blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1


NORMAN DUBIE | Book of the Jewel Worm


'I am' and do not think 'I am.'
                                             —Sri Ramana Maharshi

                         (.11/.12 nibes.)

Dear Urze:        I have insomnia. So I'll write at length.
Respond, if you can,
under this new moon—within thirty-two of your hours.

Yes, your father buried fish heads in the potted violets
and the German Shepherds went searching for them
then ruining a whole plot of herbs
and my mother's stand of salad marigolds.

She was not forgiving about it. Samuel
was never forgiven, in fact. But she had
predicted all this before the dogs were adopted
by our father. In the same dream

she saw the Snakedeath Wreath's concentricity
blossom in rose and amethyst, taking all the LXT Remnant
with it:

the great migraine she had as a girl was a clear-audience
to my voice drowning in a brim light
and the whole Phoebus calamity. Your grandmother
began that famous headache
during father's production of The Tempest. I fell
in love for the first time that evening—

she had Smythe for a last name and played
the viola. The lilacs were dragging themselves
over the ground that spring. There were amazing rains.

The Khandro is intolerant of our attractions—         she
exploits our disgust for this and that and which . . .

She weirds-back on me with this Smythe woman
once or twice a month. I do think you have
all of your grandmother's gifts.
And Marie wants me to say something consequently
about the Khandro dakinis of the void?

Well, the Great Black Mother
and her attending masks have been our protectors
in this family for nearly six centuries.

To be exact, it was 1703
in what we now think of as Sikkim Minor
that our blood found her practice. She is our red prayer
and Guru Rinpoche is the white. These Tibetan
dieties are like two closely drawn lines on a piece of paper.

You pencil heavily in between them with devotions
and all is lost in lead
eventually to the margins.
We call this great mother, the Prajna Paramita,

who takes all projected space for her image.

Her voice, though, was siphoned twice.
Once by a collapsing worm-hole of incalculable dimensions
and later by her nemesis, the Khandro of Lux.

And no
she's not so much evil as just busy and spontaneous
like a child. She will mature
in several-hundred thousands of years
and take her spirit share
back to the original wisdom mother.

Meanwhile, why she isolates our family
and others for chit-chat is a mystery. She's not necessarily
unfriendly to us. Regardless, we stand against her in playful

and I can say safely under this new moon
that she both likes it
and is distracted by it too.
Her concentration is often lost
to extant spirit tablets, in quick repetitions . . .

The most effective is perhaps the number three:

                       turquoise bees & a white fleshy stamen.
                       it is the agreement of a summer morning
                       to an autumn night. the Chinese symbol
                       for discord is π
                       revealed to fifty-two decimal points.
                       these are the ghosts of noon, in flight . . .

Yes, Urze, there are two anagrams like dice in every tablet.
There will be several other translations from your mother
before you're asked to commit it to mind. I am
sleepy now. Write if you can.                       Paul Ekajati.

Post Script:     You know, for what it is worth,
I've always found the Perseids dull.
Meteor showers should be like snowfall.
Love.    Your uncle.


Dear Marie:     good for Urze and her suspicions— I did not
write anyone from the gibbous Sunday
through the vespers of the new moon. Yes it was
Khandro's first communication to Urze. Believe me,
I was in the shit house with the energy that whole night.

The shocking thing about it is—                     well,
her letter is the straight skinny, gospel, every word
of it true. The number three tablet often
has an exordium, a silly
fading italic in three lines. It reminds me

of the apocryphal number nine. The exordium,
it seems to me, said:

                        & the secret character for this sea
                        rises out of it
                        like red moons beyond a turquoise roof.

The apocryphal tablet of the standing horses eating salmon,
number eleven, is in the same Wisdom Tradition. This is all strange.
It seems Khandro cares for your daughter. Or,
perhaps, is unable to lie to her. If this is it,
then Urze might be the one
who carries the memory of the full Mk'hagro?

Then our calculations for Maitreya Calendar
are off by three hundred and eleven years.
Let's keep this between us for awhile.

Also the penciling in of a blank page
seems an odd metaphor for a Khandro, free

in time and space. What an odd, distracted and
clerk-like thing to say? Tell Urze
it is queer. Though Melville did
run the licensing bureau
for the recreational existentialist,
those one hundred years
of meringues and playing the tambourine by ear.

Marie, you were right to abandon literature for painting.

Lovely Oslo's practice with pain and appetite
was simply to clear and then occupy.
'Nothing happens,' indeed?

