Selected Poems

Selected poems from "Stars, Stripes, and Ragas," (unpublished collection)

THIS PLACE, THIS DAY (published in India Star Review of Books)


This place, Aparanta: a place beyond the end,
where Shivalinga-Dharalinga oozed sapient water;

Where Siddharta's followers brought Buddha
and dancing Mahalakshimi was Satvika;

Where Hindus sacked by Islamic invaders plotted
with Albuquerque, who followed Vasco de Gama;

Where West met East, like ocean met land, spice met
bland, life met death, intermingled and drew apart.

This place, my home, tomb of Saint Francis Xavier,
Arabian Sea embraces white sand, red rock and wind;

Noon absorbed in sun, lazy, sleepy and sosegad,
with nights of guitars, Fado and Mando for lovers;

Sky, transparent glass with stars stripes and ragas
over crimson and purple colored women with saris

Tucked under fertile loins with round buttocks above  
glass bangled legs, gold bangled arms, with copper

Tumblers on heads as they carry the moon in sun,
while fathers and veiled mothers with children attend

Sunday Mass at the Church with baroque facade
adorned with white bougainvillea browned by sun.

Where Manguesh, Nagesh, Ganesh, Saptakotes’dance
to the beat of drums; and Rei Momo with fire-throwers;

Where Europeans, Russians, Israeli's, ravel on caju-feni
dope and rave music--in delirium, ecstasy, madness.


This day, bleeding, not yet finished with death
of her, who was of this land--I arrive--I land to walk

the path, the narrow river, where I bathe and shower
and drown in memories accompanied by the silent

footsteps on dusty roads, on paddy fields, rock and sand;
gaze at a photograph, a tamarind tree, a coconut groove;

walk over a buried temple--a grave of childhood,
of adolescence, when lips touched lips, hand held hand.

There is no mirror, no reflection in the water, no grain of
sand, only a boat adrift--seeks its origins in silence.

Notes: Aparanta: is one of the original names for Goa, India;
Daralinga is faceted linga (translation from the Sanskrit);
Satvika is goddess with linga as headdress (translation from the Sanskrit);
sosegad is easygoing (translation from the Konkani);
Fado is a Portuguese love song; Mando is a Goan love song;
Mangesh, Nagesh, Ganesh, Saptakotes are incarnations of the god Shiva.
Rei Momo is the Carnival King. Caju-feni is a local liquor made of caju fruit.

BACK IN TIME (published in India Star Review of Books)

Night transformed into day
moon tumbled down the sky
the earth below opened and closed
it happened, thirty years back in time

She was the center of the Universe

Her eyes mirrored my reflection
my eyes shadowed her innocence
her body on fire consumed
and I, locked in her creation
she re-created a new life

She walked, a river by my side
I floated, a boat on her bosom
We loved to remake the world
two indistinguishable shadows
reflecting on walls of glass as one

Twenty-five years later
ragged pieces of our lives
reflected in the mirrored sunset
and I, walked the rooms of empty homes
ran down the stairs of endless time.

amid flowers I searched her face
in the ocean wind I heard her cry
in the falling star I saw her leap
in the snow flakes I felt her breath.

She stood by my side: a tree
She flowed with me: a river
She towered over me: a mountain
She laughed and splashed: an ocean

Thirty years later--her
shadow set sail and parted in S i l e n c e


hand in hand
to bed,
is a dark flower

a trail of
the autumn
of their lives
their final hour

HOMECOMING (published in Goa:Aparanta, 2008)

After twenty-seven years, I return to Aldona,
to my mother's house now half its size,
the current owner, my aunt by marriage,
found it too big to keep, the old ones had died.

Into the Oratory I enter. The altar's untouched.
Pale in the candlelight, the ivory saints,
Our lady of Santana, stand locked in prayer,
the Crucified Christ and Mary looking on.

I bow in obeisance.

There, memories of my ancestors
chatting before the Rosary
of village matters, impending weddings,
who's marrying which cousin, and
the village drunkard found soused in the gutter.
Rosary beads rolling between delicate bony fingers,
heads lolled, mouthing mysteries, some dosing
in between Hail Marys, Our Fathers.

Then--wind takes away their prayers
flickering kerosene lamp blurs their image
and from behind come the voices of
servants, faint footsteps of my grandmother,
and the voice of my mother calling:
'Come for your blessing, my son.'
I go with folded hands, head bowed,
and they bless me one by one.

