Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Solstice Alexandrine

If you arrive in white against this winter sky
I won't remember if you'd ever come, or why
I'd called you to my side, or if I'd called at all
Or if I'd dreamt our meeting, lonely in my mind

If you arrive in blue, the rainy season's end
Has come along with you, the one who I call friend
The clouds will clear away, the whitest flowers sway
And maybe you will stay through autumn's gathering-in

If you arrive in red, adorned in burning flame,
The words you left unsaid, the love without a name
Blooms in prismatic hues, in courage and in truth,
And love will be with you, always and still the same

If you arrive in black upon these shortest days
And you do not turn back, but on untrodden ways
You chart your path with light, creating stars for sight,
Then out of deepest night you'll set the world ablaze

If you arrive in gold, the summer will return
But tales and songs of old, from which we can't but learn
Remind us it will pass, the warmth that never lasts,
And in the end we have just moments, and we yearn

You'll arrive in season, or maybe out of time
You don't need a reason, I don't need a rhyme
But I'll wait in this snow, then when it's late you'll go
And when you're gone I'll know each second is sublime

Friday, December 26, 2014

The sky opens up

They gave the prodigal son a feast on his return
And the teary-eyed family was reunited
Memories of years before fondly recalled at the dinner table
But there was more to the conversation --
The things he had learned, he wanted to share
The old stories told week after week, he had seen those places
And they were nothing like we thought! Can you imagine, he said,
How we have made heroes of ordinary men
And lived this legend
As if it were the only one existing?
But there's so many more, much more, dozens, thousands,
The sky opens up when you turn your eyes to it --
And the table grows quiet
The clatter of dishes deafening
The youngest ones visibly disturbed
And the elders excusing themselves in silence

And there is talk, behind closed doors, in the library, in the study
He has lived so well on his own
He has learned so much; a credit to the clan
But it is for the best that this home,
At once familiar and strange in his eyes,
Be only a place of temporary respite
For there is no longer a place for him here

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The way you are

The word for the way you are
Does not exist in my language
Which is why I fall silent
As you appear,
The angle of your smile
The waterfall of words
The logical conclusion
Of a microcosm's history
Standing in front of me

As you disappear,
First with apologies,
Then with nothing
And the silence says
As much as the smile

I pore over texts and volumes
In twenty-seven languages
Learning grammar, context, culture
Hoping to stumble
Over a protagonist's description
To solve the mystery of you

Until the day arrives
Until the perfect word is found
The description, the explanation
Until then,
Silence will speak for me

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Perspective

What used to be obsidian
Now sparkling black like mica
But the properties never changed
Only my angle of vision did
What did I see? How did I see?
How had I not seen before?
I close my eyes now
Only matte neutral colors remain
But for a few moments I glimpsed
Here on the solid earth's surface
An entire universe of stars
In a dark corner of the afternoon sky

Monday, October 27, 2014

Post Party Girl

I'm not adjusting to this silence well
The music's off but I'm still on
The lights are up, the night is over
But I'm not ready To go home yet

They say there's time for magic
And there's a time to let it go
But there's a few moments left to live
Just turn the music on

{Let the stars align one more time
Take me dancing till the sun rise
It's all right
We'll ride this wave till it's over } - 2
In another life

It's only midnight now so turn the wheel
Let the music flow as time goes backward
Help me remember how it used to feel
The memory of an hour ago

The room was full of light then
The mood was so exciting
If the world had ended, I wouldn't care
You were there beside me
And everything around me
Disappeared

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hero for the Day

Written as an assignment for my Coursera songwriting course. You can hear it here: https://soundcloud.com/andreamandal/herofortheday-full-fade
Loop was provided with course materials. 

It's a rainy summer evening
And circumstance has brought us here
A forgotten tune is playing
You're keeping time
And the song, it fills my ears

The meaning's coming clearer
As you're slowly drawing nearer
You never thought we'd be here
But I know that you'll deliver

Can you be a hero for the day?
Can you feel the flood rush in your veins
Can't you feel it baby?
That you're driving me crazy?
You tripped into my arms
And you fell into my heart
This can't be real

You're the storm and you're the shelter
We're drenched and drowning in the rain
Thunder crash -- you hold me closer
Your body next to mine
And I lose myself again

You stumbled into me, then
We both fell in the deep end
Your eyes said stay with  me, and
Mine said "only for the weekend"

Can you be a hero for the day?
Can you feel the flood rush in your veins
Can't you feel it baby?
That you're driving me crazy?
You tripped into my arms
And you fell into my heart
This can't be real

When the storm has passed  (You're the storm and the shelter)
We'll go our separate ways (You're everything you need to be just when you need to be that)
The good things never last (The good things they take time but never ever last)
And what would they say, anyway ... ?

