem if you are using a screen with an older aspect ratio (less wide relative to height) or if you are using a tall screen. The latter can be achieved on most "smart" cell phones (that have automatic rotation) by holding the cell-phone in the proper orientation.


Napit Ojha

Pe-e boxechilo amae, ogo,
bhut-petnir do`l.
Gelam napit-ojhar kache.
Ar ki ko`rar? Bo`l.

E`mon do`lai-mo`lai dilo,
birat' jore, bawa,
holo tate, cho`t'-pho`t'ie,
bhut-petni haoa!

Mongolbar, 25e O`kt’obar, 2016 Khri.
Bruklin, Niu Io`rk

For a brief summary of the transcription scheme, see:

নাপিত ওঝা

পেয়ে বসেছিল আমায়, ওগো,
ভূত পেত্নীর দল৷
গেলাম নাপিত-ওঝার কাছে৷
আর কি করার? বল্৷

এমন দলাই-মলাই দিল,
বিরাট জোরে, বাওয়া,
হল তাতে, ছটপটিয়ে,
ভুত পেত্নী হাওয়া৷

মঙ্গলবার, ২৫এ অক্টোবর, ২০১৬ খ্রি
ব্রুক্লিন, নিউয়র্ক
Nāpita Ōjhā

Pēẏē basēchila āmāẏa, ōgō,
bhūta pētnīra dala.
Gēlāma nāpita-ōjhāra kāchē.
Āra ki karāra? Bal.
Ēmana dalā'i-malā'i dila,
birāṭa jōrē, bā'ōẏā,
hala tātē, chaṭapaṭiẏē,
bhuta pētnī hā'ōẏā.

Maṅgalabāra, 25ē Akṭōbara, 2016 Khri
Bruklina, Ni'uẏarka  

transcription from:


I talked to my friend
for half an hour.
I went on and on.
He listened patiently.
Later, I thought,
if I’d talked less
and listened more,
it would have been
2016 October 25th, Tuesday
R-train, Manhattan to Brooklyn

Saturday, October 22, 2016


The things that humans build and make,
in cities, factories—these
are often wasteful, monstrous and
disturbing to the soul.

And so we need the open space,
with sky—and water, earth,
and all the hues and sounds and scents
that heal and make us whole.
We need the plants, we need the beasts—
we need the rest of life.
We need the clouds, the rain and snow,
we need the open sky.
We need the dawn, we need the dusk,
we need the arcing sun.
We do not need to speed to work
and back—to race and run.
We need the curve of hill and branch,
the flow of water, wind.
With quadrants and with walls, we’ve penned
ourselves and we have sinned

against this world and all that lives
and all that gave us birth,
and all that still sustains this life
upon this whirling Earth.
We need the whispers of the winds,
the gurgling of the streams,
and all the softer sounds we heard
that soothed us in our dreams.
We need to savor what we do—
to labor slow, with love.
We do not need the overseer
who drives us from above.
We need the brightness of the day,
we need the heat and cold.
We need the darkness of the night,
we need the moon and stars.
We need to learn, we need to teach,
to care for young and old.
We do not need the speed, the din,
the factories and the wars.
We need to find or grow our food,
to spin and weave the string.
We need to feel, beneath our feet,
the earth, the grass, the moss…
We need to talk and touch and kiss,
we need to dance and sing.
We do not need to bend the knee
or bow to lord or boss.
2016 October 22nd, Sat., 1:47 am
Bensonhurst Park, Brooklyn, New York

Friday, October 21, 2016


These lines are meant to be sung out loud. If they appear irresponsible and irreverent, I beg pardon.  At times, a little playfulness is needed.


You can keep your mansion-house—
and all your magic toys.
You can keep your shiny car—
with all its speed and noise.
You can keep your shoes and boots—
and all your clothes, so dear.
You can keep your property—
that’s growing, every year.
You can keep your bank accounts—
and all your cards as well.
But leave for me my poverty—
and leave me out of hell.

2016 October 22nd, Sat. 2:45 am
Skyway Restaurant dhaaba

Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Wednesday, October 19, 2016



It was past the midnight hour
when I noticed they were there—
my ghostly twin companions—
and they gave me quite a scare.

I was walking in the park then,
with these beings by my sides.
They lengthened, twinned and faded
and then strengthened with my strides.

