Room 65 • Poetry Hotel
Three Poems / Terry Reis Kennedy
I AM TIBETAN
I am Tibetan because the blood of the martyrs of Tibet spilled
into my hard heart and made it soft.
I am Tibetan because in our tent in Bodh Gaya,
the prayers of the refugees
to Buddha, to the deities, to the mountains, to the sky,
and to the clouds reached my ears.
I am Tibetan because the tears they cry for their Mother Land
fall out of my eyes.
I DID NOT WANT TO LEAVE
My name is Lobsang.
First I saw the fires,
then the people running with bags
on their heads, children in their arms.
A broken monk, hobbled past my doorway
saying that the Chinese military were obliterating the monasteries,
killing Tibetans, burning all the pictures of His Holiness.
There had been whispers, Mao Zedong was destroying Tibet,
eradicating Buddha to make way for a different kind of liberation,
the one that money buys. His Nazis were called,
The People's Liberation Army. His Gestapo
wore khaki and were using our sacred thangkas as toilet paper.
Even the tulkus could not escape.
I was 13 when the six soldiers found me hiding
under the cow dung pile with my little sister.
They raped her first, over and over until she died.
When they sodomized me I felt my life fly away,
but I have lived to tell our story.
The old ones say I am immortal.
Be so brave you scare the meek
Be so loving you shock the hateful
Be so happy you intoxicate the miserable
Terry Reis Kennedy started writing poetry when she was a sophomore in high school and her male English teacher condescendingly announced in
front of the entire class: "You, Miss Reis, will NEVER be a writer." Her refusal to fit into societal norms for women and her insistence on speaking
up for the poor and the oppressed in her work, which includes investigative journalism, continues to annoy people. She recently returned from living
in south India for 27 years where she met God, face-to-face...in her own mirror.
Terry is available for readings, workshops, talks on her many travels to sacred sites within India, her spiritual studies, her volunteer work with blind
orphans and with Tibetan refugees. She has been mentoring writers for many years. As an editor and publisher, she has helped authors with their
book projects. She holds an MA in Poetry from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont.
Her extensive travels have put her in touch with indigenous cultures around the world. She resided in Australia and in New Zealand while on a
Barbara Dunning Writing Fellowship. Before coming to India in 1990, she lived in the Mojave Desert of California. Her first spiritual teachers
include Native Americans from the Paiute and Warm Springs Indian Nations in California and Oregon, respectively. She is a guest columnist for the
Deccan Herald, Bangalore office, and her poems are regularly featured in Home Planet News, USA and other small press publications.
She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Acknowledgements: “I Am Tibetan”, “I Did Not Want To Leave”, and “Do It”, previously appeared in I Am Tibetan, published in India by Tiger