Wednesday, November 29, 2006

After a Hiatus

[FYI that line came from the subject header of an email I received from a one time lover. I remember staring at the word 'hiatus' and thinking what a beautiful name it was for a flower, delicate and white-edged, soft and coloured with tinges of blue, purple. I remember thinking that like an orchid it would grow on dead plant life, wrapping itself around a rotting branch. Hiatus. Noun. I picked a hiatus from the riverside, he took her a bouquet of hiatus, et al]

Crunch time.

Forget all that has happened since I last blogged.

Oh and believe me, a lot has.

Crunch time.

I walk around grinding my teeth and counting anxiety attacks these days because I have no answer to the one question that will not go away.

Two years in America. They were meant to be an extended holiday, a decoration on the resume, a free ride.

It has been that. And without asking my permission, it has turned into something more.

I like this mud. I like the cold hardness of this new england ground. I like fall, the fact that every tree looks like its part of a great sacrificial fire to announce the death of the season. I like being alone here, having no face that looks like mine. I like the rocks, ice water, shellfish, sturdy boots that make up the everyday. I like the lack of a mob.
And now I can't leave.

And attempting to stay on beyond the stated finish line is driving me insane.

Truly, I am losing it. I dont sleep right. I dont eat right. I find it harder quitting smoking for good.

What do I do, O fair, brave and lone reader?
What do I, dilettante of the first order [yes it was spell checked]
deserve in the way of extended stays, and second chances?
How do I convince these americans that I am worthy of their grad school?
Am I worthy?
What will happen if I don't make it?

This fear is the most potent drug I have ever used. Or abused. It makes me see visions of natural disasters [last night I dreamt of a dam bursting] and feel the kind of sadness that belongs to old bag ladies singing to themselves in the NY greyhound station.

I weep like I've lost my mind. I listen to every song, choked up and tissue-filled. It's pathetic.

I have ignored laundry, physicals, haircuts, friends, blogging.

I want serenity. I want the ability to feel no fear.
I want out.
And there is no out. India is not an option, not now.
A happy-go-lucky, creative writing major with no actual work experience who's only training has been in being a wasafiri [google it]and writing critical annotations has no place in the good ol' home on the range.

I need a miracle. An act of god. Or faith.
Maybe a prayer.
Or maybe, a word from you. Whoever and whatever you are.

Any ideas?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

You're finally alive again, Syd.


Yesterday at the bar,
a plastic blonde on tv said
you were 6 feet under and breathing dead.
All those chemicals in the soil, finally-
would the lads strum your song at the funeral,
or just sit there in black, jack?

But the blonde carried on;
said you were a founding member, but left
after some "drug trouble".
Others were surprised you lived so long, till
Tom the bartender said you had been dead
a long time already.

You grew old, syd, and plucked potatoes
from the seeds in your mind. Tea at 4 'o' clock?
Did you paint in the shed outside,
next to the garden hose and rake?
(Is your pick at the bottom of the fishbowl
and will you still guide my lost n' lonely soul?)

You died as Mr. Roger Keith Barrett. I stared
at your picture, as you glared at the camera
you were too tired to chase away. Death's happening all over,
like it always has. But somewhere for me, Syd, you're finally free.
The druids at stonehenge wait with your Fender, and once again
you will write music, not just poetry.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Of Songs on the Radio, and other things I have been learning

The fact is, the radio is a god. A god, or a toked up caterpillar sitting on a hoard of mushies. Only for one reason, ladies, gents and other assorted reptilia.

The reason of course, being that the radio always knows how to time songs. You have noticed this yes?

You're in your car driving alone, cursing yourself for the lack of cigarettes and a girlfriend, and some retard jockey mumbles a line and then this song starts, and its Brian May with Too Much Love Can Kill you.

You pick up your ex's skanky best friend at the club, and Alice Cooper starts singing Poison.

Your best friend's girl dies of cancer, and he's on the phone with you, crying like the day his dad flushed his still-live turtle down the toilet, you are groping for words, parked on the side of the 101, and Black starts playing, and you cry as Vedder howls.

You're in bed with a man you love, and the day suddenly gets colder when you start talking about the fact you haven't been talking, and Nickleback starts in with Someday.

Yeah, there's a radio god. He lives in your stereo. He has a bitch sense of humor, and he's into being the dom in this aural relationship.

Ok that's one thing I've learnt. The other is that relationships do more than russian roulette ever could to increase your pain threshold. Physical only, mind you. I'll leave the more lavender whinings to the women and men who do it better than me-- Call Dr. Phil, yo, I hear he's on tour right now. But seriously...

Pain. Sensations, more like it. For instance remember the time when you were 6 and ran into your first highly polished glass door?

You fell to the floor. Behind your closed eyes, the map of texas flashed psychedelically. But with the uncontrolled lachrymal secretions also came that rush of endomorphins, and you lay there, and suddenly-- smiled. That kind of feeling, the increase in the threshold for accepting that feeling, can come only with glass doors and excitable teeth. I hold a fondness for both, so sue me. And how great thou art, Radio God: I type this and Def Leppard starts up with Love Bites.

I think I need another smoke.

Ok that's more a realization than something I learnt new, so having cheated and rambled, let me carry on further... am sure there's a point to this somewhere.

Ah! Yes-- I've learnt that Tenacious D are truly righteous, and are the chosen ones to rock the kali yug into the next shining white trip that has been written of. Google 'Tenacious D- Tribute- Video' and watch what comes up.

I've also learnt that its the timing of the cigarette after the meal that determines whether you need to take a dump or not. Truly righteous. Screw thy prune juice, Mrs. Jones, nothing works for that feeling of moksha better than a well-timed smoke. The perfect moment is usually 7mins 45 secs post chowing.

And then-- summer holidays in America are very different from summer holidays in India. Maybe it's the amount of time you get, or maybe coz it's the only time of living sun that this country ever really gets, so all the reeling-dealing-mad-burnt-rubber-wheeling that can be done only gets done at this time. 3 months of mirages and myriad frutifulness. People do their own thing come summertime in Yankville. Everyone finds a groove,gets a tattoo, throws up on a beach, names a tree after their grandpa, finishes an internship, et al.

Me? I just live. I watch. And learn. And time smokes after meals.

I've learnt that I'm afraid of fire escapes.

I've learnt that my favourite line for today is from a Tom Waits song: " I smoke my friends down to the filters"
What I like about Tom Waits is that he's quaint like an 18th century absinthe house, and just as addictive. I could OD on Tom Waits.

I've learnt that I don't give a camel's snort for national holidays and reruns of famous sitcoms. I do however, have a thing for paid programming slots.

A wonder of American TV. For half an hour, smiling blondes and well educated black folk sell you cd collections and exercise videos. Spent the past 3 nights rocking out to Time Life's Soul and Disco collections: 158 of the greatest hits of the 50's and 70's, for only $9.95, money back ga...

yeah well. I aint seen you come up with an anti AIDS serum yet, so don't you DARE judge me.

I've learnt that sleep deprivation makes you more miserable than warm jello and loneliness together ever can.

I've learnt that writers must write or die.

I've learnt that the one person you really love, and this despite 2 weeks of close nose to nose and armpit types contact, is the one person you can never write a poem about.

Never ever. Ever never.

I've learnt that bell peppers taste good with swiss cheese and rye.

I've learnt how to cook the perfect pot of rice.

I've learnt all the lyrics to Black.

I've learnt that one shouldn't blog after ages of self-imposed silence, because one tends to ramble. I've learnt that one shouldn't say one.
Coz it's presumptuous.

That's just me though. And what do I know? I don't have a favouritest sandwich, and I listen to The Darkness.

Oh yeah... one final thing. The only way to deal with the bitchy Radio God?
Cut the volume, holmes. He gets the message.

Night be kind. Go on now. Git.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Holy Mother F-

Right. Hadn't realized it's been this long since I've posted.


I guess life does have a way of.... yeah, yeah all that shyte.

Great day for making a comeback, then. Eventhough the catholic church declared that it was 2002, not 2006 that was the actual year of the supposed horned meanie. Eventhough they made use of a calender date as a marketing strategy for that ridiculous re-intro of Damien into pop culture (around the east coast, this marketing strategy involved large black billboards with "06.06.06" on it)

Eventhough nothing really terrible happened today, to my knowledge, other than the usual bouquet of murders, suicides, shoe sales and whale killings.

Though, wait-- I did miss a bus. The dogs have been howling outside all day. Ah, and two lamp-posts went on when I walked under 'em (a tad positive, the latter. No? But I digress)

But in toto, I'm happy.

Will elucidate on the latter in the posts to come.

Happy Armageddon, everyone.

Friday, May 26, 2006

In Memoriam

Old man Sam Prabhakar died on the 19th.
Dad only told me today.
What is it about old men dying?

Women going is different: you tell yourself, at some point the provider of food and napkins, and sweets and stories must go. Some other woman-- an aunt, a teacher, a friend-- will take her place. But old men are different: they die like winter afternoons, slow and cold, and the memory of them lingers like the way you find it hard to throw out that favourite pair of worn out walking shoes.

He lived one of the fullest lives around. If this was 356 AD, then men would have stood around clashing swords on shields, seeing his body float away on the burning longship.

I will miss him. He was a grand old gent, very old boy's club, with all the class and none of the frills. He's a member of my church... my parents' church. He never went though, was a member for his wife and kids. In the midst of sheep and goats and ragged coconut choir carpeting, in the midst of old marble walls filled with scottish names and middle class ideas of well, 'class', coming to this church left behind by bagpipe blowers, Sam Prabhakar was soda sprayed into a clean glass, ice cubes in good whiskey, and stories on a misty hill-side.
We never drank together, because I was Jimmy's little girl. So I got cola and soda, never coke, see-- But cola and soda, mixed.

