Lady Elgin Becomes a Widow

Song Three, Psalm 37 Do not fret because of those who are evil      or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither,      like green plants they will soon die away. I went looking for a psalm extolling highway robbery. There must be one. This is the way of conquerors, and King David led armies. Lady Elgin sought to honor her husband’s death in a far land behind a modest stone plaque, leaving plaudits in Westminster to his partners in crime.  James Bruce, 8 th Earl of Elgin and 12 th Earl of Kincardine, Governor of Jamaica, Governor General of the Province of Canada, special commissioner to China, and Viceroy of India, died of a heart attack while crossing a rope bridge over the river Chadly in Kullu, 100 kilometers east of where I live. It was on the 20 th of November 1863, so post monsoon, but still the river can be wild. I have crossed it myself, though in a car on a concrete bridge. Photographs show a substantial man who should have had enough sense

Following the Flock from Palampur to Chamba

The Second Song, Psalm 23 You don’t know jack shit about sheep, herds or shepherds but this song remains a perennial favorite. The Gaddi were nomadic until they learned to drive taxis, clean and cook for the Tibetans who landed in their hill station little more than 60 years ago, and the Westerners who followed the lamas into the Dhauladhars, high foothills of the Himalayas. Here where I live Gaddi men used to graze huge flocks during the winter. Many still do. Before monsoon and after the snow has melted, shepherds set off in search of sweet grass high up where they will stay until the snows force them once again, along with the lemurs and bears, to retreat to the lower plains where they can interfere in the lives of other wanderers. They and their sheep cross the main road near Palampur, and head across the difficult mountains until they arrive nearly 100 kilometers north in the Chamba Valley--three weeks trekking. Their favored grasslands are near Bharmour where the oldest wooden te

Raise High Your Gates O Jerusalem

The First Song, Psalm 24 7/30/22 Today I sing of construction and death Of making and taking away.   I once heard some angels sing  In plain chant “O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors.” I sat behind the screen, not allowed To see cloistered nuns’ bodies, not even wimples. I could not gaze into their eyes, And had to content myself with  A soft song of return to the City of God. This as close as I was allowed to venture. My carpenter called to say  My doors would have to wait a day. The father of one of the workers died last night And he, a pandit, had to attend to the rituals of death. . I love Sushil.  He works well. His eye is true. His lines are straight and plumb. His doors close and latch. Jerusalem is no more holy than my Indian Jogiwara. The nuns who sang so sweetly believe theirs was the City of God.  Though I never trusted Augustine, I almost did When I heard their soft cry to the Lord. May they sing for Sushil today as he lights the pyre to consume this father

Pluvia Purpura

Facere aliquam luctum nunquam nolo Nec nolo numquam te volui facere dolorem Tantum volo tempore uno te videre ridentes Tantum volo te videre Purpura ridens in pluvia Purpureus imber, pluvia sancta Purpureus imber, pluvia sancta Purpureus imber, pluvia sancta Tantum volo te videre Purpura lavans in pluvia

A Geography of Poets

is all wrong, ed what poets now live where they say they do where they started out where they want to half the midwesterners did time in new york the other half in california only new yorkers write as if they are from new york and mostly they are not the ones in california were wounded elsewhere when they feel better or can't afford the rent they'll go back where they came from this is america you get hurt where you are born you make poetry out of it as far from home as you can get you die somewhere in between the only geography of poets is greyhound general motors rules them all ubi patria ibi bene or ibi bene ubi patria bread out of nostalgia not a lot of it either some of us came from very far maps don't help much Andrei Codrescu

“Dust of Snow”

by Robert Frost The way a crow Shook down on me The dust of snow From a hemlock tree Has given my heart A change of mood And saved some part Of a day I had rued

The Ides of March…

Be fearful of exalted rank, o soul. And if you are unable to subdue your aspirations — doubtingly pursue them and with precautions. And the more you rise, the more examining, the warier be. And when you are arrived at the supreme height of your glory — a Caesar, as it were: when you are become a man so widely famed: then specially be wary — at such time as you come out into the thoroughfares, a noted ruler with great following: if peradventure, from the multitude, some friendly person, an Artemidorus, bringing a paper, should press near to you and rap out sharp “Read this without delay; herein are weighty matters touching you”, fail not to tarry; fail not to postpone all talk or business; fail not to turn off the different hangers-on who bow and scrape, (you will attend to them in time); let even the Senate wait; — leave all, and learn at once the grave things written by Artemidorus. CP Cavafy