Buoy the population of the soul
Toward their destination before they drown
~ Robert Pinsky
April 2021
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Saturday, 29. October 2011

Ghazal: Snow Man in Sakura Park

The mind in winter retreating into itself knows
How green sap is held in the embrace of snow.

Blue-black (of her memorized eyes) is how the grave
Statues gaze at his passing shadow, shaggy with snow.

In their farewell, nothing left really to tell or show
But his x-rayed heart, inked with shards of snow.

What does the dead general dream in his icicled tomb?
Wind off the river etches memory on his brow of snow.

“Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is”:
So is the dark one hidden to Radhika by the snow.

After Wallace Steven's "Snow Man"

My Poems

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[1] A Passage on Time (Washington DC)

Don’t the ginkos wait all year
For these brief weeks of cool blue
Skies - they call it Indian Summer –
To unfurl their haloes of golden flame?

Sometimes it is easy to lose track
Of time, even as living is about time
Most of the time. Six months, she says,
Since they have started sleeping in the same bed.

No, she corrects herself, it is seven actually.

[2] A Passage on Memory (Hyderabad, India)
“My memory is again in the way of your history.” - Agha Shahid Ali

This country, even as I didn’t know it, remains
The substratum that I must drill into every time
To standup these edifices of words, in a language
Out of whose palm I surreptitiously ate, a starveling.

These words are as close to me as memory,
Yet I haven’t summoned them by name often.
They, like you, stand at an distinct angle to memory,
From whose density you seek escape today

Into a lighter, less crowded air. But these are
Orphic moments that I must sing as I attempt
To ascend on a stair of alphabet towards a moment
Of painless clarity. Perhaps it is true, the spirit needs

Memory in the absence of history, and history in
Making seeks escape in the presence of memory.

My Poems

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Ghazal - a translation

Your memory’s trains kept arriving through the night.
The wet in my eyes kept smiling through the night.

Through the night, the anguished candle kept burning
As pain’s blood kept roiling through the night.

A flute’s sweet melody kept playing
Insistent as memory through the night.

Moonlight of memories kept falling across the heart
As the moon kept shimmering through the night.

A mad lover kept wandering through the lanes.
My voice kept reaching me through the night.

Translated from the Urdu approximately. The ghazal is "Aap kii yaad aatii rahii raat bhar" by Makhdoom Moinuddin. Go here to hear this ghazal sung: www.youtube.com


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