Karma Tenzing Wangchuk

(Dennis H. Dutton)




















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)


1031 10th St.

Charleston IL 61920-2823







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.











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,


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. 











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


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,


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.








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.








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


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            









A fresh baguette

in his bicycle basket;

he’s pedaling hard

to reach home before

the rain clouds burst.





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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