BY JAN HAAG
The Desolation Poems
Poetic Forms Used in English
Here's summer solstice, the longest day of the year,
and this my two hundredth poem form. Perhaps
by the shortest day, winter solstice, I'll have done
all -- about four hundred -- forms found in English
Death is quite
so pull the curtain.
Rein in your lust
"Tie on a halo
around your silo.
Put grain in the
and consider a shag
rug for sleeping on
said Mumtaz Mahal
who gave more than all
for Jahan's Taj Mahal
at the fourteenth bawl.
Are you afraid of death?
Only of too deep a breath.
afraid of life?
Only man's eternal strife.
Are you afraid of
Only the need for arrival.
Are you afraid of
Only that I will lose my shirt.
Are you afraid of
Just cupid's damnable shove.
Are you afraid of
I'd rather have my health.
Are you afraid of fame?
will claim whom it will claim.
Are you afraid of God?
child, spare the rod.
What do you fear?
Questions near, queer, sheer, my dear.
#203 TANKA COUPLET
The glittering silk
falls in waves from her shoulder,
a great froth
The gold sunset grows later.
Roses uncloth their stamen.
#204 SHORT COUPLET II
Jaipur glows as India's pink town
built upon the desert like a gown,
glittering red and orange, rose, white,
gold walls painted for the Brits with light
mocking, gentle laughter -- magic
lantern of colonial, tragic
misconceptions. Here stood Machivell,
Ram Singh, outwitting British hell.
One year ago today my father died.
I see him still, thin as a reed,
his blue eyes closed. Betty hands me his ring.
Blietz people arrive, gently they lift him
into a sack. The last thing
are his strong hands. "Goodbye Papa. I did wear
emerald for a while. I speak of you
now and again. My hands are
strong, my eyes
wide open and I make poems for you -- at
green as emeralds, thin as reeds -- and bow to you
your cherry tree flourishing near where
mother stays among the peach azaleas.
The British admired the fine crafts of India
and its architecture, but
to build an empire, displacing Lord Shiva
damaru tapping, reigned, Shakti's hand
upon his unforgiving heart.
poised, the Lord of Death, the creator was banned.
centuries he outwaited triumphantly
plumed merchants piling up Greek
and old Roman
bastions here and there. Conquerors! But
unable to perceive the cause of dome, qibla, sun,
sweated in a land which did not wish
to explain the gopura or
in their sensuality. The British
disciplined, stayed in their tower.
Wounded by need, characterized as
they found the entanglements of life too
Scoffing at grace and its exuberant creators,
greed, they refused to flower.
They strove for mastery in the
of power, this race of blind carnivores.
#207 SANSKRIT DIDATIC
"the gustatory implication is
"Gandhi is fasting again," said
the radio -- that little bent
man with the cane and the white
around him. That little man was
in prison and wasn't
said the headlines, the Movietone
News. His bald head and
touched my pre-teen heart. But I could
quite understand why any
one cared if he ate or not. When
hungry and didn't
eat, it caused mild celebration.
diet of this funny
little man who walked almost nude
top hatted diplomats
into #10 Downing Street,
my family, sweet, hardworking,
remote from the
world, mentioned it.
"Fasting," radio and movies
Somehow, he was awfully
important. And later in life,
was shot, and millions
of Indian's slaughtered during
of that exotic
land into pieces -- more murdered
even than the
six million Jews
by the Germans in World War II --
in my world where, by accident,
I became a celebrant of
of India, Gandhi, and at last
understood ahimsa, the Salt
March, satyagraha, spinning and
taxes, weaving and walking. with
bare feet upon the earth -- did not...
televison did not... not one
station in my town, mentioned one
word about India's fifty
years of Independence. Indeed,
'til she and her sibling set off
big bombs, my world construed the world,
including India, only
as markets for trade, like the East
India Company setting
out, unknowingly, to conquer
India, and the whole world, in
I remember, day
reports on whether the little
man clothed in the white
or didn't eat. Or would he eat
ever get out of his land? Then,
finally (but this
later) -- the British absconded
as fast as they could to avoid
responsibility for the
millions they knew would be slaughter
in violence fostered by their
presence during three-hundred years
of hubris and exploitation,
inhumanity toward fellow
humans -- until Gandhi, the bent
man with the staff, didn't eat -- said
the radio -- and the world cared.
