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."

- I -



1228 San Anselmo Avenue

O Devayani,
this is a farewell to that life,
that life,
that life,

hoping it could be true
that one heart could communicate
with another heart without the medium of words.

As your heart,
your joy,
your ecstasy
had communicated to

my heart,
my joy,
my ecstasy,

through the medium of music,
the drum beat,
the rhythm,

I wanted simply to come
to sit in your presence
to emanate love
the love I felt in my heart
for your
your love,
your music,
for the ecstasy you
were capable of stirring
in another human heart

I came out of the music,
inarticulate because of the music,
unable to say anything beyond
how much I liked your music,
how incommunicable you left me
by your music,
how there was nothing to say,
for the rhythm,
the music
brought me only to silence.

There was no where to go and nothing to do
after the music,
the silence.

I could not break the silence.

I came to you in silence,


I couldn't break the silence,
I did not want to break the silence,
I had nothing to say,
nothing to do and nowhere to go,

I wanted only to hear the music,
I wanted only to sit in darshan
with Krishna
with Shiva
with Ganesh,

I wanted only to share the music,
to hear it in the morning and in the evening,
to live inside the music,

I had nothing to say about the music,
I had nothing to say to the man
I had nothing to say to the guru

I could not learn by questioning,
I don't know what I learned by simply
sitting in the presence,
in darshan,

I do not know what I have learned.


At times, as the tears drop down my cheeks,
I think it is an experiment that

That I am a
silly, unsociable being,
a woman who
had no where to go and nothing to do,

with just enough money to
go where she wants
and do what her whims

At other times
I see it as karma's requirement,
I have drifted
conscious motive
in and out of the aura
that surrounds
the disciple of Krishna,

without knowing,
without comprehending,
living in this moment
unable to speak,
unable to be always silent,
doing in the moment
what the moment demanded.

Almost accidentally, taking
up the riaz,
the practice of tabla,
for I knew no other way
to justify
sitting in the presence
sitting in darshan,

for darshan is not a Western concept.

If you are here you must be here for something.

That's the cultural norm.

So I wanted, to be able to speak with you,
to know the bols,
to know the strokes,
to put in enough effort
so I wasn't an
embarrassment of ignorance,
as I began to write

what the music meant to me.


I had no idea when I came that I wanted
very very much
to articulate to others what
the music meant to me.
To articulate to you
what the music meanth to me,

what the rhythms,
I could never hear enough of,
meant to me.

I was drunk on the music,
drunk on the rhythms
-- madness.
There's a word, Richard says,
which means
"driven mad by the music."

I was being driven mad by the music,

my love of the music,
my need of the music,
my overwhelming necessity
for the music,

the poignancy,
the art,
the invisibility,
the effort to capture
the evanescence
of the music,

to hold it for a moment,
to examine it,
locate it in space,
in time,
in the mystical essence of being.

To cherish it,
possess it,
to caresses it,
nurture it,
be gentle with it,
let it know how beautiful it was,
to tell a rose of its own beauty,
the sky of its own grace,

And yet knowing,
the sky has no need for me to speak of its blueness,
the rose doesn't need my ascent for its scent.

I came to you in silence,

But silence is not the communication that exists between humans.

Who is the You?
Rumi might ask,
who I bear my heart to in silence,

Who is the you?
I ask,
who I bear my heart to in silence.

I knew you were Krishna,
with your dark looks,
your brilliant, frightening eyes,
the sparks that flew from your fingers
as you played upon the drum,

upon the drum of my heart,
upon the perception of perfection.
Your rhythm opened to me

knowledge that a being
can come close enough to perfection to
peer through the door
into the infinite.

You do not look upon yourself that way.
You know how far, as you have said many time,
you are from perfection,
how, with a new pattern, it is like
walking into a great hall,
perceiving there are many rooms,
and rooms and
rooms to be explored,
and one room,
in our human scale,
precludes the other,
No one
in our human life,
can explore all the rooms
all the corners of all the rooms,
all the infinite doors in all the rooms
that open one upon the other,
into other realms and other

and none of them
can be perfect,
except for the moment,
in passing.

Nor, O Devayani, you would add,

can they be captured,
for the note is struck and the note dies,
It is sam
the same note,
the same instant,
the beginning and the end are the same.

The only road to immortality is repetition,
and nothing can be played
or heard the same way twice.


But I was impelled to stitching,
I could not capture the rhythms by hearing the rhythms,

but I could freeze
comprehension of the
rhythm in the
pattern of the stitching.
I could understand,
if only for a moment,
as I put in one stitch after another,
that stayed there,
formed colors
formed patterns,
formed designs,

formed one whole
which when perceived as a whole
incorporated the
processes of time


I came to you in silence,
because I had nothing to say,
"I love your music."

I had no words to express it,
I had no need of more friends
with whom to discuss
or despair,
no need to share
with another human being
more gossip,
simple friendship.

We were always on different wave lengths,
Each time I brought you something from my heart,
you ignored it,
made no comment,
never listened,
never read,
never needed,
never wanted.

I think I perceived clearly, that as my
you taught me without even knowing you were teaching.

And teaching me as a drum pupil,
was frustrating for you,
more frustrating than even for me.

No mind, I would guess,
was further from being able to take in
the fundamentals of music,
the bols,
the strokes,
the rhythms
one over the other,
one beat, another pattern:
"Divided into 5s," you said yesterday, "but played in 3s."

How is my limited mind to cope with that?
I cannot.
And yet I can cope with one pattern stitched behind another,
one pattern laid out in time, in color,

I can know, at least for the time of the stitching, that this pattern must be stitched
in here and that in there,
but once
even I stare at the stitching with surprise,
find transparency in a design,
which I did not create by accident.

