Sunday, November 25, 2007

ghazal for JANET FINE



Too soon for trips!   don't leave   this festive party
the moon's eclipse would grieve   this festive party

we met along a road   toward a rare concert
the tablas' taps retrieve   this festive party

you twirled in kathak   as   a whippersnapper
must Rudra's steps re-weave   this festive party?

you found a manuscript   on pleasing women
God's microfische conceived   this festive party

the dusk of palaces   caught your affection
you threw Raj Pipla's eve   this festive party

you sliced my heart   critiquing   my first movie
don't seal your lips!   nor leave   this festive party

I still have tales to tell!   who'll understand me?
don't doubt my quips   believe   this festive party

I won't be brief!   I'll florish   my bandana
I've got tricks up my sleeve   this festive party

the kiss of death   they say   is liberating
reluctant lips receive   this festive party

the smile of Tukaram   lives in the painting
newspaper clips   frame Jiv   this festive party

does Bollywood recall   one who first named her?
the skinnydips are brief   this festive party

Mumbai Cairo New York   pearls for your piercing
low-budget trips don't peeve   this festive party

Ellen sends love from yon   out at East Hampton
there's contretemps with Steve   this festive party

too swiftly time's page flits!   we were still reading!
the boat tips   and upheaves this festive party

the ghazal's wit   wraps love   in lamentation
a form that fits the sleeve   this festive party

a million notes   the soul jots   on its journey
we've still   chits to retrieve   this festive party

in Haridwar   there's aarti   morn & evening
trays wave   as Shiv bereaves   this festive evening

from Raphael accept   gratitude's bandish
his note   slips through the sieve   this festive party

Friday, November 23, 2007

ghazal -- winning & losing (work in progress)


(i)

How can I   keep track any more   of winning & losing?
when the ocean's lacking a shore   where's winning & losing?

I will scrawl   a placard imploring   people to tell me
how to love   the knack I abhor   of winning & losing?

I've prepared   a sack where I store   the things I believe in
but I fear   your tack may have torn   my winning & losing

I will pile   a stack to the sky   of praise & lamenting
just to glimpse your back   can unmoor   my winning & losing

is the world   a tenebrous tapestry   that enchants us?
it unfurls   the decorative lore   of winning & losing

as we tour   the sandy mirage   we're fancifully dreaming
it keeps conjuring   castles' allure   through winning & losing

every child's astute   in the game's   primordial grammar
the prime minister   like the whore   speaks winning & losing

babes are schooled in how to behave   at Maya's lyceum
toddlers learn to march   in the corps of winning & losing

every drum   will tell you a tale   of beatings & thrashings
where's the flute   not apt to out-pour   its winning & losing?

every cloud   if peaceful today   is weeping tomorrow
every tree   has sap at its core   of winning & losing

(ii)

every morn   the market's a'buzz with heartbreak & commerce
every evening   packs in yet more   the winning & losing

every form   contains the directions   for its undoing
in a hidden strand   where they store our winning & losing

gentle rose! when dreaming of springtime   had you forgotten
jealous autumn   factors in thorns of winning & losing?

in the thorn   the rose shows her pique   belovèds are lethal
on this nipple   breasts have been torn   for winning & losing

if it's true   love's spring is a gift   please lavish your theory
in the lying practice of war   who's winning or losing?

you'll allow   love's premised on giving?   grant me an answer
what's a quest worth arguing for?   mere winning & losing?

huw suspicious!   poets obliquely claim   they're creative
not so slyly   tapping the store   of winning & losing

what sustains   the penchant to prate about   one's uniqueness?
tap one vein   we splat the same gore   of winning & losing

every song drives some nuanced angle   on her dark beauty
she's got droves of facets & more   for winning & losing

playful breeze!   how far can you reach?   deliver my missive
soon we'll each   get back to the chore   of winning & losing

(iii)

I went out   to purchase this cloth of silk   she was absent
I'm returning   back from her store   both winning & losing

by her lake   she traffics in trinkets   fine & exotic
you can buy the wrap   not the core of winning & losing

lambent lips though sporting a smile   dark is her iris
polite pupils blandly ignore   the winning & losing

kindly lips! your smile invites   but dark is the darshan
beauty's petals practice the lure   of winning & losing

while the lips speak peace   there's a war   the eyes are engaged in
lips & eyes disarm me!   I'm poor   I'm winning & losing

the abstemious tutor their senses   studying your ocean
nescient wastrels   bask on a shore   of winning & losing

when the poets   heeded their ears   absorbing the birdcry
her lamenting   tacitly tore up   winning & losing

both the koel & bulbul express   antiquity's flavor
both the date & tamarind store   sweet winnings & losings

settling back in India   after traversing China
where's the point one's travelling for?   more winning & losing?

the moon-slender sweetheart afar   you might send an apple
by what train's click-clack could she core   your winning & losing?

(iv)

one could tip one's cap at the door   with courtly decorum
while the window wafts in the score   of winning & losing

when the brawn of gold-mining spans the mountain of winter
vernal caravans   smelt the ore of winning & losing

while returning home from the war   Odysseus tarried
ten long years   he swam for a shore past winning & losing

callow souls contend for a goal-post   ritually touted
some who've roamed a lakh & a crore   still winning & losing

one need not redact all the lore   antiquity witnessed
for the realm of fact   has what core   save winning & losing?

artful friends   enacted your glorious tale   I smiled
as my tears reflected   I swore   nor winning nor losing

when the light's refracted   from glare flow multiple colors
bright artistes   exactly adore   the winning & losing

does the pool look placid?   decor is   green & deceptive
hidden mud   amassing the spores of   winning & losing

should you drop the map in the drawer   resigning to slumber
could the mirror nap?   might it snore through winning & losing?

where the palms all clap   reconnoiter textures of clamor
prithee mind the gap!   to explore what's winning & losing

(v)

to dissolve the packet   just pour its contents in water
instant coffee's packed at the store   of winning & losing

do the tennis rackets confirm   philosophy's quandary?
lend the ball a whack!   it conforms   by winning or losing

there's a cup of chai that I favor   when in Baroda
fresh with adarak   deft the pour   no winning no losing

in Beijing   it's pu'er we drink   a costlier custom
eighty years it's aged   for the noir of winning & losing

with the train on track   comfy sleepers drowsed through their dreaming
junctions back-on-back   made me sore   with winning & losing!

there was not one window nor door intact   in the building
every portal cracked   in a war of winning & losing

when the mouse of theory squeaked "I'm   the king of the forest!"
all its sentence lacked   was the roar   of winning & losing

the initial scene lends the story   sharp definition
by the final act   every moron's winning or losing

in the marketplace of existence   freedom's enshrouded
while each price-tag tattles   "we're born for winning or losing"

"you could add more nettles!" quipped Milarepa   serenely
he'd in end   subtracted a storm   of winning & losing

(vi)

should we try to placate the ghoul   who mortaly plagues us?
could one scratch its back   and ignore   the winning & losing?

love's verandah might not look hard   when first you apprise it
one soft wall   could easily floor   your winnings & losings

late in life   I'm practicing raag   distilling its potion
till I drown   in alap & jor   my winnings & losings

from the hotel's balcony   honking cars proclaim   "India!
has she drawn you back?   come adore   her winnings & losings"

all are born stark naked   attire's our cultural wrapping
with the tie & jacket   we wore our winnings & losings

you but glimpsed the dream of her blush   anon you departed?
parting's thorn   awakens the sore   of winning & losing

the Tibetan beauty   desires to practice her English!
virtual addresses   consort with winning & losing

in the dark   the minaret's call   awakens Baroda
in a trice   bird-clamour's imploring   winning & losing

you're intoning kharaj   the bass note pitched at the bottom
like a stealth attack   in a war of winning & losing

every string we strum   frames a sentence we am receiving
long confinement   thwacks at the chord   of winning & losing

(vii)

every line I cast   seeks a fish   from aqueous darkness
this lagoon   in fact   is a door   of winning & losing!

does each verse I croon   limn my dreaming of the belovèd
lost in slumber's rapture   untorn by winning & losing?

every horn that honks in the city   blares an agenda
every wing that flaps by the shore   is winning & losing

every word we're floating in silence   whispers our longing
every leaf that crackles   reports our winning & losing

every sound from creature or object   renders a message
every teacup harbors a storm   of winning & losing

every jot philosophers pen   is probing for treasure
aren't miner's mad   for the ore of winning & losing?

every whiff of bread   draws a map   describing our hunger
every pinch of chat   charts a score   of winning & losing

every course   refits a design   perforce we discover
every horse   was saddled before   the winning & losing

in the hearse   is cradled the man   born crying tomorrow
in the playpen   waddles his form   of winning & losing

down the street   there lumbers a bullock   nibbling at grasses
in the lake   there settles a corpse   still winning & losing

