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LAMASERY
WILD
BERRIES

NEW AND SELECTED POEMS

a FreeBook by

Bibhas De

Copyright 1987-2007 by Bibhas R. De

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This eBook is provided free of charge for your reading pleasure!

Other FreeBooks by Bibhas De:

Exploring spirituality:
UNFATHOMABLE RAY

Stories:
EMBELLISHED MEMORIES


Bibhas De ~ 1986

Welcome, welcome, welcome thrice!

INDEX

INTRODUCTION
        Jayanta Mahapatra and Roald Hoffmann

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    Poems:

AMAZON MORNING CALM
STIRRINGS
A JANUARY WINDOW
ATCHAFALAYA SWAMP
PHOTOSYNTHESIS
SHILLONG MEMORY
ROOTS AND WINGS
A TRYST IN THE FOREST
THE LOST WORD OF THE MONSOON LAKE
CALCUTTA
MONSOON AGAIN, IN CALCUTTA
TEARS DEFERRED ON THE GANGES
ISOLATION
WIND ISLAND MINDSET
SLEEPSCAPES
COMMUNICATING
CHRYSALIS DREAMING
THE HUMMINGBIRD
GLASSFROG
SNOWBEAR WAITS
THE SLAYER OF THE SEAL
WHALEBONE HOUSE
SIDDHARTHA AND ASHOKA
DHARMASHOKA IN THE KILLING FIELD
IN AYUTHAYA A DAY
AYEYARWADY
CARLSBAD CAVERNS
ASCENSION
MYTHMAKING IN MIDWINTER
THE KEEPER OF LORE
RUINS
LAKE TURKANA
THE LAST SANCTUARY
SEASHELL
IN THE CANOPY OF THE RAINFOREST
THE COWDUST HOUR
MOHUAMILAN
SPIRIT HORSES
MYSTIC HEIGHTS
DENIZENS OF THE PYRE GROUND
LAMASERY WILD BERRIES
NISHAPUR
THE OLD WOMAN WE SAW AT CHICHEN-ITZA
A PILGRIM TO LIGHT
HARMONIA MUNDI
TOWARDS AN ORGANIC CORE
THE FOG ROLLS IN AGAIN
MACHU PICCHU NIGHT
AMAZON NIGHTFALL
A PREDAWN DEATH
MY MANGO BLOSSOM MAY
SEA ISLAND GARLAND
A CALM SOMETIMES
THE BOATMAN OF THE LAST RIVER
    End of Poems

SOME REVIEWS
       The Statesman, Council of Indian Education, and more...

INTRODUCTION

Jayanta Mahapatra, leading Indian poet
Photo Jan Kemp

Jayanta Mahapatra on Bibhas De

Bibhas De's poems happen in a larger world … a world rich in fantasy, but which brings alive those moments of isolation so necessary for the realization of true poetry.

In preface to the book On Grunion Shore

Roald Hoffmann, Chemistry Nobel Laureate and distinguished poet

Roald Hoffmann on Bibhas De

A scientist himself, he can write authoritatively of the innards and far stretches of this material world. But what transforms De's vision from observation and description to poetry that is meaningful to others is the realm of the personal, gently yet strongly felt. As in the ending of "Roots and Wings", one of the best of many good poems in this book, in which De speaks of the pines of Shillong:

The roots are there, we know;
Science tells us so
And nobody disputes.
The wings I privately deduced
And would normally tell no man
Except now, so long, so far back
As I think on the lone mystics
I feel I could tell.

Review of the book "In Winter Once" in Atalantik

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Some of the poems here have been selected from the following collections:


On Grunion Shore

(1987)

.


In Winter Once

(1990)

For more information about these books, please visit Amazon.com.

Other poems have been selected from the poems have since appeared in poetry magazines, including:

Kavya Bharati (published by American College, Madurai, India)

Northern Perspectives (published by Univ. of Northern Territory, Australia)

Ore (UK)

Additionally, a few unpiblished poems are included.

THE GENEROSITY OF A VERY FINE HUMAN BEING

In response to an offer by me of a complimentary copy of my meager work, the great Buddhist poet Allen Ginsburg himself wrote out my address, stamped the envelope and wrote the message "Yes please send AG".

AMAZON MORNING CALM

This is the hour the hermit wakes. Upon
Each night's end as the dew descends from
Its canopy home, and shakes off the smell
Of the dark from its sleep, the mist stirs

As if to greet the arousing light. When
The spent cricket sleeps, and the weary owl
Sleeps, and the noisy brood is not yet
Awake, the only sound is the liquid lilt

Of an unseen rill that rides the mist that
Greets the light. After a frenzied forest
Night of howlings and hootings and stalkings,
Returns an unmixed peace. The hermit wakes.


A Bengali rendition of the above poem by Mahua Choudhury – first published in Atalantik. I like this very much.

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STIRRINGS

When it rains again, trickling down the dry twigs
Drip drop drip drop water falls on the sand, filling
Every pore, smearing all over each grain, inching
Downward to meet in earth's dark abyss the roots
That grope and grow and grope till all is moist
And the rain is moist and the robin's nest is moist
And the seeds begin to stir; and if it rains again
The lilacs will blossom where once lay the casket
And the blissful rain will fall in the dream of the
Decaying corpse; at night the germs will sprout
Where the ash from the burnt pyre is washed down
In dousing rain in the handholding circle of the
Hooded sirens intoning from within their death;
The wan dark at last will pulsate in deep pleasure
When the luminous rain ushers in the voice of light;
A rose will spring here, a graceful violet there;
The eager land soaking a gray dawn in the chill
Rain will shiver in cold yet tremble in joy
For as with all times we have seen such growth
There will be born again a child when it rains.

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A JANUARY WINDOW

My January window is three fourths
Soft-brushed sky, having shifted from
The earlier dun gray that long hung
Over the winter-savaged Los Coyotes Hills

Now regreening. Early each day, about
Seven say, if I from my daily chores
Look south, for the window looks south
And composes a scene only a window

Can frame, and in composing says to you
The place is this and the moment is this
And in moving is your truth – if I
Look south and then way on high I espy

That fluttering vee flying west to east,
Or against the sun’s ascent if that is
Significant, and I can hardly make out
From the lineup the individual geese

Unless at times a baby straggles; in its
Hurried wings back to the broken vee
I almost can see the urgency, or a fear
Of being away from where everyone is.

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ATCHAFALAYA SWAMP

By daydreaming daylight
And when through the haloed
Evening haze the highbeams
Startled the winged moths
Many times I have crossed here
A crossing of a kind
I’d hoped would stretch
To fill the years wondering
What may have been so stirring,
The mesmerizing monotone of
The broken white stripes reaffirmed
By the steady hum of the engine,
The sleepwalking fireflies
Among the squat tree stumps
Or some magic of the swampland,
Some enchantment
That surrounds with
A surrounding of a kind
I’d hoped to know
Till sometime in recent time
I recalled a time
Of solitude, of sentience
Wrapped in a steel cocoon;
Outside, the marshy silence;
Beyond, somewhere the world.

