blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1


NORMAN DUBIE | The Book of the Crying Kanglings


                                        — in the long second night, Mönlam.

Mother Khandro:     bullying the Guru is not the best idea!
This extends
to his Canadians. So you would refuse
the glorious dharma to those very beings
who have been most prepared
for it by their karma? Curious. Perverse!

Your humble master witnesses here the old imperialism
of your Northeast Kingdom
and all the glamours of its inversions
like Thoreau, Melville, or Emerson.

They were all children. Where
are the jewel ornaments of their liberation?

(Thoreau sneaking back to his mother's kitchen,
from his shack, at noon,
to imbibe the lemonade;
to devour her sandwiches?) Now,

my child, I regret
that The Bardo Thodal is being read
for the young Kirsna. I am very sorry

but precedents suggest
that even in your sobering culture
in the West, we are all the dead.

Mother Dorje Phagmo, we are helpful to all
only because we share in their dilemmas:

ignorance is the best example.
I didn't know, not yet I didn't,

that the snow witch was the elder sister
of Wickle Ffee. I hope
you buried her hands in the sea.
That would occupy her for a week
or two. Children.

We are all children! This stockgram
is weakening. My knees too.
I am so sorry for your loss, but

when the red kitten comes
it will be your mother. And Ekajati
is the young boy who brings it to you. Witness
in this loss, great gain? My blessings.         Your teacher.

Post Script:
The Vajrasattva Prayer —        you may begin
doing one million of them,
to be completed by early June:
when the second mayfly hatch
is everywhere in Bhutan . . .

L'urze, I was fishing here in a stand of oak
when suddenly a black rainbow
similar to the leggings of a Kadampa Tara
flew past, a butterfly
of grossly etched proportions.
It stuck out its tongue
at your revered teacher, and groaned.
Do you find that vodka
carries a happy insult to the brain?

It is intoxicating. My love.     the Otrul, fool.

                                       — in full 'mibes.

Dear Mother Khandro:       this moon, I'm yet to speak
to you outside of these cables,
but I've seen you walking with a lame boy
which gladdens me to no end.
This Italian tablecloth that you spoke of, well,
look at the shamanic aprons
worn across the great plateau and remember
how much is forgotten.

This lame boy I see you with —   one day
when you are bathing his chest
feel along the very bottom of the sternum,
and you will find in the bone there
a very distinct promenade and pyramid,
all in the ratio. You've taken your losses

very well, and there are absolutely none
forthcoming. The worst of that is behind us!
There are not any details
regarding the three children. With the Ffee,
it is like this. But his hold on us is quite illusory.
The blackguard

is with us again,

but in the assumptions of a fully adult body.
He will publish poems in The New Yorker,
sell millions of tons of grain to Egypt.
He will ice skate in Poland.
He'll hunger and thirst in the Australian desert
for thirty days. We will know him,

that's for certain. For the last
two hundred and ninety-nine years,
the aboriginals have been deserting
their storied land
for passage in the night sky.

They were escaping in the face of the Ffee.
Isn't that extraordinary.

They call him Beckett Carol Talbout.
Before the assumption, he was educated at Yale
and published a slim volume of poems
under the name B.C. Talbout.
He did some engineering work with his father,
in Alaska. The assumption

occurred on his twenty-first birthday.
It was a boating accident —     his heart
must have stopped for two whole minutes.

He had swallowed water and gasoline.

His first conscious gesture
was to laugh fire all over his sister.
Neither of them was harmed. He is
thirty-three now, and we are in trouble! Without fail,

you are to wear your sonors at night.
We'll meet next week, at your apartments.
We should have a small service of refuge
for your new friend. I believe
you call him Arlie. Here in Bhutan

it is beyond belief but my Canadians
are abandoning these mountains
for their Rockies.

And, yes, Mother Khandro
they have taken with them their money. Ha.
All the passes here are open but one.
It is that ominous season
where you could just die of acne.

Blessings on you, L'urze. The Otrul.


Dear Mother Khandro:      you buried her hands
in a great bed of standing kelp —         pepper-dulse
and larkspur.
You left the tongue
of the forward shoe in her burned mouth.