The house was hung all over with trophies from his travels, kids and grandchildren in ever nook and on every couch, an old piano... first editions, a dog that died and an ancient mother living in another room, silent, white haired completely.

The first time I met him, he showed us around the house. We walked into his study, where he had a glass jar filled with semi precious beads and stones. He asked me to put my hand in and take a fistful, coloured pieces of opal, quartz and bloodstone that he would buy by the bagfuls.

He had his cajones till the last day. The reason I was always respected him was because he never let people hold his elbow, and murmur condescending questions about his digestion in his hairy ear. You couldn't bring this guy packets of Earl Grey wrapped in ivory ribbon.

I'll have a drink on you, uncle. And the only reason I'm sad is, when we spoke on the phone in December, and you asked why I hadn't come over to visit you, your voice had held that tired tone of a guy who's seen the finish line. You knew it, but you never mentioned it then.


I regret not coming over in December. I regret not hearing more of your stories from you. I regret not knowing if you ever did find the best dosa ever made, in madras. I regret that I'll be unable to show you my graduation photos.

Like apupa, you left too soon. God send there's good scotch in heaven.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Anniversary Blues

So it's been a year to the day.

May 13th. It was raining in portland when I landed. It's raining here in rhode island today. Grey-black-blue skies like there's some pissed off dragon-weather god outside on the bay.

I could talk about all the good things. I could talk about all the not so good things.

But that would be giving into to bloggish temptations. Instead, will mention, that a decade and more after I first heard the song, and saw the video, I was able to hear and see both again today. Much thanks to my fellow cow in a cherry red bathing suit for finding the audio file for me :)

Anyone remember Erasure?


There was this b-grade anime look to the video for 'Always'. For some bizarre reason, found enough reason to be fascinated with it as a child.

Happy Anniversary, dear me.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mission A1232Q: The Towers

Blue is the sky above Corfu. He stared at the spec of ash on the toe of his right shoe, waiting. His cigarette had another three minutes in it, and the priest had given him an appointment that would begin in four. He felt a surge of adrenalin in his gut, and smiled at how it had always been this way: timing.

Morrisey was known for making it by mere fractions of a second. It was why his employers paid him as much as they did: his success rate was at a hundred percent, and he never kept his window open long enough for his target to be intercepted. In the village of his birth, where he had had a different name, where he was now thought to be dead, he had always won at Russian Roulette. In his present employment, Morissey was known for his obsession with his rubik's cube, fingers moving ceaselessly as his eyes stared at the seconds on a stop watch he used to time himself.

Timing. He shifted his weight, measuring his breathing, making sure his exhale time was exactly recursive. Recursive counts were a bitch, like the time in Perugia where the ambassador had sealed off the June invasion plans in an old sea chest, using a battered set of recursive rusty iron links, joined to a wood panel with worn leather straps. Morrisey had a window of five minutes for the entire operation, a minute of which was to be dedicated to drizzling the links with machine oil. Barefoot, his sweat had merged, salt and oil licking the links to silence as his abonormally long fingers, second and third of which were the same length, rolled one link off to remove the one before, and so on and back again, the Doberman asleep, 2 doors down the hall. He had slid into the backseat of the waiting car, slick and trembling at 4 mins 48 secs, still barefoot.

Barefoot he was again, while wandering around Corfu; his superior had sent him there “to take time off”. Morissey had smiled as security had scanned the GPRS system implanted just below his collarbone, to ensure the 2 storey jump the night before had not disturbed the calibrations. Corfu had a patron saint, crystal blue waters, but it was still on the same planet. The GPRS would tell them if he stopped to take a piss. There was no time off. His assignment would come. And it did.

3mins 46 secs.

The butt was black cold ash by the time Morrisey took his place opposite the priest at the table inside. In front of him was a bottle of Ouzo, a bowl of nuts and a tiny model of the towers that Lucas the french mathematician had constructed.

Morrisey smiled.

“It’s not worth it”, the old man said, staring at Morrisey’s fingers.
“They want it done”
The man sighed, and poured himself more Ouzo.
“The end is not mathematical. It cannot be stopped, and it will come with signs of great despair and wonder, and the Evil One will reign for many--”
“According to you and your kind. I however have been made to believe that there is a formula for everything”
“They are using you, and you will die. Beware your pride, young man. The ground in that room is covered with human bones, sightless eyes and dust. Why would you disturb it?”
Morrisey’s eyes gleamed. He stretched out his fingers, lifted the first disk and dropped it down the middle pole. Gently, slowly. He raised his eyes to meet those of the priest’s, staring intently at him.
“Because, it has already begun”

In Corfu town he had met the woman he had been briefed about, a woman with breasts like young pears, between which had hung an ancient copper disk with Cyrillic inscriptions, on a black string. His eyes clung to the disk in wonder, and she, being a wise woman, had raised herself off him, and brought him to her grandmother.

Find the face of the goddess, on the lowest step of the bath at Moraitika, the old woman said in a quiet voice. That disk, pointing at her grand-daughter’s throat, is the offering.
And you will die. As it has been, once every 64 years. An offering, she added.

Morrisey had held out his palm for the disk, and left without a word.

Moraitika was one of the older sites in Corfu, and his feet stepped over the dust of Tribunes and the remains of amphoras as he made his way down to the ruinous great bath. He took off his shoes at the entrance, his shirt, his trousers. Wearing only his watch and a torch around his neck, he descended below. The carved stone was cool to his feet, the ruins abandoned by tourists because of the holy parade in the village down the hill. He counted steps till he reached 22, and then the dank lower level, hard floor. He turned and crouched, torch between his teeth, searching.
He smiled at the beautiful face blank before him. 22 was a lucky number; risky, it told of choices. He placed his fingers over the face, his eyes closed like so many times before. Tracing stone eyes, stone nose—stone mouth. There was a hollow, the width of the disk. The copper circle slid in easily. Ears pricked, Morrisey heard the dull low ‘chink’ below, and sprang onto the 21st step as the rock at his feet slipped away horizontally.
Morissey considered the darkness below. 64 years, the old woman had said.
He thought of his shoes sitting outside for 64 years. A magic square, this life, whose beginning was 1 and it’s end 64.

When I get older losing my hair
many years from now
will you still be sending me a valentine
birthday greeting, bottle of wine
If I'd been out till quarter to three
would you lock the door
Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four.

Morissey hated the Beatles, but couldn’t help grinning. Holy numbers and British pop. The end of the world and 3 iron poles. Death. Recursive Death recursive death recursive Stop.
He went below, knowing exactly what he would find, knowing there would be no booby traps, no hidden treasure. If he came out alive he would go back to the girl of sweet pears and dark eyes. If he came out alive.

His eyes adjusted to the dark. The walls of the passage way were smooth, damp, cold, the plastic of the torch in his mouth wet with his saliva, for he needed his hands alive and awake to any possibility, any trick the romans had found, and strengthened, and reused. He refused to look down when his feet kicked at something that immediately collapsed into dust with a little sigh of displaced air. He was 32 and Romany: death was like the unwelcome relative who always outstayed his visit, who you got used to like a painful corn, or nail on the wall. He refused to look down, but instead counted his steps. The passage widened just as he mouthed 260.

He gaped. The three poles were as tall as he was, ancient standing sentinels. He touched the middle tower: iron. Pali script: they had taken these from the priests of Brahma, carrying them in secret ships to this island for safe-keeping. To ensure the life of the world was maintained, once every 64 years, by moving a single disk.

He had 3 minutes. One, to lift the uppermost disk. The second, to slide it down the middle pole. The old man had told him there were rumors of poison vents in the ground he stood on, so intricately balanced that any sudden increase in weight would release the fumes. He could not let the disk fall. He suddenly wished for machine oil, for the comforting feel of modern European floorboards under his feet, for the warmth of the jail-cell he had spent a night in, in Krakow. Whatever time he had left, was the time he had to race up the passage, and jump onto the 21st step, before the goddess swallowed him forever. He knew the countdown would start the moment he touched the first disk. He knew that these towers were diabolical: the old man had warned him how hypnotizing the sight of the incomplete ancient puzzle was to the quick-fingered, how intense the desire would be to try his skill at moving all 64 disks, to change the course of history, to end the world with numbers. Beware your pride, he had said.

He closed his eyes, and stretched out his hands. He did not need the light. Fluid like oil, fluid like the sleek head of the sleeping dog, fluid like diving into the grotto outside Corfu town, like the disk in his hand, cold and large like the head of some great gentle beast, eased over the middle tower, gently, slowly. Fluid like feet on sand, feet against dust-bone running panting up the passage, the rumbling of earth already begun in his mind, fluid like her arms, her face, recursive like sex, this running
15 seconds.

After he got his breath back, Morrisey decided to leave his shoes behind. He walked down to the village in his shirt and boxers, entered the first bar and demanded Ouzo. His fingers trembled so much he couldn’t pick up the glass; instead, he went outside, midst angry yells about the unpaid tab, and hailed a taxi for Corfu town.

He smiled out the window. Maybe his son would return for his shoes, one day.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

"Give Me Your Poems"

Three days ago, Lyubomir Levchev came to read on campus, in celebration of National Poetry Month here in yankville. Lyubomir is a Bulgarian poet, and this was his self introduction:

hello my friends, of famous rogers williams college.
I am lyubomir.
I dont speak english.
But after 2nd bottle, I speak english.

Sitting there with notepad and cranberry juice, I couldn't take my eyes off the old man: he has one of those faces that time's used like it would an old tree trunk-- wrinkles, warts and mottled skin like lichen and moss and owls nest in the top branches. He has the most beautiful smile, and carries his cane instead of leaning on it. He came with his lovely wife, his translator, and his publisher and friend, Alexander Taylor, one of the directors of Curbstone Press, and a poet in his own right.

