Do You See?

“I feel so mutated, sad, so breezed, so revivified, and still so unabdicated”

Damn! I got rapped hard on the knuckles and was called ‘anti-lyrical’. No, no, it’s not any of you who are so kind to leave comments on my blog every now and then. It’s one of the lurkers who’d rather email or use a spam to make a point. Anti-lyrical. Anti-sun-moon-stars-dew-moonlight-sigh-green grass-blue sky-flowers-and what have you. Anti-love. Anti-emotions. Anti-sugar and spice and all that’s nice.


But how can that be true? Go look at the poems I’ve been posting. Including Dorothea Grossman’s poem that specifically recalls the desired person’s “ears” in the sun!

It seemed to have been triggered by my Neruda post. But those are Neruda’s best known lyrical, love poems. I did make a point about people “prone to heartaches”. But that was just a joke. We all have a heart that does ache now and then, although I’m told it’s the doing of the brain. Okay, okay, I won’t sound any more science here.

To atone for my slip, I take recourse to Kenneth Koch, from my favorite New York School of Poetry.

You have to agree, if you don’t have the faculty to laugh at times, lyrically speaking, you can’t brand me a philistine! Koch’s humor, irony and startling images are just what I need as a rejoinder tonight.

And I’m giving you double poems at that! All in the name of love!



In Love with You”

O what a physical effect it has on me
To dive forever into the light blue sea
Of your acquaintance! Ah, but dearest friends,
Like forms, are finished, as life has ends! Still,
It is beautiful, when October
Is over, and February is over,
To sit in the starch of my shirt, and to dream of your sweet
Ways! As if the world were a taxi, you enter it, then
Reply (to no one), “Let’s go five or six blocks.”
Isn’t the blue stream that runs past you a translation from the Russian?
Aren’t my eyes bigger than love?
Isn’t this history, and aren’t we a couple of ruins?
Is Carthage Pompeii? is the pillow the bed? is the sun
What glues our heads together? O midnight! O midnight!
Is love what we are,
Or has happiness come to me in a private car
That’s so very small I’m amazed to see it there?
We walk through the park in the sun, and you say, “There’s a spider
Of shadow touching the bench, when morning’s begun.” I love you.
I love you fame I love you raining sun I love you cigarettes I love you love
I love you daggers I love smiles daggers and symbolism.
Inside the symposium of your sweetest look’s
Sunflower awning by the nurse-faced chrysanthemums childhood
Again represents a summer spent sticking knives into porcelain raspberries, when China’s
Still a country! Oh, King Edward abdicated years later, that’s
Exactly when. If you were seventy thousand years old, and I were a pill,
I know I could cure your headache, like playing baseball in drinking-water, as baskets
Of towels sweetly touch the bathroom floor! O benches of nothing
Appear and reappear—electricity! I’d love to be how
You are, as if
The world were new, and the selves were blue
Which we don
Until it’s dawn,
Until evening puts on
The gray hooded selves and the light brown selves of . . .
Water! your tear-colored nail polish
Kisses me! and the lumberyard seems new
As a calm
On the sea, where, like pigeons,
I feel so mutated, sad, so breezed, so revivified, and still so unabdicated—
Not like an edge of land coming over the sea!


To You”

I love you as a sheriff searches for a walnut
That will solve a murder case unsolved for years
Because the murderer left it in the snow beside a window
Through which he saw her head, connecting with
Her shoulders by a neck, and laid a red
Roof in her heart. For this we live a thousand years;
For this we love, and we live because we love, we are not
Inside a bottle, thank goodness! I love you as a
Kid searches for a goat; I am crazier than shirttails
In the wind, when you’re near, a wind that blows from
The big blue sea, so shiny so deep and so unlike us;
I think I am bicycling across an Africa of green and white fields
Always, to be near you, even in my heart
When I’m awake, which swims, and also I believe that you
Are trustworthy as the sidewalk which leads me to
The place where I again think of you, a new
Harmony of thoughts! I love you as the sunlight leads the prow
Of a ship which sails
From Hartford to Miami, and I love you
Best at dawn, when even before I am awake the sun
Receives me in the questions which you always pose.

