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Three Poems by Wayne Amtzis

A Donkey For Listening

They hit him in the gut
where his hunger was hiding
They tore the earth

out from under
For that was where his pride
(and hunger) lay hidden,

rooted and reoccurring.
They stole the sun from the morning
Pocketed in gold

Stole the stars from the night
Pocketed in silver Not me they cry.
In charge, but not accountable

That’s their mantra. Far away, looking on
as he slogged the seasons
through, the years stolen in triplicate,

generations misbegotten
Bartered away. They sold him short
discounting his needs

Weighed him down with debt,
and raised him up –buoyed with promises
till bent beneath the load

slung on his back,
he spits beneath his breath
Is a man “an ass,”

to haul around his hunger
“willingly” To starve on hope
and feed himself on complaint

To go belly up
as they cart off the stars
and stamp out the sun.

Not knowing
what to put in their place
Other than tarps and blankets

Not even seeds
for the earth that held
back its promise

blood rich
pockmarked with bone
His blood

His bones

Kathmandu, May 9, 2015

Night Closes In

Night closes in with its breath taking grip
Night that walks in the guise of day.
Light footed across the rubble

morning comes as if rising from the dead
That which came and came again
leveled a world. In that sudden tolling,

what great works were interrupted?
The beating of a heart
A heart! Nine thousand hearts!

The mirrors that temper vanity
lie shattered, and multiply.
See how they run –to pixel the pain,

to instant message grief
Hands set to unremitting tasks ahead
are stitched, deeply stitched with glass

with shards of light.
For 2 days I was healthy
in touch with the earth

All it takes to make me whole
I realized as I turned in place: is a 7.8 shot
and a 6.7 chaser

Now the earth again stills
and I’m left spinning. A partner
without a dance

Eyes no longer widen
with a survivor’s camaraderie
and a tale in the offering

But shrink with pain,
mourning the lost. A hawk still glides
The city below is not the same

The town below is not the same
The villages below are not.
And will never be.

That which came and came again
leveled a world. That which leveled a world
leveled our souls. “My village is dead”

“My village…
No light rises from the rubble

Kathmandu, April 29, 2015


Besieged, mid-street,
by cross current and clamor,
a black stone Buddha
faces four ways. Taking refuge there
men wait for work.
Sweat streaked brows so near
to sindur-smeared foreheads,
that statue and men seem to be brothers
rapt in guarded conversation
As sand falls through an hourglass
set on the windowsill, Kathmandu devours
itself. Pavement and store fronts
pile up at the feet of statue
and men, pile up like up like a future
seen too late. Doorways thronged, back alleys stammering,
the valley’s deep fault lines

Kathmandu, 1995

Wayne Amtzis, a long time resident of Kathmandu, Nepal, is the author of the poetry collections Sandcastle City/Quicksand Nation and Days in the Life, translations from Nepali and Nepal Bhasa. His collection of photos and poems, City on their Backs, is forthcoming in 2015. www.photo-poems.com. photo.poems@gmail.com.

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