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In Gaspar’s Footsteps

Following the routes of kings
Mahmud retraced old steps
Where once a great star
Had blazed & seared lapis skies
Lighting a sacred way
Where rivers hid in rocks
Where hoot owls stared
In blackest nights
And by an icy brook
Cupping cold handfuls
Of truth, like the ancient magi
As if he relived their quest
As if…he too was approaching
A purpose far beyond himself
On a dusty road, a desert way


© 2015 S. Michaels
Along Silk Roads

Image: wallpaper4me.com

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Old Timbuktu

Here, vast empty sand seas surround
And ages ago salt, gold and ivory drew
Chakrii’s great grandfather to cross waters
Beyond the Sankalakhiri, on Saharan ways
Many thought each time he went
That Channarong might not return
Yet always he returned, bursting with tales
Of things glorious, kings and spires
Skies painted chalcedony and ruby
And still, his tales transform faces
By hilltribe campfires at night
In those calm and golden places
Where old men sit and dream

© 2015 S. Michaels
Along Silk Roads

image: tattoopictures.co and brentstirton.com

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In Kathmandhu


Serenity of the heart
Evasive as the slivered moon
Stringed notes on thin air
Falling in lost uneven chords
Falling as tears, then as thunder
Rumbling skies over Ranipokhari
Like the time the elephant trampled
Even now, as Sashulyi listened
Her whole life trembled, a drumbeat
Echoing across a still pond
In search of some lost truth


©2015 S. Michaels
Along Silk Roads

image: wikipedia.org

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At Kilimanjaro

Adisa, the traveler, awoke
In the curl of the tent
Gasping at a steaming dawn
All civilization in chorus around
Great lumbering gentle creatures
And some of them fierce and bold
Vast plains, grasses, pines, cedars
All fragrant, earthy, & longing for rain
Adisa was named ‘the lucid one’
Yet only now did life seem focused
As if only in this place and Time
He was opening his eyes to see
As Time stood him still as a mountain
He sensed his journey was just beginning


©2015 S. Michaels
Along Silk Roads
image: travelhdwallpapers.com

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Infinite worlds
lay at her fingertips,
her needle landscaped futures
up and down Jindhadaga
sewing rivers in the Ghats,
the great sloping mountains
of her childhood; Only now,
they taught her patience.
Especially during monsoon
when wild rushing rains
tumbled her days
slowing her work to a lull
and she would begin singing
‘This one’s for a wedding’
as a gecko perched on the sill
And she dreamed of her maharaja
And of love, laughing in silence


© 2012 S. Michaels
Along Silk Roads

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Haripreet’s Shop

In Kerala, in winter,
Haripreet the wood worker
stands, observing his great fortune,
to have lived so near a treasure trove
of the most excellent of carving wood
Harichandran, who could ask for more?

Haripreet knew this wood intricately
that it was the most fragrant wood,
a wood which only sweetened with time
and whose attars and grain were worth gold,
for in it, even as a boy, he’d discovered hidden
every image of creation’s wild wonders
tigers, flowers, and elephants.

There was in his shop, one intricate figurine
the work of his grandfather, Didi,
which had served as a template
and which stood untouched in an alcove
Indeed, it was Didi’s best work,
Haripreet spoke reverently of the masterpiece
even as his father had spoken before him.

But why is it here? Why has it not sold?
Haripreet responded always politely to customers,
The one who commissioned it. To this day, I must tell you,
he or she has never returned to collect it.

And so, the Jesus stood. A mystery. A sweet aroma.
Haripreet’s lovely wife, Sarita, finally begged an answer.
Why do you simply not sell it, my husband? Could we not benefit?
Perhaps we could make a fortune and travel the whole wide world!

I do not sell it. Because it is far too difficult.
I cannot settle a price. For who can know the cost?

So, the Jesus stands in Haripreet’s shop.
And overlooks the morning hills

© 2012 S. Michaels
Along Silk Roads

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Ooty Dreams

Where neelakurunji teases
And blooms every twelve years
Where spiralling mountains dip
Stained fingers in curried bowls
Upon misted valleys distant below
Jignesh dreams he stands tall
On wide heights of land
With heaven’s rains tumbling

It was not the fragrant monsoon season
When he visited Ootacamund
Udhagamandalam, he tells me
(The word slips easily as tea leaves
cupped at harvest time)

Then, he was young, he says
Jumping off at a roadside stand
‘Queen of hill stations’
Somewhere on the Nilgiri plateau
It does not really matter where, he laughs
For he sipped the nectar of Ooty tea.
You cannot imagine the wonder of it, he sighs

Only now he chatters more on icy days
Driving cab in Canada in early winter
It is truly not one of the easiest tasks
Last week a driver was attacked and robbed
Here, in this civilized land of cold cities
But in his mind Jignesh hops an aquamarine train
Rushing far away, deep, deep into the heart
Of Tamil Nadu, where dreams stand still


©2012 S. Michaels
Along Silk Roads