They were shadows from the lamplights,
they were shadows from the moon.
They were shadows that were absent
when I’d walked about at noon.

They were beings of the nighttime
that would suddenly appear.
They would change in length and darkness
and then fade and disappear.

And in time I grew accustomed
to their presence, and I thought—
they are kin to me, these shadows,
in the dance of maya caught.

For the self that I have treasured
is a shadow in the dance,
projected, of a being
that is also in a trance.

And that being is a shadow
of the being that has cast
its figure on the streaming
that is future, present, past.

Or so I speculated,
as I walked with shadow-mates,
as they also might have wondered
on their origins and fates.

One may question if a shadow
could be sentient, but I ask—
are we owners of our sentience
or the fabric of its mask?

We are digits in a sequence
that will never have an end.
We may point to a beginning,
but we only can pretend.
We are shadows of the shadows
of the shadows of yet more.
There are shadows that will follow
and the ones that went before.

It was past the midnight hour
when the shadows spoke to me,
in the silence of the nighttime,
of the things we cannot see.
2016 October 15th, Sat. 12:48 am
Bensonhurst Park, Brooklyn, New York
(last five stanzas added October 18th, Tue.)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Vote for Trump?

Vote for Trump?

The middle class is in a slump,
and so we turn to Donald Trump.

He boasts about himself a lot,
about that “German gene” he’s got
that makes him, oh so very “smart”,
a master of the swindler’s art.

He’ll make “America great again”
by taking us all back to when
this country had been bathed in light,
because the voters all were white
and men—like him, our Donalt Drumpf.

Then sports like Trump could freely hump,
while Mexicans and Muslims, Jews
and Africans would keep their views
to just themselves—and knew their place,
as workers do, to their disgrace.

"He'll make America great." you say—
for sleaze and jive will have their way
and make us see that night is day.

He blusters, lies and bullies, and
this thing, we have to understand—
if he's President, and you're in his way,
he'll have you quickly put away.

He takes the credit, shifts the blame.
He sniffs the wind and plays the game.
He's out to "win" and feels no shame.
He'll tell you what you want to hear
and then you'll pay the price that's dear.
Alas! He speaks a bit of truth
and says he'll give the Bigs the boot,
but he is all about his dick,
and since his temper's really quick,
when challenged, he might hit a button
and bring us straight to Armageddon.

He fancies girls, which would be fine,
but even takes to her, a shine,
who is, by all accounts, his child—
and if we think that that is wild
and say so—why, he then will sue,
which can't be borne by me or you
or others—yes, including those
he chose to grope. So I propose
we vote, November, not for Trump,
but show that we detest this chump,
and vote instead, in places blue,
for Stein—a vote we will not rue.

2016 October 15th, Sat. 11:37 pm
(2nd-4th & 6th-7th stanzas added Nov. 4th, Fri.,
5th stanza added Nov. 7th, Mon.)
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Please see also:  Ignorance 
That piece does not name Trump, but applies to him, and also has many pictures of him, each a classic, along with one, at the end, of wiser folk. The text of "Ignorance" does require an unhurried, deliberative, even meditative frame of mind. But you can always just look at the pictures of our potential president and his betters instead. ;-)



Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Ever Changing Sky

The Ever Changing Sky

The moon was shining as I swept the yard—
A gibbous moon that hung there in the sky.
Its lantern light, from time to time, was dimmed
By fleets of clouds that floated swiftly by.

I swept that moonlit backyard free of leaves,
But when the shadows came, I looked on high
And watched that act of light and dark within
That play that is the ever-changing sky.
How many eyes have watched that circus-stage
Yet never seen an act that was the same
As one before?  The hours and seasons ride
A horse that none of them can tame.

In darkness and in silver light, I swept
The driveway through—and ventured in the front,
And there was struck by light from LED’s—
The city’s streetlights, given to affront.
And next I swept the sidewalk and the yard
In front, till all my bags were filled up high.
That done, I paused to take a little break—
To breathe and look up at that changing sky.

I saw the clouds were streaming close, in force,
And threatened then to overwhelm the moon.
A breeze was blowing, shaking branches, so
I knew my work would be negated soon.

I shivered, as the night grew colder and
The moon was hidden by the crowded fleet.
So Priam, as he gazed at Grecian sails,
Could well have done, from fear of Troy’s defeat.
2016 October 13th, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Déjà Vu

Déjà Vu

The sun was a vortex of lightness
In the grays of the streaming sky.
The waves on the river reflected
The shades that were churning on high.

