ofthisandthat

Poetry
SUNSETS ....

That time of year thou mayst
   in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none,
   or few, do hang
Upon these boughs which
   shake against the cold ....
                    ... Shakespeare

An old dog
following his master ----
Growing old together
                    ... Herman Van Rompuy
                        President, European Council


Old man, bent over,
cane grasped, walks daily ---
Spirit unbroken
                    ... Arshad M Khan


THE BIRD

I caught a bird once ...
So beautiful, I was afraid to let it go --
So beautiful, I held it tight ...
So tight ... so tight ...
When I opened my hand a little,
Just a little, then more ...
There it lay ... lifeless.

        ... Arshad M Khan


Listen! the bulbul
singing its leaping trills --
Shafts of piercing joy ...

     
 ... Arshad M Khan


Passing through walls hurts human beings, they get sick from it,
but we have no choice.
It's all one world.  Now to the walls.
The walls are a part of you.
One either knows that, or one doesn't ; but it's the same for
everyone
except small children.  There aren't any walls for them.

                                 ...
from Tomas  Transtromer's Vermeer --
                                      Robert Bly translation

Oh, those streams we ford; those bridges we cross --
The streams dry, the bridges self-destruct ....

To linger on in memory -- faint -- as
the fading shadow darkens --

But the call of the bulbul -- brightly etched in
my mind still makes my heart leap.

                 
       ... Arshad M Khan



THE TIDE RISES, THE TIDE FALLS

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveler hastens toward the town,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveler to the shore,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

  ... Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


RANDOM CHAOS

Still those lips and
quiet the rushing waves --
The moon paints all silver as
it traverses the sky ...

These churning waters are
no slave to lunar tides;
they follow no master
in their random chaos.

   ... Arshad M Khan





What are flowers
but food for the soul on earth --
The Spring feast awaits ...

        ... Arshad M Khan

Spring too, very soon!
They are setting the scene for it --
plum tree and moon.

    ... Basho     

Birdsong in the trees
Daffodils ... pure white and gold
quiver in the breeze

    ... Arshad M Khan




And indeed there will be time ...

... I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a further room
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all --
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase.
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume? ...

.
.. T S Eliot -- The Long Song of J Alfred Prufrock


UNDER THE DENSE FOREST CANOPIES

When I think of the earth
spinning on its axis
and around the sun,

And I -- upon it -- unaware

I think of the gods, demons,
and worlds swirling
inside your head

And I outside -- so close -- unaware

What keeps us so near ... and so far ---

Under the dense forest canopies where
not a drop of rain pierces through

         ...
Arshad M Khan


People cling to the rock that
crushes them -- Nikolai Gogol
 
THE PRECIPICE

Lead me to the precipice,
Lead me to the brink --
Let me conquer my fears
... enough ...
To stop my knees shaking
... not enough ...
That I feel able to leap ...

.
.. Arshad M Khan


And it is better
Thus to turn
And blacken
Sheets of paper
Than to trace
These patterns
With my fingers
On your skin?

... Wendy Cope





THREE HAIKU

Windshield wipers slap
away moment by moment
the truck driver's life

Autumn ... trees blazing
color, shed their leaves ... to
bare bony old limbs

The mountain roared
Trees snapped like twigs and burned --
Now, green shoots sprouting ...

             
... Arshad M Khan


AND THREE MORE

Along this road
Not one traveler goes
This autumn night

Moonlight slanting through
this long bamboo grove --
A cuckoo cries ...

Summer grasses --
All that remains
Of soldiers' dreams

      
... Basho



A letter from America drove me out again, started me walking
through the luminous June night in the empty suburban streets
among newborn districts without memories, cool as blueprints.

Letter in my pocket.  Half-mad, lost walking, it is a kind of prayer.
Over there evil and good actually have faces.
For the most part with us it's a fight between roots, numbers,
shades
of light.

The people who run death's errands for him don't shy from daylight.
They rule from glass offices.  They mill about in the bright sun.
They lean forward over a desk, and throw a look to the side ...

                 ...
Tomas Transtromer --
                     Robert Bly translation





THE LONG DARK ROAD

Dreams today, hopes tomorrow,
memories of yesterday ...

In the world of being ...

