Tree Planting in Tibet


Jampa Dorje

Kapala Press < 2007 > Sebastopol


Head-on on Irwin Road, near Emerisa
Gardens, found an amethyst,
fractured, peered in, saw Arya Tara
          and Coyote
I know just enough to know
I know enough to know
I just don't know

so, I'll only comment,
"I'll let this go without comment."

Moving to the ghost dance
moving to drum and wind
midnight visages under a Shinto moon
Zephyr rustling the buffalo grass
my tent covered
          with tarantula-sized

The Medicine Man says,
"Let me see one. I've heard about those."

Heideggerian questions:
how to breathe? how to fuck? how to know?
I count seven dancers in the Sun Dance,
          the first day on Pine Ridge
including my son, Theo
      22 on the last day, counting helpers
The Medicine Man pierces for two women who have cancer
pierced deep— broke both the harness
          and the pin
tied up again
and had to be tackled to break free
thanked the women,
          Then, he dressed as a clown and
danced backwards spurting water—
danced around every dancer, teasing

"What do you think of the teasing round?"
"Not much, by that time I'm there,
I'm not much tempted to drink.
You know it'll soon be over.
The clown is a nuisance,
more for the audience.
Still, that guy sure
could dance."

Tantra and Sundance—
          once you've committed,
you're hooked, it's a one-way trip
          you're a snake in a bamboo tube
no way to wiggle backwards
After doing a bhumi of guru mantra
my Lama has somehow become my super-ego
traded up from a hodgepodge to clear light
I think of him, and I think of a mother hen
with her chicks in a giant oak's shade
Quantum physics is @ probabilities
have to think real small

The world of waves & particles
the rock Dr. Johnson kicked
strolling arm in arm w/Lord Berkeley
"Refute that!"
Boswell witnessed

Apollo and Dionysus
take snapshots of Gaia on a recliner
this odalisque uncurses my curses
sets me to rise to an apotheosis

Adzom checks the spot on the top of my head
where the kasalla grass was inserted
          during the powa ritual
I tell him my mother says
she doesn't want a special ceremony
when she dies, just a closed coffin
and a simple burial

Adzom asks, sternly
"Who you gonna listen to,
          your mother or the dharma?"

Moving on to tree-planting Tibet

How many universes are there?
I planted on Mount Saint Helens after she erupted
I planted on Mount Baker in a deluge
I have planted up the Trail of Tears

And from heaven came
stubborn timber

Can there be emptiness without awareness?
Imagine a tree falling and no one hearing it
Imagine its twisted limbs

The trees arrange themselves
I have nothing to do with this

And I suppose a forest
planted in rows is better
than no forest at all

We plant in the region of Kham
in the snowy lands of Eastern Tibet

Opportunities like this are exceedingly rare
How much for a few trees?
The cost of a pot of tea at Infusions
          A tank of gas for my new red pickup
The lama has the labor—monks
whom he protects
                   and who are never apart
   from this glorious lama's feet*

Here we are on Diamond Hill
We wake at 4, do our Ngondro
Bag up at 6
Climb a mountain
          deforested by the Chinese 60 years ago

The air thin at 10,000 feet
treeline is at the scree just ahead

O, mama, is there hope for these trees?

Manjushri instructs the treeplanters
Watch those scalps
Keep an eye on spacing
Don't plant too deep
No J roots
I only want to see asses and elbows

We plant ahead of progress rates
We plant trees for free
and we come back
and back again
          until they grow
the trees—
out of their depth
with this logic
debated about by tulkus
like dots on a map

Green fire is the future— an oasis of trees
to spontaneously arise
                    Take a turn and look
          at the next century
                             spread your tail feathers
turn again
          there's no way into the future but flight

in the meantime
                              LEARN TO LIVE COMFORTABLY
                                                     IN HELL

and believe me, a treeplanter can be
comfortable in Hell

Ah, Swift Tara, Lady of my thoughts
          I see your profile in this moonlit rock

Honor and praise
          OM Chag Tsal Jetsun Tare
Save us all from suffering
          Tutare Yi Dung Wa Kunchob

Ah, Tara, a strange place to be in such a skimpy outfit
and the field vibrating with the spirits of young trees
          two-year-old Ponderosa pine,
                    2-0s, they're trying, but it's hard

Underground the work gets done
               with a whispered OM to go on


          flaky footing in the rocky outcroppings
above the spring Rinpoche caused to come forth
in this sacred place
          wind cold, cold snow, a bitch
but it packs well around the pine plugs

We're trying to plant in a week
what, destroyed in a day
took hundreds of years to grow

Clear cut 60 years ago—
and in 60 years, let's hope locals will cut it again
with prayer flags fluttering above the great monastery
                    Orgyen Samten Ling
                      I hear a little voice: "I want my forest cut into woodchips
                                           so my grandchildren can have toilet paper."

This is neither a forest nor a farm, it's a war

Green fire on the battlefield
          sustainable forestry on this earth
                    We're maybe only a jillian trees

Welcome to the Forests of Many Abuses
             Breathe into the pain
                       or get out of the way

On this moonscape I gain
          stability and confidence
in my practice
          Some trees I dedicate
                    to all sentient beings
               some to the dharmapalas, who protect this mountain

Putting the right tree in the right hole
and while picking rocks
made of snot and dust out of my nose
the gecko, the disciplinarian, walks up
and raises his stick
          "Stop, stop, don't throw those rocks down the slope
                    you're hurting the trees!"

Fantasy of pushing the gecko off a cliff          very bad karma
                             —lost in a pause—
                    Where should I be on the line?
                             always a mystery

Outside the orbit of stars
lost and found inside
creation arises and dis-
in a magical display

* A poetic expression often employed to express devotion.