Can you be a hero -- just for today --
Feel the flood rush in your veins
Can't you feel it baby?
That you're driving me crazy?
You tripped into my arms
And you fell into my heart
This can't be ... 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

55

I remember flooded streets
And the sky was dark with rain
I remember all your words
And the music of your name
But if we met again I wouldn't recognize your face
Only the blueprint of your eyes remains

Fifty-five minutes our paths were crossing
You and I found something in common
A hometown, and a smile, and a knowing gaze
But it wasn't the time or the place
Fifty-five days I've all but forgotten
But inside my mind there's a carved out portion that is saved for a piece in a fifty-five minute shape

I hope that all is well
In the months that intervened
That your life is full of love
And you have all that you need
If I returned today
I hope you would not be there
That you're out chasing your dream
Or just the next step on the stair

Fifty-five minutes our paths were crossing
You and I found something in common
A hometown, and a smile, and a knowing gaze
But it wasn't the time or the place
Fifty-five days I've all but forgotten
But inside my mind there's a carved out portion that is saved for a piece in a fifty-five minute shape

It won't ever fall in place
And that's okay
I've gone away
Gone away

Fifty-five minutes our paths were crossing
You and I found something in common
Was it a hometown, or a smile, or a knowing gaze
In fifty-five days I've all but forgotten
But inside my mind there's a carved out portion that is saved for a piece in a fifty-five minute shape

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sin miedo (without fear)

I blame circumstance, but it all is my decision
I can choose to go and shine or I can stay and hide the reasons
For my hesitance, my imperfections holding me at bay
And the perfect life I strive for turns and looks the other way
The excuses are all mine and I'll gladly tell the lies
Hiding in these walls of fear I'll blame it all on time
Hours, minutes, seconds, are the victim of the day
And we waste them and we're hasty and we throw it all away
But what if I said yes? If the promises I kept
Had potential to undo me until there is nothing left?
Do I take the leap and go or do I stay with what I know?
It's only when the seed-pods fly that we begin to grow
What awaits me I can't say, but I smell the sound of rain
And as the clouds on my horizon gather, grow, and change
I too must do the same and perhaps this is the way
And I know that I'm not perfect, but I'll heed the call - I heard it -
Because I know and so do you, "we just regret what we don't do
So dare yourself and know it's true -- you're full of love and they'll love you"

The soul of the heart

Miracoco exhibit, Washington State Univeristy, 2014
Perhaps this might be the last time
I sit on the floor
The last time I balance
Against the walls of this breathing building
Alone -- as before -- by design
The eye in my mind reflects an iris
Green, blue, amber
And the memories of a thousand summers return
I have lost my sense of direction, lost so much
As my filters refine
To illuminate the relevant
Highlight the logical
And scoff at a half hour of return to the time
When time was flexible
And memories of tomorrow abounded
When colors were relative
And the smallest wings of the fly
Shone in iridescent brilliance
When the moon would come if invited
To share in my own night sky and
The grass and
Flowers and
Insect wings
I have lost so much
But I know exactly what to do with the little I have left
So this may be the last time
I feel the walls wrap around me
Can't they lull me to sleep
One more time?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Liquid inspiration

I remember when your words
Broke through my walls
And I had to temper them with caffeine
One, two, endless cups of coffee
With each new idea,
Each mind-blossom opening --
Barista, hit me again.

When you fall in love
You drown yourself in wine
But when you fall in love with words
You crave more
Energy
Awareness
Conversation
Why does the café close at 9?

I'd invite you home,
But that kind of coffee
Has unintended meanings
So let's just go our separate ways
And try to sleep
Despite the chemical buzz
And the words ringing in our heads
That we can't forget
Or shut off

Monday, June 23, 2014

Maybe the night

Maybe the night gives me focus
To bring back warmth that once was real
The highwire, the dazzling upward spiral
Forward motion now no more than a memory
The lush fabric of longing reduced to threads
Fluttering in the wind
With love on my lips
And a minor second, minor third
I try to re-weave in song
The silk that surrounded,
Surrendered to endless possibility
Yet all is not possible
In the arid climate of reality
And only a shadow of what was now remains

Maybe the night gives me moments
Drops of the past in the present
A small taste, enough just to feel it
Then the waves swell away from the shore
I know it! I knew, and remember
Until it fades away
With love in my prayers
I return to the start
The air splashing over me
Yet if only the ocean...
If the hurricane came without warning
If it blew through life to destroy me
I would stand in the destruction
And forever remember the wind


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Guest posting on AnirbanSaha.com today

You flow effortlessly into the remainder of my nostalgia; a life of stamps on postcards, of sophisticated salons and bittersweet before-dinner drinks; of operas and foreign languages and relics from faraway lands.

