Dragon and Clouds; Kano Tanso, 19th century; Japanese |

I’m summoned to this woodland on your journey
Round moon’s seven stays, O mutable embodiment,
Digressive claims assembled as cascading teleology!

I witness horns immersed in voices, and demonic eyes
That scatter rainbows in a camel’s head – are you a friend
Who spins a veil of value round an ancient tree, where I,

The eager rover, searching for my attributes unearthed the
Circle of five elements, and scrolls allusive of compassion and
Desire? Are you a treasurer of time, colossus of reminiscences,

Still as a silkworm sleeping in a universe cocooned, a spirit
Who could sublimate water into fire, fly in clouds and
Hide in rain – the fabled keeper of the east who earns

The blue of Sare-sang, knows cycles of rebirth?
And there is something else more palpable to you!
Do dragons also wear the blush of warm uncertainty?

I’m taken with this strange familiarity but don’t presume
To speak of things concerning me alone. We’re prisms placed
In time to grow a facet more or less and glitter at a glance.

This dazzle of experience is just a private farce – no more.
I smatter myths and cast the shadow of prehuman vagary,
I signify the moon and womanly fertility – I’m known

For what I’ve never cared to be. A string of shades and whims
In pools around the roots of bodhi trees. I wonder how
I could inspire affinity and trust in anyone like you.

I fail to trust myself so far and rather seek all symbols of
Repose. Of what you build up in the air, I’m glad to know
Your beckoning was meant for me and wish you would go on.

Our feet are swept by rivulets of patent union, merging with
The land – you still don’t feel revulsion for the billows far
From home and animate instead this burgeoning display?

Your question quivers like a charming opulence of dreams
Effected by a single will presiding over fragments and assays
Enchanted to a form – the loadstone and its essences.

Essences! You seek the more‐than‐one that propagates
From simple scrolls and multiplies with many‐mindedness
To lift the curse of linearity from an all‐too‐sure conceit.

Conceit! I dread conceit of godhood in a beast, of plenitude in wells
Before it blindly thrives on stranded images – the livid blow
Of stubborn, spited breath encumbers pensive innocence.

Innocence! The haven where rain sleeps before its fall, the currents
Glowing true and wide, ascension of the dew full of exuberant accord –
The chasing of the phoenix past the pyre in luminous release.

Should dragons speak of intimations welling up in glands
And speak so knowingly? Who would suspect and celebrate
That mood is the impulsion straightening the sloppiest of leads!

There is a greater grief in every speck or seed
That did not find its soil – the quietest passing of intent.
What never leafed cannot be shed – it murmurs in the boles –

The trace evades the bearer and reverberates along
The circus of return – part light, part loss, part tenderness –
Much later do we find in dark and humid crevices the pulsing

Roots of turgid promises, the ethos turned to trophic
Carelessness. Drunk on poplar flagons, the wind is warm and
Flushed with stars and swooning sweet requitals from the past.

It is perhaps a child’s not being warm in bed or strong at night,
Whose gardens bloom with clusters of long absences around
Deluges of suspense, or else, what could the mood of spring reveal?

I swallowed flames when I came close to knowing ‘everything’,
And it was only when I sang and played that woods began
To gather sense in wind and cloud, and emanate their thrills.

The inkling of the knowledge of the chasm is a curse –
When it makes plain what he sought most she did not need
While founts of life sustaining happy ends already flowed without.

If I could learn to live like that affirming even ignominious death,
I may no longer wish to hate wherever I have failed. Even
Deities wouldn’t always be so providently calm. And what am I?

I see these flowers on your clothes and realize how sunbirds might
As well be flying in to settle on your palms. I understand, I too
Have blamed the trees for callousness and misconstrued their calm.

One ought to have a shadow lost in thought and gained a view
In skin. How inhuman to separate the sad, emboldened strength
From feathery leaps of joy, and how arduous to go along with both!

We bind ourselves with times as well, but loosely though – these trees
Swing gently through the shivery, clueless wind until their counsel
Twirls like sleep before the weary mind when thoughts are stones,

Or reinvent eternity with every new appraisal or malaise.
Resistance and geography can barely keep us to our caves –
We’ve gleaned some frozen relics past the recent settlements.

Again it seems we humans may not always have that choice,
Or will or want or daring to disrupt the latency of deeds. What joy
To contemplate a change and interpret a thawing consequence!

Devoted action meditates the flights of idle willingness
To capture cosmic loops of loosened thought from end to end.
In seeking pleasure, in dispelling myths, we keep creating more.

What could another whim be worth, although I know
Some clay or stone fashioned with enduringly erotic ecstasy,
But what are we to make of every excavated artifact?

What of these monasteries – what of smoky loneliness?
The noblest statutes could not hold my gaze for long,
Nor stucco temptresses holding snakes and flagons.

I far prefer the glistening backs of children bathing in the sun,
Their skins burned golden brown and smiles immersed obliviously
Into the muddy waters – all cares wash down and slake the lands.

