The Desolation Poems

Poetic Forms Used in English

#200 TWIME


Here's summer solstice, the longest day of the year,
and this my two hundredth poem form. Perhaps

by the shortest day, winter solstice, I'll have done
all -- about four hundred -- forms found in English



Death is quite certain
so pull the curtain.
Rein in your lust
as we discussed.
"Tie on a halo
around your silo.
Put grain in the bag
and consider a shag
rug for sleeping on
when I've gone,"
said Mumtaz Mahal
who gave more than all
for Jahan's Taj Mahal
at the fourteenth bawl.



Are you afraid of death?
Only of too deep a breath.

Are you afraid of life?
Only man's eternal strife.

Are you afraid of travel?
Only the need for arrival.

Are you afraid of hurt?
Only that I will lose my shirt.

Are you afraid of love?
Just cupid's damnable shove.

Are you afraid of wealth?
I'd rather have my health.

Are you afraid of fame?
It will claim whom it will claim.

Are you afraid of God?
Spoil the child, spare the rod.

What do you fear?
Questions near, queer, sheer, my dear.



The glittering silk
falls in waves from her shoulder,
a great froth of red.

The gold sunset grows later.
Roses uncloth their stamen.



Jaipur glows as India's pink town
built upon the desert like a gown,

glittering red and orange, rose, white,
gold walls painted for the Brits with light

mocking, gentle laughter -- magic
lantern of colonial, tragic

misconceptions. Here stood Machivell,
Ram Singh, outwitting British hell.



One year ago today my father died.
I see him still, thin as a reed, mouth open
his blue eyes closed. Betty hands me his ring.

The Blietz people arrive, gently they lift him
into a sack. The last thing I notice
are his strong hands. "Goodbye Papa. I did wear

your emerald for a while. I speak of you
now and again. My hands are strong, my eyes
wide open and I make poems for you -- at times

green as emeralds, thin as reeds -- and bow to you
under your cherry tree flourishing near where
mother stays among the peach azaleas.



The British admired the fine crafts of India
and its architecture, but commandeered its land
to build an empire, displacing Lord Shiva

who, dancing, damaru tapping, reigned, Shakti's hand
upon his unforgiving heart. Fiercely
poised, the Lord of Death, the creator was banned.

For centuries he outwaited triumphantly
plumed merchants piling up Greek and old Roman
bastions here and there. Conquerors! But feebly

unable to perceive the cause of dome, qibla, sun,
they sweated in a land which did not wish
to explain the gopura or vajroli which stun

in their sensuality. The British
blushing, disciplined, stayed in their tower.
Wounded by need, characterized as "cold fish,"

they found the entanglements of life too sour.
Scoffing at grace and its exuberant creators,
stiffen by greed, they refused to flower.

They strove for mastery in the corridors
of power, this race of blind carnivores.




"the gustatory implication is etymologically correct."

"Gandhi is fasting again," said
the radio -- that little bent
man with the cane and the white wrapped
around him. That little man was

in prison and wasn't eating,
said the headlines, the Movietone
News. His bald head and toothless mouth
touched my pre-teen heart. But I could

not quite understand why any
one cared if he ate or not. When
I wasn't hungry and didn't
eat, it caused mild celebration.

Yet, the diet of this funny
little man who walked almost nude
with tailed, top hatted diplomats
into #10 Downing Street,

was heralded, whispered. Even
my family, sweet, hardworking,
remote from the world, mentioned it.
"Fasting," radio and movies

called it. Somehow, he was awfully
important. And later in life,
after he was shot, and millions
of Indian's slaughtered during

partition of that exotic
land into pieces -- more murdered
even than the six million Jews
by the Germans in World War II --

television, ubiquitous
in my world where, by accident,
I became a celebrant of
of India, Gandhi, and at last

understood ahimsa, the Salt
March, satyagraha, spinning and
taxes, weaving and walking. with
bare feet upon the earth -- did not...

televison did not... not one
station in my town, mentioned one
word about India's fifty
years of Independence. Indeed,

'til she and her sibling set off
big bombs, my world construed the world,
including India, only
as markets for trade, like the East

India Company setting
out, unknowingly, to conquer
India, and the whole world, in
1772. Yet,

I remember, day after day,
reports on whether the little
man clothed in the white dhotiate
or didn't eat. Or would he eat

tomorrow? Would the foreigners
ever get out of his land? Then,
finally (but this knowlege came
later) -- the British absconded

as fast as they could to avoid
responsibility for the
millions they knew would be slaughter
in violence fostered by their

presence during three-hundred years
of hubris and exploitation,
inhumanity toward fellow
humans -- until Gandhi, the bent

man with the staff, didn't eat -- said
the radio -- and the world cared.