(viii)

lost in dusk   I puff my cheroot   whose ash falls haphazard
deep in earth   there wriggles the worm   of winning & losing

in the skillet   sizzles a meal   the hungry require
in the bucket   echoes the norm   of winning & losing

in the circus of the surreal   the barker extolls you
though the mirror badly distorts   the winning & losing

in this sojourn   fictional stops   assemble & vanish
there's no train nor track!   still a horn sounds winning & losing

for the healing herb   you (in time's nick) toted the mountain!
love reveals such capable charm   in winning & losing

fruits be drowned in you!   does your peal of laughter restore them?
can the ocean's   cackling   shore up   winning & losing?

when we've lost our way   will your feet remember our forehead?
from my solo shack   hear the choir of winning & losing

it appeared so gentle!   a hobby   blithe & amusing
then the poem   hacked through the door of winning & losing!

the distinctions jurists insist on   love must relinquish
richly journey back   to be poor in winnings & losings

in your name they're lost   your nazaar they find as their winning
kindly wait a sec!   I'm a'blur with winnings & losings

(ix)

every morn   we're turning a page   that opens a window
every night   we're back at the door   of winning & losing

having fetched an instrument   why not linger & play it
like a serious hack?   we adores such winnings & losings

don't be silent!   we must hear everything from the beginning
won't love woo one back   with its lore of winnings & losings?

it may take a week   just to read   the name on the wrapping!
did your genius   package a tour   of winnings & losings?

when the craftsman saws through the board   the wood hardly cavils
it observes what practice is for   through winning & losing

lovers freely dream of the day   their loves will entwine them
blind as night   they're shackled   forlorn for winning & losing

in her tickertape   reeling out   for measureless aeons
Mahamaya acts   through informing winning & losing

in her grand charade   she depicts veach creature completely
every hair's intact   every curl of winning & losing

colors all emerge from your waves   O ocean of mercy!
and from you   all fragrances pour   no winning no losing

those who seek your aid   receive grace   O infinite mother!
every road   winds back to your door   past winning & losing

(x)

every morn   the city awakens   ready for showtime
every twirl in kathak   disarms   our winning & losing

choreography of the cars   can't fail to astonish
a ballet so madly performed   sans winning or losing

where the juggler catches each ball   without apprehension
we perceive   a savvy one   scorning winning & losing

all are skilled! all love you sincerely   all are deluded
thus we heed   the tap of karun   in winning & losing

where the days have limit & nights are numbered   we move in
parting's play   whose practice affords   no winning sans losing

who adore the rose   must embrace her tragic condition
every Jill loves Jack   through the thorn where winning means losing

in a sea of infinite time   what boat eludes drowning?
every nano-act   drills a bore   from winning to losing

does the dripping faucet drop hints   of clandestine homelands?
may the ocean   smash through the door of winning & losing!

is the ocean   somewhere we're not?   or is it our story?
do its waves   weave strands of rapport   with winning & losing?

life enlists us into her sport   we dance at her bidding
no one makes some rabid uproar   though winning or losing

(xi)

in the heart of night   still the cricket   utters its poem
is its crying   vapid decor   of winning & losing?

should one fetch him mountains of lucre   would he feel triumph?
where his verse   some flat ear abhors   who's winning or losing?

grieving cricket!   if you're the dream   then who is the dreamer?
though a bug   you're manly   what glorious winning & losing!

in the ring where bulls are encountered   caution's essential
every spring   a may may get gored   for winning & losing

in the news   don't figures we read   amount to diversions?
can their sharpness cancel the blur   of winning & losing?

when I glimpsed   again Raphael   at ease with his poem
I grew troubled   "is there still more   to winning & losing?

answer this   don't flowers want terseness?   stem the profusion!
in your spree of asking   you've worn out winning & losing!"

Raphael!   suppose one attends   these turgid effusions?
is their gist   you cannot endure   the winning & losing?

amid rain   you pine for the sun   in sun you want water!
it grows plain   you're whacked to the core by winning & losing

where the word has gone to the heart   revert to the silence
it's insane   to chant evermore   of winning & losing

(xii)

when the Buddha offered   his view of pain   & its ending
was the formless   wrapped in the form of winning & losing?

when Lord Krishna sounded his flute   in pastoral moonlight
did you dream a castle   whose charm slew winning & losing?

after Christ came down from the cross   & drowsed in a cavern
he awoke   & passed through the door of winning & losing

in the dust at roadside   one reads anonymous traces
in the books   they ratch up the score of winning & losing

here's a comely garden   they clip & water all seasons
butterfly!   you're flitting before such winnings & losings

"spider's web"   the signage for internet   in these boondocks
I'm the fly you catch   in the flower of winning & losing

village maidens hasten   I know not where   in a dreamscape
perfect foothils flap   as you snore through winning & losing

to control the senses   the wise encourage detachment
one becalms   through practice   the storm of winning & losing

when life thwarts the urge to create   what faces extinction?
one traverses chastity's door   both winning & losing?

aren't needling needs   lost in space   when pining to find you?
does the earth retract   if we soar past   winning & losing?

(xiii)

every day   one open a window   on separation
every night   we fasten the door   on winning & losing

certain hours   we gaze in the mirror   placid & clueless
and betimes   we're back in the storm of winning & losing

when the shoe has reached the road's end   a roadway continues
at its drop   the hat is reborn   for winning & losing

vernal thoughts accost you   amid the gardens of autumn
who can claim to lack a rapport   with winning & losing?

when you prize a distant belovèd   sorrow grows friendly
batting eyes   "come back to my floor of winning & losing"

please elucidate   why do dreams   appears but to vanish?
oceanspray   will splach on the shore of winning & losing

for a time in youth   with guitar you'd dabble while singing
did no song you happened to strum   touch winning & losing?

you were young   anon you grew older   season by season
you were innocent of the war   of winning & losing

in those days   you marched in dissent   for carnage in Asia
on these nights   you brawl for the score of winning & losing!

in this sorry world   happy hands still hasten to help you
don't neglect inshallah   ignore the winning & losing

(xiv)

things are always shifting around   no plan is quite settled
yet no change   has shaken the core   of winning & losing

every map you draw   gets redrawn   each maundering morrow
by fresh froth   that's slapping the shore   of winning & losing

there's some paradox   at the crux of every conception!
none's the thought   not tapping the door   of winning & losing

aren't histories in the books   mere hints of an echo?
social fabrics   swathe the decor   of winning & losing

what we do & think   what we read & write   trace out gestures
of the mute shade cast   in rapport with   winning & losing

when inspired   we soar to the rooftop   lost in elation
then we drop   to flap on a floor of winning & losing

what we are   amounts to a rumor   glimpsed in a mirror
what we're not   adds grace to the score of winning & losing

having tendered summertime berries   or autumn teardrops
may the heart awaken   laved pure of winning & losing

on a bridge of infinite longing   inches mean miles
every second's packed with an hour   of winning & losing

when you quiz your soul   "what's the point   of being or doing?"
its reply   paints black the white floor   of winning & losing

(xv)

every task perchance is a pretext   who can but fathom
from what timeless flask   you out-pour the winnings & losings?

like a shell-game   deft move your hands   concealing the secret!
you reveal   we're daft to adore such winnings & losings

must the thread of spiritual search   wax melodramatic?
grows the pearl   organically shorn   of winning & losing?

for long years   I dithered with poetry   to scant purpose
I've become impractical!   worn-out   winning & losing

in a land of giants   the normal man is a midget
when the gods go gambling   it dwarfs our winning & losing

with the squash & pumpkin   the natives welcome the pilgrims
by your will   they gather the corn   of winning & losing

on this swing   we float through the morn   & sweep into evening
everything   I hanker to learn   through winning & losing

when you pass the tomb of Hafez   invoke heaven's mercy
that love's pilgrimage be reborn   sans winning or losing

"I have lost again!" cries Jelaluddin   at the chessboard
but this time in fact   he is shorn of winning & losing

in the Mahabharat   where Arjun tarries in trouble
there's a view you grant   of a form past winning & losing

(xvi)

the mirage resembles a pool   the pool seems a mirror
but the looking-glass proves a door   of winning & losing

now the door equivocates   closed   will open our longing
you can purchase that   at the store of winning & losing

when the willow peered in the pool   she wept for such beauty
like Narcissus   trapped by the lure of winning & losing

every heartbeat carries two notions   now & tomorrow
we're sustained by what will endure all winning & losing

all the words are dead in the book   until you revive them
they exist   as chalk on the floor of winning & losing

by your gaze   you grant my words life   they live in your breathing
all the birds fly back   at the hour of winning & losing

when they cried "a trisket! a trasket!"   nobody listened
green & yellow laugh   in the form of winning & losing

every fairytale holds terrors   wedded with wonders
don't you wonder   what will be born from winning & losing?

