This morning on the way back from the bahnhof
on a routine bus ride in ________________
that my imagination hereby recreates:
a transit policeman singles me out of the crowd
and says,"Transit inspection."
I produce my well-punched ticket
and return my full attention
to you, riding here beside me.
Today you are old enough to make sense,
to count, and I am trying to remember you
and also to remember
what such intrusions mean today
and what they donʼt mean
so someday the meaning
of such intrusions
will be out of the ordinary
and very far away.
IMITATIONS OF COLERIDGE
... the symbolic identity is clear...the world of business breaking into
the fine, solitary detached world of artistic creation....
-- Richartd Holmes, Coleridge,.
1. In Xanadu
In Kathmandu , I write to you
Not so much of Development with a capital D,
as of developments today
Where Alph, the sacred river runs
without water and wheels turn
on hand-power, in a situation
that changes hour by hour
2. An incense-bearing tree
So twice five miles of fertile ground
partitioned out without good roads
or named or numbered abodes
so that gardens bright were often tended
with trash burnings more often than not
occurring on many a corner lot
and children playing in the road
who put their own imagined dome
upon a gravel chipped or fire bricked tower
that would grow taller by the hour
until knocked down, intentionally or un-,
by some casual passerby.
And in this fertile ground
unpaved for miles around
many an incense-bearing tree
approaching a monastery
Where many an acolyte
With head shaved smooth and bright
Shouldered many a prayer wheel there
as quick as she or he could bear
3. Romantic Chasm
And here were forests ancient as the hills
enfolding villages as earthen as the...
But oh! the romantic chasm of getting from point A
of passing on impassible roads
by drivers skilled at getting to point B
Taxis! a wholly economic unit— basic
as any found beneath a waning moon
Where potters turned truck tires into pots
and wrappers wrapped with bubble wrap the lots
4. From Ceaseless Turmoil
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
This Travel Warning is being updated to alert
Foreign nationals that due to ongoing security concerns
in Nepal the Embassy has been granted
effective today, an authorized departure status.
Family members and non-emergency personnel
now have permission to depart Nepal .
5. Ancestral Voices
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran
almost dried up because a second dam
was out of service, to the point of crisis,
waiting lifeless for the next monsoon
And mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Maoist voices prophesying war!
6. With Caves of Ice
The shadow of the chalky dome of pleasure
Is still a prayer-wheeled stupa of rare device:
A sunny shrine for pilgrims’ cyber lofts,
Where was heard with mingled measure the ringing bells,
Where was seen the banks of candled lights:
Marking endless revolutions -- days and nights....
7. Her dulcimer she played
A damsel with a Hasselblad
In a vision once I saw,
With oval Russian and middle-eastern eyes,
Has played upon her scanner
And sings of orchids steeled and wise
8. Should see them there
Could I revive just now in me
The simple song of walking down their street
My deep delight in them ‘twold win me
With the light and solemn music there
And I would rebuild that stupa in the air
That sunny dome Those prayer flags there
And all who heard, as me, should see them there.
9. With Holy Dread
And all should cry, “Beware, “Beware”
of the flashing eyes of dueling power there,
As each takes two steps abyss-ward
and one step back from paradise..
and moves along with holy dread
while each on honey-dew hath fed
and drinks the milk of Paradise .
M.A. SCHORR is the Executive Director of the Robert Frost Foundation in Lawrence, Massachusetts.. His newest collection is Heart's Ladder (bookmarkpress).