Monthly Archives: July 2014

sand mandala (agnostic’s prayer), a poem

illustration sand mandala agnostics prayer

Sand Mandala (Agnostic’s Prayer)

 

I. Candles, Burning

 

The world is not important. The world is an illusion.

My daughter’s shoulder blades, ivory carvings under

the warm, silken blanket of her skin, might as well be

made of wax. Her hair, its smell of cherry-almond

 

shampoo, is no more than a flame, consuming tissue

paper. She will be gone before the universe notices her.

Today I saw Tibetan Buddhist monks creating a sand

mandala, a round picture made from layering different

 

colors of sand. Shimmering, resplendent and complicated,

a yard in diameter, it took three unbroken days to make it.

Tomorrow at 11 a.m. they’re going to sweep it away.

This creation of beauty then its eradication is symbolic.

 

II. Lessons, Learned

 

My tears are irrelevant. My suffering is insignificant.

The monks believe our material existence is transitory,

well-nigh unimportant. They were relatively young

though it was hard to tell because of their shaved heads.

 

They all wore plain maroon pants, sleeveless maroon

tunics. I walked by them, entering the building, shied

away, tried not to look. But they seemed to radiate

serene alertness, a lack of angst. They didn’t flinch

 

but gazed at me, through me, beyond me, plainly,

readily. As a little girl, I wanted to be a nun.

Discipline of the flesh is holy. To contradict desire

is sacred. The world is a sickening dream we long

 

to wake from. I dressed one year as St. Theresa

for Halloween. I was in Catholic school for kindergarten

and first grade, and came home one day to tell my mother

I couldn’t wait to die and go to heaven so I could be

 

with Jesus. She put me in public school the next day.

She was dismayed. I had seen dead animals

in the kitchen, plenty. One time I saw a chicken

roasting in the oven, asked what it was. “A chicken,”

 

she said. The earth is not significant. The earth

is an hallucination. I got hysterical, pleading with her

to take it out of the oven. She fibbed, told me

there were two kinds of chickens, one with feathers,

 

for running around outside, the other for eating.

It relieved my frenzy, then. What about now?

My life is an illusion, my life is empty. I shovel food

into the mouths of other unfulfilled beings. Ceaselessly,

 

I’m on the horns of a dilemma. Doesn’t every suburban

housewife secretly, in her heart of hearts, want to run off

on spiritual pilgrimage, at least each and every time

the dog vomits on the rug? Yes, I live like a spy.

 

III. Emptiness, Filled

 

I feel like an undercover agent most of the time.

I just don’t get the whole show. Something’s not been

explained fully to me. I’m waiting for my operating instructions,

but my contact is nowhere to be found. I don’t know

 

if I’m religious. I never have the strength to decide

if I believe. From that first plump, naked chicken in the oven

I cried for, at five — chickens have their own heaven,

my mother lied, bright with love — from that first dark

 

lamentation over the insolence of death I wanted only

to understand the enigma of creation, to fathom the depth

of my intimate source. Fitted out as Saint Theresa

it felt sinful to accept candy, I wanted more than anything

 

to sanctify those hands moving with meek generosity

toward my outstretched pillowcase. Yes, I saw myself

with bright blue skin, leading pale cows to drink.

Or robed in red, a fluffy hat atop my head; a hesitant crown.

 

I could easily put fragrant powdered saffron in my hair,

eat nothing but fruit picked off the ground, sweep the earth

bare before my steps with a handmade straw broom.

All creeds appeal to me inside the inquisitive casement

 

of my brain: a fickle twitch of nerves, chemicals, proud

of its weak pulses of electricity. The difficulty dwells

deeper, amid blood, bone, sinew: a sad hollow space,

never filling up. Afraid to give over to a thing I can’t control —

 

or at least charm. I want to dance in green meadows,

wrap ribbons around a pole, follow the golden ring.

I imagine flinging myself into cool grass, crying from joy.

The world is unimportant. The world is an illusion.

 

IV. Waiting, But Not Endlessly

 

Everything will be all right, the melancholy quietness says,

as I lie solid on the ground. I feel resigned to my fate,

steeled to endure the torments ahead — that one last breath,

that one ultimate moment of longing. Have I received

 

the divine gift of faith? I still sit for hours, eyes closed,

waiting for that voice, those words, to lift the roof

of my skull and cleanse my fears away like silvery water.

I will, after all, be gone before the universe notices me.

 

 

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The lawyer said.

Eerily familiar!!!!

thingsmyexsaid

Luckily enough, all of my relationships have failed so quickly they’ve never come to divorce. So I really don’t know anything about it. But honestly, this seems pretty whack.

divorce petition

The “good” news? He’s on his second lawyer now. And somewhere in between all the property, claims, and collateral damage are two broken hearts.

Got a stupid ex? Want to see his or her quote up here in anonymous infamy? Submit your quote to ThingsMyExSaid!

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30 QUICK RELAXATION TECHNIQUES TO BANISH STRESS

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Relieved But Never Forgotten

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the divided self, a poem

illustration the divided self

The Divided Self

 

That lonely man and that sad woman

are dead now, but I still can’t

get away from their lawful claims.

 

They possess my hands, my feet,

my face. I have only been loaned

these things: possessions assembled

 

for me out of unseen molecules

I believe in by faith, with thanksgiving.

Blind, jerking passion such as this

 

nurtures the kind of organized madness

I learned to live with a long time ago.

Short and sweet, to the point:

 

I hate them bringing me into the world!

What on earth were they thinking,

warm lust pressed against the cold metal

 

of a postwar kitchen table?

Or did they simply writhe on the linoleum?

Alone, I existed weightless, unknowing, free.

 

I never approved the intrusion of his

sperm, wriggling madly for oblivion;

tiny kamikaze. No wonder men feel

 

like clumsy, oafish gods half the time.

As for Mother, she arched dizzily beneath him

half-clothed: strapless formal, silk stockings,

 

shiny pumps with spike heels,

and though she opened her flesh,

how she longed to kill him with her shoe.

 

Such war made me. Secret wishes

do a body in. I am that frail universe

mindlessly created, allowed to run wild.

 

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creative notes, 9/24/03

illustration creative notes 9 27 03

Creative notes… 9/24/03

“We also often add to our pain and suffering by being overly sensitive, over‑reacting to minor things, and sometimes taking things too personally.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Boy, is that what I do. I am overly sensitive, I overreact to minor things, and I almost always take things too personally.

“If we both still believed in marriage as an institution, would you marry me?” Ella asked.

“Not right now. You’ve been dating another guy for six months. But maybe later,” Ratboy said. His plan was working!

“Fair enough,” she said. Right then, she should have RUN.

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I name them here

Wuji Seshat

29

love has seven names
do you know what they are?
brightness, flame, melting

transformation, sunshine, shine
Light, that final healing
that is the end and is the beginning
these are the warmth of heart-strings

where the soul may rest in
clearest water, purity of unity
truth that is not true or false

but simply is as an extension
of love that has seven names
love appears day after day
not requiring scripture or even faith

love is wise enough in nature
to survive indefinitely, with or without you
her signs fall down from the fusion

of peculiar and eccentric evolution
crossing divinities of perspective
of virtue and the flesh’s form
love has seven names

her gifts are never-ending
like sublime coal that burns a lifetime
for an intimacy that God can give

for our intimate souls that long
more strongly with a mystical heat
that is a spiritual substance
whose…

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