Categories
Art Bell's Palsy Disability

Ringing the Bell on Facial Palsy

It’s been four years since I lost my face. The one I was born with. The one in my school photos and in the pre-selfie days of social photos.

I have a new one, it’s true. The eye squinting and tight, the neck muscles straining beisde the affected ear. The grimacing smile, the half-kiss.

I loved to joke and smile and laugh— but now laughter is literally, painful— my smile looks like a grimace, and my attempts to dress up, take into account the state of my face. My voice has changed, speaking becomes tiring, and I sometimes slur my words when overtired or stressed. The headaches are frequent.

I rarely look in the mirror, and reading the accounts of many Bell’s sufferers, very few of us do. I have not only entered my mid-life, but the the invisible life afforded to women of a certain age and appearance.

Learning to live with intrusive stares and comments over the past few years has been a life-changer. i have learned a lot about cultural responses to facial disfigurement and disability. In Canada, people stare but rarely comment, except to ask if i have had a stroke.

British reserve and colonial coldness generally merge, even in the medical profession. When I went to the Emergency Room, I do remember the doctor telling me that our former Prime Minister Jean Chretien and late Quebecois politician, Rene Levesque, had suffered Bell’s Palsy. Not particularly sympathetic or encouraging words for a relatively young woman, even one who is not white. But I see that my non-whiteness has afforded me a level of medical care far below white women of my education and social status.

In contrast, Mexico showed me a different approach to disability— many strangers came to speak to me about Bell’s Palsy, many people reassured me that things would get better, and in a land of stress and poverty, many people had familiarity with bell’s palsy. In a way, it was a relief to be there during the height of my disfigurement. A much kinder environment.

I heard many compliments as my face began to lose the excessive tightness and paralysis, all of which encouraged a mind /body harrmony in the spirit of “getting better”. And indeed, my time in Mexico showed me the resilience of the human body and mind.

A second untreated relapse during a bizarre surgical experience, has resulted in permanent sykenisis. This is a condition of overactive muscles and nerves, where the healing of the previously damaged area has led to “crossed wires”. The solution to pain and tightness is then relaxation of overactive nerves and muscles, not the regeneration of nerves which is the first stage of healing from Bell’s Palsy. About 10-15 percent of people with Bell’s Palsy sustain permanent damage and synkinesis.

Bell’s Palsy has been linked to chronic Lyme disease in the 21st century, but before that, it’s aetiology was rather vague. Often affecting pregnant women, women in labour, small infants, and people experiencing extremely high stress, it’s becoming discussed more and more on Lyme websites and boards. Some famous celebrities have had the more common form of Bell’s— that experienced by 85-90 percent of the afflicted who experience spontaneous healing and regeneration of the seventh facial nerve.

This is the first time I have written about any aspect of my disabilities. And it is an important one, because in our superficial world, we are rarely given a second chance on our appearances. And when such an ethos is fueled by the discriminations of race, sexuality, etc. it is important to face the situation “head on”.

By calling out discrimination based on disability, we begin to envision a world where our faces are as beautiful as our hearts— not our looks.

Categories
Art haiku poetry

The Haiku Way

Is that your face I
see? Or an old map of travels
we took, each alone?

Bussing the Sierra Madre,
two travellers homeless,
dreaming of return.

Sierra Madre, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

River beside us
sand beneath our flip-flopped feet
men we did not know

A River runs through it, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2017

All haiku and artwork, Copyright Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Categories
Art poetry

Signs of Disorder

the new season
eats us
with raw uncertainty
even this weather
has us guessing
night’s frost a riddle

chancing upon a newspaper
a little bit of history
intrigues
between the fullstops
lives collapse and transform
nations turn upon themselves
jobs are lost
wars won
and all our dreams made homeless

everywhere there are signs
of disorder
the streets are no longer clean
we cannot permit oursleves
a fleeting yearning
or despair in this winter
of our politics
but tell me
how do they expect us to forget?

Categories
Art environment

Blood in the Fire: A Cry from the Amazon

Wildfire, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

I’ve been aghast but not surprised to hear about the devastation of the Amazon due to uncontrolled fires set throughout mainly Brazilian territory. I don’t think fire will respect borders either.

I’ve been remembering my own experience visiting the Amazon, a place that had always seemed magical and exotic due to the vast amount of literature I read from Brazil and other South American countries while in my teens and early twenties.