It is the night of a million stars
and the doors shut us in

Nothing can shine upon us
in a has-been democracy

Witches and goblins
walk down the long dark road

As the young girl smiles a
broad white smile

 .
.. Arshad M Khan



Late autumn labyrinth.
At the entry to the woods a thrown-away bottle.
Go in.  Woods are silent abandoned houses this time of year.
Just a few sounds now:  as if someone were moving twigs around
carefully with pincers
or as if an iron hinge were whining feebly inside a thick trunk.
Frost has breathed on the mushrooms and they have shriveled up.
They look like objects and clothing left behind by people who've
disappeared.
It will be dark soon.  The thing to do now is to get out
and find the landmarks again:  the rusty machine out in the field
and the house on the other side of the lake, a reddish square
intense as
a bouillon cube. ...

                 ... Tomas Transtromer --
                     Robert Bly translation   


THE COOING OF A DOVE

Morning quiets the dawn,
the house is still --
For a moment the chorus of
birds singing out their joy
of another day is muted --
No traffic noise, it's Sunday ...

Of a sudden, the stillness is broken --
A lone dove cooing ...

I am back half a world away ...
To summers, sleeping out on the lawn in
pre-air conditioning days to escape the
brick oven of a house steaming out its
heat over the course of a night --
Cots, beds, mosquito nets carted out and
brought back in by servants --
It is the routine of summer.

There under the mosquito net looking at
a clear sky of stars in the night -- sleeping --
And waking to the cooing of a dove --

The peaceful night is broken once in a
rare while by rain -- ah! welcome rain --
To quench the heat -- but a commotion of
servants and adults moving the whole
shebang to the verandah -- still breathing heat
though now bearable in the rain's cooling air --
Beds damp, clammy -- though
sleep conquers all, the sleep of a child ...

Most nights, waking up to a still, cool morning --
Waking up to the cooing of a dove ... or  ...
the buzzing of an interloper -- a mosquito now
several times its size of nighttime --

Splat! its gorged with blood -- mine!
It's time to face the real world --
A colonial, now IMF/World Bank, mosquito.

             .
.. Arshad M Khan


DOG CHAIN

My daughter brought me a dog;
He has chained me ... .
I had to leave once,
But had to come right back --
He wouldn't eat --
He has chained me with invisible fetters,
The invisible fetters of love.

              
 ... Arshad M Khan


THE ROSE BUSH

Look at the rose bush --
One by one the buds open,
flower, scent the air ... wither
and fall ... leaving their seeds.

-- Arshad M. Khan


DRAGONFLY

Dragonfly
Dead on the snow
How did you come so high
Did you leave your seed child
In a mountain pool
Before you died

... Gary Snyder



OOZING RED      

It's all fashion --
yesterday modeled into today and
today foretelling tomorrow --

Even hate -- night wolf
tearing apart the corpus delicti --
corruptio optimi pessima --

North versus South
East against West
An eye for an eye --

Hatred, blind -- deaf
to the cries of children --
racism's latest complexion --

Black as oil -- glistening
surface rainbows -- black
gold, black silver -- black

cloaking the oozing red --
a coryphee dancing to a
corporatorial air relieving a

coryza with a bloodletting.

.... Arshad M Khan



... The blue dove of the evening
Brought no forgiveness.
The dark cry of trumpets
Traveled in the golden branches
Of the soaked elms,
A frayed flag
Smoking with blood,
To which a man listens
In wild despair.
All of your days of nobility, buried
In that red evening! ...

... from Georg Trakl's THE HEART



THE GODS ARE ANGRY

Caught in the jaws of a hell-
hound the earth shook ... and shook again
rending it asunder.

The heaving ocean waves licked
the earth, liked the taste,
and swallowed it whole --

Earth, houses, cars,
ships, humans -- dead, alive ...

pulled away from loved ones,
left but with dignity.

The gods are angry ...
at mankind's hubris.

Rest the ocean waves,
rest the earth.
Rest the whips of the tamers --

Reminders remind and remind
again -- if needs be -- the earth
remains untamed.

... Arshad M Khan


UNIVERSE(S)    

In an infinite universe
with finite time,
We happen ...


In an finite universe
with infinite time,
We happen ..... again!

And Eve can never stop eating that apple ...


... Arshad M. Khan




Though the great Waters sleep,
That they are still the Deep,
We cannot doubt --
No vacillating God
Ignited this Abode
To put it out --

... Emily Dickinson




TWO HAIKU

First snow
enough for the narcissus
leaves to bend

...Basho


The blizzard blowing
a gale -- dancing snow dunes
To wind's symphony

.
.. Arshad M. Khan












Being ...

