Saturday, September 20, 2014


We are underwater off the coast of Belize.
The water is lit up even though it’s dark
as if there are illuminated seashells
scattered on the ocean floor.

We’re not wearing oxygen tanks,
yet staying underwater for long stretches.

We are looking for the body of the boy
we lost. Each year he grows a little older.

Last December you opened his knapsack
and stuck in a plastic box of carrots.

Even though we’re underwater, we hear
a song playing over a policeman’s radio.

He comes to the shoreline to park
and eat midnight sandwiches, his headlights
fanning out across the harbor.

And I hold you close, apple of my closed eye,
red dance of my opened fist.

Jeffrey McDaniel

Try to Praise the Mutilated World

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.

The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.

You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.

You've seen the refugees going nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.

Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.

Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.

Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Adam Zagajewski


"When you have no one  to tell them to, you forget all your stories."

The Lunchbox

Friday, September 19, 2014


The South
To have watched from one of your patios
the ancient stars,
from the bench of shadow to have watched
those scattered lights
that my ignorance has learned no names for,
nor their places in constellations,
to have heard the note of water
in the cistern,
known the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle,
the silence of the sleeping bird,
the arch of the entrance, the damp

-- these things perhaps are the poem.

Jorge Luis Borges (translated by W. S. Merwin), Selected Poems (edited by Alexander Coleman) (Viking 1999).

Phil bhi dil hai Hindustani


The taxi driver to the airport from Shanghai to Pudong airport that day was a smiling friendly chap. He desperately wanted to chat, but we have no common language. We practise getting each other's names correct and then the conversation dies.

He suddenly remembers. "Hindu?"

And then he beams at me in the rear view mirror and sings the first line of this song......

59 years, and still going strong.

Shree 420:

That Sweet Moon Language

Admit something:

Everyone you see, you say to them,
“Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud,
someone would call the cops.

Still, though, think about this,
this great pull in us
to connect.

Why not become the one
who lives with a full moon in each eye
that is always saying,

with that sweet moon
what every other eye in this world
is dying to


Everything counts

A Message from Space

Everything that happens is the message:
you read an event and be one and wait,
like breasting a wave, all the while knowing
by living, though not knowing how to live.

Or workers built an antenna -- a dish
aimed at stars -- and they themselves are its message,
crawling in and out, being worlds that loom,
dot-dash, and sirens, and sustaining beams.

And sometimes no one is calling but we turn up
eye and ear -- suddenly we fall into
sound before it begins, the breathing
so still it waits there under the breath --

And then the green of leaves calls out, hills
where they wait or turn, clouds in their frenzied
stillness unfolding their careful words:
"Everything counts. The message is the world."

William Stafford, 'The Way It Is'

Just breath

Reading Anna Karenina
Karina Borowicz

In middle age Tolstoy apprenticed himself
to a bootmaker. He labored at learning
the skills of that trade. Sometimes his fingers
bled onto the leather as he punched the awl
or drew the needle in the outline of a foot.

Blisters, he knew, are holier than ink stains.
The boots were ugly and they pinched,
Sonya complained, and she refused to wear them.

Yet she copied Karenina by hand
how many times? It was his words she loved,
how he formed souls out of air. Just breath.

She preferred the page's purity to his
restless hands. If he were a man made only
of words she'd give her whole self to him.

"Reading Anna Karenina" by Karina Borowicz, from Proof. © Codhill Press, 2014.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


The luscious Rudrapalaash, the African Tulip, has started to bloom all over Bangalore, its "finger tips on fire", announcing that it's September again.

I am eagerly waiting for the return of the dragonflies next. They come in this season, and stay until the end of October.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bowing, then rising up

When The Wind Takes A Tree In Its Arms

Three-quarters of the world dances all night,
the waves moving as they do on the seas.

And when the wind takes a tree in its arms,
what happens then?

The green branches of the earth may seem to
reach out to touch us if we near them in a forest,
a meadow, a field.

Does not all sway to a rhythm that began long
before we stood upright?

We are in the mountain's home, just guests.
Guests of the sky, the streams, the giving soil
we all nurse from.

Would not you be happier following their example -
bowing in unseen ways, then rising up?

For Myra, whenever I find her

In the room above the cafe on 53rd street, in the spring of '72, was the first time I felt the tug of what I call the thread of you. We shook hands after our meeting and your thread entered my finger tip. Now your thread runs through my jog in Central Park. It gets entangled in my fork when I have dinner. And it is stitched into the dream that pulls me out of sleep at 4 a.m.

I have spent hours reconstructing your personality, like a coroner who tries to determine the time and cause of a fatality. For instance, I know that you prefer to listen rather than to express yourself. You've probably been that way ever since you discovered the complex and sensitive streets in your mind, streets that you are still reluctant to open out to others. I know that you are at home with abstract truths, the way some women are at home with watering the plants or making pancakes.

I know that when you speak to people, you see their emotions like how one can see bio-luminescent fish through water. But you are also easily hurt and that is why you prefer to silently withdraw, rather than to make demands. I know that you like plans and lists, any semblance of order to calm the hopes and fears that run through you like water under the Brooklyn Bridge.

I also know that if I told you all this, you’d invoke the unwavering core of your reason and tell me that there is no basis for these indiscriminate emotions, no space for them in our lives; we both have ties that bind us. I will not disagree with your reasoning; I am a man of reason myself. That is why I find it hard to work my reason when I see your face in a cup of tea, in the dew that forms on the top of my car at 6 a.m. and in the mirrors of the Waldorf Astoria that I pass every morning on my way to work.

