Last Days…

poem & photo by Elizabeth
LAST DAYS OF WINTER

War settles like dust for there is no other side 
when winds blow particles from Sudan to 
Hiroshima to icy rivers that wild coho 
struggle against to lay their bright eggs.
 

On the first day of the first war declared in this century 
the Asian Art Museum opens its doors with stilt-walkers 
dressed as emperors and geishas, and with musicians 
from Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, for music and art 
transcend transient politics and borders. Even 
the museum’s map of Asia’s Buddhist centers
proclaims Tibet’s sovereignty within China’s 
yawning border. Across the street a demonstration 
swells before City Hall to protest a war 
veiled in an amalgam of virtue, misinformation
and covert interests. 


Something ghostlike transforms this city. 
While most stores close, in others clerks 
focus like compulsive-obsessives just 
to get through the day and homeless 
walk the streets as if San Francisco’s
sole inhabitants. One woman, hair 
plaited with a plethora of mismatched 
ribbons mirroring her clothes, crosses 
against red. She zigzags mostly between 
the yellow lines while drivers remain 
uncharacteristically patient as if 
acknowledging the difficulty of accepting 
war without dissolving in a despair that 
threatens one’s ever-transient 
connection with life.


Within these museum’s walls images of Buddha, 
Bodhisattvas, White Tara embody prayers for all 
sentient beings and symbolize compassion, 
wisdom, the acceptance of suffering, as well as 
our ability to skillfully control rather than be 
controlled by our mad-wraith desires. 
It’s no longer a matter of us versus them, 
good versus evil. We are all messengers of God 
and we are all godless. Energy is neither created 
nor destroyed. All those who have lived and 
don’t yet live share our bodies through the food 
we eat, the air we breathe, the cells that ferociously 
regenerate throughout our lives. Prayer wheels 
fill these halls with unbound intent that passes 
through the walls, the streets, the world: may all
beings be healthy, may all beings be happy, 
may all beings live in peace. 

Thank you to the editors of Buddhist Poetry Review for first publishing this poem.

Simultaneity

art & poem by Elizabeth

SIMULTANEITY

When you touch me—I am
breath rather than a woman breathing.
One thousand wings, a single beat,
split sky with summer rain.

Breath rather than breathing
fills the empty glass.
Split sky with summer rain
to reveal horses carved in stone.

Fill the empty glass
with wine of roses, lilac, heather;
reveal horses carved in stone
but not hands that formed their symmetry.

With wine of roses, lilac, heather,
toast grass that fractures concrete blocks
but not hands that formed the symmetry
of streets concealing streams.

Toast grass that fractures concrete blocks
beside the woman reaching towards you;
on streets concealing streams
she begs for food, shelter beyond grasp.

There is a woman reaching towards you;
her face is old, possessions few,
as she begs for food, shelter beyond grasp,
and I see you, I see myself within her mask.

Her face is old, possessions few;
she came to laugh—she came to love,
and I see you, I see myself within her mask
reflecting how the earth breathes.

We came to laugh—we came to love;
one thousand wings, a single beat
reflecting how the earth breathes
when you touch me.