Gesar Passing 1)In a white and silent valley,High amid white silent peaksBeneath an unmoving silent white sky,Horse and rider move slowly upward through the snow. The horse, black with silver mane,Carries the gold-armored lord,Is sure-footed, untiring. The rider does not know defeat,Listens- listening is the meaning of warrior,Is poised- poised is the meaning of warrior. We see them, horse and rider:Kyang Ko Karkar,Gesar, Lion King of Ling. But there is no such kingdom now.Fields of battle, mountain trails are no more. Such shadow beings barely move in minds That once burned juniper and shouted war cries Armor clinking, horse’s foot-fall, These are the sounds of snowflakes falling on the snow. 2)The hard-frozen lowland forest floor,The endless taiga clicked and clattered beneath the horse’s hoovesWhen Gesar used to spur him on the hunt. Now the permafrost is melting,The surface of the land breaks up, dissolves.Horses, riders sink. Corpses from a thousand years ago appear.Killing viruses from a thousand years before return. Modern poisons release ancient poisons,Past deeds devour the present A nightmare grabs you in the darkYou are trapped.You are falling, falling. You cannot wake up.You are falling 3)The time of ending is now.Soon you will not belong to yourself. Your world, your understanding, your memory, your vows Cannot sustain you. There is no longer any always. All changes come with excruciating pain. The forest floor is sinking.A whirlpool of insects, animals, reptiles, birds,You yourself among them,Are swallowed up. Nothing ever is the same. 4)In a white and silent valley,High amid silent white peaks,Beneath an unmoving silent white sky,Horse and rider move slowly upward through the snow.Armor clinking, horse’s foot-fall, These are the sounds of snowflakes falling on the snow. 5)Kalapa, its majestic towering crystalsFaceted, barely visible, almost transparent,DistantIs ever sought for, Is forever momentary. * (Gesar of Ling is the hero of one of the world’s longest and still evolving epic; he fights continually for spiritual renewal. Kalapa is the capital of the legendary Kingdom of Shambhala, the hidden but living enlightened society.) Douglas Penick has written opera libretti (Munich Biennale,Santa Fe Opera), texts for video (Leonard Cohen, narrator) as well as novels on the 3rd Ming Emperor (Journey of the North Star),and about spiritual searches amid social collapse (Dreamers and Their Shadows). He also wrote three book-length episodes from the Gesar of Ling epic on a grant from the Witter Bynner Foundation. Wakefield Press published his and Charles Ré’s translation of Pascal Quignard’s A Terrace In Rome. Shorter works appeared in Agni, Chicago Quarterly, New England Quarterly, Kyoto Journal, Levekunst, Utne Reader, Tricycle, etc. His book of essays, THE TIME OF WAITING about the mental environment of ecological catastrophe will be published by Arrowsmith Press in 2020.