Something about Lyubomir caught my imagination: I have never scribbled down so much verse thanks to the presence of one old man, ever before. His publisher read Levchev's work in english, and then the poet would read the same in Bulgarian:

He tells his translator,
no stopping.
Refuses to read, like a 5 year old
at his eye doctor's clinic,
and holds his cane
while listening,
like a flower

Levchev wanted Taylor to keep reading, while he sat there and listened, intently.

What a face!
If only this pen was a brush,
and I, Rembrandt.

He could've sat in a boat
on a wharf
in a ditch,
reading poetry with a pipe.

He smiles.
What a face!
I mourn my lack.

Lyubomir only picks up his cane
and points to the poetry growing
outside the window.

I kept scribbling things like this throughtout the two-hour reading. Levchev has written some fine poetry. The official blurb on him, according to the PEN American Centre is as follows:

Lyubomir Levchev was born on April 27, 1935, in Troyan, Bulgaria. He has published over 20 volumes of poetry and two novels. Over 60 of his books have been published in 33 countries. He has been awarded the Gold Medal for Poetry of the French Academy and the title Knight of Poetry, the Grand Prize of the Alexander Pushkin Institute and the Sorbonne, and the World Award of Mystic Poetry Fernando Rielo. Levchev is the founder and editor of the international literary magazine Orpheus.

Taylor, while introducing Levchev, said that the President of Bulgaria visited him, and that he was the lion of Bulgarian poetry. Hearing this-- albeit translated-- Levchev let loose a loud belly laugh, rocking back and forth in his chair in his merriment. His translator then said to us, "he says, 'very well if you say so'". Little things like this kept the audience charmed throughout the reading.

The first poem that Taylor read, was called 'Lullaby', and is translated from the Bulgarian by Valentin Krustev:

by Lyubomir Levchev

The boy was standing at the exit
of the new gas-station
like a deadlock,
like a gas pump,
like an air hose.
I braked suddenly to pick him up.
And only then did I notice
what an evil appearance he had.
I asked him:
“Which way?”
“To Plovdiv,” the hitch-hiker grumbled.
“Eh!” I joked bluntly like an intellectual.
“Such a young boy
to such an old city!”
“Oh, fuck this face of mine!
Could you, too, guess
that I still have no ID card?”
“But why are you cursing?”
“Because they won’t give me a job.
I can’t get started.
Do you know what it’s like
to be
and yet be unable to make a start?…”
I gave him a piece of chocolate.
He ate it up at once
and fell asleep.
I watched him, just in case,
in the rearview mirror,
in the loop of sleep.
His hair, long as a wig,
made him look like
a premature Robespierre.

And so we flew across eternity
like two centuries,
like two tenses:
past continuous
and a future that cannot begin.
Meanwhile the whirling wind hummed a lullaby:
Sleep, sleep, my boy.
It’s not your fault,
But our shameless falseness.
Sleep, but don’t trust Fukuyama.
History exists.
History is searching.
And soon
it will find you a job.
Oh, what a job!
They will remember you!

Levchev is part of the 'PEN World Voices: The New York festival of International Literature' which will be on from April 25-30. He will be there along with Chinua Achebe, Martin Amis, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Russel Banks, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and others.

I bought his latest book, "Ashes of Light", and went up to say hello to him. He looks at me, takes my wrist in his hand and greets me in the old-fashioned way:

To say hello,
he lifted the back of my hand
to his nose and moustache.
Reverent aged touch.

Automatic, I would've done
the deep namaskaram,
shishya arriving after a long journey.

He prevents action by
gripping my hand and growling
"give me your poems"

Breathless, I read him my scribblage.
I gasp out, "this has not happened before"
Yes, he smiles. This is how it starts.

That's exactly what he said: "Give me your poems". After reading a little of what I had written for him, he kissed my cheek and said, "thankyou". I cannot describe that moment well enough: everything came together, Levchev was an angel, the afternoon sun blazed in from the windows and my pen would not stop moving.

There was a conversation on poetics, as can be expected. Levchev spoke on translation, how he felt translation was a separate art by itself. He also said that if the translation sounds better than the original, then the translator has failed. Both Taylor and Levchev agreed that the literal meaning was not as important as the true sense and feeling of what the poet is trying to convey. Taylor quoted an anecdote that's attributed to some hispanic author whose name eludes me: a student once ran up to this great author with a translation and asked eagerly if it was right. The author in turn said yes, it is right, but the aroma has gone.

Levchev drew a self portrait in my copy of his book for me. He told me he has visited India twice, and loved the ashram at Pondicherry. I told him I had a Bulgarian friend I had met down in New Orleans. He clapped me on the shoulder, and smiling, rumbled in Bulgarian to his translator, who turned to me and said, "ah, now he says you are family".

Out of all the poems Taylor read, two poems by Levchev made a lasting impression. One was, called Tomorrow's Bread.

Tomorrow's Bread

Once I reproached my son
because he did not know
where to buy bread.
And now...
he is selling bread
in America.
in Washington.
In his daytime routine
he teaches at the university.
At night he writes poetry.
But on Saturdays and Sundays
he sells bread
on the corner of Nebraska and Connecticut.


In Sofia
the shades of old women
scour the dark.
Ransacking the rubbish bin they collect bread.
Pointing at one of them, a teacher
of history and Bulgarian language, they say:

"Don't jump to conclusions, take it easy!
She's not taking the bread for herself. She feeds
stray dogs
and birds."

And my words too are food for dogs
and birds.

Oh God!
Why am I alive?
Why do I wander alone in the Rhodopes?
Why do I gaze down abandoned wells?
Why do I dig into caves where people lie?
And pass the night in sacred places, renounced by you?

I am seeking the way
to the last magician's hideout,
he who forgot to die
but has not forgotten the secret of bread.
Not today's bread, which is for sale,
not yesterdays bread which has been dumped...
I must know the secret of tomorrow's bread.
The bread we kiss in awe.
The bread that takes our children by the hand
and leads them all back home.

You wrote of bread,
and your son who sells it
at the corner of Nebraska and Connecticut.

You wrote of Sofia,
old women finding bread in dust-bins,
and your son, and no bulgarian bread in sight.

I wept silently,
thinking of my professor, Cyrus Partovi,
who will not return to Iran
but misses his mother's

We took plenty of pictures, which the media person said she'd send over in a few days time. He stopped smoking two years ago, for health reasons. But he stole a smoke from his wife, as she, the translator, the publisher and I stood outside the library, waiting for their ride to come up. For Priyanka, he said. Mike and Alex and some of the others came out then, and we exchanged hugs, and cards, and email addresses.

"To PriYanka- poet
From LYubo


He wrote it like that, Y's overlong. I asked him to come to India again. He crossed himself, with a little half-smile, half-nod.

I hope he makes it.

The Hit on Pramod Mahajan

His brother took him out, the report said. There was a matter of a building contract.

Mahajan should've read the Godfather: Can't you just hear brother Praveen giving him "the look" and saying, quietly--

"Pramod, you're my older brother, and I love you. But don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever".

tee hee.

Of Blood-lust, Religion and Education

A few blog-posts ago, a dear friend and I walked away from each other due to conflicting views of the issue of islam and violence.

In a nutshell (and I had to go back to refer the slings and arrows we had aimed at each other) his argument was that "they" [I think he understood "they" to mean muslims, arabs & terrorists interchangeably] would do anything to prove their culture was superior to everyone else's, and would destroy anyone who disagreed with them.

In a nutshell, my argument was people's reactions are based on what they have experienced at the hands of others. I also said something about respect, and used other such maudlin words. In short, while trying to speak out against intolerance, we both ended up being intolerant. Sic transit.

Our argument escalated, and not just because of emotion taking over the wheel, pushing reason the back seat. It was because both of us had part of the truth, and both parts contradicted the other.

What made me bring that up was today's Washington Post article on the Afghan convert, written by Pamela Constable of the Washington Post Foreign Service.

Abdul Rahman was put on trial after it was discovered he had converted to christianity. According to the BBC, he has been a christian for sixteen years, and now faces the death penalty because of his conversion. His supporters and family have claimed he is not fit to stand trial; Mr. Rahman himself has claimed to have heard "voices" in his head. Karzai is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, with his international allies decrying the trial, and domestic clerics and institutions decrying the growing influence of the west interfering with sharia law.

NB: At this point, gentle reader, do remember that in Afghanistan's highly flagrant political climate, nothing can be seen as back and white. According to the Post article--

Some suggest that extremists may have provoked controversies such as the Rahman case to incite religious fervor or weaken the Karzai government. Islamic insurgents are trying to destabilize the country, and Muslim sensitivities have been aroused by the publication of anti-Islamic cartoons in Europe and the mistreatment of Muslim detainees in U.S. military custody.

What is interesting is that clerics who denounced the Taliban are now calling for the death of Rahman. They claim that the Taliban tortured the people and that this was dispicable. However, they also state that according to sharia law, whoever leaves the fold merits death.

Easy it is at this point to jump up and point fingers, to cry shame and decry hypocrisy.

Hold up. Take a breath.

The interpretation of theological doctrine will always be a delicate matter. Dr. Abu-Nabi Isstaif, visiting Fulbright scholar from the Damascus University to RWU, discussed this matter with me a few days ago. According to him, there is nothing in the Koran that points to death for the one who leaves islam, i.e. who is guilty of the crime of apostasy. This comes down to an interpretation of the text.