#208 MANDAKRANTA METER
Kalakalah, the ferry in the sound,
now lets great boats lie. Beneath
bold, broad, stone forts in which
stiff Brits fix pride, lie little boats aground. Wet,
wild, welcome, warm they hint at bitter storms. Bold,
bitten barricades fall.
Whose to say "fly," if nits pick petty
fights and the work wanders
Kala = Arts and Crafts
Kalakalah = disturbance,
Kalah = time, right time, occasion
Also, Kalakala, meaning "flying bird" (from the sound they make in flight)
the American Indian, Chinook language, name of a Puget Sound ferry
recently rescued from oblivion by sculptor, Peter Bevis.
red fusing horizon, smoke,
earth, the palms,
endless pale sand --
walk on the earth and weep. There
my feet, walked without
shoes. Silk was the earth, satin
welcomed at last. Chant
through full moon nights. Consider
Krishna's river running through
temples, through froth white
misty vision, wet gown, see! --
Mahabharata at Wai.
#210 RIONNAIRD TRI-NARD
My love is ringing loud
Lord, oh Lord, do reply
with thy rhyme and
Soon, re-season the lie.
My heart is heaving
with brassy love so bold,
but old enough to brew
stews, love untold.
Hail, hail, O Spring sprite
the rites are
fair fun is quickly due
dance anew, quite lithesome.
Bullock carts mountained with sugar
crept along the road's golden
grass, drivers asleep in the
They slept and I walked through the dirt.
They lived in conical cane huts
too fragile to withstand monsoon
Though the British demanded
India build vast palaces,
cane huts, dirt roads, and carts remain.
We were sitting in a restaurant.
It was raining in the angel's
He was struggling to invent
the name for a world court. "The
of Man," he suggested. She said:
"That leaves women out."
He smiled, shrugged,
implying the concept was more
"Will there be women on the court
from every country?"
"So few are well educated
enough to judge in
such a court."
"But that's the point, isn't it? To
world -- different view
points, different people?" "The point
justice." "Our justice? Western
justice? Play by our rules or
wrong?" He turned to watch the angel's wings,
drenched, he stopped arguing with a
mind which "high justice" eluded.
Well, Devayani, do you believe it?
answer in your own book, read once and
forgotten. "Tantric" it says,
So self evident the meaning escaped
Maithunain extraordinary embrace
express the ida, pingala,
the semen -- concentrated life energy --
head, vajroli, the supreme
enlightenment the gentle Chandella's knew.
Comment on "ORNAMENT AND CRIME" by Adolf Loos, 1908
"...the shoe will be so covered in scallops and
as only an elegant shoe can be." You can
sink your teeth into
Loos. He has got opinions --
wild, rabid, definitive opinions,
undreamt heights of prophecy and altruism.
fellow man's progress aloft from
the purple slime. He eats cooked
cow, smooth gingerbread,
blissfully unaware that twentieth
man will find that his needs must not be
must spend, spend, consume, consume in wide, wider
circles to satisfy
greed on a scale so vast --
behind blank-faced walls -- that even the
obsessed Calcutta British could not envision.
that Loos were Vienna bound from skyscraper
lined, utilitarian U.S.A.
having shopped in ornament-free K-Mart, picked up
bargains of factory-made simplicity, quite
affordable, known to be
loved by the natives.
According to Loos' egregious lights we've
perfection. The craftsman has become a joyless
and crime has fully replaced
My experience in the
has been that only recently to we
speak of Judeo-Christians,
and never speak
We speak of
Buddhist and Hindus
But only someone as strange as I would speak
Hindu-Buddhus. Most others don't
know that Buddha was a
Nor have I ever heard a Muslim claim lineage
it is the truth, but a truth not
remember, until after World War II,
Christians just barely
Jesus was a Jew. Suffering
Buddhists are embraced
more easily than Muslims.
