Two poems by Wayne Amtzis

Wayne Amtzis | August 27, 2017




Midnight pools catch the brilliant lanterns

carried by women in procession. Deep into sleep

I follow them home. As their voices

mingle with dawn’s first rays,

light flickers across the trellised blossoms

Late into morning I wake. The Swayambhu Stupa,

long risen from the mist, gleams

Far and wide circle the hawks in layered tiers

I ride their wings along the ridge wrung path

deep into the season deep into valley wide,

the heavy headed grain, golden below

Down swoop the hawks, taking me with them

wild-eyed into the sun distilled distance

With lowered gaze, I return to the city, I return

to the world I know. As I circle the stupa,

their vibrant calls, deeply felt from the earth up

along legs and arms and spine, carry me

with them far and wide, with the winds with the breath

with the sun and moon-swept tides. In this way

aloft with the winds, day into night, I center myself within

Down swoop the hawks with each step and breath,

lifting me, lifting us, here

and away


Swayambhu, Nepal, 1979/2017






The hawk

that swooped from the poplar

lifting a black baseball hat from my head

looped back to his nest


Drawing blood this time,

the hawk that swooped from the poplar

lifting a black baseball hat

from my head

headed east into the distance


The hawk that swooped from the poplar

brushed my back


flew low over my head


made me duck


turned and turned above me


The hawk that swooped from the poplar

rose with the gestured lifting of a bamboo pole

above my head


The hawk that swooped from the poplar

looped and turned and swooped

low again


The hawk

that swooped from the poplar

stayed on the branch chichicihri hri hri hri

when he saw me enter the yard


The hawk that swooped from the poplar

swooped low as I stood on the roof


and rose and rose

with the lifting of bamboo above my head


22 times

during the year of the earthquake

25 times

during my long goodbye

the hawk that swooped from the poplar

drew me out…


out of my body,

following him back to the trees

or further still

to the wide open sky



After a 15 month hiatus

I stood in front of the hawks’ nest

high in the poplar tree,

a petitioner undismayed by indifference

and disdain


And stood in full view on the roof,

marking the directions

and awaiting



One day and then another

And then


leaving the front door I felt

the whoosh of wings

down the long corridor of trees and house


Each time I ascended to the roof

with the tall bamboo pole across my shoulder

down swooped the hawk


swooped and rose and turned

and swooped again


This time another joined it

The male and female swooping

above my head


The young one still perched

on the poplar tree


Day after day whenever I rose to the roof

to meet them


Every day in those last weeks,

but for the days when the new owners surveyed the yard

and our house of 32 years

that they would soon level to the ground,

the hawks would swoop

and circle


The male within pole’s reach,

the female more than a hand’s reach above it


What do I miss of Kathmandu?


The hawks, those hawks that each day of that long goodbye

swooped and turned

and rose


as I raised my eyes towards the trees

and sky


thrilled by their presence

And the male’s chattering hririririrhri

whenever I stood in the open

at the heart of the mandala

sky-borne, inwardly



the dakinis of the valley

lifting me



and away


US, 2017

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