This Is Not a Poem

This is not my pen
It is a painter’s brush which
Paints the pictures that take shape in my mind
A sculptor’s chisel which
Reveals the secrets hidden inside a rock
A magician’s wand which
Conjures up the worlds of my imagination
A pastor’s candle which
Lights up the sanctum of my consciousness

This not my paper
It is an artist’s canvas where
Images emerge like unseen specters
A beautiful garden where
Colors blossom and cascade like velvet petals
A cloudless sky where
Unconscious thoughts twinkle like bright stars
A rich, fertile field where
A universe germinates from a million seeds

I am not a poet
I am just a fortunate soul whom
Mountain peaks beckon like shining beacons
A thirsty traveler for whom
Rivulets, like rosaries, sing their quiet soothing psalms
A wandering dervish for whom
Sunsets spread out their sumptuous tapestries
A restless rambler to whom
Gentle winds whisper their wistful wisdom

This is not a poem
It is just a simple little song
My soul sings as it marvels at all this bounty
A merry little melody
My heart plays on the harp that thrums inside me
An unadorned little tune
My mind hums and whistles and yodels playfully
A universal little anthem
My imagination believes will bring us all together


When you have so much to forgive
When you have so much to forget
Just close your eyes – don’t fret
All you need is a fantasy

When life’s troubles have got you down
In your sorrow you’re about to drown
Just smile that smile, just lose that frown
All you need is a fantasy

When you feel like you have no friends
When with sheer agony your heart rends
When you start to wonder, “Is this how it ends?”
All you need is a fantasy

When you are standing at a crossroad
When your shoulders bear a heavy load
When your head feels like it’s ready to explode
All you need is a fantasy

This life is nothing but a long road trip
Hold on to the handlebar, don’t lose your grip
Open up that throttle – go ahead, let her rip
All you need is a fantasy

Mr Watanabe

(Mr. Watanabe is the protagonist of the classic film Ikiru (To Live) directed by the late Akira Kurosawa)

What would you do if you had six months to live?
Whom would you help? What would you give?
Just when everything around him went dark
Mr Watanabe went to work – he built a park

A humble civil servant – old, sick and frail
All his lonely life he had done nothing but fail
The news of imminent death lit in him a spark
Mr Watanabe went to work – he built a park

His son didn’t care for him; his co-workers turned their backs
Like their brethren everywhere they were just bureaucratic hacks
All alone on his last endeavor he did bravely embark
Mr Watanabe went to work – he built a park

The thugs – they threatened him; the deputy mayor spurned him
But he was on a mission – none of this concerned him
There was a passion in his heart – it burned like an arc
Mr Watanabe went to work – he built a park

On a cold rainy night he sat on a park swing
He knew he was dying but he had one last song to sing
His haunting tune still rings in my ear – the plaintive cry of a lark
Mr Watanabe went to work – he built a park

When it’s my time to go I don’t know what I will do
Will I too build a park and dedicate it to you?
Or will I die regretting that I never made my mark?
Mr Watanabe went to work – he built a park

Tiger Tiger

(I recently visited Tadoba, a tiger reserve in central India, with some friends. These thoughts came from that visit.)

You hunt, you kill, you eat, you sleep
When you’re thirsty you go to the watering hole
It’s we who have made a mystery of your life
It’s we who believe you’re an elusive soul

If you know we’re around, you don’t seem to care
Though we work so hard to make you aware
We rev our engines, we yap, we yell
We chitter, we chatter, we run around pell-mell

We look for your “pug marks” and debate if they’re fresh
We strain our eyes to peer through the bamboo mesh
We hotly contest each other’s claims of a kill
Yet we know you’re there, watching us, completely still

When finally you step out with your regal gait
Our jaws fall open – it’s been worth the wait
When you stop, we ooh, when you turn, we aah
When you stoop a little and poop, we go gaga

We don’t care that our curiosity may be hurting you
We ambush you with our cameras as soon as you come through
We’ve turned your pristine world into yet another zoo
Sometimes I wonder – who should be watching who?


You don’t belong here!
Because my religion is more inclusive than yours

Don’t tell me lies!
Because my religion is the only one that knows the Truth

Shut your mouth!
Because my religion is the most tolerant in the world

Off with your head!
Because my religion is the paragon of non-violence

March forward, soldiers!
Because my religion is all about World Peace

Give me that last morsel!
Because my religion wants to end World Hunger

I wish you would drop dead!
Because unlike your paganism, my religion is not Voodoo

I’ll lock you up!
Because my religion is all about freedom and liberty

Go to Hell!
Because my religion is the only way to Enlightenment!


You have computers that can think
And machines that can learn
Yet you watch helplessly
As your wildfires burn

You have orbital engines
And driverless cars
And business executives
Who want to colonize Mars

Your intelligence is artificial
Your reality is virtual
Your robots may be kind
But their masters are cruel

Your dictators wage war
On innocent children and women
They are killing with impunity
In Burma, Syria and Yemen

Everywhere in the world
You are busy building walls
And dividing people
Into convenient cabals

Where will you be
When the day of judgment calls?
You know who’s laughing at you?
The Neanderthals

Happy New Year

This dying rose bush hasn’t flowered for many years now
But a new bud appeared on it today
Happy new bud

This barren land hasn’t seen a drop of rain for aeons
But a new rain cloud formed above it today
Happy new cloud

This little starling has always been part of a chorus
But it found its own song today
Happy new song

This infant child has forever tried to get up, only to wobble and fall
But she walked her first step today
Happy new step

This young man has struggled with his depression for so many years
But he found a reason to smile today
Happy new smile

This old woman has suffered a life of suffocating oppression
But she broke free and took a deep breath today
Happy new breath

No matter how bleak last year felt and how interminable
But a brand-new year has begun today
Happy new year