Anthology of Tibetan Poets


Tsering Dolkar


Tibetan Nights

The only thing that breathes is the sound of engine
Relentless in its climb against the steep rugged pass
Palms cold with sweat, eyes too awake for their sockets
Somewhere I heard a cry in the wild, it was my own voice.
Sounds drum in and out
Half of everything made sense; the rest was a strange spasm.

To think just yesterday I was filled with purpose
Believing life held a distinct shape
One should have known meanings are projections
For journeys like mine never end.
I am a spinning wheel blown in all directions
I am the eternal misfit's voice...

They have stopped moving now
Ahead lay the town barely visible without the streetlights
A lone thought zipped by
Where is everyone?  Dear God where is everyone?! 
The walls inch closer against my heart
Drapchi had cast its shadow on the moon.
I lay on the bed I have to sleep- I need to sleep
Men of the Tibetan nights I see them coming
In loose dark suits, silent as ghosts
I force my eyes open until the silhouettes fade
Yes you are here!  
Here in a little apartment across a golf course
Choked by feather light pillows...this is absurd!

Crippled by the baggage of the past
I wait for the sunlight unable to sleep
Some say for your own sake never look back
Others insist people have a right to hear my story.

Waterfall: An Epilogue

For you who wrote about the promise of waterfall
Who freed my spirit with the force of language
Taught me to love the tongue I speak
And teach it one day to my children

I was in Chentsa just outside the local square
Everywhere were signboards in Tibetan, Chinese and broken English
One boasted of the best meal and another a rendezvous with girls, dyed hair, plastic implants
In these changing times are monks no more gullible than street 'prostitutes'?
The sun scorched through the wide brimmed hat and duly burnt my insidious thought.
Far from the houses, I walked in silence towards the fateful waterfall 
The pony had jumped into the swirling froth and darkness
Its lifeless head playing hide and seek 
My movement predetermined, I looked to the left
He was dead, his eyes turned inward in permanent sleep
I yanked him by the hair and whispered, "A fucking waste!"
Flies hovered the air in avid anticipation, their flapping wings tearing at my chest, 
I gnashed his pen against my teeth and spit it in the waterfall
A paper windhorse flew from a car window and landed on the rocks
Someone's foolish hope-
- on which no doubt the sky will piss in sheer abandonment.

The Other

Buddha lies hidden under a white silk scarf
Tucked inside the drawer at home in Lhasa
At night I restore it, and say my prayers
Prayers to forgive my cowardice
Prayers to relieve my suffering.
I stare ahead at the giant monastic gate
The crowd walks with their prayer beads
But my hands are stuck to the iron rice bowl
I can't hold the old butter lamp.

Yet night after night I am assailed by dreams
I hear echoes of my dead parents
I relive their hunger and blood in revolution
It is here that I see myself
The potential not yet dead, the fire still left.

I am flying high on a rebellious horse
Brandishing a sword with the flag on my chest 
I plunge headlong against the army of red 
Screaming with all my fury
I dare them to kill me and set me free
for I am the master of my own fate.

Again morning comes to intervene
I pedal slowly to work for my boss
He greets me ni hao sipping jasmine tea
Tells me about the native who just went to prison
For the most stupid cause you can ever imagine!
It is futile, it is suicidal- he goes on
I respond with respect and sit at the desk
Fear is back with my mask 
Come evening, I'll tear it again.