I am honored that Anirban Saha, he of many hats, has asked me to guest post about my connect to Kolkata on his blog. He is a photographer, blogger, social media shining star, programmer, and deep thinker who I am pleased to call friend. As I make sense of my experiences with words, he composes and captures images to make sense of his world, and his photography site is not to be missed. I have met few people in this life who feel with the intensity - and express with the clarity - that he does. Sharing this 'piece of soul,' as he termed it when we first discussed this post, seemed a bit daunting and yet perfectly natural at the same time. I could not have written it with any other inspiration.

Do go read my short piece on my experience with Kolkata, and how it connects to the best of my life - Kolkata, a Love Story.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Gold sandaled feet

She wore yellow slippers that matched her mind
A spring in her step on that bright spring morning
She wore them too on that fateful day
When the storm came in without warning
But the sun is all that I can see
I only understand what comes to me

They say you have to walk a mile
But your shoes don't fit me, not that style
Hey you, come over, let's be friends
We'll walk in the storm together and tie up all the loose ends

She wore leather loafers - you know the kind
That tread the less-worn trails
Slide on and off in airports
Secure when adjusting the sails
How can you ever move slow
When there's so many places left to go?

They say you have to walk a mile
But your shoes don't fit me, not that style
Hey you, come over, let's be friends
We'll walk the world together and tie up all the loose ends

She wore Louboutins, perhaps in dreams
And Pay-Less in the waking
She doesn't care what they might say
The world's hers for the taking
Don't wait for the moment when everything's right
This life is a ride, sit back and hold on tight

They say you have to walk a mile
But your shoes don't fit me, not that style
Hey you, come over, let's be friends
We'll ride this ride together and tie up all the loose ends

She wore lace-up sneakers, perhaps to dance
Just to get from point B to A
Life's short, she said, just take the chance
Our work is endless play
But I'm still trying to understand
And I'm afraid to take her hand

They say you have to walk a mile
But your shoes don't fit me, not that style
Hey you, come over, let's be friends
We'll dance in the street together and tie up all the loose ends

She wore gold sandals on dusty streets
That bear illustrious names
I wore them too, in better days
But therein ends the same
These memories are too sad for me to stay
I cannot understand; I'll walk away

And she says,

They say you have to walk a mile
But your shoes don't fit me, not that style
Hey you, come over, let's be friends
We'll walk new roads together and tie up all the loose ends

She wore golden slippers that matched to mine...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thousand Times

You, standing over there, flyaway hair
Toss it back, the wind will catch it -- picture perfect --
As you've always been
Standing next to him
I've already had my chance
I wouldn't change the past

Too many lies, I've heard a thousand times
The words they bounce right off me
I'll let it be, I'll let you be
Let it go and let you go your way
(Hope it always goes your way)

You smile and say he's flawless
Inside his mind is lawless
His eyes they are the mirror
His soul you'll see it clearer
You will drown in them and then
You'll soon regret unless you're just like him

He says he speaks a different language (when he goes on)
But it's just equivocation (let the wind blow on)

Too many lies, I've heard a thousand times
The words they bounce right off me
I'll let it be, I'll let you be
Let it go and let you go your way
(I hope it always goes your way)




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

To K, with chagrin

For you, I have handpicked these words
Cultivated, curated,
The most beautiful syllables
To befit your presence

I know that these chosen words are worthy of you
As they drift off into spirals and curls
Of perfectly-expressed sentiment.

You suddenly surprise me
With your graciousness
And love

And I want to tell you that the hours are a well I cannot draw from
That so many things are left undone
Bleary eyes, painful head, searching for the splendor
That you steal from the skies
That I cannot sleep
But I cannot wake up
That I am surrounded by gifts
I have no idea what to do with
Except for the one with the words
This life, this privileged existence
A blinding flash of gold
And yet I long for all the colors of the rainbow
And the earth below

But these words are not for you.
Here, then, are yours:

I am endlessly thankful, dear friend,
For your graciousness and love
The reminder of a shining moment and the glimmer of a dream
The embodiment of nostalgia for a moment yet to come
My gift to you,
Wrapped up in a ribbon
And tossed toward the stars.