my belovèd's hair   is as long as night's longest tale
head to tail it spans   like the lore of winning & losing

Raphael! I plainly beseech you   love without question
like his wife   Jack Spratt won the war of winning & losing

(xvii)

when the hand you seek is afar   the feet seem pathetic
can't they find a path to her door   through winning or losing?

when the heart enjoys her rapport   are feet apathetic?
they create the path   on a floor of winning & losing

neither hands nor feet know the score   & hearts can be broken
we are tanned & blackened & worn out   winning & losing

life is fiction   fiction achieves the feeling of living
there's no juice in fact   till it's torn by winning & losing

do you look to poetry   hoping to find   safe harbor?
refugees drift back   with the lore of winning & losing

at last night's recital   guitar-sitar jugalbandi
from the gypsies' track   the conour of winning & losing

it's the candid cry of the bulbul   that the heart hearkens
shady lies   but quack on the shore of winning & losing

the exquisite note   isn't one   that sounds at full volume
as its play's enacted   it soars   while winning & losing

the santoor   with a hundred strings   tells the softest tale
the ektar's   deep twang   feels the score of winning & losing

in each shape of beauty   she pours some glimpse of her secret
with each swar   Saraswati performs her winnings & losings

(xviii)

seeking truth   gets billed as a craze   & not incorrectly
it's a frame   to shatter all norms of winning & losing

the Madhyamika   views both self & world as but   empty
emptiness   as the basic core   of winning & losing

empty mind   empty the physique   empty the emotions
there's an   emptiness reservoir   in winning & losing

in the lamp of union   they found   no wick & no candle
whiffs of smoke   recalled the lost score of winning & losing

the full voice   arises & falls   regardless of meaning
empty meanings stand   on a shore of winning & losing

with the needle of your perception   pierce this dark language
darkling night   black cat   thought obscure   that winning & losing

though one beat this theme to a pulp   its death isn't witnessed
we've the doom of Kafka   exploring   winning & losing

where the comic   fringes the tragic   merits fine study
the comedo-tragic   is shown   by winning & losing

winning-LOSing!   winning-losING   winning-losing-WINning!
in the Arctic   & Ecuador   they're winning & losing!

Raphael!   stop egging me on!   you scramble my brain!   why
must time's whip   have cracking in store   both winning & losing?

(xix)

what the stones desire   the flowers describe more completely
language blooms   from fragments & bones of winning & losing

what the stars are seeking   the earth explains in translation
you can read spectacular tomes   of winning & losing

what the night reported   the day forgot until evening
what the dawn suspected   we learn from winning & losing

I've arrived in Dilli   my heart perhaps resides elsewhere
what is dil?   a taxi   for touring winning & losing

in a dargah   where the belovèd's fused with the framework
of the world   I prattle no more of winning & losing

to forget the world   means remembering that which creates it
puppets feel the hand   while they sport feigned winning & losing

those who reach your feet are so few!   who seek you are legion
let these join   the stats we ignore   like winning & losing

in the heart   the Lord has his home   the head is for whimsy
many motleys   sat at the door of winning & losing

those who know don't speak   those who speak are lacking in knowing
Lao Tzu's puzzle   raps at the door   of winning & losing

all our lines   were rattles we wore   the tide fetches silence
Meher Baba   shatters the floor   of winning & losing

(xx)

on the verge of nothing   there shimmer   feeling & thinking
in the twilight margin   transforming winning & losing

all the colors bloom in the mind   when music recalls them
from the deep   there dance all the forms of winning & losing

what's a song?   it hovers in space   a delicate flower
it enjoys   the transient storm   of winning & losing

you've arrived   perhaps   at a land you're able to live in
passing trains enchant   as you forget   winning & losing

I desired   to freshly recast   the cards of my fortune
can the shuffling hand   reconform   the winning & losing?

common certitudes are in flux   as evening settles
having left my land   and its terms of winning & losing

in this emptiness   all that hovers is   recollection
plus some abstract plan   with its dormant winning & losing

vagrom narrative!   does the chessboard shift while we're dreaming?
every stage   redacts the report   of winning & losing

rikshaw-wallah!   why do the numbers twirl with such fervor?
a rigged meter madly covorts!   like winning & losing

Raphael!   you've changed your address   who'll forward love's letter?
bring me postage stamps   from the store of   winning & losing

(xxi)

when we find a corner obscure enough   we sit pretty
artforms grow ecstatic   unlearning winning & losing

all the glints   that glimmer in books   are trying to teach us
from this mirror-palace   we garner winning & losing

in the bifurcation   the binary   is oppressive
gain & loss   can act to deform   like winning & losing

all is increase!   all is kindness!   everything deepens
every loss has gain yet in store   strange winning & losing!

at the start of time   the belovèd whispered a secret
"I'm the ending that you look for   in winning & losing"

every saint & master   scoops out a cup   from your ocean
there's a stellar cast   on the shore of winning & losing

we're encouraged   & we're discoruaged   at the same instant!
in the habitat   of the door   of winning & losing

we exist   and do not exist!   this equivocation
ties a knot   one cannot ignore   in winning & losing

(xxii)

[8 verses needed]




in the train to Haridwar station   happiness joins me
all the world's a stage (as it were)   of winning & losing

nice hotel   though lacking hot water (brisk in the morning)
take a bracing bath   then we'll tour the winnings & losings

(xxiii)

nimbu pani   mixed with masala salt   effervescent
afternoon   the passing amour   of winning & losing

friends are distant   still my notebook heeds my affection
love conduces happiness   more than winning & losing

love resolves the tangled dilemma   literature poses
poems scatter flakes (nothing more)   of winning & losing

you'll return to cities you left   what gift will you proffer?
in your pockets   rattle some poor gyps   winning & losing

in my solitude   I've composed   a weighty amusement
tell this ear that hearkens for your lips   "winning & losing"

when you speak his name   Raphael already grows happy
does he need a basket of more quips?   winning & losing

I'll confess impossible dreams   improbable projects
though I guess you'd rather have cornchips   winning & losing

he's become a babbling figment   on the street corner!
Raphael can't capture the core   of winning & losing

now a laughingstock   in salons of Paris & Delhi
chanting out   in rapturous worship   "winning & losing!"

someone put him out of his misery!   bring him solace
Raphael   laid flat as a doorstop   winning & losing

(xxiv)   CODA

Haridwar has weddings each day this month   festive music
with ensembled brass   out-of-doors   sweet winnings & losings

down the road you stroll   clutching typescript   seeking an ending
there's no end!   you're lost on a moor   of winning & losing

every thought produces a new thought!   long is the story
mind itself   enacts & performs   the winning & losing

there's a junction studded with cyber-cafes   shall we go there?
to revise   at Ranipur More   the winnings & losings?

Raphael!   all oceans are ink   all trees might be pens   but
I'm ashamed   to paper earth's floor   with winnings & losings

like the guttering candle   whose curl of smoke   spells extinction
what late flourish   cancels the story   winning & losing?

there's no close   so long as the breath continues to bellow!
like a billowing flag's   open form   of winning & losing

can an English ghazaleer pierce   your ocean's iota?
can't you show Raphael   the door   from winning & losing?

at the end of ink   I've an inkling   journeys continue
paper boats a'splash   on the shore of winning & losing

you desired   to paint all the world in little cartoons   but
Raphael!   no tint limns the noor   of winning & losing

(xxv)   FINALE

honking cars   eternal these days   have poets ignored you?
every honk distracts   or retorts   like winning & losing

I'll head north   the start of the Ganges   if I complete this!
Siva's hangout   capping remorse   for winning & losing

Rudra means to howl   Allen Ginsberg could have discovered
yet there's joy   each stage of his course   what's winning or losing?

all the poetries of the world   perhaps are a sandbox
children play in   dancing a turn   while winning & losing

if I dash out thousands of verses   who does this humor?
grows this persiflage a grand bore   like winning & losing

even gibberish   can be art   as monkeys have proven
every fool   has sat at the door of winning & losing

whether fool or monkey   I float this craft toward your lakeside
if it brings a laugh   I'm less poor   for winning & losing

let me tell you this   Raphael   I like your whole poem
I just wish it hadn't got torn   by winning & losing

Raphael!   here ends the production!   quit the rehearsal
with a smile   be happy once more   stop winning & losing

if you shoot him   Raphael's blood continues to babble
all the more untrammeled   still mourning winning & losing


======

possibly close to completed -- still in progress.

ghazal (winning & losing)

Begun in Delhi 26 October 2007, completed in Haridwar 23 November
(with some intermediate portions written in Baroda)

=============

latest correction done at 7:55 pm in Haridwar

ghazal ("winning & losing")


(i)

How can I   keep track any more   of winning & losing?
when the ocean's lacking a shore   where's winning & losing?

