Thursday, June 06, 2019

AND DID THOSE FEET?


And did those feet in ancient times
Walk upon Kashmir rolling hills?
And did some Brahmin from the jungle climes
Instruct Him in the Vedic skills?
And did Neil Armstrong really tread,
Upon the rocky, lunar face?
And were those famous words, famously read
Upon the moon, or in some other place?
Within some secret basement room
Were pictures cunningly contrived
To seem as if men walked upon the moon
(Who jumped and hopped and leapt and dived?)
Who was the author of Macbeth?
Did Francis Bacon bear the pen?
Or was it through Kit Marlowe life-in-death
That Will became the pseudonym?
Who said the earth was really round?
How can we know it isn flat?
Have Darwin cogitations really found
That man a mammal? (like a rat!)
Did Einstein truly conquer time
And space (through relativity?)
Or was such hybris deemed a fatal crime
Against our primitive ennui?
13

Monday, April 15, 2019


CLIMBING TO TAKTSANG
                                                                                                                                                                                   Some of the things she says,
They stay with me.

When we were together in Bhutan
I remember her breezing up to the top
Of Taktsang: the Tiger’s nest,
In spite of hidden tumour.

She laughed when I told her I’d thought the Korean nuns
Were men.

I labored to the top too, my years and body fat, grave impediments;
Like the weight of karma.
She could have walked and didn’t need
The horse, but took it for my sake.
********
Some of the things she did, they stay with me.
Her laugh.
Her smile.
Her sense of wonder in the caves of Nepal.
Her attentive devotion
To Guru Rinpoche.

In Kopan, she said out loud
That to be a nun
Would be a beautiful thing.
Yet sad for some, I thought.

I made her angry in Bhaktapur
And in Paro
She took money from the ATM
Thinking I might leave her like a stone
To sink.

I wouldn’t do that.

In Bodhanath we were blessed
By Tibetan wise men
And by Therevada monks
In Koh Samui.

Our dharma is surely intertwined?
But where will the string of karma lead
Save to more suffering?

Better to suffer with her
Than without?

*********
I loved you in the Himalayan caves;
I loved you in the mountains of Lampang.
I loved you as the Guru’s healing waves
Of love consumed us climbing to Taktsang.


I love you as an emanation of
Yoginis from the Dharmakaya field.
A Yeshe Tsogyal filled with burning love
Transporting Gurus to the battle field.

I loved you in the Koh Samui sun,
I loved you on the sweet Gangetic plains.
I love to see you smile and having fun
I love to feel you ease life’s secret pains.

I loved you through the rains of Kathmandu,
I loved you as a thousand mantras sang
Around the jagged clifftops, as we drew
Closer to the temples of Taktsang.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

My long poem: "The Miracle".


THE MIRACLE
By
John Wallen


PART ONE: Meet Hari Chand
Hari Chand—investigative journalist
Determined to illuminate
The terminal decline of Bharat;
With a special roving commission
From Anil Patil,
Concerned kshatriya of Maharashtra
Province: late professor of dermatology
At Jizan Health College,
Saudi Arabia,
Now expatriated to New Zealand;
Living along the outreaches
Of the Western world,
In Tauranga,
Dispensing
Ayurvedic remedies
To dissipated Europeans


O where did it all go wrong?


When Patanjali’s sutras
Explained the Vedic scheme
Siddharta’s wheel of Dharma
Already ruled supreme.
While Krishna and Arjuna
Discussed the pith of life
The chariots of ignorance
Disseminated strife.
At Vulture’s Peak, the Buddha
Revealed the Tantric path;
But my dear friend, Anil Patil,
Only makes me laugh!


The Mughals came
The Mughals built;
Shah Jihan, to his cost
Spent all his wealth on Mumtaza
Until his realm was lost.
In latter days he viewed “the Taj”
Through iron prison bars
Incarcerated by a son
Who’d kicked him in the arse.


Caste, Caste, Caste, Caste;
Caste deflated India…
If I can’t touch you,
And you can’t touch me,
How happy can we ever be?


Brahmin priests and all their rituals,
Friends to the worldy ones,
Undid India.


Brahma. Vishnu. Shiva.
Did you ever really need them?
Brahma created without their incantations.
Vishnu, Krishna, Buddha,
Sustained and enlightened, indifferent to their technical mumbo-jumbo:
Shiva’s dance of death destroys, regardless of Brahminical threads and pride


Pride destroyed India.
And yet,
Avalokiteshvara’s infinite compassion still abounds; His thousand arms waiting                                  To rescue all sentient beings from the chains of their ignorance,                                                          Into the Sambhogakaya :                                                                                                                      The Buddhafield.


