Now That You Are Here

After your arrival today, the boats

will race down the spit, as before.

Slightly up north, in Mendocino, the redwoods will keep

reaching for the sky, half-soaked in fog.


Further up north, in a Portland backyard,

the hummingbird will dart from the roses -

destined to bloom and re-bloom well past Labor Day -

to the english lavender; from the azure russian sage,

to the red crocosmia and back again.


Now that you are here,

the air seems little more saltier,

the boats seem to have little more pep,

the trees a tad bit greener,

the hues of the flowers, more vibrant,

and their nectar little more sweeter.




An occasional poem on the arrival of friend’s little bundle of joy.  Inspiration from Billy Collin’s poem – As Usual.

झंझा आह का कोया बुनता रहा (Caterpillar Kept Weaving a Cocoon of Sighs)

“आप की याद आती रही रात भर”
नींद आती जाती रही रात भर
Aap ki yaad aati rahi raat bhar
Neend aati jaati rahi raat bhar

कोई आवाज़ कानो में गूंजती रही
ख़ामोशी शोर मचाती रही रात भर
Koi avaaz kanno mein gunjati rahi
khamoshi shor machati rahi raat bhar

रात ढल गयी चांद फिर छुप गया
चांदनी चांद ढूंढ़ती रही रात भर
Raat dhal gayi chaand phir chupp gaya
Chaandni chaand dhundti rahi raat bhar

एक हम है जो अफ़साने लिखते रहे
एक तुम हो जो किस्से बनाती रही रात भर
Ek hum hai jo afsane likhte rahe
Ek tum ho jo qisse banati rahi raat bhar

हसीन नज़ारे गुमशुदा होने लगे
एक तस्वीर उभर आती रही रात भर
hasiin nazare gum-shauda hone lage
Ek tasveer ubhar aati rahi raat bhar

कोई झंजा आह का कोया बुनता रहा
तितली-ए-आरज़ू पर फड़फड़ती रही रात भर
Koi jhanjaa aah ka koyaa buntaa raha
title-e-arzoo par phadphadati rahi raat bhar

वक़्त के पहेलु में बात अटक गई
चश्म-ए-नम याद दिलाती रही रात भर
Vaqt ke pahelu mein baat atak gayee
Chasm-e-nam yaad dalati rahi raat bhar

Loose English Translation
I kept thinking of you the whole night
Sleep came and went the whole night
A voice kept ringing in my ears
Silence made a big raucous the whole night
The night fell and the moon hid again
Moonlight kept searching for the moon the whole night
For instance, I kept writing our narrative
For instance, you kept making up tales the whole night
Beautiful scenes kept getting lost
One picture kept emerging the whole night
A caterpillar kept weaving cocoon of sighs
A butterfly of wish kept fluttering its wings the whole night
A tale is stuck on the side of time
Wet eyes kept reminding the whole night

This derivative ghazal is based on Makhdoom Mohinuddin’s ghazal. Makhdoom was a freedom fighter, and an urdu poet who was portrayed by Irfaan Khan in a tv series called Kahkashan. The Makhdoom episode is in eight parts, first of which is linked here.

Chaya Ganguli sang the definitive version of the ghazal to the music of Jaidev.  The ghazal appears in movie Gaman.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a friend of Makhdoom also wrote a derivative ghazal in his memory. Faiz’s version sung by Dr Radhika Chopra.

Makhdoom Mohinuddin (Original Ghazal)


aap ki yaad aati rahi raat bhar
chashm-e-nam muskurati rahi raat bhar

raat bhar dard ke shamma jalati rahi
gam ke lau tharatharati rahi raat bhar

bansuri ke surili suhani sada
yaad ban ban ke aati rahi raat bhar

yaad ke chand dil mein utarate rahe
chandani jagamati rahi raat bhar

koi divana galiyon mein phirta raha
koi aavaz aati rahi raat bhar

Faiz Ahmed Faiz (written in memoriam of Mahkdoom Mohinuddin)

Aap ki yaad aati rahi raat bhar
Chaandni dil dukhati rahi raat bhar

Gaah jalti hovi, gaah bujhti hovi
Shama-e-gham jhilmilati rahi raat bhar

Koi khushbo badalti rahi pairhan
Koi tasveer gaati rahi raat bhar

Phir saba saaya-e-shaakh-e-gul kay talay
Koi qissa sunaati rahi raat bhar

Jo na aaya usse koi zanjeer-e-dar
Har sada per bulaati rahi raat bhar

Aik umeed se dil behelta raha
Ik tamanna satati rahi raat bhar

Fruit of Afonso’s Cultivar


Double-looped pony tailed, she rests
Under the mini grove of a banyan tree

Tiny tired shoulders slouch
Under the weight of book-laden khaki satchel.

