Dank cries, interrupted prayer,
even the self-arisen stupa,
Swayamhbu, in the Form of Light,1
sinks in on itself, though resplendent,
ashamed. In the rank Kathmandu dawn
as the city-in-play aspires,
conspires. Aspire. Conspire.
How the currents cross!
Where hollow spires rise
from makeshift foundations,
lure all comers. Get in! Get out!
before quickening sands
gulp you down.
Let storied sandman dollars
float you away – to the promised land,
to the glorious Gulf, go.
Or better yet, grab a khukuri-pass
to London or a lottery ticket to ride
to Queens and beyond.
From rock-scrabbled trails,
with far-flung stride
to a subway straddled walk-up,
like a hawk from locked-down
glide. Then California dreaming
bide your time, safe
and far from gut-wrenching tides
that turn here every day.
Sandcastle dreamer, quicksand schemer,
take a farewell glance all around
at what's been done, not done, undone –
the gone paddy, the multi-tiered warrens
are no mirage. The city's
swamped in garbage, its rivers,
scrawls of stench. As the tide sweeps out,
Swayambhu, its gilded light
cloaked in eye-stinging haze,
sinks in on itself … In incensed dawn,
at every corner, smoke coils from tires burning
and night after day, the coming age,
in the Form of Might
readies itself, fierce and unyielding,
as its devotees gather, torches in hand
1The Swayambhu-purana affirms Kathmandu was created when the Bodhisattva Manjushree cut through the southern rim of the valley with his divine sword Chandrahas, Destroyer of Evil. When the primordial lake that filled the Valley drained away Swayambhu-in-the-Form-of Light was made accessible. Nepal Mandala, Mary Shephard Slusser.
War and peace, My City
Reaching America, Rabi Thapa
Urban Crush, Suvayu Dev Pant and Dewan Rai
Circus slave, Clare Harvey
Fad for foodies, Duksangh Sherpa
Robbing Karnali, Toofan Neupane
Love and betrayal