SONNETS FOR THE MASTER

"Sonnet for Sunny Saturdays"

Every Saturday morning carpet recital
Patric smiled, so happy to be alive.
thirst for song from feeling to emerge;
if you were down musical expression
of Raga Bhoopal Todi gave depression
someplace else to go--as if your dirge
among the feet of strangers in the city
need be walked on just a little more.
And did those feet, from mountain, over moor,
soften hardened, leathered souls, take pity
on the poor in spirit, bless another
in a world where few would stop and bother.


"Sonnet for Master's Layas, BoIs, and Teentaal"

Tempo Patric called a raga's laya;
at first, vilambit, just about the pace
of lovers strolling on the beach; a race
was drut; and in between was madhya.
Not until the fifth raag did the slow
our Master teach, for teentaal as a whole
held sixteen one-sixteenths, each teenth a "boI"
or pluck; your fingers wished to borrow a toe.
A teentaal cycle, sixteen tabla beats,
used Dha-then-Dhin & Dhin-then-Dha times two.
Now nine's a flat left hand and ten's a cue;
eleven, too; on twelve the theme repeats
its pickup for the gat, five beats 'til one.
This is how our Master's raags were done.


"Sonnet for Learning Taalas and Taans"

Raised an Indore, India virtuoso,
Patric's musical, dark, exotic favor
sampled the globe from saffron flavor
to Latin picoso, to him so sabroso!
Western Catholic chant, Carmina Burana,
Der Ring Das Nibelung's thematic patterns,
rhythmic cycles round as rings of Saturn
transmigrated through us his Gharana.
Sometimes a curious blend of Ek Taal twelves,
his youth reformed in personalized renditions,
matured our learning exquisite traditions;
it's from inside himself the Master delves.
In taans he caught up to years he had outrun,
his sitar strings as warm as beams of sun.


"Sonnet for Jhap Taal Shree"

Several lessons over Raga Shree
he checked my gats, their upward scales,
their downward digs, the various tihai tails.
I never knew what our last raag would be.
I'd started many, having finished few,
Masterji always reorganizing me,
his most special ed and ADD
disciple save one thing: hit Sam on cue.
Like meter in a poem, our patterns, boIs,
Antara August churned the sundown's embers.
Wanting to get it right, the student remembers,
and still warm swaras stir the summer's coals
simmering as he taught me taans for ten,
each teka to the next, to Sam again.


"Sonnet for Malkauns in the Forest"


"Who are you!" my Guru's Guru's misfit
brother asked. "What were you trying to play!"
Raag Malkauns. "That's not it! Come this way."
Into the black-orange woods all night to sit,
they stepped on fire and fear the jungle cooled.
A tiger's paws, her claws ripped mud, she stalked
but stopped, licked mud-streaked tears,
purring puffed, her nostrils huffed, she drooled
and marked her cubs. Mother's magic talked,
"I meow you" taans and tones of Malkauns Raga;
"I'll come back for you in many, many years."
Meends bent her ears to Master's Master's saga.
They were Mother's lost sons in the forest,
found by her swara's sympathetic chorus.