Poem

Morning Sunlight Carrier

Poem

Shiki zokuze ku ku zokuze shiki.”

“Form is emptiness, emptiness is form itself.”

– Heart Sutra, Shingon Buddhism

Karate-do Kyohan – the Master Text by Gichin Funakoshi

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Dawn… an old answer.
(Image by Joe from Pixabay)

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Morning Sunlight Carrier

When the road is lonely, sans the dirt, the thorns, the lightning and

Sans even the enemy’s fiery glare, the roaring army and

The check-mate, in such a land how do you walk without falling

Twice, thrice as if you are papier mache made, a smattering

Of vague profoundness, uniqueness, an idea of truth,

But unsure yet conforming like an uncouth.

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Then, at last, thank god, it becomes foggy, and you stop

Keen-eyed you look, broadening the vision, reaching atop

A cliff overlooking a valley, smoky where it rests.

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This journey afresh, towards a calling, arrests

Your mind and soul; finally, meeting the master, humbly you bow,

And that is lesson one, just so you know.

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Practise patiently, practise patience, and o warrior

Gently turn your karate hands into morning sunlight carrier,

For those who live in the dark wake up late

With a grudge against the sun and zero tolerance to wait

For an old answer.


Gichin Funakoshi, founder of the Shotokan style of Karate, presented a martial arts philosophy that focused on perfecting the character of an individual. He believed that the karate practitioner should –

“purge oneself of selfish and evil thoughts… for only with a clear mind and conscience can the practitioner understand the knowledge which he receives. Funakoshi did not consider it unusual for a devotee to use Karate in a real physical confrontation no more than perhaps once in a lifetime. He stated that Karate practitioners must never be easily drawn into a fight.”

Karate-do Kyohan – The Master Text by Gichin Funakoshi

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Karate then is a fine practice to live by, a practice that gives us clarity to turn the lost papier mache mind into a strong sunlight carrier.


Read more about our magical sun in the following short posts –

Sun – A Flambeau Hi-Fi

Amla Pickle


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She Wanted Storms

Feature Article
Time flowers!
[Source – Pixabay]

In ancient Rome, they say, there was a belief that intimate/ urgent/ special prayers had to be spoken aloud, a mandatory act for the prayers to be answered.

A mandatory act? Yes! I say, if not spoken aloud, how will a prayer then cross the ocean of voices and climb the mountain of whispering hymns?

A prayer needs to begin its journey before reaching its destination.

What if the prayer holds a secret and when spoken aloud, huh, a devilish soul, a rival, a conspirator hears it?

Darn it, don’t fear, make a move!

Don’t let a passionate prayer rest amongst the unspoken, ignored, forgotten, suppressed thoughts.

Let it be heard, this secret prayer, for what if a poet catches it and turns it into a timeless sonnet or a dramatist turns it into a tragicomedy or a composer turns it into an epic melody…


Anna Akhmatova uttered a prayer aloud and heard it carefully, herself first, and then turned it into a poem for the rest.

Writing, perhaps largely just making mental notes, living in Stalin’s Russia, facing censorship and strict impediments, Anna Akhmatova stood her ground to witness the brutalities Time threw her way – her dear ones struggling in soviet labour camps – and refused to leave her country.

What anchored her in the storm?

How come the maddening drama unfolding in her life did not suffocate?

Is not her work a verdict that catches Time in the witness box? And her poems a passionate prayer that acquits Time for she knows it will change? Her loud prayer a promise not meant to be broken? Yes, yes, yes!

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You Will Hear Thunder

By Anna Akhmatova

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You will hear thunder and remember me,

And think: she wanted storms. The rim

Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson,

And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.

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That day in Moscow, it will all come true,

When, for the last time, I take my leave,

And hasten to the heights that I have longed for,

Leaving my shadow still to be with you.


Anna Akhmatova prayed for Fire, for storms; not the fire that spreads strategically to plunder, but the fire that engulfs to bring an end, former started by a selected few and latter by the overwhelmed masses.

She knew well the dual persona of Fire and thus invoked it.

When lit as a ritual, Fire remembers to abide by the fancy cultural twists, but when lit for destruction, it does not stop until it destroys the destroyer, forgiving none, consuming all, levelling the ground for a new beginning.

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Sharpening the Lens Cavafy Style

Poem Review
Together we wait…
[Source – Pixabay]

Waiting for the Barbarians

By C. P. Cavafy

Translated by Edmund Keeley

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What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

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Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?

Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?

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Because the barbarians are coming today.

What’s the point of senators making laws now?

Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

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Why did our emperor get up so early,

and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,

in state, wearing the crown?

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Because the barbarians are coming today

and the emperor’s waiting to receive their leader.

He’s even got a scroll to give him,

loaded with titles, with imposing names.

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Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today

wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?

Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,

rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?

Why are they carrying elegant canes

beautifully worked in silver and gold?

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Because the barbarians are coming today

and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

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Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual

to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

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Because the barbarians are coming today

and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

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Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?

(How serious people’s faces have become.)

Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,

everyone going home lost in thought?

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Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.

And some of our men just in from the border say

there are no barbarians any longer.

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Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?

Those people were a kind of solution.


Steady like a statue.
[Source – Pixabay]

Waiting to take a stand, sitting comfortably, letting the waves cover with silt our body, mind and soul, we continue waiting, living.

Glaring caustically at the silt, we regurgitate pompously.

Unable to cross the maze, we burn the walls down, unable to touch the sky, we pull it to the ground.

Waiting for them to distinguish between the truth and hearsay, to dust off our earnest intentions, to demystify our vision, we humbly stretch and wait.

In waiting for an autonomous lustrous life, we steadily pass by, dulling our society.


C. P. Cavafy, “a Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe” (as per his friend E. M. Forester), wrote the poem “Waiting for Barbarians” in 1904, juxtaposing the past with our modern thoughts, superimposing the ancient image on the now, yes the now, swiftly jolting the reader from slumber and questioning “this wait”.

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The leaders in ancient Greece, the poem shows, await desperately, in static opulence, for the Barbarians to come and take over everything and to begin mending every disaster, but when they don’t come, the city dwellers are aghast as now they will have to tackle problems and take decisions on their own.

And so the free individual, waiting for an external source to revitalise the life, takes a dip in the bright, glittering mirage, dreading, complaining, ignoring, barricading, adjusting all the while, and refusing to end “the wait”.

But let us not wait anymore…


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Ancient Dusky Rivers

The river… sketching its way ahead…
[Source – Pixabay]
The Negro Speaks of Rivers

by Langston Hughes

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I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

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I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

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I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.


Rivers – streams, creeks, brooks or rivulets – love to flow; flowing towards a sea, lake, an ocean or another river, and at times also drying out. Rivers love to flow just like life.

Most of the earlier civilisations prospered when they settled around rivers, channelizing the same love when drinking its fresh water.

And when mankind sat in a circle around the fire and created stories – of the sun, the moon, the thunder and the wind – they fostered their imaginations and decided to pass on the love running in their blood to a lovely supreme one.

Different supreme ones took the centre stage at different places and myriad dramas unfolded that the rivers watched quietly, flowing, gushing with joy every moment.

Resisting neither the rocks nor filth, accepting the dead and plastic bottles alike, it continues to flow… for now.


Still like a mirror, moving like a reflection…
[Source – Pixabay]

Langston Hughes in his poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers connects the human soul with the world’s ancient rivers; the hands that cupped to drink water, the feet that crossed the river, whatever race it belonged to, felt the same damp calmness every single time they drank water and crossed the river.

Written during the early twentieth century when African Americans struggled to achieve equality and justice, Hughes, presenting a powerful historical perspective in this poem, emphasises the link between his ancestors, the ancient rivers and the rest of the human civilisation.

The Euphrates, often believed to be the birthplace of human civilisation, the Congo, powerful and mysterious, that saw the rise of many great African kingdoms, the magical Nile that carries with poise the secrets of the great Egyptian pyramids, the folklorist Mississippi that shared here the tales of Abraham Lincoln and American slavery – shows how rivers carry the past in its depth, carrying it always with love.

And the one who sees with love can sense the connection between rivers and souls, between them and us; we all started this journey together, the rivers are a testimony.


“I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”

Experience and history, though often oppressive, have not extinguished but rather emboldened the development of a soul, the birth of an immortal self, the proud ‘I’ that now speaks to all who will listen.

Christopher C. De Santis

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Regina Spektor’s Musical World and Addressing the Hero – Part IV

Coverage

Hero calling hero!
[Source – Pixabay]

The hero is in hiding, asleep, has forgotten or has been brainwashed because only that could explain the hero’s silence; the dead silence is complementing the darkness ostentatiously.

And no surprise, right? This darkness is overwhelming, too huge, so vast, damn cruel, heartless/soulless, steady and conniving that the heroes have all locked themselves up in the epics, legends and myths.

Dejected and weak they have turned their backs, criticising the critics, they hopelessly work to earn a living, measuring their quiet success every fiscal year, waiting for the golden retirement when they will finally wake up… or maybe they will not.


