Namaste, dada

September 7th, 2011

I am now on the 8-hour train back to Delhi. I had a wonderful time in Amritsar. I met very interesting and compassionate people. I learned tons about Sikhism and experienced life at the niwas. I am starting to miss Pondi and am happy to be heading home.  I am so thankful for Gurprakesh, Shivakumar, Vijaybhai, Arti Arora, and the Sikh Who Gave Me His Shoes for watching over me. 

I wrote this poem this morning, inspired by a real event and all that I have learned here. As you enter the Langar dining hall, volunteers hand out utensils. Dada means grandfather.

Langar kitchen, Amristar

September 7, 2011 5:30 am

Namaste dada, what time did you rise?

Was the sky black tar or sweet lavender?

Thank you dada for your gift,

This morning’s bowl and spoon.

Pressed palms to my chest, a thousand thanks to you.

A pat on my shoulder in delighted surprise,

Nay dada, there is no need.

I recognize the Divine in you as clearly as I see the glory

of the white ibis in the fields of Punjabi wheat.

My tin bowl half-filled with hot chai, my heart filled to the brim.

 

 (dailylife.com)

Poems

You shouldn’t worry about whether you’re good now. You probably aren’t that good, but you’ll get better. There is hope.” -Billy Collins, on writing poetry

I have been doing more editing work today, amidst the violent drilling sounds on the other side of the office wall. The beach office is receiving an extension, as the space is getting a bit cramped for the burgeoning departments. You kind of have to just decide its not going to bother you, and then it doesn’t. Today I was not in the mindset to handle it so graciously.

I am working with my colleague Maitreyee on her ecology project, which features activities and writings on how to develop one’s personal relationship with Nature. It’s rad. I also finished editing the web content. Vijaybai was happy with my edits, and has given me another important job. Shivakumar asked me to help edit the introductory book that Vijay has written on the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Apparently it was printed in haste awhile ago, and they want to update the language and copy edit for typos. I am honored and up to the task.

My friends Rahti and Bini (inseperable BFFs) asked me to write a poem, a poem about anything they said. Bini is making a compilation of work from society members to publish and share. I told them of course I would, even though I haven’t really written a poem, let alone a good one, for a few years at least. If it’s good enough I will post it, for you, my darling readers.

I stumbled up on two of Barack Obama’s poems that he published at Occidental College’s literary arts journal. Apparently when she was younger Michelle used to be a bit of a poet too.

reading is cool again 

northernfrostbite.blogspot.com

It made me smile, reminding of my time as editor of the Honors College Creative Arts Journal. I tried to make it a diverse collection of all different kinds of art, like knitting works, collage, journalistic pieces. I couldn’t stand to publish a bunch of bad poems and photos of flowers. It was a lot of work, but it taught me how to be a better editor and many other skills like submission promotion, budget, managing a volunteer staff, selection process of works, layout and design and publishing of a publication. I divided the work of editor into three jobs, which still gave the next year’s staff plenty of work to do.

Anyway, here are Barry’s poems for your enjoyment:

 

POP

by Barack Obama

Sitting in his seat, a seat broad and broken

In, sprinkled with ashes,

Pop switches channels, takes another

Shot of Seagrams, neat, and asks

What to do with me, a green young man

Who fails to consider the

Flim and flam of the world, since

Things have been easy for me;

I stare hard at his face, a stare

That deflects off his brow;

I’m sure he’s unaware of his

Dark, watery eyes, that

Glance in different directions,

And his slow, unwelcome twitches,

Fail to pass.

I listen, nod,

Listen, open, till I cling to his pale,

Beige T-shirt, yelling,

Yelling in his ears, that hang

With heavy lobes, but he’s still telling

His joke, so I ask why

He’s so unhappy, to which he replies…

But I don’t care anymore, cause

He took too damn long, and from

Under my seat, I pull out the

Mirror I’ve been saving; I’m laughing,

Laughing loud, the blood rushing from his face

To mine, as he grows small,

A spot in my brain, something

That may be squeezed out, like a

Watermelon seed between

Two fingers.

Pop takes another shot, neat,

Points out the same amber

Stain on his shorts that I’ve got on mine, and

Makes me smell his smell, coming

From me; he switches channels, recites an old poem

He wrote before his mother died,

Stands, shouts, and asks

For a hug, as I shink,* my

Arms barely reaching around

His thick, oily neck, and his broad back; ’cause

I see my face, framed within

Pop’s black-framed glasses

And know he’s laughing too.

 

UNDERGROUND

Under water grottos, caverns

Filled with apes

That eat figs.

Stepping on the figs

That the apes

Eat, they crunch.

The apes howl, bare

Their fangs, dance,

Tumble in the

Rushing water,

Musty, wet pelts

Glistening in the blue.

 

(Reposted from thehuffingtonpost.com.)