Friday, September 09, 2005

prayer flags at Da Bao Monastery

the wheels creak like birds
where pilgrims have passed

some prayers are trod to ground
none forgotten

a forest of flags all ages

wheels all the way up the hill
and we turn them
for world peace
for friends absent, present, on the way
for this place, its people
for all we selfish selves desiring

in cowbells now a sow approaches
rooster heralds all

prayers knotted through trees hill high
all flags tied to this one breath
the sky composing
a roof of prayers

pouring home these words to air devoted
and high above the motor's hum
hear the shepherd's horns attending
chicken on the grassy rooftop
squirrel in the arms of pine

shadows of prayer flags
grounding move earth

the mountain itself in prayer
where the flags soak in with each rain

and there are clouds the day has brought here
brought with the silence of words long since left

after this singular breath, say eternity
at last there comes
the scramble of tourists
reminding me who I am

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

first Tibet poems


Xiangalila (Shangrila)

ironic such pure air's

so thin

in my ears then this must be

the sound of less than nothing

lungs at rest lean uphill

sunshower from my hotel windows

mountains throw themselves around

dry height they have here leaves you hungry

they're building the old town right now

believe me it will be truly ancient

older than Lijiang more authentic than Dali

flying in we saw the yun in Yunnan

a blind sweep down between clad ridges

and cosy the country in pyjamas

wait for sky to lighten

day to brighten

for breath to draw itself

from attention

the higher the sky the further from heaven

sun fierce at this height

still a long way to go

you can wear your old dusty pants west in China

no one minds …

my Shangrila – a country where you can’t be overdressed

in the room the kettle starts like a truck climbing endlessly into mountains

switchbacks and gravel, devil’s elbows downhill, breaks are spongy

just as dreamt on the road's wrong side and never giving way

the bells at flutter and the ringing drapes

cowboy hats come through the temple court

a drizzling day still behind

slight shit smell

rich red robes of the faithful

their footwear various

two monks stroke the temple’s luck lions

ragged hag rings prayer wheel round

hear two-stroke labour the hill

lads at prostration make a sound like mahjong

walls are alive with the journey wheel

and on the streets

everyone sings here

night falls for certain

lowing hills knit close

at last lying in bed with the rain

a breeze gathers curtains around the lit doorway

thus splitting joining the sign for eternity