Karma Tenzing Wangchuk

(Dennis H. Dutton)

 

 

 

 

CLOUDS GATHER AND PART:

TANKA

 

 

 

 

tel-let

2004

 

 

 

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Acknowledgments

Some of these poems have previously appeared in Lynx, raw Nervz Haiku, Paetsagainsthewar.org. Tanka Light, World Haiku Review, and Tangled Hair.

 

Copyright © 2004 by Karma Tenzing Wangchuk (Dennis H. Dutton)

tel-let

1031 10th St.

Charleston IL 61920-2823

usa

 

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for H.F. Noyes

 

 

 

Do you remember

that day I walked you home?

Under the arbor,

you offered me a grape

as if it were the sun itself.

 

     --for Mataji Indra Devi

 

 

~

 

The audience laughs

just when it should:

I’m a success

for at least this moment,

playing someone I’m not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NATURE & THE SEASONS

 

 

 

The boulevard tonight,

made fresh by the passing storm,

is awash with moonlight,

and couples of all ages

are strolling arm in arm.

 

    --for Moussia, in Roma

 

 

~

 

I let the crickets

wander about my room

as they please,

and if they want to make noise—

well, that’s ok by me!

 

~

 

Winter comes.

I move from place to place,

house-sitting,

strange keys wearing holes

in the pockets of my jeans.    

 

~

 

 

Their boughs twinkling

with fairy lights:

Zelkova trees

along the boulevards

of our sister city.            

 

      --from Acapulco, for Sendai, Japan

 

~

 

No one visits

my home in the mountains,

but a flicker has made

a nest in the eaves

and keeps me company.

 

~

 

 

Snow on the peaks

of the far mountains

faintly blue . . .

packing my few things

for the winter road.  

 

 

~

 

Having been homeless

once myself, I now wonder

how folks on the road

are doing in this first snow

of the holiday season.

 

~

 

A solitary pine,

on a small ledge

just below the summit—

old and gnarled, it still

puts up a good fight. 

 

~

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE

 

 

Secret love—

this town too small

to let it loose,

I make confession

only to the crows.

 

~

 

What if I never

tell her that I love her,

and she loves me

but also says nothing—

what then, you fool?.

 

~

 

Snow has covered

the bulbs we planted

yesterday.

If only we too could lie

in bed till Spring.

 

~

 

The tangled hair

on my pillow

was only a dream,

yet her scent lingered

for a few minutes.

 

~

 

Not that I

expected her to call,

and nights alone

are nothing new to me;

but even so . . .                 

 

~

 

I can tolerate

the separation

and her silence,

but this summer moon

is hard to bear.

 

~

 

Grasses bend

with the weight of snow,

disappear.

The woman I love

has moved far away.

 

~

 

In the letter,

she says that she

admires me—

the woman I love,

who doesn’t love me.

 

~

 

Little Brother,

Little Sister:

although our hands

may never touch in public,

this is how I think of us.

 

~

 

After years away,

the woman I love

is returning in the Fall,

but fate draws me south

like a lone Sandhill Crane.

 

~

 

A glimpse in passing

of an old love this morning. . . .

Tonight the Full Moon

and Venus are conjunct,

and I’m standing here.

 

    Sifnos, Greece

 

~

 

"If I weren’t a monk,"

"If she weren’t married" . . .

the road to hell

is paved with such thoughts,

I tell myself.

 

    Sifnos, Greece

 

~

 

Married life—

a wife, children, home . . .

that wasn’t for me.

Still, now and then I wonder

how it would have been with her.

 

    Sifnos, Greece

 

~

 

Things haven’t

turned out the way

I wanted—

an ocean still between us,

with autumn deepening.

 

~

 

Sometimes a color

can make me think of her—

today a pale pink

I found in a shell

at Platy Yialos.

 

    Sifnos, Greece

 

~

 

I, who

wanted a woman’s love,

found instead

The Way of Poetry

and its passing fancies.

 

    --after Shiki

 

~

 

If only

she would come my way

one more time,

and then before leaving

lift her face to the moon.

