tender resignation

Photo by Julissa Helmuth on Pexels.com

what do you do when you realize that the talent you possess for your art
is rough-hewn and not up to any task

not for golden voiced angelic purity
not for following literary norm

and that it would take the years that have already passed by
to polish your voice to the point where it could give forth
a clear noted perfectly pitched symmetrically designed literary marvel

~

practice makes perfect for the artist

but what about for those of us who are just using the sound of our own voices,
the words flowing from our fingertips
as another way to breathe when life is heavy with smog

~

i cannot see the future but somehow i know that i
am not it

like a horse ready to retire
my path is off the track now

it might lead somewhere quiet and green
and the only way to be happy will be to accept the world is going on without me

~

the cutting edge, the bleeding edge
is sharp, there’s a reason they call it that
and i’ve already bled out

i’m fit to hold together what’s already here but not to build anything new

~

i don’t lament this, it’s not a loss
since all of this was a stretch anyways
but my eyes have opened to my place and it’s not here

it’s best to find that place that looks kindly upon amateur maturity
a place where i can train to become better at being who i already am

~

the world is a very big place and that’s exactly the problem
but perhaps also the solution.

presence / presentation

Image source: http://www.polyvore.com/ballet_dancer_silhouette_17_24h/thing?id=66665898
Image source: http://www.polyvore.com/ballet_dancer_silhouette_17_24h/thing?id=66665898

At times it becomes apparent to me,
that I occupy quite a lot of space.

I may start out of medium size,
with longish limbs and a short torso,
and a tendency to keep these wrapped up around each other.

But if you ask me to speak, to say, to perform,
then slowly, I begin to unfold,
one gesture at a time, into a circling kind of dance;
my range of movement evolving into one higher.

Slowly, I start to take up more space,
my limbs, stretching,
my hands, talking,
my posture, lengthening,
my eyes, brightening,
my voice, burgeoning.

I start to feel what I am saying,
I start to become those words.
I start to live these concepts I describe;
I see myself unfolding as a story told.

Tell me, when I unfold this way,
do you see me; do you feel my enhanced frame?

Does my size make you want to unfold too, to join me,
or do I make you want to shrink back into your space?

~

What kind of presence do you have, and how does that presence become enhanced when you are doing things you enjoy?

Do you ever feel that someone is “in your space”, or that you need more space in order to really be you?

Do you worry that your presence could unintentionally encroach on that of others, preventing them from fully expressing themselves?

two poems: “Museum” and “courtyard, unedited”

Two poems: Museum and courtyard, unedited

These pieces were written while and after visiting the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada. The first, Museum, is a reflection on history, civilizations, art and interpretation. The second piece, courtyard, unedited, was penned while sitting in the Museum’s inner courtyard, and has intentionally been left unedited in order to maintain for the reader, the flow of inspiration as originally felt. It contains English as well as another Hindi-Urdu mixed language that sometimes spills onto the page. Please excuse my rough transliteration attempt as neither of these is my first language.

DSC_0412
View of the courtyard, looking up from the main floor. Copyright Asif Virani, 2014.

Photos taken in and around the Aga Khan Museum, courtesy of Asif Virani, 2014.
View of the courtyard from the second floor. Copyright Asif Virani, 2014.

DSC_0441
Up-close view of one of the metal screens/jaali on the second floor. Copyright Asif Virani, 2014.

Museum

What will the people from days to come decide to make of us,
what will they preserve in their halls?

Those gone by have become to us what remains of them,
after all tribulation and epiphany fell away into dust.

They have become what we can still understand of them.

~

There is too much left to know about knowing; not enough left to see.

We fear we are penning lines already penned by those greater than us,
a people that truly saw the truth unfold.

Nothing can be said now that has not been said before;
our efforts, mere echoes of a greater, grander voice.

What inspired these carvers, and what were they trying to say –
can we be certain that we have preserved ourselves against misunderstanding?

Did they create these shapes because those are what they saw,
or were they too, seeking to lose themselves in detailed but repetitive abstraction?

Do these patterns transcend a name?

~ ~ ~

courtyard, unedited

is jahaan mein hum upna sub kuch kho sakte hain,
sub kuch seekh  bhi saktehain

aisa husn ko bananekiliye, aisi roshni, is roshni, ki zaroorat hai

this light is something like the light of the heavens and the earth;
this light has an unnameable quality to it,
a way for all to see all

bathed in it my hand resting on the table becomes something from another world,
translucent, light diffusing outward in the place of rosy flesh

your eyes are from another time here, where patterns repeat themselves to liberate beyond eye’s capacity, where voices rise to a crescendo and we take in,

light,
light,
light, light light,

upon our hands, our face, and every
one is so beautiful here today

yahaan aake kuch bhi likhdijiye,
sub kuch shahiri banjayegi

yahaan aake kuch khaaneki zaroorat nahin mehsoos hoti,
in hawaaon, saa(n)son, is jahaan ka rooh hi kaafi hai

yahaan rehekar kuch chaate hai hum,
kuch khona bhi chaate hain

kuch cheez samaj na chaate hain hum,
kuch cheez humko yaad aatihai

kuch cheez hamaari thi, hamaari hai,
hamaare dil me se nikalke,
humhi ke aage jhoom uthi

keherahihai:

agar aapke dil mein koi baat phool ki tarha khilrahihain,
to usse khilne do;
mat sochiye

agar aapke ander koi baat hai, to aap dil ki zubaan se usse pehsh karo,
chaahe koi samje ya na samje

agar koi lafz kaafi nahin lagte,
to khudh ke lafaazon banaalo

khudh ki zubaan banaalo,

koi samje, ya na samje

~

A rough translation of courtyard, unedited:

in this place/world we can lose/forget everything of/about ourselves;
we can also learn everything

to make this kind of beauty, this type of light, this light, is needed

come here and write anything at all,
it will become poetry / anything written here becomes poetry

here, there is no need felt for eating,
these winds, breaths, the soul of this place/world is enough

staying/being here, we desire something;
also, something we wish to lose

some things we understand,
and some things, we remember

some things were ours, are ours;
some things come out from our own hearts
and have come alive/to dance in front of us

they say:

if something blossoms like a flower in your heart,
then allow it to blossom,
think not

if there is something in you that wants to be said, then use the language of your heart to convey it,
whether anyone understands or not

if no words seem enough,
then make up your own words

make up your own language,

whether anyone understands, or not

potter (2014)

a potter sees clay

what would you like to be today, love?

let me shape you, fashion you,
let me hold you and mould you,
let me press you and caress you,
into what you once were,

into what you have always been

 

my heart sees you,
though to my eyes
you are a lump of clay
like any other

 

i know where you came from
and i know what you want to be

i will release you from your matrix;
i will love you into who you are
and who you have been.