Om Mani Padme Hum.


**************


I watched a snake charmer’s cheap trickeries
Outside Rajghat.
He wanted money.
Is it possible that one who is able to control
The dancing snake head
Can be in need of a few coppers from me?


O dissolute nation
Who had everything the world systems can provide,
But threw it all away--
What price must you pay
For your own unvirtue?


Hari Chand’s a secret guy;
You’ll find him in the bar,
Listening to private talk
(Not near, nor yet too far).
Whenever India’s discussed,
He’s got it on his mind
That something just might be picked up
Explaining her decline.
And as we know, he works for one
Inextricably bound
To the travails of Bharat and
The Ganges’ rushing sound.
It’s good to know that even when
Anil is in his dreams
Hari Chand is on the case
And life’s not what it seems.






PART TWO: Delhi Musings


I spent some time in Delhi’s maze
Of beggars, rickshaws, bikes and shit;
And everywhere I felt the gaze
Of those who would abandon it


A mother with her bundled child,
Tapped upon the moving glass.
Her eyes roamed, desperate and wild,
And wouldn’t let me pass.


I offered up some gift of notes
And suddenly there came
A hundred more in tattered coats
And each one had no name.




I looked upon their greedy eyes,
Then waved the driver on;
And inwardly, without surprise,
I felt compassion gone.
***********


The poor and desolate are our friends,
They teach us generosity;
Let’s love our enemies better than our relatives
(As those who hate us give an opportunity for the practice of patience).


Perhaps one day I can become wild and homeless myself,
Though without the unmindfulness of a Delhi street beggar;
No, no, but with the green tinge of an enlightened Milarepa
Seeing beyond the limitations of
Nirmanakaya.


**************


Ashkhardan is beautiful
And, in just five years,
Volunteers built its stone temple
In the old way, fashioned from the imagination and love,
Without steel and iron.
Krishna consciousness pervades the essence.
Om Hari Krishna
Om Hari Krishna
Om Om Om


Hari Chand is on the case. He sees all, but says little. Everything is placed in the balance.
Dr. Anil will have his answer.






PART THREE: Dr. Anil in Motion and Still Life
Dr. Anil gave up all his glamour
When he travelled to Jizan.
Nevertheless,
He tried to show the Jizanis,
Through an innate pride in his nation,
The glory of the Vedas:
What they are, had been, and ever would be.
Even when they scoffed,
And asked him if the sacred cow had been his mother,
He persevered,
Watching old movies about Gods and Avatars
In his pleasing home,
Surrounded by a loving family:
His wife, Priyanka,
And blessed daughter Vishakha
Who, as the reincarnation of Anil’s maternal grandmother,
Was (somehow) close to Shiva
Lord of the dance.


Dr. Anil, disciple of Shankacharya,
Why did you come to Jizan?
Get away as quick as you can!
Talking’s just a barrier
To the enlightenment of man.


Leave it all to Hari… Hari Chand.
Hari’s built for sniffing out the meaning of life,
And the reasons for strife.
He’s a smooth operator
And sooner or later
He’ll find out all you want to know
Of virtue, knowledge, death and View:
He’ll show you what to do,
Explain the transcendental light
Of wisdom, just for you.


Om Hari Hari Chand.


Take refuge in the Hari.




PART FOUR: Vulture’s Peak


Rajgir was the setting for
The Dharma’s second spin:
The prajnaparamita core
Of emptiness within.
Thus have I heard: at Vulture’s Peak
The Thusly-Gone one taught
All aspirants who truly seek
To find a secret thought.
“Nam m’yoho renge kyo”:
The blessings showered down;
The diamond and the lotus show
The heart within the crown.
Assembled Boddhisattvas watched
Shunyata’s face arise
From Union with Emptiness
(And in the Buddha’s eyes).
Oh India you were not fit
To learn the Tantric truth
From Uddiyana’s great pandit
(Nor Krishna’s guileless youth).
Ganges, Yamuna, Saraswat:
Sweet Gangetic plains!
Holy rivers of Bharat,
Filled by monsoon rains!
Why did the flowing Dharma cease?
Why was the Tantra dumb?
Why did that mighty soul decrease?
Why didn’t Moksha come?
Why did the Buddha at Rajgir
Decide to hide the truth,
From India and all the world,
In Nagar serpent tooth?
Oh why is Ramakrishna’s faith,
Nandranath’s noble jewels,
Diluted by some Pretan wraith
Into a billion fools?