Dreams today, hopes tomorrow,
Memories of yesterday ...

In the world of being ...

Witches and goblins
walk down the long dark road

As the young girl smiles a
broad white smile

... Arshad M Khan


Will they occur
These people with torsos of steel
Winged elbows and eyeholes

Awaiting masses
Of cloud to give them expression.
These super-people! --

And my baby a nail
Driven, driven in.
He shrieks in his grease .......

...
Sylvia Plath
(from  Brasilia)



THE STORM

The storm came --
I sat outside
drenched in the rain.

When love is pouring out,
who wants to go on a diet?

Even the hardest rocks
grind to dust over time.

...  Arshad M Khan




The sun brings pools of lotuses to bloom,
The moon illuminates nocturnal lilies,
A cloud rains its water,
And noble men struggle for other men's good.

A sunstone, though insensate,
Is incensed when touched by the rays of the sun.
How then can a man of pride
Bear slander cast by other men?

   ... Bhartrihari -- # 64 & 65
-- translated by Barbara Stoler Miller




PENCIL AND PAPER

Just pencil and paper
working designs --
some simple, some intricate ...

a tapestry from a scribe's hand
weaving a page from
the warp and weft of life ...

distilling feelings and thoughts ---
a shared drink with a reader
far ... far away.

..
. Arshad M Khan



Just as the winged energy of delight
carried you over many chasms early on,
now raise the daringly imagined arch
holding up the astounding bridges.  ......

... Rainer Maria Rilke  


WHAT IS A FLOOD THEN ...      

Cloaked under a raven sky --
lightning, thunder, rain
pouring as if the heavens
cannot contain their grief ...

Murder and mayhem raining
down from up high;
murder and mayhem below.
The moon glows blood red in
this blighted land of the pure-

ly venal, idle leaders.
Their future glows bright as
the gold they (always) seek --
the victims' ceases to be.

What is a flood then --
but the tears of our
ancestors crying the
sorrows of our age.

... Arshad M. Khan



If I had the least bit of wisdom
I could follow the path of Tao quite well
My only fear would be trying to go my own way
The Great Path is simple and direct
yet people love to take the side-routes

See how magnificent the courts have become
The women dress in colorful gowns
The men carry well-crafted swords
Food and drink overflow
Wealth and finery abound
Yet in the shadow of all this splendor
the fields grow barren
the granaries are all but empty

I say this pomp at the expense of others
is like the boasting of thieves after a looting

... from the Tao Te Ching -- Lao Tzu
translated by Jonathan Star





WITHIN A DAY ...

Within a day, it's another, then another,
and another, then three more ...
it's a week, two, three, four ...
it's a month ... a few of these --
just twelve --  it's a year,
then another, and another, and another, and ...
it's a life.

...
Arshad M. Khan


THE FIVE DAYS REMAINING

.... In the five days remaining to you in this rest stop
Before you go to the grave, take it easy, give
Yourself time, because time is not all that great.

You who offer wine, we are waiting on the lip
Of the ocean of ruin.  Take this moment as a gift; for the distance
Between the lip and the mouth is not all that great.  ...

...
Hafez (1320 - 1389) translation Robert Bly



CANTALOUPES AND WATERMELONS

What is new is old ...
What is old is new ...
Forget the truth --
It's a new math of lie and  trope.
Cantaloupes of money --
Watermelons of deceit.
Bribery is legal --
It's easy to cheat.

... Arshad M Khan



To the blind, the ugly, the barren and decrepit man,
To the churl, the man of low birth, and the leper,
They yield their seductive bodies in hope of a trifling sum.
Who can be enamored of courtesans,
Knives which slash discernment's wish-granting vine?

... Bhartrihari #109 - translated
        by Barbara Stoler Miller




SOMETHING SHINING NEW

Swarming locusts of viruses and cancers
Felling friends and loved ones to the silent
Sawing of trees in faraway forests ---
And Mother Earth cries tears of acid rain.
Killing machines of man's fertile invention
Harvesting their bloody crops, toil night and day ...
Just war or just war, innocents die the same
In the power, resources, chest thumping game.
Don't judge me by the urge to destroy this world,
And build upon it something shining new;
Fixed in memory, the rivers and streams
I walked beside and crossed to new pastures ---
The fountains of my youth I've drained ---
And I cannot drink this corporate brew.

