Me Chasing Dogs for Disturbing Me

Last night, past midnight at about 1 am, I and my friend Meme were audio-recording at a suspension bridge across the Sekmai somewhere at Wairi, Kakching for my film Walking Home. We required the sound of a broken suspension bridge wood planks and naked metal cables creaking when stepped on and disturbed their abandonment. We had set up the equipment and I was just about to start walking on the bridge when dogs began to bark on the other end of the bridge, which was very disturbing. I waited for a while and when they have not stopped, I calibrated my police torch for a sharp pointed shaft of light and trained in on the eyes of two dogs–one white and the other black, their eyes glistening against the light.

I loved some fun–I walked to them and when they started to retreat, I followed them, and then chased them, shattering their barks into pieces of annoying barks. They ran through the bamboo clumps to their homes. I was laughing soundlessly. I love dogs.

I waited there for the dogs to come back for a while. They came back and I ran head on into them and they ran back again. After five minutes of timid barking, it was silent again. It was my time.


This cricket will give you some tension

There is no complete silence in nature–listening closely to silence, we come to hear a myriad of quiet sounds within the hearing range of the human ears which we are used to ignoring and taking for granted as absence of sound. Silence, thus, turns out to be the absence of both expected and unwanted sound frequencies, while we do not consider most of the nameless finer frequencies between and beyond these arbitrary sound-marks. Everything in nature produces frequencies within and/or beyond our hearing range.

The physical properties of sounds in nature can trigger our auditory nerves in myriad ways influencing our psychic states. Some frequencies are soothing while some others are disturbing. The sound of the drizzling rain has a different effect on us than the sound of the thunder rumbling or a cricket chirping.

The frequency of the cricket’s cry I recorded a couple of hours ago and am posting here has a tensing effect on us. In other words, this cricket gives you some tension. Play the track and feel it for yourself.

An Armless Son

missing you mama
missing you baba
both old and ill
and me just a son
too far for a hug that speaks
when words fail

I am really worried and weeping that I may not be around when all you want in the world is a warm wordless heartfilling hug as you quietly pass on, letting out the last cloud of breath in a long string of thinness on which your crystal dewdrops slide into the mist and beyond. Unwrapped by these arms still small and delicate to you, unlike those warmth and love, and the beating joy and curving smile that you once greeted me with when I came.

There is a time
once in a lifetime
when all one wants
is just an hug
and no word.

I am just words,
and no arms–
words for the mulct
arms for the dear.

How কোরৌ and নুমীৎ Differ and Relate

কোরৌ /kòrəù/
নুমীৎ /numìt/

Now they practically mean the same–both (i) a day, and (ii) the sun. But if we look back far into their history, as found in ancient writings, we see the convergence of the meanings took place relatively recently.

The Old Meiteilol (OM) কোয়লৌ was the compound of কোয় (circular, round) and লৌ(বা) (to regard as, to take as, to assume). More than it seems to us now living among tall buildings, the unlimited sky (because of the limited vision of us humans) looked to the ancient Meiteis like a dome, arching over them like a cage. Thus, they took/regarded/assumed (লৌবা) sky as domed, circular (কোয়বা), that is, কোয়না লৌবা, in Meiteilol. The sky was bright and that was the day. The sky or the day was bright because of the sun. It was the sun that made the day/sky visible; that is, visible as domed. The domed look of the day or the sky was basically ascribed to (regarded as of) the sun. Moreover, the sun was a disc–circular. That made the connection easier. That is how কোয়লৌ came to mean both the day and the sun.

Humans love it short and simple, and our tongue, despite its boneless flexibility, wants to spend as little energy as possible. This leads to dropping of sounds, shortening words, and assimilation and sound change looking for comfort (a form of economy) in saying words. Thus, in course of time, the OM কোয়লৌ /koìləù/ dropped the vowel /ì/ giving কোলৌ /kòləù/, and following the Bangali influence beginning in the first quarter of the 18th century, the alveolar lateral approximant /l/ changed to the alveolar trill /r/ giving কোরৌ /kòrəù/.

