blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1


NORMAN DUBIE | Book of the Jaspers


                                                                                       — Paracelsus

                                           — the Potala.

Dear Urze:    I am very sorry for my silence. I've had the most terrible
fortnight.  That silly lieutenant on the space station,
after adorning himself in a bulk-suit, actually used his ray gun
on the watercooler.  And when the water began to boil,
the Smythe and I
enjoyed the most uncommon distress that was altogether pleasurable.
Even here in Lhasa they can't say, with any authority,
whether or not I've broken my vow of celibacy?

It seems anyway that I beat the script, just as my brother did.

I am looking forward to a bath.  But nothing ever changes in Lhasa.
I didn't see the ray gun incident as violent — the heightening
transformations of water to steam, etc.  Well, it seemed a happy
turning for the Smythe and at the last moment

she explained that 'her next reservoir,' following a thousand year passage
on some filthy snowball of a comet, will be
somewhere on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain.
A very nice body of water and the very resting place for Alfred's ashes.

The Buddha was right
about how illusory it all is — Smythe made that perfectly clear
before turning to vapors.
And do you see what I mean: nothing happens, constantly!

We lost a neighboring universe to someone's action script of speech.
Maybe I was a bit cavalier, months back,
and we should talk more about your phurba practice.
It's strange, the Universe Plaget is, of course, far seated —

is, in the lieutenant's notes, at 11 degrees,
north by west, of the space station WGYN . . .

It could be a coincidence. All my love.           Your uncle Paul.


Urze:   I have spoken with the Tulku Arak
who is very much alive.   We went to the Muslim baths
wearing red plaited hats.  He said
it was critical that Alfred and I found the Dza Obum.
I have given it to the Tibetans.
This means I will never again be welcome in Paris or Geneva.
It's especially awkward
for it was the Swiss who released me from quarantine.

They will blame the young lieutenant for the whole thing
and he should probably be warned.  Is he still
at that naval base on the Great Lakes with your aunt?

The tulku said that we should not be fooled by our governments'
reports regarding the Clouds of Hayagriva.

He added warmly, "Lo vueh has flown the coop!"  Do you
then feel her here with us again?  This is marvelous,
if true.  Is it possible that Lieutenant Schofelt, Jr. has been
utterly felled by your Aunt Laura?  No,
not to worry about their ages.  Well, I wouldn't . . .

The guru seemed to suggest
that the gods are in a hanging season in Universe Plaget.
This involves the Khandro.  Absolutely.

Tulku Arak will keep Alfred's cat, Boil,
who has already eaten out the throat of a rat
the size of a Mastiff puppy.  The tulku says it was
auspicious for them both.  I do love
these old holy men from Kham.

I miss Alfred terribly, and I am still deep
in the forty-ninth night of Bardo alarms.

I saw a zombie on White Street in Lhasa yesterday.
A Chinese general, clearly long dead,
clearly parading in the service
of a monk who cooks in the French quarter . . .

A beggar woman, whose left eye is almost entirely draped
behind a black mole that a white hair grows from,
told the tulku that this cook is sometimes called Magus-ur.
He has no teeth and
a great hatred for the Chinese.  We just won't learn.

And I'm no different than the worst of them.
Pax, child.      Your chastened uncle.

                                        — at Ganden.

Urze:  in my sleep last night
thousands of lines of poetry
like smoke erecting a stone
for the horizon.  Hungry ghosts

calling to me with some troubling nonsense
about the apothecary's quatrains being less arbitrary.

These very same ghosts

follow the zombie and his collection
of marbled cats into the stables
to the kitchen.  The cook's
shrineroom is draped in silk legends
of the Buddha, falling brocades
and images, in snake scales and gold,
of our Mother, Prajna Paramita.  Her face,
shoulders and arms

are raised with sapphires and diamonds.
There's a broad turning mosaic of azurite
and pearl for the top knot.
Her gown appears to be the skins of cobra
dyed red and cobalt.

There are a hundred butter lamps.  The cats
do drink from them —       on weekends their shit
is everywhere in the kitchens.
The zombie's cats
converted all the rats in the French quarter
to the eternal sutras . . .

The cook's sanctuary, Urze-la,
has one large image of Palden Lhamo —       her mount,
a one-eared mule, is formed
with a checkering of amber and cinnabar.
The mother's blade dates from the ancient sky metal harvest
after the meteor shower of 1138.

The cook-monk and his zombie
seem to do little devotional work —       there is one
secret sadhana that they perform at midnight
and they do give beggars
scraps before closing their kitchens at noon.