... Arshad M Khan



O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with color!  That gaunt crag
To crush!  To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

... Edna St. Vincent Millay



Pull down the shade; don't let the light stream in
It will tarnish the silver we all seek

In daily deals and nightly guile, in work --
Serfdom, in search for the golden goose that

I find nestled in my lap in the form
Of a little dachshund's unwavering love.

.... Arshad M Khan



To create without owning
To give without expecting
To fill without claiming
This is the profound action of Tao
The highest expression of Te

... from the Tao Te Ching -- Lao Tzu
translated by Jonathan Star










IN THE OCEAN OF YOUR SMILE ...

In the ocean of your smile
I am content - yet ... heaved about
in a maelstrom - floating
- helpless
as a moth fluttering wildly
in an invisible web of silk soft
- in ecstasy
following a flame.

....  Arshad M Khan



When women burn
From zeal of frenzied passion
Even great Brahma
Fears to bar their way.

... Bhartrihari #115 - translated
by Barbara Stoler Miller






THE MICROCOSM

And the cold north wind
meets the hot south wind
rising together in a giant swirl
lifting my being higher and higher
than a hunting falcon ...
A speck, a dot, in the vastness of space --
and I feel light ... light as a
feather rising in the wind.
This aging body - tired and heavier
by the years - cannot hold me now ...
I am transformed --
a burst of energy, a charged pulse --
pushed and pulled in a cosmic ocean --
a wandering microcosm
in the immensity of the universe ...

Was man ever more?

.... Arshad M Khan



... When a drop falls in the river, it becomes the river.
When a deed is done well, it becomes the future.

I know that Heaven doesn't exist, but the idea
Is one of Ghalib's favorite fantasies.

.... Ghalib, from the Clay Cup, translated by Sunil Dutta






The snow shrinks away
from the widening pathways --
The birds are singing.

....
Arshad M Khan


Since it's spring and raining,
could we have a little different expression,
oh owl?
.... Issa



FLOWER ME A WREATH ...

Flower me a wreath
but bring a basket of kisses.
Promise me the moon
and I'll take the moonlight.
Steal away the days
but hold close the nights.
Flower me a wreath
but forget not ... a basket of kisses.

..
.. Arshad M Khan


Since no voice here can promise you tomorrow,
Content yourself, my mortal Moon, with bowls
Emptied by moonlight -- one fine night the Moon
May search the world for us, but find us gone!

.... Omar Khayaam [ Rubai 106 ]
translated by Robert Graves & Omar Ali-Shah


DOG ALONE BARKING ...

Dog alone barking --
barking to still the quiet,
barking to quiet the lonely ...

The old widow
turns on TV soaps
The widower --- s-l-o-w-l-y ---
pushes a shopping cart home,
talking to himself.

Dog alone barking --
barking to still the quiet,
barking to quiet the lonely ...

...
.  Arshad M Khan             




SQUEEZE THE HOURGLASS

The heart cries for the calm of the lake --
The mind turbulent in its wake,
the boat draws closer to shore.
The call of the hunter
beckons ------------------ once more.

Squeeze the hourglass ...
let time stand still - and
cut the portions in
digestible --------------- slices.

.... Arshad M Khan


YOUNG MAN PICKING FLOWERS

All at once he is no longer
young with his handful of flowers
in the bright morning their fragrance
rising from them as though they were
still on the stalk where they opened
only this morning to the light
in which somewhere unseen the thrush
goes on singing its perfect song
into the day of the flowers
and while he stands there holding them
the cool dew runs from them onto
his hand at this hour of their lives
is it the hand of the young man
who found them only this morning

.... W. S. Merwin






AMERICAN INDIAN LAMENT

Barking dog, why you bark no noise?
No noise 'cause I hear no noise ---
----------- No noise -------------
No brother buffalo to thunder in the night
No jumping fish in sister stream
No father tree to whistle in the wind
And mother lake is barren ---
Howling wolf ... I hear you howl ...
---------- the silence -----------

.... Arshad M Khan




CLIMATE CHANGE

The streets are empty now --
all emotion drained away --
the Politicians are gone

They have eaten and drunk and
drunk in their words
they have gone

The sky weeps and
the rivers carry
the tears to sea

The earth sobs and
shudders in pain
cracking bits and pieces

And little children
march to school
bearing flags of hope
in their hearts

as the sea inches
closer in the Maldives
and Tuvalu and ...