I could see that in Queens it was raining.
In the distance, I'd seen a bright flash
And I'd waited to hear then the thunder
But I'd waited in vain for that crash.
For I was a passenger, riding
On the train on the bridge in its arc,
On that train that was hurtling from Brooklyn
To Manhattan’s own caverns of dark.

It had roared from the shoreline of Brooklyn,
On the rails that the columns held high,
And then it had clattered through tunnels
To emerge to that bridge and that sky.

I had heard that a storm was approaching
And I looked at that sky and that stream
And I sensed that the world was in motion—
And that this had been part of a dream.

It seemed that I’d seen this in dreaming—
That all this had happened before,
But that train and that storm and that river—
They were not in that dream anymore.
How wide was that gray-green of streaming—
That serpent that slid to the sea!
I looked at that wind-ruffled river
And wondered how all this could be.
The sky and the river receded.
We were diving back down to the dark.
Like the dream and that storm on that crossing—
This was part of my journey—my arc.
2016 October 6th, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Below and Above

Below and Above

The train careens through darkness for a while
and then we see the columns flashing by.
Along the other side, the people wait
upon a lighted platform for their train—
but then we plunge in darkness once again.
In time, the next one—not a soul in sight,
just advertisements on the shining walls.
And so, with alternating darkness, light,
we ride the subway, through the tunnels, till
we surface and we sight the open sky.
We only were beneath for half an hour—
yet how we missed these arcing blues and whites,
these greens, that passing glimpse of russet earth,
and there—a bird that lightly takes to wing.
There now are buildings, people, cars on streets,
a sun that hides behind the clouds—and then
strikes out with dazzling brilliance.  We squint.
So zombies might awake—to live again.

2016 October 4th, Tue, 4:25 pm
(on the D-train from Manhattan)
Brooklyn, New York

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Turning Point

A Turning Point

To bed at eve, to rise at dawn,
Has been our simian custom long,
That’s so entwined with body-mind
That no one sane had deemed it wrong.

But then we had the burning branch
That warmed us in the colder clime,
And even when the sky grew dark,
Could light an hour of waking time.

And then, with lamps of wax and oil,
And next, with lightning run through wire
Or gas that glowed and more, we learned
To sleep and wake in ways that tire.

And so with me.  On weekends and
On holidays, my cycles shift:
I sleep at dawn; on afternoons,
I rise.  I drop, when I should lift.

I stare at glowing screens at night.
I blink in daylight’s sudden glare.
And mouthing verses in the park,
I shiver in the midnight air.

But this has left me tired and weak—
And more and more, I realize
That such nocturnal episodes,
Repeated, might be far from wise.


And recently there came a night,
In which it seemed I’d lost my mind.
And yet it was a turning point,
The kind we seek—but rarely find.

Throughout the night, the storm winds blew—
And yet the rain was scattered, scant.
At dawn, the sun—and shining dew—
Had made me pause, amidst my rant.
For there were voices in my mind—
And conflicts, till I saw that sight.
And then, a silence fell—a peace,
As one should feel at start of night.

I then resolved to change my ways—
To go to bed at eve and wake
At dawn—on weekends, holidays—
For sanity’s and mercy’s sake.

So now, I’ll sight the morning star
And dim my lights at eventide.
I’ll surely struggle still, but then
I’ll have those rhythms on my side.

They’ll give me back the strength I’ve lost.
They’ll give me rest and sanity.
I hope I'll view the world anew,
With more of faith and charity.

2016 September 29th, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Girl and her Mom and her Green Balloon

Single-click on the image for a larger and clearer view. Click on the white X (at the top right of the dark background) to return to this post.

This is best viewed on a regular computer screen (rather than on a mobile phone). 

Thanks to Kirrin and Thierry for permission to use this wonderful image for this post.

The Girl and her Mom and her Green Balloon

Maeve and Kirrin, Valença, Portugal, 2016.  Photograph by Thierry

the girl and her mom and her green balloon,
and the slanting sun in the afternoon,
and the land and the lake and the town and the hills
and the golden light on the bricks and the sills,
and the one that knows on the grass that grows
and the smiles and the eyes and the nose that glows

2016 September 28th, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York 

Monday, September 26, 2016



When the sweetness drains away,
and all that’s left is bitterness,
when we’re beaten down, alone,
our labors turned to blowing dust,
when we’ve lost our confidence,
stretched and broken on the rack,
then our minds are full of fears,
our hearts and bodies crushed.