Ooh, now that was some bonanza, wouldn’t you agree. And for my anti-anti-lyrical friend/s, Koch’s poetry should be a good learning point, which it is for me, in all seriousness, because “I feel so mutated, sad, so breezed, so revivified, and still so unabdicated”, having read his work.

Honestly, time one rethinks language, and what is lyric, and what is lovely.


Found a few old photographs of my poetry. How, you ask, can there be a photograph of poetry? Well, when I was in New Delhi in the summer of 2010 as an Associate Fellow with Sarai-CSDS — the only writer bunched with artists, filmmakers, sculptors, videographers, etc. — for our first open house, my artist friends and I had cut up my poetry, literally. Then we placed it piecemeal over a tall wooden plank (“poetry door”), made it into origami, and strung it bit by bit across the low ceiling. Here’s a glimpse:

Strung up poetry in the forest of night:

Cut up motifs of a strange origami:

Enter the “Poetry Door”:

One can view other associate fellows’ works HERE. All very exciting and innovative. And here’s a photograph of mine from the reading during the fellowship. Wearing peacock feather earrings! Ha, ain’t that sweet and lyrical!


“If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.” (Sonnet 116)


12 comments on ““I feel so mutated, sad, so breezed, so revivified, and still so unabdicated”

  1. rohith003
    June 6, 2012

    Read it aloud…that my roommates woke in the middle of their sleep.
    Read it so loud…that i felt like reading it again and again before i weep

    Lovely poem Nabina. I like it very much…would like to make some of the lines as fb status.

  2. Do You See
    June 6, 2012

    Which one? Did you read the first poem? It’s quite read-out-able. And well, if roommates woke up to hear a Kenneth Koch poem, so be it! Go ahead, but credit the lines to Koch. That way everyone reads him, if they find the lines resonating with them.
    I believe you found the poem quite innovatively lyrical — I mean even if I won’t weep, the poetry is moving, right? The lesson here is how KK is turning around the cliches altogether, creating his own witty vocabulary, and more … Thanks for reading, Rohith!

    • rohith003
      June 6, 2012

      I see that…yeah! Innovative is the word for this poet…how she uses the words and sounds…lovely! And yes…i also love the second poem. Been practising reading poetry infront of the mirror these days.
      And this poem is of great taste. I like it 🙂

      • Do You See
        June 6, 2012

        Rohith, KK is a man. He. Click on the name above in the post, it will take you to Koch’s bio on Poetry Foundation. Do read.

      • rohith003
        June 7, 2012

        Oops. Okay…will check this man now.

  3. Sausan Reads
    June 6, 2012

    Lovely blog, Nabina. Poetic in its sensibilities overall and to an observer, extremely lyrical in its flavour. x

  4. Do You See
    June 6, 2012

    O-M-G, Sue! How lovely lovely to have you here. Sheesh, I wish I’d written this post better now… Delighted, absolutely. You know I can’t really write these lecture blogs, that too about poetry and writing. Just some thoughts, my own grappling with it all. Keep coming and I’m gonna check out your site, asap. Hugs, Sue – N
    And big XX!

  5. Mihir Vatsa
    June 7, 2012

    Too much lubh flowing. 😉

    Like the second part of the first poem. Very nice! The second one I like better! keep ’em coming! 😀

  6. Do You See
    June 7, 2012

    Kenneth Koch is inimitable! He makes me laugh as well as reflect deeply on some of the images he uses. NY School poets are too good 🙂

  7. holy cow
    June 8, 2012

    Hey, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, very good blog!

  8. holy cow
    June 8, 2012

    Amazing blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused .. Any suggestions? Appreciate it!

  9. Do You See
    June 8, 2012

    Holy Cow is a spam…but how kind that stranger’s comment is!

    And if it is a real person trying to comment, my suggestion would be to leave Internet Explorer and start using Google Chrome. So far, hassle-free and smooth. As for writing tips, just keep writing and more than that, read the best, always. And discuss and face critique with a thick skin. If you can’t take that, no point writing… Yes, wordpress is fine to use.

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This entry was posted on June 5, 2012 by in Kenneth Koch, Nabina Das, New York School, poetry, Sarai-CSDS, Sonnet 116.
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