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PHOTOSYNTHESIS

The morning I flew
From Dhaka to Calcutta
Over the emerald delta
Through which the brimming streams
Divide and meander and divide on
Where the milken nectar
Of the muddied water
Permeates the porous earth
To feed every thirsty root
And color every eager leaf
To its chlorophylliferous bliss
Where the water conspires with the sun,
I felt warmed by the same sun
To whose shining the earth lies prone
And the ripples owe
Their tourmaline crests,
And knew an unknown elation
For this gift of a brief transformation
Between my nebulous origin
In desire and wish
And my inert end
In fire and ash,
For sensing, and being able to sense,
That aloft here on morning wings
I was made a part of a communing
As old as the earth,
The light, and the sun.

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SHILLONG MEMORY

The recluse light
That lives in the pines
Wandering out at times
To float peaceably down
The pebble-deep river’s run
Meditates on his owing
To a clouding-over sun
And slowly loses himself,
Diffuses round
The bend of the Umiam.

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ROOTS AND WINGS

The pines of Shillong,
I’d often suspect,
Neck-straining tall and
Clearing the lowhung clouds
To the out-of-view blue,
Meditate together in secret.
There’s no firm evidence yet
Though once, fearing a storm
As I made my hasty trail
Amid the solitary sentinels,
Silent as in a petrified forest,
There did seem a presence
Or a soaring of a kind, the wings
Of solitude one longs to ride
In a mountain paradise of the mind,
To perch atop a nimbus cloud,
Reach up with both hands
And feel the face of God.
The roots are there, we know;
Science tells us so
And nobody disputes.
The wings I privately deduced
And would normally tell no man
Except now, so long, so far back,
As I think on the lone mystics
I feel I could tell.

Back to INDEX

A TRYST IN THE FOREST

On a jasmine-fragrant night
Where shadow and light entwine
Lovers look in each other’s eyes:
Murmuring leaves form the words.

Every languageless tenderness
Between a man and a woman
Is a fragment from the primeval night;
A jasmine knows; the leaves remember.

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THE LOST WORD OF THE MONSOON LAKE

From cicada’s ceaseless sound
On the moist air of a monsoon lake
At a sky's brief respite - sunned yet,
Between lovers out on a forest walk,
At composing a life in language,
Suddenly, from out of a sentence
In midair, a word is lost.
In the wet lichens and moss,
Beneath the cicada’s noise floor
Or in the scent of wildflowers, from
Out of airwaves, a word is lost.
In the blank space of the sentence
There is dark foreboding.
The jungle withholds its breath,
The cicadas the sound
And the wildflowers the scent
As if to facilitate the retrieval.
Where is the word,
The jungle sighs in uncertain guilt.
What was the word,
The cicadas intone in near apology.
Was it the verb, was it the adjective
Or the adverb, the wildflowers wonder.
The sentence gapes ungrammatically.
On a blackening lake raindrops renew.
The man puzzles, pensively,
At the sloe-eyed loveliness of a face,
At a pearlesque teardrop -
A tiny speck at its center
Glistening with meaning.

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CALCUTTA

Here’s not my place of birth
Nor in the end did I make this my home –
Mere parenthetical years that bridge across
As if to say to me this, softly this:
Here too is the muse’s home.

Down the avenue of the south a January evening
The smell of tuberose grew too heavy to bear.
I remember still how dreamyeyed pairs drunk
Full of the scent walked each in each engrossed:
And I remember yet the clumsy streets of the
College Square, where in our youth we saw bred
Revolutions of thought and of the state.
Some few I remember well, the saffron-clad monks
Most of all, that hovered over my boyhood.

And who can forget the calm summer night
Drowsy among the thickhung mango leaves that
Return the green of the earth to her winter-
Ravaged green? And the waiting wife that ever
With a shy smile wipes off the day’s tiring?

This is the place my father once chose, late
In life, to make a new beginning in – this
Amorphous, incomprehensible mass that slowly
Engulfed him; this is where, amid a stacked
Pyre – far from his roots – they set him aflame.

This city will be here a thousand years.
Perhaps here’s where I shall return again,
Not as the mangy dog of the nightstreets,
Nor as the noisy crow of noon, but perhaps as
A mourning dove still heard at times, perhaps
Perched on a flame tree at the peak of blossom.

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MONSOON AGAIN, IN CALCUTTA

In June again, may be in June
When with the sweat and filth and the milling horde
And the streetcars and buses listing under the load
The day stands once again at a scorching noon

And the melted pool of tar on the potholed street
Breathe shimmering fumes of fluid heat,
A lonely patch of black will hover again
Over the peeling walls stained in last year’s rain
And the shadow will grow ever so soon
With the distant drummers beating a heavy croon;
The coconut trees will sway in the breeze
Gently caressing the fronds in their crease
And all of a sudden it will be still:
The sky will darken with the hint of a chill;
The frightened herons against the pitch dark sky
Will stay in close-knit flock lest they go awry.

In June again, may be in June
I shall see again that aging city of scorn
Drenched and washed in the sheeting rain
Flashing a shy moment her virgin smile again.

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TEARS DEFERRED ON THE GANGES

This evening a light sits softly
On the Manaslu, scintillates,
Yellow on gold and orange on gold,
Then the rainbow scanned on gold,
To gold flowing on gold
Into the heaven river of gold.

So it was once with the early light
That caught a bashful Kanchenjunga,
Only different, only more at red,
A woman blushing on a stolen kiss,
A color of light turned a color of time,
The luminous time of a painted past.

By these lights things once grew,
We grew, grew the valley, the holy
Things at the confluence of rivers;
By these lights some few have left.
Gentle Ganges, hold them well.
In Kartik the air was crisp,
Spryly riding the bamboo barges
On the river, now nearly claiming
The old temple of my childhood;
Or skimmed down the impassive face
Of an expansive Brahmaputra.
A chill black night the lone trees
On the lonelier hills seemed strangely
Enlarged, shown in envelopes of a
Darker dark, saying as though
This would have to do for light.

And who shall close the unkept books
On sorrows deferred by the Ganges,
The tears deferred on the Ganges?
Past all meanderings, in all my doubts,
Good Himalaya, be true. By you
I measure this flowing time:
A fresh cap of ice, a gain in height
Will inexorably move the peak, a new
Stroke of brush on a Manaslu night,
The light the others will see.

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ISOLATION

The green of the water is nearer
The corneal green of a woman’s eyes
If opalescent in the ardor of love.
The lagoon opposes the island sky
In jade green hills, closing her space:
A far see inlet locally becalmed
Yet receiving the bringings of the sea,
The multipatterned, multiformed shells,
Some in scurrying motion, borrowed
By shore crabs as armored abodes.
Gentled sea wind, the sea barely audible.