A younger word, নুমীৎ /numìt/ has a different story, and it is rather more physical and philosophical than linguistic. নূ /nù/ (it was not নু /nu/) was the common gender for human in OM. Add the masculine and feminine gender suffixes (-পা and -পী respectively) to this, and you get নূপা (man) and নূপী (woman), respectively. মীৎ, as it is today, was the eye. নুমীৎ thus meant the human eye. However, there is still a twist. The ancient Meiteis believed that the eyes could see because they were নূ (humans), and humans had some inner power that could make the eye see. The even subtler philosophical or scientific twist is this–the ancient Meiteis believed that humans had that inner power making the eye able to see because the sun shone up there in the sky. The light of the sun makes humans capable of seeing. Thus in the final analysis, it was the sun that was the eye that had the power of seeing and the power of the daylight (day + light). It follows that it is the eye (the sun) with which we see.

This is how the word নুমীৎ came to mean both the sun and the day.

As we see what we have is নুমীৎ /numìt/, not নূমীৎ /nùmìt/. It is because a sound change from /nù/ to /nu/ occurred in course of time. We are not sure when it happened.

An interesting addition:
Meiteilol has been down the history for more than two thousand years, I guess. Time adds layer to everything–to the earth, to trees, and also to languages. Thus a language often has old and new words for the same concept, and most languages use either of these words according to the contextual demands. Though the context matter still matters in Manipuri, we have a slightly different and interesting case here: we often use both the old and the new terms (usually it is the old one that leads the compound) together. কোরৌ and নুমীৎ combine to form the compound কোরৌ নুমীৎ, to mean both the sun and the day. The context specifies what it exactly refers to in a specific use. Similarly, we have লাইজা ঈশিং, লেম্লৈ ঙা, নোংদোন অতিয়গা, among several others.

চোংশিন্নবা / Face to Face

Face to Face
by Tomas Tranströmer (1931–2015)
Nobel Prize in Literature (2011)

ৱাকচীংদা চপ লেপখি হিংবা৷
উচেক্না তন্না পাই অদুগা থৱায়না
তকই লমহাঙ লমজাউদা শুরু শুরু
তক্তুনা লৈবগুম হিনা হিথাঙফমগি পুনফমদা৷

উপালশিংনা লেপ্পী মনম ওনশিন্দুনা ঐঙোন্দা৷
থানা শীল্লবা উন মরেপ ওল্লী অশিবা চরূনা৷
মন্থরকই খোঙ্গুলশিংনা লৈমায়দা৷
ৱাজরে লোনদি তিরপাল মখাদা৷

নোংমদি লাকই কৈনো’মা থোঙনাউদা৷
খূৎকি থবক থা, লৈদুনা য়েংখৎলুই ঐ৷
মচু মমেন্না ইঙান! ঙম্নমক লৈদুনা য়েংলম্লে৷
মালেমগা ঐগা চোংশিন্নৈ৷


Roblin Fulton’s translation:

In February living stood still.
The birds flew unwillingly and the soul
chafed against the landscape as a boat
chafes against the pier it lies moored to.

The trees stood with their backs turned to me.
The deep snow was measured with dead straws.
The footprints grew old out on the crust.
Under a tarpaulin language pined.

One day something came to the window.
Work was dropped, I looked up.
The colors flared. Everything turned around.
The earth and I sprang toward each other.

WHY BOTH কূম্বা /kùmbə/ and কাবা /kàbə/ MEAN BOTH ‘GO’ and ‘RETURN’?

মীওইবগি লোনসি য়াম্না নুংঙাইবা অমনি৷ লোন লোনগি তোঙান তোঙানবা নুংঙাইবা লৈজৈ৷ মনিপুরি লোনসিশু মওঙ অমদা য়াম্না নুংঙাই খল্লী৷ মসিগি মনুং চন্না ৱাহৈ অমদা ওন্না তৈনবা ৱাহন্থোক অনীমক য়াওবা অসি লৌখৎপা য়াই৷ পরিং অসিদা ঙসিগি ওইনা কাবা অমসুং কূম্বা হায়বা ৱাহৈ অনীসি য়েংসি ৷

কাবা /kàbə/ ৱাহন্থোক য়াম্না লৈ৷ মদুগি মনুংদা য়াম্না নুুংঙাইবা, ওন্না তৈনবা ৱাহন্থোক অনীদি

(১) থবক চৎপা


(২) থবক হল্লকপা

অসিনি৷ খূদম ওইনা মখাগি ৱাহৈপরেং জুুুুরাশিংসি য়েংসি:

মহাক ঙসিদি হকচাং ঙমদদুনা ঙন্না (লৌ) কাখ্রে৷ (হনখিবা)
মাদি ওফিস কাখ্রিনে৷ (চৎখিবা)

