1. I would walk into the gates of the gompa

at the latest moment, right before the gates

were closed, tired from a long day of being

a socialite in Boudha, roaming the restaurants,

looking with French ex-aghoris at the life-stories of eccentric Tibetan

saints reknowned for their sexual exploits and

magical powers, maybe becoming a little bit like

those anti-heroes as my life turned clockwise, swept

up in the rotational currents of the Great Stupa,

perhaps being swirled into transmogrifying into some different

sort of creature, the type of man with a

penchant for everything, a man with a palpable

fire of forty different facets burning inside his heart and other chakras, with the kind of flame

that works like a magnet for strangeness —

a superconductor for auspicious connection.

:::perhaps I was already like that:

but those currents that took me for that ride

would land me weary into those

gompa gates.

2.

On His Holiness’ birthday

at the gompa

I was asked to sit at the head of the table.

The soda poured unceasingly. The feast was

one hard on my stomach — every variety

of Pringles, matched w/ t’hugpa, rice and

hardy Tibetan rebel food. These monks were

Golokpas — “rebels” — from Golok. Their language

made almost no sense. They had so much

warmth, so much hospitality, so much joking,

so much light. An old monk from a story-book

sat close to me, with a classic beard like a soft wizard, and

sparkles in his eyes. He’d done 12 years of

solitary retreat. On a large TV the well-loved forty

little monks watched blaring music videos

of Amdo singers, who sang pop songs in

warbly voices about their root lamas, while

psychedelic visuals glowed around their

heads, and

heads, and

beatific images of buddhas

flashed on the screen. The monks and a few

laymen dressed in chubas and shepherd-minstrel garb

kept talking in their impossible dialect.

“This ain’t no Lhasa talk, boy.”

3.

The young monks I taught were

the closest things to throngs of little male

angels I’d ever encountered. Mostly Nepalis

from the Tibetan-like tribes of Nepal —  Tamangs, Sherpas —

they glowed like copper-colored cherubs of wonder ,

made even warmer by their maroon gowns

which seemed jut a little bit too big for them, like so many young monks

–priests at the age of 6, they have all the innocence that a

good monk needs.

In the morning these darting flames of smiling

copper would shout their sutras right outside my room

rising me up early .

And as I came out from my room, they would

look at me, maybe stopping recitations even for a second or so

— and smile. It seemed like the boys saw their recitations like a

sport, the kind of energetic morning ritual

that can get your blood flowing,

some good competitive holy-words-shouting

tunefully yelling the words of the Victorious One

seeing who could be the loudest

the fastest

or the most rhythmic.

Darjeeling, Gorkhaland, India

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2 thoughts on “the wheel of time spins on the black market.

  1. damn boy, you’re good! i enjoy the poems of your wanderings and travels the most. you really bring the place to life. i want to visit! Such great details. haha pringles at the feast? Details like that are what make a poem incredible.

    the first verse (counterclockwise, turning with the stupa) is my favorite. a really strong beginning, kind of mad whirling with images.

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