I remember so vivdly seeing the film “Bye Bye Brazil”, a tribute to all the ways of living changed by the domestic colonization and deforestation of the Amazon due to the construction of the Trans Amazonian highway. It’s a fantastically acted story with Brazil’s finest actors and musicians including Jose Wilker and Sonia Braga. I’ve seen it a couple of times. Below I include the theme song from the film, written and composed by Chico Buarque de Holanda—songwriter, poet, novelist and performer, recipient of the Portuguese language’s highest literary award, the Camoes prize (2019).

Bye Bye Brasil

Oi, coração
Não dá pra falar muito não
Espera passar o avião
Assim que o inverno passar
Eu acho que vou te buscar
Aqui tá fazendo calor
Deu pane no ventilador
Já tem fliperama em Macau
Tomei a costeira em Belém do Pará
Puseram uma usina no mar
Talvez fique ruim pra pescar
Meu amor
No Tocantins
O chefe dos parintintins
Vidrou na minha calça Lee
Eu vi uns patins pra você
Eu vi um Brasil na tevê
Capaz de cair um toró
Estou me sentindo tão só
Oh, tenha dó de mim
Pintou uma chance legal
Um lance lá na capital
Nem tem que ter ginasial
Meu amor
No Tabariz
O som é que nem os Bee Gees
Dancei com uma dona infeliz
Que tem um tufão nos quadris
Tem um japonês trás de mim
Eu vou dar um pulo em Manaus
Aqui tá quarenta e dois graus
O sol nunca mais vai se pôr
Eu tenho…
Baby, bye bye
Abraços na mãe e no pai
Eu acho que vou desligar
As fichas já vão terminar
Eu vou me mandar de trenó
Pra Rua do Sol, Maceió
Peguei uma doença em Ilhéus
Mas já tô quase bom
Em março vou pro Ceará
Com a benção do meu orixá
Eu acho bauxita por lá
Meu amor
Bye bye, Brasil
A última ficha caiu
Eu penso em vocês night and day
Explica que tá tudo okay
Eu só ando dentro da lei
Eu quero voltar, podes crer
Eu vi um Brasil na tevê
Peguei uma doença em Belém
Agora já tá tudo bem
Mas a ligação tá no fim
Tem um japonês trás de mim
Aquela aquarela mudou
Na estrada peguei uma cor
Capaz de cair um toró
Estou me sentindo um jiló
Eu tenho tesão é no mar
Assim que o inverno passar
Bateu uma saudade de ti
Tô a fim de encarar um siri
Com a benção de Nosso Senhor
O sol nunca mais vai se pôr

English Translation: Music Match

Bye Bye Brazil

Hi, Honey
I can’t talk for too long
Wait for the airplane to go by
As soon as the winter passes
I think I’ll bring you here
It’s very hot around here
The fan isn’t working
There is already an arcade in Macau
I went by a coast in Bélem do Pará
They put a power plant by the sea
It might make the fishing bad
My love

In Tocantins
The chief of the ‘parintintins’
Got caught up in my Lee pants
I found some roller skates for you
I saw a Brazil on the TV
There might be some heavy rain coming
I’m feeling so lonely
Oh, take some pity on me
A good chance came up
A thing in the capital
Don’t even need to have finished high school
My love

In Tabariz
It sounds just like the Bee Gees
I danced with a sad lady
That had a typhoon in her hips
There’s a Japanese guy behind me
I’ll swing by Manaus
It’s forty two degrees here
The sun is never going to set again
I miss our songs
I miss the countryside and the ‘sertão’
A good thing would be to actually have a truck
My love

Baby, bye, bye
Hugs to mom and dad
I think I’ll hang up
The chips are almost over
I’ll get out of here on a sledge
To the Rua do Sol, Maceió
I got some disease in Ilhéus
But I’m almost well again
In march I’m going to Ceará
With the blessing of my ‘orixá’
I’ll find some bauxite there
My love

Bye, Bye, Brazil
I’ve already put in the last chip
I think about you ‘night and day’
Explain to them that everything is okay
I’m always following the laws
I want to come back, believe me
I saw a Brazil on the TV
I got some disease in Belém
Now everything is alright
But the call is near the end
There’s a Japanese guy behind me
That watercolor has changed
I got a bit of a tan on the road
There might be a heavy rain coming
If feeling like a gilo
I get horny in the sea
As soon as the winter passes
It hits me that I miss you
I’m in the mood for a crab
With the blessing of Our Lord
The sun is never going to set

Submitted by BerimbauBocs on Mon, 08/07/2019 – 01:48

https://lyricstranslate.com

But getting back to my story…The Amazon then, was a place of mystery and exoticism, a place whose story I had been told only by those who tried to destroy and civilize it, not by those for whom it was truly “home.” So when I got a chance to go for work to the Peruvian Amazon, I was over the moon!

