Sy asked me to introduce these poems by talking about my guru, but I don’t like talking about my guru, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. I already wrote a whole book about traveling to him last year. Born Too Young, it’s called — about how we’re all born too soon, too stupid. I’m thirty-five, old enough to be in the White House, and I’m still so thick you could use me for a pasta machine.
“I enjoy writing translations — it’s like making poems I’d never write otherwise,” someone at Violet’s poetry reading said last night.
And providentially, I too feel that in these translations I’m writing sweet, sweeter than a New Yorker can commonly be.
My guru, who founded the Ananda Marga Society, gives out little milk sugar pellets, or rather others bring them and he blesses them.
Sometimes it’s too sweet, Ananda Marga, but there’s also plenty of work to do. Ananda Marga’s role is to “serve the suffering humanity.”
He’s a Bengali — real name P.R. Sarkar. In 1981, he started writing these songs, “Prabhat Samgiita” (“Songs Of Dawn”). These aren’t true translations — they’re poems based on the songs. (Ten weeks in Calcutta taught me to count to two in Bengali. He has more than three thousand of these, I think.)
Why do they come out in the shape of popsicle sticks, I wonder?
Many of my poems are thin these days. I’m thin; maybe that contributes.
I hate to bore people. I know that’s part of it.
This way you can line them up like standing lamps in a showroom, and fit more on a page.
Or surround them with white light, like yogis are.
In all I hear and think I see you. You move heaven and hell, mountains and caves, jewel of mine. Love, I know, repels logic. Love is greater than liberation. That pleasure! I’ll do anything for you. That pleasure! I had never understood.
Who is singing at this strange hour? Who is flute playing in sweet pain? Someone knows no time breaks all rules and draws hearts with this torment. We met at dawn. Slowly our meeting grew into love. Space and time were gone. Only love. We rose into heaven floated in heaven.
Bricks in a heap. My mind is down a spooky well. I can’t see the green in grass or the pretty lines leaves make. What can I do when I’m this lonely? Humans hum down the street thinking make money make money make money. They know so many games and so few moves.
You are a jewel in water, a light in night. I do not know your face. Still you love. Hope floods me when I am angry with fate. You enter my heart with honey. I want nothing of you. I have a piece of your gift. What you have given you have given. Send me more work.