মোনবিদু লৌ কূমখ্রি৷ হৌজিক লৈতে৷ (চৎখিবা)
নবোকপু কৈথেল কূম্লকত্রিব্রনে হৌজীকফাওবা? (হল্লকপা)

কূম্বা /kùmbə/ গিশু ৱাহন্থোক য়াম্মী৷ ময়ামদুগি মনুংদা মথক্তা কূম্বা গিদা পীরিবা ওন্না তৈনবা ৱাহন্থোক অনীসিমক মাগিসুু লৈ৷

কূম্বা হায়বসি ইচম চম্বদা অৱাংবা মফমদগি অনেম্বদা চৎপনি৷ থবক চৎপগি অর্থদা শীজিন্নবা কূম্বসি মসিগা মরী লৈনৈ৷ য়ূমসি অয়াম্বদা লৌবূক নত্রগা পাৎকুম্বদগি হেন্না ৱাংবা মফমদা লৈ৷ অদুনা মনিপুরিশিংনা লৌউ শীংউবনা মখোয়গি মপূং ওইবা শিনফম ওইরিঙৈ মতমদা লৌদা নত্রগা পাৎতা কূম্বসি মখোয়গি থবক চৎপা ওইরম্মী৷ মতৌ অসুম্না কূম্বা হায়বসিগি ৱান্থোকশিংগি মনুংদা থবক তৌবা চৎপা হায়বসিসু অমা ওইরকখি৷

কূম্বগি ইচম চম্বা ৱাহন্থোক্কা মথক্তা পীরিবা থৈদোরক্লবা ৱাহন্থোক অসিগা নক্নবসি লৌমীশিংনা খরা ৱাংবা মফমদা নত্রগা ৱাংনা য়ূম্ফম থোনগৎলগা শাবা লৌশঙদগি মদুগা য়েংনবদা অনেম্বদা লৈবা লৌদা থবক হৌনবা কূমথবা অসিনি৷

মতৌ অসুম্না কাবা হায়বসি ইচম চম্বদা অনেম্বদগি অৱাংবদা চৎপা অসিগা মরী লৈননা লৌবূক্তগি থবক লোইরগা অৱাংবদা লৈবা লৌশঙদা চৎপা নত্রগা য়ূমদা হনবা অদুবু খঙনৈ৷ কনাগুম্বনা থবক ঙাইহাক লেপ্লগা লৌশঙদা পোত্থাবনচিংবা চৎখ্রবদি মহাক কাখ্রি হায়নৈ৷ অকোনবগি অসিদি ইচম চম্বা ৱাহন্থোক্কা হেন্না নকশিন্নৈ খল্লী৷ হেন্না থৈদোরক্লবা ৱাহন্থোক্তি থবক লোইরগা অনেম্বা লৌবুক্তগি অৱাংবা লৌশঙদা কারকপা অদুগা মদুগি মতুংদা য়ূমদা হল্লকপা অসিনি৷

মতৌ অসুম্না কনাগুম্বনা লৌ কূমখ্রবদি মহাক লৌদা থবক শূবা চৎলিবনি৷ মহাক্না লৌ কারক্লবদি থবক লোইরগা হল্লকই হায়বনি৷

মসিগী ওন্নবদা মনিপুরিদা কাবা না থবক চৎপা অদুগা কূম্বা না থবক লোইরগা হনবগি ৱাহন্থোক্তসু শীজিন্নৈ৷ মসি ৱাহৈশিংসিগি অচম্বা ৱাহন্থোকশিংদগি থৈদোরক্লবা ৱাহন্থোকশিংনি৷ অদুম ওইনমক হায়রিবা থৈদোক্লবা ৱাহন্থোকশিং অসি অচম্বা ৱাহন্থোকশিংদা মরুদি অদুম তারিবনি৷ নিংথৌ পাল্লিঙৈ মতমগি লৈবাক অমগি কোনুংসি অৱাংবা মফমদা শারমদবদি য়াই অদুবু মসি লৈবাক অদুগি খ্বাইদগি লেম্না, কিননা, ৱাংনা লৌনবা মফমনি৷ অদুনা কোনুংদা চৎপসি অৱাংবা মফম অমদা কাবগা চপ মান্ননা লৌনরকখি৷ মতৌ অসুম্না কনাগুম্বনা কোনুংদা চৎলবদি মহাক্না তৌরিবদু কোনুং কাবা কৌরে৷ মতৌ অসুম্না থাক ৱাংবা মফমসিদগি থবক লোইরগা নেমথনা লৌনবা মফমদা চৎপা নত্রগা হনববু কূম্বা অমুক কৌরে৷