To pause here for the length of a life,
Ambitionless, indifferent, uncontentious;
To hold this hidden corner of the earth
In one’s gaze and in one’s heart
And to sense in oneself: Here I am,
At one with a place, contented;

To rest here still and let flow in,
Logicless, unquestioning, non-analytic,
The way of the wilting sea foam
And the rustling communion
The wind makes in the coconut leaves.

Circling the shadow of the mind
Of a spirited, solitary place
Lies an attainable, penumbral space
Not to be known but only felt
In wishing, welcoming and wonder.

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WIND ISLAND MINDSET

With the waning of light the wind
Starts to rise, gently at first,
The warm, moist breath of the sea
Lying supine; of the sea
Something always remains.
When the dark takes all from view
Her presence is redoubled
In the medium of sound
That takes on the burden of light
And obliquely confirms
The darkened speck of sea-born land,
The coral forest of the deep eons.
The muffled scream of the spent waves,
On shore, waves of water aglitter
As waves of light, turned waves of sound,
The wind-blown, wind-charged sound
And later the airy disconcert,
On shore, of the wind’s unconcern
In the coconut frond tossing wildly,
Every night, all night, tossing,
Speak most eloquently, if whisperingly
As in a propagated, hushed rumor
Of ones in a stormy conflict
Needing urgently to be calmed.

A man and a woman lie limply,
Each in a separate dream of languor;
A sun-revealed, green-water atoll.
A far cinnamon island, its verdure.

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SLEEPSCAPES

Everyone’s asleep on earth.
Everybody’s sleeping in the sea.
No one’s awake in the sky.

An earthen city over the water
Beneath the sky; all is dark
But the graveyard is brilliantly lit.
No one’s awake in the graveyard.

In the farmer’s hut, a birth -
The mother doesn’t groan;
The baby doesn’t cry;
They are asleep.

In the king’s palace, a wedding -
The harp is silent; the priest is not awake;
They guests are in slumber; the bridesmaids
Dream and the bridegroom is in repose.

On earth a darkened night
A bride’s eyes smile in starlight.

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COMMUNICATING

When God at last was ready
To awaken in his progeny
The ability to communicate
The expectants stood in line:
Man, animal and plant.

To the man he gave the word
And something more beautiful,
The gift of expressive eyes.
To the animal he gave the sound
And something more intimate,
The smell to tell of love and fear.
But when the plant stood there alone
All the gifts had been given;
Except for one last one –
The ability to empathize.

Hurt a tree in the forest
And the rest weep, silently.

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CHRYSALIS DREAMING

On wings the wonders
The many-colored splendors
Busily aflutter
About stamens and pistils
Of yet more colors
Thickening the dream
Of gathering moonlight
In the tawny time
Of sylvan ardor;
Centered in the invocation-
The most splendiferous dream,
A chrysalis dreaming, fallen
On the forest floor, the moon
Striking just so a tremulant
Wave of light pierces in, paints
Within the deep within
A mindscape of what may come
In endless shades and schemes
Of a spectrum, unbounded
By what is, or was.

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THE HUMMINGBIRD

In the canyon of sun wind plays
And with it the birds,
Gulls, turkey vultures, others;
Swooping downward and coasting upward
On wind’s back
Along traceless arcs
Gracefully, effortlessly
Never stopping, never holding still;
Were the sun to hold still in its galaxy’s spiral
Were the earth to hold still in her elliptic orbit
Were the earth to hold still on her straight axis
Were we to hold still on the incline of ours
Would we know how it is sloping
And what its onjective is?

There’s one in particular that
With intense fluttering of wings
Manages to hold still, dead on a dot,
For a brief moment of rapture:
A view of the parting between red petals
A smell of the honeypot within
A place of all beginnings.
Satisfied, it heads straight in
With its long searching beak
Lovingly, purposefully.
The hummingbird.

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GLASSFROG

A glasslike transparence
Can at times transmit
Of the same transparence born
A granular outline of pain;
The textured hollowness, for instance,
Of a life laid out in plain view
For all its adulation
Of a life spread out in the arclight
Becomes too opaque for words.
Or take the wordsmith who
Torn from consonance to conveyance
Lets his meaning wholly bare;
The music dies altogether
If he makes his meaning too clear.
Though sometimes
A helping hand descends
That cups and cradles
And brings a little relief
To the exposed pain, as
Of the perched glassfrog
Sprawled at the break of a day
In the canopy of the rainforest,
Sunbeams filtering down
The dense green foliage
Tingeing the congealed form
Of the last of her secrets-
A cluster of glassy eggs
Newly inseminated.
When night comes in
And wraps her in a black veil
She’s alone again
With the most private of thoughts.

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SNOWBEAR WAITS

From season to season the salmon runs,
The snowbear waits, the Inuit waits,
The tundra flowers at caribou hoof;
These truths from out of the snowmelt

On sunrise rise, should the coatless
Moose, out there, in winter's last bite
Not remember her moorings; should we,
Harvesting time in fields of cyclic crop

Or counting holy beads, pause to ruminate
On the rainy nights of rainspun tales, on
Dreams transposed onto the time of light,
Those images inverted in cascade pools

Of common realities the salmon knows,
Up from low water's shaded depth, leapt
The whole way up the down waterslide,
To cascades on cascades and the cascade

Of the sun. Jaws open wide, the Inuit
Aims his spear; at each leaping in harm's
Way, there's a truth the salmon weighs;
The moose wanders, the snowbear waits.

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THE SLAYER OF THE SEAL

Before the blood-drenched skinning,
Before each family shared in the communal giving
Of the gift of warm flesh, offered by
The hunter’s wife the rightful hostess,
They stood round in solemn silence;
Sprawled in the middle the slain mammal –
Lips slightly parted; in thirst,
The lore says, giver
A last drink of water
And you shall have luck hunting
For food again; slowly he melted a sliver
Of ice, and with the fluid in his cupped
Hands, knelt before her
To place the ritual drops between
The cold, dead lips and stare into
The cold, dead eyes – still wide open.

Forgive me who must slay.
Forgive her that wishes to give.
Forgive them that share.
Forgive. Forgive. Forgive.

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WHALEBONE HOUSE

In a land where cold may harm
They build a home of ice
To keep themselves warm.

In Igloolik the tale was told
From the lore in Inuktituk
By wizened men of patience
Peering endlessly into the seal hole
For the tiniest of stirrings

That there once were four young girls
Who grew up frolicking round
On icy flats till the came
Of age, that marriageable stage
When girls blush and giggle
At every chance, and they bantered
And laughed among them, each
Pretending to pick a bridegroom by
Pointing to a handsome young man
As a whale spouted out at sea;
And pointing playfully to it one said
That shall be my husband.

