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The delivery of the message

He is delivering
again
this Friday afternoon
death threats from God
Like a kid on a bicycle
hurling newspapers at front doors
he aims his missive at our conscience
He feels responsible
for the news
he holds.
Hell is reserved
for You
he says,
if you deviate
in your practice of religion
if we innovate
in our prayers to God.
But he mentions not
belief
its intricacies
its pursuit,
what it is to be good
to practice correctly
about making mistakes
and forgiveness
about the frailty of being human
and the benevolence of God.
I smile up at him
widely
from the back row
to engage him
into a reflection,
or to enrage him
into a silence.
Unperturbed
he thunders
through his sermon
a self-appointed ambassador
of God’s plan.
His words
accusing
and demeaning.
His condemnations
now weaponizing
his diatribe.
To much relief
his speech ends
and the formal prayer begins
He is leading us again
this time
reciting
only God’s words
not his own
beautifully
soulfully
emotionally.
I am driven to tears
by these words
in another tongue
and
by this moment
and it…

Vignettes in this time…

So Much…

You have so much wealth
of material
of mind
then why is it
that you chase
after fame
after frivolity
There are so many causes
to serve
to proclaim
that are more deserving of
your time
your breath.

A Meditation

Into heaven I saw
clearly
a family gathered
my favorite people united
a handsome man talking to a family beauty…
Yaseen introducing himself to Nani,
a sensitive heart meeting an emotional man…
Aisha embracing my father,
a passionate activist talking to the family intellectual…
Ahsan conversing with Zaichuba.
Heaven was a beautiful green plain
off the thruway
where the greens take over in summer
where the colors play in autumn, and
where the clouds caress the streams on winter mornings
where beautiful dinosaurs grazed
where I would love to be buried
once I complete this meditation.

We Great?

How great are we I ask?
…if we could not make friends
with a small island
full of people
living in our neighborhood
who
like us are human,
fragile.
…if we could not reform a dictator
no match
for our might
but punishe…

Knotted emotions

As they drove in confrontational silence He felt the usual intense unease build within His reason crashing Against the walls of her irrational convictions In the fortieth year of attempting this his heart and mind both know well the inevitable failure in this interaction. Maybe his forty years of patience or the fifty seasons signaling mid-life led to the moment when he stopped the car on that lonely stretch of a Passaic county backroad, 
and said 
"Out" to his eighty-two year old mother. Unsure himself 
of whether he’d issued a threat or command uncertain of the measure of his own conviction He decided in the moment that it was an instruction I’ll drop you off here, he said, And you can find your way home. I have had enough of your suspicions Your hostility, Your disparaging words. No more. … they drive on an unusual calm settling in the space between them like a pleasant cloud comforting even as his heart is racing to be calm his mind working furiously to be cool somehow in some unforeseen …

Photography and focus

Photography…
one can be driven to distraction
by the quest for great compositions,
perfect light
        clarity
            color
                equipment
                    achievement.
Another however
finds in its focus
a moment to live,
finding
within its viewfinder
the world without,
in its colors
a palette to explore
in its wide-angles
a play of light
and
in this reversion
to a current instant
a mindfulness,
into the beauty of what IS,
a meditation into
the reality of NOW,
and a fleeting 
appreciation of ALL THIS.

By this glass
revealed
are
such wonders
details in a clear sky
textures in a dry leaf
a juxtaposition of dead twig and green sprout
humility in the eye of a lion
nectar at the Hummingbird’s beak
landscapes duplicated in puddles
ethereality of clouds.

A question dawns
this immense canvas
unbounded
this mural to end all murals
with its richness of
depth
    of color
        of form
            of material
                of smell
of ideas unlimited
of things both imagined
and un-imagined..
who is the artist?

Into the City...

