As Empire expands and hardens,

its outpost walls as brittle as the first push back

and nightmare warnings that follow,

I turn from this end of days ramble

through rare moon-lit cobblestone streets,

down a hillside lane, I, in the sure-footed past sought,

and – before the lure of land’s end and the sudden

drop from view – ease the latch on a half-hidden door

Renewal and celebration, they say, lie

behind these briar-leeched walls. Past trees, temples and shrines,

in a corner grove, flanked by stone statues,

a lotus-bound yogi stares.

His immovable intention unmoors my gaze.

In this city-sieged isle of refuge, the stubborn earth

shifts and pulls, the clotted air stills

and blinds. As vision wraps itself in flags

and greed goes naked, before the moon-draped yogi

I offer my lungs as does the tree its leaves,

breath by phrase, ear to heart, and beg for an image,

a sign torn from night. Its snowdrift sky

hails me in return with a stone for a nose,

a few more for lips and two crusty marbles for eyes

Let me shape them with these blood-red clays

into a burial mound more primitive

than Buddhist, more snow man than Stupa,

its somnambulist light as deep and fiery

as a dragon’s gullet. If not an animist shrine

for victims, then a kiln for creation. While all around,

not just here in Nepal where impunity rules,

but near and far, bunkered down

in the poem or steadfast in waking dream,

astride the bases and robber-banks,

whirl-winded by bitter gas and clubs of hate,

spied beneath a drone’s stiff-backed wings,

in that excoriating shadow that encircles all,

in that near fatal intimacy, let me, let us,

step forth where others stumble

and rise, to stand or fall in these dark times

we share



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