A window suddenly swings open
a distant breeze ices my cheek.
I stretch out my arms in longing
to hold a sliver of the past long gone.
My ancient maid Terezinha, suddenly
by my side, cries out in alarm:
'Baby, why do you cry?'

Notes: Aldona, is a village in Goa, India.

LIFE'S A PLAY (published in National Librarry of Poetry)
Life's a play
  on a floating
     that sails              
       on lakes  
          on rivers
            on ocean waves.

The scenery
   is hemlock and
       pine and sudden elm
          where rivers flow
            are oceans made
                  turn into planes

With new actors
   aboard some  
      dead dying
         some drown
           on the way--
              the original
                 script is hardly
                    ever played.

Life's worth it anyway.


Blue-green and olive,
purple, yellow and pink,
rust red, bleeding red and green,
yellow, brown, cobalt and gold,
autumn leaves, purple veined and tumbling
float on the mirrored sky, swaying, dancing, embracing, spinning
whispering syllables, words, a song
to uphold a tattered world
shadows in the autumn evening;
the soft breeze, distorting,
entangles the whispers,
the song, ruffling
among the leaves,

THE BULLFIGHT IN MADRID  (published in Valor E Arte of New York)

'Ole! Ole! Ole!' chant the Spaniard:
for blood, conquest, a football game, a bullfight.

The Bull: tall, shiny black hide,
a fierce hill of a hump--enters the ring.

confused, deafened by
the Ole, does he see red
in front of his eyes?

the Matador: tall, slick
poised for the kill,
with grunts and yells:

'Hey Toooro!'

The Bull,
charges at the red
again, again at the red,  

The Matador veers to his side.

'Ole! Ole!Ole! Ole!'
His back darted hump pierced
smell of blood sweat, semen, overpowersexicites.

'Ole! Ole! Ole!'  the crowd throbs with life.
'to conquest and death.'
the Matador complies.

his body like a phallus entering--
readies the sword
for the kill.

'Hey Toooro!'

the bull hesitates--
s t a g g e r s
the final charge

the sword pierces the spine
blow of death sublimed
the blooded bull
stands tall defiant
alive a l i v e   a l i v e


Swaying, dazed,
half asleep, asleep
on the cold pavement,
under neon lights,
hungry, motherless,
fatherless, child,
barely 16;
fruit of  the seed,
seeding on the street,
dancing samba
to the rhythm
of drums

dance, baina dance
dance samba all the way.

her ancestors
imported in chains,
fucked, flogged,
caged, hollow skulls,
preying for deliverance
to Ogum,
to Pai Santo,
to be enslaved

dance, baina dance
dance samba all the way

the self portrait
carving of her
great, great,
in the museum--
ebony black
Christ in blood
and bone flogged
carrying the yoke

dance, baina dance
dance samba all the way.

Notes: Ogum is an African deity; Pai Santo is a Christian deity; baina is a woman from Bahia, Brazil.


He makes Kaddish for his lover.
He made Kaddish for many lovers.
Just recovered from the PCP,
the T cell count was falling.  
He would go the Buddhist way:
meditate, reincarnate--
Zen Buddhism would find a way.
The seminar of Vidyadhara
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche:
the true spiritual journey
is that of surrender,
the abandonment of the Ego.
But who would care for his carcass
turn to bone and dripping blood?
who would clean after his vomitus
and wipe the rear end of his butt?
who would wash, feed, when the
esophagus was loaded with thrush?

Longs for his mother's bosom,
the purple bedspread of his lover,
remembers the first dance:
movements choreographed
tracing milestones of his life
like dancing violins--
walking and moving alone,
scattering arms and legs,
turning and gliding, stopping--
flying high above in the air;
moving like a river,
hesitating as it crosses the bend,
monentarily, caking in ice.

Struggling, moving along,
torso and hips searching,
arms and feet groping,
suffocating for air to breathe;
missing a step or two, finding
an opening at the crosscurrent  
and there, a man, a god like Shiva
in a blue-green spread of water

Moving onto solid land with  
male gods, lean, muscular;
ecstatic, flinging arms and legs
undulating, circumvoluting,
dancing in the moonlight, while
slowly, the gods fall by the wayside;
stretching angelic wings, lifting,
carrying his lover like the wind
in rhythmic swirling movements
a Nuriev in ballet, a jatee in the air.

Onto the cold frozen ground,
a pair of fragmented wings.