Kalakalah, the ferry in the sound, now lets great boats lie. Beneath
bold, broad, stone forts in which stiff Brits fix pride, lie little boats aground. Wet,

wild, welcome, warm they hint at bitter storms. Bold, bitten barricades fall.
Whose to say "fly," if nits pick petty fights and the work wanders widely?

Sanskirt Glossary:

Kala = Arts and Crafts
Kalakalah = disturbance, noise
Kalah = time, right time, occasion

Also, Kalakala, meaning "flying bird" (from the sound they make in flight) is the American Indian, Chinook language, name of a Puget Sound ferry recently rescued from oblivion by sculptor, Peter Bevis.

#209 VAKH


Opulence, grandeur, sunset
red fusing horizon, smoke,
earth, the palms, endless pale sand --
walk on the earth and weep. There

I rinsed my feet, walked without
shoes. Silk was the earth, satin
my heart, welcomed at last. Chant
through full moon nights. Consider

Krishna's river running through
temples, through froth white current,
misty vision, wet gown, see! --
Mahabharata at Wai.



My love is ringing loud
Lord, oh Lord, do reply
with thy rhyme and reason.
Soon, re-season the lie.

My heart is heaving blue
with brassy love so bold,
but old enough to brew
luscious stews, love untold.

Hail, hail, O Spring sprite
the rites are rightly done
fair fun is quickly due
dance anew, quite lithesome.



Bullock carts mountained with sugar
cane crept along the road's golden
grass, drivers asleep in the heat.

They slept and I walked through the dirt.
They lived in conical cane huts
too fragile to withstand monsoon

rains. Though the British demanded
India build vast palaces,
cane huts, dirt roads, and carts remain.



We were sitting in a restaurant.
It was raining in the angel's
town. He was struggling to invent
the name for a world court. "The Court

of Man," he suggested. She said:
"That leaves women out." He smiled, shrugged,
implying the concept was more
important than gender balance.

"Will there be women on the court
and people from every country?"
"So few are well educated
enough to judge in such a court."

"But that's the point, isn't it? To
represent the world -- different view
points, different people?" "The point
is justice." "Our justice? Western

justice? Play by our rules or you're
wrong?" He turned to watch the angel's wings, rain-
drenched, he stopped arguing with a
mind which "high justice" eluded.




Well, Devayani, do you believe it? You
found the answer in your own book, read once and
forgotten. "Tantric" it says, "Tantric yoga."

So self evident the meaning escaped you:
Maithunain extraordinary embrace
express the ida, pingala, sushumna,

the semen -- concentrated life energy --
flowing to the head, vajroli, the supreme
enlightenment the gentle Chandella's knew.



Comment on "ORNAMENT AND CRIME" by Adolf Loos, 1908

"...the shoe will be so covered in scallops and holes
as only an elegant shoe can be." You can
sink your teeth into Loos. He has got opinions --

wild, rabid, definitive opinions, climbing
undreamt heights of prophecy and altruism.
defining his fellow man's progress aloft from

the purple slime. He eats cooked cow, smooth gingerbread,
blissfully unaware that twentieth century
man will find that his needs must not be satisfied.

He must spend, spend, consume, consume in wide, wider
circles to satisfy greed on a scale so vast --
behind blank-faced walls -- that even the opulence-

obsessed Calcutta British could not envision.
Would that Loos were Vienna bound from skyscraper
lined, utilitarian U.S.A. today,

having shopped in ornament-free K-Mart, picked up
some bargains of factory-made simplicity, quite
affordable, known to be loved by the natives.

According to Loos' egregious lights we've attained
perfection. The craftsman has become a joyless
worker, and crime has fully replaced ornament.

#215 USNIK



My experience in the West
has been that only recently to we
speak of Judeo-Christians, and never speak

of Judeo-Christian-Muslims.
We speak of Buddhist and Hindus
But only someone as strange as I would speak of

Hindu-Buddhus. Most others don't
know that Buddha was a Hindu.
Nor have I ever heard a Muslim claim lineage

with a Christian. Undoubtedly
it is the truth, but a truth not
uttered. For remember, until after World War II,

Christians just barely acknowledged
Jesus was a Jew. Suffering
Buddhists are embraced more easily than Muslims.