কোনুং অমদি লৈরক্কি থাক্কি অনেম অৱাংগা মরী লৈনবা ৱাহন্থোক অসিদা শীজিন্নবা কাবা অমসুং কূম্বসি কোন্নদা ইতিহাসকি পরিংদা খরা থেঙথরকপদা লাইরিক লাইশু তম্বা, ওফিস চৎপা অসিনচিংবসি মনিপুরগি মীয়ামগি নুংতিগি পুন্সিগি শরূক অমা ওইরক্লবা মতমদা হেন্না অমুক পাক শন্না শীজিন্নরকখি৷ লৌউ শীংউবগা মরী লৈনবা ইচম চম্বা কাবা-কূম্বগি ৱাফমদগি থৈরবা ৱাহন্থোক্তা ৱাহৈশিং অসি পাক শন্না শীজিন্নরকপসি মহৈ মশিং তম্বা, মহৈ মশিং হৈবা, ওফিস চৎপনচিংবসি থাক ৱাংনা লৌনরকপা, ইচম চম্না লেনবা য়ূমগি পুন্সিদগি হেন্না থাক ৱাংনা লৌনরকপদগিনি৷ মসি মনিপুর সমাজদা লাকপা অহোংবা, মীশিংগি মীৎয়েংদা থোক্লকপা অহোংবশিং অদুনা মরম ওইদুননি৷

মতৌ অসুম্না কনাগুম্বনা স্কুলদা, কোলেজদা নত্রগা ওফিসতা নুংতিগি মথৌ ওইনা চৎলবদি মহাক স্কুল কায়, কোলেজ কায়, ওফিস কায় হায়নৈ৷ ওফিসতগি হল্লকপবু ওফিসতগি কূম্লকপসু হায়নরম্মী৷ খরা অহল ওইবসিংগি মরক্তা মসি হায়নবা য়াওরমখিনি খল্লী৷ অদুম ওইনমক কূম্বা অসি স্কুল কোলেজগদি শীজিন্নবা তাদে৷

মঙ্গারকপা / Back from a funeral

The poem came visually and aurally, quite in a pre-linguistic fashion. Yes, when I woke up from sleep in the middle of the black night. Then when I got down to writing, the visuals and audios crystalled themselves linguistically. This process is a subtle aesthetic orgasmic experience, and you don’t ever want to get over this. For this one, the linguistic crystallization occurred simultaneously in two languages–some parts in Manipuri, and some other parts in English, the two languages I straddle most comfortably. The blended nature of how I experienced the original bilingual poem has its own distinct, irreplaceable beauty; however, I have separated the strands for better presentation, translated parts from one language to another and vice versa, and have presented the two versions as below, the English and Manipuri lines kept abreast of each other.

Assuming some may find the line alignment of the English version in the ‘preformatted” juxtaposition with Manipuri uncomfortable, I have reproduced the English version at the bottom of the post again.

ঈশিংদা তাশিল্লে                      Fallen into the water.      
কদায়দগিনো খঙদনা--                God knows from where—
অরূবা ঈশিং                        clear water,
ত্রৎ ঈংবা ঈশিং,                     freezing cold
হকচাং কয়াৎ পূম্বা য়াথোকহনবা৷          getting around all organs.
হোই,                             Yes,
মখূৎতু ঙাইহাক্তি লাম্মী                 the hands grope awhile
মখোঙদু ঙাইহাক্তি কাওই৷               the legs kick awhile.
অদৈদি ঈশিংদু হঞ্জিল্লকই                 Then the water returns
করিশু খঙজদবা মতৌদা৷               to its placid innocence.
ফমজিনখ্রবা ঈমায়দা ফমদুনা             Crouched on the icy surface
উই মশাগি হোৎনবা পূম্বা               he sees all his own efforts
ঈশিংনা চূপশিনখিবা,                  being sucked up by the water,
মাগি ফিথোংদবা হকচাং                 his naked body
অঙৌবা গুলিগুমই                     a blueish-white tablet
অরূবা গ্লাসকি ঈশিংদা                 in a glass of clean water
তুমদ্রঙৈ ঙাইহাক্কি প্রীক প্রীক৷             noiselessly bubbling awhile
                                 before it dissolves.

