Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Third Eye Awake

Anyone who has known me before 1998 will describe me as an artist and a writer. In fact,when I said I was going to pursue my writing, my sister was surprised because she saw me as an artist first. Around 1998 was when I decided to put my art on hold and go full force with my writing. So, it's hard to imagine for years I hadn't done more than doodling. I was getting nervous drawing something with my daughter. I began to envy other artists even more.

Last year I started taking an art class and remembered that it was about time to return to it . The timing was perfect - while my daughter was at her dance class, I could be downstairs taking an art class. We covered different mediums from oil pastels to water colors to acrylics.

It was exciting and daunting. Sometimes I just kept looking at the subject while my instructor tells me to look for shading or depth. She'll say "there's some red in there," while painting a dark green forest. I didn't get it. But I listen to her and keep plugging away, not really sure. Somehow it comes together!  The best part is that I've awakened my artistic senses. I see colors, layers and shades in the world.It's stunning! The craziest part for me is that the awakening of my artistic side and dealing with my artist's block has manifested itself into my poetry.

Third Eye Awake

When the third eye awakens,
it can’t be closed again.

It allows the scientists to see
the multiple dimensions of the universe
as it grows inside and around us.
Some secretly acknowledge they
can see electrical pulses around bodies.
Then they quickly wipe their spectacles.

For philosophers who have been awakened ,
the secrets of life are boldly
displayed like neon signs. Unfortunately,
the signs compete for attention, leaving them
to wander searching for the right message to heed.

The artist’s third eye converts the world into hues
and textures not seen by the two eyes.
A pool of water solidifies into a raw silk cloth
rippling in brilliant turquoises and blues.
Their hands must now recreate the vibrancy they’ve seen
struggling over and over again to capture it

When the poet opens the third eye,
the poet can see the words are floating by
and pulls out a lasso to bring each word onto the page,
securing its hold,
then releasing those that do not fit; always search for a new one.

The third eye guides our spirits into corners unseen,
and our bodies will soon follow.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ars longa, vita brevis

Art is long, life is short. 

Life is probably shorter if you're a plant in my house. My husband has the green thumb, and I have two opposable thumbs. I'll do whatever you tell me to do with plants, but I don't have that instinct and drive to plant bulbs, collect annuals and do all those things you're supposed to do in spring and falls. However, I do find pulling weeds very meditative though. 

An aunt in Canada gave us a jasmine plant root to plant. She's an avid gardner and her jasmines were growing fabulously and she had enough to share. Her front porch smelled like "raat ranis" (jasmines that bloom at night). So,we smuggled the root across the border and planted it in a pot. And, that baby bloomed! My husband put it in the bathroom, where it would get moisture and humidity it needed, and it lasted 2 years. There would be a blossom or two every few days during the summer. 

I was inspired! I wrote the poem below and shared it at a book reading in January.

I'm not sure what happened this winter/spring, but the jasmine plant didn't make it. I tried this week to resuscitate it by repotting it with Miracle Gro, as advised by the aunt. But my husband's telling me it's dead and to get over it. I still think we should give it a fighting chance though I do think

Thus, here's a poem to remember smuggled jasmine plant.

Scent Memory
The white jasmines bloom at night in the summer,
just three precious blossoms at a time.
The plant was a gift and the bathroom is the best spot to capture moisture.
So it sits in a terracotta pot on the edge of the beige soaking tub.
The slightly open window allows summer wind to freshen the space.

As I open the bathroom door, the aroma of fresh jasmine mixed with humid air
whisks me to Ahmedabad, India,
stirring memories of a childhood evening.

We were family meeting for the first time,
making instant connections without the customary formalities
and introductions. They knew us already.
Aunts, uncles and cousins were excited
to show off their world to the crisp American children.

We take a stroll in the warm June evening for ice cream.
The Queens of the Night are in bloom and we’re wrapped in a fragrant air.
We pass other bungalows in the neighborhood. The bushes in the large compounds
are sprinkled with delicate red and white flowers.

At the ice cream stand, we mill around and read the flavors on the white board
under the stark fluorescent lights.

We’re confused, looking for comfort in a mint chocolate chip,
but we choose from flavors that leave a ambrosial tastes in your mouth
when you say them aloud.

Saffron pistachio
Rose and cardamom
Cashew and raisins
Tutti frutti

Mosquitoes and moths hover around the lights.
We dance and wave them away. Uncles joke about “moth flavors”
when one nosedives into a cup and tease us with a mosquito option.
I scribe this adventure into a journal,
complete with a sketch of the insects and the ice cream.

As a lively group, our voices rise and we kick up dust along the footpaths
returning to my grandparents house.
When a breeze does arrive, it doesn’t break the heat,
but tropical trees rustle and the swing in front yard rocks gently.

I turn off the bathroom light and close the door, leave that memory inside
where it belongs with the jasmine blossoms.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Poetry Reading in Philadelphia

When I received this invitation to read for Philadelphia Poets event last November, I knew that 2012 was going to be the year for my writing. What a way to kick it off! Now, if I could figure out what I should read, I'll be all set! 

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Philadelphia Poets Presents its Annual Ethnic Voices Poetry Reading at the Manayunk/Roxborough Art Center (M/RAC)
This program will feature: Manya Bean, Lynn Blue, Mel Brake, Ashini Desai, Maria Fama,  Emiliano Martin, and Al Tacconelli

The poets represent many different cultures—Greek, African-American, Indian, Italian, and Spanish—and while their experiences either as immigrants or the descendants of immigrants are similar, the expressions of their feelings are unique and individual, and their approaches to the writing of poetry, varied and powerful. In some cases, poetry will be read in translation together with the English.

419 Green Lane (rear), Philadelphia
Sunday, February 12, 2012, 3:00 to 5:30 p.m.