Hinduism's Gods are dismissed
as mythology even as
Kali Yuga manifests, yields chaos, closure.

Seattle's Public Library
classifies Christianity
as Religion; other faiths as Literature.

Subtlely, intentionally,
Prakash changes the West's perceptions of the world
by simply mentioning some facts,

by simply assuming, in our
scientific world, that most know
history, indeed, care about veracity.



Published in 1834,
Ram Raz's Essays on Hindu architecture
was read by some, but ignored

by moralizing esthetes.
He gave rules, analysed ornaments, pre-empted
the ruler's game. Still Ruskin's

mellifluous babble flowed
barbed with blind judgements, rising in '57
to rant -- unaware it would seem

that it might have been "cruel,"
"sinful," aye, "bestial," to deprive of their freedom
one's "gentle," "unoffending" hosts.



Across the brilliant red, vermillion, bright red sea
hued with blood, scorched with blazing fire,
conflagration of the nations

resting on beauty, the evangelical sword,
righteousness -- forward it strode to
the outer limits of the earth

hacking, handicapping those it professed to love.
"I come in the name of the truth!
I will kill you for your own good

so committed am I to the exalted tenets
of morality, beauty, good! --
genuine civilization."




When I was a lad, one
hundred years ago, I
came with my father to
Ellora -- just mountains

then, high hills, no carving.
The rock was black. Father
said it was very hard,
but in it he could see

beautiful Kailasa,
a temple for Shiva.
He said, under the moon
at the very top if you

sat very still, looked in
the stone, you would see his
home; that, with the others,
he would carve until I

could see it, too. Under
the moonlight, when he slept
I took a tiny spike,
with which you carve the lips

and eyelids of the gods.
Nearby I found a rock,
and I climbed and climbed in
the clear sky, the light, like

day. The moon was huge, full.
The rock was smooth and black.
For long distances I
crawled on my stomach, hands

wet, clinging to the rock.
As the moon touched the trees
I was on top. I stood
listening, still as stone.

I could hear the Ganges
through Shiva's hair. I prayed
as I sat on the rock.
I put my chisel to

its pure heart, exposed there
beneath the stars, and I
touched it with the small stone.
I made an opening

so small only Shiva
could see through. I started
Kailasa when I was
a boy. The next morning

all the carvers gathered
with their tools and walked a
path, around the mountain
to the top and began.

To reveal the temple
they carved for years. At last,
I, too, grew old enough
to work. Shiva's drum. There!



If man is the connecting link to God, then -- slim,
and like an ant, in the middle --
does the life-line get choked like the throats of hungry

ghosts? Starving, unable to eat, moaning with love
of chappatis and green mangoes,
where then is the love of Shiva, Kali, Durga?

How long do you sit beneath the banyan tree, play
with its root ropes and shade? Ganesh
trumpets, calls his father, his mother, sees the tree,

asks to be remembered while you build the great world.
Unheeded, forts of empire
crumble, rolled away by the ant and the beetle.



When did chastity begin? Why? Where?
When man first dominated woman.
He needed to know his property
was his property, his progeny

his progeny. It mattered to him.
His greed mattered to him more than his
passion. How could he love all people,
help support all beings, include love

among his pleasures? Fighting was more
fun, hatred easier, and power
intoxicating. He must stamp earth's
nature down with the imprint of his

claim that he was better than any.
Throughout millenniums he has proved
only that he is worse than most -- trees,
flowers, animals, even the stones.



The British, falling in love with India, could
not restrain -- though they criticized
to maintain face -- their love of sun,
desert, far vistas, adventure

exuberance, flourishes, rococo, heat, dust,
ornaments. They were tired of their
mist and rain, their little island,
the beggary, efficiency

with which they industrialized their few acres.
They were tired of piling up cold
stone and mullioned windows. They fell
in love with the land where they could

build with jalousies and zenanasin pink, white and
rose, dream the dreams of zamindars,
hold durbars,spend as if
they were maharajas, all with

their host's great wealth and *atithi devo bhava
generosity. Ah, a great
dream for a little people from
a little island, unable

to comprehend the sensuality of form,
Shiva's preference for the charnal
ground, the modesty of human
life, maya,Kali's bone-white grin.

