Saturday, April 01, 2006


Temptation on Pran’s Sri Lanka Blog - the Flower

Glorious flower in the garden. Gloriosa Superba,
Flame Lily, Climbing Lily, Glorious Lily. Pran

Its dull orange glow isn’t loud.
But it fills up the screen as if we all
know it, as if its sly tubers
are everywhere. Its five circling
climbing arms bulge, burst up ruby-
round into their prickly flames, then come
neatly together at the top.

It’s no interplanetary visitor.
It twirls in earthy reddish peach, sun-
shredding east and west.

Almost cunningly at the bottom
green vines wind and turn, stick out
their sleekest slender wires
with yellow miniature foot-pedals
on the ends, as if they’re kids’ toys
ready for races, tingling.

Who knows if their real size is for tiny feet
or a giant hand. Each pedal waits
in a goody-good, tea-banana humor
to be plucked off. Sucked and
sucked? on the tongue! like a childhood
flower. Instead Pran says no no, never
and he’s a doctor.

The whole flower causes an unexpected
and nasty ending with abdominal pain,
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding
manifestations, confusion, convulsions
and coma if imbibed.

I guess it’s a glory because
its creeping, tuberous trembling makes
everybody want to taste it.

Maybe it’s a leftover
from that oldest allegorical
garden, served up for know-
it-alls. It’s like a little reminder
of something we’re not supposed
to have. And here I am, trying to inhale
its sunny pain-parts, looking for time
to explore all its fiery mysteries.

Now it’s so close I can almost chew
on each of its friendly
mistakes – so far away
my lips loll
with spit.

I’d like to play some soft, saliva-
salacious, brassy symphonic chords to it –
you know, the reddish-yellow
french horn kind, set to explode
into golden satisfactions, the blissful
endings we all really want
to sink into together.

Pran found it in his backyard.
It may show up some day
in one of ours, all ready
with its glorious colors to clamor,
coax and coax. I wonder
what we’ll do then.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Interpreters needed February 2006

Interpreters needed - February 2006

On Mondays we listen
to hear what the planet thinks,
turning and turning.

The trees strain, bend – the wells
murmur, maybe go drier.
All the oceans clench

their silvery fish as if they’ll never
let fish fling themselves
onto the banks to join us.

Even the birds keep their black
shorthand in the sky
to themselves

when the earth won’t
think out loud for us, so
mute, inscrutable.

--- Puah

Friday, February 10, 2006

While the cartoon-quarreling goes on ... for Anne Frank a poem

My musings are below but first a poem

Erev Yom HaShoah

On this night the stars
can twinkle like yahrzeit
memorial candles. In the sky
so-called heavenly bodies are as lively
as kids’ sparklers - their light’s
urgent, shimmers

in the inky darkness, translates
six-pointed yellow stars into
these white resiliences.
After the gases

and the fires, the amazing
energetic thrusts
through the chimneys
they’re our bright nudges, sharp
as glass. When we remember
a child called Anne or Moshe, Yitzak
or Rachel, David or Ruth

our desert memories remind us
of descendants for
Sarah, Abraham. Their perpetuity
was a promise. We count

and count the stars, each
a shining substitute
for a faithful ancestor,
a gravestone.

--- Puah

Well, yesterday I heard that my muslim brothers and sisters are posting their rages into their own cartoons. This is good - a better place for offenses taken than the streets and a lot less harmful than torching the buildings and cars - or actually killing people. So now shall we Jews also be outraged and start bringing physical harm and pain in retaliation? I'm certainly hurt by the cartoon that has Anne Frank and Hitler in a big bed together. Ah Anne, you've been used by so many people to shore up so many arguments ... But I'm not going to start counting them again.

There are quite a few holidays before Holocaust Day [Yom HaShoah] which comes on April 25th [27 Nisan]. But I don't know ... I feel like posting this poem anyway, today. In honor of Anne the almost-still-child - living in the cramped attic from her 13-15th years before being shipped off to be killed in Bergen Belsen: She wrote in her diary, "It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and so impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because inspite of everything I still believe that people have a good heart." I like to think of the way children respond to the world. It's good for me to remember, especially after watching all the hate on the tv screens. Did anybody watch the Olympics last night? It was such a good change to just see all the countries coming in together with smiles. [Also the "renaissance/baroque" production was fabulous but that's for another day.]

Friday, December 16, 2005

Before Hanukkah

Let the straight flower bespeak its purpose in straightness - to seek the light.
Let the crooked flower bespeak its purpose in crookedness - to seek the light.
Let the crookedness and straightness bespeak the light.
Alan Ginsberg, Psalm III.