We, have we earned
their trust?

... Arshad M Khan



Silent sentinels
shedding tears of acid rain --
The trees cry unheard
............ Arshad M Khan



WASTELAND 2009

I live in a cocoon of comfort laced
with the dried tears of the South

I live in a cocoon of luxury webbed
in the anguish of this earth

I live in a cocoon of waste
-------- unsustainable ----------
in any future I can see

I am chained with others to
a wagon rolling fast, faster ... faster

towards a precipice.

............ Arshad M Khan




From “The Wasteland”

.... He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot
spit
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain ....

........ T S Eliot








INTO SPRING

Earth!  Let me study the contours
of that jagged smile -- opening
a chasm to swallow our sins whole.

Let me float as a cloud, light
in my expectations, and fall
gently as spring rain swelling

deep within, turning to rivulets of life.
The heavens let be, and let me lie
in the quilted warmth under

a green meadow -- wildflowers,
a lush carpet of colors, bringing
joy to passersby in the scented

longings of their dreams.  And
sinless earth to begin a new journey of
compassionate man, caretaker of it all --

for the winter's tale must end in spring.

....................... Arshad M Khan



THE SWAN

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan when he nervously lets himself down

into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each minute more fully grown,
more like a king, composed, farther and farther on.

.........................Rainer Maria Rilke











I rest my head against the night
and dream of worlds that cannot be ...

Heat rises in ripples --
a septic sepia haze shrouding
the suffocating stench
My eyes begin to follow a
rivulet of dried blood ...
a cawing of crows heralding
welcome to the feast --
early guests pecking and gouging
the eyes of a man lying dead
by the side of a road

An old woman in
a ragged pink dress
bending against her age,
her gnarled hands holding
a short broom, stirs
the dirt in front of
her tiny little shack cleaning
with a woman's
genetic determination

Is it a world left long, long ago to
return now in haunting spectacle?
No, I am dreaming of worlds that can not be --
Yet, I saw it all on the magic picture box --
its cost would feed the old woman for a year or more --
the old woman who they said was barely thirty-three
The man - twenty, or less - dead for all to see

... Arshad M. Khan



CROMWELL

After the celebrated carved misericords
And various tombs, the amiable sexton
Shows you by St. Mary's door the stone
Where Cromwell's men sharpened their swords.

Was it not a just, a righteous, war
When indiscriminate Irish blood
Flowed for the greater glory of God
Outside St. Mary's door?

If righteousness be often tipped with steel,
Be rightly tipped, psalm-singing men
Will help themselves to holy stone
To whet their zeal.

So you have both: the mellow misericords
Gracing the choir
And just outside the door
The swords.

... Robert Francis







THE RIVER RUNS FAST

And the river runs fast
rushing to slow ---  in
an adolescent hurry
to look and to see

And the river runs slow
slowing the rush ---  in
an ecstasy of turns ---
in a frenzy --- to
taste the earth, to touch the sun, to smell the breeze,
to taste, to touch, to smell, to feel, to live ---

And the river runs slow
and time rushes in

And the world rushes by ---
time spreads its cloak

And the river lies flat ---
tiny rivulets

Swallowed by the sea

... Arshad M Khan





Your life is a baby not yet born,
a forest sleeping under deep snow.
In Plato's world, a blank white book
awaiting the birth of someone who'll write it.
Your life is the Tyrrhenian Sea in February,
stormless, inert, where the depths
teem with spawn whose fate
depends on the dark guardianship of the sands.
But every sunset ruffles through the heavens'
unseen calendar, and already the weight appears
--my eyes see far beyond
the day's curtains -- the mysterious
astral weight that tilts the scales
toward summer's celebrations, toward San Giovanni,
when every tendril trembles, listening for
the nearing incandescent plow-beam
that comes to crackle the raving wave
and vibrate the earth's waters
all ablaze.

... Maria Luisa Spaziani
(translated from the Italian by Beverly Allen)









LAMENT LARUM

While wandering in the mist,
I came upon
a cloud of unusual form -
Iridescent butterflies that stroked the air,
in flashes of light and thunderous sound, shed
jeweled tears, to fall
in silence on dry ground.
As I longed for the days when they flowed for joy -
even pain and sometimes sorrow -
When the light was clear and thoughts sparkled true -
not froth, frustrating, surrounding ...
surrounding me in a slow enveloping mist, drawing
ever closer like a foggy shroud.