Ahsan and Yaseen have ridden this bus into the city a thousand times over the last few years. The morning Shortline out of the Cornerstone church in Wyckoff that heads for the Port authority bus terminal on the west shoreline of Manhattan. Always the armchair critic of riders, rides and commuting into New York City during the rush hours, I am today out of that familiar and worn armchair and into a badly contoured bus seat about 20 rows back from the driver.  It is a late bus by New York City standards…this “the 823AM”, perhaps the second last on this route today which brings me to think about how early both my boys had to awake and get ready for their commutes during those high school summers when then interned for the EPA and Random House. My bus is more than half occupied which proves the business case for there being few rides after this time of morning.   In the last hour of this day, I’ve dropped the carpool off to Ramapo High, witnessed a head-on collision between two cars at t…

On the Bayou

It was still dark when the alarm went off. The last time I took my camera and headed out to meet a sunrise I was in Zanzibar. In fact that is when I learned about how precious the early morning light is to good photography. Its funny how sunrises and sunsets have come to remind me of Fern and Ali my photography gurus. Normal people must feel the pull of a emotional even romantic tether at these times but lately I only feel the pull of cameras, long lenses and compositions.
I am new to the world of photography or more accurately to watching the world go about its business thru a glass lens. So camera in hand, this morning i ride my bicycle along the Bayou (water channels) in Houston just as the early rays are streaking overhead. Every so often I lay my bike down, pull out my camera and peer down the chute of the zoom lens. This morning's outing is unplanned so I don't know what I am looking for. I know this much: I love sunrise enthusiasts. 
There's a lady lighting up a cigar…

Questions

Ever since the taliban shot a hundred kids
asked them to profess their belief aloud
the same belief that they share with their victims
and then proceeded to kill them...
I've been thinking about people
talking to myself
talking to others
asking questions.
how do we understand our world?
how do 'see' it and evaluate its problems?
how do we even get close to fixing it?
how much does cause and effect explain
and how far back do you peel back the causes.
who is responsible ...
are they ultimately responsible
what does it mean to be victim and then act out
what part does revenge play
what part fear
what part religiosity and
what part righteousness.
There are so many layers of history
so many aggressors
so many agendas
and so many victims
and so many dead.
So how do you approach the creation of peace
without creating more violence




Why?

Why?
---------------------------------------------
why oh why dear God
do you make these situations?
Yes I will try..
again and
again
to make things better
with my mother.
You know I will (try)
not knowing why I will
with
patience
kindness
restraint
just like You ask.
But You know it isn't getting any better
and it won't
it hasn't
it never does.
So,
why oh why dear God
do you make these situations?

Try, I will
and
fail, I will
again.
At bat,
I have struck out
for thirty years.
I've pushed that rock uphill
so many times
up so many hills (you know it)
almost every time it rolled back
and put the hurt on me.
Napolean succeeded his seventh time
he had it easy I see.
So,
why oh why dear God
do you make these situations?

So I ask, Is it about strength?
Does each attempt make me stronger
yes, maybe
Does it make me a better person
in the end?
when it ends...
perhaps
perhaps not
Do i do it better the next time?
sometimes
sometimes not
So,
what if I am stronger?
or bette…

What is it to be a muslim today u ask?

lemme see...
it is to freeze every time there is a shooting, and
to pray that it wasn't a Muslim shooter
it is to watch as event unfolds and to cry into your hands
as you find out that it is
it is to wonder what your book, belief and tradition
could have told someone else something you've never read
it is to wonder how perversion
can get so perverted
how interpretation
can be so misinterpretive.
how self righteousness went so wrong.
It is to feel sorry, so genuinely sorry for what was done
by others of your faith
in the very same God's name
it is to feel the responsibility not for the crime
but for the apology
however impotent
however uncalled for
however discouraged by the many
who act as if
saying sorry for something
being sorry to someone
is akin to accepting the criminality.
No its not, it cannot be!
it is human to say sorry
to feel sorry,
necessary...
for my heart at least.

