Sameer's Writing Playground

My scratchpad of life thoughts

Gas Lamps

An old street lamp
Two yellow lights
Hang dimly above
This engraved pole

Gas lamps replaced
With electric lights
He sits and rests
Against this tree trunk

Listens to friends
On this park bench
By the Willamette river
Whispering friendship

The yellow light
Casts a grey shadow
Of four bodies
Shade in the night

This tree has seen
Many friends sit
Some on the bench
Some closer

Today it remembers
The days when gas lamps
Did not exist

 

(Written in August 2016 while at WDS in Portland. Other pieces written during that week – here and here)

A Slight Shift In June

ParsonsPark_edited

My eyes open
Mind wanders
Like it always does
I sit on this old
Wooden bench
In a shaded spot
Where the garden
Trail ends
Moss between planks
Words and peace signs
Engraved on the back

I close my eyes
For a minute
Come back to myself

Now open again
I see dried yellow petals
Fill the floor and shine
Just a bit more
I hear laughs
A couple and their dog
Lie on a mat in the grass

Everything is the same
And yet shifted
Just slightly

A bit brighter
A bit louder
A bit more clear
A bit softer
A bit slower
A bit more quiet

What does it mean
To be awake
Even just a little

As spring leaves us
This end of June
What is ripe
Waiting for harvest
What has bloomed
But not ready to fall

Summer creates a thirst
These birds gather
By the pond
Before it dries up

Help Me See

WDS2016_BlindPhotography

My good friend Jay Waltmunson and I hosted a workshop-style creativity meetup at WDS 2016, where we combined blindfolded photography, movement and writing. Each of us who attended imagined summer as a six year old, and used the 2-3 words that came up as inspiration for taking a photograph while being led blindfolded. We then wrote for 5 minutes whatever came to mind about the photograph and the experience. We had a blast putting this together and there were a number of fun and meaningful aha moments in the group.

As a six year old I remember making up games and playing these made up games with friends in our building in Bombay. That’s what came to mind for me and the photo I took was one of another pair playing this blindfolded photography “game” that Jay and I had just made up. My picture was a bit fuzzy, so I picked Jay’s fancy camera photo instead, does a better job of capturing what I had in mind.

And here’s a little poem from the writing part of the exercise.

HELP ME SEE

Many days
I walk around
Eyes open
Heart asleep

Today eyes closed
She guides me
I sense
I feel
I see

I see the feel of the wind
The Willamette river
The curious ladies
Who ask if we’re training dogs
I see myself uncensored

The world in play
My eyes open
Her eyes shine
A wee bit brighter

We both see!

Some days
I need a friend
To wake me up
Hold my hand
Tell me what I’m looking up

Oh how I forget
What it feels like
To see
The water
The trees
Kids screaming in the fountain

New friends playing
With creativity
And blindfolded
Photography

(Another poem from WDS 2016 is here – Inspired by Zach Anner)

Inspired by Zach Anner at WDS 2016

WDS2016_ZachAnner3

I absolutely loved Zach Anner’s talk at WDS 2016 in Portland earlier this month. Full of humor, adventure and feeling. Here’s a little poem inspired by his words, written after his talk while we were still in the theater.

I paused in between
Words spoken
Through the corner of my eye
I noticed her black eyes

Stillness
And a tear down her cheek
Presence shows itself
In small ways

He spoke with humor
Lightness and joy
The most confident person in the room
Cannot walk
The most disabled
Lights us up

How does he do it
What does his voice say
In moments of quiet
When no one’s listening?

He could not do it alone
Obviously, clearly
This dude full of love
With his cerebral palsy

He needed his friends
For everything
For hikes through the forest
Kayak trips in the lake

To lift him up
To climb the stairs
“So many fucking stairs”
That he could never take

But what about us others
“Disabilities invisible”
What right do we have
To ask for help?

Please
Just stop for a second
Stop that will
To do it alone
Prove the impossible
Bare chested in the cold

Please for a moment
Look around
These others around you
They need your hand
The one that reaches out
And asks to be led
They need your love
More than your head

Today
A voice spoke out
From a different place
Was held by a look
And a tear down her face.

 

Update: Zach’s WDS talk is now available at http://chrisguillebeau.com/zach-anner-wds/.
More videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/ZachAnner
Photo credit – Armosa Studios.

And here’s another poem from WDS this year – Help Me See.