অহিং নোংয়ায়দা মীৎকপ থোরকই৷         He wakes up at midnight.
মঙ্গারকপগুমই মদু                    It feels like back from a funeral
অঙকপা অমম্বা লমদম অমদগি৷           in a strange dark place

মুশিবা তেবল লেম্প নাকলদা              A glass of clean water
অরূবা ঈশিং গ্লাস৷                     beside the shaded table lamp.
অঙৌবা গুলি অমা থাদৈ৷                 He drops a blueish-white tablet in it.
কোঙ্গোল মচা খরা পৃক পৃক              A few tiny bubbles prick up
ঙাইহাক৷                            just awhile.

অমুক তূমথবা য়াদ্রে                     He can't bring himself
মহাক৷                              back to sleep.

The English version is reproduced below again:

Fallen into the water.
God knows from where—
clear water,
freezing cold
getting around all organs.
the hands grope awhile
the legs kick awhile.
Then the water returns
to its placid innocence.
Crouched on the icy surface
he sees all his own efforts
being sucked up by the water,
his naked body
a bluish-white tablet
in a glass of clean water
noiselessly bubbling awhile
before it dissolves.

He wakes up at midnight.
It feels like back from a funeral
in a strange dark place.

A glass of clean water
beside the shaded table lamp.
He drops a blueish-white tablet in it.
A few tiny bubbles prick up
just awhile.

He can’t bring himself
back to sleep.

Strangers in the Night; Killing Me Softly

Among what make the world beautiful (despite itself) and life worth living is Frank Sinatra. His songs. His Strangers in the Night (among many of his other numbers) is one of my all-time favorites. This really makes my nights beautiful even when I spend them alone. Lyrics here.

And here is another version. From a live performance. Of course, as we know, most live performances by the singers themselves of already famous records have flavors slightly different from the originals. A concert performance is a different medium than a studio recording session.

Another number among my all-time favorites is his Killing Me Softly. O my! He is–I mean is–a singer. Such a singer. Lyrics here.

তূম্বা য়াদবা অহিং (Insomniac Night)

Last night it rained here in this part of Delhi where I live. Its sound was so sweet. The sound of the rain is my crush. After sleepless nights, days and nights of sleep and wakefulness in fits and starts of about two weeks, finally sleep came heavily on me after 60 hours of sleeplessness at a stretch. The rain continued.

The alarm rang long before dawn. I could not remember setting it. The last time I went to Manipur (yes, recently), I was so busy that such basic things of life as food and sleep became secondary–I worked at the studio day and night, without sleeping for 48 hours or more. I must have set it then, not to miss the dawn run of the Kakching Runners. Things often slip off my mind. But back to Delhi, I have not once heard the alarm ringing. Strange.

When I woke up, it was still raining, though slow. In the dark. I could not go back to sleep. Then memory brought a lot of things back to me. My thought was set into motion. My emotions aroused.

ঙরাং অহিং দেলিগি ঐনা লৈবা মফমদা নোং খরা তাখি৷ মখোলদু য়াম্না নুংশি৷ নোংগি মখোলসি ঐগি ঙাওজবীনি৷ ইতৎ তত্তনা অহিং তূমদবা, খরা তূম্বা য়াও তূমদবা য়াও হপ্তা অনী লৈরকপনা মমৈদা অমুক্তদা পূং ৬০ চূপ্না তূম্লক্ত্রবা মতুংদা ঙরাং অহিংদি য়াম্না তুম্নীংবা ফাওখি৷ নোংদু অদুম তাহৌই৷

নোং ঙানগদবা ৱাৎলিঙৈদা অলার্ম খোংলকই৷ মদু থমখিবা ঐ নীংশিংদ্রে৷ ঐনা মনিপুরদা অকোনবা চৎলুবদা অহিং নুংথিল তূম্বা চাবা খঙদনা ষ্টুদিওদা থবক চিনখিবা, অহিং অনীকা তূমদনা থবক তৌখিবা, মদুদা ককচীং রন্নর্স কাঙবুগা নোং ঙাল্লমদাইদা লমজেল চেনশি হৌনখিবদু শোয়দনবা থমখিবা ওইরম্বা য়াই৷ ঐ খরা কাউগল্লী৷ অদুবু নহানমখৈদি ঐগি ফোনগি অলার্মসি অমুক্তসু খীংলকপা তাদে৷ করিনো খঙদে৷