When hope has yielded to despair
and courage changed to cowardice,
when we’ve lost our discipline
and wasted so our hours and years,
with wits and strengths, convictions drained
and ardor turned to helplessness,
then all our light has waned and left,
and darkness rules our lives.


But in that bitterness, we seek
the flavor, then, of truth,
and in the midst of darkness, there
might be again a spark,
so feeling still the weight of life,
with all its lightness gone,
we still can grope until the end,
unyielding, in the dark.

When life has lost its meaning
and death is our release,
then what remains for us to give,
except our very selves—
until we pause and see that we
have more to suffer yet—
and so remain—to still remit
our dues, before we leave.

2016 September 25th, Sat.
(3rd stanza added Sep. 26th)

Brooklyn, New York

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sick at Heart

Sick at Heart

When we’re young, we might not know of death
Or even sorrow, till the circumstance,
That brings these to our viewing, struts on stage—
And when its scene is done, we then might find
Another and another take their turns.

There comes a time, in every life, at which
We’re sick at heart from all that we have seen—
The hurt, injustice, death and misery.
And some may bow to gods—or Fortune’s will,
But others, at their deaths, are hurting still.

So tell us then the cure for this disease—
This sickness of the heart that clouds the mind
And weakens will and body.  Can we thrive
When robbed of meaning, living day to day,
Awaiting death—that hope for our release?

Or could it be that this is what is real—
That all the dreams of youth were merely dreams?
At dawn, we’re filled with hope; at sunset, dread.
Is there an in-between, in which to live
To do what needs be done—until we’re dead?
We might be sick in body and despair,
But later we might once again be well.
So also with the sickness of the heart—
We need to bear it till it goes away.
We walk, in darkness, towards the hope of day.

Without the darkness, would we know of light?
Without the hunger, would the food have worth?
Without what's cruel, would we feel what's kind?
We need our sorrows, like we need our joys.
From woe and weakness, let us grow in strength.
2016 September 18th, Sun, 7:44 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Autumn Afternoon

Autumn Afternoon

The summer should have ended. It is now mid-September, but the warmth remains. It’s only in the early mornings that we feel at times the season’s warning chill.

The memory of winter, faded through the year, revives. The laxness of the summer’s days is now replaced by tightening. The reaper comes, although the trees and all resist.

An autumn afternoon, within the park: the sun is slanting through the leafy trees; it could be summer, but the heat is gone, the shorts are scarce—and the grounds are strewn with leaves.

The adults and the children stroll and play—as elders, on the benches, contemplate. The sky is bright, although the sun swings low. The grass has faded from the lack of rain.

A breeze stirs up the dust. It’s lit by sun that falls, in shafts, upon the yellowed grass beneath the trees. Those trees are mostly green, with just a few that now are losing leaves.
The days have shortened. Soon, the sun will set. Then all the lamps that line the path around the central lawn will glow, as dusk descends—and children leave the park to those like me.

2016 September 17th, Sat., 6:20 pm
Bensonhurst Park, Brooklyn, New York 
(2nd & 4th stanzas added Sep. 18th)

Gabhir Xad—গাভীর স্বাদ—The Taste of Cow

Note:  The English translation of the Bengali verses is at the bottom of the post, followed by a link to a brief, disturbing video from an Assamese site.

Note added 9/24/16:  An audio recording of the Bengali has been added, just above the preface to that translation.
I found this "advertisement" in a Facebook post.

On seeing this, I penned some lines in Bengali in response, which you will find, lettered in a large font in the traditional script, right below this preface.

Below that is Google's machine-transcription, which follows the spelling used in the Bengali script.  I have added capitalization at the starts of sentences and proper names. \1

After that, there is another Roman transcription.  This follows the standard Bengali pronunciation, rather than the traditional spelling (which is no longer phonetic). \2
Finally, at the bottom of this post, there is a fairly literal translation into English, titled The Taste of Cow.