I will scrawl   a placard imploring   people to tell me
how to love   the knack I abhor   of winning & losing?

I've prepared   a sack where I store   the things I believe in
but I fear   your tack may have torn   my winning & losing

I will pile   a stack to the sky   of praise & lamenting
just to glimpse your back   can unmoor   my winning & losing

is the world   a tenebrous tapestry   that enchants us?
it unfurls   the decorative lore   of winning & losing

as we tour   the sandy mirage   we're fancifully dreaming
it keeps conjuring   castles' allure   through winning & losing

every child's astute   in the game's   primordial grammar
the prime minister   like the whore   speaks winning & losing

babes are schooled in how to behave   at Maya's lyceum
toddlers learn to march   in the corps of winning & losing

every drum   will tell you a tale   of beatings & thrashings
where's the flute   not apt to out-pour   its winning & losing?

every cloud   if peaceful today   is weeping tomorrow
every tree   has sap at its core   of winning & losing

(ii)

every morn   the market's a'buzz with heartbreak & commerce
every evening   packs in yet more   the winning & losing

every form   contains the directions   for its undoing
in a hidden strand   where they store our winning & losing

gentle rose! when dreaming of springtime   had you forgotten
jealous autumn   factors in thorns of winning & losing?

in the thorn   the rose shows her pique   belovèds are lethal
on this nipple   breasts have been torn   for winning & losing

if it's true   love's spring is a gift   please lavish your theory
in the lying practice of war   who's winning or losing?

you'll allow   love's premised on giving?   grant me an answer
what's a quest worth arguing for?   mere winning & losing?

huw suspicious!   poets obliquely claim   they're creative
not so slyly   tapping the store   of winning & losing

what sustains   the penchant to prate about   one's uniqueness?
tap one vein   we splat the same gore   of winning & losing

every song drives some nuanced angle   on her dark beauty
she's got droves of facets & more   for winning & losing

sportive breeze!   how far can you reach?   deliver my missive
soon we'll each   get back to the chore   of winning & losing

(iii)

I went out   to purchase this cloth of silk   she was absent
I'm returning   back from her store   both winning & losing

by her lake   she traffics in trinkets   fine & exotic
you can buy the wrap   not the core of winning & losing

lambent lips though sporting a smile   dark is her iris
polite pupils blandly ignore   the winning & losing

kindly lips! your smile invites   but dark is the darshan
beauty's petals practice the lure   of winning & losing

while the lips speak peace   there's a war   the eyes are engaged in
lips & eyes disarm me!   I'm poor   I'm winning & losing

the abstemious tutor their senses   studying your ocean
nescient wastrels   bask on a shore   of winning & losing

when the poets   heeded their ears   absorbing the birdcry
her lamenting   tacitly tore up   winning & losing

both the koel & bulbul express   antiquity's flavor
both the date & tamarind store   sweet winnings & losings

settling back in India   after traversing China
where's the point one's travelling for?   more winning & losing?

the moon-slender sweetheart afar   you might send an apple
by what train's click-clack could she core   your winning & losing?

(iv)

one could tip one's cap at the door   with courtly decorum
while the window wafts in the score   of winning & losing

when the brawn of gold-mining spans the mountain of winter
vernal caravans   smelt the ore of winning & losing

while returning home from the war   Odysseus tarried
ten long years   he swam for a shore past winning & losing

callow souls contend for a goal-post   ritually touted
some who've roamed a lakh & a crore   still winning & losing

one need not redact all the lore   antiquity witnessed
for the realm of fact   has what core   save winning & losing?

artful friends   enacted your glorious tale   I smiled
as my tears reflected   I swore   nor winning nor losing

when the light's refracted   from glare flow multiple colors
bright artistes   exactly adore   the winning & losing

does the pool look placid?   decor is   green & deceptive
hidden mud   amassing the spores of   winning & losing

should you drop the map in the drawer   resigning to slumber
could the mirror nap?   might it snore through winning & losing?

where the palms all clap   reconnoiter textures of clamor
prithee mind the gap!   to explore what's winning & losing

(v)

to dissolve the packet   just pour its contents in water
instant coffee's packed at the store   of winning & losing

do the tennis rackets confirm   philosophy's quandary?
lend the ball a whack!   it conforms   by winning or losing

there's a cup of chai that I favor   when in Baroda
fresh with adarak   deft the pour   no winning no losing

in Beijing   it's pu'er we drink   a costlier habit
eighty years it's aged   for the noir of winning & losing

with the train on track   comfy sleepers drowsed through their dreaming
junctions back-on-back   made me sore   with winning & losing!

there was not one window nor door intact   in the building
every portal cracked   in a war of winning & losing

when the mouse of theory squeaked "I'm   the king of the forest!"
all its sentence lacked   was the roar   of winning & losing

the initial scene lends the story   sharp definition
by the final act   every moron's winning or losing

in the marketplace of existence   freedom's enshrouded
while each price-tag tattles   "we're born for winning or losing"

"you could add more nettles!" quipped Milarepa   serenely
he'd in end   subtracted a storm   of winning & losing

(vi)

should we try to placate the ghoul   who mortaly plagues us?
could one scratch its back   and ignore   the winning & losing?

love's verandah might not look hard   when first you apprise it
one soft wall   could easily floor   your winnings & losings

late in life   I'm practicing raag   distilling its potion
till I drown   in alap & jor   my winnings & losings

from the hotel's balcony   honking cars proclaim   "India!
has she drawn you back?   come adore   her winnings & losings"

all are born stark naked   attire's our cultural wrapping
with the tie & jacket   we wore our winnings & losings

you but glimpsed the dream of her blush   anon you departed?
parting's thorn   awakens the sore   of winning & losing

the Tibetan beauty   desires to practice her English!
virtual addresses   consort with winning & losing

in the dark   the minaret's call   awakens Baroda
in a trice   bird-clamour's imploring   winning & losing

you're intoning kharaj   the bass note pitched at the bottom
like a stealth attack   in a war of winning & losing

every string we strum   frames a sentence we am receiving
long confinement   thwacks at the chord   of winning & losing

(vii)

every line I cast   seeks a fish   from aqueous darkness
this lagoon   in fact   is a door   of winning & losing!

does each verse I croon   limn my dreaming of the belovèd
lost in slumber's rapture   untorn by winning & losing?

every horn that honks in the city   blares an agenda
every wing that flaps by the shore   is winning & losing

every word we're floating in silence   whispers our longing
every leaf that crackles   reports our winning & losing

every sound from creature or object   renders a message
every teacup harbors a storm   of winning & losing

every jot philosophers pen   is probing for treasure
aren't miner's mad   for the ore of winning & losing?

every whiff of bread   draws a map   describing our hunger
every pinch of chat   charts a score   of winning & losing

every course   refits a design   perforce we discover
every horse   was saddled before   the winning & losing

in the hearse   is cradled the man   born crying tomorrow
in the playpen   waddles his form   of winning & losing

down the street   there lumbers a bullock   nibbling at grasses
in the lake   there settles a corpse   still winning & losing

(viii)

lost in dusk   I puff my cheroot   whose ash falls haphazard
deep in earth   there wriggles the worm   of winning & losing

in the skillet   sizzles a meal   the hungry require
in the bucket   echoes the norm   of winning & losing

in the circus of the surreal   the barker extolls you
though the mirror badly distorts   the winning & losing

in this sojourn   fictional stops   assemble & vanish
there's no train nor track!   still a horn sounds   winning & losing

for the healing herb   you (in time's nick) toted the mountain!
love reveals such capable charm   in winning & losing

fruits be drowned in you!   does your peal of laughter restore them?
can the ocean's   cackling   shore up   winning & losing?

when we've lost our way   will your feet remember our forehead?
from my solo shack   hear the choir of winning & losing

it appeared so gentle!   a hobby   blithe & amusing
then the poem   hacked through the door   of winning & losing!

the distinctions jurists insist on   love must relinquish
richly journey back   to be poor in winnings & losings

in your name they're lost   your nazar appears as their winning
kindly wait a sec!   I'm a'blur with winnings & losings

(ix)

every morn   we're turning a page   that opens a window
every night   we're back at the door   of winning & losing

having fetched an instrument   why not linger & play it
like a serious hack   who adores such winnings & losings?

don't be silent!   we must hear everything from the beginning
won't love woo us back   with its lore of winnings & losings?