The cook's amulet, or gau,
is the collapsed syllable of the Kalachakra 'ten.'
It is formed of recessional gold and peat
from the hotsprings near the Panchen Lhama's summer retreat.

The zombie fears it.  The neighbor says
it's because the cook has put the zombie's
member in it.  I think that's preposterous.

Your uncle is too proud, dear —       he has survived a narrow script.
I stabilized a whole universe
just so he might continue to live . . .
He could have died of the Dza Obum
just like his attendant, Alfred!

Urze-la, as your advisor, he must be warned
his time has ripened and I would welcome now
fifty thousand additional prostrations from him
before his dear deceased mother
celebrates her Easter.  If he ignores me in this matter
his right knee will fill with worms.  I am glad he misses me.
I am the Khandro.

Post Script:
I think you mortals are fond of these afterthoughts
for they are a sly garden of false assertions.  Tell him,
the Ekajati, that his nostalgia for his old friend Georg X.
made me retch.  I placed that man with lepers
and they did absolutely nothing to deserve him.

The most evil of the flower-Popes, Allius, the IV Innocent,
was my consort in a past life.  He was always misunderstood,
and the best lover we've ever had.  He was
something of a child.  And so that moron X.
killed him by accident.  You know,
none of us is invulnerable
to a wild or sideways magic.  We fear men like the Georg!

Your uncle
doesn't feel his presence on earth?  Your uncle
will not ever again feel the presence of his X. —        not
anywhere in the Cosmos.  I am telling you that I am terrible.
And I protect you both.

If he doesn't stop explaining me
I'll dissect him for the cannibals on Lingam XY73
as a charity.  My earnest love to you.           The Khandro.

                                             — Kathmandu.

Dear Urze-la:  so we've heard from the young mother.
She is terrible, and as always, for you
speaks exclusively the truth.  We're in her debt,

for she's caught us up on all the news from Lhasa.  And please
don't be frightened by her.  It is mostly bluff.

Please excuse the brevity of this cable for I am exhausted,
having now, tonight, completed
the fifty-thousand prostrations.  It took ten days.

I did sleep.  Twice.  And ate heavily at the start
with a complete fast in the final week.  I do love
her black mischief.  I will now sleep for days.             Your uncle, the Ekajati.

P.S.: Your mother wanted to change the name
of this town to 'Uranus d'Argent.'  I'd have
signed that petition.

                                                        — in sheer brokenlading. the tax stamp torn!

Dear Martha Smythe:              I envy you this ephelion tack,
your obscure address, that is a frozen comet . . .
It's romantic, like the P.O. Box of the early Marlowe novels.
And yet, in a month I've sent you three dispatches
and even when weighted or full
these ladings burrow back to Alaska?
I know better
than to make any assumptions about this?

Your empty phaxx of '1ylptio'
that spoke of the equinox dagger
was tracked easily to the comet?
Aunt Laura has twice
visited that old Din' é calendar near Flagstaff.
Your warning was invaluable to me.  And I have
been trying to thank you since I received it.

You know, Ekajati was still distracted by your death
during his undergraduate years
and it would seem my mother, Marie,
was his first attempt at forgetting

which, of course, results in the unlawful
birth of a girl child in Laos.  That would be me,
making you the other breast I was shifted to
which Freud says triumphantly
is the first intimation of disease and famine.
We are a pair, aren't we?

For all the redundancy in our bodies, I sometimes think
that our creator should have been a late Twentieth Century
NASA bureaucrat.  We are the strangest beasts,
aren't we?

I found a nude black and white polaroid of you
tucked inside "uncle's" rare paperback
of Plato's Republic.  I once borrowed that camera
for an entire Christmas recess.
And I can already hear your vulgar joke
about the book's title.  That's what I really envy about you —
to be truthful, it's your desperate fun!

Are you in Alaska?  I guessed
long ago that you were a clandestine
Karma Pakshi shintling.

Uncle said, laughing, dakinis in raincoats
were his undoing.  He meant you
and I knew it immediately there
in our musty tent in the Maine woods.

My mother was just recently dead.
She had fallen from a horse
onto a field of stones and purple nettle.
The horse that threw her
was sister to the mare who gave second birth to me
in a cold November field.  This is one of those anniversaries.

Why do we have words for an experience of religion
or politics?  They're just the worst existential facts,
yes, worst than ghosts.  The ghosts of mules,
to quote the second Regency from his Sakya parapet.
He told the Dalai Lama he was always sad, and hence,
unworthy of being desperate.  That describes me I think.