I know the crooked at once. How it tries
to circle, catch a sudden pale gleam,
how it sparks a pearly surprise
against the sky, its silhouette
making a little bend

just before the sun is visible. The straight
is harder. No curves, no beckoning,
just unendingly in the place

we’re used to. It’s not exactly
boring. It can stiffen hard to flatten
silence in the light while it seeks.
Maybe that’s why looking for light
when the season says Hanukkah

is so hard, so easy: the Maccabees fight,
win, the Greeks leave - the straight plain
facts plus one drop of oil burning for eight days
to light up the crooked, just for kids.
Maybe light, plain light

is always unexpected, like a trick? Or like stars

reflected on living room windows outside.
We stand in the yard at night, see stars window-
gleam at us as though really we can hold
onto them if we want to inside, behind the glass.

This morning before the sun
could struggle through the fog we found
a dead bluebird on our deck.

It stayed so long in the garden
this fall we could watch it flicker
blue light up and down
through all the greens of the trees.

Did the window-glass play a trick
on the bluebird, look like some blaze of enlightenment
our bird knew it had to reach? It’s hard
to fling yourself against a mirage in the dark.
When Hanukkah makes winter official
for us in one week we’ll remember
the straight blue wings
lying flat, think of the surprisingly
pearly legs catching a sparkle, wavering up
in two skinny half-circles in the fog

as if they had a kind of faith
in the continuing light.

-- puah

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Animal, mineral, vegetable

Animal, mineral, vegetable or could it be
a bird

(You should study the green mountains, using
numerous worlds as your standards..Japanese
Zen master Eihei Dogen, 13th c.)

We go inside a Zen mountain
stealthily, as if it’s a room
with no light, no window,
no glassy eye with sky
in the ceiling. We slide
our feet along the bottom
all the way around
its dim space to make sure
we won’t trip. If we reach

with our hands we may
find an unexpected glazed
shelf with tiny bottles
side by side because it’s so hard
to be a boulder. Or melt
into jutting greens. We want
the softest grasses to whisper
like oracles. If we feel a jolt

we stop to clench
our eyes while we wait
for somebody to come
along with a flashlight. Mostly

we hope for a pillow
like a cloud. As if we can sleep
so easily we begin to curve, lift
like peaceful glaciers, float
the mosses in the light.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Arbor

The arbor

Inside a storm
brews up

to darken
our innocence.


to take her
in, lift

her up
into the trees

with us to sing
her heart out

in the branches.
We can’t do it.

Her voice
down there

is too thick. It
twines around

us like vines,
pulls at us

until none of us
can breathe.

All our leaves
are choking.

-- puah

Friday, November 18, 2005

Buddha statues

Buddha statues

If you’re like me you think
of their bellies first, or those
broadly stretched-out eyes staring

over your head. Of course they’re beyond
questions and logic. Their inscrutable
hands rest lightly on their knees

with raised knuckles, thumbs
pressing forefingers so carefully
it’s as if any single desire

of yours or mine is not their problem.
Frankly, those thick fat thighs
and bellies’ bulges

seem beyond ethereal
wisdoms for truth-seekers.
It’s probably better to stare

at a flower somewhere near you
for answers. Yesterday I held
a daffodil so heavy

with yellow its head drooped
between my own thumb
and forefinger. Illogical as any

Buddha it poured lemony color onto
my three other fingers like a spot-
light, like wet butter, maybe even

like a little sun.


You, Me

You, me

( In 1903 the Austrian composer Alban Berg’s opera
Lulu was inspired by Frank Wedekind’s plays Earth Spirit
& Pandora’s Box, with a heroine finally killed off by Jack
the Ripper, wandering through Europe. Before Lulu
so violently she causes wars, suicides, destructions …)

O Lulu, I slipped inside you
so easily. You were my first fun
part, with no billowing wigs. How I stared

through our widening mascara’d eyes.

How I felt your contemptuous
shrugging naked shoulder
my own, your legs criss-crossing
openings inside slitted skirts, my own.

It was you and me against
everybody, just the two of us

carried off in Berg’s possessive, grating
dissonances. We never cried

We dreamed our life shimmering
history cracks for us in smoky wisps
like silk, satin, like slippery sweet, salty
body smells. O, our slides
into honey, our rises to the highest
coloratura’d molasses-
cajoling with the seductive Countess, while all our tenors
& baritones stiffened, melted, groaned
in our arms like weepy
slavish clowns!

Their voices cried out passions
in high-and-low-pitched raging whispers
so loud in our ears we knew
we were queen.

Do you still feel the eyes crawling spidery
all over our skin the way we walked alone
later, night-lonesome on the streets
until the throat-

slasher came to get us?
o Lulu o Lulu o
now I don’t sing your life

anymore. But I remember how
we felt at the end, how we held our breath
inside, all exposed on the darkening stage
in a blaze of light to the roaring, hand-clapping, the Lulu-
mesmerizing mesmerized

wildly murderous crowds.