The best

Your star shone so brightly
On those nights, those hours,
Tuesday after Tuesday
I close my eyes tightly
Against the light that's faded
Though the clouds block the way

What if there was a clear sky
(A never ending bliss)
What if there was an open line
(I cannot access this)
What if I've given all my best
(And it is not enough)
What if I'd simply never left
(And interrupted love)

The sky, the line, the best, is mine
My city is a memory left behind
I'm here, and I will stay alive
If you don't leave my mind's eye

I'm lost in the desert
And the warmth of my rock
Is fading in the night
I thought it was heaven
But I shout in the void
And I wonder, who were you
And how did you shine so bright

No reason to keep thinking
(It never does me good)
Or question what I'm seeing
(As if I ever would)
I'm always left assuming
(That's where I fall behind)
That I am always losing
(There goes my peace of mind)

The sky, the line, the best, is mine
My city is a memory left behind
I'm here, and I will stay alive
If I believe my mind's eye

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Immersion

There is a wall and it is forbidden to break it down
Crossing requires a visa
And an unexpired passport
I stand on my side
Staring at the inscriptions written thereon
Understanding in part. Not in whole.

What if I did?
What if I could?
Who would I appear to be?
How will they see me?
The same as always; same as before
But that can never be.
There is a wall and it is forbidden to break it down.

Then--
In the moments before sleep becomes dreams
The veil becomes thin
Opaque becomes translucent and forgetting the risks
I step through
I live the language of the other side
The inscriptions the songs of my heart
As I drown in midnight rest
Euphoria, oxytocin, a complete understanding.

Midnight is long enough
Only to sustain the desire
I wake up to English
But the memory of the image remains
Giving me a reason to find a way around
Because there is a wall and it is forbidden to break it down.


Friday, March 28, 2014

It's on

is this even real ?
i ask this a lot these days.
maybe it is half real
like the moment you wake up from dreams
i know what is real
it's this smile
and the redness in my cheeks
and the solitude i live in
but even that, i'm doubting
because it's on
as if i were on stage in front of a thousand
singing the songs of my heart
with the mic stand in one hand and the other in the air
it's on,
as if i were off the starting line at the gun
and i ran so fast, so far, never to tire
because i can do anything
i can be anything
when i am everything

i broke the glass, i stormed the palace walls
if i'd only have known
for the good i would have liked to find
is only found when worlds collide
i'll float, i'll fly, in the mean time
because it's only half real
like the night you can't quite recall
i know what is real
it's that sky
the laughter that escapes in harmony
and the sun that streams inside
and the rain that doesn't wet you
because it's on
as if the world could see you shining
and the highwire blazing electric
glass in your hand and plane in the air
it's on,
as if between time and space we get what we deserve
which is more than we could imagine
because we can do anything
we can be anything
for we are everything

Friday, March 21, 2014

Meditation

I travel on a road of wonder, shaded by a canopy of brilliant green. Everything is new, every flower fragrant, every image shimmers as if a mirage. I reach out to touch it, and find it's realand I am walking on this pathin this momentthis worldthis illusory forest

And I stumble on, drunk in the surroundings, in the ambiance, in the simple fact that life exists exactly like this and that it is my forest. The world turns; I stay centered. All of this is for me. I give the requisite thanks to the requisite gods and rush to explore my world, one step, leap, dance at a time.

Soon after, I come to a fork in the road. One path remains canopied, sunlight filtering through the leaves. The other path leads into the full sun. It is open to the elements, littered with rocks, covered in sand. I know if I take that path I will walk, fall, crawl, and endlessly go on like this, never knowing if I will reach my destination. I am acutely aware of the fact there may be no destination.

But if I take the shaded path, I will remain intoxicated by the fragrance of the forest. I will take the insects that fly along with me and give them a name. Everything I need is given, and there is very little I need. So much I want, but in this haze I devise ways to believe that all my desires are fulfilled here. Is there any need to keep travelling? It isn't that no destination existsit is that this was the place I always wanted to be. This bliss, to live in, forever. Once the forest effects wear off, I will sleep at the base of the trees I have only dreamed of. And I didn't have to do anythingjust stay. Maybe when I wake up, I will wake back into that dream state.

And I wake, but the dream does not return. I try to recreate it but I have no strength. Now, the forest is only a forest. And sometimes the clouds come, and the trees give shelter but no warmth.

And yet there was another path...

I turn around, try to find the path, but I have no map. I can't go backward; I would be lost forever. There is only one way and it is forward. Or here. Why not here? Am I not a creature of the forest? I settle in.

A wild catalyst appears.
Reaches out and embraces the entire forest in silver,
Strength given returns to me.
A simple nod in a previously-unturned direction
And then it fades into the mist of a beloved dream.

I follow.