A flower is the sun in bloom, the light of someone’s eyes,
The love of other lives, inflections of the fire allayed in moon –
Devotion, of necessity, reverts to its dispersing source.

From where it flows again to animate a self created way,
Reflected through the synthesis lighting up the scrolls
In some of which we sense and reinvent the impulse of our sways.

This lone retrieval of the self through otherness assimilates
The tug of want into the flawless order of aesthetic labyrinths –
The pain particulates the shame, reforms each loss as light.

One dream is of fulfillment, the next of scorn at all that has
Been tepidly undone. The drops immersed in clouds will each
Expound a tale. Once I fell to my knees and wept, to no avail…

I have no words to explicate my own unknown upheavals,
A lot like you, I slave the weather I invoke along
These bastions of habit and slivers of necessity.

Does such resignation elevate? Can dragons, the
Protectors, be devoted to the world of vanity
In any special way? Make pertinent exceptions?

The world is bustling with stale winds. Even dismay
Has had its day – the warp of stars has glimpsed
Our earthiness across eclipses and never shed a beam

Of immortal intrigue. And this, my trust, relies on passing
Reds of sundowns after thundershowers, on the sea-deep
Blue of ordered heavens rapt with shooting stars sinking

With a different vigor in the potent splash of waves – the sea
Itself another world that must remain a stranger to vicissitudes
Of land and all the fish oblivious of the mindlessness of man.

Striving thus beneath the calm of night, who would
Have thought it may not be all peace and purity,
And ‘peace’ and ‘purity’ not words alone but things!

Consider your dearest haunt, the mosque; think of the flowers there.
I can’t imagine if one spoke to them they would ever spell
The scorn that populates the mats. See in their eyes the gentle lust

Of petals whorled in circles of proclivity. That too becomes
A wilderness with many sorts of prayers – another quiet
Conference that is a thought, if not some word or thing as yet.

The lovely flowers climbing up the walls, suspended in the domes!
I dare not pluck a word or thing to relegate their worth.
Mere letters don’t suffice to spell the genesis of dreams.

I think of rain and seem to know it all, but then the sun arrives
And glories in its reign. I know, the refutation is subsistent only in
The sheltered embryo – once it emerges through the day, green is

The sacred raiment of our earth, sun‐worshipping, man-sparing
Virtue of the leaves. How many worlds will even now arrive
At worship’s door and keep the knower bowed to infinity!

To reconcile such distances may mean reviling prior unities –
Destruction all the same with rare convergences of note.
There seems to be no rule to the ruliest of lives.

And even to the assonance of love when it arrives. Who knows
What glide, what melody construed the broken ladder of experience
Or runged the helices in such a way that life could not be otherwise!

And then it seems we had been living round an act within a play,
In chores and practices of measured faculties with solid ends at hand,
We watered all our flowerbeds right before it rained.

Whereas the moment passes by its rave, root, wind and wall,
The images and tones collide, participate in fusion of
Unlikely balances intended for the gates of strange abodes.

Surprising is this faith in words, the immanence of change,
The limits of the world! These rearrangements looming loud,
This cochlear and focal consonance! These vacillations jumping

Pons on pons, nerve by nerve – the flux of ions mute about
The difference of views – the flanges of unclear order; the
Endless file and furl of relevance recalibrates the homeless deed.

I wear all thwarted deeds as scales – all aspiring words are decked
With fragrance of the tenses. Had I not made a backward journey to
The tomes with you, I would have turned to stone – remained a tale.

If blood both warm and cold can gather passion in the snow,
How can children of the sun live solely by the light and blaze
Emerging in their vaults and ventricles – and shun the charges and

Commotions of contextual comport? Piety is not the end of some
Ideal sentiment behind which our becoming is foreclosed – it is
A sanguine rush of youth, the sacred superfluity of origin…

Of promises ahead? Perhaps we’ll understand, perhaps we’d love
To know the death of love in black holes of indifference where even light
Becomes a hostage, and past them seek the temperate, arboreal

Preeminence of life. That is why each stage is a stage, a season of
Maternal kindliness that rains once like this, another time like that,
And leaves a trace on our despairing brows, recurring in our songs.

The summit of a slope is the precursor to the view of ranges
Sleeping in the clouds, in ceaseless pondering. The vision born
By any instance is the likeness of an ageless form temporally construed.

I’m glad to live these greater swarms of molting likenesses
Where each appearance arguably wears a varied vesture of
The mind and variance grows out of the mélange of uncertainty.

The branches interpret the nourishment of roots, and leaves
Invent the opulence of flowers. The sprouting may not know
What way the source implies and freely fashion its own fruit.

I’ll carry home this semblance of a form and plant it in my soul.
While I could only let it be and wish it thrives along the course
Of paradox, may it also seek the sun and liven up my way.

Visions and communions are domes and days suspended in
An hour imprinted on our wills. They find us in our sleep
Or lead us wide‐awake up countless flights of twilit stairs.

I see what living signifies and searches through perpetual bestowal.
Art is play that vindicates the value of a vacant breath
And beauty is a predicate of bearing out the difference.

Taimur Khan
Summer 2009


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