Tag Archives: poetry

The place to die

18 Sep

I was looking for a place I would want to die.

Australia was not the place.

Then, after a few years, Japan turned out not to be either.

Then I found Kerala in India.

But after a few years, again I am feeling this is not the place.

In fact, what I am starting to gain

Is my indiscrimination in the place I would die.

Wherever I would die,

Now I can imagine my body

Turning into soil and wind and light

And fly and melt into the world.

I hope I won’t forget this.


2013 Tomomi


Upon Ballads and Ragams

31 Jan

So I talked to and caught up with Eugenie over skype after more than a year. I am happy.

Talking to an actual native speaker of English reminds me the need to read more proper English books. By ‘proper’, I mean ‘those with beautiful language’. It is frustrating to look for a word you used to know and you know it is there, but does not come through your throat to become a voice. What a shame.

And you know, this is why I don’t take this ‘international language’ thing highly. It is a wonderful media for communication, but it should not creep into your life too much. The English non-native speakers use to each other lacks the depth and wealth of culture- but as I just wrote, it is a wonderful means to communicate with somebody from different linguistic background. But still.

Anyway, I thought I will write about singing ballads, a topic which we couldn’t go into it as much.

When I was studying Sanskrit, chanting the verses was a part of the learning. I used to know a couple of tunes applicable to each meter[certain combinations of short and long syllables]. I am not sure if I still remember them all. So, back then, I knew some set tunes, and knew how to sing poems or epics in those tunes.

Now that I am learning Carnatic music, I have familiarised myself with the concept of Ragams [called Rag, in Hindustani music]. It is difficult to explain what raga is; as difficult as to explain what chords and harmony are to an Indian person.

Ragam is sets of musical notes, and each set produces different feelings, different atmosphere. A friend of mine, when she came to see my carnatic lesson, said “the sound changed. What was it?” Well, that was when the Ragam changed. It is hard to explain what this is. But the word ‘raga’ apparently derives its meaning from ‘colour’ (though the term itself has many meanings). Each raga has different colour, different smell, and different air.

What is amazing about it is, if you know the Ragam well, you are able to improvise with the Ragam- well, you are supposed to. So, if you have poems, epics, some lines- and if you are well acquainted with Indian music, then you are well capable of singing them in different Ragams. I mean, you can improvise it, and sing the lines spontaneously, from your heart. In fact, Kavalam Srikumar does it with the epic Ramayana, and is broadcasted throughout Kerala every year in August (youtube should have many videos. Sorry I don’t have youtube access at the moment so I can’t link).

So in this system, you can always reproduce the poetic works. So I hear many tunes for each meter. The same work can be sung differently, not just because there are many traditions, but also because the music system here allows, and is based on, improvisation; but again, not a total free improvisation, but with rules called Ragams that actually enrich the whole experience.

So. In this sense, if I successfully learn Carnatic, as well as Sopana music, I may as well be able to sing some ballads and poems. Eventually. A possibility.

Anger and wash-away=poetry

19 Dec

I’ve been thinking. Anger has been invading the core of my being. Not something very visible that explodes periodically. It is harming my emotions quietly yet in strong force.

In some ways or other, I know where it comes from. It is because I do not feel that I am a part of anybody else.

But that aside. Often it starts from my feeling some kind of injustice. That is, actually, pretty normal, and normally I would not take up any issue with it. Often there is very little that I can do. I cannot be bothered to have drama with everything.

However, still, sometimes, something simply pulls the trigger. Unexpectedly. And everything is suddenly so stirring!

And then, I was thinking, that I somehow seemed not wanting to let go of this anger. This state lasted for a couple of days. At the same time, I was also aware of times when I can be free of these thoughts and anger- when I am completely soaked into singing.

Anyway, the thought went on… and still goes on. My feeling now is that, eventually, I will feel to let go of the angers. The matter is just that, how to reach that stage.


This is the next day. Guess what. The anger is gone.
I read some tanka poems of my favorite poet… Bokusui. Then most things were washed out. It just made me realize the power of poetry.

One of his famous ones goes like;

“Is the white bird not sad, wandering in the blues, never coloured by the sky nor the sea”

You may want to convert ‘white bird’ to seagull or some other bird, and the ‘wandering’ to some other terms… the actual meaning of the original is to ‘drift’. ‘drifting without being died by the sky blue nor the ocean blue’ would be a literal translation. I went somewhere between the literal and liberal translation. Anyway, I hope you could picture it…

the slug

15 Oct

I should probably be
the hero myself.
A shooting star won’t fly into my hand;
I know, I know.
That’s all that I know.


Sometimes I need to take the risk
for my own well being
to stay out late after work, to slip into a fancy cafe
(which might sound crazy for Indians)
for my own well being.


Small things affect;
like a man last night at the station
who stepped on and then rolled around with his shoes
a slug
that I think was bleeding some transparent liquid
but was still alive.


(c)Tomomi 2012

On a stormy day

13 Oct

lights up the evening,
perfectly reflecting my mood;
tensed and windy but strangely silent.
Jacks and bananas and paddy fields
are all adorned with the perfume of rain.


future is no need.
I am living now
and that is sufficient.
Only when my spirit is weary
I look at the future
which is afterall a mirage or illusion
or simply darkness.


I need singing for survival,
but perhaps the singing doesn’t need me.
Once in a while I get tired
from chasing all the time.
But at least it’s responsive,
and so I keep this pursuit.


Not that I don’t love
my parents, but
I need to find my own people
and my own world
to live my life
and be myself.


Even though I wish
for someone beside me
when I feel like crying,
I know, as long as I have such longing,
I don’t worth anyone.


(c) Tomomi 2012

it was a special day

26 Nov

There’s a tingling in my fingers,
waiting for the moment of bliss;
it’s coming through nights and days,
sending me some lights;
and so I go ahead.


That summer lake I think of
is ever shining in the mountain wind,
tickering tickering tickering…
Dear friends, O friends,
I will never forget.


(c)2011 Tomomi Fune


24 Nov

Wonder where this goes;
my wondering.
It’s not the time yet,
so it just flows and fades
like the white breath in winter…


(c)2011 Tomomi Fune