Anthology of Tibetan Poets


Tsering Wangmo Dhompa



From a distance, topography is intent
as in, Where I am from is no more. 
Blood is not a natural conclusion 
to kinship despite theories and experiments
where red prefaces emotion. One thought
supplants the other in the sophistry of choice 
(therefore, hunger is a project to fit 
into the frame.) Grids in the caves
we build attest to an empire 
of codes: plaster and cork keep us 
afloat. Necessity deigns
the cessation of sound as nails 
hold this house upright.

Cities with five-year plans
dream of purchase. Allotment
of success systemic with windows
glimpsing blue ocean or unmoving 
mountain, a view, in other words.
No matter we are building 
on sand. We begin with certitudes
when securing our spot.
We cannot forget 
what we leave, arrival 
allows discovery in increments.
In time, is promised, in sight.

An abattoir is not on the city tour because tourists 
do not wish to see death. They surmise that being poor, 
natives are naturally without longing. The poor are happy, 
they observe from a distance. To remain silent is on occasion 
to suffer. Again, it is the poor who gives to the divine 
or to the idea anyway. We kill the water buffalo 
and cows live to ransack vegetables out for sale.
The sage said, Young men will use you like the taxis 
of this city. To live alone is your lot. 
Monkeys swooped on flowers
laid out by women in sheathes of red.

Note: Dhompa's poems are reprinted with author's permission. ©  Apogee Press