PART FIVE: Hari Reports Back to Anil


Slowly,
Anil rebuilds his life in Tauranga;
And even Vishakha,
And his dear departed grandmother
(Who now holds a New Zealand passport),
Is/are content.


Life is good.


Furthermore,
Hari Chand’s report
Has just arrived from Delhi, giving meaty food for thought.
According to Hari
Life is a bitch
And we just have to try and get over it.


Anil (on the whole) finds himself in concurrence with these noble sentiments.


Om Tat Sat!


© John Wallen









Tuesday, March 05, 2019

I have started a Poetry Podcast.

Check it out!

https://www.buzzsprout.com/admin/stats/podcasts/263481

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Monday, August 05, 2013

Monday, July 30, 2012




FOUCAULT'S HISTORY OF SEXUALITY

I always loved reading Foucault for the alternative slant he gives you on things: you don't necessarily always agree with him--but he is always intellectually stimulating. In particular, I admire him for his anti-statist points of view. Big brother is watching: but most of us are not fully aware of just how great the surveillance is-- and Foucault, in this respect, can be an eye-opener.
I wasn't sure what I'd get from this late work: but the themes are much the same as elsewhere in Foucault. He is concerned with the way the state uses sex--or sexuality as he prefers it--to control bodies. He begins, contradictorily, by negatively critiquing the most prominent discourse on sex in the twentieth (and twenty-first) century: the state does NOT want to repress sex to consolidate its own power so as to stop emotional libertinism from getting out of hand and causing a rebellion. Rather (according to Foucault), the power of the state wishes to direct the multiple discourses on sex in order to control its power. Repression would be too simplistic a tactic. Foucault moves into uncharted territory as he begins to make his essential argument that since the Enlightenment, the great confinement and emphasis on a sterile medicalization of discourse, the state has had to look at the big picture of what it wants when it comes to population, birth control, demographics, genetics, etc. Clearly, many of the most essential areas for state control are bound up with sexuality in one way or another. In these circumstances the state has found it expedient to medicalize the ever increasing number of discourses on sex. Therefore sexuality has become, essentially, discourse-based at the present time: more so than at any other point in history--and the ones who can control the discursive debates on sexuality will have the real power. Often, there is a hegemonic and Gramscian aspect to Foucauld's ideas, where the superstructure of a society begins to work in an independent and subliminal manner, unconscious of its adherence to state power structures. For example, though Foucauld doesn't say it directly, one conclusion to be drawn from the way the state may wish to regulate the sexual activities of its citizens could be to encourage gay people to "marry" (gay marriage) within the existing structures as this is better than having them "infect" the demographic equation, having biological kids, mentoring them with advice based on tolerance, anti-state ideas etc., which would destabilize the rules-based heterosexual production of compliant children. Perhaps Foucault felt this quite deeply as a gay writer himself--or as a writer who happened to be gay. According to Foucault, the state surrounds us with so many discourses about sexuality because this is something hidden that must be made known for the state to manifest full control. Keeping an individual and silent space for sexuality would be to escape the power of the state as it would no longer know what its citizens were doing in this potentially explosive area. Therefore, the state prefers to have all the fantasies and compulsions out in the open where the medical industry can classify it into "appropriate" and "abnormal" behavior. In a sense, secret discourses about sex is what the state fears most as its control would no longer be guaranteed over people as individual agents took responsibility for their own lives and went off in different moral directions. For the state, it is essential that "sexuality" remains monolithic even though the discourses about it must constantly multiply in order to keep things under control. According to Foucault, one concomitant of this is that the state encourages us to define our essential nature in terms of our sexuality--a way of submitting one's essential bodily reality to the supervision of the state. In a society regulated by psychiatrists and psychotherapists who are (hegemonically) encouraged to convince us that all aspects of our lives and nature are founded on sexual impulses, there can be no escape for the tormented, individual psyche which, when it tries to revolt, is quickly brought back into the sheep pen by whichever discourse on sex can best indicate the subliminal sexual impotence of the subject. Foucauld makes it clear that beyond the needs of this bio-power of sex, there is no independent logic or reason for people to define their essential natures in terms of sexuality; no more than there would be for them to define it in terms of musical taste or personal diet preferences. In a more neutral place, our sexuality would just be one aspect of who we are: but the modern "bio-state" wishes to convince us that everything we do, everything we are, can be traced back to our sexuality--as this is the most effective way of controlling large numbers of regulated bodies.
Volume 1 was an exciting trip. I fancy vols. 2 and 3 might be a little slower, with their emphasis on the uses of pleasure in classical antiquity.