Regina Spektor is calling out to all the heroes to wake up, rise and fight, to accept the responsibilities of actions they so unconsciously take, to wage a war against inequality one little step at a time.

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Listen to Apres Moi before reading further –

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I (uh) must go on standing
You can’t break that which isn’t yours
I (uh) must go on standing
I’m not my own, it’s not my choice

Be afraid of the lame, they’ll inherit your legs
Be afraid of the old, they’ll inherit your souls
Be afraid of the cold, they’ll inherit your blood
Apres moi le deluge, after me comes the flood…

Regina Spektor

Revolutions, the downfall of monarchies, totalitarian leaders, genocides… mankind’s history is a presence in the absence, it is ever-looming, reminding us of the foundation on which we are now building smart castles (with Alexa or Google Nest Hub or the gadget you prefer).

Apres moi le deluge is a French phrase that means ‘after me, the flood’ and is attributed to Louis XV of France; one of the explanations suggest its nihilistic connotation that says, ‘Ruin, if you like, when we are dead and gone’ and the other links it with Halley’s comet and the impending French Revolution of 1789.

Here, Regina Spektor talks about the far-reaching presence of history and how we cannot ignore it for long.

She sings a few lines of a Russian poem when reaching the crescendo; it is a poem by Nobel laureate Boris Pasternak, titled ‘February’ –

Black spring! Pick up your pen, and weeping,
Of February, in sobs and ink,
Write poems, while the slush in thunder
Is burning in the black of spring.

Translated by Lydia Pasternak Slater, Boris’s sister

An intense song that resonates across and holds your thoughts, it seems as if the song is urging us folks to stand up against the odds without delay, asking us folks not to mellow down.


Listen to Us

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They made a statue of us
They made a statue of us
The tourists come and stare at us
The sculptor’s mama sends regards
They made a statue of us
They made a statue of us
Our noses have begun to rust

We’re living in a den of thieves
Rummaging for answers in the pages
We’re living in a den of thieves
And it’s contagious
And it’s contagious…

Regina Spektor

Thieves are untied clandestinely, inconspicuously, invincibly, heartily like no other group on this planet, working religiously, solely for their profit.

The one charismatic, luring fact, among other things, is the freedom they give to every individual thief, showing no concern for each other, but keeping a check and standing in solidarity if the deal is profitable.

Regina Spektor rightly diagnosed this behaviour as contagious; the song is giving a warning, it is a reminder. Wake up dear heroes, at least to rub off the rust on your noses.


Listen to Small Bills

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His destiny was just too big to spend
So he broke it into smaller bills and change
By the time he’d try to buy the things he needed
He had spent it all on Lucy’s and weed and
He had spent it all on chips and Coca-Cola
He had spent it all on chocolate and vanilla
He had spent it all and didn’t even feel it…

Regina Spektor

May the heroes win the peculiar, surreal, boorish individual battles that they are fighting again and again and again.


Listen to Hero

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Hey, open wide, here comes
Original sin
(Vrrr)
Hey, open wide, here comes
Original sin

It’s alright, it’s alright
It’s alright, it’s alright…

I’m the hero of the story
Don’t need to be saved…

Regina Spektor

Listen to this song when the sky is orange-pink, dimly twinkling, armouring up for the dark night; listen to this song when the sky is whitish-blue, brightly warm, breathing lightly, gently healing the hero.


Read more –

Alex Millar’s translation of the poem February.

Lessons in Creativity I Learned from Regina Spektor by Caitlin Cowan.

R


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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 107 and Timelessness

Coverage

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Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Suppos’d as forfeit to a confin’d doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endur’d,
And the sad augurs mock their own presage;
Incertainties now crown themselves assur’d,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of this most balmy time
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
Since, spite of him, I’ll live in this poor rime,
While he insults o’er dull and speechless tribes:
And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent.


The idea of timelessness, eternity, immortality must be true as we wish, look and aim for it in some way or the other. Imagining living continuously, building and creating happy ways of life, chiselling and shaping the continuous source of happiness, we forgetfully live with the idea of forever.

The decisive time gone by, the melting present and the secret future, though definite, knows the indefinite. And one is lured, naturally, to know and identify with the indefinite. Why? For the indefinite is the absolute. So? The absolute appears to be complete, eternal, beyond the cyclic drama and free. Then? We may be a part of it or we too may want to be complete. And so? I don’t know, I am living forgetfully with the idea of forever, remember.

