Friday, December 31, 2010

a gnomic verse

looking forward to looking back
facing outward while gazing in
secrets stowed in a public sack
motionless turns the swiftest spin

Sunday, December 19, 2010

ditty concerning the question of the illiteracy of Kabir

It was penned without a pen
and composed without a pose
it was known some long-lost then
but away alas it flows

visage sans verbiage (rubai)

on the London underground
Meher Baba's face is found
by the Brit Museum blurb
is the verbless visage nouned

Saturday, December 18, 2010

after Kabir

A dog am I and my master's Ram
around my neck he a chain has drawn
whatever way he's inclined the leash
that very way has my saunter gone

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rubai (this & that)

You can own a dog but can only feed a cat
you can buy a house but can merely wade a sea
you might pocket this and yet barely dream of that
when you question seem do you rarely answer be?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

rubai: "the lingering smile"

Nāgārjuna's rabbit from Derrida's hat?
the selfless itself a magician at that
Nāgārjuna hatless & Jacques sans a head?
the lingering smile belongs to the cat

for Rajiv Mudgal

Friday, July 30, 2010

rubai: "what are words?"

Back to words from silence once again
back to sunlight in the wake of rain
what are words? can anybody say?
back to something words cannot explain

Sunday, July 25, 2010

sher: signs of the times

Diminished grandiosity   increased sophistication
by valuing velocity   we've slighted contemplation

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Century City ditty

By Avenue of the Stars   I enter a building
they dub this half-mile of earth   Century City
everybody works!   to such imperatives yielding
I apply for a modest job   Ganesh have pity!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"An exquisite piece of meaningless versification" [villanelle]

An exquisite piece of meaningless versification
is this a description of what I generally do here?
it's hard to explain without noting reincarnation

is poetry culture's placebo? what information
is purveyed by the mumbo-jumbo we oft' pursue here
in exquisitries of meaningless versification?

nirvana (mutually assured destruction)'s relation
to moksha (freedom's release) isn't spankingly new here
it's hard to explain without noting reincarnation

say you're riding a train & passing many a station
with your nose to the window lost in the scenic view here?
an exquisite piece of meaningless versification

say you're running on empty striving for integration
what's the context wherein the pieces at last congrue here?
it's hard to explain without noting reincarnation

the finger that points to the moon is an indication
denoting the obvious like what we oft' review here
an exquisite piece of meaningless versification
it's hard to explain without noting reincarnation


poem occasioned by this paragraph:
From the very start, the American reception of yoga was a blend of rhapsodic spiritualism and harder-nosed skepticism. In 1857, inspired by the burgeoning Orientalist intellectual movement, Emerson published a poem titled "Brahma" in the very first issue of the Atlantic magazine. Emerson's poem played with the yogic idea of nondualism: Everything is god; difference is illusory. "Sunlight and shadow are the same," he wrote. Prefiguring mainstream impatience that remains to this very day, the New York Times called the poem an "exquisite piece of meaningless versification." Needless to say, that didn't impede the transcendentalist fascination with the mystical East.
from this article: Why Americans Love Yoga [at]

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spiritual calculations [ditty]

There are forty thousand words per novel?
there are sixty thousand breaths per week
should you breathe within a novel hovel
you'd exceed two billion ways to seek

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"On silence day" (ghazal)

If it's not my fate to accomplish my aim   at least I've tried
so the dice were loaded at start of the game?   at least I've tried

is the cosmos one big fiasco?   this pantomime spells what?
if I can't discern what's behind form & name   at least I've tried

every stone is a token of something   each leaf inkles life
if such vivid efforts prove futile & vain   at least I've tried

on silence day all the monkey business goes on like normal
if from monkey-chatter I'll rarely refrain   at least I've tried

Raphael you're over fifty?   go browse the scrawl on the wall
"if I've failed to kindle an undying flame   at least I've tried"

on silence day (Wikipedia)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Questions of identity on Venice Boulevard

With Borges amid my Trader Joe's bag   I enter the local bank
"there's another David R. Israel" the teller tells the one called "I"
that I am myself instead of that guy   what being have I to thank?
who jots these thoughts on the 33 bus till Beethovan Street comes by?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

ditty: "tacit witness"

The merciless is never truly merciless
the ruthless proves a higher form of ruth
if misery highlights unrealized happiness
is falseness tacit witness to the truth?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

ditty: "less talkative"

If poets woo the unspeakable to their desks
heads nodding what do they chat about I wonder?
such a tête à tête's unspeakably brief I guess
terse lightning being less talkative than thunder


[The verse's first line (less the "if") is borrowed from Donald Hall.]