The lore went on, as retold by
Men who carve tales in soapstone
That the whale then came ashore
And lovingly carried her away
To a reclusive island, and built her
A home of its own bones, of whalebones,
And gave her food of its own flesh
And thus wished to make her humanly happy.

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SIDDHARTHA AND ASHOKA

Some few walk among us that
Live mostly in their outer brain;
Not quite knowing this themselves
And the world not knowing, they
Serve out this life’s calling;
Though once in a great while
For one among a great many
A chain of mortal events
Triggers a connection
Between the world
Within and the worlds
Beyond and the light rushes
In and shimmers all around the
Body, lighting even the rest of us
Who live mostly in the mammal brain
And sometimes in the reptile brain.
When the tender prince Siddhartha
Shielded from the woes of this life
Happy but for an agony within
Accidentally saw the leper
And the aging decrepit
And the unknown dead
And saw the connection
Much was lit in the ensuing light
Turning the cruel warrior Chandashoka
Into the benevolent emperor Dharmashoka
Ruling under the hovering smile of the Buddha.

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DHARMASHOKA IN THE KILLING FIELD

The blood of horses mixes with man’s blood
In neat tiny pools; gaping wounds are strewn
All across the plain. Red roses and dahlias
In bloom.

The killing field.

I am the victor Emperor;
Fresh blood still drips from my saber,
Sweatdrops of battle sparkle on my face,
My horse is panting and foaming at the mouth;
I am Chandashoka, Ashoka the Ruthless.

Yet unlike the old days, the drink of battle
Fails me now as I think of the worried eyes
Gazing at the evening sun, waiting for these
Men to come home; and of what is gained
And what is lost from earth forever.

I see now in the morning sun
That smiling face in a circle of light
That my forefather Bimbisara sought comfort in
And his son Ajatashatru scorned;
About me now is vast wasteland, the ramparts
Stand erect while all living things have fallen.
I hear now in the morning breeze
The anointed sound of the word Ahimsa
As I lay down my bloody sword.
Buddham sharanam gacchami.
I go for refuge in the Buddha.

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IN AYUTHAYA A DAY

The light, the land, the sky
Would have been so much the same
The days they raised the town
Brick on brick, temple by temple;
Siddhartha lay on his side;
Head slightly lifted, elbow-propped,
Eyes today on a shantytown shack.
What wonder, I wonder, had been here,
Not quite reaching over now -
A blockage in the course of the eons,
Or is it an imagination too wan,
Less that certain tinge of sentience,
That particular antenna that catches
The once-transmitted aura that flows
Clear on through a moss-clogged time.
When the light slants as if to climb
The steep steps that haltingly rise
To a high place nearly in sky
And the trees bid their shadows be still
And the grassless earth anticipates
And the ruins crouch in hushed wait -
The many toppled visages of Gautama
Of many countenances, calm, collected -
I think I begin to feel in me rise
That occasional sense of being alive
To all that in me thrives on wonder.

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AYEYARWADY

On the elephant river it rains.
On the roofless ferryman it rains.

In mist mountains it rains.
Over the temple-studded plains,
Dimming though not dark, it rains.
Round the four-faced monument,
Watchful no more, it rains.
On the two Buddhas past it rains.
On the Buddha present it rains.

Kakusandhya is very old.

The kind eyes of the old rain,
The abhaya mudra of the good rain,
The four directions to renew the rain,
All these too are very old.

Ariya Metteyya to come, Bless this rain.

The good rain and the chill rain,
The rain to be and the rain within,
Cloud and mist and haze,
The canopy of the forest, bird nests,
Temple bells and prayer flags,
All these too rain.

On the ferryman at mid-river it rains.
On the Ayeyarwady it rains.

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THE GENEROSITY OF A VERY FINE HUMAN BEING


In response to an offer by me of a complimentary copy of my meager work, the great Buddhist poet Gary Snyder himself wrote this note.

CARLSBAD CAVERNS

Here’s where we learn
Or are made to learn
To revere the spoils of time;
Drop by drop
Waterdrops surrender
Their meager substance
That the mounds may grow
Layer upon molecular layer
Moment upon lamellar moment
To fill the eons; of time
That heals, filling
Cracks and fissures
Till all is as was; of
Time that dreams
The dreamy wonders
Of these translucent sculptures
Coning and careening and lenticular
Each rising in its own marvel
In its tantalizing search
Stalagmite for stalactite as where
Earth raises her loving face
To a reaching-down sky;
Of time that broods
In dark crevasses
And sunless vaults;
Of time
That soars nightly
With the twilight spiraling
Of the bats.

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ASCENSION

Solitude on the mountain sits
On three levels of noise
Of the sugarcone pine, its skin
The skin of an ancient reptile,
With stubs of longhealed wounds;
Of the basal Serpent, coiled of fear,
Hissing up a garbled sound,
Then daring up a ways
Into the place of fresh foliage,
Chirrups and tweets, sated nestlings
Consoled, the ether electric
With happy talk, now coherent
But dying out to the verdant tip,
The sound crested and evanesced,
The level of five purities where
Patches of light and cloud contend:
In the cloud there is nobody.
In the light there is no sound.
The notes the tender nodes make
In breaking out of the gnarled skin
Are notes you may not hear.
Some say that seated lotuslike
You can will the Serpent
Clear to the tip, and past,
And even hold her there
Where, peaceably, so they say,
Silence at last meets solitude.

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MYTHMAKING IN MIDWINTER

The millipede inches along, haltingly,
For the murky edge of the millennium.

A mist clouds my morningside window
This morning on the peachtree blossoms
Ravaged in the wind of the eveningside sea
And what I see, all I see, in the syncopated
Dance of shadows on my morningside
Window on a torrent ashen sky is a shape
Of a thousand florid deaths congealed,
Or the death of a rhyme not reckoned.

Mythmaking in midwinter: creatures
Etched on the sandstone escarpment gaze
Upon the aboriginal land, dim eyes speak
Dreamtime themes. The deep holds many
Lores dryly, they say, in crocodile's home.

Nightly the islet of the scarlet ibis becomes
An ibis, many as one, a mound of treetops
Dotted red, by homing light, lonely also
The night, the raincloud's edge nearly gold.

What ails the weary millipede, his images
Diffuse, inching on in asynchronous strides
To the starting place of the millennium, old
Excursions ended, none begun? A dance
Of shadows, reversed, is a dance of light.
A rhyme is a rhyme for what we provide.

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THE KEEPER OF LORE

Now long since the nascent days
Dust rains softly in the gray recesses
Of a cobwebbed memory: in the ripples
Barely astir the swoosh is still heard
Of the restless crocodile, pining on
For the human form he left in Dreamtime.