His 'goldfish bowl' was the only Mahamudra
that worked against the Khandro's scripting
across all of the LXT. "Nothing happens," indeed!
His anger and clarity were supreme. And explain to Urze

that the little orange fishes were potted with the violets.
That is to say the same bowl is empty.
I've been drinking your purple absinthe
with Urze's wheat crackers and cheese! I'm drunk, I think.
My love to you both.   Uncle.

Post Script:
Yes I do have a theory about Khandro and her markers. Each bundle
in the photon wrap
tapers twice at the ends only when the stockgram
originates with her. But I don't believe it has
anything to do with Mother—just
simply that the distance they are traveling
refuses our ideas about the speed of light
and curvature of space. Or else it's the tumbling

of the molten make-weight shells within the earth
versus again her incalculable distances.
Laura always understood this—
when the great tapers or flares utterly withdraw within our sun
and its winds and plasma become coherent,
the earth eventually returns this energy
to some as an ecstatic wisdom.

These episodes are, I believe, little rehearsals
for the final death of the sun and our exile from this star system.

Even Cook thought that with epochal solar clarities
the photon terminals must crimp as well.

I can't believe the dark goddess told my niece
that there are two anagrams like dice crossing through the tablets.

Khenpo Karthar said just that
in secret to me when I was twelve.

I fear the Paramita
Mother must love this ripening daughter of hers.

Salutes and sweet dreams, my dears.


Dear Marie:      I was remembering your sister, Laura, talking
about Cook's open radicals. If the photon bundles
are crimped twice at their terminals,
both in a black sun Abraxas and the young dakini's stockgram,
then our Khandro must be learning
the respirations of a modestly large sun.
This is scary, Marie.
It explains the storms across LXT.

This is not the spirit of the mountain.

It's more, I think, that a dakini sky-dancer takes a whole sun
for the still object in her shamata ritual.

I think she's in some trouble. This must be the adolescence
of her growth.
She may now need a full Mk'hagro, though she recently
destroyed ours. Now,
try to recall all this for I won't repeat it:

again, this could make Urze the old oracle and boat—
Lama Yeshe's joke
about the coracle of goat. Do you understand?

Marie, I think within the week you must begin
to instruct Urze
in the illusory body of the completion stage sleep.

I'll share the responsibilities
if you'll just send me your practice schedule. And in that case
no more absinthe or Gauloises. Love                      Paul.


Dear Marie:      ignore this one, I'm just weirding-back
to Khandro off your station—to tell her
we believe she's mistaken our Urze for the handmaiden
to the Anointed Coracles of Sleep.

Urze can not be that woman: remember

your labor, Marie, was induced
and then nine hours later in the manner of the French, an intervention
of chelates of breach . . .            so it just can't be,

we know the lotus birth is the mark of the chosen one!

All our blessings, Mum, in this confusion.       Ekajati.

Post Script:
The crossing anagrams that describe the birth
of the handmaiden are in The Legend of Ur fragments,
and I'll script it to you at the end
of this stockgram. Prepare for phaxx, & lading.

                                     —phaxx & lading for a schilling fragment of an Ur
Kingdom manuscript; (circa 2100) the dark mahogany cell of the late scribe, Yeshe

With bits of pale colored chalk
my wife has made a pious study of this fire of rhododendron:
a very few branches, hunk of yak fat
and a whole brick of dung. She points
to the red coral lake deep in the wasteland
surrounded by orange fields of borax
and the rusted machines
are littering the sad alkali shades . . .       more snow
in the box-trees; then, the wall of canvas
set against the west winds:      she hated
this lurid passage through time
and told us
we should dress for glaciers
where once she'd sold her body with rime.

Madame 'Xiang began to cry.

The tea is gone. There are herbs
for her mother's neck. A poultice of goose skin,
some flour and cold mustards.
She was blind, I think, before joining the Lhasa expedition.

Above, the standard mandala of airships and the taxis; dirigibles
like blue farts on the horizon. The clanking
of the diesel airships has frightened the children
though the fever dulls our hearing; one
voice whispers to my wife about our dying in the night
and that seems right, my vision
of a procession away from the hospital tents:
the convulsing legs
of several hundred teams of starving oxen
ploughing through snow to make
a way for the bearers, their green poles
splintering in the cold wind. She sings
while applying tree gum to the hem of her apron.

The loudest of the airships drops gliders from the belly
like happy trout and then the venting of hot diesel
scalds a dozen oxen:    here

begins a stampeding to the yellowing cliff
where, by teams, they are falling
while a quarter of a mile below
the water is freezing to the blue heel of an escarpment.
The west wind carries the cries of those poor beasts
who are still falling now, far below to the work camps
and first glaciers.