*Atithi Devo Bhava, which means "the guest is God," is taught to all Indians from time immemorial



Every pore of my body creams
all over with bliss as I see
slender Shakti rippling like a river along
the endless corridor of light

shimmers, wearing high platform shoes,
dark skirt, each side slit to the knees,
each stride causing the fluid material to wave
in movements like water's current

lapping her legs against the thrust
of her thigh; ankle deep swirling
instability supporting a slim column,
shoulders behind cut sleeves, head

jeweled, her neck arched beneath
hair piled high, like Nefertiti's
crown, snakes wrought of silver around her upper arms,
so young she must be no more than

a sophomore walking from Allen
to Suzzallo's Gothic exit.
Goddess, it seems, on an unhurried mission. Just
for a moment I dare not turn.

What if she's not there to be seen?
Ecstatic, almost blind, I find
enlightenment in the brilliant fluid of the
unexpected vision, passing.



Comment on "COLONIAL DESIRE" by Robert J. C. Young

How dare you make sex so boring?
When all you want to point out is
Europe's attraction to the beautiful, often
willing, native women (and men),

that must be hypocritizedso
that the whites (mainly) could go on
"teaching," raping and pillaging, gleaning the wealth
of others' lands, killing fathers

and mothers of their chosen mates,
disowning their hybrid children --
like our own Tom Jefferson having his black kids
serve his white kids. All that high toned

talk to camouflage the love they
had of the sensuality,
sexuality that they had bred out of their
moralizing bones, out of their

(they hoped) women's moralized bones.
Of course they wanted to make love
to the exquisite apsarases of India,
China, Burma, Indonesia,

also bred to compliance, but
compliance of a different sort.
Women of the East were taught to worship their men
as Gods. And if Europeans

weren't Gods, who were? If the natives
weren't racially inferior
how justify stealing their land and mandating
opium addiction, killing

millions? Say it, R. Young. Don't
mask yourself behind bastardized,
linguistically-hybridizing utterances,
anticipating a defense

lest a colleague might accuse you
of interest in the sexual
charms of nautchgirls, whispers from your body's desire,
wishes for time's disappearance.



In Kuala Lampur, God knows
why, they've built the tallest buildings, on earth, reaching
almost beyond the stars, higher,
often, than the moon's light streaming

across rivers in their narrow
country like a column. Perhaps they wanted it,
their country of beauty and good
food, to be as tall as it is

long, reaching out to celestial
heights along the axis of God(s).
Mayalsian and Chinese, they mine
tin, my encylopedia

says, and grow rubber, transport goods
for our competitive commercialized spinnning
globe and, no doubt, they needed a
beacon. They certainly stopped cold

in its tracks, the American
urge toward colossalization. Now the World Trade
Towers nod, from their shrimp-like height
toward their betters of the East in

humble recognition, jostling
the sky, scraping sattelites, adjusting their cloaks,
wondering why they sit so high
beyond the golden calf's cry.

#225 NYANKUSARINI (with one Bhurik stanza)


Reading the alphabet's history:
Akkadian, Egyptian, Semitic, Phoenician,
Greek, Latin, English -- its lineage
sings across the history of time.

How could it have ever not been?
How could it ever not be? Words on clay, words in ink,
the transmission of mummies' thoughts, mummies,
people wrapped in their own writing,

an Etruscan corpse preserving
contact with a vanished language,
bits of business and clay contracts,
monumental stone inscriptions,

papyrus abecedaries,
tri-linguals of Rosetta, of Behistun cliff
carved over the high edge for God
to study, Xerxes' pride to judge.

Six thousand years ago, maybe
a bit more, stones were silent, even quipuslay
unknotted. Then one day a marked
token: history's record began.



In the tradition of Islam
writing is the tradition of
God. Scripts of exquisite beauty
illuminate the temple walls, arches and vaults.

Illumined patterns of color
simulating the face of God
cover the floors and the ceilings.
Fountains stand in the middle of gardens to refresh

the heart. Water flows from the pure
heart of grace, flowers from wisdom,
trees for contemplation's cool shade.
The Persians enhanced the land of their hosts with domes.

I have stood in the Bijapur
dome. I have heard my voice echoed
round, whispering in my ear of
love provoked by God's love of the river-washed land,

of the deserts the jungles, hills,
the Deccan plateau and the high
Himalayas where sound is heard,
water flows, and all can be absorbed by the land.



