Lesser known mystics of South Asia – III

A repost from way back when (Oct. 2013)…

Gathering just-a-bit-o moss

Abu Tukh Al Malanga

Abu Tukh claimed royal lineage from the Pharoah Hatshepsut. His most famous quote was to ‘do unto yourself as you wish yourself to want to do to unto the other.’ He was a perplexed soul, and his perplexity touched souls far and wide. There were not many in the tiny town of Raiwind in mid-thirteenth century who would (or could) lay claim to the Hatshepsut’s lineage, and that was unfortunate since a bit of extra lineaging wouldn’t have done Hatshepsut an itty bit of harm.

It is reputed that Al Malanga wanted to leave behind some sort of a miracle as legacy. Nothing moon shattering, just something to keep the conversation warm when camps of weary travelers settled down in the evening and exchanged tales of ribaldry and zest. He would have liked that. But this offshoot of Hatshepsut’s progeny was to be denied this legacy, and…

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Tao as Lorde

When I speak of the Tao, I know not
but vaguely I

speak of Lorde       the fruit of my wis-
dom is twenty

                  inches too far from soul, twenty
                  years too large, twenty
                  something, perhaps more maybe
                  much less
When I speak of the Tao, I speak of Lorde

for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are — until the poem — nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt

— Audre Lorde, “Poetry is not a luxury”

V I entrances

I turn towards
the ocean
      It seeks my bark

I am the blitz
that carved
      The ocean – in tears

I rowed allowing
for turbulence
      We split hairs in dismay

I tipped
summer to breathe
      Winter caved in – screamed

I am the sol-
vent, the fuse
      Suppose it were true – truest

where is the limb of my poem?

where is the limb of my poem? stare enough at its shadow, and it will pierce through the glue that makes it all song — what kills me not makes me wronger – this ancient war-call, siren-song of augmented unreals — a long silence weathers the cull — the bread is worn with silver — the tryst is harm is old — where is the arm that sips along with kindred stars — what kills me is wont not to hurt-no-more this subliminal effluent bubbling up to guard the darling of ease and calculated arrow of death — a song is littled off into postulate an etch is broken it is told – what kills me is wont not to hurt-no-more this subliminal effluent bubbling up to guard the darling of ease and calculated arrow of death – artful & fully deceived –

purse mouth, purse king

Purse mouth, purse king, pure
deed of the

totally ravenous     rage heart
rage sing, rage

sun of the morning need     purse
shoe, purse

heart, sure song of an unwilled
sage     sage

who? sage mouth, says I of the
hunger raw –

SHEPHERD’S-PURSE by Mei Yao-Ch’en (1002-1060)

People call shepherd’s-purse food of poverty,
think it’s shameful. But I call it a rare treat.

I’ve watched families gather shepherd’s-purse.
They start at National Gate and head south:

carrying lean iron knives, blades rust-eaten,
frost-battered baskets of azure-green bamboo,

they go plodding out, deep into frozen land,
and scrape around there for roots and leaves.

Hands so raw they can’t feed themselves, they
live in hunger, and you’re ashamed to eat it?

Dining on juicy lamb and red-tailed fish, fine
fragrant meats—that, that’s what poverty is.

earth’s ten thousand holes cry and moan

A thousand seething waves sweeping my
gate-path clean

The wind as ruin, no trace of heart, no
wander in the

Bowl of heaven and no one comes here
to visit     just

Some brambles scattering my thoughts
are welcomed –

(More than half of the above – including the title – is straight off or slightly changed from two of Wang An-Shih’s poems translated by David Hinton. Those lines are highlighted below.)

Wang An-Shih‘s poems

Together we climb to this East Ridge lookout on New Year’s Eve
and gaze at the Star River, its length lighting distant forests.

Earth’s ten thousand holes cry and moan. That wind’s our ruin,
and in a thousand seething waves, there’s no trace of a heart.


In bamboo forest, my thatch hut’s among stone cliff-roots.
Out front, through thin bamboo, you can glimpse a village.

I doze all day, all idleness. And no one stops by here to visit.
Just this spring wind come sweeping my gate-path clean.

the poet fiddles

the poet fiddles while the home
burns      fidgets

perhaps      conscience is nuanced
away as neur-

ons vie for supremacy: the ice of
pallor baked

into instinctive reprieve – that is
how you con

science into a cozy little corner of
avowed disbelief –