Marilyn Stablein

Tibetan New Year
A week before Tibetan losar
a monk at Swayambhunath gompa
in Kathmandu takes sculptor’s chisel
to large black clay mound. Slowly
the monstrous head of Mahakala

inhabits inert mud: fanged snarl,
wrinkled nostrils, bulging fireball
sockets. Above ferocious head
towering stick squares
and trapezoids gently wrapped
with rainbow threads.

The structure towers like a tent.
Pine torch ignites the effigy.
Twelve foot wind-whipped
flames cremate invisible
demons who writhe
in tangled spirit web
like flies on flypaper.
A year’s bad karma
up in smoke.


Deviltry: An Infernal Glossary,
2.5" W x 7" H x 0.5" D': opens to 18", 2015,
flag book binding, flame cut flags, handwriting, decorative paper cover and endpapers.

"Deviltry is part of an ongoing series of fire themed works including poems, artist books, visual poetry, sculpture and performance art. As a poet I'm drawn to words, lists and literary associations. My next collection of poetry includes many poems associated with fire and the qualities of fire, e.g. heat, flames, embers, ash, cremation. Other fire influences include the recent massive forest fires caused by global warming and the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard's book The Psychoanalysis of Fire. This work is dedicated to Ambrose Bierce whose Devil’s Dictionary was an inspiration."

Deviltry: An Infernal Glossary for Ambrose Bierce
Twenty one flame shaped flags list devilish names (Lucifer, Satan, Diablo, Mara (Sanskrit), Yama (Sanskrit), Shinje (Tibetan); synonymns for Hell (Hades, Inferno) and devilish attributes: fiery, evil, devilish, hellish, diabolic.
The flame-shaped flags are attached to an accordion binding. Red and black papers evoke fire and flames. Each flag has a handwritten devilish word. If the flag book is opened fully the flags leap out dramatically like flames in a fire.

Sacred Fire
Before the wedding
an attendant stacks kindling
gleaned from bushes, shrubs
and mango trees.

Beside the outdoor pit
square like a prayer mat
offerings set in small clay bowls.
White peaked mountains
rim the valley like a vajra wall.

Cross-legged we sit atop
a hand-loomed dragon carpet
carried by yak over high
mountain pass. The priest
hums an ancient prayer.

Pungent smoke from thirty two
sacred flowers, herbs and grains
perfume the air like fine
incense. Petals of rose
and marigold, medicinal

herb flowers, sandalwood,
frankincense. Oils next
to tease lusty flames: sesame,
coconut and ghee.

Small brass ladle tips a medley
of wheat, barley and millet
over the coals. Melodic Vedic
chant, wafting smoky scent.
Demure, heavenly sky glow above.

White halo circles meek winter sun,
my witness ten thousand miles
from home. No best man,
bridesmaid, gown or tux.
At twenty-five I give myself away.

Marilyn Stablein, poet, essayist and author of 13 books is also a visual artist working in collage, assemblage and artist books. Her work is widely published and exhibited. Book Arts Editions recently published a monograph of her artist books, Bind, Alter, Fold: Artist Books which can be ordered through her website: marilynstablein.com She lives and works in Portland, Oregon.
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