The Earth was ever here but without shape
Till they came from sea and gave it shape
And a lifeforce, the one life in many forms
That each to each transform, and in spirit
Transfix onto the luminous cave paints
In the sandstone escarpment from Dreamtime;

And the craggy relief of the land,
Risen to affirm the old ways, though
Dulled by the dust and dimmed by the
Millennium haze, is still being wrought
By the sculptor snake moving unrequited
In the folds of the tales from Dreamtime.

As all the colors fade from the Earth
The keeper of lore paints the flat-laid bark,
An organic manuscript that eagerly anticipates
The coming of tales; the brood all come home -
And sundry spirits, the toddlers all – witness
The weaving of the last tale of Dreamtime.

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RUINS

It is at first a distancing
Followed in wake by a reconnection
The way teal blue water at twilight
Returns a reflection
That is not quite us
And is then again us
And the moon lets her rays refract,
Catch a certain crumbling minaret
To summon back the plaintive echoes
Of a muezzin’s call from over across
A millennium dusk;
And if soulful in Monte Alban
I found a high perch in tawny time,
The skeletal city spread at my feet,
Would I not, history be kind,
Be allowed the privacy of a light
To see the place spill over,
The shoppers, the merchants and all
Gaily clothed in timely garb
In the rumbling of the incessant chatter
And to suddenly spot in the hub of things
What is reaffirming on the face of ruins,
A gathering of the familiar ancestors,
Faces from the germinal depths of time?

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LAKE TURKANA

There is something that is common
Between the tall and lithe Maasai maiden –
The lance paralleling the length of her body,
Her face one of haughty, taciturn silence
And the stony sentinels on Easter Island
Gazing out beyond the waters.

Each night on the shores of Lake Turkana
We die a little
Child by hungry child
Bullet by angry bullet
As new bones are piled down on old ones.

This place

Is a place of beginnings and ends:
The navel of the living earth.

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THE LAST SANCTUARY

In some fragile forests of filigreed glass
Such as an artisan makes, trimmed
With goldleaf, opalescent stones,
And green beads, there often is a
Vision, back to its once-vibrance,
The fulness of foliage and bliss;
Or onward to its skeletal fate,
Extinct, and nothing beside lives.

What is the link the muses have
To the man Siddhartha, across
The lines of lands and credos,
Felt in the odd peace that glides in
The temple gardens of Shinshoji, or
Hovers over Anuradhapura, at home
In the mystical and the wondrous,
Though stalled out at Dharmasala?

Kanyalifeka - a place of fire.
Under the flamed-out Africa sky
A column walks, to this land
Or that, the often migrators,
Villages afire, numbers re-cut,
Lightless eyes that say to a camera
Eye, or leastways, to an empath's
Eyes, leave us a serving of dignity.
The dead eyes do not say.
Kanyamagufa - a place of bones.

Perhaps it is the peace that lingers
In some nodal spots on this old,
Orbit-fatigued Earth, an awareness
Lost at the eternal sleep, and in course
Returned, and what better medium
Would there be than the hopefuls
Who assemble at the muses' door?

The thunder's voice is gone,
For the jungle's canopy is gone.
Trunklike roots can scarce support
The load of the clear-cut trunks;
The clouds pull away, but not
Always so, as in the morning of the
First Convocation: companionable
Youngsters of gods, humans and
Demons, gathered for a last sermon
At Brahma's hermitage school,
Heard no speeches, nor saw
The lightning, but from a darkling
Cloud deeply, monosyllablically,
To each the thunder spoke: Da.
Damyata, Datta, Dayadhvam.

So consider this proposition: That
There is an umbilical connection
To which the muses most of all
Are prone, that reaches back,
Time-traveling, into the source,
The cool, shaded well of the good.

This is the forest of no fear;
The tiger leaps, strong, virile, his
Carcass no more a multi-use thing.
In the astral place of fire sacrifice,
The nine muses seated at a trance,
A cupful of oblation is poured
To keep from dying the flame
That marks the last sanctuary.

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SEASHELL

An unlikely alliance of adventurers
Assembled at the ill-planned project
To churn out of an ungiving sea
The mythical pot of ambrosia -
The slender hill the reciprocating rod,
The great serpent the winding rope,
The gods tugging from our shore,


The demons on the nether shore.
But under a strain too great to stand
The snake bared her twin fangs,
The twin streams of venom,
With no place to safely dispose
But for the fair god to swallow, now
And forever, the blue-throated god,
And the project renewed apace.

Of the churning of the milken sea
Rose at last the buttery froth,
Fish, fin, foam and flotsam,
Boding well or not, and a shell
Of particular note, of the deepest
Torment formed, and seeing it was
That it was, the gods withdrew.
To this day humans cut a wide swath
On every shore of every sea,
Picking, examining, discarding
The bringings of every laden tide
As if to slake a mirage-seeking thirst
For the aphrodisiac of the demons
Or the nectar of the gods.
The shell eludes, the sea endures;
A mirage oasis is still a moving goal.

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IN THE CANOPY OF THE RAINFOREST

This is the muse’s home; a world floating on a
World, covering an everchanging patchwork quilt
Of light and shade the way a shadowless shade
Spreads itself under the low clouds, softens the
Lazy noon high on the Andean land atop the world.

All morning long longs the songbird, hopstepping
In his own tune to try and rhyme an elusive note;
The resplendent quetzal ruffles his plume now and
Again as if to catch the longish rays of the sun.

There is self-sufficiency in the leafiness of the
Layered, leafy world; the treefrog entrusts her
Tadpoles to the safe pool of the bromeliad cup,
Never needing a descent to the gravelly ground;
The groundlings may yet ascend to claim the gift
Of light, such as where the leafcutting ants form
A file to carry away the green banners of greening.

In the misty cold at the close of a day, there again
Rises a melody of the canopy, a lute of many notes
In light-intoxicated sound as the hour is claimed
By the unseen crickets and self-illumined fireflies;
Each creature of the canopy seeks to rhyme a tune
Distinct and different, or distinctly different
From all the others present, all the others past.

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[Source: http://www.indianmirror.com/geography/banyan%20tree.jpg]

THE COWDUST HOUR

Somewhat suddenly then
By the rustic landing at water’s edge
In the aged banyan tree’s dusk
In the trunk root forest
Time calls a halt
And lets the sky carry on
With a light thickening
To a light thickening
To a faint burst of light.
Onshore and where on ricefields
The last gold trims
A homeward skybird’s lone wing,
One, two, one, two, then a lull –
A few, then a lull –
Cowbells peal.
The dust blown at the hoof
Over the note of the wedding flute
Signals a dying phase of light,
The bride-viewing light,
As he lifts the veil and sees
In the mirror of the eyes
Deep, stilled time.
Just as suddenly then
The sky bows out
And lets time carry on
In the aged banyan tree’s dark
In the trunk root forest.

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Santhal Girl by B. Prabha
[Source:http://www.edunetconnect.com/]

MOHUAMILAN

It was in the old land that I once met a man,
A Relieving Assistant Station Master, he said,
From a small railroad stop called Mohuamilan.
Mohua the flower; milan a conjunction.
And that was that.