হৌগৎলকপদা নোং খরা খরা চুরম্লি৷ অমম্বদা৷ অমুক তূম্মু য়াদ্রে। অদুদগিদি করি করিনো য়াম্না নীংশিংলক্লে৷ করি করিনো য়াম্না খল্লক্লে৷ করি করিনো য়াম্না ফাওরক্লে৷


অহিংগি ঈচীক হুনবদা
ঊৎমান মচুগি অনেম্বা অতিয়া মখাদা
কাঙলূপ কাঙলূপ ঊচানশিংদো
মুশুক মশুক
মুরূম মুরূম
অরোনবা অমা তানবগুম
কৈনোমা ৱানা ঙাইবগুম
মীৎশেন খাঙদুনা
(য়ৌরকহন্নীংদবা নুংশিবরা মদো?
কুইরবা অহিংদু নীংশিংলি
মমা মপানা পমদুনা পুরকখিবদু
অচীকপা ময়োম অমা য়ূমদা, অপীকপা মচলগি
তুমিন্না, ঈচীক চীক্না
অরাপ্পা লায়েংশঙদগি৷)
লেঙদবা অহিংবু চুরূপকুম চিংদুনা
নিংথমগি অৱাউবা মনিল কামদুনা৷
মখোয়গি ফি তক্নবগি মখোল
মখোয়গি শোরনা চঙবগি থোকপগি৷

নুংশীৎ শীৎলকপদা
মখোয়গি মশমশু মফিশু
মায়কৈ অমদা ফ্র-ফ্র৷
মখোয়না ঙাইরিবদু নুংশীৎনা চেনবীখ্রগুম
ঊনাগুম মরী মরী
হনুবগি মীৎনদি উদবা৷

তপ তপ!
অতিয়ানা থোঙ থীল্লক্লে
মীৎশেন খাঙলিঙৈ তূম্বা ঊনাগি৷
তূম্বা য়াদবা অহিংদা
অহিংনা ঈচীক হুনবদা
নাকোঙগি ঈখৌলাংবা মখূৎ মশা মরেং ঙম্নমক
মরেঙ মরেঙ লামথোরকই৷
খোঞ্জেল মরীক অমত্তশু!
লৈতাদবা ফমুংদা লোংনা৷

নোংগি অশাংবা মরীশিংদু চেন্থরক্লে
মুশুক মশুকপা ঊচান মরক্তা
মখোলদি ইথোক থোকহন্দ
অরোনবা থবক তৌরিবগুম
হোন্দোক হোঞ্জিন তৌরিবগুম অরোনবা খরা
মালেমগা অতিয়াগগি মরক্তা
তপ্না, য়াম্না তপ্না
অচীকপদা খোঞ্জেলদং থিবা
তূম্বা য়াদবা হনুবতনা তাগদবা মতৌদা৷

নুমীৎনা মমীৎ পাঙলকপদা
উচেক ৱায়া ঈরাঙ লাঙলে৷
অদুগা লৈমায়–মদু অশিবগি ইমুংগুম
ইহিং হিংই, তরু তরুই,
খোঙ্গুল অমত্তশু তাদে
ঊচানগি শম্না অমত্তসু
ঊনা খরা নত্তনা কদায়দগিনো খঙদবা
অকংবা, কংফাত্তবা, নাপু৷

অরোনববু অশুক লোনব্রনে?

Stranger in the Town

A formal experiment in epic poetry,
with sensibilities spanning whole stretch
of known time. To come in a series.

Fictional poetry
Epic poetry in a new form
This series will keep coming


When I pull into the tavern that is more a tool shed
with tables and benches like the one my grandfather had
where he taught me to wield tools as tools and weapons
a thousand years ago when the human face
was less evolved and more expressive of true emotions,
out of the long winding ways and the endless winter winds and snows,
steaming like my horse foaming at the mouth
and rubbing my unglobed hands together,
the one-eyed man taking black-blood bottles from the counter
shifts his what-should-have-been-the-left eye from me
and says in an unknown language accenting every syllable
equally as foreign tongues do and care, in a tone
that needs no language to get the message across to the mark:
“Ech dot kothari che ni det.”
Did he press a button or pull a string to soul a puppet show?
All the eyes there all at once shoot at me
like long shafts of light directed to me in an opera.