M. Cherif Bassiouni,professor and the president of the International Human Rights Law Institute at DePaul University College of Law, holds the same opinion. Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Bassiouni states

The principal category of crimes in Islam is called hudud. These crimes are referred to in the Koran and thus require prosecution. They are: adultery, theft, transgression (physical aggression), highway robbery, slander and alcohol consumption. Apostasy is included in this list by most scholars, but not by a few others. The Koran refers to it as follows: "And whoever of you turns [away] from his religion [Islam] and dies disbelieving, their works have failed in this world and the next [world]. Those are the inhabitants of fire: therein they shall dwell forever." Surat (chapter) al-Ma'eda, verse 35.This verse does not criminalize the turning away from Islam, nor does it establish a penalty.

In the same article, Bassiouni claims that apostasy has been criminalized in certain islamic countries based on "doctrinal constructs established in the 7th and 8th centuries". Afghanistan is a country with a muslim majority and a constitution that guarantees freedom of religion, as do the constitutions of other muslim-majority countries, such as Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. Countries that do consider Apostasy a crime punishable by death include Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. Interestingly, Bassiouni claims that "there are no known cases in recent times in which someone charged with apostasy in these countries has been put to death".

There is no demographic available that documents religious deaths as dictated by interpretations of sharia, just as there were no available demographics that documented religious deaths as dictated by interpretations of the bible during the middle ages. But we will leave aside comparitive analysis for now and take Bassiouni at his word.

Google "islam-convert-death" and a multitude of websites, faithfully trailing a .org, will descend upon you. And depending on the affiliation of these websites, you will get quotes from separate parts of the Koran that justify either death or leniency regarding apostasy.

I asked Dr. Isstaif about this discrepancy in islam: afterall, there is meant to be one 'ummah', one people, one god, one religion. Then why these versions of "the truth", this pendulum-course between extremism and the middle path?

Isstaif claimed it was all due to education. As a scholar of arabic, with a degree from Oxford, he claims that he knows the Koran as well, or better than, any Syrian arab. He also claimed that the Koran was written in arabic, and the nuances of the word is often lost in translation. The good doctor said that a lack of education, and a lack of a knowledgable grasp of arabic often left certain parts of the world with a very literal interpretation, or even a misreading, of the text. Isstaif thinks this is unfortunate.

Isstaif agreed, by the way, that an apostate was certainly put out of the fold. However, by no means is the death penalty a valid judgement, he says.

I asked Dr. Isstaif, what then is the way to reduce these misinterpretations, to let people know what the Koran actually says?

Education, he says. Teach them to read on their own, so these people in south asia and east asia can read the truth for themselves, and then choose whether they want violence or dialogue.

It's all very well for Dr. Isstaif. He isn't in Afghanistan right now. And it's not as simple as spreading democracy.

According to the Post's article:

Members of the clergy, traditionally the most influential segment of this tribal, largely illiterate society, tend to add a major caveat. The Western world, they say, has no right to interfere in Afghanistan's religious affairs, and outsiders should not confuse Afghan desires for political freedom with a shift to permissive views on personal behavior.

"We have no enmity with the West, but if the West wants us to live in democracy, it must let us make our own decisions," said Enayatullah Balegh, imam of the large Pul-I-Khishti mosque. "Islam is everything to us. It is more powerful than our constitution. We appreciate honest help, but we ask that you not interfere, or else we will have no choice but to become suicide bombers."

In public, few Afghans are willing to question the authority of the clergy or the inviolability of Islamic law. But some, including college students, journalists, human rights advocates and government officials, say they support a more moderate interpretation of their religion.

As a political science student, I can tell you that extremist parties in Pakistan have often influenced violence in Afghanistan, a border issue that has been a bone of contention between Karzai and Musharraf.

As a political science student, I can also tell you that like the argument babs and I had, the imam's words, quoted above, also hold a grain of truth. Historically, no country has been able to balance the twin jurisdiction of religion and state. Italy in the 13th century, Afghanistan today, Pakistan on and off, and Iran in the 1970's and 80's stand as proof of this.

His ultimatum could have been predicted. I do not seek to justify his claim-- If the man lived in the Gaza strip, or what used to be Jaffa and is now called Tel Aviv, if the man was palestinian and has been deprived of flag, country and passport illegally for the past 40 years, and was decrying the actions of the israeli government, I would understand his claim, fully. For an imam of a historically important mosque in the older part of Kabul, and the centre of protest against the US invasion of Afghanistan, it is requires to look under the first layer of the onion to understand his ultimatum.

The fact is that a literal, orthodox interpretation of islam does not allow for western democracy as it is known in the world today. The fact is, moderate muslims who claim that a bridge can be built, are discounting the fact that no time was given in Iraq or Afghanistan for any such bridge to be built. Demagogues took the opportunity the US invasions provided to incite violence against the people and form of government that was opposing what these orthodox clerics believe to be their way of life.

Dr. Isstaif lives and breathes his religion, and takes the time to pray five times a day. He claims that democracy cannot be implanted as is, without making any allowance for cultural and historical differences between western and islamic countries.

Karzai is fully aware of this, and to balance the effects of the chief cleric of the supreme court, who is as orthodox as they can get, the president has elected younger, more moderate judges to the court.

One is Qasim Hashimzai, the deputy justice minister, an articulate man who wears pinstriped suits and returned several years ago from long exile in the West. "The principles of Islamic jurisprudence are perfectly logical and consistent with democratic political institutions, and the Koran gives people lots of freedom," Hashimzai said. "But it all depends who interprets Islam -- a rigid person, a moderate person or a one-eyed person."
(Washington Post)

Hashimzai also claimed that execution as penalty for converting to another faith, stemmed from earlier times, when Islam was under threat, and made less sense today. In the case of Rahman's high-profile prosecution, he said, "I think political hands were behind it. Someone wanted to test the system, to put the government in confrontation with Islam and with the West."

The article also claimed that a "few younger, educated Afghans said they strongly disagreed with executing a convert or enforcing harsh punishments, but they said they could not afford to be quoted for fear they would be ostracized and possibly hounded".

"our mullahs are very strict, and many people are not educated, so they follow them", said a young man who, when interviewed, said he felt Rahman should be spared.

Hm. Freedom is choice. I agree with babs on this.

A final quote from the Post article:

After the service, worshipers offered nearly identical opinions, saying Islam was a democratic and beneficent faith -- but that no one had the right to leave it.

"Islam is the most perfect religion in the world. We have accepted it, and we should stick to it," said Mahmad Humayun, 35, a clean-shaven science instructor at Kabul University. "Islam is the basis for democracy. It gives rights to all people. Therefore, we must all think very carefully and never do anything to cause Islam problems."

Freedom is choice. But what kind of choice would be made, when a person knows nothing of the outside world, and no other reality other than what he or she has been taught? Such freedom of choice that Mr. Mahmad Humayun claims is the same freedom that Mormons choose, that sub-saharan african families who indulge in female circumcision choose. All is done on a basis of religion and cultural identity.

May the voices in Mr. Abdul Rahman's head keep him safe, just in case his gods can't.

The day Donna Brazile came to town

Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore’s failed bid for the Presidency, discussed 2006 and 2008 election prospects at Roger Williams University on Monday, April 10.

Brazile’s lecture, titled “American Electoral Politics: Prospects for 2006 and 2008,” began at 4:00 p.m. in room 157 of the Feinstein College of Arts and Sciences building on the Bristol Campus at One Old Ferry Road.

That was the official uni press release for the event. My immediate reaction was Lord, no WAY am I going to witness another sorry display of yank election politics. Shouldn't there be, by god, a limit to the amount of campaign tales an international student can take?

I went anyway. Curiosity killed the Garfield, and further more, they had cookies for refreshment.

I had first slotted Donna as just another suit out there to bang a drum to the beat of a personal agenda. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Meet Donna Brazile, ladies and gentlemen:

Ms. Brazile comes from Louisiana. She named her book "Cooking With Grease", and it's a "powerful, behind-the-scenes memoir of the life and times of a tenacious political organizer and the first African-American woman to head a major presidential campaign." (

You could tell she's used to that mic. With a southern smile and a husky rich tone, she blew the audience away with jokes at everyone's expense: her own, the Republicans, the Dems, FEMA.

The room was filled. She could've used the moment to wave the Democrat flag. She could've stomped and roared over the Gore campaign, and the lack of transparency. She could've ripped apart Bush's domestic policy.

Instead, she chose to talk about her first political campaign: at age 9, Brazile rode her bike around, getting children and parents to vote for a city councillor who had promised a playground in her neighbourhood. The campaign was successful. Since then, Ms. Brazile has always fought for the issues more than just the party colours.

She also talked about Louisiana, her home. Eloquent she was, just like in her article in the Washington Post, after Katrina hit:

"New Orleans is my hometown. It is the place where I grew up, where my family still lives. For me, it is a place of comfort and memories. It is home."

She spoke for more than an hour, and no one left, even after the cookies got over. She talked across lines, saying how important it was for young people to vote intelligently, to be part of decision-making, to run for office. For Donna Brazile, America's hope sat in that room. Looking around at the nodding faces and hands raised to ask questions, I knew she had got each and everyone of us in that room. And not only did she put campaigning in perspective-- you need to fight for what's worth making the change-- but she also gave the Dems a human face, a southern warmth, and a firm grounding that for many in the room, the Dems had never showed before.

She criticized the Dems for never taking a united stand on an election issue. She lined up possible candidates for the 2008 primaries. She juggled Dems and Republicans with equal grace, and equal dry wit.

She also told stories. Of the two white guys in New Orleans who moved members of her family to safety after seeing them stranded on TV, eventhough they lived 5 hours away and could only be reached by boat. She told other stories-- of her various campaigns, of meeting Bush a couple of evenings before her talk, when she asked him to rebuild the levees. Of her old uncle Book (who was called Book because he always gave the kids books for presents) who died two days after being evacuated. She took Old Uncle Book back to their ancestral home, a little town where her family had land given to them when they were sharecroppers after the civil war. Her eyes lit up as she told us of the welcome Uncle Book had, where people lined up and said yeah, there's your land. Bury him here, where he wanted to be. And, welcome home.