Note added 9/24/16:  An audio recording of the Bengali has been added, just below the second transcription (and so just above the preface to the English translation).
— Arjun
1. The service used for the first transcription (which follows the traditional spelling)  is available at  That machine-transcription appears below the data-entry panel on the left at that site, whereas the machine-translation—which leaves much to be desired—appears in the panel on the right.
 2. A brief summary of the phonetic, pronunciation-based scheme used for the second transcription can be found in the preface to the blog post Bharot Xadhin (India, Free).

গাভীর স্বাদ

চেখে দেখ্ তো এটা, কাঙ্গাল,
ছোটো জাতের পো! 
কি জাতের মাংস এতে?
আছে কি এতে গো?

গরুর চিহ্ন পাস যদি,
ডাকব পুলিশ-গুণ্ডা৷
সাজা-শাস্তি পাবে খ্রিষ্টান,
মুসলমান, ডোম, মুণ্ডা!

গাভীর স্বাদ তো জানি না গো,
তাই তো তোর এই কাজ৷
বখশিশ পাবি, শালা, যদি
ধরাস কাকেও আজ৷
শনিবার, ১০ই সেপ্টেম্বর, ২০১৬ খ্রি
ব্রুক্লিন, নিউয়র্ক
Gābhīra Sbāda

Cēkhē dēkh tō ēṭā, kāṅgāla,
chōṭō jātēra pō!
Ki jātēra mānsa ētē?
Āchē ki ētē gō?

Garura cihna pāsa yadi,
ḍākaba puliśa-guṇḍā.
Sājā-śāsti pābē khriṣṭāna,
Musalamāna, ḍōma, Muṇḍā!

Gābhīra sbāda tō jāni nā gō,
tā'i tō tōra ē'i kāja.
Bakhaśiśa pābi, śālā, yadi
dharāsa kākē'ō āja.

Śanibāra, 10i Sēpṭēmbara, 2016 Khri
Bruklina, Ni'uẏarka
Gabhir Xad

Cekhe de`kh to et'a, kangal,
chot'o jater po!
Ki jater mangxo ete?
Ache ki ete go?

Gorur cihnno pax jodi,
d’akbo pulix-gun’d’a.
Xaja-xasti pabe Krixt'an,
Muxulman, D’om, Mun'd’a!

Gabhir xad to jani na go,
tai to tor ei kaj.
Bokhxix pabi, xala, jodi
dho`rax kakeo aj.

Xonibar, 10i Sept’embo`r, 2016 Khri
Bruklin, Niu Io`rk
Audio:  Click on the arrow on the right in the green area below to hear an audio recording.

Vocaroo audio and voice recording service>>
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Unfortunately, the rhythm, the rhyme, the cultural context and other nuances in the Bengali original above could not be properly conveyed in the English translation below.

The Taste of  Cow

Taste this, you pauper,
you low-breed’s spawn!
What meat is in this?
Does it have beef?

If you find a trace of beef,
we’ll call the goons—the cops.
They’ll get their dues—those Muslims,
Christians, Mundas, Doms!

We do not know the taste of cow;
that’s why you’ve got this job.
You’ll get your tips, you bastard, if
you help us catch some scum.

Saturday, 10th September, 2016 
Brooklyn, New York
Meanwhile, one can observe supply, demand and devilish primate ingenuity at work:  

I am not sure of the where, when and why of the events shown in this brief video clip, although I could guess at each.  The whispered snatches of conversation, where I could follow them, appeared to be either in a dialect of 
Bangla (Bengali) or in a neighboring sister language.

Fortunately, the involuntary migrants appeared to be none the worse—at least for the moment—for their brief, but excruciating, crossing.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

I Wish That I Were Free Again

I Wish That I Were Free Again
I wish that I were free again
to climb up on the roof again
to try to fly my kite again
to see it dip and dive and then
to see it climb towards the sky,
to see the soaring clouds on high,
to watch the kite-hawks wheel and dive,
to watch the thunderstorm arrive,
to see the lightning flash and then
to hear the thunder crash and then
to see the birds go flying by,
to feel that wind from regions high,
to see my kite go down and die,
to reel the broken string and then
to flee the lightning and the rain—
I wish that I were free again
to climb up on the roof again
to feel that downdraft—bracing, cool,
to learn the things not taught at school
that I remember to this day
and will until I fade away—
to see the changing of the light,
to marvel at that eerie sight,
to see the storm approaching fast,
to dare to stay and be the last
to leave the roofs as lightning flashed
and roaring loud the thunder crashed,
to hear the sound of drumming rain
on roofs of tile and tin again,
to see the palm trees dance and sway,
to see how night was made from day,
to feel the rain, upon my skin,
that washed away this world of sin,
to leap in lashing, pouring rain,
to live that childhood once again,
I wish that I were free again—
but then I think of those not free
to climb up on the roofs like me,
who slept on pavements till the rain
came down upon them yet again,
who huddled then in misery,
and then I wake—from fantasy.

