“Soy quien soy.
Una coincidencia no menos impensable
que cualquier otra.”

Wislawa Symborska

Burma / Myanmar and Buddhist Poems
6 Nov 2021

Burma / Myanmar and Buddhist Poems

Post by Rowena Hill

Read the SPANISH version

and Buddhist Poems

The Monks

The monks are elegant,
their heads shaven, their faces
variations on an ancient theme.
They walk slim and erect inside the folds
of their red tunics.
I’m watching one,
he’s too beautiful
he’s wearing a vermilion tunic
and scarlet velvet sandals.
Suddenly he spits
a jet of betel the color of blood.


Sometimes he’s a footprint
full of water
where clouds sway
and flower offerings.

The walls, the floor,
the tall teak pillars
breathe peace.
I enter it like a new element,
a subtle water
or a precious gas
that irrigates the heart
and leaves behind it an incurable yearning.


The breeze dries on my face
the sweat of day.
My steps on the dark earth
are those of any pilgrim
ignorant or wise
taking to the road again.
For twenty-five centuries
these words have pierced
the nights of earth
and of the spirit.

U Bein

Total definition:
the trunks supporting the long bridge,
the slim figures crossing it
in both directions,
one on a bicycle,
the flock of ducks on an islet,
all engraved on the screen
of reality;
and the overloaded mind
fluctuating in the heat
is unable to believe.


A cedar’s thick shade,
sun-warmed stone steps,
arch inviting into the presence –
suddenly dragonflies.

Ananda Pahto

Too solid I
standing in the flames
don’t catch fire,
that roar sounds in my cracks
and doesn’t burst me,
but it will stay inside me.


I won’t leave here entire,
I may appear to people
the same or just older,
they won’t see a piece is missing,
a fragment grown into a replica,
that will wander forever
among these ruins and splendors
and sleep on Buddha’s toenail.

Buddhist Poems

Who am I to inherit
past life essence,
a plan worth carrying on?
I’m no one, null at the core,
a hollow nutshell bouncing
on the cosmic current.
Too many bad deaths
loose viruses into earth’s field;
they seep through the entropic clutter
sending image packets
to avid brain stations.
I catch some Chinese fragments,
you clutch Etruscan jewels,
someone swells into godhood.
It’s all fiction.


Is paradise in me
or in the tree?
the song is bliss
but heaven is not the bird’s
for it does not know
and my knowing
corrodes bliss.

branches of blood or cloud
letters or sap
curl out of the ecstatic root
inhabiting us.

On a Buddha relic

Matter balloons; the creature
inside shatters the egg
and sky pours into its eyes.
From that moment shadows
form and thicken.
How many eggs will it take
for the soul’s desire
to keep the light untainted
for a lifetime?
Then bones and hair can rest
in a stone egg in the temple.

Emerald Buddha, Bangkok

You are not god they say,
god is emptiness;
but if there was a god,
if he had a face,
it would be your face –
severely tranquil,
sensually perfect
and withdrawn.
Gem, gilt or granite,
from your high seat
you summon desire;
It rises as the shadowy serpent breath
of the underworld,
swells coloring the light of day
and reaches you in spires
of flame
that are wings
and carry the lover higher
blazing till everything is consumed,
love itself and the flames
and even you
in empty light.

Two Songs for Nay Win:

All creatures

All creatures are my family;
our fates’ threads have crossed
through uncountable generations
since time began.

The lizard on the wall is my father,
the sparrow in the tree is my mother,
the boys in the street are my sons,
my daughters sing the songs.

If I hate, I hate my children,
if I kill, I kill my parents,
around me will be ruined lives
and dark in my mind.

Buddha, teach us your compassion,
pierce us with your brilliance;
our fates’ threads will be rays
from the heart of light.

Buddha at Koe Thaung

Before time started
you were the sunlight,
you were the stone
and the artist.
Spirit made visible,
now you sit here,
form we can worship
and hold dear.
A butterfly settles
on your warm cheek,
on the wall is the cast-off skin
of a snake.
What merit brought them
to this sacred place?
Will they be born again
in your sky palace?
Beyond time
you are the sunlight,
you are the stone
and the artist;
you are the snake
and the striped butterfly
and the sky palace
and empty sky.


Inside the bronze concavity
sealed with joints and rough patches
stand below where the heart would be
on the secret chakra –
have you entered nobility?

In the dome above the neck seam
under the hollow orbs of curls
behind the hooded eyes
how could wisdom not gather
and drip?


An astonished wind
twists itself to form
the hall’s pillars

blue threads of it
weave Buddha’s eyes
splash the roof beams
with birds.


The distance between you and the ground
is simple, no veils or ciphers.
Your star touches the earth,
plants come up to meet it,
mothers are hatched in the grass,
they have no names yet,
‘lovely’ is gathering its syllables.

Read the SPANISH version



Leave a Comment