Poems

TENZING RIGDOL

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My eyes are red

Wet and swollen,

With your ashes

Blown to my face.

 

I see you in threads of whispers

Harbored in digital waves

Escaping the nozzles of

Guns and barricades.

 

Your cries were

Doused in selflessness

Like the sun

Burning herself

To her last breath.

 

My frightened fingers

Braided in fear

Reach out into the abyss.

My knees are nailed to the ground and

Palms chiseled into a spear.

And in the moment of despair

I tremble,

‘Who would be the next?’

 

*

I couldn’t smoke a cigarette

I couldn’t burn incense

Butter-lamps intimidate me

Matchsticks frighten me

Dear Lobsang Lozin la1,

For how long will you

In silence,

Smile at my futile indulgence?

 

*

Walls and ceiling

Walls and ceiling

I haggled for a quiet sleep.

Curtains were frozen,

Doors locked

With my thoughts as blunt as wind.

I twisted and turned

From left to right

Surrendering myself to a dream.

But my bed was bankrupt of sleep

And owls outgrew their stare through me.

My pillow opened its windows

And I coughed

Charcoal and smoke.

 

Walls and ceiling

Walls and ceiling

My thought is a maze of noodle strings:

Sadness looped around a slippery pride

with an invisible hand holding the uncertain kite.

Is this the rabbit of a full-moon night

Or the shortness of breath slowly growing canines.

My teeth

My mind,

My mouth,

My tongue,

Couldn’t equate this blazing

TIDE.

 

*

Find me a pair of glasses

Before me is a world smeared in dust.

I see smiles.

I see nods.

But why do you have your hands

Crossed?

 

Please lend me your comfortable smiles

And teach me your art of living.

I want to rest,

I want to sleep,

I want to meditate like a lost ship

In a quiet bed of ocean, of desolation.

 

Behind me

I have a library of tears

Of Sisyphean footprints, grunts and screams.

Will you, my friend,

Help me build a funeral pyre?

 

*

As you stir my heaven and earth

With your loud clouds of smoke,

My incompressible mind

Grows legs of wild thoughts

Now my teeth are weak,

Cigarettes have rotten their grip.

Forgive me,

I now can barely chew

The Vajra Dharma!

 

*

I, a parasite

Who feeds on you for words

Am afraid

Ashamed and

Humiliated.

Let me be the SENTENCE!

 

*

You lay there covered in a soaring blanket of fire

The world with its cold limbs

Gathered around you

And watched

And watched

And watched

And watched

And watched…

 

*

I drown my liver in rum and wine

And scribble poetry about sweet chang2.

Rappelling further down into my soul

I stumbled upon an age-old song.

It was what my father sang

In his very native tongue

A sad old song

A sad old song

 

*

I have become a pilgrim at bars

Where I meet

Sadhus, pandits and poets at war

At dusk they magically turn

Into cooks, dishwashers and babysitters.

This is my story, our stories

Bitter refugees

Killing Time.

 

*

When I wake up,

May I find all my past to be

Just a dream –

A poetic error

God’s bad handwriting

A terrible comedy!

 

*A Tibetan contemporary artist/poet, Tenzing Rigdol’s artwork ranges from painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, digital, to video installation, site-specific and performance art. He has extensively exhibited his artworks throughout the United States in various museums, and also in London, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Israel, Madrid and Mumbai. Rigdol’s artwork is held in museums and collections worldwide and is represented by Rossi & Rossi gallery in London. Additionally, his poetry books: ‘R’ – The Frozen Ink (2008), Anatomy of Nights (2011), Butterfly’s Wings (2011) were published by Tibet Writes. He lives and works in New York.

Footnotes:

1. Lobsang Lozin self-immolated and passed away in Tibet, Barkham county, 17 July 2012.

2. Tibetan beer.

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