it may need a week   just to read   the name on the wrapping!
did your genius   package a tour   of winnings & losings?

when we find a corner obscure enough   we'll sit pretty
artforms grow ecstatic   unlearning winning & losing

when the craftsman saws through the board   the wood doesn't cavil
it has learned what practice is for   through winning & losing

lovers freely dream of the day   their loves will embrace them
blind as night   they're shackled   forlorn for winning & losing

in her grand charade   reeling out   for measureless aeons
Mahamaya acts   through the form   of winning & losing

colors all emerge from your waves   O ocean of mercy!
and from you   all fragrances pour   no winning no losing

those who seek your aid   receive grace   O infinite mother!
every road   winds back to your door   past winning & losing

(x)

every morn   the city awakens   ready for showtime
every twirl in kathak   disarms   our winning & losing

choreography of the cars   can't fail to astonish
a ballet so madly performed   sans winning or losing

where the juggler catches each ball   without apprehension
we perceive   a savvy one   scorning winning & losing

all are skilled! all love you sincerely   all are deluded
thus we heed   the tap of karun   in winning & losing

where the days have limit & nights are numbered   one moves in
parting's play   whose practice affords   no winning sans losing

those who love the rose   must embrace her tragic condition
doesn't Jill love Jack   through the thorn where winning means losing?

in a sea of infinite time   each boat faces drowning
every nano-act   drills a bore   from winning to losing

does the dripping faucet drop hints   of lost distant homelands?
may the ocean   smack through the door of winning & losing!

life enlists us into her sport   we dance at her bidding
no one makes some rabid uproar   though winning or losing

what we do & think   what we read or write   trace out gestures
of the mute shade   cast in rapport with   winning & losing

(xi)

in the heart of night   still the cricket   utters its poem
is its crying   vapid decor   of winning & losing?

should one fetch him mountains of lucre   would this mark triumph?
where his verse   a flat ear abhors   who's winning or losing?

grieving cricket!   if you're the dream   pray who is the dreamer?
though a bug   you're manly   what glorious winning & losing!

in the ring where bulls are embattled   caution's essential
every spring   a may may get gored   for winning & losing

in the news   don't figures you read   amount to diversions?
can their sharpness cancel the blur   of winning & losing?

when I glimpsed   again Raphael   at ease with his poem
I grew troubled   "is there still more   to winning & losing?

don't you grasp   a flower wants terseness?   stem the profusion!
in a spree of asking   you've worn out winning & losing!"

Raphael!   suppose one attends   these turgid effusions?
is their gist   you cannot endure   life's winning & losing?

amid rain   you pine for the sun   in sun you want water!
it grows plain   you're whacked to the core by winning & losing

where the word has gone to the heart   revert to the silence
it's insane   to chant evermore   of winning & losing

(xii)

when the Buddha offered   his view of pain   & its ending
was the formless   wrapped in the form of winning & losing?

when Lord Krishna sounded his flute   in pastoral moonlight
did you dream a castle   whose charm slew winning & losing?

after Christ came down from the cross   & drowsed in a cavern
he awoke   & passed through the door of winning & losing

in the dust at roadside   one reads anonymous traces
in the books   they ratch up the score of winning & losing

here's a comely garden   they clip & water all seasons
butterfly!   you're flitting before such winnings & losings

"spider's web"   the signage for internet   in these boondocks
I'm the fly you catch   in the flower of winning & losing

village maidens hasten   I know not where   in a dreamscape
perfect foothils flap   as you snore through winning & losing

to control the senses   the wise encourage detachment
one may calm   through practice   the storm of winning & losing

when life thwarts the urge to create   what faces extinction?
one traverses chastity's door   both winning & losing?

are not needling needs   lost in space   when pining to find you?
does the earth retract   if we soar past   winning & losing?

(xiii)

every day   one open a window   on separation
every night   we fasten the door   on winning & losing

certain hours   we gaze in the mirror   placid & clueless
and betimes   we're back on the floor of winning & losing

when the shoe has reached the road's end   a roadway continues
at its drop   the hat is reborn   for winning & losing

vernal thoughts accost you   amid the garden of autumn
who can claim to lack a rapport   with winning & losing?

when you prize a distant belovèd   sorrow grows friendly
batting eyes   "come back to my floor of winning & losing"

who'll elucidate why the dream   appears but to vanish?
oceanspray   will splach on the shore of winning & losing

for a time in youth   with guitar you'd dabble while singing
did no song you happened to strum   touch winning & losing?

you were young   anon you grow older   season by season
you were innocent of the war   of winning & losing

in those days   you marched in dissent   for carnage in Asia
in these nights   you can't read the score of winning & losing!

in this sorry world   happy hands still hasten to help you
don't neglect inshallah   ignore the winning & losing

(xiv)

things are always shifting around   no plan appears final
yet no change of plan   shakes the core   of winning & losing

every map we draw   gets redrawn   on each bracing morrow
by the froth   that's slapping the shore   of winning & losing

what's the paradox   at the crux of every conception?
none's the thought   not tapping the door   of winning & losing

aren't histories in the books   mere hints of an echo?
social fabrics   swathe the decor   of winning & losing

if you dash out thousands of verses   who will this humor?
grows this persiflage   a grand bore   like winning & losing?

when inspired   we soar to the rooftop   lost in elation
then we drop   to flap on the floor of winning & losing

what we are   amounts to a rumor   glimpsed in a mirror
what we're not   adds grace to the score of winning & losing

having tendered summertime berries   or autumn teardrops
may the heart awaken   laved pure of winning & losing

on the bridge of infinite longing   inches are miles
every second packs in an hour   of winning & losing

when you beg your soul for the point   of being or doing
its reply   paints black the white floor   of winning & losing

(xv)

every task perchance is a pretext   who can but fathom
from what timeless flask   you out-pour your winning & losing?

like a shell-game   deft move your hands   concealing the secret!
you reveal   we're daft to adore such winning & losing

must the thread of spiritual search   wax melodramatic?
grows the pearl organically   shorn of winning & losing?

for long years   I dithered with poetry   to scant purpose
I've become impractical!   worn-out   winning & losing

in the land of giants   the normal man is a midget
when the gods go gambling   it dwarfs our winning & losing

with the squash & pumpkin   the natives welcome the pilgrims
by your will   they gather the corn   of winning & losing

on this swing   we float through the morn   & sweep into evening
everything   I hanker to learn   through winning & losing

when you pass the tomb of Hafez   invoke heaven's mercy
that love's pilgrimage be reborn   sans winning or losing

"I have lost again!" cries Jelaluddin   at the chessboard
but this time in fact   he is shorn of winning & losing

in the Mahabharat   where Arjun tarries in trouble
he your sight is granted   that form past winning & losing

(xvi)

the mirage resembles a pool   the pool seems a mirror
but the looking-glass proves a door   of winning & losing

now the door equivocates   closed   will open our longing
you can purchase that   at the store of winning & losing

when the willow peered in the pool   she wept for such beauty
like Narcissus   trapped by the lure of winning & losing

every heartbeat carries two notions   now & tomorrow
we're sustained by what will endure all winning & losing

all the words are dead in the book   until you revive them
they exist   as chalk on the floor of winning & losing

by your gaze   you grant my words life   they live in your breathing
all the birds fly back   at the hour of winning & losing

when they cried "a trisket! a trasket!"   nobody listened
green & yellow laugh   in the form of winning & losing

every fairytale holds terrors   wedded with wonders
don't you wonder   what will be born from winning & losing?

my beloved's hair   is as long as night's longest tale
head to tail it spans   like the lore of winning & losing

Raphael! I plainly beseech you   love without question
like his wife   Jack Spratt won the war of winning & losing

(xvii)

when the hand you seek is afar   the feet seem pathetic
can't they find a path to her door   through winning or losing?

when the heart enjoys her rapport   are feet apathetic?
they create the path   on a floor of winning & losing

neither hands nor feet know the score   & hearts can be broken
we are tanned & blackened & worn out   winning & losing

life is fiction   fiction achieves the feeling of living
there's no juice in fact   till it's torn by winning & losing

do you look to poetry   hoping to find   safe harbor?
refugees drift back   with the lore of winning & losing

at last night's recital   guitar-sitar jugalbandi
from the gypsies' track   the conour of winning & losing

it's the candid cry of the bulbul   that the heart hearkens
shady lies   but quack on the shore of winning & losing

the exquisite note   isn't one   that sounds at full volume
as its play's enacted   it soars   while winning & losing

the santoor   with a hundred strings   tells the softest tale
the ektar's   deep twang   feels the score of winning & losing

in each shape of beauty   she pours some glimpse of her secret
with each swar   Saraswati performs her winnings & losings

(xviii)

seeking truth   gets billed as a craze   & not incorrectly
it's a frame   to shatter all norms of winning & losing

the Madhyamika   views both self & world as but   empty
emptiness   as the basic core   of winning & losing

empty mind   empty the physique   empty the emotions
there's an   emptiness reservoir   in winning & losing

in the lamp of union   they found   no wick & no candle
whiffs of smoke   recalled the lost score of winning & losing

the full voice   arises & falls   regardless of meaning
empty meanings stand   on a shore of winning & losing

with the needle of your perception   pierce this dark language
darkling night   black cat   thought obscure   that winning & losing

though one beat this theme to a pulp   its death isn't witnessed
we've the doom of Kafka   exploring   winning & losing

where the comic   fringes the tragic   merits fine study
the comedo-tragic   is shown   by winning & losing

winning-LOSing!   winning-losING   winning-losing-WINning!
in the Arctic   & Ecuador   they're winning & losing!