Mir

...its what to do with time...

the young think they have time
the old think they don't
...here I sit in the middle
and wonder how to slice my time
There are too many things to do
many competing priorities
and time not enough for them all...
the hardest is to take the little time that's left after the must-do's are tended, and
decide how to fill it.
Do I give my best time to a charitable unselfish cause,
turn inward to a purely selfish indulgence, or
proceed to the next to-do in my infinite list?
Should I just toss out all those nice-to-do endeavors in my life?
Or is through them that I find some spiritual peace?
How much should I focus on the kids, or will they figure it all out themselves?
What turns into selfish, and
what is selfless?
Does either satisfy the soul?
I don't know...
Sometimes,
its as simple as, should I cook dinner and do right by the family,
or should I order pizza and watch the game instead?
should I get some extra work done for Monday,
or should I take my mother shopping on Sunday?
should I go to yoga…

A Palanca for Kat's Confirmation

Dear Kat, GOD loves you and holds a special place for YOU! Your confirmation as a Catholic is the next formal step in your religious life. However, know that the evolution of your personal faith and spirituality in an infinite , fluid and wonderful road. One that I urge you to think-about, plan and work-upon as seriously as you would your career, your education and your human relationships! It is the essence of your relationship with God and through your belief in Him, it is your guide in this lifetime of decisions and actions. Here are some ideas I strive to live by and hopefully they will appeal to you and you will practice them in your life: - Always remember that there is a God. No matter what is going on in the world and how little sense it sometimes makes, KNOW that He is in charge of this His beautiful world and He will accomplish whatever He wishes. - Use God's guidance in your life. God's revelation was sent to you and me for a reason. So understand it, reason with it, …

GypsyNusrat

I bet that there is
a person driving the Spanish Alps
with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan blasting on this car speakers
the sounds of a sitar
woven into his inimitable voice
as it parades up and down his infinite range
evoking sadness, pathos and yearning
from a young Spanish heart
that understands no Urdu
not a word that Nusrat sings
not a vow he pledges
not an endearment he utters
yet is in tears by the end of the song
believing that he is one with the passion in every note,
the urgency in every strain
the love in every refrain.
....I believe this because
I am driving down the New York Highway
playing a Gypsy Kings record for the millionth time
my heart riding the wave of that gypsy's emotions
my eyes running a tear-bath at the feelings of
loss, love, friendship and yearning
that emanate from these Spanish songs...
who's words I cant read
but who's language I understand!!!

Light and Dark

A radiant, brilliant sun
rises into the window on the right
a dark heavy fog 
overhangs the vista outside my left
it is emerging day on my right
and unyielding night on my left
deliberately, my plane flys
on a line between night and day
between a clearing, vivid and unveiling skyscape, and
an equally powerful misty, mysterious and concealing cloudscape.
Even as I discover the wonders
that are now emerging on one side
my eyes  seeking comfort from the glare
turn to the other.
One part of me is excited
for the new possibilities.
the other nostalgic
for the old and departing greyness.
This is the destiny of the human being...
to walk the territories in between
the apparent and
the hidden.
to travel this lifetime
for an understanding.
to create clarity
in the midst of
a mostly grey ambiguous world...

Level with the plane now
the sun shines into my right face
confronting, challenging and awakening,
Clarifying, revealing, comforting
like a torch aimed at the truth
to which I so seek to arrive.
The world at…

Faiz I was in Austin, and you were not...

Faiz i missed you this week.
I was in austin
and you were not...
I met your daughters
I had dinner with them
I ate chicken tikka
and invoked your name.
We talked about school
we talked about life
Faiz I missed you this week
I was in austin
and you were not...

You would love our town,
its all grown up,
just like you'd wanted.
You would love your daughters,
they're all grown up,
just like you'd planned.
This town misses you
your daughters miss you
we were in austin
and you were not...

Google is happening here
Facebook is looking to hire you
they are in town
and you are not...

So many desi restaurants to choose from
all kinds of software to write
shopfulls of books that you'd read, and
a sky looking for the kites you'd fly.
Faiz all things missed you this week
we were in austin
and you were not...

With Ali I did yoga
with the Khataw's I shopped hats
we walked thru the volleyball court
and what's left of that Domain.
There we played years ago
and became friends for life.
Faiz we missed you…