Except it now seems that it never was.
That place I never saw nor knew for
Its imagined mystery nights, the airy aboriginal
Nights I sometimes compose in my mind.
The saals, pials and tamals cover the land
But never that intimate smell of mohua,
Always and everywhere – all these and a single
Ribbon of red dust that may in the end run past
The teashacks of Titikatta in brisk commerce, or
Soon Tatijharia’s lazy noon on a red dusted day,
Not unlike the one that winds down here today
Under a wide salmon sky, with the sunbird
Mo’utusi’s looting of the mohua’s honey,
Honeybees’ scouting too, and over in a mud-walled
Earth household, its yard fresh lain with mud,
The sweet scent of mohua soaked in that too,
The veilless mistress in fullness of youth,
Red-rimmed sari diagonally across bare breasts,
Prayers on full lips, kneels to the sunset -
Young gods in Amaravati please bless her brood -
Who now sit to homework as hurricane lanterns
Begin to flicker in every hut on the leafy dark
Of saals - night rhythm now begins to heave and
Grow widewise - and in that place at that time
An aimless wind from far fragrant hills
Blunders in willy-nilly, bringing the forest’s
Personal smells, folding senses into desires -
Earth’s indifferent primary scents over the close in,
Fresh-bathed redolence of a woman in a holy stance -
On this airy aboriginal night, the mystic night of
Conjunction, of absolute senses, of original desires.

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SPIRIT HORSES

The waterhole of the wildhorses
Is not open to view; the mystery
There, at evenings in particular,
Defies even the seer's divination.
Rimmed by a spirit forest, lit by a
Spirit moon, the evening waterhole
Of the spirit horses is forbidden
To view. Envision or imagine,
Overfly or scout, the communing at
The waterhole is withheld from view.
When seasons turn, meadows flower
And waters rage, the yogi's meditation
Deepens a bit: half-formed words
Flit, holographic images re-form;
But the shaping of the mindhorses
Still diffuses just beyond sense.
Analyze what is knowable, argue
What is not; cull out the objective
Reality from that which is altered
On perception; but the evening
Rituals of the wildhorses still elude
Observation. The jungle murmurs at
A whisper though, that there's granted
But a joint view, one glimpse to a pair,
A man and a woman in constant bond,
Unfailing even as youth fails,
Sworn each to each to the end of
The way - a look they store in the
Shared memory, not open to view.

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[Source: http://academics.smcvt.edu/jkroger]

MYSTIC HEIGHTS

Himalaya high place:
The pilgrim bent at his walking staff
Where Dhaulagiri glows a pure white,
Glory also the gods,
Has no address, no satchel, no papers;
Only the body rags and matted hair.
Past Banaprastha here is Jyoti.

Do you not miss her,
The warmth, the private smile;
The children and the rest?

Ahead is what’s to come.
Behind is what’s gone.
So I walk on.
But now you have reminded me.
Now you’ve made me weep.

(And then the Charioteer said:
O Arjuna, whoever worships me
Severing all his earthly bonds,
I will lovingly tend to
All his earthly bonds.)

The man takes the end of his wrap;
He wipes his eyes
And he sets on his walk,
On up to the last of life.
Ahead awaits the pilgrim’s quest,
The mystic source of the Ganges,
Her long sought mystery gift -
A warmth, a private smile.

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DENIZENS OF THE PYRE GROUND

It is long many years
Since I saw them once, in the village
Pyre ground by the forlorn end
Of the quay, halfbent shadowy figures
Draped in matted hair and tattered shreds,
Crimson eyes reddened yet more in the
Opiate trance; half of this earth, half not,
I thought. Licking their brittle lips they
Crouch about the crackling fire, as though to
Commune with the one within. They beseech you
And entreat you and beg money for a drunken
Huddle, or chased away, they curse your dead
To eternal hell. They are the pyre ascetics,
My father said - derelicts by their choice,
In the corridor between the living and the dead;
It is something in pain they seek.
Once more I saw one upon a broad dark night,
Not another soul near - seated still
Against the ancient banyan trunk in the
Graceful lotus state, an unearthly light
Playing on the grotesque face, eyelids shut.
Smoldering round in attuned sentience:
The spent cinder-red pyres.

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LAMASERY WILD BERRIES

The ageless rock face has aged
In the sound; long low wailed
The long brass horns, the chant
Grew and fell, rose and ebbed,
Then grew to a resonant high,
Steeped deep in the pore space
Of rocks, to daily affirm a
Wholeness of harmony, till
The day the horns, till the day
The chant, of music sapped,
Struck the transforming note:
Monk into exile, rock to sponge.

In the stunted shadow of bonsais
Dimming now - wisteria, ezo
Spruce, cranberry cotoneaster
In miniature berries - definition
Blurring now on the rock garden
Floor, fresh raked to ash gray,
Transplanted patterns of remembered
Harmony, sunned the whole day
By lodgepole pines, rowed ungapped
To the abrupt hills, sudden
Sentinels at watch over the
Summering rill, pebble deep and
Fast eddied, indistinct mirror
On the prayer flags, colored
Lure-bright and hoisted trade
Wind high, well willed to draw
The blessings of seven seas, not
Unmixed in the redolence of
The coastal temple gardens, their
Coconut groves seacooled, in that
Stunted shadow of shimpaku junipers
Blurring now, a day is done.
The monk into his sanctum,
Seaward the sun, this day is done.

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[Source: http://www.juni-worse-ill.de/artwork/classix/bedouin.gif]

NISHAPUR

Evening and multicolored lamps
Down the cobblestone street
Of a city that never really was,
Not in the sea view of Byzantium,
Not in the pleasure palaces of Elysium;
More at a silk road tavern town,
A lone hamlet one nears alone,
An approach down a hill slope may be,
Dusty, sweaty on a camelback may be,
Tired, longing for a warm meal, a bed,
As the bedouin - pleasurably - thinks:
This is a place I’ve seen before,
Or wanted long to know
From those disconcerting dreams
Of the sultry oasis nights,
The place that will replay for me
Many happinesses, formless and animate,
That I sensed were but never knew
And so noted away somewhere.
Now the shops raise the nightly awnings;
Syrupy tea, oil cakes and water pipes
With long hose for passing round,
Street-side benches companionable,
Verses shared from Omar’s lore,
The camels restful at the hitching posts
On this road of crossed destinies
That ramps up towards the end
To a place known from the muted bustle,
Smell of lamb and pepper on open flame,
The high welcoming lantern at the portal,
The place all our nights come from,
That long imagined caravanserai.

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THE OLD WOMAN WE SAW AT CHICHEN-ITZA

When Zeus saw Aphrodite on the steps
Of Olympus pondering the fate of
Living things, he lovingly sent her on
A tour of mortal duty in all its essence
To be lived without knowledge of herself.
Or such is what we surmise.