When I think of the Chinese sweeping across Tibet:
in one village cutting the uterus from a nun, and tongues
from children, forcing the young retreatant
to shoot in the back of the head his perfect teacher.

And as the old man lay there dying on the hardpan,
his longish beard changed from white to black,
hardy April flowers making something like
the chalk line of a crime scene around his body,
every yak in the valley screaming.

When I think one of those men could say to his Holiness
that he was always sad but never desperate, then
I stop cursing my equipoise, whatever it was mother gave me
there in that hillside village in northern Laos.

I still envy you your tits and mischief.
Love, your friend.     The Khandro, L'urze-la!

Post Script:   I met a distant cousin of yours, Nagarjuna Watts,
and together we explored one night
the ramshackles of Calcutta.  Is he some florid hybrid of daka?

Lama Arak praised you
for your patient travel, ventriloquism and investitures.
He said it was the first ethical standard that keeps you
from possessing any sentient being.  Instead,
water coolers, comets, etcetera.  He said
that you belonged to the blue and opalescent harmonies,
unlike my red dakini friend, the Khandro of Lux.

I will become one of her manifestations,
of speech and medicine, is my best guess?
I was chosen to do this.  Just what our family
needs, another tulku of fire.

Her first invasions of me were quite gentle,
and I tried to explain to Aunt Laura
how it is almost boring — more like a colorist's waterglass
than a nine year old's chemistry set
going kaboom in the attic.

Lama Arak, just before his death, explained to Aunt Laura
that you would recognize my new friend Nagarjuna
from a ritual cleansing he performed
for a far monastery in Kham in his last Earth incarnation:

he was the Kalzang Rinpoche at Dhor, and the monks there
had made a special chapel for red four-armed Chenrezig.
They wanted a passage way
all that first week of fire and water rites, and the rinpoche
was assigned this gate and an especially hateful
mountain spirit called Zabtak.  What he did was memorable.

He hung there
three gutted black bear, sixteen wild dogs, two female yaks,
and an assortment of dun rabbits.
He paved the courtyard in goat shit
and caged hundreds of marmots beside the bell station.
He filled the cadavers of the bear and yak with straw
and set them on fire while letting the smaller animals
just rot.  Cows had never given sweeter milk in that district.
There are bountiful barley crops there to this day.

This sounds like a Bon practice to me.  I think
I will beware of this old Rinpoche.
He's very handsome. My love to you.            L'Urze Ekajati.


Urze-la:            I was telling my friends, L.S.
and the dear Wang, that I don't want
to sleep on their boat.  I'm never
constipated, and would rather
lose my return ticket to the womb.
My mother's confinement was brutal —             her fair brother
was already dead in The War
of Glasse, and she couldn't be certain

our father was alive at all.  She had a vision of him
dead and slumped over a camel
along a dry river in Algeria.  Later it was confirmed
he was only drunk, and the camel
knew where the water was . . .

She had morning-sickness for ten solid months.  She could
only be calmed in the afternoon by going
to an art-house film.  Here's the origin
of my addiction to the lately-rinsed black and white movie.

Her favorite films, and this is troubling, are Marré's Dogshit,
Clint Eastwood's The Unforgiven and Renoir's Grand Illusion.
Admittedly, all men of genius.

So it's Sergeant Schofelt now!  The Swiss
are exacting, secretly peevish, and, after all, what
are young men created for, but disappointment?

Tell him if he would join the Royal Merchants
going on the Venus mission, in December —             I'll see
that he is made Number Three.  My apologies, and this promise,
to both the sergeant and the timid aunt.

Your 'particle man,' Johnny
seems arrogant and insecure at once —            so
quite a normal gent by all accounts.
And if he can't keep his hands to himself —
well, Urze, just explain to him

that I know a woman
in the Peyote Culture, Navajo & black-Irish,
who'll place his hands in orbit around our moon
without disturbing his attendance there at the War College.

It's the strangest thing — I watched
her do it once — she substituted two brilliant trout
for the hands of her brother's boy who was beating
the daughter and consumptive mother-in-law.  I never saw
José again.

Later, she blinded him!  She is
really quite sweet.  Lots of old fashioned gusto.  You know
what I mean.  Love.              Your uncle.


Dear Uncle Paul:                   in the bargain,
you shouldn't have to listen to this, but
something both peculiar and awful has happened
and no, I am not on trillium or cocaine.
The thing is
there's only a mean freckled stallion here to talk to.

