Arjun into Scots 2

First Posted on March 6, 2011 by Bill Herbert on Dubious Saints

This second piece by Arjun really spoke to me, and I started producing a version in India which I finished on getting back home. It seemed to want to move toward ballad, and when I said that to Arjun, he replied that this would be in an odd way the poem coming full circle, as it specifically, but also a lot of his other work, drew its inspiration from the Sufi poetry he heard while growing up.

(Arjun, I’m starting to paraphrase you here: do you want to say more? – And sorry again about losing your layout.)

Under a gold desert sky

a sparrow sat
my foot
a slumber
i stood in
looking up
it whirred
little wings
dropping dominoes
opening memories

stretching a wing out
to make a point
it twittered
“we flew together
under a gold desert sky
to the giant tree
of the hermit prince
do you remember?”

she hovered
and pricked my finger
drawing me
out of
a trance
“you’re done, my love
now be
a bird”
i fell to fly
light by her
to my tribe
that waited
not far

“greetings friends, how goes?
che, you look a bit used up
tahir, you bend at your spine
lee, you been sleeping with william?
m.m. are you a grandma now?
i had left you all”

tired, sad
eyes glow
inner peace
and question
with kindness
“and where
were you
all this

i whirred
my wings
from a branch
“i…i…was living
out of boxes
gathering dust
growing a beard…

you been around
since i turned two
you stood by me
at maya’s birth
do you still hate me?
you really must smile more
sorry i muddled your lives
in transit

hey! but we twitter well together
i must confess

now i did
not intend
to jumble
you up
like i did

by light
i had to
put you
all away”


Under a gold desert sky

Yestreen a speugie percht upon meh tae,
stertin me fae thi dover Eh sat in;
ut lukeit up and burred uts wee wings,
drappin dominoes, openin doors.

Streekin ae wing oot tae mak uts pint,
ut chirpt, ‘You and me flew thegither
ablow a gowden desert lift
tae thi ettin tree o thi eremite prince –

dae ye no mind thon?’ She hovert and peckt
meh finger, draain me oot o meh dwaum.
‘Ye’re din noo, ma dear, sae be a bird,’
and Eh fell tae flehin, licht beh hur flank.

Meh clan wiz bideit no far awa:
‘Peter, you look a wee thing disjaskit,
Paul, ye’re gey humphy-backit;
Maureen, ye’re niver a granny?’

Thir weary een askt wi a mensefu gleid,
‘And whaur were you thi hail o this time?’
‘Me? Eh wiz jist livin oot o boxes,
gaithrin dust and growein a beard…

‘Mojo, you’ve been aroond
since Eh wiz fehv; Mike, you stood beh me
at Izzie’s birth. Helen, dye still hate me?
Jamie, ye shid really learn tae crack a smile.

‘Sorry Eh plaistered wi yir lives in passin
but, ach, we natter well thigither.
Eh must confess Eh didnae mean
tae maxter you up lyk Eh did –

blinnert beh the licht, Eh hud tae pit
ye aa awa…’

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