2016 September 2, Fri.
Brooklyn, New York

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Bit of Peace

A Bit of Peace

The rain had ended when I reached the house.
I entered then the paved and fenced-in yard—
a little rectangle, before the stairs,
that then was strewn with wet and yellowed leaves.
And there, upon a wooden bench that still
was damp from rain, I sat and ate my lunch—
my store-bought sandwich halves of bread and cheese,
while sipping coffee from a paper cup,
my dollars paid—for just a bit of peace.

The fence was low and made of bars and curves
of iron, painted black but rusted through.
It offered no obstruction to the view
of houses and a street with lines of trees
that then were shedding leaves as fall approached
but still were clothed in waving foliage.
They soared in all their grace and majesty,
as shades of gray and white and hues of blue
were backdrops to the dances of the trees.

The tree across the pavement from the yard
rose up and arced against the clearing sky.
It seemed to be as old as me—or more.
And if the storms and humans spared it, then
it surely would outlive my span—and so
another, after I am gone, might sit
and eat his lunch and gaze at tree and sky,
upon this bench or on the stairs, at peace,
and like me, wonder—whither, whence and why.

2016 September 1st, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Light Upon the Bench-Pictures

The Light Upon the Bench—Pictures   

Light on two benches, Bensonhurst Park, Brooklyn,
.  © A. Janah
Light on two benches, wider view, Bensonhurst Park,
Brooklyn, 2016-08-29.
 © A. Janah
Light on a bench, at an exit from Bensonhurst Park,
Brooklyn, 2016-08-29.
 © A. Janah
Moon and sea

Full moon, hills and sea

Back to the post of the poem:   The Light upon the Bench
Note:  I wanted to show the light on the benches in the park, using a handheld cellphone camera.  I am sorry for the amateurish photographs with the over-exposures and flares at the lamps. 

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Back to the post of the poem:   The Light upon the Bench

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Light upon the Bench

The Light upon the Bench 
While walking ‘round the circle in the park,
with midnight passed, and walking all alone,
the lamps that lined the path had blinded me.

I could not see the stars and clouds above.

But walking on, with emptiness of mind,
I saw the light reflected from a bench.

And though the slats were wood,
they seemed to shine
like metal—and the sight reminded me
of walks before, beside the moonlit sea.

2016 August 29th Mon, 1:28 am
Brooklyn, New York 
The Light upon the Bench—Pictures (5)

Saturday, August 27, 2016



I asked the one from Syria,
from al Sham, as he had said,
the reason why he’d left there,
and traveled here instead.

I had heard that he was drowning
but by luck had still survived.
From the cold Aegean waters,
he’d been pulled and then revived.

He looked at me in silence—
he didn’t speak a word,
for he didn’t know my language,
and my question was absurd.

So I left him where I’d found him,
and walking then I saw
the eyes that I had looked at
and that is when I saw.

So I stood there as if rooted
and I saw the world anew,
and it wasn’t as I’d known it
and I didn’t like the view.

So let me try to tell you,
if you’ll bear with me a bit,
as I sketch for you that vision,
if I even have the wit.


There is emptiness and dullness.
There’s the reason that is gone.
There’s the lack of any meaning.
There’s the numbness and the ache.

There’s the past that isn’t leaving,
there’s the present hell to bear.
There’s the hope that has departed
and the future of despair.

There’s bewilderment, confusion.
There’s the sleep that lasts awhile.
There’s the madness then that rises
and the fear that will not die.

There is shock and there is trauma
of the body, mind and heart.
There’s helplessness and trembling
and the orphan’s silent cry.

There’s the parent or the sibling
or the spouse who didn’t die.

And for all this, there are reasons—
for there must be reasons why.

So the arms are flowing freely
from the nations of the west,
through the sheikhdoms and through Turkey,
and the wars are raging still.