You have entered my mind. But your own mind is miles away; all I have to enter it, is language. And the hope that this language will tunnel into your unconscious where it will lie dormant, like forgotten but vital memories.

This, too, was a choice, if not always conscious

As Agreed

Look, as we promised each other,
we changed nothing and the world
is as wonderful as it was, the rain
tarries this year, but it will come:
it will come as long as we’re still here.

Look, as we agreed,
I am in one place, you in another.
We didn’t become one, which is also natural,
and in your weakness and in mine
there looms a promise, too:
after memory forgetfulness is all.

And if the road already may incline downward
in the famed sloping print of life’s curve,
it does, in some sense, aspire upward,
and aspiration is a great thing in life,
on this, too, we agreed, you surely remember.

And if now I’m alone and aching and ailing more than ever,
this, too, was a choice,
if not always conscious. And if you too are alone,
it makes my loneliness less just
and this should sustain you as well.

How fortunate that we’ve agreed on so little:
on parting, on loneliness and fear, the basic certainties,
and there’s always something to return to,
you will see how young we will be in the end,
and the end, when it comes, will be almost just.
And everything, you will see, will be almost welcome.

Natan Zach

Watch Your Step - I'm Drenched

In Manchester there are a thousand puddles.
 Bus-queue puddles poised on slanting paving stones,
 Railway puddles slouching outside stations,
 Cinema puddles in ambush at the exits,
 Zebra-crossing puddles in dips of the dark stripes --
 They lurk in the murk
 Of the north-western evening
 For the sake of their notorious joke,
 Their only joke -- to soak
 The tights or trousers of the citizens.
 Each splash and consequent curse is echoed by
 One thousand dark Mancunian puddle chuckles.

 In Manchester there lives the King of Puddles,
 Master of Miniature Muck Lakes,
 The Shah of Slosh, Splendifero of Splash,
 Prince, Pasha and Pope of Puddledom.
 Where? Somewhere. The rain-headed ruler
 Lies doggo, incognito,
 Disguised as an average, accidental mini-pool.
 He is as scared as any other emperor,
 For one night, all his soiled and soggy victims
 Might storm his streets, assassination in their minds,
 A thousand rolls of blotting paper in their hands,
 And drink his shadowed, one-joke life away.

Adrian Mitchell

I Am Not I

I am not I.
                   I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.

Juan Ramón Jiménez, “‘I Am Not I’” from Lorca and Jiménez: Selected Poems.
Translated by Robert Bly

After the Lunch

On Waterloo Bridge, where we said our goodbyes,
The weather conditions bring tears to my eyes.
I wipe them away with a black woolly glove
And try not to notice I’ve fallen in love.

On Waterloo Bridge I am trying to think:
This is nothing. You’re high on the charm and the drink.
But the juke-box inside me is playing a song
That says something different. And when was it wrong?

On Waterloo Bridge with the wind in my hair
I am tempted to skip. You’re a fool. I don’t care.
The head does its best but the heart is the boss —
I admit it before I am halfway across.

Wendy Cope

Giving beauty away

"..Listen. If I have known beauty
let’s say I came to it

Phyllis Web

"It is Beauty that magnetizes the contemplative, and it is the duty of the contemplative to give beauty away so that the rest of the world may, in the midst of squalor, ugliness, and pain, remember that beauty is possible."

Joan Chittister

You'll walk the freshness back into your life

Joseph Stroud

How weary, stale, fiat, and unproiftable
Seem to me all the uses of this world.


Take a plane to London.
From King's Cross take the direct train to York.

Rent a car and drive across the vale to Ripon,
then into the dales toward the valley of the Nidd,
a narrow road with high stone walls on each side,

and soon you'll be on the moors. There's a pub,
The Drovers, where it's warm inside, a tiny room,
you can stand at the counter and drink a pint of Old Peculier.

For a moment everything will be all right. You're back
at a beginning. Soon you'll walk into Yorkshire country,
into dells, farms, into blackberry and cloud country.

You'll walk for hours. You'll walk the freshness
back into your life. This is true. You can do this.

Even now, sitting at your desk, worrying, troubled,
you can gaze across Middlesmoor to Ramsgill,
the copses, the abbeys of slanting light, the fells,

you can look down on that figure walking toward Scar House,
cheeks flushed, curlews rising in front of him, walking,
making his way, working his life, step by step, into grace.

I'm waiting for the ferry

I'm waiting for the ferry
But where are we going
And is there a paradise anyway?

What will I,
Who see you everywhere,
Do there?

I'm okay where I am, says Kabir
Spare me the trip.

Song of Kabir (1440–1518) translated by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

The sound of spiders breathing....

What The Dog Perhaps Hears

If an inaudible whistle
blown between our lips
can send him home to us,
then silence is perhaps
the sound of spiders breathing
and roots mining the earth;
it may be asparagus heaving,
headfirst, into the light
and the long brown sound
of cracked cups, when it happens.

We would like to ask the dog
if there is a continuous whir
because the child in the house
keeps growing, if the snake
really stretches full length
without a click and the sun
breaks through clouds without
a decibel of effort,
whether in autumn, when the trees
dry up their wells, there isn’t a shudder
too high for us to hear.

What is it like up there
above the shut-off level
of our simple ears?
For us there was no birth cry,
the newborn bird is suddenly here,
the egg broken, the nest alive,
and we heard nothing when the world changed.

Lisel Mueller

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