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16: Tamil prostitute in Bombay by Bashka Jacobs

Young Tamil Prostitute in Bombay

 Enticing as a black

 widow spider

Preparing for her long

 awaited lover

She painted her lips

a glorious red

Made two pink ovals on her cheeks

And slid blue on top

 of her almond shaped


Her child like body

 Exhausted from the

Stream of men led to her


 by the owner



The girl waited

 chatted with me

She held out her hand

And touched my cheek

So pretty she said, so pretty.



There was no door

 only a flimsy

Diaphanous cloth

 waiting for some

One to push it aside,

 prance hiss

And hurdle her

 to the well worn mattress



I would go

 and sit with the others

Until it was all over

Then return

She would ask

 me questions

About of all things

 Romeo and Juliet

Was it true, was it true?

I stammered

it was an old story

But yes it was true

She sighed in relief

There was life outside

This cage

here i was

To tell her about it!


She reached under

 her mattress

And offered me

 a sweet she had

Been saving


A lumpy yellow moon

 swaying in

The sky as I left

 the house

The smells became clear

 her anguish and

Her joy filled my mind


As she said tell someone

I think they don’t know.

So I tell.

17: Afghanistan : Time is Beyond Us

Atop a minaret

overlooking the dusty town of Herat


I watched from my perch

Dust filled the air

as all life

was waking up


A sepia day break

A cycle that has been repeated

for thousands of years


Round wooden wheels 

spitting yellow sand into the air

The donkeys all crusty eyed

The children darting in and out

The bobbing of the men's turbans

their long shirts flowing

The women

black pillars

moving among the rickety

weathered wooden stalls

And I marvel at the hues

this land contains

The soft browns of the rolling landscape

The fawn colored camels

The softness of the rippling wheat


I shifted
to be more comfortable


From there

I could see the the mountains

in the background

Their tips touching the sky

like jagged finger nails



The city

a giant labyrinth

sprouting out of the desert


huddled together

like men over a desert fire

keeping the cold away
A maze emerging
as if from a dream



brushing against me changed
as the temperature climbed

 ruffling air

called my vision

to a huge

sitting next to me

Time froze

I looked into his large black eye

and he looked back at me

It’s head moved just a bit


I was sitting
 on his perch

I had no idea who he was

An eagle, a vulture,

a griffon, a raptor


Sitting on a minaret

in Afghanistan

just out of San Francisco

still wearing Haight-Ashbury

I knew nothing of birds

except the ones I'd seen

during excursions
 out of reality

or the ones my father showed me

when I was a child on his knee

reading national geographic

It was big
very big

almost as big as me

crouching down

 I knew he accepted

my being there

We sat together

neither of us moving
Both quiet


I felt the power of this great


I looked at his feathers

smooth, glistening
The sun lifting umbers

from deep in his cloak

I didn't stare

That would have been impolite

We sat for what seemed

a long time

I moved my mouth slowly


 be polite and respectful
I must not show my teeth

This is a wild creature

that has evolved

ingenious ways of surviving

Strategies I probably could not comprehend


I asked 

What nourishes?

In my head

I hear
“What does not?”

How long have you been here?
“Since time began”

How long will you be here?

“We will be gone

in your lifetime”


Now I hear no voice

Instead I see pictures

of glistening planes colliding

with majestic wings

Of capturing
of destruction
I see a way of life

soaring over the land
suddenly ending

Mice and locusts


Disaster to the eco system


 a while

I hear him say
“It is the new people

that begin this

They will come with their

powerful metal
that will not eat rats or vermin

Their rubber hooved behemoths

will change the landscape

They will scour
like fire

and ruin the fields

of the future”

My heart raced

but there was no wrath

no anger
from this wild creature

Only the gentle knowing

now where animals graze

and farmers plant

all be gone

A living cemetery

for his kind


I am so sad

He is not

It is the way it is

“There is still time”
he says
“for the stars”

Crow remembering

that time is beyond


18: The Gong Ringer - An Original Poem

long ago ( forty years?)

