(This feature is part of TRUCK’s Theme Issue on the List or Catalog Poem. You can go HERE for an Index of the Participating Poets.)
Force Hexagram (Six Unbroken Lines)
[Crossroads. Half-night. Enter six POETESSES
pouring libations. They throw the I Ching.]
What doesn’t break me makes me so I tried to tell the uncooked writer, pour in water, boil the daal, strain. See that deleted liquid? Such a waste but you can’t skip steps. We distill out lies before our words taste true.
They say his anger narcissized the world thrusting relentless “i”s before pods & pads we daily revere, touch-touch more than our lovers, genitalia, pets.
Told my body good luck before I swallowed.
“Push it, push it real good.”
Chöd (one people’s word for fuck is another’s alchemy): ritual to pour your body (“radical nectar”) into pure-sordid mouths of demons, also gods.
So answer her why earnestly as chlorophyll responds to radiant arcing queries of
No one told me, now I see
why they could not tell me
how it is here, after. For who could speak
of Chimpanzee Lust Buddha
swinging treetop to treetop
guzzling & nuzzling brown limbs, or explain
Ogre-Treasure Buddha baring adamantine teeth
trampling manifold worlds, rainbow feet
stained with every species’ blood? I watch them die
as the Buddha of Radiant Cannibalism
tingles with irreversible loss
in hys bosom, hys star-grazing claws,
& the Buddha of Red Veils absorbs aches
into hir arc’d back,
hir thunder-cracked spine,
while Rotten Nailpolish Buddha
chews & chews delusions
down to bleeding flesh of reality
& Moon-Chaste Buddha glows
earnest as cheese, chanting sutras
in dialects discovered between toes.
Which theology could document the twenty-one thousand
births & deaths of Phosphorous Buddha,
how zie led twenty-one billion beings into grace,
or how the Buddha of the Clear Path Mind
eats dustberries, pure
puffs exhaled by none other than
the Buddha of Gaseous Winds
who swallows fragments of stars to fill xirself
with stinking orange-green light?
No wonder back then
in ordinary time
they tell us just one story:
how Shakyamuni awakened
at a scrubbed sunrise
under the bright clean boughs of the pipal tree.
O most compassionate Buddhas, which one of you shall guide
this newbie through pink crusts of enlightenment
on the dungheap of nirvana
as I stand here trembling
before the Buddha of Gnawed Syllables
naked of my skin, ready for my final name?
Both poems originally published in Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment by Minal Hajratwala, The (Great) IndianPoetry Collective, 2014.