of exhortation based on an ancient Sufi form.

(in alphabetical order)

I began writing the Devayani Poems in about 1988, while living in a Korean Zen Center in Los Angeles.
Devayani is the spirtual name given to me by my Guru in 1980. It means: "Leads to God."

- H -



On a street of great houses
in the autumn, preparing for winter
with sycamores turning to cream and gold
under the pall, in the morning light,
in the Angel's city, not far
from where the riots burned two years ago,
where the blood and rage riot still,
walking in affluence, walking in the calm of ecstasy,
because you own nothing and you know nothing,
O Devayani, you saw a leaf, a sycamore leaf in mid air
turning, twisting, cavorting, gently swaying.
But there was no wind.
Perhaps there were hydrocarbons rising,
their warmth fingering the fragile-becoming-gold fall leaf,
touching it, their quarks knocking it about.

It moved, it drifted,
slower than your attention could account for,
toward the earth, yards from the nearest tree.
Far overhead were green leaves turning brown
on branches you had to change the angle of your head to see,
and, close to your nose, O Devayani this one brown leaf danced.

Being a sensible woman, and knowledgeable,
you knew it must be anchored by a spider's web.
You knew the golden orbed spider spins webs,
pound for pound, stronger than the cables that suspend
the Golden Gate. You knew that the secrets of her diet
and her molecules, her DNA and sexual proclivities
were under study at Washington's university.
What you did not know was whether or not the golden
orbed spider spins in the sycamores of the Angel's city.
The University, you knew, because you read carefully,
had enslaved their spiders in Florida.

O Devayani you approached the leaf.
You did not touch it. It swayed silently before your eyes.
Beneath one curled edge was a tangle of white web, but no spider,
no babies, no eggs, just a tangle of web, and two raggedy strands
that stretched from the hump of the curl, two strands that, within inches,
became one. The angle of these two strands was criss-crossed
with gossamer threads thinner than a single cotton fiber, thinner, almost,
than the molecules of the smog white air.

From their apex ascended a single strand, perhaps fifteen or twenty
feet, to the high overhead, mature, pink and white, cream-colored sycamore,
a noble native of the land where Angels of the city have imported
every kind of foreign and exotic bits of botany to conceal
from their eyes the natural cactus and sand of the land.

Being a visual and cortical animal, you stepped this way and that, knowing
that from some angle you could, indeed, would see the strand
three times taller than thee. And, O Devayani, you did.
A fine silver filament shimmered in the longing-to-be-sunshine light.

The leaf swayed.
It was lower now.
Did the spider intend simply to establish a highway to the ground?
Was she sitting far above you calculating when her leaf would touch earth,
eating flies, consuming her dinner to nourish
her web making capacity, her art?


As you stood at each angle to study the cluster of leaves of the branch overhead,
you saw, momentarily, O Devayani, a white vertical shield,
and being observant and having memory,
you knew that dew bespecked vertical shield was her web.
Even at that vast distance you could see its orderly filaments
formed an octagon or was it thirteen sided?
with a ragged extension at the bottom where the strand,
dangling the brown autumn leaf, began its descent
to astonish your eye.

You could see the filigreed web as you moved your head,
as you swayed this way and that below the tree,
caught by the leaf that was caught by the spider who,
by chance, displayed her awesome powers before eyes
that did not aspire to harness them.
O Devayani, you would never know if she were sister to the golden orb,
already under University of Washington microscopes, laboring innocently
to teach man to span elegantly, and perhaps needlessly, ever larger gaps.



O Devayani, has your soul disappeared?
Is it sitting out on the bird ledge
Scrutinizing the anticlimactic world --
Warmongers and snipers gone loose?

As you get older and, presumably,
Wiser, does the breath of insanity chatter in
The dried out leaves --
Beautiful, cerise, golden, and dead?

Pick them, preserve them, dip them
In wax, preserve the grass blades, cloud shapes,
The rockery ferns, white
Begonias on long, unusual stalks.

O Devayani, you can no longer
Forget the eternal renewal, the spring's massive reburgeoning.
Let all else go.
Perhaps your soul became spirit.

There is nothing but what buds,
Blooms and dies. If there were no death
There would be no

Blooms -- old, parchmented curmudgeons everywhere.


1228 San Anselmo Avenue

O Devayani,
the moon and the stars
hang in the sky
creating questions in the minds
of human creatures wondering,
especially now that we've seen earth
from out there
and have found we're just one of
those stars,
if they house creatures like us,
looking outward
from their soil
to the Silver River
in the sky,
from their perspective,
from their shore.

The moon and the stars
hang in the sky
no matter where you are
or who you are
or what you do.