I arrived at a small town cleared out of the jungle, on the edge of dense rainforest and river. A town big enough however to have a domestic airport, as trade and security during the ending of Peru’s civil war in the 1990s and the beginning of Peru’s massive involvement with the cocaine trade necessitated better communications and transportation options. I saw a lot of poverty, children on the street, a lot of soldiers, and a highly militarized and masculinized public culture, characterized by much police and army and narco presence (sometimes one and the same!) . I was very surprised as this world was totally new to me.

As I travelled along the edge of the Amazon, I saw too, entire villages devoid of working age men— they had migrated to the city to provide for their families, joined the guerrillas or the narcos, or been taken by the military.

I saw women armed with guns doing civil patrols to prevent kidnapping and incursions into their villages. I met fisherwomen, small famers, and female small livestock producers. I met nurses, teachers and an unofficial village head woman. I met women working in radio communications with communities in the interior of the jungle where radios were used as a common form of communication beween individual people and communities, and between local and central government and the people.
Keep in mind this was about a decade before cell phones were widely introduced, so the radio was a crucial and affordable form of communication for remote communities and local villagers.

But at the same time, I was shocked by how much this part of the Amazon resembles West Bengal, where I was born. Red earth, dense fruit and flowering trees, giant and copious amounts of persistent insects, high humidity, flash flooding, and reliance on sweet water fish as a cheaper form of protein, many, many brown people everywhere—it all disoriented me, and made me feel as though I had been cheated! I never got to be Columbus…

Was the Amazon this exotic and unknowable place that all my reading had made it out to be? Or might the truth be that we have also experienced many other Amazons, forested and magical, full of despised beings, whose glimpses give the colonial mind (whether domestic or international), a sense of rightness in their dominating and civilizing mission?

These multiple Amazons around the world have already fallen victim to the civilizing mission of internal land colonization and even encroachment by multinational mining, logging, and cattle-producing companies. For decades we’ve been hearing that cattle ranchers, soy farmers, oil explorers, etc., are stripping the Amazon of its resources. But the incentives offered by the various levels of governmental agencies, pressures on ranchers to engage in economies “of scale”, the greed for ever higher profit, and the genocidal ethos of anti-indigenous ideology and capitalist development have really come together under the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro.

I have added some links to the situation of indigenous peoples who make the Amazon their home. Additionally, the struggle of environmental advocates and indigenous allies has been under threat for at least half a century. I have included a link about Chico Mendes, whose rainforest activism in the 1980s got him assasinated. And since then there have been countless others killed — to turn every part of the rainforest into a commodity— and not a home. There is blood in the fire. The rainforest and all who dwell in her are bleeding.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chico_Mendes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide_of_indigenous_peoples_in_Brazil

https://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/brazilian

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-48050717

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-49329680

https://www.conservation.org/places/amazonia

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/supreme-court-orders-eviction-of-1-1-mn-forest-families/story-rPWLMeMpABpQGnA3iFyqGP.html?fbclid=IwAR0x1mHnDTmYgokxNj2iUZStN1r7yM50f367IUa8M1600IKb3bqaeJJ6c-g

The drawings in this piece are from a series called “Blood in the Fire”.

Fleeing the Flames, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

When the City Fans the Flames, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Categories
Art music poetry

Skintalker!

These haiku are inspired by music from the 1940s onward. I used to love listening to “latin jazz” and afro-cuban jazz. Years ago, when I had a radio spot, finding music to share was a delight, especially since it was long before the Internet!

Chano Pozo revolutionized American jazz at a time when it was increasingly open to global influences, while at the same time, changing Cuban music forever, with Bandleader and tresero/tumbadora player, Arsenio Roriguez (1911-1970), You can hear him here:

Arsenio Rodriguez, Rumba Guajira

In 1942, Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo collaborated on “Manteca!”, one of the first latin jazz tunes to survive and thrive in the crossover market with mainstream music.

Chano Pozo’s Drums

1.