We thought we would go to the South, there is
rioting in the coastal cities—
but with the deaths of half the oxen
the litters are put down by ranks in snow,
I heard them coughing for hours
before they had all froze. It snowed some more

and that was their burial. I recognized
it was a dream when lame 'Xiang at first light
went out with the Red Cross.

Their dirigibles were freshly stocked before the rains.
She found the wretched pile of broken oxen
had softened with the balance of the storm, snow
leaving the astonishing figure of Chenrezig:

bodhisattva of their children's intrigues, bodhisattva
of compassion, with a thousand arms
and a modest gold bodice like the orange brick
chimney of some isolated Mongolian monastery.

In the crosswinds an Arab's parachute opens and descends,
the Gurkhus from their firing-nest open—        the fog bank is
marbled first with long threads of his stomach blood
and then a whole flood of it over the mind, its plateau
and glaciers . . .

I hallucinated—            what,—
a supper bell and two dogs barking in the cold. The Panchen Lama

is dead.
In 'Xiang's fever she prayed to the master of ceremonies
in a neon-bright holographic cabaret
for simple soup and rice.
And ice to the back of the leg.
All of which she got on the next watch
when Crow Woman, the 'spring nurse,' arranged

our needs out of my wife's ravings. The witch
had black mantras and a silver bell on her heavy keys
which kept hungry ghosts out of the peach orchards. And
her brother, she insisted, could squirt blood from his eyes
like lizards.

In the old shrine room the silk brocade
climbed thirty feet in wide banners
above a blue top-knot.
The souring butter lamps
nourished thousands of active mice
which gave the brocade a silver muscle of life—

Now the nagas move in the stream outside.

The smoke from the flesh-colored incense closes my eyes
while I chant like Grandmother taught me
on account of my wife's illness having become blood. My mind
turns down in spiraling rows
of even whiter blossoms
while over the hills I hear the small pig

that is still being slaughtered in our childhood . . .


Dear Urze:      your uncle can be a stupid man. In all legends
of 'an egg halved by a hair'
the chosen girl suffers what could easily be a chelated birth.
This is one possibility for the lotus born. So I am
your Philadelphia grandmother writing you for the first time. I guess

this is my Christmas letter to our small and fragmented
family of Buddhists.
I went to confession and mass the week following Thanksgiving
and it was all delicious. Well,

your uncle accidentally sent me, in phaxx & lading,
the schilling manuscript—        maybe he did it for nostalgia's sake
whereas my mother, Elise, knew this Crow Woman to be both
a registered nurse and shamaness with a birth name
of Edith Polanqé.

When the village gates were shut, regardless
of your uncle's ideas and sincerest etceteras—
just regardless, Urze, when

the village gates were shut with rags of cotton,
Edith then
put on her nakedness of black paint
with white stripes. She danced for hours on Yalpi Point

with no fewer than eleven fat rattlers clinging to her.

Opposite this moment in summer,
come early November, in fact,
she danced again with her snakes
up in the peach orchards
and it surely wasn't intended to chase away ghosts—
my two-cents says it was the calling of them.

Your dear uncle
further ignores the significance of 2100 as the fixed chronicler
of his dark lama's account
of the death of a first-born Chinese son and his family. You know,

It was 2100 when Polaris
began to stray from us. Over time it will be replaced by the yellow

Darturus. I've sent this stockgram
to your mother's horse farm in Virginia—

tell her i don't forgive her
for divorcing my son, Oslo. I told him she would prove to be
a heavy maintenance—                    painting
and lawyering just don't mix. Do you ever hear
that delightful screaming deity, Hayagriva, out there
in the larger barns? My husband used to hear him in New Mexico

when we lived along the river. You'll have to forgive your uncle.
All that buddhist tolerance
will make a fool of you, but he's useful like a shoe.

He's lived too long out there on his copper lake.
The atmosphere
they gave to that small parcel of Mars
creates for him a violent season of monsoons.
A great wall of red wind
followed by isolated electrical cells. In this season

he comes unstrung, just between us.
But, chelated child, in the arcana you could still
be lotus born. So do take some of your yoga instructions from him—

he has sideways approaches to 'sleep-nearing'
that would make a sound transmission
for a young cadet with your gifts. Well,

I've found being your grandmother,
just these few minutes,
quite exhausting. So, of course, my dear,

with concrete and sincerest etceteras,
I am your true mother,
                                             and I am            the Khandro.

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Book of the Jewel Worm | Three

   Table of Contents, The Spirit Tablets at Goa Lake
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