So the Russian jets are bombing
and the shells from all are bursting
and the cities lie in rubble
and the drones come in to kill.
So the Sunni and the Shia
and the Christian each would flee,
but there’s nowhere left to go to,
and the snipers shoot at will.

So the cannons still are booming
and the shells are coming near
and the planes again are diving
and the eyes are full of fear.

For there’s Assad and the rebels,
There’s al Nusra, ISIS, more.
There’s the U.S., France and Britain,
And they each have bombs galore.

Iraq was torn to pieces
and Libya was destroyed,
and Syria’s been on fire,
like Afghanistan before.

But who can dare to question—
to ask the reason why?

There’s hunger, thirst and hurting
and the itching and the fly,
and the games are on in Rio
and there’s more who’ve yet to die.

This is what I saw then
and I thought on it a while,
but then I looked and saw you
and so I had to smile.

So now that I have told you,
you can bear it till we go
to the shop there. There’s a salesman
you should really get to know.

2016 August 27th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York
Related (from 2013 August, three years ago):  Syria


A Love That’s Unrequited

A Love That’s Unrequited
A love that’s unrequited
is dismissed as just an ache
by those who’re unaffected,
yet the one whose love is spurned
can either then be lessened
or be deepened by the burn.

And though it’s unproductive
in the realm of matter, yet
it still can have its children
in the hearts and minds of men
and women who are hurting
but can then express that pain.
And one may write her verses,
while another quietly works,
but yet another, pining,
may be driven to despair
or even to a madness
that could lead her to her death.
Yet most survive rejection,
and can still find love again.

We take that love too lightly
that we fail to recognize,
but learn to love more deeply
when rejected in our love.
2016 August 23rd, Tue.
(last 4 lines of 3rd stanza
and the 2 lines of the 4th stanza
added August 27, Sat.)

Brooklyn, New York

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Space Exists

A Space Exists
Between the push and pull of fear, desire,
A space exists for wisdom, peace and love.
And in this space the waves of grief and joy
And all emotions, thoughts can come and go.

And yet, beneath those surface waves, there still
Remains a zone that's calm and unperturbed—
For currents strong may roil below the waves,
But there are depths in which we still are free.

But when we try to hold, preserve, maintain
The transient joys, entrapped by fear, desire,
We bring then woes upon our heads and those
Of others, losing sense and sanity.

And see—we’ve built ourselves a monstrous world
That runs on fear and greed, and so is fraught
With all the evils that the two, conjoined,
Engender, wreaking madness, mayhem, woe.

The vices that have long been recognized
Are seen as virtues, virtue viewed as vice.
Until such views reverse, we won’t regain
That space in which to breathe and see again.

We cannot know what happens far away,
Or even in our city or next door,
Except from what we’re fed—that filtered feed
That’s then polluted by the feeders’ views.

And so we each are more and more entrapped.
We’re caught, conditioned; then, as zombied slaves,
We race upon the tracks that power the mills
Of Mammon that are grinding all to dust.
And though the tools exist, for some at least,
To see beyond the bounds of space and time,
So many still are blinkered in their views,
As goads, incitements work to steer the herds.
What hope exists, except that each can still
Attempt to shed these strong constraints of view?
No liberator comes; no hope exists
Except from what we each can try to do.

No revolution can succeed until
We see the wheel that each is turning too.
No evolution towards a saner world
Can be, without that pivot each must do.
A space exists between the push and pull
Of fear, desire, in which our vision clears.
To clear that space of snares and clutter, we
Can labor, with our grants of strengths and years.

We each can try, in small and humble ways,
To change the world that all of us have built.
It isn’t god or nature that dictates
What humans do. Our minds are snared and trained.
Without the promise that we will succeed,
Without the premise that the work is light,
We each can labor, breathing deeply, while
We work from darkness towards the hope of light.

There is the outer world and that within,
And each affects the other in its turn.
There is a little sphere that pens us each—
But in ourselves the bounds are ours to reach.

We can’t control what happens in this world,
We can’t foresee the future, yet we each
Can still enjoy, within ourselves, that peace
Residing in that space that each can clear.

No matter what tomorrow takes or gives,
No matter what the past has done or been,
There’s still the moment that we’re granted now
In which to turn towards dark or towards the light.

2016 August 25th, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York