We can’t help but marvel

each time that syncopation

beats air to feet

2.

Skintalker, Chano

talks to the wood and skin

our feet answer back

Chano Pozo’s Drums, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Merceditas Valdes ( 1922-1996)

was a singer who popularized AfroCuban music both in her home country of Cuba and throughout Latin America. Colloborating for many years with Grupo Yoruba Andabo, she also worked with Canadian flautist and bandleader Jane Bunnet. I even got to see her perform, though she had slowed down quite a bit! Merceditas Valdes got her start at the end of the 1940s and performed until shortly before her death.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7XXKDTiaC0

1.

Old breath of mourning

morning’s arrival takes me

into light, shadow

2.

Your voice like your hands

warm, brown, wrinkled motion

rhythm of the fading havest

Merceditas Valdes, Homenaje a Oshun, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Merceditas Valdes, Oshun 2, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Categories
Art poetry

Rainbow/Arco Iris

The colour Red is a bird with wings that shine.

Yellow, turns into a sunflower.

Grey, the colour of rainy afternoons

when bodies love.

Green, hope yet unreachable.

Blue, the clear melody that cleanses everything in its wake.

Pink, the tongue of a black cat.

And Black, the open arms of night,

although no-one, but the stars,

takes notice.

Arco Iris

El color rojo es un pájaro con alas que brillan.

El amarillo, se convierte en girasol.

El gris, color de las tardes lluviosas

Cuando los cuerpos se aman.

El verde, la esperanza aun inalcanzable. 

Azul, la clara  melodía que deja todo limpio a su paso.

Rosado, la lengua de una gata negra.

Y el negro, los abrazos abiertos de la noche

Aunque nadie, mas las estrellas,

Se da cuenta.

Kaushalya Bannerji, 2016

Categories
Art poetry

Be Like Water

(Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019)

flow, like water

wave, like water

cry, like water

rage, like water

rain, like water

dry, like water

still, like water

one drop, like water

becomes many.

B like Water # 1, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
B like Water # 2, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
B like Water # 4, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
B like Water # 5, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Categories
Art

The cat went here and there and the moon spun round like a top (W.B Yeats)

Cats are amazingly complex creatures. Beautiful, predatory, cuddly, inquisitive and also experts at being lazy. Our cat often enjoys the evenings outside and the moon with me. What her shining eyes see only she knows…

Bijli, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Categories
Art music Refugees

Deportee

The day brings so much more news about ICE, the U.S.Border Patrol, family separation, the dependency of multi-billion dollar corporations on undocumented labour and racism. The buying of citizenship (U.S.A) and the ban on migrants who receive social assistance from becoming citizens (Germany). And in the midst of these conditions, people still love and live, full of dreams, hopes, relationships, and humanity. I happened to be in Mexico during the Obama deportations of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. We met people who had never been to Mexico, but were expected to remake their lives there…. I’ve included a beautiful rendition of Woody Guthrie’s Deportee, covered by the band, The Last Internationale, who were part of discovering the identities of the deportees mentioned in the song! What an amazing tribute.

The following pictures are a meditation on the resilience of migrants and refugees all over the world, but particularly taking inspiration from the flight of the Monarch butterfly whose journey through three countries and beautiful presence in all of them– should be the basis of our thinking about borders. No one is illegal!

Deportee 1, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Deportee 2, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Deportee 3, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Deportee 4, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019
Categories
Art music poetry Social Justice

Duende!

Duende is the word flamenco practitioners and enthusiasts use to name the unnameable— the gooseflesh or shiver that you get when you experience the outpouring of passion and soul that is flamenco…But the soul of flamenco is rooted in its nomadic beginnings in India and its route through West Asia to its hold on Southern Europe, particularly Spain, and even influencing the Fado music of Portugal.

The soul of flamenco is never static. It is both a life giving tree to the Romani communities of France and Spain, under whose shade, their hearts flower, and simultaneously, the blood spilt in hundreds of years of exclusion and journeying, which gives flamenco its poignancy as outsider culture.

Concha Buika y Javier Limon

In the shadow of this

dark and divine night

Over the barrenness

which populates my awakened soul

There sounds a lament,
like a prelude to the dead hours,
hours that pass with the agonies of a slow death.

Silence returns to clothe me in gold, my saint,
the memory of my grandmothers returns
to sweeten my wait,
the records that taught me to adore music return,
my father returns, after 20 years.

