RAGAS: A MUSIC-IMPRESSION POEM

Ragas

Ravi Shankar/Ali Akbar Khan

Scott ____

Rag Palas Kafi

The rain puddle grows deeper, in the darkness.  And swimming microorganisms consume one another, within it.  As an abandoned dog, we dash through the puddle in pursuit of a rival.  As a speeding driver, we slow to a near stop, fearing the puddle will damage our car.  As a jogger, we curse the puddle for soiling our shoes.  As frogs, we find the puddle, and begin chirping around it.  As neighbors, we wonder at this frog-song–how it rises in volume, even above a distant train.  As a child, I envision my backyard a sea of water, rather than grass–even beneath my swingset.  And a cruise ship passes through it.  And its passengers wave and greet me, to which I wave and greet in kind.

Rag Bilashkani Todi

Few piano lounges remain–they seem to have gone with the 70’s.  But I find one, upon first moving to Pensacola.  Driving Interstate 10, I go too far, and take an exit to turn around–just in time, before crossing a bay.  There’s a Dairy Queen on one side of this road, and a Ramada Inn on the other.  I park at the Ramada, and wander inside to find a piano lounge with a wooden dance floor.  A portly man plays the baby grand, his skill unlike any I’ve ever encountered.  I find a young woman above my age.  We dance slowly, more and more closely–till I feel her heart racing in rhythm with mine.  Yet her date returns.  And she returns to him, before I even get her name.  I turn to the pianist, and put all my cash into the tip vase.  And the hurt behind my smile he acknowledges in his.  For he’s seen this scene before, on this wooden dance floor–this wooden stage.

Rag Ramdas Malhar

She folds a multicolored quilt, a gift of her late grandmother–and returns it to the hope chest she’s had since age twelve.  Her house is tiny, but plentiful.  Thanksgiving approaches, and she’ll be dining at her Aunt Sophie and Uncle Mark’s house again–since that’s where her parents will be.  Last year, she sat alone most of the time, on a first-floor sofa.  Before her was a massive TV screen.  And above her was a balcony, connecting one side of bedrooms with another.  There were only two stories, but could easily have been three.  She rose to the ceiling, in spirit–and saw herself in a department store.  Remembering this, she sits on her bed, and prays:  My Creator, I cannot be grateful I’m spending another Thanksgiving Day at Aunt Sophie and Uncle Mark’s.  But I can be grateful I don’t live there.  For though their house could hold six the size of mine, I wouldn’t trade it.  My Creator, I am grateful, not for what I have–but for what I don’t have.  Amen.

Rag Malika

You seem alive, as if softly beckoning me to adorn and caress you with words.  And so I do.  My pencil-tip is like my hand, with which I toussle your hair.  I trace your face, as if blind, and you twitch with a smile–it tickles.  And I continue down your neck to your breasts.  I circle your nipples, and they grow, almost matching the size of my fingertips.  Then my palm rests, below your breasts–to conduct your warmth for a while.  Yet when my finger finally navigates your navel, you don’t sense it as well as I.  So my hand slowly moves beyond your belly, toward that place once forbidden me.  And though my pencil-tip stops at the end of this raga, my hand continues moving in celestial silence.

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