No one wanted to leave. And everyone wanted to go talk to her. Yours truly toddled down, feeling unkempt and unsure: how does one talk with capitol hill types? Donna grabbed my hand, and asked for my name with a big smile. In that one moment, I was back in new orleans.

Abdel and I told her what we saw downtown, in the ghost-town lanes that turned off the main roads, of the ravaged landstrip along the road that led to Baton Rouge. We told her about loving the jazz, and the jumbalaya. Like every Louisianian I've met, she thanked us, gave us hugs, and we hugged back, tumbling over ourselves to tell her about Ruth's house and how she didn't have flood insurance. Donna immediately gave us a number to give Ruth, and told us she could help, "tell her Donna said so".

The lady is beyond cool. And it aint just me who says this. Donna Brazile is many things, from being the Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute (VRI) and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, to the first African American to lead a major presidential campaign, to a weekly contributor and political commentator on CNN’s Inside Politics and American Morning, to a fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

She is also among Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C., and Essence Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women in America.

She also likes eating at MacDonalds. And when she said that good government was every thinking individual's responsibility, I raised my coke can with all the other new england and jersey kids in the room.

Hail Donna. You got my vote.

Visit Donna Brazile online, here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

RWU at night

Wandered around on saturday night with Siwar's camera. This was the result. Below's the preview.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Hey Jud-as

He told me that he saw you
lying on an ice floe.
You had groaned and moaned,
with a bloody mary at your side.

(He gulped his beer fast when he talked;
never a good sign.
But the band was taking ten,
and the bar was still open)

So anyway, he told me he saw you,
and that you had frowned
as you chewed a celery stick.
"Betrayal doesn't pay", you had cried.

I asked, What good is silver anyway?
He fingered his loose change, and said
that you had said those very words,
then had asked him to take pictures.

His camera was broken, and he told you so.
You wept hot tears into the ocean, careful
to keep your ice floe safe. He then asked
why you were skinny dipping so far north.

It all began with a kiss, you sighed.
You had been called to a secret meeting,
where jesus spoke to you from his tread-mill.
you were the chosen one; a kiss sealed the pact.

He gulped more beer then, fingered more change.
Big wet lips; I knew he had wanted to ask you
what it felt like to kiss a god.He had instead
asked, why then, this 364 day pass in hell?

He claims you had readjusted your icicles, then
recounted a strange tale; you broke silence
and wrote in your live journal. Jesus found out
coz he-- of course-- owns Google.

This one Arctic day was the saviour's grace.
He had asked you how bad it was, you know,
down there. You apparently sighed,
and said the vodka could be better.

The bar maid came back, and
smiled as she lit my smoke. She
asked if you wanted more ice.
I said, yeah. You probably did.


After seeing this, here.

"April 10, 2006 — History's great betrayer Judas Iscariot was actually a loyal disciple who simply followed Jesus's orders, according to a manuscript which has resurfaced after nearly 1,700 years.

Made in 300 A.D. in Coptic script on 13 sheets of papyrus, both front and back, the document is believed to be a translation of the original Gospel of Judas, written in Greek the century before.

Presented on Thursday by the National Geographic Society at a news conference in Washington, D.C., the Gospel of Judas was discovered in the Egyptian desert near Beni Masar in the 1970s..."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Tim's work

Permit me to introduce you to Timothy Senaviratne.

Tim lives in Sri Lanka, and is interested in many things. He's also good at these many things-- like photography, being human, digital art, singing, smiling and loads more.

Tim's story is here.

Tim's art work is here.

You need to see both.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Making Up

And the silence was huge,
like the space inside a rotten seed, or
a gutted house. We ran around
with brooms and dust-pans, cleaning up.

And the arguments were neatly folded away;
The waiter left with the pain on a tray.
maturity is a strange morphine;
most druggies have no excuse, they say.

This aint a Woody Allen movie;
The timing doesn't have to be right.
The fear I respect, so I can't answer
"did I ever have you, to lose you with this fight?"

Can I tell you what I should?
(Not permission, though that also)
My tongue has aged, and turned to wood.
Tell me, does it matter that I am no longer


Monday, April 03, 2006


So it's what everyone's dancing to. One day it too shall pass. Till then...

Sigh. Oh, what the hell :)

Frankie J- Obsession [Reggaeton Mix]

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Let's talk about Dying

Self-preservation when one is being chased by a hungry Bengal tiger, or when one is stuck on an ice floe which just declared independence from the Arctic circle is one thing.

Self Preservation when there is nothing but flat green grass in the sun, and lazy days where all you have to do is save yourself from extra calories and the blues, is a non sequitur.

And often, if you have as much time as I do, you tend to spend time on pushing edges. Especially when limits do not come easily to you.

Freedom and anarchy. Jefferson and Hobbes, and because of this: Madison and Rousseau. To be less abstract: I am officially in the land of excess, rules no bar. My parents have faith in me, in spite of having sufficient reason to not. I have no local guardian to report to. I have a stipend. I have time.

Freedom and Anarchy. In order to not dive overboard, people usually institute rules upon themselves. Adopt constitutions, ratify treaties. The signatory parties are usually family, educational insitutions, employers and some religion.

Ergo, Madison's idea about checks and balances. Rousseau's idea of sacrificing in the name of the General Will.

[POLSC 150. Class is such fun, truly. Am told that on friday, Danielle threw a pen at professor Greco coz he suggested that she should go out with Will. Who is Will? Long story. Let's just say he's a character, and then some.]

But what happens if you have no employer, no defined religious dogma and no sense of familial responsibility, coupled with the inability to let substances get to you?


I have been an unapologetic smoker since last June. I have enjoyed the moments it gives, the illusion of grace, the trite rites of passage, the sober visions. Ever since mum asked me to quit in december, I have tried. With some luck, I might add. Went for 2 weeks without a fag; then assumed that if it was this easy to give up, obviously I hadn't done enough yet.

I tend to remain sober inspite of much chugging, and much jd quartering. A fact that I relish with some pride, and others take note of either with wary nostalgia or envy-tinged advisories.

Not particularly given to self mutilation, or vein tapping. But it's becoming quite normal to be up at 4am with an empty pack of Camels and an empty bottle of something.

[N.B- What is it about bourbon? A little cheaper than black label, and I have sworn to sip at J&B only with dad, but still. Ah well. Another blog post, that.]

Have received advisories. I have been told, variously:

1. he isn't worth it [whoever the he is]

2. You'll put on more weight. This said in spite of zero calorie truth about vodka.

3. You'll ruin your liver.

4. You'll ruin your heart.

5. You'll ruin your lungs.

6. You'll die.

The first five points are about the process of living and mortality. For better or for worse, romance and bodily functions will one day fail. So lets talk about dying.

I never was one for romanticizing death. I have feared it on occasion, but I understood the part it played in life.

But here's a truth: I have never lost anyone who I have loved. Not yet, anyway. The one person I mourned for, I mourned for because the one I loved mourned him, and I couldn't stand calm in the face of such sadness.

I am not dying either. Not yet, anyway.

And because of this, I can't write about the calm of death, the beauty of death, its "better-place"ness. Cummings, for example, wrote this:

gee i like to think of dead

gee i like to think of dead it means nearer because deeper firmer
since darker than little round water at one end of the well it's
too cool to be crooked and it's too firm to be hard but it's sharp
and thick and it loves, every old thing falls in rosebugs and
jackknives and kittens and pennies they all sit there looking at
each other having the fastest time because they've never met before

dead's more even than how many ways of sitting on your head your
unnatural hair has in the morning

dead's clever too like POF goes the alarm off and the little striker
having the best time tickling away everybody's brain so everybody
just puts out their finger and they stuff the poor thing all full
of fingers

dead has a smile like the nicest man you've never met who maybe winks
at you in a streetcar and you pretend you don't but really you do
see and you are My how glad he winked and hope he'll do it again

or if it talks about you somewhere behind your back it makes your neck
feel pleasant and stoopid and if dead says may i have this one and
was never introduced you say Yes because you know you want it to dance
with you and it wants to and it can dance and Whocares

dead's fine like hands do you see that water flowerpots in windows but
they live higher in their house than you so that's all you see but you
don't want to

dead's happy like the way underclothes All so differently solemn and
inti and sitting on one string

dead never says my dear,Time for your musiclesson and you like music and
to have somebody play who can but you know you never can and why have to?

dead's nice like a dance where you danced simple hours and you take all
your prickly-clothes off and squeeze-into-largeness without one word and
you lie still as anything in largeness and this largeness begins to give
you,the dance all over again and you,feel all again all over the way men
you liked made you feel when they touched you(but that's not all)because
largeness tells you so you can feel what you made,men feel when,you touched,

dead's sorry like a thistlefluff-thing which goes landing away all by
himself on somebody's roof or something where who-ever-heard-of-growing
and nobody expects you to anyway

dead says come with me he says(andwhyevernot)into the round well and
see the kitten and the penny and the jackknife and the rosebug
and you
say Sure you say (like that) sure i'll come with you you say for i
like kittens i do and jackknives i do and pennies i do and rosebugs i do

I couldn't write like this, I know too much and too little.

A dear friend said once, that the only reason I don't "take care of my health", as he put it, is because I don't know what its like to not have it. I don't know what its like to act like everything is ok, so that everyone around is relatively at peace.

And I want to thank Becca for knowing. I want to say her name when I stand on top of the hill. And I want to ask her, if like me, she has stayed up at night and wasted time bargaining with whatever god's on shift.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Saturday Night reflections

the stars are moving.