But the intention is gone,
only the thing remains.

But in the music,
the intention disappears,
and the object is contemplation.

It is not there,
the record can play it again,
but it is not the experience again,
nor does the record
stop the stitch in time,
establish the exact hue
of one color beside another
until it fades in the sunlight
or with age,
or disintegration with time

For the permanence of the stitching, too,
is an illusion,
the music disappears as it is created,
the stitching disappears
when time wills.
It may last a
a year,
a century,
but it will disappear.


Maybe that is why music is considered,
by some,
the highest of the arts --
because it disappears

(despite what you may or may not think of records)

as I have often said,
when I reach whatever point I
think I am striving for,
someday I'll write a poem,
and hand the only copy away to the first
stranger I meet upon the road.

To bring into being
and let go.

That surely is the dance of Shiva,
that surely is the prayer of Shiva,
that surely is the meaning of life,


"I made most precious things,
I made them for the Potlatch
when they are gone
I'm richer still
I'll make others,
I have the skill."

This is the only poem of my creation that I can quote by heart.
It's name is Confidence.

(For Potlatch, read "concert.")


I came to you in silence,
have tried to speak to you only with my heart,
in love, in attention, in trying,
in hoping to be able to learn what you have to teach,
but it is not possible for me to learn the music,
I cannot try hard enough
it is not part of my nature,
not part of my karma.

I knew a friend when I was young,
who said she could not sew.
I thought she said that only because she wanted me to do it for her,
and maybe that is true to,
for at that age I thought you could learn anything you wanted to.

But later in life,
I realize certain things are "written" in your book of life,
and other things are not.

In my book of life is written, writing, stitching, a certain amount of
painting, and love for music.

But other than the rudiments, I do not have it in my nature to
practice enough to come to any accomplishment with
music, the drums, with that which opened my heart
into new worlds

But you teach far more than the music.

You may not know it.
I know it only from time to time as I feel the burning, the flames surrounding
me, surrounding my heart,
burning my karma,

to intensely for me to bear,
so intensely, it frightens even you.

You do not know what you are teaching me.
I do not know what I am learning.

But I came to you in silence,
for the most part I have learned in silence.
I do not know what I have learned,
but now, for at least now, possibly forever
there is a closure on this date,
the day before the 10th anniversary of my mother's death.

I have learned what I have learned.
You have taught what you have taught.

Sometimes I look upon the time as failure, but
most of the time, I know that I have learned what I have learned
and you have taught what you have taught.

I brought you the flamboyant bouquet of red and white roses,
Shiva and Shakti,
many years ago:
August, I would guess, 1987,
almost 10 years ago.

They were from someone else's garden, for a God I did not know,
for a man I certainly would never know.

Today I bring you a small gift,
a very small gift:
flowers and mint from my garden,
grown with my own hands,
mint, nasturtiums and lobelia,
in a little jar in which I bought yogurt in Russia,
and have carried with me since 1974 or 75.

I have shrunk to just myself.
I came to you in silence,
I leave in silence.

I pray to Saraswati, Ganesh, Shiva, Krishna, Lakshmi, Parvati, Visnu, Durga,
all the Goddess and Gods that I can remember and all those I cannot remember,
I pray to them all to preserve --
and bless you and your music,

which I hear only in silence,
which leaves in my heart
only the peace of silence,
which is so intense
it evokes only



1228 San Anselmo Avenue

O Devayani, the Buddha
can sit,

beneath the tree with heart shaped leaves.

And rise

But you with the patience
of Job,
the impatience of a tarantula,
what are you to do?

O Devayani,
what are you to do
with lethargy or loss,

suggestions from the world
of inconsolable sorrow.

What are you to do?
Praise God?
Munch nuts?

Wait for hurricanes of the mind
to twist round
the creeper vines of your
inconsolable sorrow.

And what about joy and the dance?
Remember to munch raisins with the nuts.
Add sweetness
with Gods
sunshine dried

Obsessive joy
turning to the wine of desire
may be the answer
(last line missing?)


1228 San Anselmo Avenue

Too much masculine energy, O Devayani,
O striving one
O intellectual one
O reasonable one,
too much feminine energy,
O devote of Saraswati,
drummer of Shiva
with the flashing eyes,
the flirtatious smile,
white teeth flashing,
curling hair,
teasing glances,
unuttered communication,
soul speak.

Too much feminine,
Too much masculine,

we frighten each other.

Leave the room,
hurry away,
hold your breath if you dare look at him,
O Devayani, your heart thumps
when you can see his eyes, the texture of his skin,
when you see the calluses on his hand.

Does his breath comes short in his chest,
when you question him,
demand accuracy,
not for the drumming,
but for the stitching,
to turn the music
into visible bols
viable colors

a vision of the music.



O Devayani, it's one of those mornings
so fraught with tiny disasters that suicide
seems the only reasonable action. To live
forever in a state of perpetual annoyance,
anger, frustration, each moment needed to correct

the distress of the moment before, each
moment mounting to a catastrophe of inability,
inagility, lack of foresight, lack of planning.
But we, I scream, O Devayani, didn't
used to have to lay elaborate plans

to open a jar without hop-scotching its
lid, spilling the contents over the cat
which leaps to the stove where it
burns its paws, knocks over the coffee,
and dries its fur against the new-washed

pillow sham -- this is neither life! nor
fun. Does the law of tiny disasters
following the aging around, lying in wait
to spring when energy has flagged below
forbearance's limit. Enough, enough, you cry, you

scream, you thunder and croon toward sky
and God, and long for the long
sleep of death, where nothing needs doing,
nothing will skip or leap or jump
or break into the cosmic joke's pieces.



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