Tuesday, March 3, 2015

POEM: "Outside Tianshui, Gansu Province"

Outside Tianshui, Gansu Province

                                                                          for Anna

 759. Du Fu went to Maijishan

There are few monks left in these remote shrines,
And in the wilderness the narrow paths are high.
The musk-deer sleep among the stones and bamboo,
The cockatoos peck at the golden peaches.
Streams trickle down among the paths;
Across the overhanging cliff the cells are ranged,
Their tiered chambers reaching to the very peak;
And for a 100 li one can make out the smallest thing.

2014. I've never been to Maijishan

Purple red sandstone in one cave
At the Maijishan Grottoes observes
The original male form of Guanyin
Not Mother Mary and not Madonna
Not Lady Gaga or your grandma either
But a fellow much like us who exudes
(Exudes? The man is dripping with it!) 
Sweetness tempered with no-nonsense
Obviously our man's a former dissident
At Wheatstack Mountain it’s understood
When Buddha turned into Bodhisattvas
The lout still packs one hell of a wallop
Stand here your head will be changed
(Changed? Are you a complete idiot!)
When on the other side you see knives
Guns on the floor the heavy truncheons
Soldiers in tanks the frightened students
But sharpness is all the memory has left 
You might understand there is nothing soft
About kindness or about compassion, there
(There? Come here, I'll give you compassion!)

© 2014 Rob Schackne

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