Its the one thing Im sure of. Look at each one of them, up here over the quiet water, the sleeping water that in all these years hasn't changed, inspite of white skin replacing brown-red-copper skin, inspite of a metal bridge, inspite of lamp posts where once ranged deer, inspite of dorms where tents and fires and dogs ranged, firelight on old face telling stories.

The stars are moving. Look at each one, proud hunter, the little bear and his brother, each one is moving. Look at each one separate, and they glide forward, ride forward but it is all mathematical: no one outrides the other, each one moves in geometric progression, the same pattern-- shiny geese flying forever in a double V, miles away.

There are no places to sit under a night sky when the stars are moving. No bench, no stairway, no rooftop of a Ford. Instead, I found a sawed off tree trunk, which had its twin still standing. Siamese, these trees had grown together till one succumbed to the winter gales 2 months ago.
Sit on the stump that is left, rings under denim and skin that live, still live, that no saw maw paw could kill eat or destroy. The bark of its standing brother held no ants, no sleeping spider. Lean back against hoary bark, and suddenly the wind does not chill your human skin. Suddenly your feet sink deeper into soft soil, the grass welcoming your mark. The tree welcomes you, and dry skin is fitting, and you sit still, quieter than a summer afternoon on the terrace, drying next to chillies, drying next to wet pool of spittle, drying next to clothes hung on a line half an hour ago.
The tree welcomes you, like an old massachusetts woman who has reason to love you; there is no close tremulous hug, but there is a huge meal, and warmth, and from her nose you can tell you share great grandfathers and family recipes for pumpkin pie.
Sit on the stump that is left, and you are no longer cold, for there are branch-arms that are above you that will keep away all asteroids and rain, leaves that if you wait long enough will cover you in crackling warmth. The tree longs for its twin. Hermes-Aphrodite. Yin-Yang. Shiva and Parvati had it good because no one ever severed them apart and proceeded to then let them lose in bingo. The tree longs for its twin, and cant believe its luck it finding you.
Memory of long ages. The living sap would put forth shoot and branch and grow through sphincter and skin, up through oesophagus and gut through my mouth and nose and eyes, if I let it. You can never kill just part of a tree. It sighs in longing, but it waits.

I got up because tonight wasn't the night to stand with my face to the stars with a racoon at my feet, wood pigeons in my hair. I got up and walked up the hill to lie on the rock, the old stone making comfortable hollows for all parts of me it received with no complaint. This rock is said to be the very same rock that Roger Williams canoed down to in order to speak with the native tribes, and find solace. It is a big piece of quartz, and looks like a turtle on its side from above. Roger would sit here when there were older trees, and darker nights surrounding the rock, and speak with the indians. I am the first indian here in many long ages. And I have no tribe markings. Of what land, and what peace can I speak?

But he doesn't mind, I can tell. In fact, he likes the company. And I know its old Roger, because 4 months ago come samhain, I left half a bar of chocolate out on the rampart of the rock, and the next day it wasn't there. Americans do not eat things off the ground, and sea gulls do not eat chocolate. The rock cupped the back of my head as gently as my grandmother would. The stars are moving, the bay is quiet with all the old spirits sleeping. The stars are moving, all except for one: a single silver pin prick that stays dangling on a branch, that laughs against the dark fur of the night. I stare at it fascinated, wondering at this out of season christmas bauble.

I watch for the exact moment that the ember dies out. And I am grateful, for I have time. I have time, it pools between my fingers and stays sleeping around my feet and hips. There is time to sleep and dream and mend and make, and it is now. I realize, Kerouac had jazz, and I have had jazz too. But jazz is for the cities, the big happy hugging jazz that comes in and hold you and your aunt around the hips and takes you down the floor, and the moaning white-eyed swamp jazz for those who delved into magic not their own. Jazz is for the cities, and for madness. But Jethro Tull is for the night when stars are moving.

"Wet wind on the sidewalk: I'm staring at the rain.
Walking up the street, yeah, and walking down again.
And my feet are tired and my brain is numb.
See that broken neon sign saying, hey, in you come.

Got the scent of stale beer hanging, hanging round my head.
Old dog in the corner sleeping like he could be dead.
A book of matches and a full ashtray.
Cigarette left smoking its life away.
Another Harry's bar -- or that's the tale they tell.
But Harry's long gone now, and the customers as well.
Me and the dog and the ghost of Harry will make this world turn right.
It'll all turn right.

God's tears on the sidewalk: it's the mother of all rain.
But in the thick blue haze of Harry's, you will feel no pain.
And you will feel no soft hand slipping on your knee.
You don't have to pay for memories, they will all come free.
Another Harry's bar -- or that's the tale they tell.
But Harry's long gone now, and the customers as well.
Me and the dog and the ghost of Harry will make this world turn right.
It'll all turn right"

Everything is moving. My head, the empty bottle diving to the bottom of the trash can, the baby skunk finding food in the dew, the snoring wind spirit that makes the lake water dance. Everything is moving, and it will all turn right.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

While my ukulele gently weeps

Ok, so Im stuck on the Harrison original. And covers of the same keep findin' me.

Here's an eclectic version by Jake shimabukuro:

While My Guitar Gently Weeps on Transbuddha

sigh. I kill me.

Friday, March 24, 2006

New Orleans travel log

day 1:

leave for the airport at 5am, under the kind auspices of Rebecca Leuchak, our advisor, guide, and friend, who is the director of the global studies centre. After some flying, we reach new orleans at 11:45am. Wait till 2:00pm for Raju and Khalifa to join us from Dickinson, Carlisle PA. Another hour or so is spent in figuring out how we get to the camp site. Al Roderiguez a.k.a Big Al is the nice guy who drives us down. On the way, he tells us how he now lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, since his house in Slidell was ruined. We also get first hand accounts of how FEMA messed people up with their promises of trailers.

We reach the camp with big signs that proclaim jesus as the way, the truth, and the means to rehabilitation. Hm. Surrounded by baptists and go-cans, we dump our bags and fear the worst. Tulane University, who we were supposed to work with, abandoned us due to "space issues". De profundis. For those who dont know about go-cans, they are these darling little plastic booths with a plastic hole in it that the masses "go" in, creating every level of hell till some samaritan comes by and hoses it out. I thus began to understand how bad bad karma could get. That night at a camp meeting of the "campus crusaders" [yes, thats what the group was called] we were told there was a house that needed gutting. 4758 Gawain Drive. Her name's Ruth Hayes. The night was cold, the camp cots noisy, and our fate, sealed. Was this a good idea?

Night 1:

Raju, Khalifa and I make a break for freedom, sin and a working flush system. Get a cab. Go down to the French quarter. There is fresh pizza, live music and our first jazz bar- Fritzel's. We also meet Peter for the first time-- We heart bulgarians.

Day 2:

We all wake early, coz we all didnt sleep. Go-cans avoided with a shudder. A strong bladder was thanked. We left at around 9 with a group from Shippensberg, another university who had sent their students down to new orleans to help out. Such groups were common, just that unlike us, most had a religious focus to their shovelling and clearing. Morning prayers were said. At this time, we silently thanked our gods that at least our loved ones had working flush systems. Armed with shovels and dust masks, we set off.

Ruth's house hadn't been touched by anyone, yet. The water mark was at about 3.5 feet. Inside, rotting wood held clues of who this woman was. Mouldy nursing certificates. Disneyland memorabilia. Elvis records. Old crystal. A shoe. Lots of medicine tied up in now water-logged bags. An old couch that used to be a different colour before Katrina. We began shovelling.

We did good work that day. Pushed out the rotting fridge, the furniture, broke down some of the wood work. Khalifa the curly one took many pictures and ruined his back. Abdel opened the rotting fridge, causing the Shippensberg students to almost descend to epithets that wouldve jeopardized their salvation. Yours truly ripped her jeans. Talk about the learning curve. We returned to a frugal meal and more go-cans.

Night 2:

Desperate for debauchery, inspite of a delay, we (Khalifa, Siwar, Maya and I) took off to India House, the hostel that Peter was staying at. The goal was a clandestine hot shower. The entire group gradually landed up at the hostel. We collectively decide that we love the place. We then head out with Peter leading the way. Discovered a mediterranean cafe. Met up with Khalifa's friend, Peter, who's from Bulgaria. Much hookah was smoked. Much hummus eaten.More hookah smoked. Khalifa got the closest thing to stoned. We returned happy, driven back to the camp by a Bosnian cabbie. Got stared at suspiciously by the campus crusanders who were on night duty. Laughed.

Day 3:

Woke with the decision that morning shovelling and nightly debauchery is a good combination. Went to house. Shovelled. Wheel barrowed. wore mask. Ruth came over, and picked over her stuff with youmna, khalifa and I. She brought no anger, despair or frustration. Instead, she brought a calm smile and two weak knees. Wheezing a little because she has only 50% use of her lungs, she watched with us as the government's clean up crew came for the rancid fridge. We carried baseball trophies, old albums, and a teddy bear to her car. She wanted the crystal. Left a gary larson coffee mug for me. We were moved beyond measure. We also discovered the neighbours abandoned backyard as a happy alternative to the nearest go-can, which was about a mile away. Long live third world inventiveness!

Night 3:

The night post reaching Bourbon Street is a happy blur. Let it be known, one can walk in the street with a 20 ounce glass of beer for a dollar or two. There is live music in every bar. After the first two steel guitars, the night is a happy blur. Fritzel's, a jazz club, happened again, as it did that first night. 1930's smooth european jazz sound. Khalifa, as usual, got some great pictures. Raju and I, as usual, got some great jack and coke.

