SPIRITUAL FLICKERS: A Tanka Sequence

1

Plodding away at

season’s conspiracies

life has proved untrue

with God an empty word

and prayers helpless cries

2

I wish I could live

nature’s rhythm free from

bondage of clock-time

rituals of work and sleep

expanding haiku present

3

On the prayer mat

the hands raised in vajrasan

couldn’t contact God —

the prayer was too long and

the winter night still longer

4

The mind creates

withdrawn to its own pleasures

a green thought

behind the banyan tree

behind the flickering lust

5

I can’t know her

from the body, skin or curve:

the perfume cheats

like the sacred hymns chanted

in hope, and there’s no answer

6

Unknowable

the soul’s pursuit hidden

by its own works:

the spirit’s thirst, the strife

the restless silence, too much

7

Unable to see

beyond the nose he says

he meditates

and sees visions of Buddha

weeping for us

8

The mirror swallowed

my footprints on the shore

I couldn’t blame the waves

the geese kept flying over the head

the shadows kept moving afar

9

The lane to temple

through foul drain, dust and mud:

black back of Saturn

in a locked enclosure

a harassed devotee

10

Not much fun —

cold night, asthmatic cough

and lonely Christmas:

no quiet place within

no fresh start for the New Year

— R.K. Singh