 

~

 

 

RELIGIOUS VERSE

 

 

I, who

have almost nothing,

want little

beyond freedom from this,

freedom from that.                

 

    after Shiki

 

~

 

Thinking about it,

what else is there but this—

birth, death,

and something in between

of uncertain duration?

 

~

 

Living, dying . . .

either way it’s hard.

To want to be reborn—

what kind of nonsense

is that?

 

~

 

Clouds gather

and part, gather and part.

So will we.

Even now, it seems,

we’re gathering, parting.

 

~

 

This world of men,

built on so many

false ideas . . .

better to follow the ways

of wind and water.

 

~

 

For one who hears

the music of the meek,

a tiny shell

is no less eloquent

than a giant conch.

 

~

 

As poisons are washed

to sea by rivers and streams,

so may attachments

to the self and its cravings

be removed by meditation.

 

~

 

It’s best to have

no preferences—

what’s good at first

often turns out bad,

and visa-versa.

 

~

 

How I’d like

to spend my final days—

in a humble hut

by a mountain stream,

now and then a visitor.

 

~

 

How afraid

so many of us are of death—

not wanting

to leave behind the known,

not knowing what’s ahead.

 

~

 

How afraid

so many of us are of life—

not wanting

to leave behind the known,

not knowing what’s ahead.

 

~

 

This little space

that I now occupy—

what will it be filled with,

I wonder,

when I’m gone?

 

~

 

Here in the desert,

spring is over just like that.

Our lives, too, are short.

Who knows whether you and I

will meet in the next world?

 

~

 

Seeing a layer

of dust on the surface

of my bathroom mirror,

I trace a finger through it

to make a Happy-Face.  

 

~

 

The midwinter moon

shines dimly through low clouds.

It’s growing late,

and I have no desire left

for imagining what’s not.

 

~

 

It’s not that I

don’t care how things go

in this world of dust,

but that I’m looking for a path

into the green mountains.

 

~

 

Like water

poured into water:

no distinction

between self and other

in The Mind of Tao.

 

~

 

Sitting on the porch

of my 10-foot-square hut,

thoughts rolling

over the rolling hills

and down to the sea.

 

~

 

Released from puja

into star-shine and a waxing

gibbous moon,

we follow our separate paths

to simple huts and solitude.

 

 

 

 

WAR & PEACE

 

 

Not even

under mortar fire

do they flinch;

the Buddhas of Bamiyan

take Refuge in the dust.       

 

~

 

Surely a leader

will have earned the title

"Evildoer"

who decides to start a war

when peace is possible.        

 

~

 

Another name

on the killed-in-action list. . . .

How can he sleep—

that man who’s turned

the White House black?     

 

   For Lt. Kylan Alexander Jones-Huffman

 

~

 

After the rain,

she finds puddles

to jump in—

my child, knowing nothing

of the storms to come            

 

 

 

 

MISCELLANEOUS

 

 

 

A fresh baguette

in his bicycle basket;

he’s pedaling hard

to reach home before

the rain clouds burst.

 

~

 

"Misterioso"—

Monk’s long flat fingers

now and then

hitting the wrong keys

just right.

 

~

 

To tell the truth,

I think when someone says

"To tell the truth,"

they’re probably about

to tell a whopper.

 

~

 

My father loved

to sort nuts and bolts,

brackets, nails . . .

he was seldom at ease

playing with us kids.    

 

~

 

Nothing to say

to each other,

my mother and I

watch people fight

on "Jerry Springer"    

 

~

Missing a train

that would have had me

home by now,

I watch the full moon

rise over the tracks.

 

 

~

 

The scrim is up,

behind which I’ll play

my character

in monologue, set apart

from the others in the cast.

 

 

~

 

The beautiful shell . . .

thinking it might still

be occupied,

I left it behind

on the beach at Faros.

 

    Sifnos, Greece

 

~

 

I, who

chose to live alone,

you who married—

what fools we are,

envying each other!

 

     --after Shiki

 

 

 

 

 

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