You buried the child's bell in her.
Ha' ree. Kri' ea! When I arrived here on Mars

I discovered one of your uncle's tents abandoned
with the most marvelous provisions inside. Even raisins,
lard and vermouth. He has found
only one of the three Dza Obums.

His work on the inscriptions is brilliant.

Actually, I have heard a good deal
about his kindness to people here, mostly
from the miners.

Now, it is my sad belief
that I am about to render
what is perhaps your first description
of the incident on Jupiter. It is at best,

unfinished and impressionistic.
It began, as you know, that Friday
with wild paraffin storms. Septaguant's two cruisers
were attacked by large
white plated triangles. He mistook them for a kind of hail.
There was a blue sheeting
that seemed the mother of the triangles,
it would fold against space
and then another birthing of the ice.

There were lightning bolts whose thunder
proved a torment to the ears . . .       some went
mad with it. Spitting blood, etcetera.

It's good you have me, a Viking nun
for a friend in this conflict —     there have been no surprises
for us since we conquered those French monks.

The war-horses of Job, etcetera . . .

The great Number One geyser on Io
during the battle of the triangles
was transforming into a black sable plume
like those that adorn funeral wagons
and their horses.

Now, just prior to the darkening of the geyser,
and exactly opposite to it,
in an inclined field of boulders,
there was a hard meteor shower
of a very odd composition:

heavy table zinc and oxides of biolates
with a phosphorescent scruff
that burned off over twenty days . . .

The inexplicable turbulence in the airspace
over Washington state occurred
on this curious seventh day
with the blackening of the spume.

Our children's plane that morning,
at precisely nine o'clock,
crashed across the eastern bench of Gladstone Mountain,
one hundred and fifty miles northwest of Morgan.

My granddaughter, Kaya, alone with a nurse-physician
and her husband,
were unharmed. Your Kirsna vanished utterly,
along with a female Marine
and a local evangelist named Theodore Williams.

Reverend Ted Williams's accordion was also vanished?

They were all going to the Nasa Academy
near Nome, Alaska. This mission
was defined by a Lieutenant Colonel Hickock,
famed for his research in 'so -called' psychic phenomena.
He proved so unpardonable in my eyes
that I slew him
with a clot just off center in his brain. Pop!

Two quatrains and a smudge pot. It took
all of five minutes.

'If you can't respect children
you should stay clear of me . . .' I did warn him!

When you killed the Ffee's sister, naturally,
my house fell. Your mourning
cleansed the length of our fjord, from the rocks
up to the high red heathers.
I will always consider myself in your debt,
my dear L'urze Ekajati. I would like to visit you,
in perhaps six months, in Delhi?

I know in your lineage
you willingly
suffer the consequences of all your magic.
I will offer perfumes in the Bardo
in acknowledgment of your sacrifices. I will burn

man-tall candles here in the desert
with frankincense, as an additional service
to your Kirsna. Does your assembly
scree with frankincense?

I know for you Buddhists there is only compassion
under skillful means.
But there will come a night, child,

when I will loan you my gown
and you'll go for scallops to the Algonquin.
We'll burn the town down.      The last hypth' of Mallus.


Dear Lama Arak:   so, for you, here is a sealed
diplomatic cable from Sikkim.
I had this afternoon a fifteen minute audience
with his Holiness, the Karmapa,
who is such a beautiful child
I can simply not describe him for you.

The 'location verse' left by his predecessor
named both parents, specifying his birth in,
of all places, the anguished
black-powder district
of Kathmandu. It was a rainy evening

and the birth of the baby
cleared the skies. There was the sound of conchs
and laughing horses. Flowers
kept falling from the sky
until everyone was blind to the filth
of the city. This is what I learned

while riding in our taxi!

I do hope that soon
you and your friends will be reconciled
to these wonderful Karma Kagyu sadhus. It is time.

The child Karmapa had told his mother
of how he dreamt all last night of a great fire
with flies made of black gold rising in it. Guru,

I believe this details
the second of the champagne fires in Manhattan.
In my sleep, I learned
they would come on Election Night, 2289.

You were wrong, the lame boy who accompanies me
is not the Ekajati. And under this sealed cable
I am comfortable saying
that my little friend
is our Kirsna, and he is not
returning to the Academy.

