Category Archives: The Abstract

Nobody, not even the rain

Listening is the least invasive of the senses
Touch the most needful of permission
Gazing has limits which exceeded
Test the bounds of politeness
Tasting on most occasions would incur scandal
Sniffing will almost always seem indelicate
But listening offends no one, pleases most
Endears the listener to the listened to
So would you seek to grow intimate and ocean deep
Contained of many creatures –then–
Prick your ears and still the urge to speak
Fall silent, fill with attendance to
The moment speaking
Take notes like a schoolgirl, forgive like
A mother, receive like the sky that cracks
Open at dawn–
Let not a whisper go unheeded
The voices you are most in need of
Will not break and enter–no–
So do not wait for bugles or trumpets
What you are listening for is tumbling
Towards you like scent of blossoms
On Spring breeze, rising within you like
A full moon and nobody–
Not even the rain
Has such soft feet.
Stop
Place your ear upon the ground of time
Feel the silence rumble
(Nearer than
Your next breath)
Listen!

Stream of Thought

She was sitting very still next to a silver stream and when she looked into it she saw her reflection. Clear eyes looked into clear eyes. And she wondered suddenly whether, when she rose and left, the memory of that face– her face– would still remain in the water. In a secret way she hoped it would. And she wondered then how many other faces had stopped at this silver stream to see themselves in its depths. And suddenly the face in the stream spoke up in a voice that was familiar because it was her own voice— only somehow like the stream—silvery.

And the voice said, “The stream cannot hold me forever because it is a stream and streams do not know the meaning of holding on and they do not know the meaning of forever.”

And she listened to this in some surprise (because you see she was a little unaccustomed to being addressed by her reflection) but when she had got over her surprise she nodded and said in a matter-of-fact kind of way, “ Yes you’re right. Silly me,” and she rose and walked away from the stream without a backward glance—which is why she did not see her reflection smiling after her.


Expiration Date

I found Fame in the cupboard–

Between baking soda and salt,

Her seal was yet unbroken,

Her Expiration Date at fault–

Or was it me?

 

Did I neglect this purchase

And let its worth grow stale?

Did I forfeit grand applause

While–opening the mail?

Tending traceless other tasks

Forgetting to put on my masks–

Has Golden Chance set sail?

 

If so I’ll gladly take the blame

And let this be my claim to fame—

I’d rather bake a cake — or two–

Than chase a Name.


How Do You Live In Your Days?

Do you live in your days like a forgotten ticket stub in someone’s jacket? As if the show were behind you? As if you went out one evening to watch your life, and decided halfway through that it wasn’t worth the price of admission.

Other things more interesting stole your attention, even though we’ve been told and told that all that glitters is not gold, we are so easily seduced by sparkle and the kind of food that fills our mouths but not our stomachs and never our souls.

How we gorge on the insubstantial, and substitute the vibrant, risky, full-bodied occupation of life with a weak-kneed, lukewarm stupor.

Do you live in your days like an unmarked bottle in the back of the fridge? A bottle that has been there so long that no one remembers what’s in it. Do you live in your days like a lone sock in the drawer whose match disappeared in the wash weeks or years ago.

Think. Think hard. What shape are you holding and in what container are you held? Those are not questions to be asked or answered lightly.

Live like the roar in the cave of the lion’s throat. Live like the mustard seed that is dropped into hot oil — ready to explode its flavor into everything. Like the wick in a candle. Flickering. Fierce. Alive.


Senti Mental

As a teenager I was once informed, and not unkindly, by a cousin whose earthly years tallied in the low single digits, that I was “a senti mental.” He split this four syllable word into two words of two syllables each, and pronounced each syllable as distinctly as only a born and bred South Indian can. Senn-ttii Menn-ttall. Taking into consideration his pronunciation, enunciation, and the general context of the conversation, I believe he believed the word (or in his usage, words) referred to less than sound faculties of mind. I recall the combination of confidence and concerned affection in his voice. It touched and amused me then as the memory still does now. I do not think it was an entirely misplaced diagnosis.

With that preamble, from sometime after the turn of the millennium — a decidedly Senti Mental somewhat poem.

and this time
i know
will fade–like the memory of winter
(like the clichéd memory of winter)
when Spring is come.

and when you are arrived
(like that soulsweetseason)
with leaftipped promises
of blossoms and bliss
with brightlipped promises
of–

i shall recall with the
faint bewilderment
of the backward glance

days that were
longand

difficultand

dark

but–

i will not
be able

to summon
this current sensation

this current
current of
sensation–

of
being
cold

coldcoldcold

(and old)

of being
not so much

alone

as–

(only.)

everything that now insists
on its separate

sadness–

the dawn ritual
of heartache-
regular
rehearsed.
a line-perfect

pang.

faking-a-waking.

the swiftsighs swallowed
like small stones
filling nothing
(and lots of it)

smiles tossed like wistful garlands
wreathing the happiness other people
have found

in

eachother

everything now
poignantprofound
everything
par-t-ic-u-lar-ly

painful

shall fall silent and

as

easytoforget

as

asoftlysleeping

scar

that I shall wonder at when
I push back the sleeve of
this time and see it

there–

witness to a wounding
i will barely recall
(if at all) —

so close

soclosesoclosesoclose
will i be

someday

to the sun of your

love

(the sweetsumofyour

love)

there will be
nothing remaining of

this time

to hold onto.

an icicle- sharpointedestined
to melt into the memory of
something-
sharpointedestined
to melt into the memory of–

so close

soclosesoclose
will i be

someday

to the sun of your
love

(the sweetsumofyour
love)

that this time
i know
will fade-

like the memory of winter
(the clichéd memory of winter)
when Spring is come.

and when you are arrived
(like that soulsweet season)
with leaftipped promises
of blossoms and bliss
with brightlipped promises
of—

there will be nothing left
of this time to
hold onto

(save only

…this.)


Elevator Music

In another lifetime they might have been good, perhaps even great friends. Their natures each pitched to unusual keys, offset enough to harmonize in inspired ways. But they didn’t. Not this time around. What emerged between them instead, was the relationship equivalent of elevator music. A vast politeness, a blameless bond neither strong nor interesting. It held them temporarily in the same orbit, no more, no less. Like passengers seated next to each other on a plane, who exchange brief pleasantries then fall into their separate worlds. Or acquaintances at a mutual friend’s party, who listen to one another’s stories with that air of formal attentiveness that betrays a lack of natural sympathies. From their forgettable interactions was absent the trouble or reward of real conversation. They traveled a shared highway, a little more than distant and much less than close. You know how it is with some people. And so it was with them. Though it might have been otherwise.


I Think I Heard Her Sing

And if there’s no bread to be had tonight I will eat words she said

I’ll sprinkle them all with pepper and salt, and gobble them up in bed.

***

If light is a language and sunset a sermon

And dusk is a tribesman in deep purple turban

Then why speak in words that will ruin the night?

When nothing that’s said can ever be right.

***

Bright lights on the hillside no stars in the sky

My heart it is heavy and it won’t tell  me why

The frogs they do croak and the crickets they chafe

While alone at the window I stand like a waif

Though my life it be full of love and its singing

It harbors still shadows of pain and its stinging.

***

Who put the cluck in the chicken and

Sharpened each green blade of grass?

Who rouged the cheeks of the sunset and

Filled the blue rivers with bass?

I’ve scoured the world for the artist

Whose skill grazes everything

I haven’t glimpsed her yet, but once

I think I heard her sing.

***