Don't train your taste too fast. Looking into your heart,
you find the wedding cake of Albert Hall appeals
to you as much as Naila House and hybrid dorms
farmed out at Mayo College. But

you do frequently favor "what is is." And you
begin to see that the whole world can be defined
as a "colonial" structure, impositions,
conquests, borrowings, loans, filtered

and reclaimed. There is nothing but what happens at
the center of things. Shiva's dance. Let the dancer
gyrate. Sit among the ruins of the temple,
contemplate time. You were once shocked

by bright pink military barracks in China.
But the Singh's sang the buildings of Jaipur pink, kept
them that way. You may prefer Ellora, or Mahabalipuram,
or find ecstatic rapture in

Bilbao. Let the world build and amalgamate.
Even the cave man was not content with unmarked
walls. There's no greater paean to architecture's
chaos than University

of Washington's campus. But trees grow tall, taller
willingly hide the sins of all willful, would be's.
And India, better than most, knows that what's built
will one day crumble back to dust.

Absorb the consequences of action, enjoy
the fruits of desire. What is here today will
not be here tomorrow. The world is but one part
museum, ninety-nine parts change.



Ah, I am of one
mind as I watch the coming
storm. Two birds singing.

The sun re-emerges first.
Wind gusts chase the slower clouds.



Sunshine gleams on water lilies.
Tight buds nestle white, quite hidden
-- while the night's wild riding fillies,

frequenting the park and lawn's green
ghostly hue, await the sunrise,
warmth and weather, duck's green bright sheen,

-- to fan their lotus heads and pure
modest souls of symbolism's
pink and pretty white/blood mixture.



In growing up I have learned the magical
lives of others are not so different from my own.
I used to look with longing toward the biblical

lives of others until I understood
their bios contained only their attainments
and not the other three hundred days of would.



She wanted to save her life or death
for a special occasion like love.
She walked in the wind away from the heart
watching the sun above,

watching the birds coast and dart.
Along came a dove with a twig
who said she was too much of a pig
and would rather eat and fart.

"Where, where shall I begin to dig?"
she cried in agony, remorse.
"Given a body that likes its food
I would indeed divorce

it for love. But bodiless sex," she cooed,
"would make me a virgin still urging
lost in the wild wind of desiring
and leave me yet unwooed."

#232 BALLADE (with Envoy)


Julie went to the well to see
far down in its depths the darkness.
On the high grey stones on her knee
she could see the flashing sky bless
the mirror of the water below.
The sun appeared in the cloudless
blue-mullioned quite dazzling glow.

In her closed hand she held the key
and the knowledge of great kindness
given her by way of a fee.
She was sent to fetch the largess
of run-off from the winter's snow
but she stood still in the hapless
blue-mullioned quite dazzling glow.

She reached toward the dark sky to be
sure that what she had to confess
to the heavenly referee
would be accounted in congress
a most excruciating foe
concealed behind her shyness,
blue-mullioned quite dazzling glow.

Julie's death was really needless.
Call her an unfortunate crow.
She died while sharing a groundless
blue-mullioned quite dazzling glow.



Where in the creation of God
on what earth have you so far seen
built on a magnificent quad
things other than ultimate green
with sun's irridescent sheen
lighting the world and memory,
uncanny desolation's keen
while all time flows down to the sea

Under howling winds the trees nod,
pink blossoms shower the ravine,
leaves whirl and fall and the great pod
bursts with its seeds, while the birds preen
and the ravishing racoons clean
edibles and ogle a plea
like an intelligible dean,
while all time flows down to the sea.

Along comes man, so roughly shod
he cannot feel earth's benign lean
heart, but must strip the ocean's cod,
denude land's trees and overglean,
overgrow plants and fruits, then ween
himself on pills he sees as key
to eternity, grows quite mean,
while all time flows down to the sea.

Even the elephant's great trod --
which rumbles the earth while Selene,
bright Goddess who shrinks to a rod,
waning to darkness, count fourteen,
and reasserts herself as queen --
does not offend like the great spree
that God's glory might have forseen
while all time flows down to the sea.

If only divinity's prod
worked still to make nature convene
from the sky and the land in a hod,
by the sea's edge where the marine
creatures live and quietly screen,
what is to be left for the lee
before man expends all his spleen
while all time flows down to the sea

Life is so uncommonly odd,
Precambrian to Holocene,
bits of rock to man form a wad
bound, chewed, spewed by the mutant gene.
Watch it climb, fly, shout, sail, careen
until it reached right up to me
and remains quite green as a bean,
while all time flows down to the sea

Today starts with Paleocene,
silent cliffs of eternity
soundless, echoless, man will keen
when all time has flown to the sea.


Copyright © 2002 Jan Haag

Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: or








21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context