Raphael!   stop egging me on!   you scramble my brain!   why
must time's whip   have cracking in store   both winning & losing?

(xix)

what the stones desire   the flowers describe more completely
language blooms   from fragments & bones of winning & losing

what the stars are seeking   the earth explains in translation
you can read spectacular tomes of winning & losing

what the night reported   the day forgot until evening
what the dawn suspected   we learn from winning & losing

I've arrived in Dilli   my heart perhaps resides elsewhere
what is dil?   a taxi for touring winning & losing

in a dargah   where the beloved's fused with the framework
of the world   I prattle no more of winning & losing


MOVED (2 verses):
those who know don't speak   those who speak are lacking in knowing
Lao Tzu's puzzle   raps at the door   of winning & losing

all our lines   were rattles we wore   the tide fetches silence
Meher Baba   shatters the floor   of winning & losing





Raphael!   you've changed your address   who'll forward love's letter?
was your universe   written for   mere winning & losing?



[delete this? or put somewhere else, just prior to Haridwar?]
in the train to Haridwar   happiness travels with me
all the world's a stage (as it were)   of winning & losing

[delete this?]
this hotel is lacking hot water   brisk is the shower
take a bracing bath   then let's tour the winnings & losings



======

(STILL IN PROG . . . last parts very sketchy)


YOUR UNIVERSE: a Ghazal (completed in Haridwar, 22 November 2007;
started in Delhi 27 October 2007, with some intermediate parts
also written in Baroda)


Notes

verse 148 paraphrases & rewrites a couplet from Hafez-i-Shiraz

--------

Saturday, November 3, 2007

in baroda

Baroda is now Vadodara -- a thing I learned, initially, when the Indian Railways website offered no "Baroda" station. This follows the trend of major metros [as they call big cities here] toward de-Britification of municipality-naming: from Bombay to Mumbai, from Madras to Chennai, from Bangalore to Namma Bangaluru, from Calcutta to Chennai, and (as said) from Baroda to Vadodara.

Debarking from my 14-hour "sleeper-class" train bogie [car] just shy of 4 a.m., I thought I might walk to one or another of the couple of nearby hotels whose names I had jotted in my pocket notebook -- the little blue volume a gift of my English student in Beijing, "Lisa" Xiao Ying -- a bright young English-major whose English was more fluent when typing then when conversing; she would prefer sending me detailed text messages rather than answer a mobile phone call and face the problem of figuring out my audible words. We wandered some parts of Beijing for a couple of days, the conversation growing a bit surreal on my part when, sharing a late-night repast at a well-lighted diner not far from lake Hou Hai, I related to her the conversations between the eggplant and the dofu (the eggplant, I think, was the philosophical optimist, the dofu the pessimist -- warning of impending eating). Finally the chopsticks chimed in with additional thoughts. This comprised my most concentrated English lesson. But Xiao Ying also helped me understand the remarks (mostly in Chinese, though with some in English) of the Tibetan beauty, De Qing Wang Mu, to whose "Made in Paradise" botique, adjaent Hou Hai, chance or destiny (depending on whether your view is more eggplant or dofu) had delivered our wandering steps. Before reaching this happy merchantile niche, we first heard the notes of gu zheng played by a musician whose hand-scrawled (Chinese) placard announced his wish or need to sell the instrument. I played a few notes, having first noted I didn't plan to buy the fine instrument. But all this is a half-formed digression into recent Chinese memory . . . jumping off from the blue notebook in which, still, my important daily notes are being entered, including two (so far) lessons from my Vadodara vichitra vina teacher. In whose neighborhood (Ellora Park) I'm internet-cafe-ensconsed at the moment, with 45 minutes to spare before today's (my 3rd) lesson in the astonishing, challenging, endangered-species of an instrument.

"Would you like idlies? We are going . . ." remarks the proprietor of this electric-fan-cooled mini-shop with its 5 terminals (presumably on offer at the local-standard rate of Rs. 15 per hour). No, no idlies required here . . . but I assure the chap I'll watch his shop while he steps out. He's soon back, tuning the radio to filmi music, jury-rigging a USB port for another customer. Such is life in Vadodara.

The shop is on a side street, some 4 meters wide and 8 meters deep, painted bright orange -- usually Hanuman's color; normally, if you see this color by a street mandir, you can expect to see the monkey-god's image therein. Yesterday, I sat in meditation before one such image, up another side road, across the main road from here, -- that image (in enjoyably gaudy colors of orange, green, and a kind of chartreuse) showing the hero lifting the fabled mountain . . . a hagiographic exploint I recalled in one sher of a ghazal, added to the still-growing, prolix poem on my blog:
for the healing herb you   in time's nick   carried the mountain
love reveals such tactical force   in winning & losing
Such, too, is life in Vadodara.

[incomplete & in-prog notes]

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ghazal ("a special form of losing")


You chose me for   a special for of losing
my face is calm   my heart's a storm of losing

I entered college   like the average fellow
but lived like Kafka   in a dorm of losing

I'm getting now   the hang   of conversation
I'm gaining ground   & growing warm   in losing

a hundred voices chatter   bright & blithely
a thousand actions   feel the karm   of losing

I wander parks of greenery   & babble
where golden leaves   the lawn adorn   in losing

the afternoon is bland   the moment lingers
the tissue of the hour is torn   in losing

the sould is never lost   but in its sojourn
it wildly veers   to keep the norm of losing

the game goes on   and to Raphael's credit
his poetry   regains the form of losing



(for Chitra Mudgal)

Song ("Nothing but you") (more or less ghazal)

When I look into the sky   I see nothing but you
when I gaze into your eye   there is nothing not you

though the day is long & weary   and the night shows not an end
though I live or though I die   I see nothing but you

in the market of the merchant   where the price of pearls is high
what I sell & what I buy   contains nothing but you

in the stream of limpid water   when the fish is running free
when the bird begins to fly   I see nothing but you

in the city with its hubbub   every car must honk its horn
red or green though I espy   I see nothing but you

Raphael   the thought you utter   is a thing too plain to speak
even though your lips may lie   I hear nothing not true


==========

song composed Monday morning (29 Oct.), to a melody in raag Bhairavi; and sung (with surpeti drone) as a concluding item in the reading I gave in evening of the same day, at the Opus Lounge, Vasant Vihar, Delhi -- an enjoyable event organized by Delhi Poetree.

Monday, October 29, 2007

ghazal ("the rhythm of your song")


I haven't yet caught   the rhythm   of your song
though having long sought   the rhythm   of your song

in the annals of night   we read how even your friends
initially fought the rhythm   of your song

in every village   they play in pools   of your color
where murthis are wraught   in rhythms   of your song

light's history is preserved   in the banyon's shadow
where students are taught   the rhythm   of your song

where kettles are filled   with water   from this stream
there whistles a pot   in rhythm   with your song

while my hair grows thin   my heart still longs to find you
there thickens a plot   in rhythm   with your song

wherever I look   I see enigmatic pictures
all hover in naught   in rhythm   with your song

not yet have I reached   the city   of your secret
I am still en route   in rythm   with your song

a surprising twist   curls out   from the branch that's breathing
no one learned by rote   all rhythms   of your song

each syllable finds the ridge or groove of feeling
chistled out by thought   in rhythm with your song

from a distant mountain   to her exotic shop
has a merchant brought   the rhythm   of your song?