Master, I do believe your Bardo prayers
returned him to us. But he protests
that he is not just old mother Kirsna,
but the dark father Ekajati as well.
Is it possible

that my mother and father are contained
in this one beggar child? He has
a tantric tattoo on his shoulder blade
of a red and black checkered cat. Spirals for eyes.

Yes, I thought that would get your attention.

When he awoke for the first time
here in my apartments,
he reported on a vision
which convinces me that the Ekajati,
while he throttled the Ffee, was actually
drowning him in the future waters of a river
that will rise in a great flood
throughout Montana. On this same night,

Manhattan will be burning.
Rinpoche, does it take simultaneous
deaths by fire and water
to despatch a Ffee;
in the way that two of the four provinces of Ireland
are assigned to a single son of Israel?

In the burning of Manhattan
will they be Issachar and Judah?

The diseases of angels are of time . . .

If Milton were to appear here,
in all his errors, the lustrous ebony Ark
cradled in his arms, would you spit
the individual jewels of the high-priest's breastplate
into his face . . .             khandro weirdings, &

beware priest,
this is the blind man with a snake. Uncle

has a recording angel for an attendant, doesn't he?

Once I dreamt of Ffee, yellow hair
nursing at my breasts. My milk was black
and he seemed eased, and slept.
I said to him, "There now child, hush,
for when you wake . . . ."

And I raised a great spade and split his head.
Once, this one served the Potiphar in Egypt.

I can hear cranes flying overhead.
I wish like Longchempa
I could walk with my brown sack
up into the snowy mountains.

Lama, my love to you.     L'urze of Sumstek.


Dear Mother Khandro:     lovely —       all the news
you've sent to me. Kirsna is with you, but lame
from a plane crash. The Ekajati has fused
himself with the boy's heart —   much as Ffee
was released into the lungs
of the young Carol Talbout . . .

When I think of the Ffee's anatomy
I always remark on the larger canines
and the thinning enamel; it isn't chimpanzee
to K. afarensis. The new hominid polka
looking just like a stringy chicken.
And, now, out of the throat of Cygnus
they visit us like jackals and are legion.
Remember the chimney swifts that cold day
in London.

These children of ours —   Kaya
and your Kirsna, before they ever left the Seminary,
tattooing one another with tantric firecats. That's a
good laugh. Your meal of scallops in Manhattan, in
November —      yes, it will be Election day in the boroughs.
There's a painted eclipse hung on that moon!

It will be very different.

I am to visit you soon.
I brought a turtle for the boy. I, myself,
must first stop at Rumtek
and witness this young Karmapa. Very wonderful
news, very wonderful. Tulku Arak.

Yesterday, Sonam Detch went tobogganing by himself
up in the high pass,
and while descending the spruce field that spills
into the valley,
moving at 50 m.p.h., he saw suddenly
a small family of Yetis
bowing to him with great piety. He wasn't certain,
but laughing or crying,
at the next turn he hit the great oak
and dislocated his shoulder.
We have made him mushroom soup.
He feels very confused by this experience. I think
it is a good joke on my young German translator.
And, now, even he has disciples.


Dear L'urze:         no, the turtle is not decorated.
Your Hindu friend, the librarian, can do you that
absurd service. This is a grand land turtle
and she will outlive all of us
save, of course, you great mother.

Old Gyurmey Tsultrim has gone to Jamaica
for two weeks with Lama Yeshe
where they will do a Po'vah empowerment
and teach from Lord Tsongkhopa
for one whole weekend.

Just this past Monday, a fire quickly
raced through the kitchen
and boys ran to Lama Yeshe
thinking the whole monastery to be lost.

The Great Pearl just climbed to the rooftop
and scattered cedar shavings in four directions.

Just like with Lord Tsongkhopa
the fire was halted
and there was really no discernible damage.
I think Jamaica is a good place
for the Pearl this week. Now

I get to be the star around here
and teach the girls from Calcutta
the red eight-armed Chenrezig. Just kidding,

my dear L'urze. Lama Yeshe humbles us all
one way or another. This confession
is not fun anymore. Your friend.         Tulku Arak.  

next section
The Book of Crying Kanglings | Four

return to top