Saturday, October 25, 2008


Here is where i wish you were.

A short plane from Delhi. A brief trip into the desert. Step off into the heat; dry heat, dead still heat off the sand. The desert is near. Enter the arrivals lounge and almost taste the colors and the shapes. Sari's with rose prints upon electric green, deep purple, sky blue, and pure yellow, polish the room. Colors unchanged by time; tradition in sweeping satin folds. A greeting party of dark faces, large noses, sharp noses -- pierced with gold rings and studs. White eyes hold almond iris pools, and smiles sheen. Family, all are family, are being welcomed with a shower of flower petals. Women are laughing, moving across the floor. Younger generations touch the feet of elders; a blessing. Bangles clink clink, anklets shing shing. A baby cries in the fray -- the only frown in the room. Here, in an airport arrivals lounge, true joy cannot be disguised. Here I find it. I think you would too.

Step outside with bag in hand. Auto-rickshaws wait. A group of four, five, or six lounge in the backseat of their black and yellow carriage with sandals off and their feet propped on the silver frame. This is the ready position. One hundred Rupees from the airport to the home stay; my home for the next five days. I pass over the prepaid fare. My driver chooses me, grabs my bag and sets it inside. I slide in after it. We motor off with a putt putt and we are on our way. Traffic appears sparse on this side of the city; on this side of the afternoon. A few motorbikes carry on beside us. Round the bend, a camel pulls a cart and driver. My head pans to catch a glimpse, I stare until the sandy dromedary drops out of sight.

Welcome to Rajasthan.

We arrive at a house; the home where I will sleep. I thank the driver, shake his hand and look him in the eye, then step into the shade. The house is quiet. A marching blue elephant adored in golden jewelry is painted on an indigo wall. A basket leans. A clay pot stands on a ledge. Passed on to the staff, to the family, I am led through a doorway hung with tapestries. I am led to my room, across a tiled courtyard in the center of the house with shade and relief for bare feet. With lounging sofas and reclining pillows, I accept the want to do absolutely nothing. This is my relief.

Unpack, wash, change, and walk. Walk into Jodhpur.

Taste a lassi mixed with cardamom, sugar, and butter. Sit, enjoy the stares and smiles of curious children and pleased adults. Wander back alleys with bicycles, holy cows, flowing saris, and floating platters of sweet milk tea. Here are bangle shops, barber shops, kite shops, textile shops, provision shops, sari shops, poster shops, "tyre" shops, whatever-you-need shops. Here the air is still and hot. Motorbikes putt-putt with mustached drivers -- smiling drivers. "Welcome to India!" a man yells at me while buzzing past. A camel waits, chews emphatically, defecates on the pavement; the cart behind her is being loaded with bamboo for ladders and furniture. Across the street, five shops in a row, all build, send, receive these material supplies, five shops in a row. The market bustles. Sari's move in flocks -- grandmothers, mothers, daughters, great-grandchildren -- generations move through piles of sandals, printed tees, spice, and fruit. Sensitive noses sneeze. Tailors sit stitching zigzams and seams, their barefeet pump the pedal beneath and their methodical fingers move.

India is where all my fears and dreams collide in a tangled mess. My surprise of a seemingly well-off small boy who says hello, asks my name, and then chases after me to ask for five Rupees. An auto-rickshaw ride for free. A beggar, a frail woman with child in arms, following my steps with her plea. Invitations to tea. Back to my room, I crush tears sorting through the wreckage of faces. Eternal collisions; beyond human. I am outside myself again. Here on my bed, dressed halfway for heat, in a house, in a home, in the western reaches of India.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A reflection of my father.

I am my father's son.
In a steel sugar bowl reflection, curved distortion, I glimpse a face.
Unkept hair, reaching length.
Eyes straight ahead looking at someone else, far away.
Mustache growing in brown stubble, not black;
soft not hard, the remnants of a boy.
Preliminary minutes, a child before man.

A photo of him in my mind.
Barefeet stand with bare chest before a blue bus.
Arms at sides.
The chiseled physique of genetics and obvious youth.
One apart from several.
Unkept hair.
A pair of short blue shorts.
Periwinkle eyes straight ahead, enchant a camera lens.
A moment captured in a shuttered snap.
Here adventure once moved in a time not my own,
once danced beyond the photo frame.
A scurry of feet, the rant of ecstatic voices.

I only view a frozen piece,
a jammed kaleidoscope caught mid-turn.
A picture of he, but a picture of me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A labor of solitude. (Shattered thoughts.)

Why have I not written here? I have no answer. Parchment pages have absorbed the ink of a burning pen and one is gone, spent of all black dye in a matter of 14 days. An intentional effort. A labor of solitude. It is work to become great but why write with the expectation of becoming so? Write for yourself. Try to decipher the mind. Become unhinged; bent in the way. It is pointless in battering inevitable motion with human complaints, yet I continue to rant over the speed of an unbridled mind -- the speed which my incapable hands will never match. Is the reality of what I write now only found in interruptions of my reading? What I want to write versus what the pen drags, versus conclusive drafts, versus preliminary concerns.

