Of lakes, pools and ice
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Lake poems. By Ashok Niyogi.


Mountain Lake

Sheet of ice
A giant blue white lotus leaf.
Jagged ends,
The water below makes tiny inroads.

Sun plays hide and seek
Ragged clouds drifting across the west,
Lake gives off
The Sierra mist.

Warfare in the afternoon,
Silent combat.
The Redwoods watch
As corpse shapes form
In the mist,
Wisped up and away
From the ice.

The thaw will come,
The Redwoods know.
Allied with the sun,
Water will win.

Even enveloped as it is now
With the lotus leaf of blue white ice.

Lilly Pool

Marathoning down precipitous slopes,
Gurgling past boulders,
Nibbling away at wooded banks
So that tree roots show.

At last the lay is such
That ardors cool,
Water is still,
Lakebed pebbles play with the fish.

Lilies float up,
Lichen sways,
Waist deep
Water lapping their shanks,
The gods in pranayam (1)
Await the rising of the sun.

1. Pranayam - the position of stillness standing, with folded hand, in celebration of another day.


As the sun sets,
I search for flat pebbles
To skip across the waves
Of Tahoe Lake.

Is this a lake?
Or a minor sea?
Grossly unfair,
A yacht sails by,
Wavelets devour my pebble
After the third leap.

The wind picks up,
The sun weakens its slant
Between the tallest pines,
My cigarette lighter burns my thumb

I climb up a grassy slope
With squirrel holes,
Breathless in my evening gloom.

I sit on a park bench,
And say
My evening prayer.

Three Little Monkeys

Three little monkeys
Black as coal,
Perch on a twig
In their sanctuary pool
In St. Petersburg zoo.

No see, no hear, and no tell,
But their pupils shift from side to side

One at the edge
Keeps falling off
And climbing back on,
Games monkeys play.

Shifting pupils that never stop,
Side to side in work and play.
My pupils dance away
Behind shut eyelids,
As I sleep.


In the Baikal I create
Rhododendrons bloom,
I harvest sunflowers
Above forty feet of ice,
My wooden ship runs on skis
Powered by the Siberian wind,
Benign bears catch flying fish

I harvest blocks of jade
To carve into idols of passion,
And sell sun tan lotion
To German charter tourists
With bottled drinking water.

Come summer, I will drink you up
You will flow in my belly
And create love songs for God. (1)

1. The last four words are borrowed from Rilke.

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