As Idols Fall in the Afghan Hills

Time to get out of Afghanistan! Here's a slight revision of a poem I wrote before 9-11, on reading about the Taliban's destruction of a huge Buddha that had been carved into a mountainside. I had a vision of a carpet bombing of tiny Buddhas or Bodhisattvas (the spirits who undertake to return to linger in mortal life to do good deeds. Little did I suspect... Here's the poem:

What to do? What to do?
Mail a Mullah a thousand portraits
of Boddhisatvas.

Airdrop a hundred thousand Buddhas
on tiny parachutes onto the streets of Kabul.

Mate giant Japanese Buddhas with Godzilla,
send their offspring to the Afghan Hills
to sit serene in lotus pose

(but watch their fire-breath melt Taliban tanks
and send the soldiers shrieking!)

from border to border in every known language.

Or wait for Karma to burn the burners,
shatter the shatterers, silence the mouths
of the speakers of law?
(No time, no time as the dynamite explodes
a Buddha head from fifteen hundred years ago.)

Let Allah, Buddha Christ and Brahma
rage like comets, moth fluttering
around the Man Sun.

One vanity makes them a greater vanity destroys them.
Yet a child with hands in clay, in the mud by the riverside
will make a new god with broad shoulders
far-seeing eyes, a forgiving visage,
a palm extended for the benediction
of unbearable Beauty, brief life
the only coin we can offer.

This parched land needs its memories,
its slender share of human fairness.
It needs a spark of hope
against the dark night
of goats and dynamite.


Popular Posts