Two nights ago, in rain,
along the back creek, Johnny and I
were running around nearly naked.
We were covered in mud and not at all cold.  Then,
we were suddenly quite naked
under a clearing moon for an hour.  It was silly.
But somehow we fell to wrestling
and then to something altogether else
which I know you will supply in my silence.

I did finally object to some of it, but Johnny
seemed unable to stop.

It was and wasn't his fault.  But neither was it
finally welcome.

I got up when I could, and kicked
him in the rib, keeping the whole thing biblical.
I spat on him
and announced his rather total exile.  He left.  No,
he ran, in fact, down to the barn.
All this seems unimportant now.

After twenty minutes, still the mud-hen
sitting under a pin oak smoking, I saw
my dead mother's form rising from the creek.  She had auras
like colored pancakes stacked up behind her head.

She lit the trees above her
which were dripping with beaded mercury:
brilliant rosaries of it
were everywhere in the hawthorn and sumac,
issuing even from my nose without, somehow,
being gross.

Just then a headache came like an ice pick
to my crown
and a wild rash of heat climbed my back,
then slamming me to the ground.  I think the rising energy

had difficulty passing the narrows of my neck.
I was blotching with what I knew was tummo . . .

It quickly left and then, well,
a purple deva with pendulum breasts, wild black ropes for hair,
and heavy mascara at the eyes, made a speech
to me that was quite surprising.

Our butts were hiked in the air
as in those wonderful grade-school
productions of Peter Pan.  We were
entirely suspended in empty space
and we looked into each other's face
like peaceful lakes —
we then spoke in a common voice, "Oh how beautiful."

The volume of the voice was almost wounding.
I know they're not very profound
but those words made radical goose flesh even
of my tongue.  There were blue pearls bursting all around us.
And then, of course, I vomited.  Until morning
I rested in a very hot bath
and finally slept.  Any commentary, uncle?  Love.                Cadet Ekajati.


Dear Cadet Ekajati:  there's so much that is somehow
individually beautiful in all of us
that I'm astounded
we don't spring these leaks more often.  Well, in this instance —

you absolutely delivered yourself of a radiance.
It is itself essentially aware.  But empty.
It was clearly bound to happen.  You have now
this little spirit birth for a companion.  Much later,
it will become you.  Fear none of it.  Or us.

Nothing ever happens.

I am bored with Nepal.  I should be at the farmhouse in Virginia
about three hours after you've read this cable.
Your loving uncle.       Paul.

You know when you were born
your parents asked me if I wanted to name you.
And I said that I thought the Old Testament name of Hannah
was really fine.

Your mother countered, "Well, yes,
but she'll just eventually change it to Hega or Urze."
True story.  My love. Uncle.


Dear Aunt Laura:      I am speeding to Virginia
and will arrive by Cyclone in the evening.
I'll eat there, in Richmond, and will
reach the farmhouse before midnight.

You shouldn't worry.  I know
Urze has talked to you.  It seems
you must remain in Michigan for three more days.
This is fine.  I've arranged for Urze's friend, Clara,
to come immediately to visit us.
We'll take turns cooking.  Sweet potatoes and slabs
of pork roast. Apple sauce!

Urze must begin a new yoga discipline
in earnest.  It will be much more
effortless for her than it was for your sister.

I'm not certain that's a blessing? Excuse the brevity of this
stockgram. Please

don't worry.
See you at the weekend . . .      Ekajati.


Dear Lama-la: while working with the niece
on the unsayable relief of one hundred syllables
in fast mirror-like repetitions, the great Bodhiset, Vajrasattva,
entered the initiation.

She left everyone unconscious, including
the horses in our far barns.  This lasted for two hours.
A bath of mother-light, followed by a blast of conchs and then
everyone was awake.  The niece was wearing on her forehead

A nine-pointed dorje fell into my lap.
At the moment we began to stand, all the horses on the farm
participated in a wild laughter.

Lama, friend, the niece then danced
with no worldly aim or grace
until she vanished from us.

There was a smell of cumin . . .           roses even!

So, what?? She'll be gone for three days and nights??
Urze's little friend Clara didn't bat
an eyebrow over this.
The gardener shit his pants.  I'm not that well, myself

Any commentary?  Love.       The fool, Ekajati.


Fool:   could I have one of those horses?
Let me know by morning.

Got our ass in a sling this time, eh,
friend? Remember the vehicle, the Garuda
transport . . .

Happiness will shine upon us. Maybe? Maybe not
ever again.      Tulku Arak.

If niece, the beloved Delog, returns —
could my sister, Amala, have a strand of
hair for her gau . . . be calm,
nothing's happening . . .                    a.k.a. Otrul CHAK  

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