Hinduism's Gods are dismissed
mythology even as
Kali Yuga manifests, yields chaos,
Seattle's Public Library
Religion; other faiths as Literature.
Prakash changes the West's perceptions of the world
mentioning some facts,
by simply assuming, in our
world, that most know
history, indeed, care about veracity.
Published in 1834,
Ram Raz's Essays on
was read by some, but ignored
He gave rules, analysed ornaments, pre-empted
game. Still Ruskin's
mellifluous babble flowed
barbed with blind
judgements, rising in '57
to rant -- unaware it would seem
it might have been "cruel,"
"sinful," aye, "bestial," to deprive of
one's "gentle," "unoffending" hosts.
#217 PURA USNIK
brilliant red, vermillion, bright red sea
hued with blood, scorched
with blazing fire,
conflagration of the nations
beauty, the evangelical sword,
righteousness -- forward it strode
the outer limits of the earth
hacking, handicapping those it
professed to love.
"I come in the name of the truth!
I will kill
you for your own good
so committed am I to the exalted tenets
of morality, beauty, good! --
#218 GAYATRI II
When I was a lad,
hundred years ago, I
came with my father to
Ellora -- just
then, high hills, no carving.
The rock was black.
said it was very hard,
but in it he could
a temple for Shiva.
He said, under the
at the very top if you
sat very still, looked in
stone, you would see his
home; that, with the others,
he would carve
could see it, too. Under
the moonlight, when he
I took a tiny spike,
with which you carve the lips
eyelids of the gods.
Nearby I found a rock,
and I climbed and
the clear sky, the light, like
day. The moon was
The rock was smooth and black.
For long distances
crawled on my stomach, hands
wet, clinging to the rock.
the moon touched the trees
I was on top. I stood
listening, still as
I could hear the Ganges
through Shiva's hair. I
as I sat on the rock.
I put my chisel to
heart, exposed there
beneath the stars, and I
touched it with the
I made an opening
so small only Shiva
through. I started
Kailasa when I was
a boy. The next
all the carvers gathered
with their tools and walked a
path, around the mountain
to the top and began.
they carved for years. At last,
I, too, grew old
to work. Shiva's drum. There!
If man is
the connecting link to God, then -- slim,
and like an ant, in the
does the life-line get choked like the throats of hungry
ghosts? Starving, unable to eat, moaning with love
and green mangoes,
where then is the love of Shiva, Kali,
How long do you sit beneath the banyan tree, play
its root ropes and shade? Ganesh
trumpets, calls his father, his
mother, sees the tree,
asks to be remembered while you build the
Unheeded, forts of empire
crumble, rolled away by the ant and the beetle.
When did chastity begin? Why? Where?
When man first dominated
He needed to know
was his property, his progeny
his progeny. It
mattered to him.
His greed mattered to him more than his
How could he love all people,
help support all beings, include
among his pleasures? Fighting was more
fun, hatred easier,
intoxicating. He must stamp earth's
nature down with the
imprint of his
claim that he was better than any.
millenniums he has proved
only that he is worse than most --
flowers, animals, even the stones.
#221 PURASTAD BRHATI
falling in love with India, could
not restrain -- though they
to maintain face -- their love of sun,
exuberance, flourishes, rococo, heat,
ornaments. They were tired of their
mist and rain, their
the beggary, efficiency
with which they
industrialized their few acres.
They were tired of piling up
stone and mullioned windows. They fell
in love with the land
where they could
build with jalousies and zenanasin pink, white and
rose, dream the dreams of zamindars,
nawabs,hold durbars,spend as if
they were maharajas, all with
their host's great wealth and *atithi devo bhava
dream for a
a little island, unable
to comprehend the
sensuality of form,
Shiva's preference for the charnal
modesty of human
life, maya,Kali's bone-white
*Atithi Devo Bhava, which means "the guest is God," is taught
Indians from time immemorial
Every pore of my body creams
all over with bliss as I see
rippling like a river along
the endless corridor of
wearing high platform shoes,
dark skirt, each side slit to the
each stride causing the fluid material to wave
like water's current
lapping her legs against the thrust
thigh; ankle deep swirling
instability supporting a slim column,
shoulders behind cut sleeves, head
jeweled, her neck arched
hair piled high, like Nefertiti's
crown, snakes wrought of
silver around her upper arms,
so young she must be no more
a sophomore walking from Allen
to Suzzallo's Gothic exit.
