Saturday, January 26, 2013

After Hafez

There is no pen that has the tongue to tell   love's tenebrous secret
beyond the ken of words e'en sung right well       ineffable longing


earlier version (but I now favor the above one):

There is no pen that has the tongue        to tell love's deep religion
beyond the ken of words e'en sung right well lies longing's region

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"The penumbra of sweet" [gatha]

Blue seems most lovely    when framing gold light
snow proves most charming    adjacent room's heat
day attains meaning    recalled amid night
bitter expounds    the penumbra of sweet


occasioned by (or riffing on) an unusual snow-scene photo (posted to Facebook) by David Hykes

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Purloining Versifier's Lament [ghazal]

O when might Hafez find himself   in English perfectly?
couplets he's scrawled & signed himself   in English perfectly?

'twill never happen!  say   the savvy never-happen-sayers
(though he'd ne'er be unkind himself   in English perfectly)

he's said to be the Farsi poet   perfectly unwilling
to drunkenly unwind himself   in English perfectly

what is this reticence Poet abstemious!   mere shyness?
you've never wined nor dined yourself   in English perfectly?

if senseless Raphael he'd lend   Suleiman's storied goblet
Hafez might heart-&-mind himself   in English perfectly


Suleiman's goblet:  the chalice of King Solomon, which (in Islamic literary lore) is ascribed wonderful properties.

[Admittedly, this poem is merely a sort of intellectual amusement -- written in response to discussions about the various attempts by English-language poets to give translations and "versions" from the celebrated 14th century Persian poet Hafez.]

Friday, January 18, 2013

After Hafez [couplet]

The traveler on the way endures     incessant tribulations!
with love as your constant guide you quell a thousand complications

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Waiting for you" [ghazal]

How do you guys handle this waiting without going off the rails?
- Leah Johnston  [as posted to a Facebook discussion group]

Now we're going right off the rails    waiting for you
twirling twigs amid senseless gales    waiting for you

you are everywhere!  you are in everything!   why then
are we chasing our own damn tails    waiting for you?

when you grant a ruinous sip     of your ruby wine
life's insipid fare thenceforth pales     waiting for you

on our pilgrimage    who lies hidden in each stray stone
while we wander through hills & dales    waiting for you?

nothing to seek! save what's sequestered   deep the heart 
God dwells everywhere   yet our tale is   waiting for you

is your silence an open secret    waiting to stun?
we continue   when all else fails    waiting for you

when you hinted how Raphael    might attain your kiss
was there mention of  thorns & nails   waiting for you?


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Paradox of Moth & Warbler (after Saadi)

O morning warbler!    you who love to sing!
forth from obscurity    yon moth might bring
love's meaning    singed amid the flame of loving
see how she burns    yet utters not a thing!

who speaks of such a burning    barely
knows it!
who dives in fire is dead!    who'll then disclose it?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hwy 5 heading south

Stopping for gas    while Richard Strauss is playing
three & a half hours yet    before LA
what is the music's    lyric flow displaying?
this is a thing our words    can barely say

(January 13, 5:09 pm)

Hari Hara (1/13/13)

May peace & joy         greet Harihar

who carried music            very far

within whose name are names conjoined

of Lord Vishnu         & Lord Shankar

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

For Harihar Rao (January 21, 1927 - January 13, 2013)


A Winter Sojourn [English shi ]

Now back at home    after seven hundred miles
my weekend jaunt    up to Walnut Creek again
we live amid    a wintery dream of smiles
though spring is prone    to spring back into our ken

as fall is apt    to fall back into the plot
and summer's likewise    crouching amid the piles
of bricks that build    the fantasy game we've got 
when back at home    after seven hundred miles

Friday, January 11, 2013

Riffing with Ladinsky

I saw God laughing
(though few can see God)
I see him giraffing
and in the earthclod
he's making his nod
as a tree with breeze wafting
more lovely than odd
to behold the Lord laughing


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ode to Plankton [sonnet]

A hidden green protects the world at large
far-distant oceans freshen air & land
life follows laws of chemistry & charge
the vast schematic intricately planned

from plankton oxygen is formed & freed
it flows into the atmosphere afresh
replenishing a hidden vital need
a factor requisite within the mesh

of myriad forms that constitute our world
a lok we share through cyclic birth & death
see how the mass of green is kindly curled
its amplitude sustaining human breath!

how widely spread life's wonderments of design?
on primal seas does Lord Naràyan recline!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


2013: first verses

Blithe Balderdash (in a sequence of 7 rhythms)


Yan can cook
  & Yu can fish

man can hook
  & spoon can dish

foot could run
  & time might fly
storm may stun
  but tongue won't lie


in the pitter-patter
  of the falling of the rain
if the droplets splatter
  is there any loss or gain?

in the rolly-polly
  of the tumble of the rocks
is the mountain wholly
  but a panoply of shocks?


only the parrot
  can parse what the pear
mused to the carrot
  in love & despair

 only the lonely
  discover in words
how they are only
  an extract of birds


"zoom!"   uttered the car
  "whoosh!"   answered the gust
"whom?"   wondered the star
   "naught"   muttered the dust


the leaf of the page    was wondering blankly
if grieving & rage    were blundering frankly

but when the caboose  was unloosed from the train
both curse & excuse  were washed clean down the drain


all   that's left    in silence?
hints   of rose   & violins


where's   the doormat   that spells out   "home"?
there   feet rat-tat   while heart shouts   "Om!"