"We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time." (T S Eliot)
"A dark and chanted verse is what I am." (
Forough Farrokhzad)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

UNREQUITED



I have travelled in rain masked by sunlight.
I have waited through each dreary long year.
I have argued my case with all my might
But my reward seems to be nowhere near.
The world calls me a silly old bugger
Because I reach up for a golden fleece.
Men liked me on the rough fields of rugger,
Women preferred bullion and fake sweet peace.
They sought cheap gems as bribes for their flower
But greed unveiled their lack of real passion.
So I revive to tackle truth's tower
On my own terms, not those of cool fashion.
I climb alone, dogged by hollow blind stares,
For none believe and nobody else cares.


Friday, July 25, 2014

ROSTAM AT RAMSAR

From Tehran go west,
And turn north
By taking the Chalus Road.
Then climb from Karaj –
Arduous and steep:
The challenges
Of hairpin bends,
Thrilling views
Across the barren hills
Of “deer-skin” hues –
Blends of pale brown and dust.
But the pallet expands
With the lie of the lands
As the mountain road winds its way
Past deep valleys
Housing small villages
Surrounded by poplar trees.

The descent down
The other side is breathtaking -
Dominated by unbroken contours
Of lush scenery’s greenery.
On the downhill run
It is as if drivers traverse
Every fertile landscape on earth –
Shrubs stunted but nice
Amongst the snow and ice,
Then conifers reaching up,
Then tall bushes, elms and oaks,
And then swaying palm trees,
Citrus rising in rows,
And flamboyant flowers
Exploding in pixelated bowers.

The slopes level out
For the farms of the narrow plain.
Beyond them is the steely blue sea –
The Caspian coast and its gentle sun,
A sky of fiery sapphires
Set between cumulous clouds.

From Ramsar’s Grand Hotel
The coastline stares back at the traveller –
Its deep green foliage
Studded with palm trees’ fronds;
Friendly grey sands
Speckled with driftwood;
Its rippling waters,
Stained yellow with sunlight by day
And buffed silver by moonbeams at night.

The hotel’s gamboling gardens
Cascade over multi-tiered terraces.
Serene white walls and glossy windows
Contrast with velvety green hills.
Stone cherubs, mystery’s shapes,
Perch on the balustrades
Of the old casino’s verandahs,
Or frolic in the garden beds
And fizzing water fountains.
A shining statue of mighty Rostam
Stands like a legendary sentry
Sent by a mythical king –
Or, more likely, by Ferdowsi himself.
Magnificent Persian lions
Also keep the watch,
Lest the splendour around them
Spoil in the agenda of today.


Friday, July 18, 2014

ANIMAL MAGNETISM

The following paragraphs are taken from early drafts of the sequel to 'Call of the Caracal'.


Embarking on the flight to New Beihai was uneventful for everyone but Sohrab.  Mai did her best to shield him from the bustle of the air station and the rudeness of passengers with no patience for the routine ticket checks and security processes they encountered.  However, the air station authorities were harder to control.  Sohrab’s new passport and his obvious lack of familiarity with the most mundane aspects of cross-border travel were sources of puzzlement for a grizzled old security guard.  His amputated arm was another inexplicable cause for consternation.  Mai was drawn into the discussion and found that her diplomatic passport did not help matters.
Annoyed by the obstructive behaviour and the lack of respect shown to her status Mai sent a brief message via her telephone.  A few minutes later a senior official appeared from nowhere and ushered her and Sohrab past the security gates.  The old security guard shrugged and began to look for someone else to victimise.
Strolling through the air station’s shopping centre made Sohrab uneasy.  The lights and advertising boards screamed messages that were unintelligible for a man of his background.  Semi-naked women and impossibly cut men were everywhere it seemed.  All of them wanted you to buy something but it was never clear what.
The other travellers, meanwhile, were a mixed bunch.  Many of them were older people apparently going somewhere as a group.  Like ducklings following their mother they struggled to keep up with tough-looking young women carrying plastic flags and crude signs.  The women in these groups were dressed as if their bodies were decades younger and they babbled in languages Sohrab had never heard.  On the other hand, the smaller numbers of men were more conservatively attired and they seemed unable to speak.  There were also children of all ages.  Some were in groups and some were being bused on trolleys as if they could not be trusted to walk by themselves.  Others stood by themselves raising the possibilities they had been abandoned or were simply intent on avoiding parental restraint.
Sohrab was mystified by some of the young women.  They wore clothes that barely covered their bodies and actually accentuated their breasts and other feminine attributes.  Some were alone and some were with men who seemed oblivious to the sexual implications of the exhibition around them.  Many of the men wore short trousers and singlet shirts that revealed gaudy tattoos and piercings designed to accommodate various items of adornment.  Women in their prime wore somewhat less revealing outfits but they seemed to favour stretch fabrics that, from Sohrab’s sheltered perspective, made it easy to imagine them naked.
Mai was, Sohrab realised, in what seemed to be her working clothes.  He had long ago decided that he definitely preferred her company to the brusque police officers who had escorted him to Mai’s office and then taken the pair of them to the commercial precincts of the air station.  When they were finally on board the flight, Mai undid a button or two and loosened her shirt, exposing more of her midriff, and then slouched back into the leather seat next to Sohrab.
“I am sorry about all the drama.  Air stations are terrible places.  I hope it was not too unsettling for you.”  Mai spoke with the strange combination of an air of authority and an underlying sense of concern for her companion.  “The flight itself is just long enough to be tedious.  But do not worry.  There will be drinks, if you want them, and passable food in large amounts.  The audio-visual system might also keep you amused.”
Sohrab stared at all the buttons and switches on the arms of his chair.  Like a boy flying for the first time, he chose the brightest button and pushed it.  An electronic screen rose up from somewhere beneath his thighs and flashed into life, barking indecipherable instructions and showing photographs of what Sohrab took to be means of payment for whatever was on offer.  He wished he could put the bothersome piece of machinery back where it belonged.
Mai watched in wonder at first but could not resist giggling a little at Sohrab’s bewilderment.  Instinctively she reached across with the intention of placing her hand on the lower portion of his left arm so she could gently offer to help him with the dazzling array of instrumentation that was embedded in his seat.  She blushed when her hand found nothing and, silently, she chided herself for her thoughtlessness, hoping that Sohrab was too distracted to notice.
“Once we are airborne, I will help you.  It will be fun.  I promise you.”  Mai fluttered her eyes as she spoke and immediately reminded herself to be more circumspect lest Sohrab misinterpret her flirty kindness.  A few seconds later, as Sohrab fired a bashful grin at her, Mai’s inclination towards caution was almost forgotten but she reminded herself that she was on a work mission regardless of the animal magnetism of its key person.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

SMOULDERING

When the brutal sou’westerly booms cold
With shivers from the snows upon the range,
And the beach lies lonely where once I strolled,
Some thoughts of you might bring on climate change.
I recall the tingle of your soft mouth
And kind cuddles gifted only to me.
Memory usurps glacial gusts from the south
And pictures make me long for us to be
Together on the shores of low tide’s seas
Where we can wend our way under the sun
And watch blue waves curl to a gentle breeze
That rouses sea gulls as they make their run.
But now imagination must suffice
As I paddle alone in pools like ice.