In one of the great court banquets, everyone was seated according to rank, awaiting the entry of the king. In came a plain, shabby man and took a seat above everyone else. His boldness angered the prime minister, who ordered the newcomer to identify himself. Was he a minister? No, more. Was he the king? No, more. “Are you then God?” asked the prime minister. “I am above that also,” replied the poor man. “There is nothing beyond God,” retorted the prime minister. That nothing,” came the reply, “is me.”
Something to start your week with…. I am excited especially by the work of Nina Serrano, I hope you enjoy her poetry as much as I do…
On The Menu:
Tales of Mulla Naruddin
Poetry: Nina Serrano (with a great article link!)
Art: Persian Minatures…
Tales of Mulla Naruddin
Mulla Nasruddin is about to engage in litigation. He says to his lawyer: ‘If I sent the judge 100 gold pieces, what effect would that have on the ruling of my case?’
The lawyer is horrified. ‘You do that,’ he says, ‘and he’ll find against you for sure – you might even be arrested for attempted bribery!’
– ‘Are you sure?’
‘Quite sure, I know that judge!’
The case was heard, and the Mulla won.
‘Well,’ said the lawyer, ‘you did get justice after all, you can’t deny that…
‘Mind you, said Nasruddin, ‘the gold pieces also helped…’
‘You mean you actually sent the judge money?’ howled the lawyer.
‘Oh yes,’ said Mulla Nasruddin – ‘but of course, I sent the gold in the other man’s name!”
It is 4am and Nasruddin leaves the tavern. He walks the town aimlessly. A police officer stops him and says, Why are you out wandering the streets this late at night? Sir, replied Nasruddin, If I knew the answer to that question, I would have been home hours ago.
Alone in the Desert (retold by Nasruddin)
Ah, it was a time of bustling cities and pressing obligations! After a time, I grew weary of the pace and needed a respite, a quiet time in which to gather my inner peace again. So I took the barest necessities and went into the desert, to be alone in the endless space under the vast sky, and to have only the stars and the sand for company.
It was a blessed time. Each day I awoke before the sun, and fell asleep to the light of shooting stars. I prayed at the appointed times and meditated early and late. I slept more soundly than I ever slept before, and woke refreshed and happy. The peace began to grow like a clear pool in my heart.
I was sleeping one night when I heard a sound. Is it not true that a tiny sound so often heralds great occurences? I heard the sound of a scratching on my tent. Perhaps a desert rat, or the wind. I opened my eyes, and all was dark. I peered into the darkness, and dimly discerned a shape barely outlined in the faint starlight that permeated the cloth of the tent. It was a man, stealthily entering.
I didn’t want to intrude; his concentration seemed to be intense. Besides, I was a little curious, so I lay and watched. He apparently planned to rob me of all my possessions, not knowing I had only brought the barest necessities. He rooted around for a few moments, and stood up. I could see he had a good load on his back. In the faint light I could just discern both of my table lamps and my golf clubs.
He exited the tent, and I could hear him depositing the booty on the ground a little distance away. Just as I thought, he returned for more. He was a little longer the second time, but when he stood, I saw he was carrying my grandfather clock. When he picked up my color television, it was the last straw.
I jumped up and followed him out of the tent.
“Stop!” I cried. He froze in his tracks. Slowly, with trembling limbs, he set his load on the ground, and turned.
“I am lost!” he stammered. “I was trying to find my way and stumbled on this tent.”
“And decided to take everything in it?” I asked.
“You have caught me.” He hung his head in shame. “I am at your mercy. I have stolen, and I must pay the price.”
I looked at him with what I hoped was a piercing gaze. “We have no magistrates here, save that I was once a mulla. We do have common sense and compassion.”
He looked at me wonderingly. I went on. “I see by your garb you are a poor man, and by the doll showing from your pocket that you are a family man.”
“I am,” he replied. “We have fallen on hard times.”
“For heaven’s sake, don’t make them harder, young man,” I said. “Where I come from, if we do a job, we do it one hundred percent. You have been sloppy, and have not completed your task. You forgot this.” And I handed him the small bag of gold I always keep at the foot of my bed.
He looked at me dumfounded. “What do you mean, effendi?”
“I mean this is your most fortunate day,” I replied. “I have just this night renounced ownership of all my possessions, and returned them to their rightful owner. Do you know who that is?”
“Allah?” he asked, weakly.
“But of course!” I cried, warming to my subject. “All these goods are not mine; they belong to Allah, and are at the disposal of everyone. So you see, young man, by the greatest stroke of fortune, on this night, of all nights, in this tent of all tents, you did not steal, because the goods belonged to you already. Now are you going to take the gold or not?”
The young man was silent for a moment, then fell on his knees.
“Oh, great shaikh! You are beyond all wisdom! I have never heard anything so wise or so compassionate. You are the most wise and generous of all men! I repent of my misdeeds, and throw myself on your mercy. Please take me as your disciple, and teach me your profound philosophy.”
“Ah, I am pleased with you, my son.” I replied. “You can never earn more than a bachelor’s degree with me, because I am a bachelor.”
He looked up at me , wondering what nonsense this was. And surely, wisdom and nonsense are often difficult to distinguish.
“I will take you as my companion and teach you what I can. You may share my tent. Now that you have unburdened me of these possessions, there is plenty of room!”
So that is how I met Tekka. He has since become a good and loyal friend, as I am to him.
Peace be upon you; I must now depart.
Poetry: Nina Serrano
Poets in San Francisco
(A legend about Anais Nin and Lawrence Ferlinghetti)
It feels good to write poems in San Francisco
But it would be better if someone
wanted to read listen and talk about poems
in San Francisco.
There is a place where poets meet and love each other
Once I thought it was San Francisco
but when I got there their coffee houses turned into dress stores.
I think the place where poets meet
lies in an inner space between
The ribs the lungs and hurting loneliness.
A poet fills his bags with rose petals
and empties it on the head
of another poet.
Her hair is full of petals.
There love poems rhymed and metered bloom dirty plume and festoon
and in that moment of raining flowers
is the place I want to be.
Sometimes the past slams the door in your face
Even if you phone first to say that you are coming
Even if you politely bring a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy
It’s no matter to the impervious past
that doesn’t care about furture consequences
because they already happened
The past turns its back and leaves me pounding on its portals
My cries echo in the dust.
Visiting the Hometown
Fifty years ago she’d been a woman
And I a little girl
But on this day we both walked as grandmothers
through the familiar east side streets
It used to be the poor and workaday part of town
fifty years ago
But now the shops, the stalls, the cafes and crowds
Make it the happening hood
The town changed as much as we
Only our love stayed the same.
Also, don’t miss this article….