The leaves pursue me. I run to escape them, run as if in dreams where one does not tire. In a flash, I leave them behind and find myself standing in the desert. I am cold and it is raining. I huddle behind a rock. The rock is warm with the rays of the hours-earlier sun; I cling to it for safety. I am not sure where I am or if this is my world.

Does it matter if it is or if it is not? What matters is that I am here. And there is still more forward to go.

And so I begin. Down this path, open, vulnerable, uncertain. I step forward, fall. Catch myself. Sand is not soft. Lift myself to my feet. Again tumble. Repeating the pattern. I do not see improvement; only difficulty.

A flower! Blood-red, many-petaled. I am not immune to beauty and I have seen so little of it on this road. I stop for a moment to gather in its fragrance. It is a nostalgic smell, a sweet smell of tea and agreement. I will take this flower with me. I will use it to embolden my heart for the task ahead. I will

I will need to stop the bleeding. Blood, red as the flower in my hand, streams down my face. Sweet fragrance; toxic effect. I toss the flower aside. My mind goes numb. I am far from anything but sand. There is nothing that can be done now; it is surely over.

I remember a shimmer of silver in the forest, encompassing everything around, above, below. Below. I must go deeper.

All I have are my hands. They will not be enough, will they? But I must try. And I find that they are rougher than they were before, the many times they have broken my fall on the shifting sand have made them stronger. I dig in, push the sand aside, silicon scraping my wrists, down, down, until they feel cool liquid respite. This water will heal. I splash it on my face, on my scratched wrists, until the red washes clear and I slump to the sand, exhausted from all my effort. In hope, I await my catalyst but it does not arrive. I fall asleep again.

But this time, I awaken refreshed. I am still not sure where this desert road will take me. But it ceases to matter, as the daily task of moving in this alien land consumes all my time, all my focus. I forget about the forest. If this is the destination, it is preparing me for itself.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Internal motivation

If you exist at all,
Then you must be omnipresent
Except for the vacancy inside me
I reach out in the right ways
I chant your name, your names,
Ninety-nine, one hundred and eight, and three
A mantra, a novena, and a text message
But I hear nothing in response
They say give your first fruits, your best,
But these forced words are all I have
I cannot think to offer you this.

Then in an irrational moment
Dressed only in thin gossamer drape,
I abandon my creation to your hands
And only then realize what I have done.

With nothing left to do but wait, I wake
And I sleep, and I dream of music
That does not, cannot exist
Because my notes are in between the notes
And no word comes, not in all this time,
And the days pass, and I search  and find 
I cry Eureka in the face of every stone
But I am no philosopher
I cannot claim the things that are not mine
And I live my life so far from your sky.

The only place that you are not
Is where I need you most to be
In lieu, I will transform the vacancy
Into my music room
Where I will sing the songs that reach
No further than my own heart
It is better that you do not enter in,
But should you choose to come,
You are ever welcome.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Two sets of eyes

Eyes, your eyes
Never deviating from your destination
Eyes that inspire, eyes that ignite
That remind me of the reasons behind every song ever written
And why I no longer sing
Selfsame eyes that give pause
That turn me to my books
And away from my music --
The one thing that sets me free
The same path leads to the same destination
Time and time again
This time my destination will change
A slight detour,
A turn toward a book
Away from the lights
And into the mind
Eyes that look within, my eyes
That search for the words I want to say
But still fill with tears
When a note is plucked
Or a syllable sung
Green eyes filled not with the jealousy of those
Whose paths were straighter
But with the freshness of the words on my page
And the world around me
Not the eyes
In front of me

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Middle Earth

down from valleys i have come to give you my regards
and true i found them frightening, wet, cold and dark
but through the darkness light shined out, a bright black blue
leading me beautifully out to you

the shortest way to destination is the straight line
i would rather wander outside of the plane, i've got time

up from mountains underwater i swam the miles
i met the mermaids, they bid me stay awhile
i feasted on the fruits of a sea i never knew existed
but now i'm here on cloud nine and i'm hungry again

why is all you offer cold hors d'oeuvres and champagne
when i've come from another world so far and away?

is it something within me that puts this ice here between
or is this city simply too high for me?

and you say that my journey was meaningless
most was dark and the rest filled with idleness
but in your eyes there's the ghost in the forest, the king of the sea
and i know that you were there the whole time with me

well perhaps in this mad world the hero's the fool
and perhaps under sadness is buried what's true

so we've wondered and wandered from point a to b
and we're here because there's just no other place we can be

but i swear the journey, it wasn't for naught
you find out where you are by figuring out where you're not

(Written many years ago. To someone else's music. I need to rework the melody but I love the lyrics.)