Monday, February 25, 2013

Sonnet responsive to a proscription attributed to Linji

"When you meet a master swordsman, show him your sword.
When you meet a man who is not a poet, do not show him your poem."

-- Línjì Yìxuán (臨濟義玄) [circa 9th century AD]

When you meet a man who isn't dead
don't share with him your mordant thoughts
when you meet a man don't give him bread
if he's not given to baking lots

When you meet a man who's not a mouse
you might allow you're not a cat
when you meet a man forget your house
if he wears no architectural hat

When you meet a man who doesn't swim
why show him you can plumb the deeps?
when you meet a man disclose no whim
if he doesn't dig whimsical peeps

When you meet a man who's not a poet
if you've got a poem decline to show it

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Lost & found" [gnomic verse]

Lost & found in the woods of the words!
          tossed & drowned in the sea!
most astounding the songs of the birds
                 love abounding in me


Verse occasioned & inspired by a Facebook status update by poet Koyamparambath Satchidanandan, who wrote:
  • O, I have lost my way in a forest of words. I see many passages in front of me, some narrow, some wide, some wild, some clear, some dark, some bright..Cannot recall which is the one leading to poetry.I can hear the waterfall, can smell the flowers, hear the trumpeting winds and the roaring rains... Is this a nightmare or language? Woods or words? Beasts or beats? Lanes or lines?Are there rhymes of prey? And metrical forests? Streams of similes? Mountains of metaphors? Winged adjectives and four-legged adverbs? Tailed nouns and horned verbs? Dictionaries are full of pug marks. Prepositions laugh like the hyena. Conjunctions bark like the barking deer...Lost, lost , lost.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"When you listen" [gnomic verse]

You keep the eyes open   to see
you keep the mouth shut   when you listen
if speaking connotes liberty
yet silence makes everything glisten

Saturday, February 16, 2013

World & Eye

The world looms large   the eye looks small
               but this is mere illusion
the facets of the world are all
               in all of their profusion

projections of   the self who sees
within the heart   he's at his ease


[these lines seek to paraphrase Meher Baba]

Friday, February 8, 2013

"Like a double dare" [gnomic verse]

Retaining credibility   while losing all one's hair?
                my whiskers wax whiter than snow
if aging has utility   it's like a double-dare
        as drops dare to merge with the flow


Verse inspired by (and riffing on) a reading of George Packer's blog post, "Loose Thoughts on Youth and Age" [at]

Friday, February 1, 2013

Famous final tweets [gnomic verses]

What of famous final tweets?
when buried we text no more
yet the cosmos soon repeats
each word on a yonder shore

thus does the publishing proceed
in echo-chamber broadcast
happy the soul who now might heed
the chance that has not yet passed

might status updates yet still be filed
from various spheres of being?
the chronicle of our states compiled
for various eyeballs' seeing?

O what is our final home? (you ask)
discovering that's the tweeter's task