god On The Morning Local

I saw him on the local train during rush hour,
a newspaper cone of peanuts in his hand,
smiling at me through a web of weary limbs
and disenchanted heads,
a lesser god with a stubble and sad eyes.

Is this chance, I asked him, or fate,
or is there no difference?
he shrugged like a basement programmer
who had written a game with a million possibilities,
one thing leads to another, he said,
didn’t you want to see me?
how can I win or at least not lose,
I was begging,
five peanuts later he asked,
who decides if it is victory
or defeat?

Through the window I saw life
like a flip book,
one snapshot after the other,
each alive for a cry and a
half turn of the wheel,
each moment, each frame,
dying and born as the next,
meaning nothing by itself,
leading nowhere by itself,
he was watching me, still eating,
this is my stop, he said softly,
your station’s next.

I followed him to the exit,
we left a bird behind,
then a cloud,
then the sun,
then him,
I shrugged,
me and a square of sky for a half wheel
and the peanuts he handed me,
one thing leads to another.

Also in this series: At the corner café

Here, Bird, Shadow

The veiled sun could be the moon,
the surf is a dull silver in this crucible of grey,
this could be dusk or dawn…
a lone bird switches direction,
the trees have shape shifted into fattened clouds,
the flapping wings that follow it
could be the shadow that remembers
the deception of fading light,
what is real in the monsoon’ s byplay,
when waves reach over and over
to erase my steps,
which is stage, which is prop
who is the marionette,
will this moon faced sun let go of the sea
so it will flood the sodden sky,
will the earth let go of the tepid sun
so the grey will swell and seep into my veins,
will it never rain again,
here, bird, shadow, circling a flat lined wave,
will you sing to me in absolutes?

I hold this ocean in the cup of my hand,
there is no horizon now,
only eternity caught on a limb, unsure,
this could be dusk or dawn,
truth or poem…
we follow you in your circumambulation,
chanting your frightened call,
the water, the light, the purified shore,
one behind the other,
waves swallowing footprints,
water, light, shore and I,
the strings that move us
invisible in the gloom,
what is real in the monsoon’s byplay
here, bird, shadow,
will you sing to me in absolutes,
will you cue my curtain call,
will it never rain again?

Metered Silences

in another life, beloved,
place on my parched lips
songs from ancient Persia,
so I can quote Rumi to Hafez,
debate Khayyam with the gods,
so I can read Jami with those who
split open verses and drink deep
your wine from their gurgling veins

or maybe we can sit by the Yamuna
and learn as the Taj recites,
her shoulders gently
rocking in the wind,
the moon floating
between her marbled limbs,
love’s cold anguish in quatrains
that should have no language

but teach me now, beloved,
to strip words of meaning
and wind them on the broken trellis,
I swear I won’t add one more inchoate
line to your crumpled sky,
show me beloved, how to write
with your eyes, how to ferment
this poetry in metered silences.

Wounds of your Birth

when the worlds collided
you rose from the pain,

rending the sky,
your jagged seams

filling with silver balm,
only the moon daring to soothe,

running her fingers
over the wounds of your birth,

drowning in your scarred umbilicus;
sagarmāthā, don’t you feel it now,

under you the earth still throbs,
the earth still remembers,

listen to her today,
she tries to sing you back into her womb,

her lullaby is washed away again
by your endless tears.

Sagarmāthā is the Nepali name for Mount Everest. The Himalayas were formed by the collision of tectonic plates.

Am I Object

am I object
am I shadow
am I light
have I not asked the moon
have I not questioned you beloved
have I not stood in the darkness searching
and now your eyes watch mine
as I look into this cup of wine
are you object
are you shadow
are you light

Up on “The Cherita”

The “Cherita” is a form created by Ai Li in 1997 that tells a story in six lines (a 1 line verse, followed by a 2 line verse, finishing with a 3 line verse )

Six of my poems have been published in the August issue (Vol 2- Where the river bends) of the  Cherita journal . They are on pages 249, 265, 273, 281, 289 and 313 of the online flipbook.

Many thanks to Ai Li for accepting the poems.

 

At the Corner Café

my god is afraid of lighting,
or so he says over irani chai and bun maska
at the corner café,
I fear the unknown, I tell him,
as I stare at peeling paint,
the dark that is to come,
the now that shows no symptom of the disease,
everything has an innate propensity for horror,
for gore, for ending;

he thinks I’ve lost my sense of adventure,
what happened to the seduction of a good mystery,
the promise of discovery,
but he doesn’t know about loss,
his math is built on averages and progression,
now the clock ticks louder and the unfinished,
the incomplete, looms large over an ever
approaching horizon;

and what on earth is fearful about lightning,
as if he is all alone in the open,
likely to be struck down by an infernal mess
of his own making,
he smiled then,
like the blue of the after-storm;

quickly turning over a newspaper
with the picture of a child
in front of a burning building,
his eyes shifting away from mine,
his hands shaking just a little as he
picked up the plastic menu,
maybe I imagined it, maybe I was afraid
of what I would never know;

will you try the kheema pav, he asked,
if I promise it will be good?