“We don’t serve sons of bitches here.” That’s from the left.
Another voice, deep as hell’s grumble under your feet, dry as a slough.
The bottle gurgles as the dry-blood wine jumps into a tall tumbler.
My steps free and my hands stop rubbing.
“I don’t say that.” He explains, as he turns holding the frothing tumbler by the ear
without looking at me but seeing, but revealing a face
with which evolution has stepped back—one-eyed, with the ball
protruding like an eyed probe, the left side where you would expect
another eye telling the story rather of a hole in the wall
mortared and troweled badly than something
that has anything to do with a human face, ugly though as can be.
A rather huge hagstone nose and a pair of fleshy lips under it
easily taking the shapes of the words pouring out of them.
His probably kind translation carries the breath
of an original hate and feels less like a translation,
and this and how he comes across seem to impress
on anybody who sees him the scripture of his life
whose sole commandment is to hate and hate around.

Do they have the same face? Oh! Do I look at them differently
from how they look at me? I have the same eyes?
Thoughts are invisible but they do concrete magic
like throwing yourself off the cliff or hole a breast
to traffic a soul across the border. I am often too numb
for a warrior, my war teacher told me I would better throw
my brains away to the dogs and pour wine into the skull
than momentarily stiffen in the middle of a battle
while I should be mowing heads like on a grassland.

He raises the restless crystal to his lips and empties it
in a gulp that makes a lot of noise down its course.
When the left-eyed tender walks to and stands on his left
they are more a single monster split in half on a jigsaw board.
“Tu-e pet siot kothari ata wang mal penture khrose,”1 the drinker barks
in his coolest voice as his half drops an oily leg on the table
and makes another crystal trilling with life
and chews his words like cud before he swallows the fluid,
“Ech wech khothari che det, et du pist wang.”2

The right half turns and looks at me with his well-deep eye
that would wrest the breath from a less hardy heart,
and says with a bad smile, “He says he takes sons of bitches
on a windy day.”
My two eyes ray into the only eye he has for a steady moment,
enough to roil its well and before long he blinks
and says with a less bad smile, “That’s not my word.”

My fat coins gong when they hit the hewn top
of the coarse unplaned pine counter, and that suspends
the disbelief of the one-eyed keeper for now, whose wine-stained
thinned-down fingers with the lines on the flats rubbed off
by handling coins too long falter in the drag of the emotion
before he has to gather himself to show me the way.


Unwanted notes:
These notes are not meant for reading.
[1] A left-eye can accept a son of a bitch at a high price on stormy days.
[2] I will accept a son of a bitch here, if you pay high.

Berry Picking

So you go on like history blasé
about the obsidian past black as your eyes
(set in a face crumpled from lack of sleep)
that, amid that sleepy creaky voice,
looked up from my “uncomfortable” arms
at my sleepless eyes from behind those
wispy locks tousled from rolling in the hay
we had just gathered from the sun,
the season’s last, that turned out a life’s.
And I will say the past is like your hair—
it’s dark and lost behind the absent wall,
though I often turn every speck of its dust
in the sunless time to scratch back up
the stains of my soul spilled all over
at a stumble—so ungraceful you’d wonder
how God makes things so slack!

I go on—a berry picker (when not dusting
dusty memory), a slow one, who loves berries
like the last thing left all in the world
too far and vast for tired eyes,
I am on my hands and knees in the soil
caring not to break the groping stems
or let the red-flesh fruits slip off
my crinkled hands with broad blunt fingers
or the basket when my used eyes comb
through the cold netty crouch of the lacy stems
and the serrate velvet leaves scratching
the black tightened soil that smells rawish sweet
under the green and yellow coiffure,
to look for spotty lady-bugs in meditation
and lovebugs set in bliss in the green
and semi-transparent worms measuring green miles,
while seeing the season breathing itself out,
and I would know I’ll have to prepare
the land for the next season—
carrot in the mulch, sunflowers in waves.
Seasons go on and on like history
that has nothing to do with the past.

Bésame Mucho (André Rieu, Laura Engel)

Composed by André Rieu performed by Laura Engel this version of Bésame Mucho totally wrings and tears my heart, and I want my heart tortured again and again and over again if it is like this.

André Rieu is one of my all-time favorite composers (still living, thank God) and Laura Engel–she sings like there was no song before this and nobody knew or sang a song before this. She does not touch you, but she can break you as if like by magic. This is what music should do. This is what a song is.

André Rieu and Laura Engel  at a live concert in Maastricht (2015)