Poems

Tibetan Village Scenes

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

in the cafe
beneath the photo
of the Dalai Lama

a poster of a 
woman in red
playing pool
drinking Carlsberg

----------------------

at the stupa
one hundred
thousand prostrations
to the Buddha--
who is keeping count?

----------------------

after evening meditation
thirteen-year-old monk
takes off his maroon robes

puts on his Nike shorts

----------------------

walking into a cave
where Padma Sambhava meditated
a thousand years ago

I cut my forehead
on the ceiling
not bowing low enough

----------------------

these prayer flags
are faded

the words already blown
into the wind

----------------------

from the corrugated
iron shacks

outside the
Monkey Temple

the sound of refugees
singing

 

                                               Kathmandu Valley

The Backyard Shrine

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

behind a crumbling brick apartment house
surrounded by old tires and empty barrels

a young girl silently performs the morning prayers

kneels to the statue of a god
touches her fingertips to her forehead three times
and walks to the three corners of the small backyard shrine

dabs everything with red vermillion
tears a leaf off a branch
places it on her tray
walks back to a red broken brick
circles it and returns

leaves food out for the birds
before walking home
over the corrugated iron

 

                                              Kathmandu

Kathmandu Mosque

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe
I

on the second floor
of a paint-peeled
house in an alleyway
where a few green carpets
form the neighborhood mosque
three young boys
gather around me
to teach me how
to pray

II

down the street
from the mosque

next to Shiva
sitting on a throne

four buddhas
face in all directions

Temple of the Emerald Buddha

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

a toothless shaman
grins at you
as you enter
this holy place

---------------------

young boy
takes gold leaf
off buddha statue
puts it on
his own face

---------------------

the man in the mirror
is losing his hair--
pretty soon
he'll be gone too

---------------------

the emerald buddha
is really made of jade--
it doesn't matter
to the Buddha

---------------------

the buddhas in Bangkok
are all smiling--
still you say
"Life is suffering"

---------------------

a serpent
with five heads
all with the
buddha's face

---------------------

four teenaged girls
with a tape recorder
ask to interview me
for their English class--

one of them asks me:
"Why are you here?"

---------------------

sitting in the presence
of the buddha
I forget
the four vows

---------------------

twelve summers ago
when I first visited this temple:
someone else

---------------------

the buddha holds his arms
outstretched
to stop the sea

---------------------

a small boy
walks into the temple
sees the buddha
calls out: "Hello!"

---------------------

twelve years ago
I first saw myself
in the mirror

looking at the green
emerald buddha

looking at me

                                    Bangkok

Angel Drifters

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

angels on the street

I heard one of their voices
soaring through the alleyway

singing a hymn
in a language that doesn't exist

in words no human had
ever spoken

dressed in white
hair of flames

walking through the darkened
lamplit streets

angel drifters thru the nite

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