Barbed wire sets off our encampment

Nails and broken glass pipe up from outer-rim walls.

Fleeing in a vintage 60’s V W, blue paint peeling

from the orange that conceals the grey that preceded it,

the wiry woman in tai chi pants

tosses her sketchbook with its ink-blush intimacies

onto the seat beside her. The road she steers down

veers through makeshift barricades piled high with stones

Her hillside garden is inlaid with them

Stone nestled against stone, looped and lassoed

with flowering vines, color-rich moss grown slits

etched with Om Mani Padme Hung

The stream she must cross, soapy gray, strychnine blue,

reeks of piss. A leaf afloat with a toss of rice

is the only raft left. Better flesh to ash

a final rest on the riverside pyre,

than to slink away beneath shallow stinging waves

Better, even now, to etch in heart and guts

stone-borne syllables that exalt L I B E R A T I O N

Better to wake, to rise, than to drown,

bewildered, veiled by Shangri-la’s long-spent dream



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