Ah! if you returned,
if you returned I’d clothe you in gold, my saint.
I’d quiet everything
so that you could hear my desperate song.

If you returned I’d clothe you in gold, my saint.
I’d quiet everything
so that you could hear my desperate song.
If you returned I’d clothe you in gold, my saint.
I’d quiet everything
so that you could hear my desperate song.
If you returned I’d clothe you in gold, my saint.
Let the world stop turning,
so that you can hear my despairing song. (Buika)

Oro Santo, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Flamenco’s tormented history is part of Spain’s twentieth century struggle between fascism and the rich inclusivity of anarchist and communist dreams for a new Spain. Flamenco is a contrapunto to the corporatist development of Catholic fascism, a liberatory act under the constraints of a militarized state and racist hegemonic culture, in spite of the Spanish state’s efforts to co-opt it.

Latcho Drom, 1993, Excerpt

In the 1990s, I travelled in Barcelona and its outskirts, taking in the magnificent beauty of the architecture, the beautiful Museu Picasso, the colourful patterns of Antonio Gaudi. But the most fantastic experiences were on street corners and plazas, hearing and seeing the flamenco of the streets! I have not heard more beautiful and spine-tingling music than the unexpected howl of the Cante Jondo, in a glimmering twilight full of pigeons, tourists and street performers near the Ramblas.

I got to hear the famed Chico and the Gipsy Kings once many decades ago and was amazed to see the Romani community of Toronto show up in full splendour and with unforgettable duende. The dancing, singing and clapping of the audience was as much part of the performance as “the band”.

Duende then is dialogue, it is call and response and the feel of the soul’s tug in a riff, a step, a rhythm, a voice. Flamenco speaks of loneliness but is never alone, for its very expression needs another– to hear, to interject, to dance, to play, and sing. And it is when this spark catches fire, that make moments of flamenco heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

Romance Sonambulo/Sleepwalker’s Romance by Federico Garcia Lorca

Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.
With the shade around her waist
she dreams on her balcony,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
Green, how I want you green.
Under the gypsy moon,
all things are watching her
and she cannot see them.

Green, how I want you green.
Big hoarfrost stars
come with the fish of shadow
that opens the road of dawn.
The fig tree rubs its wind
with the sandpaper of its branches,
and the forest, cunning cat,
bristles its brittle fibers.
But who will come? And from where?
She is still on her balcony
green flesh, her hair green,
dreaming in the bitter sea.

–My friend, I want to trade
my horse for her house,
my saddle for her mirror,
my knife for her blanket.
My friend, I come bleeding
from the gates of Cabra.
–If it were possible, my boy,
I’d help you fix that trade.
But now I am not I,
nor is my house now my house.
–My friend, I want to die
decently in my bed.
Of iron, if that’s possible,
with blankets of fine chambray.
Don’t you see the wound I have
from my chest up to my throat?
–Your white shirt has grown
thirsy dark brown roses.
Your blood oozes and flees a
round the corners of your sash.
But now I am not I,
nor is my house now my house.
–Let me climb up, at least,
up to the high balconies;
Let me climb up! Let me,
up to the green balconies.
Railings of the moon
through which the water rumbles.

Now the two friends climb up,
up to the high balconies.
Leaving a trail of blood.
Leaving a trail of teardrops.
Tin bell vines
were trembling on the roofs.
A thousand crystal tambourines
struck at the dawn light.

Green, how I want you green,
green wind, green branches.
The two friends climbed up.
The stiff wind left
in their mouths, a strange taste
of bile, of mint, and of basil
My friend, where is she–tell me–
where is your bitter girl?
How many times she waited for you!
How many times would she wait for you,
cool face, black hair,
on this green balcony!
Over the mouth of the cistern
the gypsy girl was swinging,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
An icicle of moon
holds her up above the water.
The night became intimate
like a little plaza.
Drunken ‘Guardias Civiles’
were pounding on the door.
Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea.
And the horse on the mountain.

Translated by William Logan

Original Spanish

Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.
El barco sobre la mar
y el caballo en la montaña.
Con la sombra en la cintura
ella sueña en sus baranda,
verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de fría plata.
Verde que te quiero verde.
Bajo la luna gitana,
las cosas la están mirando
y ella no puede mirarlas.

