I had just lost a lengthy and rather spirited debate to a Buddhist monk, a painful outcome I thought I could avoid through the constant recourse to irrelevant poetic tropes which usually never fail me, but in this case, and in the end, his restrained pedantry won out. The whooping and the stomping of the sizeable crowd that had gathered by the end left no doubt. Such is the nature of Vishnu’s singular dream, growing from his navel like a lotus and naturally not pleasing everyone. Wandering in the forest adjacent to the town I’ve never entered, several towns over from the town in which I tell people I was born, I felt confident that I had found a safe haven from my fellow Brahmins. It is good to allow several hours to several days for one’s newly-acquired shame to dissipate naturally, and then to return to ones base of operations, coolly going about one’s business as if nothing had happened. And business is what interests me, and this is precisely what I intended to do. It would not be the first time. Walking and talking with my wayward thoughts, prancing and romancing my private romances for hours on end, shielding my eyes from the sun’s blazing arrows which burst from the occasional openings between boughs and leaves, I came upon a strange sight. It was a hollowed-out tree trunk with an opening large enough for a man to walk through, so naturally walk through it I did. Once inside I saw that the trunk, which from the outside appeared to have the circumference of a full-grown elephant sitting upright on its rump, was actually much more spacious. I was immediately confronted by a circle of twelve statues the forms of which varied, but which all corresponded to no being or decorative image the likes of which I’ve ever espied. I can only describe them as nonsensical, rather vulgar nothings at best, mockeries of the sacred order at worst. To be honest I rather liked them. You’ll find nothing like them back at the hyena farm, I assure you. At the far end of the trunk’s interior was a standing cabinet with one of its doors slightly ajar. Peeking inside my eyes were blind-sided by a light brighter than the sun’s outside. Stepping inside I quickly found myself transported once again, this time to a gigantic temple larger than the entire forest in which I only moments ago had been jaunting along oh-so-merrily and carefree. The pillars which held this temple’s roof up, if indeed a roof there was, for of this fact I was far from certain, disappeared into the clouds above. All around me I could see only the faintest hintings of walls so far in the distance they were scant visible at all, like far off mountain ranges disappearing in blue. So, I found myself thinking, this is the body of Vishnu. The walls pulsated slowly as if breathing. A free-standing door stood before me, but I’ll spare you the details of my next and final destination, as I’m sure you have already guessed at it in your feeble way, groping in the dark.
* Sanskrit, “seeking a dream.”
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James Bradley’s poetry has appeared in Caliban Online, Gone Law, La Fovea, BLACK&WHITE, Sein un Werden, Eccolinguistics, Anamesa, Counterexample Poetics, and S/WORD. As a visual artist, some of his work can be found at http://registry.whitecolumns.org/view_artist.php?artist=11157. James received an MFA in painting from the California College of the Arts in 2009. He currently lives and work in Brooklyn, New York.