Wednesday, November 09, 2016

People have a Native Sympathy for Crooks

Double up with laughter, regale the tale,
or play the wit, add eye-popping details,
rejoice at the dolt who trusts the cheats,
marvel at the idioms used for deceits,
they lie to you, never write it in books,
people have a native sympathy for crooks.

Pick any epic, romance, any heroic tale,
entertainment follows a scoundrel's trail.
Be it for jest, or suspense, or raw charm
or to seduce a duchess at a duke's farm,
its him, its his cunning that the world salutes,
people have a native sympathy for crooks.

He often inspires more than a cheeky grin,
a hope in Joe or Jane, who're poor but alive,
who do what they can do, to just survive:
bribe and steal, use every conceit, lie, sin.
All find it titillating to hoodwink the sleuths,
people have a native sympathy for crooks.

Is mischief charming, is it a Freudian thing?
Do joys ensue from an addictive suffering?
Every holy book spends most of it rhymes
in detailing human failings or sinful times.
Why do we prefer wine over fruit juice?  
People have a native sympathy for crooks.

Movie audience bursts with awe or guffaws
as he partakes the best lines, guilty pleasures
throughout the saga, he, the breaker of laws
controls the reins, the keys to all treasures.
Only in the climax, unconvincing he looks,
people have a native sympathy for crooks.

Not Jesus or Buddha, but Krishna, Zeus, Dionysus
proclaimed that the life's sauce is Baronesque.
The crafty seem to win, while the honest wait
for karmic redemption, for delayed gifts, grace.
As they know, in the end, he'll going to loose,
people have a native sympathy for crooks.

(First draft Jan 2014)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Proposal, 14th February 2013 (by a Romantic Academic)

Darling, on this Valentine's day,
all night and day, I worked on a proposal.
Each word chosen carefully, promise
after promise, crafted with more heart
than Rodin put into his sculptured art.
I worked on a proposal, brought forth
from the deepest recesses in my memory
ideas, idioms, examples that were apt, stark
and phrase after phrase, page after page,
I sung like a lark. Darling, let me sleep now,
if they fund my proposal, I will be at your disposal
the next Valentine's day.

(In honor of the academic owl
who works through the night
without fail, without a scowl).

(Imagined first as a poem from my colleague and friend Randy Ewoldt.He was finalizing his research proposal in a conference hotel, and kept working on it through the night).
14th Feb 2013

Friday, January 01, 2016

Books read in 2016

Read in 2016 (46 = 32 + 14; NF 10
FICTION IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION --  (6): South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami,  The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco, Therese Raquin by Emile Zola, Fountain and Tomb by Naguib Mahfouz, Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino, Life's Good Brother by Nazim Hikmet [translated from Turkish by Mutlu Konuk Blasing],

NOVEL / FICTION IN ENGLISH (11): Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, 41 Stories by O Henry, Native Son by Richard Wright, Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott, Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

POETRY IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION (2): Selected Poems by Francis Ponge, The Selected Poetry of Ranier Maria Rilke [Translated by Stephen Mitchell], 

POETRY IN ENGLISH (8): A Street of Clocks  by Thomas Lux, Mystery, So Long  by Stephen Dobyns, The Emperor of Water Clocks by Yusef Komunyaka, To the Left of Time by Thomas Lux, Tracer Particles by Allison Joseph, Neon Vernacular by Yusef Komunyakaa, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, Selected Poems by W. B. Yeats,

PHILOSOPHY / RELIGION / MYTHOLOGY / HISTORY (5): The Histories by Herodotus (translated by)),   Bhagavad Gita (sermons by Mahatma Gandhi), The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology by Joseph Campbell, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

POPULAR SCIENCE / ECONOMICS (1): (A History and Philosophy of Fluid Mechanics by G. A. Tokaty)
NON-FICTION - OTHER (4): (I am OK, You are OK by Thomas A. Harris), The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry,  My Kumaon by Jim Corbett, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi,

MAHABHARATA (by Mahrishi Ved Vyas; translated from Samskrit into English by Kisari Mohun Ganguly) (0/18):

Hindi / Urdu / Punjabi (Fiction/Mythology: 4 + Poetry: 2 + Non-fiction: 1): Jhoota Sach: Desh ka Bhavishya by Yashpal, Talkhiyan by Sahir Ludhianvi, Neem Ka Ped by Rahi Masoon Raza, Meghadoot: Ek Purani Kahani by Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Seemayen Toot-ti hain by Shrilal Shukla, Aashad ka Ek Din by Mohan Rakesh, Rashmirathi by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar,

Sanskrit (Fiction: 0+ Poetry: 2): Bhagavad Gita by Maharishi Ved Vyas, Meghdoot by Kalidas

(If I am through more  than 50% of the book, it goes into the list of the year past, otherwise it appears in the new list next year. See here for the books read in 2015, with a selection of my favorite reads from the year past.)

Favorite reads of the year 2016
1. Life's Good Brother by Nazim Hikmet: The novel set in early twentieth century is similar to Nazim's great work Human Landscapes: multiple characters and stories, knitted together across multiple decades, the narrative goes back and forth in time with relative ease.
2. Native Son by Richard Wright,  
3. Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe,  
4. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan  
5. Neon Vernacular by Yusef Komunyakaa,
6. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin 
7. Jhoota Sach: Desh ka Bhavishya by Yashpal,