Her hands balance a plate,
Made of dried leaves and twigs

On it: saffron-yellow fleshed slivers.
“Transported fresh from Ratnagiri”, said the fruit-seller.


Bites into sweet slices of sunlight,
Send shock waves of ecstasy -

Starting on the tongue, and coursing through her veins
At the speed of thought.

Salt mingles with sugary juice
With every lick of sweaty fingers.

She clicks her tongue- “tsk”
Thinking of morning lesson in class about Eve.

Thrown out of Eden for an apple – “tsk”,
If exiled for mango, now that she can believe.

In distant future, in a distant land,
In a cool cafe, sipping a frappe,


She will recall those fleeting moments.
And her tongue will tingle in holy reverie

Of those succulent slices of manna.
But now, girding her resolve, she walks

In a daze, in a haze skipping
Simmering mirage of water puddles.

Having bought and savored the smooth and
Buttery fruit of Afonso’s cultivar,

Means no bus fare left
for ride home.

On the Way Down

Oneonta Gorge (C) Aashish Vaidya

Oneonta Gorge
(C) Aashish Vaidya

Bradbury: “jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.”
Tell the GPS to get lost.  Meander, wander and perform hijinks on the way down.

Through the off-track gorge, wade waist deep in snow melts over felled timber and rocks
Before the falls, witness on black basalt, how green fern, moss and epiphyte lichen clings on the way down.

Before cool cats can play jazz or improvise ragas, there are arrhythmic fluttering and off-tune warbling,
Before the reign of melodies and symphonies, cacophony rules and sings on the way down.

Before the meditative fields of color and light, before the Chapel in Houston and hanging palimpsests
Marcus must have splayed at Lincoln High, imperfect Patones on aquarelles and made mundane canvas coatings, on the way down.

Juxtaposed words may actually flow like “wine upon lips”, and Magnum Opus may emerge, someday
Someday a masterpiece may not be a ‘Mirage’.  For now, suffice with  mediocre musings and wordings on the way down.


Jumping off point for this ghazal was the Ray Bradbury quote.  If there intertubes got it correct than the longer quote reads like this:

If we listened to our intellect we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go in business because we’d be cynical: “It’s gonna go wrong.” Or “She’s going to hurt me.” Or,”I’ve had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore . . .” Well, that’s nonsense. You’re going to miss life. You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down. 

The small snippet in the maqta (last couplet) is from Virginia Woolf – “Language is wine upon the lips.”

The reference to Lincoln High alumnus Marcus can be found here.  And the info on the gorge referenced can be found here.




(C) Aashish Vaidya

(C) Aashish Vaidya

Nothing has to take.
The veins run below it all.
Above, the amber fields’ sprawl
tell tales and quake.

The fires are far away
I, you, we thought. It’s facile,
this tantrum, this denial.
What’s left is right spewing dismay.

The air’s so stagnant, everyone
remembers summer’s come early.
The southern strategy will turn chilly
for them, to them – today’s addiction.


Last year, there was a NaPoWriMo prompt to write an opposite poem.  I stumbled on a poem called Bernal Hill by Randall Mann, couple of days back and took a liking to it.  I use the poem’s structure including using abba rhyme pattern, but veered on the theme.

Two Lunes: Tapas and Sandia-gria


Garish colors abound
Patatas, potxas, paella, more tapas
delighted tongue tingles.


Sangria soaked watermelon
On bed of olive oil
Chilled cubes perfected.

Notes: Penned these two Jack Collom Lunes (3-5-3 words fixed form variation of Haiku), after a great Sunday, al-fresco dining at a Catalan/Spanish tapas joint.

Word List: Potxas – a bean based tapa.  Sandia – watermelon.  Sandia-gria – made-up name for sangria infused watermelon.  Paella – pan cooked rice disj.

नींद से उठे (Woke Up From Sleep)

नींद से उठे (Woke Up From Sleep)


after Mohsin Naqvi….