 

Stopping By The Lake On The Way Home

WP_20150825_001 (2)

6pm by the lake in Kirkland
200 cars on the northbound lane
Slowly make their way
Home

No one going South
Except few stragglers like me

I take a break
To sit by the lake

There is now
The sound of waves
The sound of the sun
Shining on my face

Every moment spent by the window
At home in Bombay
Overlooking the ocean
Captured in this one wave

Young twenty somethings
Jump into the water
The freedom in my head
Expressed through their bodies

Diving
Jumping
Pushing
Laughing

Sometimes all it take is noticing
That stopping by the lake
On the way home
Brings me home

Old Jaffa Town

Jaffa2-March2016

No one to please
Nowhere to be
These yellow stone walls
Stand firm
In Old Jaffa town

A writer sits
At the top
On the edge
In this tiny
Restaurant

So many people to impress
In a single lifetime
An impossible quest
And useless if possible

A cold sip of beer
On a sunny afternoon
Hits the spot (as they say)
He feels it in his fingers

The roaring waves
Sound softer than they look
Chasing each other
Racing to shore
None make it intact

Meanwhile in the background
Here in Israel
I hear the sound of crows
And Tina Turner
On the radio

“What’s Love got to do with it”
A reminder of our worlds connected

She’ll soon be drowned out
By the call for evening prayer

(Written in March 2016 at the Aladin Cafe in Old Jaffa. Was my first visit to the middle east, where I spent four days in Tel Aviv and two in Istanbul)

Sitting in the Woods

 

An angel walked by
As I sat in the woods

Switching from
Text messages
And social streams

To butterflies
Dancing in the leaves

They chase each other
Almost touching

Anticipating
The next move

A gentleman in his sixties
Walks by and asks
In a clear unhurried British voice –

“Are you sitting and writing that next sonnet
To add to your collection
Soaking in inspiration from this bench?”

I wasn’t but now I am 🙂
Not a sonnet but a something

The butterflies are back
This time for longer

My attention no longer
Pulls away

(This is from an early July afternoon when I was procrastinating email responses and other responsibilities. Instead of working, I went for a walk in a forested area in the city, and found a bench to sit on and read. I enjoy capturing these random chance encounters.)

Trees

trees (1280x723)

I love trees
They do not judge

They stand still
They forgive
Imperfections
They do not try to fix

They sway
Branches waving
Leaves laughing
They do not lecture

They do not blame
Expect
Discourage
Abandon

I love watching trees
They stand still

They see
Their gaze pierces
This tired veil

Leaves shine and laugh
They shimmer in the sun
They know something

Branches extend
They make room
For a bird to land
With ease
They teach me

If I didn’t know better
I would spend my
Whole life watching them

(photo credit – Michał Parzuchowski)

My Left Hand Cannot Write

LeftHand

My left hand cannot write
But sometimes he tries

He’s been looking at righty
His entire life
Watching ink flow
Watching words fly

It looks so easy
He gives it a try
It feels all clumsy
He stops in shame

They call him a “slow learner”
He thinks just as fast
But with pen in hand
His speed is just not the same

He tried today
Started this poem
But even the spaghetti at dinner
Was easier to decipher

Lefty is selfish
Self-centered
He brings everything to a crawl
We must all wait

* While * he * takes * a * whole * minute *
* To * write * this * one * line *

My brain feels incompetent
Impatient
Incapable of waiting
Uneasy with slow time

Righty is yelling
C’mon get with the program

Lefty observes
Feels the change in pressure
Of fingers on pen
Ink on paper

He has his own pace
Deliberate
Imperfect
Calculated
Judgment-free

My left hand cannot write
But sometimes he tries
He will get better
If I give him the chance

But where is the time
Another poem waits
Another witty line

He’ll have his day
Tomorrow
He’ll be fine

My left hand cannot write
But sometimes he tries

(originally posted on Medium here)

You Complete Me

A therefore B therefore C
Marries I just want to be free

Hug me love me please
Is with Just let me be

Chaos and Anarchy
Sleep in a bed quite tidy

Dear Aunt Sanity
Seeks out raging Uncle Crazy

Since when did the birds
Start yearning for the bees

Why do weird analogies
Make so much sense to me

We spend our lives lamenting
Everyday what we see

In whom we chose to live with
With no known remedy

Why not simply give in
And admit honestly

Like my friend Jerry
In that Maguire movie

“I love you…
You complete me”

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