Goddess, it seems, on an unhurried mission. Just
moment I dare not turn.
What if she's not there to be seen?
Ecstatic, almost blind, I find
enlightenment in the brilliant fluid of
unexpected vision, passing.
Comment on "COLONIAL
DESIRE" by Robert J. C. Young
How dare you make sex so
When all you want to point out is
Europe's attraction to the
willing, native women (and men),
that must be
that the whites (mainly) could go
raping and pillaging, gleaning the wealth
of others' lands, killing
and mothers of their chosen mates,
hybrid children --
like our own Tom Jefferson having his black
serve his white kids. All that high toned
camouflage the love they
had of the sensuality,
sexuality that they
had bred out of their
moralizing bones, out of their
hoped) women's moralized bones.
Of course they wanted to make love
to the exquisite apsarases of India,
also bred to compliance, but
compliance of a
Women of the East were taught to worship their
as Gods. And if Europeans
weren't Gods, who were? If the
weren't racially inferior
how justify stealing their land
opium addiction, killing
millions? Say it, R.
mask yourself behind bastardized,
anticipating a defense
lest a colleague might accuse you
of interest in the sexual
charms of nautchgirls, whispers from your body's desire,
wishes for time's disappearance.
#224 SATO BRHATI
In Kuala Lampur, God knows
they've built the tallest buildings, on earth, reaching
the stars, higher,
often, than the moon's light streaming
rivers in their narrow
country like a column. Perhaps they wanted
their country of beauty and good
food, to be as tall as it
long, reaching out to celestial
heights along the axis of
Mayalsian and Chinese, they mine
tin, my encylopedia
says, and grow rubber, transport goods
for our competitive commercialized spinnning
globe and, no doubt, they
beacon. They certainly stopped cold
in its tracks, the
urge toward colossalization. Now the World Trade
nod, from their shrimp-like height
toward their betters of the East
humble recognition, jostling
the sky, scraping sattelites,
adjusting their cloaks,
wondering why they sit so high
beyond the golden calf's cry.
#225 NYANKUSARINI (with one Bhurik stanza)
the alphabet's history:
Akkadian, Egyptian, Semitic, Phoenician,
Greek, Latin, English -- its lineage
sings across the history of
How could it have ever not been?
How could it ever not be?
Words on clay, words in ink,
the transmission of mummies' thoughts,
people wrapped in their own writing,
an Etruscan corpse
contact with a vanished language,
bits of business and
monumental stone inscriptions,
tri-linguals of Rosetta, of Behistun cliff
the high edge for God
to study, Xerxes' pride to judge.
thousand years ago, maybe
a bit more, stones were silent, even
unknotted. Then one day a marked
token: history's record began.
#226 UPARISTAD BRHATI
In the tradition of Islam
writing is the
God. Scripts of exquisite beauty
illuminate the temple
walls, arches and vaults.
Illumined patterns of color
the face of God
cover the floors and the ceilings.
in the middle of gardens to refresh
the heart. Water flows from the
heart of grace, flowers from wisdom,
trees for contemplation's
The Persians enhanced the land of their hosts with
I have stood in the Bijapur
dome. I have heard my voice
round, whispering in my ear of
love provoked by God's love
of the river-washed land,
of the deserts the jungles, hills,
Deccan plateau and the high
Himalayas where sound is heard,
water flows, and all can be absorbed by the land.
Don't train your taste too fast.
Looking into your heart,
you find the wedding cake of Albert Hall
to you as much as Naila House and hybrid dorms
farmed out at Mayo
you do frequently favor "what is is." And
begin to see that the whole world can be defined
as a "colonial"
conquests, borrowings, loans,
and reclaimed. There is nothing but what happens at
center of things. Shiva's dance. Let the dancer
gyrate. Sit among the
ruins of the temple,
contemplate time. You were once shocked
bright pink military barracks in China.