Less than two weeks and yet I am ages behind my mind's eye. A vestige created by a walking pace.

[Stalwart stone houses. Rice grows in the alley. Steady autumn eyes arouse mine mid-stride. Blink, gone. Cramping legs. A grunting howl and a toenail chips. Who chopped the green banana tree and where does he sleep tonight? Dainty crimson petals dry pink upon green stems. Evergreen striations droop with thick pine nectar. River streak shrinks as heightened canyon walls flip the scale. Inverse relationships. Oxygen drops, pressure rises. Gasp at twilight, wheeze at dawn. Shroud of breath. Anatomy and mathematics. One foot. Two feet. Climb with the mind. Five thousand four hundred times 39.37.]

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Unknown to me.

Guests -- unknown to me, familiar with the table. Sunlight spills onto wood, fading into the grain with passing clouds -- unknown to me. A fly, a housefly, crouches, prays in the shadow near my open book of empty lines and inky etch. Smoke spools skyward, stopped by the ceiling, floating out the open door, from the nostrils of mustached men, smooth faced men, stubble faced men -- unknown to me; my face is shaven. A large glass bottle, half empty, holds tomato sauce and residue upon its cap. One small fork with back bent spine and faded sterling sits a companion; the odd couple. Dragonfly alights on cement post, fans its wings to the sun.

On this day a school visit. A hill ascent. Blue shirts dark against the sky on clear afternoons, trousers a shade darker. Students stand beneath the peepal tree. The body above matches the body mass below -- stretching, sprawling. The future of a nation rests in the branches, the eaves of past growth, and rests from a climb to top of a hill. They stare at me, a stranger. Their ideas -- unknown to me.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A river stone.

Monsoonal waters have prevented most swimming other than that which can be done at the edge, but a pool made by a change at a fork in the river, a fork that formed two narrow tines, two slivers of creek, set an offering. Here at this edge we dunked beneath the heat and into a cool still. We bathed, shared a single bar of soap; Sarasvati and her cousin on one side, Joseph and I on the other. Nepali boys scampered across the rocks and boulders tossing fishing nets. The sun moved west, a late afternoon herald. Time moved. Joseph and I stood at the bank looking to the opposite shore. We hurled stones across the waterway torrents, I from a boulder and he from the ground. In a step from atop, a twist at my torso, my ribs, and a hurl through the air. Legs, back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers, release. Spinning from the side, slicing through the air, gaining curve and sinking to the earth.


Stone meets stone.

From here on my stone; river boulder, sun baked tower. A grunted toss that bears me to baseball mitts and leather cracks from cowhide communication. For a moment I am free. No poverty; economic disparity. Barefoot, and a pair of blue shorts, my skin offered to the air -- the sun, the star of the Milky Way at my back. I reach down, my fingers grapple, grip another from the pile at my feet. A smooth stone, a river stone. Legs, back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers, release. Synapses, muscle transfers -- in this moment, all that I want to know.


Stone meets stone.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


A lazy day falls through the panes and lights my journal page. Rain outside the window, small vanishing streaks caught in an instant against dark backgrounds. Drops sound off a tin roof, a deceiving drumroll. Between the two my mind is undecided on the effects of a walk in this rain, so I sit and move to other things. The crossword in front of me. A small clay colored pot of black coffee. A mug of the same grain. A silver teaspoon, untouched by a granule of sugar or a drying drop of bitter brown, is cradled in a saucer; its silversmithed edge shines with a pool of the sterling sky. My pen cap clicks on and off, I am stumped.

While I still grapple the truth , there is no place I need to be other than here. I am in Nepal and the Himalayas send a crackle through the air.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Anger, shock.

My lips are closed with the weight of blank expression; only I know my anger. I stare deliberately across the room, cursing under my breath. (I don't want to be this way.) I drag my eyes back to the page. I count the numbers in between paragraph breaks. I read to pass the time. Now I read for completion not comprehension. To complete another minute. To finish the last thirty. I am still waiting my turn. Warmth moves through unseen channels in my hands. My fingers curl and extend, quick like the legs of a scurrying insect I flex them in attempt to retard this building aggression. Constant movement feels a necessity. A turn of the page. A scratch to my face without an itch. This is movement, expressed alone for the sake of my mind that knows better. Feelings, they wander. On these my feelings dwell: pushing crowds on narrow streets, noisy vendors, putrid rain, aggressive beggars, yellow cab horns, side mirrors inches from my middle, an ejaculation of mud onto my legs, body odor and grease. These I add and multiply, I exponentially package them. And then my turn comes. I sign the book and drop the pen onto the page away from a hand that awaits a return. Leave me alone, I think and take my seat. I don't want your kindness.