Thursday, June 24, 2010

sort-of ballade: "even in death the scenes are stunning"

Sleeping I dreamed my ears were burning
waking I found my nose was running
boating I note the seas are churning
even in death the scenes are stunning

laughing aface ambush discerning
scowling afoot amid the cunning
deep in its sky an earth is turning
even in death the scenes are stunning

looking for love embrace pure yearning
seeking for work avoid wry punning
sylvan decor's a'flood with ferning
even in death the scenes are stunning

broken in life the heart is learning
righting by death the writer's funning
all this just to adjust the kerning?
even in death the scenes are stunning

beat the tattoo! repeat (ears burning)
sleeping I dreamed my tears were running
humor's not some dry dream for spurning
even in death the scenes are stunning

Friday, May 28, 2010

If meditation depends on language

If meditation depends on language
what does language depend on?
what language you use depends on
what speech has reached your ears
until you have made it your own
and it seems to belong with you
as much as the thought you've known

If meditation depends on language
what does language depend on?
language depends on society
that surrounds the soul in living
until death enforces a change
and again the burst of migration
submersed in mind's own station

If meditation depends on language
what does language depend on?
it depends on the soul's vibration
translated into chattering thought
like breathing always it's spinning
like a top without end or beginning
by what mystery was it wraught?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ditty: "poetry first"

Poetry first: but what comes first in poetry?
before the word comes silence long & deep
the primal mover proves well-versed in poetry
before the silence? primordial sleep
before the sleep? the root (wot those who know a tree)
indeed the height as well (quoth those who keep
an eye out for the ways of mountains steep)
dwells in something akin to olden poetry
who lose themselves may win that golden poetry


responsive to Rachel Dacus's statement, "New rule: poetry first, everything else second."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

ghazal: "how many?"

How many lingoes & lands have our tongues voiced?
how many pleas & commands have our tongues voiced?

every cell has a voice? every cloister broods?
how many fingers & hands have our tongues voiced?

the voice's orchestra pit brews persuasion
how many ifs buts & ands have our tongues voiced?

if even God has a voice where does he speak?
how many impotent plans have our tongues voiced?

amid voiceless night what might her silence mean?
how many Custer's-last-stands have our tongues voiced?

with Raphael's account having gone awry
how many steps of the dance have our tongues voiced?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

as the crow flies

As the flow cries sweetly home
far-wandering through the land
discursively preaching "roam!"
-- to the stones' glee

as the crow flies fleet alone
meandering on the wind
recursively reaching home
-- to the grown tree

Friday, May 7, 2010

ballade: "One minute is so minute"

One minute is so minute
one hour is likewise brief
the wise were presumed astute
could they apprehend the thief?
we've barely a chance to rhyme
'ere felled in the dance of time
too costly that martian quest!
one minute on earth seems best

Our minute is so minute
our hour is not our own
a second if time's first fruit
what second exists alone?
a second is first? absurd!
it's clearly the "second" word!
does "first" last a second? say
who's flummoxed the livelong day?

A minute is most minute
and yet not small as a second!
a second would play first flute
whenever our fancy beckoned
first fiddle we play all hour
the music all ours so seems
persuasion if love's first flower
who garners the fruit of dreams?

A minute might seem minute
within it: an hour of dreams
when ravished by time the loot
resides in the lute meseems

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

rubai (borrowing a sentence from Stephen Dobyns)

The poem's intention is found both
within the meaning of its words and in its sound

the forest's dimension's unwound both
by the ascension of its birds and by its ground

-- the spirit seeks a body for expression
-- soul's lingo leads to infinite digression

the river's extension's an outgrowth
of darkling keening till light's surging sea is found

Friday, April 30, 2010

for a would-be "poet laureate of the blogosphere"

To be a virtual poet laureate's no mere virtual honor
to be the emperor of ice cream is no mere dairy dream
if poetry's what one finds when losing one's way how's the runner
(turtle or hare) to pace her sprint? how strange our journeys seem