in the empty

dusty town of Bodh Gaya

in the state of Bihar in India

the Burmese Vihara

opened its doors for S.N. Goenka

the Burmese Vipassana


to hand down the teaching

of Gautama

by way

of meditation.

the technique was simple enough

started by watching your breath

and then taking a mental broom

and cleaning your inner being

the way one cleans their teeth in the morning

the large broom  made of

thousands of straw hairs

of consciousness as we learned

to sweep our body

fresh and clean every morning

by remembering

everything changes

nothing stays the same

recognizing that our lives

at any moment can disappear

and the only way to be ready for this departure

is to know that you

are on a continuum that

does not last forever

and that in our meanderings

the nature of our journey

is to remain clear

with a heart of loving kindness

not to tenaciously hold on to anything

our anger, our distress, our idea of

how things ought to be,

to remember that it all passes

our reflections our musings

our expectations

our art


we gathered some slept on the balcony

in sleeping bags.

we called the participants

" snails " in those days

their lives in back packs

as they crisscrossed India

adventuring into unknown places

the great adventure of the 70's

along with heads of Acid

and arms full of who knows what

but eyes towards the Doors of Perception.

they came from all over

the Greek girls

the Danish boys

the Germans, the Irish, the English, the Frenche

ach with backpacks

a camel would carry.

they would stake out

their place on the

unrelenting wooden floor

and make it home

a rag of color here

a water bottle

with a view of the old trees

and the gekko singing in the background.

the day would begin

and end with meditation

and honing the techniques

interspersed with

wisdom from Gautama

who landed in this same placeand sat under the now

huge spreading Bodhi tree

and understood

that the nature of life

is about change

and learning to let go

its about this precious gift

of human life where

we can learn to expand

ourselves  for the benefit ofall beings.

this was not a religion

and never meant to be

it carried no deities or gods

there was no hierarchy

just the simple wisdom

of waking up.

every morning at five

not too early for a crow

i rang the gong

three times in all

a large brass one

that continued to sing

after i swung at it

with the mallet.

then from bedroll to bedroll

i woke everyone

and they cursed at me

a terrible way to learn different

languages and to this

day i remember some of  the Greek

the German, the Slovakian

the Swedish

curses and murmursof a sleeping soul

coming into wakefulness

when the body prefers

to sleep.

we would gather together in the great hall

while the cooks below

prepared the food for the day

we would sit in silence

blankets around us

listening to the morning chant

then the quiet of our

own reflections

the silence that led some to sleep

and others to become awake.

the smells of ghee would curl

through the boards

the gekkos would sing

large spiders would

race across the windows

the sounds from the vendors

waking up the pumping of water

the laughter of the servants

the low bellow of the buffalo

being milked

the children playing in the courtyard

the rickshaw drivers

wobbly wheels

on the stones

the monks swathed in orange robes

making their rounds

barefoot with bowls outstretched

and the trees held the crows

and more mellifluous birds

by noon the streets were filled

as were our stomachs.

a local bearded astrologer

sat on his haunches

ready to explain

your life and check the akashik records

for you.

many of the travelers had been

to the Ganges

had bathed in the Holy River

despite the dead cows

and worshiped there

many Indians believing that

a drop on the tongue

assured salvation.

now they were here in Bodh Gaya

leaving the colorful

God filled world of the Hindus

for the simplicityof this teaching.

They had seen for themselves

the filth of the streets

washed into the rivers

and yet

how people drank it


surely this was a miracle.

and now this teaching

if the seed could take hold

was perhaps a miracle as well

that could change their lives

the teaching of loving kindness

the teaching of change

of seeing others

as yourself.

so the journey began

draped with dawn

in the small quiet town

where monks roamed







the Laotians

all wearing different stylesof robes

all having put their cultural

stamp on the words of

the Buddha.


they shuffled from the great

ancient temple

to the lone standing tree

and sat

hoping for that quiet moment

of the soul

as we all did


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