But the Singh's sang the
buildings of Jaipur pink, kept
them that way. You may prefer Ellora, or
or find ecstatic rapture in
Bilbao. Let the world
build and amalgamate.
Even the cave man was not content with
walls. There's no greater paean to architecture's
of Washington's campus. But trees grow
willingly hide the sins of all willful, would be's.
better than most, knows that what's built
will one day crumble back to
Absorb the consequences of action, enjoy
the fruits of
desire. What is here today will
not be here tomorrow. The world is
but one part
museum, ninety-nine parts change.
#228 HOKKU with COUPLET
Ah, I am of one
mind as I watch the coming
storm. Two birds
The sun re-emerges first.
Wind gusts chase the slower clouds.
#229 ENCLOSED TRIPLET
Sunshine gleams on water lilies.
Tight buds nestle white, quite
-- while the night's wild riding fillies,
park and lawn's green
ghostly hue, await the sunrise,
weather, duck's green bright sheen,
-- to fan their lotus heads and
modest souls of symbolism's
pink and pretty white/blood mixture.
#230 SICILIAN TRIPLET
In growing up I have learned the magical
lives of others are not so
different from my own.
I used to look with longing toward the
lives of others until I understood
their bios contained
only their attainments
and not the other three hundred days of would.
#231 BALLAD STANZA
She wanted to save her life or death
for a special occasion like
She walked in the wind away from the heart
watching the sun
watching the birds coast and dart.
Along came a dove with
who said she was too much of a pig
and would rather eat and
"Where, where shall I begin to dig?"
she cried in agony,
"Given a body that likes its food
I would indeed
it for love. But bodiless sex," she cooed,
me a virgin still urging
lost in the wild wind of desiring
and leave me yet unwooed."
#232 BALLADE (with Envoy)
Julie went to the well to see
far down in its depths the
On the high grey stones on her knee
she could see the
flashing sky bless
the mirror of the water below.
The sun appeared
in the cloudless
blue-mullioned quite dazzling glow.
closed hand she held the key
and the knowledge of great
given her by way of a fee.
She was sent to fetch the
of run-off from the winter's snow
but she stood still in the
blue-mullioned quite dazzling glow.
She reached toward
the dark sky to be
sure that what she had to confess
to the heavenly
would be accounted in congress
a most excruciating
concealed behind her shyness,
blue-mullioned quite dazzling
Julie's death was really needless.
Call her an unfortunate
She died while sharing a groundless
blue-mullioned quite dazzling glow.
#233 DOUBLE BALLADE
Where in the creation of God
on what earth have you so far
built on a magnificent quad
things other than ultimate
with sun's irridescent sheen
lighting the world and
uncanny desolation's keen
while all time flows down to the
Under howling winds the trees nod,
pink blossoms shower the
leaves whirl and fall and the great pod
bursts with its
seeds, while the birds preen
and the ravishing racoons clean
and ogle a plea
like an intelligible dean,
while all time flows down
to the sea.
Along comes man, so roughly shod
he cannot feel
earth's benign lean
heart, but must strip the ocean's cod,
land's trees and overglean,
overgrow plants and fruits, then
himself on pills he sees as key
to eternity, grows quite
while all time flows down to the sea.
Even the elephant's
great trod --
which rumbles the earth while Selene,
who shrinks to a rod,
waning to darkness, count fourteen,
reasserts herself as queen --
does not offend like the great
that God's glory might have forseen
while all time flows down
to the sea.
If only divinity's prod
worked still to make nature
from the sky and the land in a hod,
by the sea's edge where
creatures live and quietly screen,
what is to be left for
before man expends all his spleen
while all time flows down
to the sea
Life is so uncommonly odd,
bits of rock to man form a wad
bound, chewed, spewed by
the mutant gene.
Watch it climb, fly, shout, sail, careen
reached right up to me
and remains quite green as a bean,
time flows down to the sea
Today starts with Paleocene,
cliffs of eternity
soundless, echoless, man will keen
when all time has flown to the sea.
Copyright © 2002 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
BY JAN HAAG