The one without expectations


Your desire for love defies the fear that
bookends it. Finding and losing both
unfasten stars from the sky. Will you give up
this world for the one without expectations?
What thoughts came to you when you
sat cross-legged under that peepal tree?



Previous: Tao inspirations #12

As a star, As a god


You made up these rules. You set the bar for
longing too high. You wanted to be exalted
as a star, as a god. But I know love refused to
play your game. It fell into your arms and fit
its weight into the yearning in your heart. Didn’t
it teach you to fly with your feet on the ground?



Mohini on a swing: Raja Ravi Varma
Previous: Tao inspirations #7
Follow series on Instagram: @tp_poetry

The Lists


Count all the things that are eternal. Then
count all the things that are not. In which
list did you put the love you feel? The love
you received? In which list did you put
yourself? When creation made its lists,
which one do you think it placed you in?



Dreaming Shankuntala: Raja Ravi Varma
Previous: Tao inspirations #6

The Greatest of Poets


Does love come to you as a kindness?
Does pain seek you in vengeance? Your
poems are your own failings. Think how
much more can be said by your silence. Do
you hear the remonstrations of the moon?
Isn’t she still the greatest of poets?



In Contemplation: Raja Ravi Varma
Previous: Tao inspirations #4

Just to be


The moon brings its fullness to fit
into the small of your eye. To blink
would be sacrilege. Would be to
count its failings. Is there a greater
love, a higher love? To seek love is
blasphemy. Your job is just to be.


Lady in the Moon Light: Raja Ravi Varma (1889)
Writing 6-line poems inspired by the Tao Te Ching. Also posting on instagram @tp_poetry
Previous: Tao inspirations #2 

As a mystery


When everything was still nameless,
desire made secret pacts with the primal
darkness. From the unmanifest antithesis,
love was birthed as mystery – as the changeable
constant . What else can simultaneously
be both cause and consequence?


Writing little poems inspired by the Tao Te Ching (with my own regional/cultural spin), after reading this post by a fellow blogger.
Also posting on instagram @tp_poetry

Just Math

Even Rumi, who could fit the entire
universe inside his poem, was yearning
for the grace of the Beloved. The universe
is not enough. It cannot love us the way
we want love. Its miracles are just math.
What would language do, or poems, if
the poet did not suffer the anguish of
loving a sunset? The sky just is. The poem
reaches out to touch your cheek. The
words wipe your tears. The poet burns
in the orange light until he becomes the
darkness. The Beloved holds back the
wine. Love is only an empty tavern, the
sun has been extinguished and the stars
in the window will be gone by morning.


More poems in the “Universe” series on my instagram page: @tp_poetry  Trying to pull them all together – soon.


Have you spoken?

Have you spoken to the ocean recently? Or to Yemen? Or to
a yellow dinghy at the bottom of the Mediterranean? How

about a polar bear? Or a blueprint in a factory somewhere,
for a nastier gun? I can hardly make a list better than your

morning paper. What would you say to a bird perched on a
length of barbed wire separating this from that? Keeping

person from person? Me from you? Don’t ask me. I don’t
speak. I spend the evenings in the balcony, mourning a lost

love. Bemoaning the universe’s broken parts that collude
against me. Thinking about a young Krishna who opened

his mouth to show his mother the entire cosmos within.
Unbroken. I talk to myself. About silence. Endings. About

love. A little bird on the concrete parapet opens its beak to
to scare the encroaching dusk. Darkness falls over us like a

coarse blanket, all at once. Starless. Moonless. Skyless. How
can you bargain for peace when you have nothing to give?

How can you bargain for love? The night takes my hands
away from me. Like plastic, like chemicals, like everything

we made and used and threw away, won’t love turn up
on a distant shore, in the belly of a murdered sperm

whale? Have you talked recently to the naked mountains-
cold, their lips parched in this strange December rain?

Only the Mirror Changes

Only the mirror changes, showing vibrant orange wings instead
of creeping, hungry green. How vain is the heart that rolls the past

into an impotent caterpillar? What makes the butterfly think the
metamorphosis is complete? I tell myself I am distanced from you,

from that night, from that abrasion of skin upon skin. I am surprised
I can remember. I am surprised by the precision of detail, by the absence

of theatre. I am surprised I have the same eyes. Somewhere behind
a closed door is the opera of sunshine, where time does not exist

or self. Where you can step back into a sentence, where you can reach
out and feel again, where moments look different in each mirror

and you can stand before the one in which you smile. That night
still wears the August moon. I am surprised you have the same eyes.