Raphael   whose pockets kept   dull coins of thinking
perceptively bought   the rhythm   of your song

Thursday, October 25, 2007

ghazal ("only for your ear")


No one hears me!   what if I wait   only for your ear?
I came early!   what if I'm late   only for your ear?

jewel! speak truly   isn't it you   somebody mentioned?
something pearly   might lie in wait   only for your ear

from dim twilight   weren't my ears   sharp & attentive?
dawn soft-girly   eve dark-sedate   only for your ear

phoenix hairpins   could be procured   passing through China
are you curly?   is your hair straight?   only for your ear

through the window   leisurely gait!   languid illusion
through the night   a'droop at my gate   only for your ear

hello stranger!   nice to see you!   how was your journey?
put your feet up!   (ancienet soul-mate!)   only for your ear

some who sit here   seem half-familiar   with the pathetic
thoughts come swirly   feelings florate   only for your ear

mocking smiles   pitying eyes   brush off your dumb poem
Raphael!   I've polished a blind date   only for your ear

ghazal


Who is absent?   who is present?   who is asking?
what if "is"   bleeds into "isn't"?   who is asking?

is the question effervescent?   who is asking?
could the self be evanescent   who is asking?

is it true   the silent painting poses questions?
who will answer?   it's the docent   who is asking

we're aprey   to what's apparent   quiet carnage
does the son   sire the parent?   who is asking?

social circles circulate   they're rarely static
was the party merely pleasant?   who is asking?

for the question that I'm probing   ground needs breaking
here's the loam that tills this peasant   "who is asking?"

asking questions   is the habit of the thinker
one who feels is also present   who is asking

from clear problems to solutions   draw a distance
where the poser's barely nascent   who is asking?

from the posture of the tree   a hundred branches!
for reply of every percent   who is asking?

some find   the question's form   leads to its answer
but mind you   answer this doesn't   who is asking?

by the lane of implication   through the meadow
in the land of ever-wasn't   who is asking?

Raphael!   your merry riddles spin around   but
one who's grinning   squarely isn't   who is asking

ghazal ("without you")


Whatever I do is useless   without you
my arguments prove excuseless   without you

you are the flower   and likewise   you're the fruit
my poetry   remains juiceless   without you

don't you exude the answer   questions yearn for?
mind's monologue   can't produce this   without you

the engine of existence   dwells in your smile
the train of thought   is cabooseless   without you

the world's a mere mirage   cast by your shadow
but how could a man deduce this   without you?

every bloke hankers to bloom   his ego's glory
we're powerless to reduce this   without you

granules of truth   ground the cuisine of meaning
what cook has skill   to couscous this   without you?

your blends of energy   brim with jasmine fragrance
our empty cup   can't infuse this   without you

the sober world that looms   darkly comedic --
what loon could Lenny Bruce this   without you?

I'm up the proverbial creek   lacking a paddle
what savant of streams canoes this   without you?

the bend of the note invoking   depth of feeling --
no artist perfectly blues this   without you

your presence crackles electric   like the raincloud
what weatherman could conduce this   without you?

O slender moon!   you're the alchemy of the night
can day transform my obtuseness   without you?

yours is the veil that hides   and then reveals!
no Salome dance seduces   without you

lies poetry in nearness   or perspective?
what vantage truly enthuses   without you?

yours is the whim behind   facades of reason
no chance anyone chooses   without you

the scope of your gaze isn't just   encyclopedic
illusion's pierced!   we confuse this   without you

adrift in the world   a'float in poetry's bubble --
experience   cannot use this   without you

seven seas of feeling echo   with your laughter
Narcissus   emptiness cruises   without you

reports filed from the front   of beauty's backside --
the blundering world   old news is   without you

that fool Raphael   presumed he might cardsharps ace
his babble but "what the deuce!" is   without you

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

light ghazal ("in China")


This evening I stroll   all around a lake   in China
the girl with me born   in the year of snake   in China

we mention Wang Wei & the Li Sao   over dinner
fresh centuries flow with ancient heartbreak   in China

the charmingest damsel I meet is   a Tibetan
for English lessons   her email I take   in China

musicians from India   fetch we thence   to China
Allah alone knows what might be at stake   in China

that Raphael scrawls   occasional verse   you've noticed?
seems like an old habib he couldn't break   in China

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ghazal ("this moment")


Can scraps of yesterday   ever suffice this moment?
we've got to fight our way   to paradise this moment

your lore   when painted gray   patently hides your story
the shore where palmtrees sway   seems so precise this moment

when round & round she goes   who knows her destination?
the denouement at play   twirls with the dice this moment

each character on stage   blends a bouquet of nuance
by gumbo   this buffet's   spread to entice this moment

I wonder how it works!   that's why I play with language
the marvel of today   teems with device   this moment

a bevy of intrigues   joust in a tiny teahouse
the man in the beret   calls the police   this moment

you cast elegant lines!   when you reel in?   slim pickings
you spend your last cliche   merely concise   this moment

so much one cannot say   hovers in implication
painterly stacks of hay   subtly slice this moment

I'll meet you 'round the bend after the race   inshallah
I've seen the hotshots   hey! they don't play nice   this moment

the wise concur   her cheek plots out the curl of meaning
some girl beside the bay   so satisfies this moment

excuse my breeze through town   I'm on a lethal errand
the soughing of the ney   exacts a price   this moment

a hundred times we've failed   to comprehend bare sunlight
the road to Mandalay's   covered in ice   this moment

I thought I'd proffer garlands   in the rosy season
my pocket   guards a grain or two of rice   this moment

you're tardy   Raphael   but from the lobby   listen!
her single voice conveys   everything twice   this moment

Sunday, October 21, 2007

ghazal ("into the weave of the poem")


How deep can you pierce   into the weave of the poem?
the hand disappears   into the sleeve of the poem

the peering eye blears   panning & sieving the poem
careening who steers?   pulled by the heave of the poem

to sweep through its spheres   null disbelief in the poem
the heart's balladeers   loll on the leaf of the poem

through hours & years   patient   retrieving the poem
hope fending off fears   blindly believing the poem

* * * * * *

if ink perchance smears   painting's conceived in Rabindra
if old   get new ears   quaintly naive in the poem

to hazard careers on   rash irrational gambles
the danger zone nears   then   the reprieve of the poem

strange symmetry steers recitative   in the crow's nest
the symphony tears   into a reef   in the poem

the lamp becomes fierce   seemingly manic-depressive
the laugh becomes tears   sweetly you grieve in the poem

* * * * * *

man booted from Eden   loss is gaining its gesture
solicitude nears   bosomed by Eve   in the poem

the ground of the fall   springs from primordial heartbreak
where pathways appear   all interweave in the poem

night's chanter declares this ink   an ocean of love-notes!
till dawn's chanticleers   let's not take leave of the poem

you love a beloved   hence are the heavens moving
her tress   with star-gears   gets interleaved in the poem

* * * * * *

perfection's her hangout   an inhibiting address!
esteem of one's peers?   petulant peeve of the poem

where writers set snares   Rama himself couldn't see through
iridescent deer   darkly deceive in the poem

a good doctor swears by   what's engraved   in time's marrow
why settle for   merest aperitifs   in the poem?

to tell you the truth   I'm often stunned   with confusion
as dust anon clears   where went the thief?   in the poem

I tended my desk   playing their game   in the office
a stalemate nears?   I've gone on leave   in the poem

* * * * * *

impossible grace   punctured by fate   gets deflated
the clip of the shears   you might perceive in the poem

in dream you descry   nuggets gone gold!   but awaking
the threshing-ground sneers   grainless these sheaves of the poem

creation inspires   yet things require   dissolution
you witness Shakespeare   greet Mahadev   in the poem

to Delhi I've come   seeking a tumbler of ocean!
don't hawk souvenirs   bring me the wave of the poem

sharp entrepreneurs   hone what a hundred heads fancy
might one dull heart hear   what you achieve in the poem?

what architects build   myriads of bodies inhabit
soul's secret frontiers   hide in the eaves of the poem

we face dismal odds   dear Raphael   you ignore them
your countenance cheers   even conceiving the poem

Friday, October 19, 2007

ghazal ("my life")


I wouldn't go   so far as to say   I've wasted my life
if bitterly   yet sweetly today   I've tasted my life

in editing   the author of fate   shows surgical zeal
it's startling   how cutting away   he's pasted my life

on pilgrimage   the shoes must be shed   & then you bow low
at every step   it's proper to pray   while pacing through life

in youth I leaned   toward falling in love   at drop of a hat
grown old   how draw (she shoos me away)   her waiste in my life?

why needle me?   I'm mixing the brew   that bubbles with joy!
your poison glance   with little dismay   is laced in my life

if news-breaks blare   some newspapers say "the blood flowed like ink"
with dawn's quiet crack   can none your soiree   erase from my life

exploring roadways rarely described   on regular maps
aren't finest pearls   if widely I stray   encased in my life?

at fifty   can you mount new careers   in painting & film?
dismount time   is when Yama's display   is placed in my life

why's Raphael   a'brew with fat plans   embracing the globe?
a slender moon   with branches a'sway   I've faced in my life

ghazal ("how poetry operates")


I've lately been struggling to see   how poetry operates
observe   in a company of three   how poetry operates

when she you feel powerless to seek   embodies the soul's ideal
engage   intermediarily   how poetry operates

in language   the energy lies where?   why wax theoretical?
locked in   show by groping for the key   how poetry operates

the trill of the songbird deconstructs   its golden captivity
by dreaming   the prisoner might free   how poetry operates

how song is the shimmer of the dream   implies through the vertical
(through A   shines a glimmering of Z)   how poetry operates

is hazard   endemic to the road   of artistry's pilgrimage?
what scholar   can glibly guarantee   how poetry operates?

we stew in our superficial brew   till she deigns to fish us out
transforming like wine   or else like brie   how poetry operates

the play of the generous   is glimpsed in language's labyrinth
you smuggle   through coverings of me   how poetry operates

some poets grow terribly intrigued with   cosmic conspiracy
some lean   feel the gravity   & ski!   how poetry operates

the point of society involves   the beauty of courtesy
in archways of solitude we see   how poetry operates

when begging the operator for   your telephone numeral
she whispers   "ask zero one two three   how poetry operates!"

