Homage to Chagdud Rinpoche 

This poem was written in the Trinity Alps of Northern California at 
Rigdzin Ling, the main center of Tibetan Lama Chagdud Tulku. It was 
my second time there. I had the yurt, a canvas covered, circular 
structure secluded in a meadow, all to myself. At night the moon 
cast spectacular beams through the plexiglass skylight, spiralling 
them around the room. On moonless nights the stars were brighter 
than I'd ever seen. Night was my favorite time. I sat at a makeshift 
desk, basking in the meager warmth of a little woodstove, brewing 
tea, reading texts, and writing by light of a kerosene lamp.

The Buddha of Sawtooth Peak                                        
by Pema Gonpo

the Sawtooth Peaks
erupt from deep pine valleys
squirming against the floating 
blue vibrant sky
cast in shadow
of glacial ice and snow
grey rock
reaching for the heavens

stars are pinlights
in distant galaxies
pointed at the earth 
at the skylight of the yurt
dartplayers hurling beams of light
with a twitch
a flick of the wrist
186,000 miles per second
piercing this tinted bullseye
an eyeball observatory
through which I swim
into aquamarine midnight sky

silhouettes of darkness
ridge and rising mountain
a pulsing mass of fuzzy pine
a surry with the fringe on top
a geological freight train
slowly steadily unstoppably
from the bowels of the earth
until bursting
erupting from deep green valleys
the Sawtooth Peaks
holding up the afternoon
early spring sky

I sit alongside the path
connecting yurt and house
across the footbridge
over the swirling stream
then up the rock steps
the steep path to the clearing

little patches of blue
peek through the clouds
like babies fighting sleep
a mosquito hovers
a few inches from my forehead
a bumblebee swings
two tight buzzsaw haloes
flies away
returns twice
each time 360 degrees

the Buddha of Sawtooth Peak
smiled upon me today
I could barely see the haggard form
steadfastly meditating
for the benefit of all beings
amongst the glaciated boulders
of the Trinity Alps
as wind whipped snow
transformed the alpine desert 
into sandstorm fury
the Buddha's eyes opened
in a wide mouth grin
to bow to the Sawtooth Peaks
in anticipation of Maitreya
the coming Buddha 
of enlightenment
for all sentient beings

I prostrated half a dozen times
kissing the enlightened earth
that blesses me with raindrops
which have flowed unceasingly
from person to air
to cloud communion of molecules
then back again and again
uniting the three times
connecting each thing to the Buddha
connecting each thing to the Teaching
an unbroken verbal lineage

I stood with my eyes 
upon the distant snowy peaks
feeling the strangest truest feeling 
that the Buddha of Sawtooth Peak
had risen from the ice and snow
and stood in the bitter wind 
to watch over my approach
to ease my suffering 
by extending a hand
to see me through to a place
far beyond the Sawtooth Range
perhaps a smaller mountain or a valley
as a bodhisattva
serving all sentient beings