safe distance

In the mother’s womb
the child does not know
his mother’s face

nor can she ever know
his face.

The man in the world’s illusion
does not know the Lord

nor the Lord him,

(Dasimayya; translated by A.K. Ramanujan)

The stamp of the reckoned
The stamp of the reckoned
longing for mark, for lift,
for sun

is not a given, it is not
a known.

The longing for this stamp
is foreknowledge

and ignorance of him,


In the garb of tomb
In the garb of tomb
the word will not grieve
its shackled fare

its meddling stock of
livid pairs

of word and anti-word juxt-
a-posed for the benefit

of naught but the Lord,


safe distance
fragments of this poem are in
many hearts; we

care enough to bring the pieces
in synch? we can

try; we can perch ourselves at
a safe distance

above where everything happens,
and that is a

promise to not care but it shall
be in our minds,

a sort of thinking of you but not

The dry bed of a lake

The dry bed of a lake
    steers the course of the
    ragged feet of the river

The stone in dregs of 
    stone of river; where it
    sinks a heart bent & dry

Where it deepens heat
    of a baked rasp of heart
    of a tender deliverance.

It was like a stream
    running into the dry bed
    of a lake,
             like rain
pouring on plants
parched to sticks.

It was like this world's pleasure
    and the way to the other,
    walking towards me.

Seeing the feet of the master,
O lord white as jasmine,
   I was made
(Mahadeviyakka; translated by A.K. Ramanujan)

The dagger sinks in

The dagger sinks in
Where grass has no
Home, where death took leave,
Where the bright claws of rust
Meet corpuscles of greed, lost
& felled, the maker of
Halves and halves not.

I have heard it said that one who excels in safeguarding his own life does not meet with rhinoceros or tiger when traveling on land nor is he touched by weapons when charging into an army. There is nowhere for the rhinoceros to pitch its horn; there is nowhere for the tiger to place its claws; there is nowhere for the weapon to lodge its blade. Why is this so? Because for him there is no realm of death. Lao Tzu.

For what
shall I wield a dagger
O lord?

What can I pluck it out of,
or stab it in

when You are all the world?

O Ramanatha?
Dasimayya, translated by A.K. Ramanujan.

When I didn’t know myself – two takes on Akka Mahadevi

When I didn't know myself
where were you?
Like the colour in the gold,
you were in me.
I saw in you,
lord white as jasmine,
the paradox of your being
in me
without showing a limb.
(Mahadeviyakka; translated by A.K. Ramanujan)

Whence the limb of lost
arbitrage of love?

There dwells the price
of gold in me.

I saw you I think,
lord white as jasmine,
negotiating, settling debts
for me,
otherwise you weren’t there.

Lost in visible 
Gold present in a salient
Me, a ferocious
              mime, mine, lost.

Seeing through
Gold not being not yet
The blueprint of
              gold, dust, lost.

the lotus dithers

The smell of smell in participation,
In visitations by moondusk, by
Heat of sun, by heart of heart.

The breath of breath in the cave
Of cave, by heat of sun; lull in
Beat follows, should I ask now?

The cup of cull, rag of torn:
That too follows beat of beat; ask
Who but the full of red and dew?

Would a circling surface vulture
 know such depths of sky
 as the moon would know?
 would a weed on the riverbank
 know such depths of water
 as the lotus would know?

would a fly darting nearby
 know the smell of Bowers
 as the bee would know?

O lord white as jasmine
 only you would know
 the way of your devotees:
 how would these,

 on the buffalo's hide?

(Mahadeviyakka; translated by A.K. Ramanujan)


if it rains fire
   you have to be as the water;

if it is a deluge of water
   you have to be as the wind;

if it is the Great Flood,
   you have to be as the sky;

and if it is the Very Last Flood of all the worlds,
   you have to give up self

and become the Lord.
(Allama Prabhu; translated by A.K. Ramanujan)
and become the Lord 
    to be dust and do as dust is 

wont to do which is
    to mingle as water, wind, sky

are bookmarked to do
    it says so in their polygraphs

they are not root as 
    yet; the graph is skewed though

and the fire is soot.

creature of the silk noose

Like a silkworm weaving
her house with love
from her marrow,
               and dying
in her body's threads
winding tight, round
and round,
         I burn
desiring what the heart desires.

Cut through, O lord,
my heart's greed,
and show me
your way out,

O lord white as jasmine.
(Mahadeviyakka; translated by A.K. Ramanujan)

Creature of light waits on the shore of laughable possibility, mocked
Revilement of tender song that wails on as if crushed atoms and
Vaporized verse particles could pull off a less than majestic feat, a sonorous
Dissenting dis-chord that fundamentally alters silhouettes and phantasms
While soothing the wail, soothing the loss of traction nurturing a liquid hollow,
Filling the blank, restive space where creature meets creature.

space, body, time

If this is my body 
would it not follow my will? 
If this is your body 
would it not follow your will? 
Obviously, it is neither your body 
nor mine: 
        it is the fickle body 
of the burning world you made, 
(Dasimayya; translated by A.K. Ramanujan)

This is not to say that time and being are
Corpuscles of a tinier, simpler time-being.

It does not follow that the body of error
Is torn by sub-errors by sub-fools in sub-time.

The ravishment of deed is time; it is being.
It is but a remnant of the fabric of thus-ness.

the offal and the bees

Milk is left over
from the calves.
Water is left over
from the fishes,
flowers from the bees.

How can I worship you,
O Siva, with such offal?
But it's not for me
to despise left-overs,
so take what comes,

lord of the meeting rivers.

(Basavanna; translated by A.K. Ramanujan)

the eke, the partial eke, and naught except,
jumps out from

the river dwindling away resource manage
-ment for

naught; wait a little, friend, say a prayer in
solitude, give

some time, the sting of the sun is about to
nestle in any

time now.