Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bahkor circuit

every day
the wheel desiring
round we go

the Buddhist shoppers’ paradise
nirvana this for tourists too

whistling street of bicycle taxis
rancid with wafting smoke
of the butter lamps

devotion colours days with smog

joy in the mantras
prayer flags blacken

all this from the tourists’ rooftops

Bakhor – the endless wheel – desire
venerated in objects of devotion

they’re the kind you take home
hang on wall
or round the neck to travel
spiritual calm you bring your corner
drawing to it eternity’s dust
and pack away in a drawer at last

under hats of every colour
dark jowls
fingers press cloth across the machine
the lamps burn on

let us loosen the imagery
or call that appropriating

hear tractors plough through city streets

Lhasa – goat city
rain recedes but mist clings on
smoke rises to the challenge

it’s feet which turn the wheel
feet the without which
wishing’s done for

feet – the slaves
of desire and devotion


night comes singing
from the streets below
shouts musical too
and the dogs’ dull percussion
something competitive
in and of the throat
as if they had learned
how to strangle each other

rain and the night take up

kingdom of theocrats
each to the eternal submitting

image of Matreya

Potala 2

behind the hoardings for the celebration
of so much Tibetan autonomy

across the road from the Agricultural Bank
where none of the auto-tellers play today

ringed by its smoke wreathed circuit of stalls
carpet shops, pilgrims prostrating

pile of stones for the fifty kwai note
wu shi ren min bi


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