Day 4:

Ruth's house again. Breaking down of walls. Pulling out of kitchen fittings. We are all into the groove of destruction: wood beams, broken flooring, roaches-- all, all find the dump pile out in front. The government's cleaning crew come by. Almost every person who drives by has a wave and smile for us. This is good work. We could stay here for a month, or two, or three.

Night 4:

By now, the brilliant shower plan is a daily affair: an intrepid few of us travel to Peter's hostel and take a shower silently, quickly. Ninjas on a mission. The hostel as a beer vending machine. Raju and I are in heaven. The resident cat is old, black, aloof, and goes by the name of Tandy. Short for Tandoori.

Tonight is St. Paddy's day-- this means drunk white people, green t-shirts, funny hats, much mardi gras beads, and green coloured beer. We avoided the funny hats, t shirts and coloured beer. Raju figured out that the smartest way to get the most beads was to dance and yell in front of the floats. That he did. Success. We went to a cuban music place called blue nile. Went to frietzels again. Or was that the next night? Great jazz, and a green blur. Happiness. Also went by tropical isle and funky pirate: pirate got some incredible live blues-- Big Al and the Blues Masters rock every night.

Day 5:

We have moved into India House. Go back to the house for one last day of cleaning up. Ruth came by and said bye: hugs, numbers, and good words were exchanged. She fed us pizza. Yes, Khalifa took pictures. Good work done. The day is spent in happy quiet.

Night 5:

The night saw Siwar, Maya, Abdel, Raju and I take to Bourbon. Never again will that happy street witness such an international invasion. They will tell the tales of it to their grand-children. Suffice to say, there was much dancing and a strip club involved, the latter for a mere 15 mins. Experiences, all. We think Abdel had more fun at the strip club than anyone else, but this is open to comment. Arf arf.

Evening 6:

The final evening, at least for me, since yours truly woke only in the late afternoon. We listened to Steamboat willie play in the jazz garden. Walked Bourbon one last time, with comradely glances. Heard Jamel Sherif play the cornet like a god. Danced final dances.

The next day, we found the airport shuttle and left.

Meet me in new orleans. I'll be there again, boots, beads, smile and all.

Monday, March 13, 2006

O Susanna, no don't you cry for me-- I'm goin' to Lou'siana with a hammer on my knee

so, a bunch of us are off to help out in N'Orleans. We will be gutting houses, and painting walls.

Working with Tulane University. Staying at a camp site. There's a roster for shower use.

Talk about an alternate spring break. See y'all on the 21st.

An unpoem, for my father.

It's been a while, old man,
since ive sat down and thought about
what would happen
if we made silence,
or if I tried to
buy my plane tickets, alone.

It's no joke: I am 21, and vij is... well, older.
You can no longer pick me up in your arms
or play tennis.

Today you mailed me
asking about PYRIDOSTIGMINE.
You typed it like that, all caps and serious query,
like I am that M.D daughter you dreamt of,
but don't miss-- much. The email didnt smell of mum
or bank account boyfriend smoking queries. You asked me
like I could know, and could heal.

It's for a hereditary disease that one day
may get my hands shaking,
even if I aint reaching for your arms and grizzled jowl
at the Nobel awards night, some graduation, or vij's wedding.

You must take 60mg, 4 times a day.
Don't miss even one dose. Like all those nights
you reminded me about taking off my contact lens
when I growled "later" and you growled back "now",
let me remind you across an ocean, and over a phone,
waking you up in the middle of your nap that
its 4 times a day.

Mum sounded like a little girl
when she told me
they might have to remove your thymus.
I told her, the thymus is like
a fish bone
a tooth
a corn
an ingrown toenail
a precious stamp
a grease stain. Like spinach caught in her teeth.

She tried to believe me. She even smiled.
But now the thymus can stay,
and she guards your diet
like cerberus guards eurydice.

Remember that night after your bypass?
Silent, smiling, and knocked out,
you tried tasting that fish pie-- my first attempt, that I brought with me to the ward--
past tubes and anesthesia.

Remember that night you tripped and fell down?
Goliath. Windmills. WTO towers. Oldest oak.
Mum and vij were all cool water, bp checks and frowns.
I sat at your scrawny, mottled feet and laughed at you.
They snapped, but you rumbled low, and grinned,
waiting to get your bearings back.

Remember convocation, when I didn't get the medal?
Your face held more misery than mine ever would;
It was the pain of Priam for Troy;
I was angry that you had wanted to be there.
You didn't look at the certificates I got.
When all I believed in choked in my throat, forcing me to throw up
silence hatred and cold fingers,
you drove home. Angry for me-- O knight, Sir Pops.
My blood pressured cavalry, you took me down from the cross
and carried me home.

Remember that night I got my first whitlow?
I lay on your big whale of a belly, tiny hands and feet clinging to your warmth,
crying like I could cry only at that age. You stayed up with me,
and let my exhausted ma sleep.
I remember that, though I have forgotten algebra.

my confirmation
my investiture
my opening performance
the day vij left to go be a man
you teaching me how to hold a razor
me balancing on the cycle without your hands
listening to Zeppelin 4 together
telling each other to leave the house the room the country
looking at your surgery diagram
setting up your email address
putting my suitcases in the trunk
sipping the cognac you once said you'd keep for my wedding
but then raising a glass of it like comrades
the night chacko uncle came to visit,
the year we both silently figured
that a wedding might not happen.

When I asked you why my chest was getting bigger,
and why you weren't with mum when I was born
(instead you sat near a phone miles away with
an empty bottle of chivas through the night)
you never paused once. Never looked troubled.
Just like all the times I begged you to stop
singing in B flat during Amazing Grace,
Your answer came smoothly. Unmusical. And with faith.

"How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me"

I search for symptoms online, read the literature
and tell you and mum not to worry.
In your voice, I hear the restful pride of the grizzly spirit
that has kept this native indian safe
for 21 years.

And the only thing I have to say is, old man--
Don't go gently anywhere. Forget the lovely dark woods,
and the journeys in your blood and mine.

Stay home.

I miss your crooked knees already:
your harmonious burps, your morning paper
and the way you eat papaya for breakfast.
I miss you already,
and the email says you sent it
only 10 minutes ago.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pick-up line# 1 from those uninhibited by verbosity

Nice shoes. Wanna fuck?

Conversations between neurotic writer-types

"Sometime's I just want to slap her"

"she believes her own act.
what to do?
some fools were born;
others put on make up by candle light.
in the end, we all lose our red noses
and cry backstage"

"wah. Good one"

"not really"

"use it"

"think backstage worked?"

"yup. Definately backstage"


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Neil Gaiman found!

Not only did the goblin find MC Hammer here, but she also found this charming young fellow.

Anshu things he's great. The goblin trusts anshu's taste.

Go read Anansi Boys and tell me what you think.

Anyone seen Stephen King on Blogger yet?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Blank noise project: 2:30pm

Whenever we talked about it, it was always the same set-up: a bus at rush-hour. In madras, like in most cities here, this could be every hour of the day except after 10pm.

For us though, rush-hour meant 2:30pm.

After 10pm, things were ok. Apparently south Indian men prefer to work in crowds. Almost empty buses meant you were left in peace, at least till you got down at your stop.

But if you were like us, you traveled in daylight. 3 rupees could get you from college back home, and most times it was six of you, laughing, passing change, hanging on to worn handles and the back of seats to make sure the red lights didn’t send you toppling into the seething crowd all around. But the crowd was always there: little kids in dirty green shorts, STD-ISD booth boys, watchmen, college guys. Sisters drenched in vinegar sweat, on their way back to their convent. Nurses. Maids. Me.

Most times, 6 of you didn’t mean you let your guard down. Sheer proximity meant arms breasts asses thighs moustaches hands were every where. Most times this didn’t mean more than a nudge, or an excessive lack of balance when that red light came around.

You got wise. You held your bag in front you, for instance. We were a roman military formation: facing every direction, a foot placed by each one to ensure a earnest stomp or kick when the lack of balance got too obvious.

It was part of the routine. Decency wasn’t the issue. The ones with a dupatta pinned across both shoulders got it as bad as the rest of us, sometimes worse. But usually there was no big outcry. Maybe it’s the heat of madras: after a point, the hands and grins were one with the flies—As annoying, and shooed away with the same frown.

Sometimes you lost your temper. Like this one time that I shoved an elbow into some fucker’s ribs, who in turn elbowed back. Hard. I yelled, in pain and annoyance for not having seen it coming. He of course, timed the jab with his stop. He got away and I was left with a smarting left boob and the tired, placating eyes of the other five. Since it was in English, and since I have short hair, the crowd didn’t know exactly how to react. There was a pause. But since I wasn’t crying, and since no one else was yelling, the bus moved on. I stared down at my shoes.

No one else was yelling.

She moved closer to me and murmured, “you shouldn’t have reacted. You know they just do more if you make a noise. Suppose he follows you tomorrow?”. Her eyes were round behind glasses that needed a wipe.

It was my stop. Familiar, the spittle shining up the tar, the smell of piss and tired, unwashed people who had another 2 hours of travel ahead of them. Her eyes were round behind glasses that needed a wipe.

Whether we would get rubbed up against tomorrow or not, was still open to chance.
What was as certain as the tar under my feet, was the fear in her voice.

The fear in her mind. Their minds.

I know a girl who carries a knife in her satchel. I know the anger that tenses my shoulders still when I remember that jab, that makes me wonder why I didn’t aim for his balls.