Arcadia Beach - (c) Aashish Vaidya 



नींद से उठे देर से इतनी

गुमराह जो थे  लंबी मुद्दत

से इतनी, देखंेगे मंज़र अब अर्से के बाद

मल मल के आँखों को ऐतबार मिले

के जैसे कभी रात ढले वैसे कभी सुबह हो


Neend se uthe dair se itni

Gumraah jo the lambi muddat

se itni, dekhenge manzar ab arse ke baad

mal malke aankhon ko aitbaar mile

Ke jaise kabhi raat dhale waise kabhi subah ho.

हम खोये जज़्बों में किन किन,

डूबे गहरी सोचों

में किन किन.  उलझन की भूलभुलैया में

ना जाने कितने वक़्त से गुम

रहे.  अब चुपके से आरज़ू दिल में रहते

है, उछलते है: के जैसे कभी रात ढले वैसे कभी सुबह हो

Hum khoye jazbon mein kin kin,

dube gaheri sochon

mein kin kin.  Uljhan ki bhulbhulya mein

na jane kitne waqt se goom

rahe.  Ab chupke se arzu dil mein rahte

hai, uchalte hai: ke jaise kabhi raat dhale, waise kabhi subah ho.




लम्हों की रफ़्तार कभी धीरी, कभी तेज

पलखों की झपक में बदले रुख, रुत और हवा.

शबनम ने फूल से पूछा, फूल ने

हवा से, हवा ने मुझसे,

पूछा, मैंने वक़्त के ख़म से पूछा -


Lamhon ki raftaar kabhi dhiri, kabhi tej

Palakhon ki jhapak mein badale rukh, rut aur hawaa.

Shabnam ne phuul se pucha, phuul ne

Hawa se, hawa ne mujhase

pucha, maine waqt ke kham se pucha -


नक्श-ए-पाँव पड़े थे रेत

पे, कहाँ गये वोह सब निशाँ ?  लम्हों की रविश पे

है किसका काबू , क्या?

फिर भी धुन गुनगुनाते चलो, लब्ज़ लिखते

चलो, वहम-ए-ज़िंदगी में रहते

चलो. ज़मीन पे पाँव, सर पे आसमान हो, तब तक ज़ीस्त की कशिश हो


Naksh-e-paun  pade the ret

pe, kahan gaye woh sab nishaan? Lamhon ki ravish pe

Hain kis ka kabu, kya?

Phir bhi dhuun gungante chalo, labz likhte

chalo, vahm-e-zindagi mein rahte

chalo. zamiin pe pau,sar pe aasmaan ho, tab tak ziist ki kashish ho.

Loose English Translation




Woke up from long sleep (nightmare)

I was lost for so long

Hope better times are up ahead

I rub my eyes so I can believe

that just as the night falls, so shall the morning come.


lost in so many emotions

Immersed in deep thoughts

Lost in a complicated maze of dilemmas

don’t know for how long

But now stealthily wish takes hold in my heart,

it prances: that just as the night falls, so shall the morning come.




Time speeds up, time slows down

In a blink of an eye, face, weather and wind can change.

The dewdrop asks the flower, the flower

asks the wind, the wind asks me

and I ask the curls of time -


the footprints that were on the sand

where have all those gone? On the motion of time

who has control?

Even then, we must sing that tune, keep writing those words

keep living on the whims of life

till there is ground under the feet, sky overhead, till then, continue deriving the pleasures of life (existence).



This year, I did not participate in the National Poetry Writing Month 2014 (NaPoWriMo 2014), like I did last year.  During the event, you write 1 poem a day, every day for the month of April.  However, I found this cool prompt from Day Five for a prompt called a “golden shovel”, invented by Terrance Hayes in his poem The Golden Shovel.  Terrance uses the last word of each of his line from Gwendolyn Brook’s poem, We Real Cool.  This in effect you get a poem within a poem.  So this is what I tried with a chotti beher (short metered) shers (couplets) from a Mohsin Naqvi‘s ghazal – itni muddat baad mile ho.  I tried with 2 shers.  This also allowed me to experiment with writing free verse in Hindi.


Here are, probably the choicest 4 ashars from a longer ghazal.


itanii muddat baad mile ho
itanii muddat baad mile ho
kin socho.n me.n gum rahate ho

tez havaa ne mujh se puuchhaa
ret pe kyaa likhate rahate ho

kaun sii baat hai tum me.n aisii
itane achchhe kyo.n lagate ho

ham se na puuchho hijr ke qisse
apanii kaho ab tum kaise ho

The ghazal was beautifully rendered by Ghulam Ali and Dilraj Kaur.