Responsive to Rachel Dacus's "hat in ring" post.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The majestic peacock struts & preens
even though not sporting Levi jeans
don't tell me a winsome stride's unique
to pert sloe-eyed humans in their teens

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Is it an audacity to praise an audacity? perhaps
is it perspicacity to glimpse perspicacity? perhaps
this world is dubbed a mystery because it transcends comprehension
can we gain capacity to measure capacity? perhaps

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A consideration

If ignorance is bliss
nigh nirvan is this button
it nils whatever is
it kills sans blood or cuttin'
you've neither need nor time
to waste on viewing this?
come click joy's paradigm
if ignorance is bliss

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I remember how girls would play house
grown men today cultivate FarmVille
if a preferable addiction to sauce
in some suburb of do-no-harm-ville
with dramatics from Cecil B. DeMille
do they plow to the cadence of Straus?
everyone's gotta find a way to chill
I remember how girls would play house

a Tukaram verse (on words)

Words are the only jewels I've got
words are the only clothes I wear
verbal victuals sustain my lot
logos the sole largesse I share
quoth Tuka "behold the Word! God is He!
through words is his worship performed by me"


[English tweaked & versified by yours truly, working from a version quoted here]

Saturday, April 17, 2010

rubai occasioned by an intellectual exchange

The status of the river is never quo
the stillness of the cloud is a constant flow
that tale is best retold from start to end
whose gist (alas) is a thing I've yet to know

Friday, April 16, 2010

rubai from a Clarington Avenue seat

I sit at the foot of Clarington on a railroad track   & listen
from Highway 10 sounds an ocean of cars   slow April windshields glisten
long out of work am I out of luck?   a vernal breeze wafts delicate
the thing I've sought I have yet to find   ergo I have yet a mission

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

rubai responsive to a tweet

You can say that again (so to speak)
in Italian Chinese or Greek
what we find is an endless expanse
of unknowing the thing that we seek

responsive to @DAVID_LYNCH: "Sometimes it's difficult to put in words or even think what it is that we are all looking for."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The bug

The bug amid the experiment   am I  
as snug as a bug in a rug   (the saying goes)  
what need to breathe   a nigh-predestined sigh?  
like any surrendering bug   I twirl my toes  
& think things!   each conjecture (might I suppose?)  
marks a pawn's stroll   on a chessboard few descry  
planets swirl   a hidden stream (like clockwork) flows  
the bug amid the experiment   am I

[Poem occasioned by encountering an] Owl box

Movie starlets in a prior existence?
if such trans-species reality TV
continues beyond this owl-box instance
could a spy-cam nab Paramatma's wide sea?


inspired by Molly and Babies Color Camera

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Not a sparrow falls

"I believe it! although it's insanity"
quoth a sparrow (who fell by the will of God)
how might such things go for humanity?
who may oft expel "by the will of God"
as an adage (held amid breath & thought
as its meanings meld luminous & fraught)
fraught with paradox (showing urbanity?)
"I believe it although it's insanity"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

elegy for a Chennai wasp

r.i.p. oh such a mad wasp
did Sharanya drive you crazy?
no one judges you a bad wasp
we've no cause to call you lazy
but your grip was worse than hazy!
on your tomb: "here lies one sad wasp
thought a damsel was a daisy
ergo swatted-by-her-dad wasp"


for Sharanya Manivannan, memorializing her experience (as relayed initially in a Facebook status message).

Lately I seem more inclined to post witty ditties here, than "serious poetry". :-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Conversation with a Fish

The fish was held aloft by the curl of smoke
the lady looked at the creature eye-to-eye
quoth lady "life at times seems quite the joke"
"it's a dreamy sea of tears" did the fish reply

The fish was held aloft as the ash grew long
ash dangling from the lady's fine cigar
quoth lady "life at times seems a lucid song"
"like a fish that needs" (quoth fish) "a racing car"

The fish was held aloft -- who can tell me why?
did it have a peculiar secret to express?
"the world's a spoof" quoth fish with sober eye
quoth lady "life is a no in search of yes"

(an impromptu for Nitoo Das)

Occasioned by a photograph (posted on Facebook)