Not like we want to kill or maim all male travelers. Just those who don’t understand the concept of balance, inside buses at red lights.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

tempus fugit

It's been a while
Since I could hold my head up high
and it's been a while
Since I first saw you
It's been a while
since i could stand on my own two feet again
and it's been a while
since i could call you
But everything I can't remember as fucked up as it may seem
the consequences that I've rendered
I've stretched myself beyond my means

It's been a while
since i could say that i wasn't addicted and
It's been a while
Since I could say I love myself as well and
It's been a while
Since I've gone and fucked things up just like i always do
It's been a while
But all that shit seems to disappear when i'm with you
But everything I can't remember as fucked up as it may seem
the consequences that I've rendered
I've gone and fucked things up again

Why must i feel this way?
just make this go away
just one more peaceful day

Its been awhile
Since I could lok at myself straight
and it's been awhile
since i said i'm sorry
It's been awhile
Since I've seen the way the candles light your face
It's been awhile
But I can still remember just the way you taste
But everything I can't remember as fucked up as it may seem
I know it's me i cannot blame this on my father
he did the best he could for me

It's been a while
Since I could hold my head up high
and it's been a while since i said i'm sorry

Ever had that feeling that nothing ever changes, but you grow older anyway?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Blank Noise Project

Is hosting a blogathon on March 7th, here.

The official word from them, is--

Marking our one year foray into the blog world, we’ve decided to host a Blog-a-thon on the issue of street harassment. No, you don’t have to run anywhere (thankfully) to participate, you’ve just got to get to your computer this TUESDAY (7th MARCH) and post your thoughts on street harassment/ eve teasing on your blog. You can write about anything related to the topic: testimonies, opinions on harassment, comments about the Blank Noise project, would all be great. It doesn't matter where you're from, where you live, or whether you're a man or a woman - we'd love to have you on board.

Visit here for more, and if you'd like to be a part for this. Deadline for signing up is March 6th. You'll find me there too.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

While My Guitar Gently Weeps...

"Lynne and Petty were joined by Steve Winwood on organ and Harrison's son Dhani on guitar for the Wilburys' smash hit "Handle With Care," followed by Harrison's "White Album" staple "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Prince emerged from the side of the stage to join in on the latter about halfway through, unleashing an extended solo".

Taken from here.

Listen to this brilliant performance here

Saturday, February 25, 2006

An undergrad's lament in Poetry 430

Bukowski was right on.
Its not abt the fucking rhyme
Or the meter
[certainly, a madarchod matter]

Its about saying whats important.
Its about telling the girl who's swallowed pills
Hey—Im glad I didn't stay, it would've
Ruined your good ending.

It's about not sweating the punkchewashun:
type like
a swedish skier slaloms a slope
i.e unafraid.

White space could be my cream cheese.
Some use just a little, like in sushi




Last thoughts on Woody Guthrie

When yer head gets twisted and yer mind grows numb
When you think you're too old, too young, too smart or too dumb
When yer laggin' behind an' losin' yer pace
In a slow-motion crawl of life's busy race
No matter what yer doing if you start givin' up
If the wine don't come to the top of yer cup
If the wind's got you sideways with with one hand holdin' on
And the other starts slipping and the feeling is gone
And yer train engine fire needs a new spark to catch it
And the wood's easy findin' but yer lazy to fetch it
And yer sidewalk starts curlin' and the street gets too long
And you start walkin' backwards though you know its wrong
And lonesome comes up as down goes the day
And tomorrow's mornin' seems so far away
And you feel the reins from yer pony are slippin'
And yer rope is a-slidin' 'cause yer hands are a-drippin'
And yer sun-decked desert and evergreen valleys
Turn to broken down slums and trash-can alleys
And yer sky cries water and yer drain pipe's a-pourin'
And the lightnin's a-flashing and the thunder's a-crashin'
And the windows are rattlin' and breakin' and the roof tops a-shakin'
And yer whole world's a-slammin' and bangin'
And yer minutes of sun turn to hours of storm
And to yourself you sometimes say
"I never knew it was gonna be this way
Why didn't they tell me the day I was born"
And you start gettin' chills and yer jumping from sweat
And you're lookin' for somethin' you ain't quite found yet
And yer knee-deep in the dark water with yer hands in the air
And the whole world's a-watchin' with a window peek stare
And yer good gal leaves and she's long gone a-flying
And yer heart feels sick like fish when they're fryin'
And yer jackhammer falls from yer hand to yer feet
And you need it badly but it lays on the street
And yer bell's bangin' loudly but you can't hear its beat
And you think yer ears might a been hurt
Or yer eyes've turned filthy from the sight-blindin' dirt
And you figured you failed in yesterdays rush
When you were faked out an' fooled white facing a four flush
And all the time you were holdin' three queens
And it's makin you mad, it's makin' you mean
Like in the middle of Life magazine
Bouncin' around a pinball machine
And there's something on yer mind you wanna be saying
That somebody someplace oughta be hearin'
But it's trapped on yer tongue and sealed in yer head
And it bothers you badly when your layin' in bed
And no matter how you try you just can't say it
And yer scared to yer soul you just might forget it
And yer eyes get swimmy from the tears in yer head
And yer pillows of feathers turn to blankets of lead
And the lion's mouth opens and yer staring at his teeth
And his jaws start closin with you underneath
And yer flat on your belly with yer hands tied behind
And you wish you'd never taken that last detour sign
And you say to yourself just what am I doin'
On this road I'm walkin', on this trail I'm turnin'
On this curve I'm hanging
On this pathway I'm strolling, in the space I'm taking
In this air I'm inhaling
Am I mixed up too much, am I mixed up too hard
Why am I walking, where am I running
What am I saying, what am I knowing
On this guitar I'm playing, on this banjo I'm frailin'
On this mandolin I'm strummin', in the song I'm singin'
In the tune I'm hummin', in the words I'm writin'
In the words that I'm thinkin'
In this ocean of hours I'm all the time drinkin'
Who am I helping, what am I breaking
What am I giving, what am I taking
But you try with your whole soul best
Never to think these thoughts and never to let
Them kind of thoughts gain ground
Or make yer heart pound
But then again you know why they're around
Just waiting for a chance to slip and drop down
"Cause sometimes you hear'em when the night times comes creeping
And you fear that they might catch you a-sleeping
And you jump from yer bed, from yer last chapter of dreamin'
And you can't remember for the best of yer thinking
If that was you in the dream that was screaming
And you know that it's something special you're needin'
And you know that there's no drug that'll do for the healin'
And no liquor in the land to stop yer brain from bleeding
And you need something special
Yeah, you need something special all right
You need a fast flyin' train on a tornado track
To shoot you someplace and shoot you back
You need a cyclone wind on a stream engine howler
That's been banging and booming and blowing forever
That knows yer troubles a hundred times over
You need a Greyhound bus that don't bar no race
That won't laugh at yer looks
Your voice or your face
And by any number of bets in the book
Will be rollin' long after the bubblegum craze
You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more
You need something to open your eyes
You need something to make it known
That it's you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you're sitting
That the world ain't got you beat
That it ain't got you licked
It can't get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special all right
You need something special to give you hope
But hope's just a word
That maybe you said or maybe you heard
On some windy corner 'round a wide-angled curve

But that's what you need man, and you need it bad
And yer trouble is you know it too good
"Cause you look an' you start getting the chills

"Cause you can't find it on a dollar bill
And it ain't on Macy's window sill
And it ain't on no rich kid's road map
And it ain't in no fat kid's fraternity house
And it ain't made in no Hollywood wheat germ
And it ain't on that dimlit stage
With that half-wit comedian on it
Ranting and raving and taking yer money
And you thinks it's funny
No you can't find it in no night club or no yacht club
And it ain't in the seats of a supper club
And sure as hell you're bound to tell
That no matter how hard you rub
You just ain't a-gonna find it on yer ticket stub
No, and it ain't in the rumors people're tellin' you
And it ain't in the pimple-lotion people are sellin' you
And it ain't in no cardboard-box house
Or down any movie star's blouse
And you can't find it on the golf course
And Uncle Remus can't tell you and neither can Santa Claus
And it ain't in the cream puff hair-do or cotton candy clothes
And it ain't in the dime store dummies or bubblegum goons
And it ain't in the marshmallow noises of the chocolate cake voices
That come knockin' and tappin' in Christmas wrappin'
Sayin' ain't I pretty and ain't I cute and look at my skin
Look at my skin shine, look at my skin glow
Look at my skin laugh, look at my skin cry
When you can't even sense if they got any insides
These people so pretty in their ribbons and bows
No you'll not now or no other day
Find it on the doorsteps made out-a paper mache�
And inside it the people made of molasses
That every other day buy a new pair of sunglasses
And it ain't in the fifty-star generals and flipped-out phonies
Who'd turn yuh in for a tenth of a penny
Who breathe and burp and bend and crack
And before you can count from one to ten
Do it all over again but this time behind yer back
My friend
The ones that wheel and deal and whirl and twirl
And play games with each other in their sand-box world
And you can't find it either in the no-talent fools
That run around gallant
And make all rules for the ones that got talent
And it ain't in the ones that ain't got any talent but think they do
And think they're foolin' you
The ones who jump on the wagon
Just for a while 'cause they know it's in style
To get their kicks, get out of it quick
And make all kinds of money and chicks
And you yell to yourself and you throw down yer hat
Sayin', "Christ do I gotta be like that
Ain't there no one here that knows where I'm at
Ain't there no one here that knows how I feel
Good God Almighty

No but that ain't yer game, it ain't even yer race
You can't hear yer name, you can't see yer face
You gotta look some other place
And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin'
Where do you look for this lamp that's a-burnin'
Where do you look for this oil well gushin'
Where do you look for this candle that's glowin'
Where do you look for this hope that you know is there
And out there somewhere
And your feet can only walk down two kinds of roads
Your eyes can only look through two kinds of windows
Your nose can only smell two kinds of hallways
You can touch and twist
And turn two kinds of doorknobs
You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You'll find God in the church of your choice
You'll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

And though it's only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You'll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
At sundown

~Dylan, Bob. Copyright © 1973 Special Rider Music