I'd love to hear Raphael expound   his muddled philosophy
mud shows   longing for the wide sea   how poetry operates

Thursday, October 18, 2007

ghazal ("where have you gone?")


When candidly I ask   where have you gone?
with silence as your mask   where have you gone?

beyond the effervescence of beginnings
where empty sits the flask   where have you gone?

you were so bounteous   with hope & promise
let me take you to task   where have you gone?

inadequate   proves every explanation
flowing from reason's cask   where have you gone?

a basket filled with figs   for Cleopatra!
she mentioned death by asp   where have you gone?

when jewelers spread their wares   beware the dazzle
where price exceeds your grasp   where have you gone?

the musk-deer went in search   of heady fragrance
our hearts desire your musk   where have you gone?

I lose you   in a hundred lines of discourse
forgive me if I'm brusque   where have you gone

I meant "where are you?"   not "what was the menu?"
forget tomato bisque   where have you gone?

the chick within its nest   is sitting pretty!
one rude push   comes with risk   where have you gone?

no rice within the bag?   in floral districts
the water trade is brisk   where have you gone?

we'd go to endless concerts in that city
of Debussy & Liszt   where have you gone?

such tales of light resounded   like a dream-world!
before our eyes could bask   where have you gone?

that heist was so banal!   I'd call it hackneyed
the de rigueur ski-mask?   where have you gone?

they say   you've moved to India   for your painting!
sounds rather Gauguinesque   where have you gone?

deep poets absorb Tasawwuf   morn & evening
till such a cup is quaffed   where have you gone?

Farhad!   don't yet describe your wondrous needle!
until the mountain's cleft   where have you gone?

Majnun was like the other lads   till Laila's
stray glance set him adrift   "where have you gone?"

I thought I caught your scent   but then you vanished
here winds forever waft   where have you gone?

for Raphael you posed   demented riddles
he's lost it   & gone daft   where have you gone?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ghazal ("improvised")


I'll show you my hand   my life of late   is improvised
as time reels me in   I cry   "the bait   was improvised?"

who knows how the map of fortune finds   its imprint here?
the way that you might meet your soul-mate   seems improvised

if crookedness comes most naturally   we learn to curl
geometries of the sharp & straight   aren't improvised

we've scope to make plans   when things appear   half-knowable
our program   where unknown worlds await   is improvised

though tardy in life   I'm studying sastri sangeet
the timeliness in my balding pate   is improvised

the currents of conversation   bring astonishment
the course that the boatmen navigate   is improvised

emotional language can spark   a creative ring
harangues of a man waxing irate   are improvised

when Valmiki sat in dhyana   and the bird was felled
the sloka of one compassionate   was improvised

you glimpse her perhaps across the room   & go to chat
the banter that might lead to a date   is improvised

a camera-dealer from Fez   managed to hoodwink me
the train of thought carrying this freight   was improvised

distinguishing real from false   refines the amateur
the mesh of mind   when we meditate   is improvised

cacophony in the marketplace   is marvelous
the stall fashioned from a mango crate   is improvised

the size of the shoe you seek here   is negotiable
the measure with which they calibrate   was improvised

the birth of the soul!   but you've said   soul is infinite
whatever birthday we celebrate   is improvised

tell me what it means   to spend my life with poetry?
this coin that I spend   if marked by fate   is improvised

for paying the bills   one needs   a certain livelihood
the prospects of my uncertain state   are improvised

new notions appear   from disparate points of origin
the breezes that can cross-pollinate   are improvised

each hour of the day requires   a differing melody
the music that we anticipate   is improvised

religion & science each describe   your unseen face
the features that they extrapolate   are improvised

no sooner we blinked   we gazed upon your   curving cheek
are dreams that the heavens allocate   just improvised?

our yearning for you is basic   like the earth itself
the song that the valleys resonate   is improvised

I wanted to find a sweetheart   who might kiss my brow
imaginings are most delicate   when improvised

the path to her heart   is not described by fixed ideas
can Salome's dance decapitate?   it's improvised

this darbar has yet to hear   the poetry I seek
what Brahma's reluctant to create   is improvised

perhaps Saraswati's vina hides   my final home
the hovels my thoughts now cogitate   are improvised

I've travelled the world a little bit   and washed up here
the waving hand   as it raps your gate   is improvised

verandahs of antique poetry   seem scalable!
occasions when they defenestrate   are improvised

I trained myself in qafia & radif   you know
now beher   the cadence with its gait   I improvise

I've never been schooled in Urdu like   Mirza Ghalib
his elegance I impersonate   is improvised

that Raphael has a heart   we learn through inference
its beat   drumming up a lavish plate   is improvised

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ghazal


Each morning arrives   from a distance hard to fathom
with slumber it strives   from a distance hard to fathom

the lure that would hoodwink the fish   spans air & water
one flounders or thrives   from a distance hard to fathom

the internet opens a window   on life's causeway
they advertise wives   from a distance hard to fathom

the call center fielding your question   plays at banter
in manners contrived   from a distance hard to fathom

old films & recordings reel out   the voice of dead men
still talking their jive   from a distance hard to fathom

when Mahapralaya has halted   every story
the world will revive   from a distance hard to fathom

stray childhood feelings return   in wizened musings
dim glimmers survive   from a distance hard to fathom

industrious bees   having swarmed   retain their culture
reconvening hives   from a distance hard to fathom

the conceits of reincarnation   are too surreal!
fabricating lives   from a distance hard to fathom

the circus is chok-a-blok   with amusing side-shows
some pummelling knives   from a distance hard to fathom

while the band plays on   see the deaths & births & dramas!
partiers high-five   from a distance hard to fathom

considering this   Raphael   why are you pensive?
everyone swan-dives   from a distance hard to fathom

Monday, October 15, 2007

ghazal


Experiments may be conducted   in isolation
diseases are never contracted   in isolation

the life of the world is collective   like puzzle pieces
each scene of the play though enacted   in isolation

each day of the life is a question   awaiting answer
experience must be dissected   in isolation

sitar doesn't emulate Western   orchestral music
the voice gets completely perfected   in isolation

a million droplets are seeking   to reach the ocean
each dot on the pane is rejected   in isolation

solutions are finally reported   in public briefings
the clues of the crime were detected   in isolation

the thread running throughout the ghazal   is strong confusion!
bewilderment's pearls are inspected   in isolation

we seek you in every desire   and every question
your myriad forms get depicted   in isolation

embodiment's prison   while public   feels deeply private
each solitude cell seems a study   in isolation

where Raphael's thirsting for knowledge   the clouds drift distant
his garden has not been neglected   in isolation

the impulse to love is implicit   in every valley
we live below mountains impacted   in isolation

should Raphael die from his pining   a lonesome stranger
please title his volume "collected   in isolation"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

ghazal


I'm just a croaking frog   and nothing more
a wisp of urban smog   and nothing more

the flow of language moves through veins & breathings
I'm here to clear the clog   and nothing more

do warblers ever tire of crazy singing?
I'm barking like a dog   and nothing more

each moment brings another wave of music
my life's an open blog   and nothing more

what was the point of name & fame & glamor?
suave falling from a log   and nothing more

some feel the universe   a dream of Kafka's
some say   he lived in Prague and nothing more

should I awake from Maya's dark deception
I'll mutter "guten tag"   and nothing more

religion gets diluted through convention
is Christmastide eggnog   and nothing more?

the wheel of time's too vast for comprehension
I'm living as a cog   and nothing more

don't bid farewell   if Raphael should exit
he's going for a jog   and nothing more