And the butterflies flutter
and the raindrops spatter
relentlessly, inside my head.

For who is to know where life leads...
when venturers turn countries to dust and despair,
claim motherhood and apple pie, with fulsome lie,
that innocent thousands must needlessly die;
when young flowers cut in their beautiful prime
feed, bleeding, the vanities of the withered old
dying in rotten splendor -
spreading the stench of death
across suffocating earth.

And the raindrops spatter
and the butterflies flutter
helplessly inside my head.

--- Arshad M. Khan










FIVE O'CLOCK
(Colt)

Down the deserted street
goes a black horse,
the wandering horse
of bad dreams.

The breeze of sunset
comes from far away.
A window is weeping
with the wind.

... Federico Garcia Lorca





THE QUIET

It is the quiet of an ocean cave
Silence, and then the roar of a wave

It is the quiet of the rising moon
In the still of the uncertain night

It is the quiet of a lover's smile
Holding the power to destroy

It is the quiet of a hurricane's eye
Readying the knock-out punch few survive

It is the quiet of a sleeping volcano
Predictable in its unpredictable fury.

It is the quiet of the muted masses
Festering anger against the thieving classes

.... Arshad M. Khan



WHITE FLOWER

One flower, my family and I,
And I but a petal.
I grasp a hoe in one hand
Wife and child by the other.

It wasn't I who drove that stake
Into the earth, then pulled it out.
I'm innocent----rather we are.
Like that white cloud above.

I stretch out my right hand:  nothing.
I raise my left:  nobody.
A white flower opens,
And now I stand apart.

While, above, a bomber soars.
My family and I are buried alive.
I'm a handful of earth.
Untraceable.

... Lucien Stryk





COME WALK WITH ME

Come walk with me amid
the bold autumn blaze - the
bright gold, the magenta,
the setting sun blushing
crimson across the sky.

Come walk with me
through the seasons
But don't talk to me of
winter waiting nigh.

Come walk with me in the
spring - by the cold waters of
the mountain stream, skipping
stones, listening to the whistling pines.

Come walk with me under
the twinkling summer skies,
in the jasmine scented
air heavy with desire.

Come walk with me, time -
thief of youth, thief of beauty,
thief of all but memory -
I'll walk past you tonight.

--- Arshad M. Khan




The cyclic recurrence of sunset and dawn
Daily serves to measure life's decay,
But burdened with his mundane tasks,
Man does not grasp time's fugitive flight.
Seeing old age, pain, and death,
He is not aroused to anxiety.
Drunk on delusion's heady wine,
The world is mad in oblivion.

... Bhartrihari --- (Satakatrayam
translated from Sanskrit by Barbara Stoler Miller)



SOMEWHERE, EARTH

Don't look now
She's fast asleep

Parents shut her when
the soldiers came
in this hidden
confined space ...

The empty stillness of
an empty house --- silent ---

Just the wind creaking windows
and the sobbing ... faint

Don't look now
She's fast asleep ---

curled, resting
forever in
man's own darkness

... Arshad M. Khan



If people do not fear death
why threaten them with it?
But suppose they did fear death
and this was the fate handed to lawbreakers
Who would dare to do the killing?

There is always a Lord of Death
He who takes the place of the Lord of Death
is like one who cuts with the blade
of a master carpenter
Whoever cuts with the blade of a master carpenter
is sure to cut his own hands

Verse 74  --- Tao Te Ching
.... Lao-tzu
(Jonathan Star translation)            





SUMMER EVENING WITH JEAN-LUC

Dappled sunlight through the trees
dancing shadows on the cedar deck ---
Jean-Luc lap happy sighs with the breeze.

The giant elm, no longer full
after its recent prune and trim;
its reign challenged by the upstart pine ---
a mere sapling a quarter century past.

The flowers ablaze in the gold shafts and
shade of early evening summer light,
The red birds, successful this year,
busy with the fledglings' lessons in flight ---

Old wine in a new decanter
being allowed to breathe ---
All is contentment in suburbia.

Yet nature's whims are its own ---
Until a bare half-dozen years ago
the elm was contested territory ---

a flock of crows and a flock of blue jays in
interminable squawks and shrieks
all summer long in a history
spanning at least thirty years ---

The West Nile virus came a sudden
and in a whiff quelled the squabble.