Zeus is gone now. She sits on the
Arduous steps, resting a moment from
The climb. The gentle warmth of the smile
That is about to break brings forth the still
Smoldering glow in her womb remaining
From the primordial fireball from which
The universe and all things began.

That almost imperceptible glint in her
Eyes carries a hint of the beneficial light
That shone when the insects and the
Crocodiles greeted the new arrival
Deep in the ancient strata of
Olduvai Gorge, the cradle of man.

But it was the wrinkles around her
Eyes, tired but not sad, that betrayed
A faint memory of a distant peak,
A snow-white seven-pillared house rising
Into the clouds – a place to which
We know she will be safely returned.

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A PILGRIM TO LIGHT

Yet on a winter night
Numbed by the failing light
I fall back in empathic shiver
On the most melancholy of sights -
From all passions let free
The naked Jain monk
Walks alone the earth
Through the ancient roaddust
Of holy lands and the wide avenues
Of the cities of man, pausing when
Veiled under the old deodar
The village maidens offer alms,
Shy eyes lowered to his feet;
And I marvel at the man he is,
So much the man he is,
Without a care how he’s seen;
And evermore I think
On how in walking on
The road becomes the destination,
An arriving at a definition -
Workable because it satisfies,
Satisfying because it works -
For the odd few who see to see
As I tick off my used up years.

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HARMONIA MUNDI

Of all those that intrigue me
None fascinates me more
Than a mendicant ascetic,
A lone sannyasi alone,
Not, I think, for what he seeks
But how he seeks, the odd exploring.

Now come far from the midst of things
I only can regain, only at times,
Fragmentary images, from childhood
Mostly, of an unquestioning wonder.
These are the recurrents: the ocher robe
And the shaved head; the rest varies.

In a place of desolation where the Ganges,
Upon the tumult of the holy places, after
The laving of so many sins and such filth,
Faces herself in a private moment alone,
Someone’s carved a cascading ghat, a rustic,
Treelined landing that reaches the water;
In early dawn as the dark gives in to the
Vermilion glow, bare from the waist up,
Waist-deep in water, a worshipper stands,
Palms joined, head bowed to the sun.
The prayer opens on the word Om, closing
Upon the word Om, wrapping around Om,
Filling all space; a word between the Sun
And the Man, the Earth and the Sun:
A word I eavesdropped on, and yet hear.

Or the mystic heights of the Himalayas.
The stony peaks of the purest white are
Risen like ageless sages in mute communing.
Circled by them, closely watched, a valley
Of the ascetics, a glassy plain that retains
The last orange sorrow of the mountain Sun.
Along a diagonal train a lone pilgrim walks,
The staff paralleling his feeble body,
Unseen by society’s eyes, never knowing
A woman’s love, he walks. No one expects him,
None awaits him. Through rainy Sravan or in
Flowering Falgun, today as within my childhood,
Face hidden, the Sun behind, he walks.

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TOWARDS AN ORGANIC CORE

The jungle is very old, old
Howlings and old hootings and old cooings
Soaked deep in the old lichens and the old moss,
Released nightly to awaken newer notes
Within the dark thickening within
The dark thickening within
The dark core of the jungle’s being.

The hermit is very old, old
Banyans invade with new trunks his forest
Hovel, old searching in dim mountains
Retold in the leafy growth of matted hair,
Calling back an old nameless pain,
The long celibate nights of an ascetic youth
In a hidden monastery or a lone
Caravanserai draped on the sunset cliffs.

The old man is very old, old
Images and old desires flit
In and out of his sprouting dark, stirring
A faint trickle of old sap, though not
Betrayed in his glazed cataracts, projecting
Astrally upon a far thickening dark, in the
Rows of old deodars where
Old whispers relive nightly,
Commune with the hermit-deodar
In the dark core of the jungle’s dark.

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THE FOG ROLLS IN AGAIN

Twilight on bird’s wings
And the fog rolls in again;
Clouding the cataracts
Dousing the daydreaming
Shrouding the shrubbery
The fog rolls in this evening.
Alone in a darkening den
The shadows growing dense,
Across the opening in the window pane
Through the crack in the door frame
The fog keeps on rolling.
No one to light a lamp
The memory yet awash and damp
Of one long gone;
With tears upwelling from deep within
The fog just keeps on rolling.

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[Source: http://faculty.evansville.edu/rl29/art105/img/incan-macchu1.jpg]

MACHU PICCHU NIGHT

Tall mountains and sheer cliffs
In your misted silence now
That the crowds are gone
And no earthly chatter resounds
Off your brooding faces

Say softly for me here
Seated alone upon eons and years
A transported, disembodied word
In the voice of the ancients
Who for me please gather round
(Mist shaping in your marred halls)
Once more this widening night;

Touch me lightly now
All over the bliss-thirsty brow,
Waft me back to where
The ancients’ earthly chatter
Resounded off your approving faces;

Gather me
Back to me
Tall mountains and sheer cliffs.

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AMAZON NIGHTFALL

The Jivaros have receded beyond the border
With their blowguns and the load of monkeys
And it is getting dark;
Under the sprawling breadfruit tree there are
Patches of dim light or it is dark.

Over on the Yarinacocha Lagoon
The black water is getting blacker;
On a lea by the Ucayali the ants carrying
Leafcuttings like green banners rush home
For it is getting dark.

Around the very old Ayacucho hunter
Who now lives mostly in his outer brain
The light is fading; inside the knapsack
Of the Aymara mother, darkness is struggling
For a little place with the sleeping baby.

Within the dream of the ancient crocodile
And around the Opera House in Manaus
Now it is getting dark;
Slowly the baton makes the final arc
And everything is dark.

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A PREDAWN DEATH

After the sunlight crimson on the eastern
Panes, and along the pebble-bare river
Trudging on its weary way past the contiguous
Stretch of moors and hovels and musty lanes
To the brief free run, a festive bursting
Of deltaic green before the pouring death
To the sea, comes the stark realization
Which night benumbs with what is soothing
In a night; come the sayers of farewell,
Flowers and frankincense, the intoning monk.
The sun bears down vertically on the dead,
Borne face up by mourners to the ordained
Tryst in fire and ash. Festive rites sing
The sun’s decline, then the pyre is lit.
No mystery precedes a birth, only the
Known steps, the loving, the organic fusion,
The amniotic months; death terminates all,
A sudden wall, nothing beyond is knowable.
When the sun leaves, there’s only the pyre;
Light perpetuates light, earth fire carries
The fire in the sky. Shadowy comers mingle,
Flames waver, flesh smelling jackals howl.
Late into the dark the fire is lost:
It is the living’s turn to return home.
There, darkly, the absence lurks, a shape
Of emptiness, of what is empty in a night.