O Devayani,
its hard to relate the necessity to make a buck
to the moon and the stars
hanging in the sky,
causing neglectable questions in
the minds of human creatures,
causing moments of spectacular

How did they get there and why?
One wonders what other question is interesting,
as long as the stars shimmer in the sky,
O Devayani,
and yet we have arranged to wander though
life in our civilization
with street lights bright enough
to dim the stars in the sky
into neglectable questions.

Light the streets.
Forget the sky.
Let the moon and the stars
hang where they will.
O Devayani,
(last line missing?)


1228 San Anselmo Avenue

O Devayani, the heart burns.
It is as if pierce by a spike of iron,
you cannot but conclude
the guru wants nothing to do with you.

Last night he asked about riding with Craig,
when you mentioned that you were going with
Craig and Judith,
his interest waned.

But you spoke with Judith,
of course they would be delighted, she said
But when you asked the guru
again tonight if Craig had called,
he thought you meant only

for photography,
and when you asked if he did have a ride,
he said, O yes he would go with Bill Witter.

Like an iron spike driven into your heart,
you can only conclude that your
presence in the car was
too much for him.

O Devayani,
how pleased you are to be going away,
out of the realm of the guru,
far away where your thoughts will be
far from the guru.

Beyond the reach of his teaching,
beyond the reach of his
play with your heart and your life.

You have given him the freedom to hurt you.
You wear your heart on your sleeve.
You have given him a fist full of iron spikes
to drive through your heart
at his leisure.

And the veiled Nikhil,
is like poison.
He doesn't want you calling him "love."

O Devayani,
skip town, forget the guru,
the music,
determine to forget
the love you had in your heart
for the music, the guru.

Wander again, on the face of the earth,
wander away into nothingness.
Find your solace in the absolute

where your dreams lie like corpses,
moldering, musty, they smell.

O Devayani, you have a remarkable
faculty for alienating people,
for investing, for expecting,
for too much intensity,

O Devayani,
you stab at your heart with iron spikes,
wound yourself
would your capacity to love,
would all that you would worship.


O Devayani?

Why are your capacities so harmful,
to your heart,
to your love,
to your life.

O Devayani,
you dwell in
the burning heart of karma.

The tears fall from your
but nothing quenches the flame.

Is there anything to be done?


1228 San Anselsmo Avenue

The tea warms the hands if you clutch the cup.
If you enfold the cup in your cold hands
the heat of the tea will warm your fingers.

O Devayani, even thus
if you hold a kitten or child close
they will warm your hands,
touch your heart.

But if you set the tea on the table,
if you keep the cup on its saucer,
if you buy a table on which to keep the cup
and the saucer, you need lace to cover the table,

and a house of infinite rooms
where the babe and the kitten are not welcome,
the babe less than the kitten.

Then the tea cups are too fragile
to wrap your hands around them,
the tea too thin to warm your heart
or your hands. The kitten
bolts and the babe dies in a house.



Introduction to The Devayani Poems

- B -

Beauty, before 1996
Burning, 05-06 before 1996

- C -

Cardamom, 01-01-98

to Cyberspace, 01-14-97


Dear Abby

Doris, 12-20-97

Dour, 12-12-97

Ecstasy, 11-16-97

Frost Mourning, 01-30-00

Empty, 12-22-97

The Empty Page, 12/18/97

Entertainment, 06-29-97

Etruscan Goddess, 1997

Every Human, 01-12-98

Father, 01-14-97

Fed Up, 11-02-97

Feeding Frenzy, 1995?

Gifts, 1989?

In A Judeo-Christian-Islamic World, 05-04-00

India, 1995?

Interstellar Space, 07-05-97

Khajuraho, 06-11-97

Lets Look At The Old Films Of India, 12-18-97

Little, 12-25-97

Lung-gom-pas, 1984?

Micro Paleontology, 04-24-97

The Nafs, 12-26-97

Next, 11-03-97

No Constraint, 1-14-98

Not, 12-23-97

Nothing, 1994?

No Words, 1-10-98

Of Spiritual, 1-11-98

Other, 12-21-97

Palimpsest (Ecstasy), 11-16-97

Palimpsest I (Sphere), 11-17-97

Palimpsest II (Diana), 11-22-97

The Place Between, 1-3-98

Point of View, 7-5-97

Ranked, 1-2-98

The Roaring Silence of God, 4-3-95

Roots, 06-27-97

Ryoanji, 1985?

Said, 01-04-98

Silence, 01-17-98

Solstice, 12-21-97

Steady Drizzle, 04-28-97

Two Tomatoes, 1995-96?

Sun, 00-00-97?

Then, 12-20-97

The Woman Who Had No Necklaces, 10-26-97

Work, 12-24-97

Yesterday, 2-10-98

Copyright © 2002 Jan Haag

Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: or





21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context