No crows, no blue jays but now there are
robins, blackbirds, doves and songsters ---

Nature fills the void.

....  Arshad M Khan





....  No weekends for the gods now.  Wars
flicker, earth licks its open sores,
fresh breakage, fresh promotions, chance
assassinations, no advance.
Only man thinning out his kind
sounds through the Sabbath noon, the blind
swipe  of the pruner and his knife
busy about the tree of life ...

Pity the planet, all joy gone
from this sweet volcanic cone;
peace to our children when they fall
in small war on the heels of small
war -- until the end of time
to police the earth, a ghost
orbiting forever lost
in our monotonous sublime.

.... Robert Lowell --- (1967)






Death came knocking today
It missed

It came yesterday and the day before,
the day before ... and ...
It missed

It comes tomorrow and the day after,
the day after ... and ...
What matter

Galaxies are swallowing galaxies
Our Milky Way waiting its turn
What matter

Eons before, eons ahead
What matter

Why?  How?
What matter

--- Arshad M Khan



Far down within the dim West
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie. ...

--- Edgar Allen Poe

Let us all
live the lie
When truth will not suffice
For memories that fade away
In distant mists and nighted summer skies.
The last waves of fall upon us
In final muted blaze to
Eyes dimmed in silence
In a silence that cries.
Hear the silence
Hear the silence
The deafening silence
In the deep chasm
of history.

--- Arshad M. Khan



The essence of my teachings is this:
See with original purity
Embrace with original simplicity
Reduce what you have
Decrease what you want ....

Verse 19 --- Tao Te Ching
.... Lao-tzu
(Jonathan Star translation)


We do not inherit the
land from our ancestors; we
borrow it from our children.

.... Native American proverb



FUTURE TENSE

Chaos lights the daylight hours, as
death defines the corners of night.
The sun now is not a benign gold orb;
it beats down inflamed angered red.

"Why must I" asks the Indian child
"die for your sins, your profligacy?"---
innocents --- cast aside in nature's
careless cruelty --- animals fleeing

the onrush of flames --- the forests blaze
no rain in the merciless sky, just
the paradox of rising ocean, an
invader swallowing the land.  No

dam, no dike in man's tackle box to
stem this relentless tide ... just retreat,
angry retreat, angry regret at this
patrimony of profligates whiling

away a priceless inheritance.

.... Arshad M Khan




THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ---
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

.... Robert Frost


THE RIVER

The river rushes, it meanders, it slows,

Its course carved by early turmoil,

Its force by summer's rain and winter's snows;

Its water drinks the journey's soil,

And we ... we then taste of all it knows.

.... Arshad M Khan






Never think of conquering
others by force
whatever strains with force
will soon decay

Verse 30 -- Tao Te Ching

.... Lao-tzu


BECAUSE IT'S THERE

The snow covers the mountain
In all new Christmas clothes
Shining golden silk in the sunlight
And white satin by the moon.

Gone are the conquerors flags
Buried on the soaring peak
Gone are the wounds and gashes
Gone all the littered waste

Gone are the summer victors
Gone the guided storm troopers
Gone all to do their killing
In some other far-off place.

The snow covers the mountain
In all new Christmas clothes
Shining golden silk in the sunlight
And white satin by the moon.

Will the conquerors come again?
Patience, they'll be gone soon.

.... Arshad M Khan






April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain ...

..... T S Eliot


The Spring flower waves a
magic wand
Sprinkling its golden
dust of hope.
A few moments of sparkle ---

And the magician is gone!

..... Arshad M Khan











HAIKU

The seven poems below, some by the Japanese master Basho (1644-
94), employ the haiku form consisting of three lines in 5 - 7 - 5
syllables, and most important the 'cut' or related, yet unrelated idea to
the first line.

Three poems by Basho, including the last, his death poem:

Summer grasses:
all that's left of great soldiers
imperial dreams

Lonely silence,
a single cicada's cry
sinking into stone

Sick on my journey,
only my dreams will wander
these desolate moors

The following five poems are by Arshad M. Khan.

Daffodils trumpet
their yearly cadenza.
Spring rubs its eyes, wakes

In the heart of a dove
beats a gentle, faithful love.
Up high soars, a hawk

On wings of eagles
rest our fragile hopes; and lies
earth naked beneath

Late summer evening
sun, casting a long shadow --
erased in twilight

The dawn quiet breaks ---
Chirping birds singing sweetly
through my sealed window.





