Saturday, October 9, 2010

Passages from India

Room's afire, room's aflame
This wild beast shan't be tamed
In a place without light
There my heart is burning bright
In a place that is unlit
On those walls our love is writ
Room's aflame, room's afire
Two souls sounding one desire


You the one who offer respite
Are the same t'keep me up at night
You may ask if I am at peace
But you trouble me without cease
I cannot my injurer name
Without causing her that same pain
Which I now bear nobly, gently
Going on I'll suffer silently
Knowing these caresses are false
Knowing of another in this waltz


Circumstance has taken this evening's dance
The sun is down, it may yet rise again
I will wake once more from life's weary trance
I shall leave the unnavigable fen
This waltz is without a choreograph
The hall is dark, the script and parts unknown
Love's a play without director or staff
All in all we all speak a role unknown
True my future's way is as of yet unlit
Though I be now stumbling through hap'ning dark
Where once was none this rhyme has now been writ
By heaven's troth, this is my steeled mark
Where chance has yet looked upon us poor
It shan't be so when I meet thee once more


Things of pain, things of weight
Why must this always be my fate?
I know I'll always
Feel this heat
Come closer you know it's
Getting late
And I've got to catch a train


Stepping off the train in Chennai
We suffer the earthquakes
Of the beggar's shaking parched palm
Our fates run deep along
Its cracks; empty life line
Signing to the world
"I am here"             and "I am not"
The hand shoots into view and quavers
I don't know if people do that when they're hungry
If I cover the fissures with a rupee,
Are they erased?
Our pale flesh dissolves into
The beggar's pink palm
We are casteless both.
The train recedes into the river
And they are one too.


I'm never sure if I miss you
Last fall, more than a year ago
You'd introduced me to myself
Now we're still getting reacquainted
             After all that.
I lay in a hotel cot
How many times I've thought
I had reinvented myself;
             (Only) variations on a theme.
The still cool at dusk after
It all came down at once
The mosquitoes will be multiplying;
              This country affords no quarter.
Who have I been since then?
Last night you wore a black dress
To a big party in my dream.
               I'm not sure if the fuss was for you or me.


All of these things I feel I was born to
My class, my caste, my whole identity
Of these things I don't which are to me true
If but one of these things were different...
I only ask by whom they're set or sent
All of these things I feel I was born to
I question even what I clearly see
If my name were changed would I still be me?
Of these things I don't know which are to me true
All of these things I feel I was born to
My face, my fate, even my family
Of all these things I don't know which are to me true
My class, my caste, my whole identity
My face, my fate, or my family
Change but one and I don't know who I'd be


It's been awhile since we kept our bodies warm
With twisting promises of suns not near
I thought that I would be the less forlorn
But I guess that was before all these years
They've gone past since that wanton lonely morn
And I guess that was before all these tears
So what can I do with a heart so worn?
What I have been doin' since we were torn,
I'll write myself a sad, sad song, dear
I'll play it on my harp, dear, and I'll play it on my horn,
Maybe the people'll hear and gather
And maybe they'll be the ones
                                               to keep me warm.

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