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MY MANGO BLOSSOM MAY

Sorrows lengthen on a seagull’s wing.
Eyes watch me in every sky,
In Julian or Juliaca;
Be it January, be it June;
The eyes fix me in a disappointed gaze.

Not thus in those simpler days of May,
My mango blossom May,
When dreams floated in down the river
Though from my Geography book
I imagined another river Reba,
For the music of that name alone,
Rebanadi re sa dha ni sa, with
Dreams and riverboats, dreams on riverboats
And we waded knee-deep to meet them.
And whoever dreamed in May
Planned a most extravagant fall.
The eyes watched then in seeming approval.

Alas O bird we’re a sky too far.
The dreams have all flowed out,
Out where Reba pours towards Vaitarani,
(Rebanadi ni dha ni re sa)
The river of the Last Crossing.
Sorrows lengthen on a seagull’s wing.

If my mind turns to Vaitarani, I veer away.
I live in May, my mango blossom May.

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SEA ISLAND GARLAND

The long voice of the songbird trails.
A wind in coconut fronds fails.
Goings upon goings as with
All things that surround me now,
Lovingly as they always have,
Not as before though, not as with
The earth, her lavishings renewed
With comings and more comings.
The island is a mood, the sea is wide.

I pace the monotone of gray sands
Broken at times by fishermen
At drying bright yellow nets.
Slowly a hush takes hold,
The expectant hush, a nip in the air.
Conch shells, sea foam, hermit crabs
Are the first to catch the red;
Then the sea swells, the crystals
Of sand, and the red itself of corals.
At the gentlest spiraling of seabreeze
The conch shell speaks.

Deep within the deep of
The mid-island rainforest
Some happenings unfold;
The brood nested and fed,
It is time for love songs and chirps,
The sweet courting calls and such;
From all these, unwilling, I digress.

It is a sign for all things to come home;
Temple bells over a muezzin’s call.
Only, the island has a way;
Its plumerias and all the tropical best,
Gull calls, breakers and palm sways,
The salt air, smell of kelp and the rest,
All work in concord to say
What to me rings most discordant:
The cycle has been broken.
Your goings will continue.
Your comings are withheld.

Promenade now the island maidens,
Coifed and flowered, arms bare
And breasts full, smile an enigma,
Down the circle island road
Whose sundown arc will catch
The brief shades of magenta
Turned at times to a flash of green.

The conch shell speaks of other seas,
Places she has known, she has been,
Seas of water and seas of dark,
Islands of sand and islands of light;
But her airy cadence is not distinct.
The unknown is not all unblessed,
The unheard song is a sweet song,
Is what I seem to make out.

In the graves the ancients rest;
Mere rows of crumbly bricks now
But once a monument to mark
The leaving, to benefit the living,
By the farmer’s manicured hut
Lamp-lit now it’s nearly night.

Up a ways onto the hill, the forest
Floor strewn with ripe mangoes,
Juicy green coconuts, no one to pick,
Sad also for a failed light, in some
Ache call to mind long dead men,
Spiritual torment of homebound men
Died in a chrysalis of self-woven calm.

At length the island from the sea
Returns to sea, the sea of dark.
Then, when nothing remains in view,
Comes in view the crescent of light,
That island in the sea of dark
With its sky size garland of light.

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A CALM SOMETIMES

From within the core of solitude, donning
The shape of silence hovering in a dense fog
With some of its chill, a languor settling
In the edges of the body, numbing the inside,
Comes a calm sometimes, as at no other times,
As in a gray evening hearing of the loss of
One close, or of the other impending death;
In a lonely den or an ether-odored office;
Disjoining from all that is ephemeral or
Immediate; connecting with another place,
A faraway time, before or hence; links,
Familiarities – all severed momentarily;
Forlorn as when a nursing mother pulls the
Baby off the breast; defenseless, like the
Slumbering Samson; yet a calm that is both
Blissful and beneficial, one that the yogis
Search for the whole time: the rare view
Through a reentrant clearing in the cloud that
Turns inward upon itself, reassuring, as when
The mother returns the baby to the other breast.

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THE BOATMAN OF THE LAST RIVER

Questions have piled up,
Not entirely in the clear stream
Nor in full measure obscured.
All times the water has streamed on
Ceaselessly in our nights of icy wind,
An airy rustling in the dried thistles
In the deodar forest.
And when by the stark light of day
The sandy shallows could no more hide
The little things at urgent spawning,
The genial ripples lovingly took them
Into their blanketed deep.
On the festive night
The doe-eyed widow steals away
To set afloat in her cupped hands
A paperboat lamp in remembrance;
The wind and the river
Cradle it unharmed
To their meandering’s end;
The crossings and the questions mingle
To become the last crossing
Or a single question personified.
He looms arched over at the oar –
More an enigma than a query –
The asker of the final question,
The boatman of the last river.

SOME PUBLISHED REVIEWS

SOME OTHER PUBLISHED REVIEW COMMENTS ON BIBHAS DE'S POETRY

De's finest work catches for us a deeply responsive, almost encyclopedic mind in the act of communing with the universal process.

John Moffitt
Former poetry editor, America

"The Slayer of the Seal" is a beautiful poem. Bibhas De is to be congratulated on having his work approved by this all Indian board, which is very selective in the material they choose.

Hap Gilliland
Council for (American) Indian Education

The vein of mystical thought that runs through them, and that makes these poems both intriguing and attractive, is perhaps an unconscious reflection of his Indian mind…

Pratapaditya Pal
Former Curator of Asian Arts, LACMA
In The Statesman

The collection of poems shows polarisations, often under one title, in a philosophical and questioning vein, of scientific thinking together with the more transcendental aspects of Indian thought, often close to the esoteric.

Eric Ratcliffe
Editor, Ore (UK Poetry Magazine)

De's entity is in the glorious Vedic Ages of India. This is where his inward journey takes place and is superbly manifested in Migratory Formations.

Chitra Chakraborty
In Claremont Courier

The scientific background shows in his precise use of language and careful description mainly of the natural world. The Indian influence comes over in the way he interweaves a mystic harmony with the imagery. Witness HARMONIA MUNDI - "Of all those that intrigue me/None fascinates me more/Than a mendicant ascetic./…/not…for what he seeks/But how he seeks, the odd exploring"

MG
In New Hope International (UK Poetry Magazine)

… romantic in vision with good colour in the words.

In Envoi (UK Poetry Magazine)

It invokes the loftier spheres of our thought without being corny or didactic.

Belinda Subraman
In Dusty Dog (US Poetry Magazine)

De is a keen poet… The poem depicts an enlightened attitude to the earth, to the skies, to nature…

Makarand R. Paranjape
In Kavya Bharati (Indian Poetry Magazine)

…beautiful poetry with an inner rhythm…. Truly delightful and relaxing reading…

Marie L. Nunn
In Poet, An International Monthly

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