Verde que te quiero verde.
Grandes estrellas de escarcha,
vienen con el pez de sombra
que abre el camino del alba.
La higuera frota su viento
con la lija de sus ramas,
y el monte, gato garduño,
eriza sus pitas agrias.
¿Pero quién vendrá? ¿Y por dónde…?
Ella sigue en su baranda,
verde carne, pelo verde,
soñando en la mar amarga.

Compadre, quiero cambiar
mi caballo por su casa,
mi montura por su espejo,
mi cuchillo por su manta.
Compadre, vengo sangrando,
desde los puertos de Cabra.
Si yo pudiera, mocito,
este trato se cerraba.
Pero yo ya no soy yo,
Ni mi casa es ya mi casa.
Compadre, quiero morir
decentemente en mi cama.
De acero, si puede ser,
con las sábanas de holanda.
¿No ves la herida que tengo
desde el pecho a la garganta?
Trescientas rosas morenas
lleva tu pechera blanca.
Tu sangre rezuma y huele
alrededor de tu faja.
Pero yo ya no soy yo.
Ni mi casa es ya mi casa.
Dejadme subir al menos
hasta las altas barandas,
¡dejadme subir!, dejadme
hasta las verdes barandas.
Barandales de la luna
por donde retumba el agua.

Ya suben los dos compadres
hacia las altas barandas.
Dejando un rastro de sangre.
Dejando un rastro de lágrimas.
Temblaban en los tejados
farolillos de hojalata.
Mil panderos de cristal,
herían la madrugada.

Verde que te quiero verde,
verde viento, verdes ramas.
Los dos compadres subieron.
El largo viento, dejaba
en la boca un raro gusto
de hiel, de menta y de albahaca.
¡Compadre! ¿Dónde está, dime?
¿Dónde está tu niña amarga?
¡Cuántas veces te esperó!
¡Cuántas veces te esperara,
cara fresca, negro pelo,
en esta verde baranda!

Sobre el rostro del aljibe
se mecía la gitana.
Verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de fría plata.
Un carábano de luna
la sostiene sobre el agua.
La noche se puso íntima
como una pequeña plaza.
Guardias civiles borrachos
en la puerta golpeaban.

Federico García Lorca

Flamenco, Kaushalya Bannerji , 2019
Tony Gatlif, A fantastic Film

Categories
Art poetry

More Haiku!

Loving the haiku today! What a fantastic form. I thought I would share the classics. Here is my favourite, the tender and whimsical Kobayashi Issa:

O snail
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!

Autumn Snail, Kaushalya Bannerji , 2017

Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) is another great haiku master:

I want to sleep
Swat the flies
Softly, please.

After killing
a spider, how lonely I feel
in the cold of night!

Spider 2, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Basho, recognized for centuries as the great haiku exponent, says,

An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

Autumn moonlight-
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.

In the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued hibiscus –
A lovely sunset.

A River Runs Through It, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2017

and Kobayashi Issa again,

Everything I touch
with tenderness, alas,
pricks like a bramble.

Prickly Pear, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2018

And no hypocrisy from these old masters either. I wonder what they would think of the ways in which religions have been commodified and weaponized and devoid of compassion in all corners of the globe. Issa says,

All the time I pray to Buddha 
I keep on 
    killing mosquitoes.

Buddha, Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Steve McCurry
Categories
Art poetry

Haiku

I love the centuries-old tradition of Japanese haiku. Its economical style and breadth of material — observations on the natural, philosophical, and social world are astonishingly profound, and often, wry. It’s refreshing to see the power of seventeen syllables in an age of verbosity with so little to say. While my introduction to haiku has always been in translation, Matsuo Basho and Kobayashi Issa are two of those haiku masters whose poems evoke so much with so little.

The following haiku are by me!

Apiary

All the words we say
sting like angry
bees. Nectar of rage.

Honey

Treacherous syrup
We dove into without war-
ning. Endless bottom.

Comb

Encircled liquid
Protected without mercy
with indifference.

Nightmare

Fear into dream world
faces everywhere with the same
bones gaping. Help!

Way to Winter

Witches’ Sabbath moon
black cat in my warming lap
outside October

Witches’ Moon, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Public Night

Man following with smile
But these days could just as
Well be loaded gun

Glasshouse

Who among us has
not cast the first resentful
stone flying dead true

Worksong

Insecurity
flounders at the crossroads
Ethic of hope still

Worksong II

Hear the voices friends,
never turn down the proffered hand
sleek switchblade disguised.

Flame, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019