Poems by Wayne Amtzis

Wayne Amtzis | April 25, 2016



The stomach suffers immensely

It suffers from lack. The spine bent and hobbled with hurt,

the spine that held up the stairs

and resisted the shifting walls, the spine

carries us forward, stiffened, but not broken

The hands, palms dark and swollen,

knuckles split, fretted with blood

broke our fall and drag us still from the rubble

The soles of the feet with so many years

ground into it. And the heels

that steady us, ridged like the bark of a tree,

Soles and heels, with the legs tireless

and drained, that sprang us free, rock us now

here where we crouch. Head in our hands,

lips broken like the earth beneath the stream

that long ago fled, and the teeth,

so few, gapped like houses that stood along the ridge,

jailors, holding back the cry

that overtakes us: the heart suffers from loss,

it suffers severely. The tongue, furtive,

caked with the stench of its own saliva, wanting

to… wanting to speak, and the eyes,

those darlings of life, weary from never closing,

the eyes link and sustain us

as we look to each other, and without turning

away, as we look within, lifting us,

lifting us…


June 5, 2015





With jaws and elbows, with signatures

and pens. With topis and rupees,

with hard hats and bricks, in helicopters,

in stealth motorcades With tea

and consultationWith decrees and commissions

With fingers in your pockets and holes

in their socks. With poses, postures

and schemes. With a wink and a whisper

With heads shaking, back pedaling,

to distract and obfuscate, disproving Darwin,

shaming Marx, —to make us laugh?

to keep us from weeping? Imposters all!

Nowhere to be seen when everyone’s looking

With stamps and signatures they tie us down,

with hints and innuendoes they spur us on,

with slurs and threats they enlist us,

with sly grins they quack-quack quack

Cold that is our warmth, path that breaks

against us, sky, forlorn and vast,

river, unrelenting, village, our source

and sustenance: Why did the Earth spew us forth?

Into these cement canyons thick with fumes,

swarming with demons.

At night they lock our souls away

All day they lead us astray


June 5, 2015




If history were ours, we would tell it

If we had rice, we could

gather the grains from the rubble

Cracked lips, cracked earth,

our fate is clear. We can still raise our hands

in Namaste! One hand at a time,

for we are weary Rebuild? Yes, return us

to our miserable yesterdays

Bring back the dead while you’re at it!

Monsoon rain, winter cold,

it’s not the roar of earth and mountain,

it’s their foot dragging power,

that will bury us, it’s their stunning indifference

that has left us stranded

in the man-made wilderness of caste

and party rule


May 18, 2015




When I sense this all around dare to do,

I ask are the men-in-charge from the same country?

They’re the headlines, not the story

See how the young paint through to the sky

Their sunburst colors erase these buildings

looming overhead. Hands into the earth to plant rice;

neck, shoulders and spine bent to port bricks;

bodies crouched and on the move, lives with a purpose:

to feed and to house. Houses and cars for V.I.P.s

Men on the stage above it all

Garlanded words out of sync with the season

What can be had! What can be taken?

Rough palms, smooth palms, hands wet with paint

Year after year, the same front page

men hold back, to hold onto

Never new Nepal


June 25, 2015


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