By the Skin of God’s Nose (personal essay)

“What the sayer of praise is really praising is himself, by saying implicitly ‘My eyes are clear.’”
-Rumi, “Muhammad and the Huge Eater”

I’m glad Rumi realizes this because he can get a bit thick sometimes and full of himself, which is saying, implicitly, that I can get full of myself also by seeing right through him.

Rumi and me have had a rough relationship lately.

I bit my god last night. I hurt his feelings. I knew I was doing it. He told me I was doing it, but it’s like BDSM without a safe word. I kind of thought he was kidding. I kind of thought it was part of play. We need a better safe word than, “I don’t like this game.” “I am going to go away from you now.” “Stop this. Just stop.” We need a safe word in emotional biting that is clearer than that, if anything needs to be clearer than that.

So he bit me back the way I bit him and it hurt and I was ashamed of myself because he kept saying it hurts it hurts and I kept on hurting him anyway, because weren’t we all laughing at the time? Isn’t that what rapists say?

The Greek myths are full of rape. Lots and lots of myths are full of rape. Someone once asked me how I reconciled that. I said, “A myth is a myth” and I laid on “myth” and then I said, “the myths” and laid on “myths” again, “the myths say more about the people who wrote them than they do about the gods. Rape is the same as the stealing of cattle.” Or so I would like it to be, but really I don’t know. I haven’t asked my god too much about that. Too much about the gods’ relationship to rape. I suppose he would look at me with his dark eyes and say in his best conciliatory voice, “I don’t know how you want me to answer this question.” It always scares me when he says that because the answer is that the answer is something I don’t want to hear and I both want him to be honest and I want him also to fill my heart with comfort as a god is supposed to do, so how is he supposed to answer this? How am I supposed to tell him how I want him to answer when I really don’t know myself.

Establishing honesty with a deity can really knock you on your ass because you have to come to terms with stuff like why the gods expressed their flowering through rape myths in the first place if rape was never a part of it, and how gods have a long view on life and so value a human’s Earthly days very little. The soul goes on and they know it, so what’s the difference if a tornado makes a house fall on this woman’s six children? Why should the woman be sad? If she had the gods’ dark eyes and long vision, she wouldn’t worry about it. They don’t.

Not that they don’t understand suffering, but sometimes tornadoes need to tear houses down to move the gods’ agenda forward, and all six children float on to their next adventures, so how much skin is that off a god’s nose anyway? Even the suffering of the mother will end and, when she floats off to her next adventure, which is in less than a blink of a god’s eye, she won’t be worried about it either. So even less skin of a god’s nose there too.

But it really does knock you on your ass because no matter how clear your eyes are and how full of praise you are for yourself that your clear eyes facilitate honest conversations with the gods and them pouring truth into your eyes even more than comfort, reality is hard and offensive to someone so latched on to the temporal as we are, even mystics who would like to think themselves above it and beyond it and all unattached and so damn enlightened, would cry if a god’s tornado smashed all six of their children and knew that god shrugged his shoulders and went on about his day afterward, honestly, nose un-skinned.

-M. Ashley

The Bridegroom Cometh (poem)

I don’t even want to be kind to this
Sad man. If my god were to come

For me in the same moment this
Sad man grabs for my hand in the

Parking lot, desperate now the date is
Ending—and my god were to show up

Between the parked cars all masculine in
Twilight purple, head to holy toe, I

Would wrench my hand away from this
Sad man and give myself to god rirght there–

Slut-in-the-parking-lot—while the
Sad man cries and watches me

Fucking my way to apotheosis, spread
Eagle on the hood of a dirty white Prius.

-M. Ashley

Ghost Heart

“Much have we loved you, but speechless was our love, and with veils has it been veiled.”
-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

In a moment of pain, suffering again with a traumatic memory, beyond trauma, that gave me tremors in my right arm and down the length of my leg, I cried out in loneliness and, in the imaginary conversation I was having with my therapist, I said how lonely I was with my trauma and how talking to my god was not enough because “he’s a ghost!”

(I am thinking of a ghost’s sheet as a veil.)

I hurt my god’s feelings. He has been right here with me through all the blood and guts.

Many times, talking to others about him, I have referred to him as “a figment of my imagination,” and “my all-powerful psychosis.” He joyfully laughs.

I called him a ghost and broke his heart.

-M. Ashley

Universal Piggyback

A very wise Indian fellow, or an Indian fellow we are supposed to think is wise, got awfully judgey when he said it is a terrible misconception that the governing force of the Universe is love. I mean, how sappy could we be? But the thing is, I know the Universe, have met it in a her/him person many times, and I can tell you for certain she is love-powered. She especially loves group hugs and jumping on your back for a piggyback ride. She giggles and sometimes covers your eyes as you run and run and run.

-M. Ashley