__________________________________________________________


As we know, Fitzgerald's famous Omar Khayam translation is often far
removed from the poet's original words.  Here is a familiar quatrain
followed by a newer Robert Graves' version, which is closer to
Khayam's text.

FITZGERALD TRANSLATION:
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on:  nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.


GRAVES TRANSLATION:
What we shall be is written, and we are so.
Heedless of God or Evil, pen, write on!
By the first day all futures were decided;
Which gives our griefs and pains irrelevancy.




“This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,
when we are sick in fortune — often the surfeits
of our own behavior — we make guilty of our own
disasters, the sun, the moon, and the stars.”

Shakespeare --- "King Lear"

"The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars,
But in ourselves that we are underlings."

Shakespeare --- "Julius Caesar"

Call the sun not
it won't answer
Too big to feel your pain
too many to heed

Call the moon not
it won't answer
Too many admirers
to spare a glance

Call the earth not
there is no need
It knows your pain
it knows your heart
It bore you remember
now you bear it

Conquer the pain
and you have strength
Surpass your desires
and you have bliss

..... Arshad M Khan



Beat! beat! drums! -- blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows -- through doors -- burst like a ruthless
force
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation
Into the school where the scholar is studying
Leave not the bridegroom quiet -- no happiness must he
have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field
or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums -- so shrill
you bugles blow. .....

--  Walt Whitman



Do not look back
this is a one way track

a lonely road
sometimes soft underfoot
sometimes hard scrabble rock

potholes to swallow a man whole
and grind him to gravel

Don't look back
it's a rising road
to weary the young
and wither the old

Do not look back
no clean pillars of salt
just the wretched stench of human failings
and death.

..... Arshad M Khan



..... The wounds of battle have turned to victory
because of the pain
I did not escape.

I am floating in a sea of nectar,
filled with every delight,
because of the hardships
I did not escape. ......

Rumi --- translated by Jonathan Star
and Shahram Shiva.   








IN THE EARLY HOURS

In the early hours
before
the sun has worn out the night

the muse beckons
whispers
a line or two in this scribbler's ear

pours the draft not just once
or twice ----
until the slumberer wakes

to spill her words in
the light.

--- Arshad M. Khan











DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

--- Dylan Thomas




I came upon stillness today,
And then    ----    it came upon me.
All my cares were washed away
In the fjord's tranquility

--- Arshad M. Khan









Much Madness is divinest Sense --
To a discerning Eye --
Much Sense -- the starkest Madness --
'Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail--
Assent --and you are sane--
Demur -- you're straightway dangerous---
And handled with a Chain--

--- Emily Dickinson












INAUGURATION

My world, this cage...
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape

To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.

The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.

Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.

--- Arshad M. Khan



The Heart asks Pleasure -- first --
And then-- Excuse from Pain--
And then-- those little Anodynes
That deaden suffering--

And then-- to go to sleep--
And then-- if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor
The privilege to die

--- Emily Dickinson




PHOENIX RISING

Phoenix rising
from the ashes
of doom pre-ordained.
Philosophers fail
prophets lie still
where passion swells
as o'erwhelming tide
to squelch reason
at the door.
And little shoots
lie trampled
as giants thrash
upon the ground
in a dance
of deadly scorpions --
their atomic stingers
flying faster than sound.

Death, you started nibbling
when we were born;
Come gorge,
the feast
is almost laid -
Man to perish
in futile hope of...
Phoenix rising...
from the ashes
of doom preordained

--- Arshad M. Khan




Beware!
Kings are ruined by bad advice,
Ascetics by society,
Offspring by indulgence,
Priests by ignorance of scripture,
A family by degenerate sons,
Character by bad company;
Modesty by wine,
Husbandry by lack of care,
Affection by distance,
Friendship by distrust,
Prosperity by dearth of luck,
and wealth by prodigal ways.

--- Bhartrihari Sanskrit text translated by Barbara Stoler Miller



Little flowers bloom in
our soul,

And we kill them
in the daily grind

Of our existence

--- Arshad M. Khan




The cold horror of
'right' and 'wrong'
Whose right?
whose wrong?
Who's right?
who's wrong?
And so it goes on ....
---- Arshad M. Khan
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