Shakespeare, the greatest and most famous playwright ever, via his works, attained immortality and this is what he celebrated in Sonnet 107. Full of creative splendour, he announced his lead on rusty cenotaphs and statues of the rulers.


The Battle at Gavelines and Elizabeth I at Tilbury (Pastiche).
The painting presents a stylized account of the battle of Gravelines between the Spanish Armada and the English fleet, including the beacons, Elizabeth’s address at Tilbury, and the battle itself in a single montage on three jointed pieces of fine tabby-weave linen. 
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

“The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured”

That the grand, rock-hard, grave and lovely moon too continues its finite journey, eroding gradually, black red white, suggests that the moon knows well the infinite’s will. Or else why will it so humbly accept its role? This long journey, then, is no less than a quiet meditation. The deep circular craters are the timekeepers and the moon knows it.

One of William Shakespeare’s renowned 154 Sonnets, Sonnet 107 is often linked with the contemporary events of the time: the defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588), Queen Elizabeth’s death (in 1603), the Long Turkish War (1593-1606); the Armada charged in a crescent formation, Queen Elizabeth was also called Cynthia (name of the Greek moon goddess), the Ottoman Empire’s flag boasted the crescent moon symbol.

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Elizabeth I of England.
The portrait was made to commemorate the defeat of the Spanish Armada (depicted in the background).
[Source – Wikipedia]

In times so precarious, one would want to hold on to a secure thought or remember the limits of mortality, mocking unabashedly the warmongers and peace-lovers alike, or even hope to create something timeless.


Read the wonderfully crisp commentary on Sonnet 107, here.

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First image from Pixabay


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Not Lithic

POEM

The universe’s engine runs on love.
[Image from Pixabay]

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Its nature is not lithic,

Not etched,

You cannot run your fingers over it,

Malleable and foldable for some,

Yelling, “Come, come,

Buy a packet full of love…”

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From the absolute beginning

Love, not lithic in nature,

Etched if anywhere, then in atoms;

Ride like the wind to feel it;

A malleable, foldable sweet memory

For all those who fall

In love, just like in the absolute beginning.

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Fine-Tuning The Fears

Poem

Facing the fears.
[Image by Alexandra Haynak from Pixabay]

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No, not the fear of the ultimate ending

Binds or resides within;

It is the opposing voices cascading,

Confusing, crippling, caricaturing

Us and the peace within.

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No, not the fear of a sickness

Troubles or tortures the heart;

It is our hopelessness,

A steady bleakness,

And the habitual surrendering of our craft.

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No, not the fear of failure

Numbs or stuns the mind;

It is the snagging daily battle

Against the monsters of routine life;

Those are treacherous, lazy and anything but kind.

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No, not the fear of the invisible

Tricks or fools us;

It is our way to define,

Design and create

The heroes, the villains and the fuss.

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No, not the fear of the word fear

Lurks or creeps today;

It is our forgetfulness that steers…

… And suddenly, in haste one remembers

Fine-tuning life’s fears to Play.

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She, the Infinite

A Poem

She, in red!
[Image by Gil Dekel from Pixabay.]

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For building a house, thought God,

What could be the strongest element to mix

In the foundation so that the house wins over Time?

What could be infinite in nature, powerful and rejuvenating

So that the house nurtures love, peace and joy,

So that the flames of birth and death doesn’t sicken or weaken

This house called the Universe?

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“There is nothing as alive as the feminine part of me,

It is infinite, supreme and divine;

My lovely equilibrium, my alighted spirit,

Fulfil this task, rise-o-infinite!”

-Said God.

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And so the house called the Universe was built with feminine power at its core.

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Lovely

Poem
Fly my lovely!
[Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay]

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Paper like fresh

Paper like crumpled

Paper like white

Paper like light

Isn’t it lovely to match,

To catch,

Freedom and its rhythm?

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Paper like clouds

Paper like crumpled

Paper like white

Paper like light

Isn’t it lovely to breathe,

To read,

Freedom and its rhythm?

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Paper like thoughts

Paper like crumpled

Paper like white

Paper like light

Isn’t it lovely to know,

To follow,

Freedom and its rhythm?

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Paper like paths

Paper like crumpled

Paper like white

Paper like light

Isn’t it lovely to walk,

Towards

Freedom and its rhythm?

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Paper like you, me

Paper like crumpled

Paper like white

Paper like light

Isn’t it lovely to live,

Immersed in

Freedom and its rhythm?

Isn’t it lovely…?


Listen to Billie Eilish’s Lovely that inspired me to write this poem –


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