Sunday, December 27

A Belated Merry Christmas, and a timely Happy New Year to you

Alden Nowlan (1933-1983)

In Those Old Wars

In those old wars
Where generals wore yellow ringlets
and sucked lemons at their prayers,
other things being equal
the lost causes were the best.

Lee rode out of history
On his gray horse, Traveller,
so perfect a hero
had he not existed
it would have been necessary to invent him—
war stinks without gallantry.

An aid, one of the few who survived,
told him,
Country be damned, general,
For six months these men
have had no country but you.

They fought barefoot
and drank blueberry tea.

The politicians
strung up Grant
like a carrot,
made him a Merovingian.
They stole everything,
even the coppers from Lincoln’s dead eyes.

In those days, the vanquished
Surrendered their swords like gentlemen,
The victors alone
Surrendered their illusions.
The easiest thing to do for a Cause
is to die for it.

Sunday, December 20

“Getting to know you!”

Yes, that’s the title of this note. And, why such a title, you may ask? Well, why not?! It is as good as any subjects you would wish to pick. And since I heard it uttered by a man who was serious about “getting to know” a woman, I thought that it might be a good subject to write a few sentences about. The reason: well, to be quite frank with you, it always baffles me, when people claim that they would like to or wish to “get to know” someone. Because, really, how do you “get to know” someone? And what is that which you call “getting to know” someone? And finally, can you claim that you have gotten to know yourself so well that now you wish to “get to know” the others too?

“Getting to know you,” you silly, silly man!

The man seemed to be well-established—fancy shoes, fancy suits, even fancy vocabulary—polite, interesting, and of course, powerful. He had that thing about him that made the people around him aware of his presence in the room. The woman, she radiated charm and expressed nothing but interest. Bright, red mouth wide open, showing the pearl of the teeth, staring into his eyes, knowing that he was in it, she was enjoying her moment. After all, he wanted to “get to know” her, an impressive task. And why the hell not? She seemed to have everything going for her. Young, exuberant, mysterious, daring, playful, she was the very thing, that which had to be known to the other. And he seemed to be a good catch anyway. A head full of hair, tall, dark and handsome, he seemed such a perfect catch! It was happening in a gathering at a friend’s house

“Getting to know you,” you silly, silly man!

A few of us believed that providence had been at work, but a few of us believed that if that were the case, then the providence was at wrong. But in the scheme of the things, we did not matter. For during the dinner, the process of “getting to know” the other had escalated to a level of intensity that a few of us, including the writer of this note, felt that “love and drama” were definitely in the air!

“Getting to know you,” you silly, silly man!

Coffee-time was now approaching. A few of us congregated in the sunroom, a good opportunity to smoke our cigarettes and share the thoughts on that particular event that
was unfolding in front of our own eyes. Alas, she joined us for a fag. Disappointment all the way, we thought. But, how wrong were we! As soon as her cigarette was lit, she started to talk. And, lo! What a revelation it was!

“Getting to know you,” you silly, silly man, if only you knew yourself!


Sunday, December 6

This week’s poem, Sunrise, is by a very famous Tudor Queen Elizabeth I. Read it, slowly, that’s how you should read any kind of poetry in any written language you can decipher, and see the depth of the self-revelation of a powerful female monarch, whose loyalty to what was under her care surpassed her care for her “other self”.


“I grieve, yet dare not show my discontent;
I love, and yet am forced to seem to hate;
I dote, but dare not what I ever meant;
I seem stark mute, yet inwardly do prate;
I am, and am not—freeze and yet I burn,
Since from myself my other self I turn.

My care is like my shadow in the sun—
Follows me flying—flies when I pursue it,
Stands and lives by me—does what I have done,
This too familiar care doth make me rue it.
No means I find to rid him from my breast,
Till by the end of things it be suppressed.”